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Wedding Bells: My Personal Hell

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Do you ever have one of those moments where your entire world is shattering but you have to pretend that everything is fantastic? If so, then you can probably imagine how I felt staring into the face of my best friend of twenty plus years as she thrust a basket with the words “Will you be my bridesmaid?” on it into my unsuspecting hands. I had thought we were just meeting up for brunch to drink mimosas and give me a space to bitch about life while we caught up, but little did I know that she was gonna drop that bomb on me before the drinks even arrived. I get it, you’re probably thinking that it’s odd for someone to label a person as their best friend and proceed to express horror at the news of their impending marriage. The thing is, Minji isn’t just my best friend. Our relationship is a little more complicated than that-well, it is for me. Minji herself would smile and insist that I have had her back since we were little and that’s all there is to it. In my case, however, things go beyond being platonic. Maybe I should give some background so that you can have some idea of how I managed to fall into the hellhole that is my inescapable crush on Kim Minji.

Minji and I met in kindergarten. We went to the same school and as luck would have it, had been placed in the same class our first year. As even more luck would have it, we’d also been sat at the same table in the classroom. Minji has changed very little since the day we met. She still exudes the same childish innocence combined with the elegance of a princess. Her smile still holds the same sunny quality it had back then, and her laugh still sounds the same despite her voice getting deeper with age. Heck, if she could still fit into it, she would probably wear the same sweater she had worn that day-her love of the color pink is yet another thing that has not changed. Now, you might be thinking that I’m about to spew some cheesy nonsense about how five-year-old me somehow knew the concept of love because I fell for Minji the minute we took our seats at the table. You might be disappointed, or perhaps relieved, to know that is not the case. When I first met Minji, the only thought my kindergarten self had was that it was unfair how tall she was. I had always been one of the scrawniest kids in my grade, and had developed a bit of a Napoleon complex as a result. It bothered me when other girls were bigger than me, especially when they were as nice and pleasant as Minji was. If they were going to be giants, I wanted them to at least be horrible ogres to match their size. Now that I think about it, Minji and I were a pretty hilarious combination. She was bigger, but she was a pushover, while I was the small one with an attitude big enough for both of us.

“Um, earth to Bora? You’re spacing out on me. I know this is all moving kind of fast and I’ll be ready for one of your grandma lectures another time. For now, please just say yes! Come on, I worked really hard on that gift basket! Won’t you please open it? You’ve always told me I’m an excellent gift giver,” Minji cut into my reminiscing by grabbing my shoulders and shaking me back into the present.

I blinked, “Oh, right. Uh, yeah, you can count on me,” I sputtered out.

Minji grinned, “Hooray! I’m so excited for you to meet Yoohyeonie. I know you probably don’t approve of me coming back from Europe with a fiance, but you gotta understand, it was so romantic! Meeting her in the city of love, traveling to so many magical places with her, I just knew she was the one for me. Not to mention she is just as excited about this marriage as I am. She finally finished her degree, and was able to pay off her tuition. Her family is so generous to not only pay for her schooling, but to also pay for our wedding and offer their estate to have it on. I just couldn’t be happier! I wish I could have shared more of this with you, but it all just happened so quickly. I’m still kind of in the clouds trying to make sense of it all,” she gushed.

I forced a smile as I pretended to listen to her love-sick rambling. I was pretty pissed that she vanished for months and suddenly returned with a massive ring and a woman even taller than her by her side. I hadn’t even gotten to see any of this in person, it just popped up on my Facebook wall one day. Then, a few days later I got the text from Minji asking me to brunch, and you know the rest from there. That’s right, Minji’s own best friend knew nothing of her relationship with this apparent soulmate of hers. I had received occasional postcards from her when she first left for Europe, but apparently all of her time went into frolicking around with Yoohyeon because she eventually stopped writing. I was curious to meet the woman who had managed to snatch all of Minji’s attention for months. In the past, Minji had gotten bored with relationships pretty quickly, so it surprised me to see her so eager to commit to one woman for the rest of her life. To be honest, a part of me wonders if she wasn’t blinded by wanderlust. Being in an exotic, romantic setting would make anybody more attractive. Still, even the picture of Yoohyeon had been intimidating. She loomed tall and thin, an elegant figure that could easily be a supermodel if she wanted. Unfortunately, her looks came with brains too. Based on my research on various social media sites, the university she studied at was extremely prestigious and she was one of the top students in linguistics. On top of that, she was known for being extremely philanthropic and supporting all kinds of charitable causes. Basically, this Yoohyeon looked and sounded like some kind of perfect goddess robot.

“I’m sorry, we haven’t seen each other in months and here I am doing all of the talking. What’s been new with you?” Minji directed the conversation towards me, which snapped me back into attention.

Just then, the lifesaving waitress arrived with our drinks. I gratefully plucked my mimosa off of the tray. I made sure to take several, generous sips before answering the question.

“Oh, you know, the usual. Nothing too exciting ever happens in my life. Competition season is heating up, so I have had a ton of late nights at the studio coming up with new choreography. I think my dancers have a good shot this year. The team is talented, but some of those kids act like they are Beyonce or something. I hope I was never that conceited when I was their age,” I choose to focus on work since that is the least lame aspect of my life at the moment.

It’s pretty tragic that the coolest thing I can talk about is my dedication to teaching a bunch of teenagers moves that aren’t twerking, flossing, or whipping. Unfortunately, all other aspects of my life are even more pathetic. My love life is as barren as the Sahara, and has been in a dry spell for months. I can’t even think of the last time I went on a date. As for my social life, my closest friend has always been Minji. I tend to repel anybody else with my brazen mouth, according to my mother. Apparently, I have a tendency to call people out on their shit in a way that is perceived as being mean. Contrary to my bitchy reputation, Minji has always had people flock to her and could never turn anyone away. This left me with the duties of being Minji’s social bouncer. I came after anybody who wasn’t worthy of being around her. Then again, no one is really worthy of her, especially me. I had doubts of whether this Yoohyeon was worthy of her too. I caught myself getting lost in my thoughts again and stared at Minji,hoping to seem like I was paying attention.

Minji giggled, “You sound like such a grandma! I’m glad you still have the same sense of humor, even after our months apart. Also, don’t be so hard on yourself. I’ve always found your job plenty interesting. Heck, with your personality you could work at the most boring place ever and still keep people on their toes!” she insisted.

“Well, thank you. I’m glad you don’t find me dull after your adventures in Europe. It’s good to know you didn’t forget about lil ole me while you were French kissing your new fiance in literal France. By the way, you have barely explained yourself, missy. What possessed you to rendezvous with some fancy scholar one night and then suddenly come back engaged to her after romping all over the continent together?” I changed the subject to a topic I had very little interest in actually hearing about, but that would give me an excuse to watch her face light up as she talked.

Looking at Minji can often be blinding, I can’t think of a better word to describe her other than radiant. Gazing into her warm, amber eyes feels like staring directly into a toned down version of the sun. Between her cheery temperament, her glowing skin, and her blinding smile she might as well be the sun itself. I sat there silently admiring her silky brown curls and the figure-flattering dress she had worn to breakfast. She always looks good no matter what she wears, something I was constantly jealous of when we were growing up. I propped my elbow up on the table and rested my head on it as we continued our conversation. This gave me a good angle to stare at her while still seeming attentive to the conversation. She was going on and on about her experience in Europe and her feelings for Yoohyeon which hurt, but seeing her so happy lessened the blow. I chose to focus on her smile and the way her nose crinkled when she laughed, like a rabbit. I had always thought she was cutest when she was excited. I followed her cues and pretended to laugh when she mentioned something funny Yoohyeon said or did, and faked sympathy when she talked about Yoohyeon’s food poisoning in Madrid. Mercifully, the food came right as Minji was about to divulge the details of their first time which had been in a hostel in Prague. I had no interest in hearing about what an exhibitionist my best friend had apparently become while she was out of the country. Thankfully, Minji immediately stops talking when food is involved.

“Oh, these crepes look amazing! I’m so glad you were willing to try a French-inspired place with me. One thing I miss about my travels is the food. You know I’ll never turn down a good meal, but the stuff Yoohyeon and I ate in Europe was out of this world. It’s nice to bring a little taste of it back with me,” Minji explained as she eyed the dish in front of her.

I smiled, “Of course, I know never to come between you and something good to eat. Our friendship was almost lost forever that time I stole a cookie from your lunch in second grade,” I remembered with a chuckle.

Minji joined in my laughter, “I totally remember that! I didn’t talk to you for a record fifteen minutes! I think what broke my vow of silence was that I needed your help opening my juice box. I had to forgive you, but you were on thin ice,” she joked.

The two of us spent the remainder of brunch throwing out stories from our childhood as they came to us. Each story linked to another in a chain of memories that walked us through our more than twenty years of friendship. While it made me happy to go back to the good old days with Minji, it also made me somewhat sad. I suppose melancholy would be the proper word for what I was feeling. Minji’s past may have belonged with me, but her future was going to belong to someone else. Yoohyeon was going to become her world and soon the two of them would be the ones sitting like this, time flying by as they reflected on the best stories from their marriage. Heck, Yoohyeon already took the past several months of Minji’s life away from me. Minji may have returned from Europe, but it seemed that she and I would only drift farther and farther apart.

Once our meal had finished, it was time to pay the check. Minji had insisted upfront that this would be her treat. Normally I would have wrestled her to the ground to wrench the check from her, but I knew better than to cause a scene at such a nice restaurant. Besides, this seemed to be the status quo for the wedding process. The bride-to-be would treat her bridesmaids to something nice when she asked them to be in her wedding, then after that it was their job to spoil her for the rest of the extravaganza. I figured it was best for me to swallow my pride and let things happen the way they were supposed to. That included letting this stranger steal the heart of my best friend. I dreaded the day I’d have to meet this Yoohyeon.

“Alright, looks like the bill is all settled. Thanks for meeting me, Bora. It was so nice to catch up with you. I’m sorry I didn’t reach out sooner, but Yoohyeon and I wanted to get our heads on straight and discuss things with our families before getting anyone else involved. Not to mention we were so jet lagged on top of everything else. Anyways, I’m so glad you’ll be part of the wedding. Oh, I’m such an airhead! I should have told you that we are actually getting married at the end of the month. We wanted to consolidate the bridal shower, the bachelorette party, and the wedding all into one week on Yoohyeon’s family’s estate. Since we have the place and we have connections, most of the arrangements are taken care of. I know it’s a little last minute, but I’ll see you then, right? The bridal party is all gonna stay on the estate together. I’ll send more details! Anyways, I really gotta jet. Yoohyeon is waiting for me to do some wedding planning stuff. See you later!” Minji declared once the waitress brought back her credit card.

My jaw dropped as I processed everything she said. Before I could even get a word out, Minji was waving goodbye and racing out the door to hail a cab. I could only sit in stunned silence, probably looking like an idiot, as I took it all in. My best friend was getting married in less than a month to someone she had met while gallivanting around Europe. They hardly knew each other! Not to mention, I was going to be stuck sharing a house with the bitch who had stolen my best friend, and whatever creepy friends she had in her bridal party, for a whole week. Did that mean I was stuck helping to plan their shower, and their bachelorette parties? If I was, Yoohyeon would be getting an ugly stripper. I knew one from my less savory dancing days who was a short phone call away.

“I’ll mark it in my calendar. Wouldn’t miss it for the world!” I called out pathetically, even though Minji was long-gone.

Chapter Text

The rest of the month went by basically without a hitch. Aside from the occasional argument with a bratty dance student, and weekly venomous phone call with my mother, things were pretty uneventful. I felt the dread building up as I continued to scratch out more days on my calendar. The worst week ever was approaching like a speeding train, and there was nothing I could do to stop it. Just think, Minji and Yoohyeon both probably had this week covered in hearts and doodles of wedding crap with something like “The Best Week Ever” scrawled in cursive, while I had put down skulls and crossbones and wrote “Time to Crave Death” in my ugliest script. Isn’t it funny how the same event could mean such drastically different things to different people?

True to her word, Minji had emailed me everything I needed to know as her bridesmaid. Her email was pretty useful once you got over the initial urge to vomit at the cheesy font and mushy rhetoric. I had to remind myself that she was my best friend and she was happy in order to keep myself from deleting it or replying with something like “New phone who dis?” In the email, Minji had given a rundown of the entire schedule of the week, as well as what each member of the bridal party was expected to do for each event. I had been put in charge of the rehearsal dinner, much to my relief. That seemed easier to plan than the shower or bachelorette party, which would require a lot more pretending to be happy for the betrothed. Maybe I could poison Yoohyeon’s meal while I was at it.

Based on Minji’s email, it seemed that the bridal party was only made up of five people. That surprised me considering Minji had always been such a social butterfly. She had millions of friends who would jump at the chance to be in her wedding. I kid you not, people literally worshipped the ground she walked on. Heck, some of those girls probably kept locks of her hair in secret bedroom shrines devoted to her. Those same people probably had dart boards with pictures of me all over them, jealous that I had always been Minji’s closest friend. I gotta admit, I was relieved none of those girls had gotten the bridesmaid shoutout. The only other name I recognized was Lee Gahyeon, Minji’s next door neighbor who was five years younger. Minji had babysat her growing up, and Gahyeon was like a little sister to both of us. I would be relieved to see a friendly face who could help me endure my suffering. The other three bridesmaids appeared to be Yoohyeon’s cronies. I found it unfair that that beanpole got the bigger cut when Minji probably had more friends. Maybe Minji had agreed to a smaller bridal party in order to spare Yoohyeon’s ego. It gave me some satisfaction to think of Yoohyeon as a friendless poindexter. The satisfaction vanished when I remembered that social reject or not, she was still marrying the only person I’ve ever truly loved.
~
The minute my Uber pulled up to Yoohyeon’s family’s estate, I thought about telling the driver there had been a misunderstanding and that we needed to leave immediately. Unfortunately, some extravagantly dressed and intimidating woman had already seen me and was approaching the vehicle. My instincts were telling me this was Yoohyeon’s mother since I had met Minji’s mother multiple times, and could think of no one else who would exert this much power over the wedding committee. I had to force a smile on my face as she opened the door.

“Welcome, dear! I’m Yoohyeon’s mother. I already met that sweet little Gahyeon, and of course I know all of Yoohyeonie’s friends, therefore, you must be Bora! It’s nice to meet you. Minji has been raving about you every chance she gets! I’m sure you’ll live up to your highly regarded reputation. The rest of the girls are getting settled in the guest house where you’ll all be staying for the week. I’ll lead you there myself. Everyone is looking forward to seeing you. Isn’t this such an exciting time?” Mrs. Kim gushed as she took my hand.

“Nice to meet you, ma’am. This all sounds lovely, let me just grab my bags and-” she cut me off by waving her hands frantically.

“Oh no, please don’t trouble yourself with those heavy bags. You’re such a tiny, fragile thing. We have staff here to handle those matters,” she insisted as she ordered some man in a uniform to grab my stuff from the trunk of the car.

“Now then, follow me,” she instructed.

“Uh, okay, thanks!” I stammered.

As I followed Mrs. Kim with her employee lugging my bags behind us, I couldn’t help but be awed by how extravagant everything was. What was this, Downton Abbey? We walked around the front of the estate, which was a beautiful property that made my studio apartment look like a cardboard box. The yard was kept in impeccable shape. Not a single blade of grass was longer than the other and each one’s color rivaled the green of an emerald. There was a large fountain in the front yard with a statue of some important looking man who was probably one of Yoohyeon’s relatives. As we headed around the left side of the property, things still looked flawless. When it came to appearances, there was clearly no cutting corners around here. We headed down to a house several yards away from the main property, but still just as nice. The guest house was an expansive ranch-style building with a large swimming pool next to it. There was also a scenic garden nearby with several benches for people to sit and admire the beauty of this place and contemplate their own shortcomings when compared to these perfect rich people.

Thankfully my social instincts had gone on autopilot and a smile remained on my face despite my inner turmoil. Minji was marrying into the freaking royal family! Sure, this was the princess treatment Minji deserved, but it was going to hurt like hell to see someone else give it to her. I was an idiot to think I ever had a shot with Minji when Yoohyeon could offer her a fairytale like this. By agreeing to be her bridesmaid, I had basically sealed my fate as my crush’s fairy godmother who would help another princess win her heart. Ugh, that sounded so cheesy! I caught myself getting lost in my thoughts again, and looked back at Yoohyeon’s mother.

“Dear, is everything alright? I would have expected you to run in there squealing like a sorority girl by now. I thought girls your age go gaga about wedding stuff. Why are you hesitating?” she asked me with a concerned expression.
I blinked, “Oh, I didn’t want to be rude and ditch you. After all, it’s not polite to run off without thanking the person who helped you. If you don’t mind, though, I think I’ll go say hi to everyone now. Thank you for giving me the grand tour, and thank you for carrying my bags!” I chirped, nodding to both Mrs. Kim and her servant before grabbing my stuff from him and forcing myself to enter my personal hell.
~
Minji was the first person to catch my eye when I entered the guest house. She leapt up from her seat in the other room and ran to greet me in the entryway. I barely had time to react as she flung herself into my arms. Looking past her shoulders, I saw the rest of the bridal party smiling at us from the room Minji had just left. I recognized Yoohyeon from her picture. She was as tall and thin as ever, wearing a dress that flattered her already perfect figure. Next to her, I saw three girls I did not recognize who I assumed were Yoohyeon’s bridesmaids, and then there was Gahyeon standing beside them. She was all grown up, but she still had the same squishy cheeks and honey-like smile. I couldn’t help but grin back at her and give her a tiny wave.

“Bora, I’m so happy to have you here! I can’t believe I’m getting married! Come on, let’s introduce you to everybody,” Minji called, which prompted the other girls to meet us in the foyer.

Great, I was about to meet the best friend stealer and her army of lackies, my enemies for the week. I held my breath and mentally willed myself not to punch anyone in the face, including myself. Yoohyeon practically skipped into the room and linked arms with Minji before offering me an enthusiastic handshake.

“It’s so nice to finally meet you, Bora! Minji here has told me so much about you. I’m Yoohyeon, the lucky girl who gets to marry this perfect goddess,” she sighed dreamily as she looked at my best friend with lovesick eyes.

It took all of my willpower to be civil in this situation. Rather than lunging at that glorified skyscraper of a human, I placed my hand in hers and shook firmly. I curled my lips into my fakest smile, the one I reserved for talking to relatives I didn’t know or couldn’t stand at family functions. Yoohyeon didn’t seem to notice my forced politeness, or else she didn’t care, because she was too busy drooling over my best friend. Seriously, did Minji know she was marrying a golden retriever? Yoohyeon’s big, dopey eyes and obnoxious innocence were reminding me of an overgrown puppy. Thankfully, Gahyeon rescued me from having to deal with her any longer by leaping into my arms and squealing.

“It’s so good to see you again! I missed you so much. By the way, it looks like your worst fear has come true. I think I’m finally taller than you now!” she giggled, extending her hand from her forehead to mine in a teasing gesture.

“Yeah, yeah, don’t rub it in, kid. I’ll make sure to wear higher heels than yours at the wedding,” I shot back, smirking at her.

“Aw, what a nice reunion. Gahyeon was always like our baby. Now she gets to watch one of her mothers get married,” Minji sighed dreamily.

“I’m only five years younger than you two! I just graduated from university for crying out loud!” Gahyeon protested.

“Ah, how our little Gahyeon has grown up! Come to me, child! Let’s be a family once again,” I cried in a dramatic voice, grabbing her face with both of my hands and then pulling Minji in for a group hug.

Minji, Gahyeon, and I were all laughing and having a good time messing around until Yoohyeon and her friends coughed uncomfortably to remind us of their presence. Minji immediately pulled away and apologized, having to be the polite one in this situation. Gahyeon also stepped away so that Minji could finish introducing me to everyone. I tried not to look disappointed that my time with my old friends was cut short. I wish it could have stayed that way forever, and that Yoohyeon and her friends had never happened, but I had to accept reality. Minji and I were not actually together, nor was Gahyeon our unofficial child. Minji was getting married to this rich, lovesick dork and now I had to finish meeting her friends who were helping this entire charade along.

“Sorry we got a little sidetracked there, ladies. Bora, let me finish introducing you to everyone. This is Yoobin, she’s been Yoohyeon’s best friend since they were in kindergarten, just like us!” Minji explained as she pointed to the first of the three girls who nodded and raised her hand in greeting.

Yoobin seemed like one of those girls who was cold until you got them to open up. I gotta admit, she was kind of intimidating. After all, she was to Yoohyeon what I was to Minji. That meant we kind of had an unofficial rivalry of who would be the better best friend. I wonder if Yoobin harbored a secret crush on Yoohyeon for several years, like I did with Minji. It didn’t seem like it to me, Yoobin looked like one of those laid-back people who never had any drama. She probably gave sage advice to her friends on their trivial, shallow problems. She struck me as being smarter than everyone else in the room. I had a feeling Yoobin was protective of Yoohyeon, and extremely observant. I would need to be on my best behavior around her. I returned Yoobin’s nod of acknowledgement and waited for Minji to introduce me to someone less scary. Minji gestured to the girl next to Yoobin who gave me a shy smile and already made me feel more at ease.

“This pretty lady right here is Handong, she’s Chinese. Yoohyeon’s family hosted her when her school did an exchange program with Yoohyeon’s. After the program, Handong would come and visit Yoohyeon’s family whenever she could. Eventually she moved here and has been able to see Yoohyeon’s family even more! It’s a pleasure that she can be in our wedding!” Minji gushed.

“She’s like a sister to me,” Yoohyeon added, holding her hand to her heart.

Handong bowed, “It’s nice to meet you,” she spoke with perfect pronunciation.
I reciprocated her politeness and found myself liking her. Handong seemed sweet. I got the feeling she would be one of the most tolerable members of the bridal party, aside from Minji and Gahyeon. Handong seemed relieved that our meeting went well, and moved out of the way so Minji could introduce me to the last girl.

Before Minji even spoke, I got a vibe from this one. The vibe I got was hard to describe, but something about this girl stuck out to me. Unlike everyone else, who was dressed elegantly, this girl wore a leather jacket and ripped jeans. Her long, unruly, brown hair hung in loose curls, and her dark makeup made her look more like a vampire than a bridesmaid. Something else seemed...off, about her, aside from the whole bad girl look. For instance, she didn’t even bother trying to look happy. Everyone else’s smiles were genuine, and while I had the decency to at least pretend I was enjoying this, this chick wore a sour expression that made it clear what a bad mood she was in. Maybe her favorite screamo band had just broken up or something. Whatever, I would just try to be nice and hope she didn’t make me end up hating this experience even more with her attitude.

“Last but certainly not least, this is Siyeon! She went to the same university as Yoohyeon. They both studied music before Yoohyeon switched to linguistics. She’s actually going to be singing at the wedding. Just wait till you hear her voice, Bora, it is heavenly!” Minji raved.

Unlike Yoobin’s stiff greeting or Handong’s pleasant formalities, this Siyeon made no effort to say hello. After the way Minji hyped her up, her unfriendly behavior was a big let-down. The tension in the room was palpable as everyone stood in awkward silence. I figured that if she was going to be rude, I would have to step in and patch things over. It was going to kill me to be nice to this frigid bitch, but I was doing it for Minji. I offered my hand for her to shake.

“Nice to meet you, Siyeon,” I lied.

“Likewise,” she muttered as she gave me a handshake that was just as pathetic as her attempt to be polite.

Yoohyeon clapped her hands, “Alright, now that everybody has met, let’s help Bora get unpacked! Everyone else has their stuff arranged in their rooms, so we’re happy to help, right guys? Come on, let’s show you to your room and give you the grand tour of the guesthouse! After that, Minji and I can show everybody their dresses, as well as ours. We spent hours picking everything out. Don’t worry, a tailor will be coming tomorrow to make sure everyone looks fabulous at the ceremony,” she declared, whisking me away.

I clenched my jaw as I let myself be held in her scrawny arms. I wanted to tell her I would prefer a grand tour of the rings of hell than listen to her brag about her family’s property, but I knew I would have to hold my tongue. Minji was going on and on about the dresses and how pretty they were as she walked on my other side. Much to my embarrassment, Yoobin, Handong, and Gahyeon had ended up grabbing my bags and were following us. Glancing behind them, I saw that Siyeon was hanging back with her hands in her pockets and that same miserable expression on her face. She was being selfish with this little angsty act of hers. Surely her problems couldn’t be as bad as watching the love of her life marry someone else. If I could put aside my feelings for this stupid wedding, so could she. Siyeon looked up, noticed I was watching her, and scoffed before turning her head and ignoring me. Who the hell did this chick think she was? Whatever was bothering her, I would raise hell if she ruined Minji’s wedding experience. I mean, I would love to have Minji to myself, but she’s my best friend before anything else. Her happiness is my first priority, and I was going to protect it even if it killed me to do so.

Chapter Text

After the girls helped me bring my stuff to my room, it was time to check out the dresses. Yoohyeon and Minji were all too excited to lead us into the parlor of the guest house which had been set up as a changing room. Yoohyeon’s family had hired an interior designer to spruce up the place and make it look like one of those bridal boutiques you find in small towns. If I didn’t hate this entire situation so much, I might have been impressed. There was a separate room for everyone to get dressed, complete with a vanity that had plentiful mirror space. At least I would be able to admire how good I looked on the outside, no matter how crummy I felt on the inside. Minji always mocked me for my addiction to mirrors. What can I say? I know I’m hot.

“Alright, everybody, I’ll go grab your dresses. I worked really hard to choose things that would suit everybody’s body type and skin tone. They’re all pink, of course, so I hope you’re all ready to look like a bunch of beautiful princesses! Remember, the tailor will come tomorrow to make the final alterations. I got everyone’s sizes, but sometimes things have to be adjusted to get the perfect fit. I can’t wait to see how gorgeous you’ll all look,” Minji sighed dreamily as she waltzed off to retrieve our outfits.

Trying on dresses is supposed to be fun, but it’s hard to enjoy yourself when you’re being fitted for a bridesmaid’s dress at your crush’s wedding. At least Minji was the one to pick everything out. She had always had exquisite taste in clothes, even though she would look good in a burlap sack. During the tour of the guest house, Minji had joked about Yoohyeon’s questionable fashion sense, which had prompted a gag-worthy play fight between the engaged couple. Yoohyeon had pouted and whined like a child while Minji pinched her cheeks and cooed at her about how she had many positive qualities that redeemed her from her terrible taste in clothes. I was getting tired of having to resist the urge to vomit at the two of them.

Minji quickly returned holding a stack of garment bags and handed out each dress to the girl it belonged to. She and Yoohyeon took a seat in the parlor, urging us all to try them on. With that, the five of us were banished to the changing room, despite most of us being practically strangers. As a dancer, I was used to being around people in various states of dress, so I didn’t care much. Yoobin, Handong, and Gahyeon, on the other hand, seemed a bit hesitant as they followed me into the dressing room. Siyeon was apathetic to the entire ordeal, and trailed in behind everyone with the same mopey expression.

“Well, uh, I’m gonna go change in the corner here,” Yoobin muttered, shrinking away to where she would be least visible.

Gahyeon and Handong had also found spots that were more discrete. I shrugged and went for it, not caring that I was in the center of the room. Like I said, I was used to changing in all kinds of situations. Plus, if you got it, why not flaunt it a little? The other girls seemed either impressed or embarrassed by my confidence, and averted their eyes when my clothes came flying off. There was only one person whose gaze still seemed to be on me. I caught Siyeon checking me out from my peripheral. She had some nerve, acting like a pessimistic brat while undressing the bride’s best friend with her eyes. I mean, I was half undressed already, but she was taking it to the next level. I suppose it was somewhat flattering. After all, I was a dancer for years, and I am still in good enough shape to teach. I knew that my stomach was toned, and my ass was nothing to sneeze at either. If she was gonna keep eyeing me, I decided to give Siyeon a little show. Maybe that would cheer her up and get her to stop being such a pain. I bent down to examine my dress, giving her a full view of my backside. While picking up my outfit, I made sure to rise as slowly and seductively as possible. I could feel Siyeon’s breath hitch as each vertebrae in my body inched up. I waited as long as possible to put the dress on, making sure to wiggle my hips and accentuate my chest as I got into it. I could see Siyeon biting her lip, her eyes eating up the sight.

“Siyeon, aren’t you going to get dressed? Minji and Yoohyeon are gonna get impatient if we take too much longer,” I called over my shoulder with fake innocence.

Siyeon knew she had been caught and her face darkened. Poor thing was probably mad that I had taken her mind off her little pity party for a few moments. I grinned as I zipped myself up and watched Siyeon scramble to put on the dress Minji had picked for her. I would be lying if I said she didn’t have a nice body herself. She may have been the total angsty stereotype, but the bad girl thing was kind of hot when she wasn’t moping. Plus, the wolf tattoo on her shoulder was pretty cool. My brief admiration for her went away once she was clothed. I got the vibe that Siyeon was not the pink-wearing type, and her brooding became even worse once the dress was on. While everyone else was admiring their dresses, or at least pretending to like them in order to be polite, Siyeon looked as if she was being forced to wear an iron maiden.

At last, all of us were dressed and ready to reveal ourselves to the happy couple. We lined up and headed back out to the parlor. We stood there and smiled awkwardly while the brides-to-be showered us with praises. Minji really had done a great job picking out shades of pink and styles of dresses that suited each bridesmaid. Yoobin stood on the end in a coral, off-the-shoulder dress. It was somehow fitting that Yoobin’s dress was the least pink, and her exposed shoulders looked fantastic. Gahyeon had been put into a vintage-style dress that was a soft, blush color. Like Gahyeon, the look was adorable and timeless. Handong’s rose colored dress looked like it was fit for a princess, and she reminded me of a doll with her elegance. Siyeon’s dress was a one-shoulder style in magenta, and she would have looked prettier without the grimace on her face. Thankfully, Minji and Yoohyeon were too happy to notice, or else were trying to ignore her bad attitude. Last but not least, I stood in a hot pink strapless dress that was surprisingly comfortable despite its clingy fabric. It was not my favorite look, but Minji seemed to think this would suit me well, and I was here to please.

“I think I’m gonna cry. You all look even more perfect than I ever could have imagined,” Minji choked out, already on the verge of tears.

“You did a great job, babe. Everyone looks incredible,” Yoohyeon sniffed, patting her fiance’s hand.

“You’ve always been the best when it comes to fashion, Minji. You outdid yourself this time. Now that you’ve had the chance to see how good we’ll look for the wedding thanks to you, how about you let us see your wedding dresses?” Gahyeon suggested with a big grin.

Minji squealed, “I was hoping you’d ask that! I know it’s bad luck for the brides to see each other in their dresses before the big day, but we both wanted everything to be perfect, which is why we bought ours together. I’m so excited for you guys to see them! We both found our dream gowns,” she gushed.

Minji’s words cut me like a knife. The two of us had planned our fantasy weddings together when we were little. We had spent hours cutting out pictures from magazines, invented narratives of what the day would be like, and had collapsed into giggles at the magic of one day getting to watch each other get married. If only my childhood self had known that watching Minji get married was going to be one of the most painful experiences of my life. I refrained from expressing my sadness, and tried to smile at Minji’s words. I could remember the exact type of dress Minji insisted she would wear when she became a bride. I had told her she would be the most beautiful bride in the world, and I knew that would be true no matter what dress she wore. I wonder if her and Yoohyeon had been able to find that dress, or if she had chosen something else. After all, your tastes often change as you grow up. If only I could grow up and grow out of my feelings.

“Why don’t you guys get changed first, and then Minji and I can go grab our dresses? As pretty as your bridesmaids outfits are, I’m sure they’re not the most comfortable thing in the world. That plus, every minute they’re out is an opportunity for them to get damaged or dirty before the wedding,” Yoohyeon chuckled.

Everyone acknowledged her orders and scurried back into the changing room. Siyeon was more than ready to rip off her dress, while the other girls took more time and care getting changed. I found myself feeling sluggish, dreading the thought of seeing Minji in her wedding dress. I had to put up a strong front, and forced myself to get changed and join the others in the parlor. Once we were all finished, Minji and Yoohyeon leaped into action. I winced as they dragged each other into the changing room with excited squeals. I hoped they wouldn’t repeat that story Minji told me about the hostel in Prague, not with all of us waiting for them in the next room. Today was already miserable enough without the love of my life opting for an afternoon delight with her soon-to-be wife. We all waited while they got dressed.

Yoohyeon was the first to emerge, her hair slightly disheveled. I chose to believe that this was because of the dress and not any activities involving my best friend. She raced over to Siyeon, who was sitting on the end of the couch where we were all waiting. We didn’t even have a chance to compliment her dress before she turned her back at Siyeon who looked equally surprised.

“Singnie, can you zip me up please? I forgot what a hassle it is to put on dresses like these!” Yoohyeon explained with a giggle.

Singnie? My eyebrows shot up at the cutesy tone Yoohyeon used to refer to her. Siyeon must have been used to the nickname, because she didn’t even react. She got up without a word and traced her fingers along Yoohyeon’s back until she found the zipper. As Siyeon worked, I noticed a strange look in her eyes. When she looked at Yoohyeon, it wasn’t with the same grumpy attitude she’d been expressing at everything so far. Rather, her eyes reflected a kind of sadness and longing that reminded me of myself. I could see how her gaze lingered on Yoohyeon’s dainty waist as the dress fastened around her body. I watched her hands remain on Yoohyeon’s shoulders for a moment before she finally pulled away. I caught her gently brush her fingers through a few strands of Yoohyeon’s hair before sitting back down, savoring the touch. I wondered if it was possible that Siyeon was pining for Yoohyeon the same way I was with Minji. It was a longshot, but it certainly seemed plausible given what I had just witnessed, and it would definitely explain her awful mood.

“Thanks babe! Well then, how do I look?” Yoohyeon declared, giving Siyeon a quick poke on the cheek before prancing to the center of the room and striking a pose.

Even I had to join in with the shower of compliments provided by the bridal party. There was no denying that Yoohyeon looked flawless. She was made to wear this dress. It was long sleeved and draped over her thin frame while tightening in at certain areas to showcase her glamorous figure. I felt my heart sink to the floor. How could I ever hope to compete with someone like this? I glanced at Siyeon and saw her starstruck expression. I felt for her, it really seemed that we were in the same boat. Not that I would ever find out for sure. I would sooner die than admit my feelings for Minji to any of these people, even Gahyeon. Plus, it’s not like Siyeon and I were chummy enough for her to tell me anything, especially about a secret crush on her college pal who was engaged to my best friend. Regardless, it was comforting to think that I wasn’t alone in my misery.

Not long after Yoohyeon’s little fashion show, Minji made her way out as well. When I saw her, I had to catch my breath. She looked absolutely stunning. The dress she had chosen may not have been the exact same one from that magazine we’d found when we were kids, but it was practically identical. The heart shaped neckline and poofy skirt made her look like a fairytale. She had gotten the strapless ballgown of her dreams. I felt my eyes get misty, remembering how much fun we’d had as kids picking out our wedding dresses. Now Minji was actually about to be married and I would have to come to peace with never having told her how I felt. It’s a good thing bridesmaids usually cry when the bride finds her perfect dress, it gave me an excuse for bursting into tears. Gahyeon patted my back sympathetically.

“She does look beautiful, doesn’t she? A real-life princess,” the younger girl mused.

I nodded and said nothing, grabbing a box of tissues from the end table. Minji, being the empathetic person she is, had started crying too. This made Yoohyeon start to tear up, and now the brides-to-be were holding onto each other and gushing about their excitement for the wedding all over again. Between the lighting of the room and their beautiful dresses, they looked like a pair of angels. Mercifully, both my tears and theirs eventually came to an end, as did their display of affection. The engaged pair hurried back to change into their clothes, worried about jinxing things if they stayed in their dresses for too long. Once they’d settled everything, they joined us once again in the parlor.

“This has been quite a day, hasn’t it? I hope you’re all enjoying yourselves so far. We have a busy week ahead, but our first night should be relaxing. What do you guys say we have dinner and drinks by the pool tonight?” Yoohyeon suggested, earning cheers from everyone.

Despite it being Yoohyeon who suggested it, I found myself onboard with the idea. I could use the opportunity to get drunk and forget my worries for a bit. Not to mention this was probably our last night of freedom before Minji and Yoohyeon would have to go in bridezilla mode to get things done for their big week. I was glad that the rehearsal dinner was still several days away, even though I was finished with most of the arrangements. Gahyeon and Handong had been put on bridal shower duty, and Yoobin and Siyeon were apparently in charge of the bachelorette party. Now that was a combination. Based on what I’d gathered about those two, I wasn’t sure what to expect when you put them on the same task. Anyways, we would all be extremely busy the next few days, so it was important to take time to relax and do some more team bonding. After all, we were still pretty awkward with each other. I hoped that some liquid courage would get all of us to loosen up a little, especially Siyeon. Maybe things would get a bit more bearable around here if it did.

Chapter Text

Evening rolled around sooner than expected. I thought I would have broken into the guest house’s liquor cabinet by now, but I was actually enjoying myself. After we tried on our dresses, we were pretty much left to our own devices until dinnertime. Minji and Yoohyeon had wanted to meet with their families to discuss some more wedding stuff, so the bridesmaids were free to play while the brides were away.

Siyeon, as expected, retreated to her room to be alone. This time she at least had the decency to make up an excuse for her coldness, claiming that she wanted to practice her song for the wedding. Yoobin had excused herself to her room as well, explaining that she had a lot of work to do for a course she was taking. Apparently Yoobin was a graduate student in the literature program of some bigshot university. This left me, Handong, and Gahyeon free to do as we pleased. We ended up having tea together in the sunroom, chatting away. I was already close with Gahyeonie, but it was nice to get to know Handong better. I found out that she moved here because she wanted to be closer to Yoohyeon’s family, who had all been so kind to her, and because there were a lot of great veterinary schools here. She was already cute enough without mentioning her love for animals. Handong was restoring my faith in humanity, and making me think that this wedding could actually be an enjoyable experience. At least I had met one nice person this week. My time getting to know her came to an end when the front door burst open.

“We’re back! Who’s ready for dinner and drinks by the pool?” Minji and Yoohyeon’s voices chorused as they entered the house.

“Hooray! I’ve already got my favorite sundress on!” Gahyeon cheered, jumping up from the table.

Handong and I smiled at her eagerness and rose up from our seats more gracefully. I made sure to clear our dishes before anything else. No matter how much I disliked Yoohyeon, manners were manners. I wouldn’t let my distaste for the hostess turn me into a heathen of a guest.

“Did I hear you say it’s time for dinner? I’ll be out in a moment. I just need to finish a few more pages of my required reading for class,” Yoobin explained, poking her head out of her door.

“Ah, doing schoolwork while on vacation. You’re such a nerd sometimes, Yoob,” Yoohyeon teased.

“Be nice! She took time off her busy life as a student to be in our wedding. We should let her finish whatever she needs to. Plus, at least she’s not locked away playing RPG games unlike a certain someone,” Minji scolded playfully.

“Yeah, listen to your fiance! I’m glad you’re marrying someone who makes up for your stupidity,” Yoobin fired back, closing the door before Yoohyeon could retaliate.

Yoohyeon pouted at the sick burn she’d just received. Minji, Handong, and Gahyeon lost it laughing, and I couldn’t help but smirk. Even though Yoobin didn’t really mean it, it sure was satisfying to watch Yoohyeon get knocked down a peg.

“Ha ha, very funny. Let’s all laugh at Yoohyeon. Anyways, has anybody seen Siyeon? I’m guessing she’s in her room too. She’s always been a bit of a homebody. I’ll go check on her,” Yoohyeon huffed, marching off.

Minutes later, Yoohyeon returned with Siyeon by her side. The latter looked like a ray of sunshine as usual, her eyes red and puffy. It was hard to tell whether this was because she had been napping, or because she’d been crying over Yoohyeon. Whichever it was, she was clearly annoyed about having been interrupted and being forced to interact with us all again. Minji could sense that she was unhappy, and like the angel she was, tried to take everyone’s attention away from her.

“Perfect, now we’re all here! Bora, I have been telling everybody what an amazing cook you are. Do you think you could make dinner tonight? I’m sorry to spring this on you, but Yoohyeon and I thought everyone would appreciate a home-cooked meal, and neither one of us is any good at making food. Would you mind?” Minji turned to me, giving me the adorable expression she always used to get her way.

She didn’t have to resort to using the cute face (even though I fell for it every time), I actually didn’t mind at all. It was a big boost to my ego knowing I was good at something that Yoohyeon wasn’t. Considering how much Minji loves food, it was nice to know that my cooking was still special to her. They always say the quickest way to somebody’s heart is through their stomach. Plus, cooking would give me an excuse to hide out alone in the kitchen and keep myself busy for a while. Even though this whole thing was becoming somewhat less terrible, I wouldn’t say I was having the time of my life. Any excuse to avoid being in the same room as the soon-to-be newlyweds was welcome as far as I was concerned.

“It’s no problem at all! I’d be happy to do it. Let me check out what’s available in the kitchen, and I’ll get started right away!” I assured her.

Minji clapped in excitement, and Gahyeon’s mouth was practically watering already. Both of them had tasted my recipes many times, and were talking up my skills to the others. Maybe it was my fragile ego imagining it, but Yoohyeon looked a tad jealous of the praise I was receiving. Man, did it feel good to feel like the one on top for once. I wanted to keep standing there and revel in the glory, but I had a dinner to make.
~
Soon enough, the fruits of my labor were laid out on the table for everyone to enjoy. Not to toot my own horn, but I had really outdone myself this time. The scent wafting from the plate was irresistible. I could see everyone’s eyes fixated on the meal before them. I beamed with pride as I served everyone my fabulous creation. It didn’t take long at all for all of them to begin chowing down.

“Wow, it has been way too long since I last had your food. I didn’t realize how much I missed it. This is way too delicious!” Minji complimented with a mouth full of food.

“It really is good. Thanks for making us dinner,” Yoohyeon added, although her tone was much less enthusiastic.

“I’m glad you enjoy. I’m happy to cook for you whenever, although I may have to start charging you for it after a while,” I joked.

Dinner went on without much conversation after that. Gahyeon and Minji were eating as if this was their last meal, Handong and Yoobin were being pleasant dinner guests, and Yoohyeon and Siyeon were picking at their food like pouty children. I tried not to pay much attention to any of them, and focused on my own plate.

Dinner eventually finished and after everything was put away, the real fun began. We had all had a drink or two with dinner, but Yoohyeon was ready to play bartender with the fancy setup by the pool. Yoobin had shot her down before she could do so, claiming that the drinks she mixed were almost poisonous. Apparently ratios were not her strong suit. Yoobin had actually worked as a bartender for a few years, and offered to do it instead. Yoohyeon was once again sulking like a dejected puppy as she watched someone else get all of the glory.

I had not yet decided how I felt about Yoobin, but it was hard not to like a person giving you alcohol. Her drink-making skills were pretty impressive, and instantly made her much cooler. Even though I was ready to wrestle somebody for a drink, I hung back and let her serve the other girls first. I even let Siyeon go ahead of me. If there was one person in this place who needed a drink more than me, it was that girl. I watched her inhale whatever Yoobin had mixed for her, probably trying to speed up the process as much as possible. I was quick to chug my own drink, hoping that Yoobin had been generous with the alcoholic portion.

“Wow, looks like Siyeon and Bora are ready to have a good time tonight! Bottoms up, everybody!” Minji squealed, shotgunning her drink.

“Sweetie, I don’t know if it’s a good idea for us to stay out too late. We have a lot to take care of tomorrow morning, and the tailor will be coming after that. We’ll want to look and feel our best for the final dress fitting,” Yoohyeon objected, putting her hand on her fiance’s shoulder.

Leave it to the girl built like a stick to be an actual stick in the mud. She had a point though, those two were under a lot of pressure this week, and getting wasted on the first night was probably not the best idea. It wasn’t just those two who needed to be prudent about their drinking. The bridal shower was the day after tomorrow, and Handong and Gahyeon would probably want to be in the right mindset to finalize the plans for that. I could see both of them sipping their drinks cautiously. Yoobin had said flatout that she prefers serving drinks over having them herself, and was abstaining from any alcohol until the bachelorette party. It looked like Siyeon and I would be on our own if we wanted to drown our sorrows in whatever Yoohyeon’s family stocked in the poolside bar.

“Okay, fine, you’re right. I’ll just have one more drink and then we can head to bed,” Minji conceded.

Yoohyeon smiled, “Don’t worry, we’ll have plenty of chances to party this week. Everybody, Minji and I will be out handling some more wedding stuff, but you’re free to have breakfast whenever you’d like tomorrow morning. We’ll meet you all in the parlor at noon, and the tailor will make any final adjustments on your dresses. Good night, and thanks once again for coming!” she announced once she and Minji had finished their final drinks for the night.

“Handong, we should get to bed early too. We can finish getting everything ready for the shower tomorrow morning while they’re gone,” Gahyeon whispered once the brides-to-be were inside.

Handong nodded, and the two bid us all good night and went away. Yoobin shrugged and looked at Siyeon and I, who were both content to keep drinking.

“If you guys don’t mind, I’m gonna head in with the others. It’s getting kinda cold out here, and I have some more reading to do for my classes. Not to be rude or anything, but please try to take it easy tonight, okay? I’m sure you’re both capable of handling yourselves, but as a bartender I’ve seen it all. Just remember that we have a lot to do tomorrow, and none of it will be fun with a hangover,” she warned us before heading in.

I found myself glaring holes into Yoobin’s retreating figure. Was she seriously trying to lecture us about responsible drinking? Just when I was starting to like her too. I should have figured that anyone who could be best friends with Yoohyeon for her entire life was just as annoying. Once she was inside, I turned to Siyeon. She had been silent this whole time, probably counting on me to go to bed as well, and leave her alone with the booze. Too bad, buttercup. You’re not the only one with sorrows that needed to be numbed with liquor. I could already feel what I’d had so far start to take effect, but that wasn’t going to stop me from having a lot more. I was a big girl and could handle myself.

I scoffed, “Can you believe her? I’m Minji’s best friend, for crying out loud! I would never do anything to ruin the best week of her life. A few drinks never hurt anybody,” I insisted.

Siyeon smirked, “They may not hurt anybody, but in your case, they sure seem to work fast. You’re pretty tiny, I suppose it makes sense that you’d be such a lightweight. You should probably head to bed soon,” she pointed out.

Her words made me see red. For starters, she was probably lying so that I would let her have the bar to herself. Second of all, where did she get off thinking she could be so condescending? She hardly spoke a word all day to anybody, and suddenly she wants to mock my size and treat me like a kid getting drunk for the first time? I was pretty sure I was older than her, that brat. Not to mention, she sure didn’t seem to think of my ass as a “tiny thing” when she was ogling me in the dressing room earlier. For most of today, I had had to play nice because there was an audience, but now that it was just the two of us, and alcohol was involved, she would get the full experience of my wrath. I stormed over to the bar and yanked one of the open bottles of liquor off the counter. I marched back over to where she was sitting, and slammed it hard on the table. The forcefulness of the action startled her. She had been used to seeing the forced-to-be-polite Bora, now it was time for the real Bora to come out to play, and she was a real bitch sometimes.

“You know what? I’m real sick of your attitude, and I’m even more sick of pretending to be okay with the load of bullshit I’ve had to face since getting here. Obviously I know what’s bothering me, but it has been driving me crazy trying to figure out what the hell is wrong with you. Both of us clearly need to take our minds off of something, so how about you shut up and we finish this bottle together? This isn’t my first rodeo, I’ll have you know. I’ve gotten wasted more times than I can count, and have handled plenty of critical life moments while recovering from the effects of alcohol. I get the vibe that you’ve done the same, so what’s stopping us? A hangover can’t make tomorrow any worse than it’s already going to be,” I ranted.

Siyeon blinked, stunned by my outburst. Once the initial shock wore off, Siyeon grabbed the bottle and took a generous swig. It seemed like she was on board with my plan to get wasted and forget our troubles. Pleased with her cooperation, I took the bottle from her and drank from it after she was done. We were beyond the point of using glasses now. The ones we had been using were probably expensive, and the last thing I needed was to owe Yoohyeon’s family anything if we broke one. Besides, Siyeon didn’t seem to be carrying any weird mouth diseases or lip fungi. In fact, I found her lips rather nice.

Time passed, and with each sip, Siyeon and I found ourselves loosening up more and more. I had actually managed to get her to give me a genuine smile, and made her laugh too. I did not expect such a cutesy giggle to come from someone with such a tough exterior. She could wear all the leather she wanted, but being happy suited her way more than this angsty act. I found myself warming up to her, even though it was probably just the alcohol warming my insides. The two of us were having a grand time sitting by the pool, sharing the massive bottle of liquor and erupting into laughter over the silliest things. Our conversations were becoming more and more nonsensical, but we were still having a blast. Siyeon hit my arm excitedly as some random thought struck her drunken mind.

“I gotta admit, I didn’t think I was gonna like anybody here except Yoohyeon, but you’re alright, you know that? I actually wanna tell you something. You can’t tell anybody, okay?” she prefaced, slurring her words and staring into my eyes intensely.

I clumsily placed my hand over what I thought was my heart.

“I’ll take your secret to my grave, cross my heart and hope to die. See? See my heart?” I giggled, grabbing her hand and putting it on my “heart” (which in hindsight had probably been my boob).

Siyeon grinned, “Wow, you have a nice heart, madame,” she declared with a squeeze before removing her hand and continuing, “so, uh, what was I saying? Right, I was gonna tell you my secret,” she leaned in to whisper in my ear, exhibiting the typical drunk person’s sense of personal space.

I, being just as drunk, did not notice nor care how close she was. Instead, I leaned in as well, eager to hear what she had to say. She was practically nibbling on my earlobe as she kept talking.

“I’m in love with Yoohyeon,” she confessed before clumsily pulling away from me and putting a finger in front of her lips.

“I knew it! That’s why you were so grumpy all day!” I shouted, jumping up and pointing at her.

She frowned at me, “Shh, keep your voice down! Everybody’s sleeping, and I told you it’s a secret!” she hissed.

“Whoopsies,” I giggled, falling back to the ground.

“Hey, if it makes you feel better, I have a secret too,” I told her, “I’m in love with Minji! Isn’t that funny, how each one of us is in love with one of the brides?” I snickered as I grabbed her hands.

Siyeon’s eyes widened. The expression of pure shock on her face was so innocent it made me want to pinch her cheeks. She seemed genuinely stunned that I had the same problem as her.

“Wait a minute, if we both like Yoohyeon and Minji, maybe we should team up! We could get them to realize that they’re making a mistake and that each one of them should be with us!” she gasped.

I stared at her, trying to decipher what she meant. Was she telling me she wanted to try and break them up? Even my hammered self knew that was a bad idea. What good could possibly come from destroying my best friend’s marriage?

“What are you on about? Are you telling me you want to join forces and get them to call off the wedding? That’s totally bonkers, dude! Minji’s my best friend!” I chuckled.

Siyeon frowned when I started laughing at her. Clearly, I had hurt her feelings. She clasped her hands together and shrunk away from me, looking completely dejected. It made me feel a smidge guilty.

“Forget it, it was a stupid idea. I’m sorry,” she apologized.

Actually, there was a small part of me that was drawn to what she had said. The thought of having Minji to myself was almost too good to be true. In my drunken state, I found myself falling prey to my own selfish desires. The next thing I said was something that was about to change the lives of many people over the course of this week.

“It may be a stupid idea, but I’m not sure I’m all that opposed to it. I mean, I don’t think Yoohyeon is right for Minji, and it seems that you feel the same way vice-versa. Maybe we’d be doing them a favor if we split them up. We’d be saving them from a potentially miserable life together and messy divorce later on,” I reasoned.

Siyeon’s face lit up.

“Exactly! Yoohyeon and I are meant to be together, we’re soulmates! Plus, it seems like you really care about Minji, and you two have known each other forever. You’d make her happier than anybody else ever could,” she insisted.

I grinned, “Well then, madame, it looks like we have ourselves a deal. Tonight let us celebrate the formation of a beautiful alliance! Let us drink to our newly generated bond!” I declared, handing the bottle to Siyeon after taking a generous swig.

At this point, we were both too drunk to be responsible for anything we said or did. Siyeon took the last sip and tossed the now empty bottle into the sky. It landed in the pool with a splash, reducing us to a mess of giggles. I dove in after our lost treasure, and Siyeon chose to follow my actions. The two of us bobbed our heads up after landing in the water, turning to stare at each other. I lost it laughing at Siyeon’s wet hair that clung to her face like seaweed. Siyeon, offended by my laughter, splashed me in retaliation. This prompted me to jump on her back and playfully tickle her, which caused her to squeal and squirm in my grasp. There we were, two drunken idiots roughhousing in the pool, not thinking about the fact that everything that had taken place on this night was irreversible. Come tomorrow morning, everything would be different between Siyeon and I, as well as everybody else involved in this wedding.

Chapter Text

Have you ever been whacked in the head repeatedly with a blunt object and then hit by a train on top of it? If you have, then you might be able to understand how I felt the following morning. While numbing your pain with liquor may seem pleasurable, the hangover you wake up with is a brutal punishment. How I made it back into my bed was beyond me, but the smell of chlorine wafting off of my body hinted that I spent some time in the guest house pool before heading to my room. Honestly, everything after I started drinking was a blur. I felt that someone had been with me, but it was beyond me who it was or what we did. Waking up alone was a good sign that nothing too disastrous had happened. Accidentally sleeping with a member of the wedding party or someone from Yoohyeon’s family would have made this week even worse than it already was.

Suddenly, there was an urgent knock coming from my bedroom door. I groaned and sunk deeper into the covers. My head was still pounding, and I felt pretty nauseous. The last thing I wanted to do was face the world of the living. Unfortunately, it looked like I wouldn’t have much of a choice. Whoever was bothering me took my silence as their cue to burst inside.

“You’re still not up yet? The tailor’s gonna be here in twenty minutes! Geez, what did you do last night? You smell like a watered down distillery!” Gahyeon yelled, holding her nose when she caught a whiff of me.

“Crap, the tailor! I totally forgot. Minji’s gonna kill me! Twenty minutes should be enough time to take a quick shower and get dressed. Thanks for coming to get me,” I jumped into action despite my impaired state.

I dragged myself towards the nearest bathroom as fast as I could. On my way, I noticed Siyeon emerging from her room. I’m sure I looked like no picnic myself, but she looked like hell. Based on her disastrous state, I figured that she must have been my drinking buddy last night. She must have been much easier to deal with when drunk, because we clearly did some damage. Maybe she would have a better recollection of what we did. Sometimes ignorance was bliss when it came to drunken shenanigans, but given my current situation, I was wary of what I might have said or done. I didn’t want to take any chances. As we crossed paths, we each gave the other a curt nod and headed our separate ways. Asking her would have to wait-I needed to gear myself up for this damn tailor’s appointment.
~
Where there’s a will there's a way, and that is my only explanation for how I survived the meeting with the tailor. Minji and Yoohyeon were as chipper as ever, overflowing with excitement as they welcomed her in. They were so excited that the entire conversation happened at an earsplitting volume. If that weren’t bad enough, I had to watch Yoobin look at me with a face that screamed “I told you so” for the entire appointment. Curse her and her powers of observation. I wondered what gave me away. Perhaps it was my inability to stand up straight, or my look of pure exhaustion and misery. Either way, the bitch was right and she knew it. At least the brides were oblivious to what was ailing me. I wouldn’t be able to forgive myself if I had disappointed Minji during her big week. I had really blown it by being so selfish. I would just have to deal with the consequences of my actions and not let it ruin things for her. On the bright side, misery loves company, and Siyeon was right there suffering beside me. She looked like she might keel over at any moment.

“Well, that should take care of everything. It looks like all loose ends are tied up, and everyone’s dresses fit them like a glove. I must say, you lot make a beautiful bridal party. I wish you all the best for the big day. Cheers!” the tailor declared before exiting with a flourish.

Minji and Yoohyeon escorted her to the front door, giving me a chance to fall to the floor in relief. It sure was a blessing to be out of that damned dress. I would normally be grateful that Minji considered my figure worthy of something so tight, but not when I was recovering from a rough night. Between the harsh lighting of the fitting room, and the discomfort of the material, it was a miracle I didn’t yack all over the tailor while she was cinching everything in place.

“Thanks, guys, that couldn’t have gone any better. I’m sure the shower tomorrow will be just as amazing. This is the best week ever!” Minji cheered, causing both me and Siyeon to wince.

“Sorry to keep leaving you guys, but we still have some some more to take care of. My family invited us to afternoon tea to discuss the remaining details. Do you all mind if we skip out for the afternoon? I promise we’ll be back as soon as possible and we can all do something fun tonight,” Yoohyeon explained, taking Minji’s hands in hers.

“That won’t be a problem at all. Handong and I can use that as our chance to finish setting up for the shower. We didn’t want you guys to see any of the surprises we have planned,” Gahyeon assured her with a grin.

Minji clapped her and Yoohyeon’s hands, “I’m so excited to see what you guys come up with! I’m sure it will be brilliant. Yoobin, Siyeon, Bora, you guys are okay with us heading out too, right?” she directed her question at the three of us who had yet to weigh in on the matter.

“Yeah, it’s fine,” Siyeon muttered, clearly lacking the energy to say much else.

I chose to just nod, exerting myself as little as possible.

“I think we could all use this chance to rest. After all, it’s gonna be a busy week. I would love the chance to keep working on my coursework,” Yoobin added, looking at Siyeon and I as she spoke.

“Very good! We’ll see you guys later. Thank you for being so understanding. We look forward to spending more time with you!” Yoohyeon proclaimed before she and Minji headed off.

Once they were out the door, Gahyeon and Handong set to work on finalizing things for the shower. Thankfully, they insisted that they were basically done and wouldn’t be needing any additional help. I might have actually exploded if I had to use my brain much more in its current state. With the two of them gone, Yoobin was left to stare Siyeon and I down with a look I knew all too well. She was about to chew us out with the classic, protective best friend speech. I had given it myself many times on Minji’s behalf, so I knew what was coming.

“Do you two have anything to say for yourselves? I’m willing to give you the benefit of the doubt if this is a one-time thing, but Yoohyeon’s my best friend, and I’m not gonna let you abuse her family’s hospitality or ruin her wedding week. If I’m not mistaken, you and Minji have a similar relationship, Bora. I’m surprised I even have to give you this lecture. As for you, Siyeon, I know about your problematic history, but Yoohyeon has never had a bad thing to say about you. She has full faith in you as a person, you should at least try and live up to her expectations. You’re lucky that today went well. I hope you two will think twice before doing anything else stupid that might jeopardize this week. Remember that this isn’t about either one of you, it’s about Minji and Yoohyeon. You should be putting them first instead of yourselves. Anyways, I’m gonna head to my room, see you later,” Yoobin stated before giving us one last glare and exiting the premises.

“She really wants me to hate her, doesn’t she? Put Minji first, does she not know that’s what I’ve been doing ever since we became friends?” I grumbled from where I was still laying on the floor.

Siyeon snorted, “Yoobin’s always been like this when it comes to Yoohyeon. I remember when Yoohyeon introduced us back in undergrad. She saw me light one cigarette and thought I was the devil incarnate or something. She acts like one of those moms in horror movies from the seventies,” she chuckled, grimacing at the pain caused by the action.

Perhaps it was from our newfound solidarity in our shared state of misery, but I found myself laughing with her. Soon both of us were reduced to groaning pathetically, our hangovers taking their toll. Siyeon had joined me on the floor, unable to tolerate standing any longer.

“You know, I’m glad we get a moment alone. I was wondering if you remember anything that happened last night. I have a feeling you’re the one I was drinking with since we’re the only ones who look and feel like death. I have a vague recollection of downing some kind of bottle, and I know we went swimming because this morning I smelled like a waterpark mixed with booze,” I turned to look in her eyes as I spoke.

Siyeon frowned, “Sorry, I was actually hoping to ask you the same thing. I don’t even know how I made it back in one piece. All I can tell you is that yesterday sucked enough, but today was ten times worse. At least this time, I wasn’t the only one who was miserable though,” she admitted.

Something about her words activated something inside me. Despite being wasted last night, it seemed that I was able to recall bits and pieces of the night’s events. What did us being miserable together have to do with whatever shenanigans we got into? It seemed like we had made some sort of promise or deal. Maybe if I brought this up, it would jog Siyeon’s memory as well and she could help me fill in the missing pieces.

“Say, Siyeon, now that you mention it, I think I remember us coming up with some kind of arrangement. Granted, drunk people come up with stupid ideas all the time, but that’s what’s standing out to me about last night. Does this ring a bell with you?” I pondered, scratching my chin.

Then I remembered yesterday’s events before alcohol was involved. Siyeon’s terrible mood and cold behavior towards everyone and everything. Her expression when she was helping Yoohyeon with her dress, and the way her entire demeanor changed when she was watching her. I had been wondering about her relationship with the woman about to marry my best friend, maybe we had discussed it in our drunken state. Did that mean that my feelings for Minji had come to light as well? My eyes widened as the puzzle began to finish itself. It looked like Siyeon’s thoughts had followed a similar course, because we ended up staring at each other in shock.

“I’m gonna seriously regret even bringing this up if I’m wrong, but did we conspire to break up the wedding?” I finally broke the silence.

“I think we did. There’s probably also a special place in hell being reserved for us as we speak,” she confirmed.

“Oh my god, I’m the worst best friend in the universe. I don’t deserve to be in the same room with Minji, let alone be in her wedding,” I groaned.

“Relax, you were just really, really drunk. Alcohol makes everybody lose control. Just because you said that stuff after downing a bottle of hard liquor doesn’t mean that you would ever actually do it,” Siyeon tried to comfort me.

“Yeah, but does that change the fact that both of us admitted to being in love with one of the brides? Face it, that alone is already bad enough,” I countered.

Siyeon shrugged, “As much as I wish we could, we can’t take any of it back. Why don’t we just pretend this never happened?” she suggested.

My eyes narrowed, “Wait a minute, you only applied the stuff about being too drunk to actually go through with the plan to me. Does that mean you’re actually gonna try to sabotage my best friend’s wedding? Are you trying to get me to play dumb and let you off the hook?” I demanded.

Siyeon sighed, “Look, I know you probably think I’m the worst, but I can’t pretend to be happy for them. Maybe if you knew my story, you’d understand where I’m coming from. Yoohyeon and I have history, and I can’t lie to myself about my feelings for her. How could I possibly pretend to be okay with her marrying someone she met a few months ago in another country? You’ve gotta be in a similar boat when it comes to Minji. I mean come on, you’ve been her best friend since childhood! How are you gonna let her get away?” she argued.

“It’s because I’m her best friend that I can’t do anything to ruin her happiness, no matter how I feel,” I insisted.

She shook her head, “If you ask me, you’re just hiding behind that excuse because you’re afraid of what you really feel. I said that alcohol makes people lose control, but it also reveals their true intentions. Face it, what you said last night is everything you’re trying to run away from. Unlike you, I intend to embrace what I’m feeling. You miss every shot you don’t take, and right now you’re letting the person you claim to love get away. You know, you never told me the full story of how you fell for her. Maybe if you did, you’d see what you giving up if you let her go through with this wedding. Why don’t you tell me all about it now? We’ve got plenty of time,” she offered with a smirk.

Maybe it was the hangover, but I found myself too exhausted to protest any longer. Siyeon’s words were starting to affect me, and I found myself actually wanting to continue the conversation. She had a point, I had a habit of putting aside my feelings when it came to Minji. I am one of the most outspoken people I know, but my love for my best friend was the one thing that made me zip my lips. Perhaps telling someone about it would set me free. Besides, I was dying to hear about this “history” Siyeon had mentioned. Between Yoobin’s words about her problematic past, and Siyeon’s determination to break up this marriage, my curiosity was insatiable. At the very least, this would buy me some time to figure out what to do. If Siyeon was as hellbent on sabotaging the wedding as she seemed, I needed to gather information to decide on the best course of action. As awful as it sounded, I wasn’t sure whether stopping Siyeon would be the right thing to do or not. Besides, she could always use the events of last night against me. I had to be careful.

“Alright, fine, let’s go to my room and we can keep chatting. The floor of a changing room is not what I’d call an ideal spot to talk. We should go somewhere with more privacy. I’m not telling you anything without getting something in return, though. I’ll dish my history with Minji, only if you enlighten me about your past as well. Maybe if we know more about each other, we can reach some kind of agreement on this entire issue. Sound like a deal?” I compromised.

Siyeon smirked, “That sounds perfectly fair. Now then, who’s up for some girl talk?” she snickered, getting up and offering a hand to help me up.

The two of us made our way to my bedroom, shutting the door and locking it tight. Everything that was about to be said needed to stay between us, at least for now.

Chapter Text

Once we were sure that the door was firmly shut and the lock had clicked, Siyeon and I flopped onto the queen bed of my guestroom. Our hangovers were still in full throttle, rendering us both exhausted. I stared Siyeon down, daring her to go first and spill her secrets. The look she gave me challenged my commands, and urged me to be the one to speak up first.

“Go on, let’s hear this history of yours. You don’t think I actually trust you to stick around if I go first, do you?” I spoke up.

Siyeon raised her eyebrows at me and nestled herself comfortably in the sheets. She propped her elbow on the pillow and rested her head on her upright arm so she could stare directly at me.

“Oh come on, I’m as hungover as you are. Do you really think either one of us is capable of a speedy getaway right now? Besides, I want to share my side of the story so you can see why I feel the way I do. I promise I’ll stay right here and tell you whatever you want to know after you’re done,” she reasoned.

“Alright, fine, but only because the sooner we get done talking, the sooner I can take a nap. I know I’m going to change my mind the minute another opportunity arises, but right now I never want to drink again!” I huffed.

“Stop stalling and let’s hear about that crush of yours,” she teased, her eyes twinkling.

“You know, you’re a real pain in the ass,” I deadpanned which prompted Siyeon to start cackling.

“I guess I’ll go ahead and get started then, since there’s nothing stopping me from doing so,” I sighed, “God, this is gonna be difficult. I’ve known Minji for a pretty long time, so it’s pretty hard to determine when exactly my feelings for her turned romantic. I have a general idea, but we’re gonna have to do some time hopping. Hope you’re ready to buckle in and enjoy the ride,” I warned her before beginning our journey into my complicated relationship with my childhood best friend.
~
Twenty Years Ago

“Come on,we’re almost there! Just a little bit further!”

“Can you slow down just a little? Your legs are so long! I feel like I’m gonna die just trying to keep up with you!”

Even though Minji and I met in kindergarten, I’ll skip ahead to a more important day regarding my feelings for her. In this story, we were two seven year old girls running through the forest. Minji, the taller of the two of us, was leading the way, twirling around excitedly with a flower in her hair. I was struggling not to fall behind, pumping my tiny legs as fast as they would take me. We were a duo on a mission, heading to the secret base we had set up in a location known only to us. Soon enough, we arrived at our destination. The secret base consisted of a spacious tree marked with our initials. Our secret base was where we discussed our innermost dreams and wishes, and concocted lofty plans for our futures. Of course, all of these plans included us being side-by-side forever.

“Alright, today is a very important day. I was just at my cousin’s wedding this weekend, and I realized that we gotta plan our weddings way in advance. How else are we gonna make sure that we get married at the same time and have the best party ever?” Minji declared once we were settled in our usual spot.

“You made me run all the way here for that? Weddings are so dumb, plus I don’t even know if I wanna get married!” my seven-year-old self huffed.

Minji looked at me as if I had just said I kick puppies for fun. Her lower lip trembled and her big brown eyes threatened to spill a fresh batch of tears. My eyes widened as I raced to revoke my comment.

“Hey, hold on! Weddings may be dumb, but anything that I get to do with you is way less dumb. In fact, getting married with you would make me super happy,” I explained as I grabbed her hands earnestly.

That was enough for Minji. Her face lit up and she was right back to business.

“Alright, we need to pick our dresses, and decide on what cake each of us will have. Ooh, we also gotta decide who we’re gonna marry! I hope I meet somebody in Europe one day, like those movies my mom watches! Who do you wanna marry, Bora?” she inquired.

“How would I know? Everybody in our grade is annoying! Except for you of course,” I scoffed, blushing a little.

Minji giggled, “You’re so grumpy! Well, it doesn’t matter if you don’t know who you wanna marry yet. We’ll both find our soulmates one day, and then we can get married together!” she chirped.

Minji moved right along and got to work on planning our joint big days. I watched her putz around our secret base, determined to create the weddings of our dreams. Despite how grumpy I had been when she first introduced the idea, I found myself smiling at her dedication to our future happiness. Little me eventually got over herself and jumped up to help her.

If I could go back in time, I would probably have been able to figure out that my seven-year-old self already knew who she wanted to marry. She was just too afraid to answer the question honestly.
~
Twelve Years Ago

My fifteen year old self stood in the mirror, a frown etched into my features. The black dress I had chosen to wear for tonight’s festivities would have looked fantastic, except I was missing some very important things. Being a late bloomer royally sucked sometimes. If only my current self could go back in time and reassure adolescent me that I would be a total knockout later in life.

Teenage me glanced over to where my best friend was getting ready beside me. Unlike me, Minji had always been blessed. The silver dress she was donning for the evening looked flawless on her. I found myself sizing her up and comparing our fortunes. She was a goddess while I looked like a kid playing dress up. It was so unfair. Like in most cases, Minji was the one on top while I got the short end of the stick. She had had a line of people asking her to the dance, meanwhile the people who had asked me only did so to have a chance to be near her. It was so tiring to always be the shadow to her light. She shimmered and sparkled while I faded to black beside her. Yet, no matter how jealous I found myself, I could never bring myself to leave her side. I was okay with sinking into the background as long as I got to be with her. She was a star, and I was perfectly willing to be the night sky that helped her shine brighter.

“Bora, you’re staring,” Minji giggled, interrupting my thoughts.

“Can you blame me? You look really pretty. There’s gonna be an all-out brawl for who gets to dance with you. Your date is gonna have to fight everybody off,” I told her.

“Good thing there’s nobody I’d rather dance with than my best friend who’s strong enough to get rid of anybody who gets in our way!” Minji declared, grabbing my hands and smiling.

Even though Minji had said and done things like this many times before, I found my heart fluttering. I gazed into her eyes and saw the warmth in them. Being in Minji’s presence was like being bathed in a soft, ethereal light. All I could do was stare in awe at her beauty. A voice in my head kept wondering what it would be like if we kissed in that very moment. Was this the type of thing everyone thought about their best friend at some point? Did every person go through a phase in their friendship when they pictured what it would be like to place their lips on the other’s? I wonder if Minji had ever had these thoughts about me. Did my lips look as kissable as hers did in this moment, freshly coated with a shimmery gloss? I took a deep breath, trying to stifle these troublesome thoughts. There was no way Minji had any interest in kissing me. Sure enough, she pulled away from me seconds later to grab her phone.

“Come on, let’s take a picture! I’m making an album to post later,” she said, throwing her arm around me and aiming the camera at the best possible angle.

As I watched her smile for the pictures, oblivious to my inner turmoil, I found it hard to breathe. She had no idea how close I had been to ruining our friendship. Clearly, she thought of me as nothing more than a friend. I was probably just captivated by how pretty she looked for the dance. After all, they say jealousy can often mask itself as feelings of love. I certainly was no stranger to being jealous of Minji. Everything from her height, to her smile, to her inescapable charm and beauty that won over everyone, made me pale in comparison. I was clearly just mistaking my inferiority complex for some kind of crush. Fifteen year old me inwardly scoffed, vowing never to speak of this day and to move on. Too bad I never did.
~
Nine Years Ago

I had somehow managed to survive high school barely scathed. Minji had more than survived, having the entire student body wrapped around her finger by graduation. She had been student body president, voted the queen at every dance ever held, and had an adoring fanbase that was going to be devastated by the loss of their beloved princess. Minji had already decided on her plans for after graduation. She was determined to study something relating to interior design or fashion, but was more interested in eventually going abroad. She had a bad case of wanderlust, and envisioned herself escaping to glamorous otherworldly attractions. Who would have thought she would one day not only get her adventure, but end up with a fiance as a result of it?

Regardless of what the future held for her, Minji’s parents had insisted she focus on her studies before packing her bags and shipping off. They urged her to attend a university a few hours away, to give her a small taste of what being away from home would be like. Unfortunately, the two of us would be heading in different directions based on our chosen paths. While Minji was heading off to school, I had secured an apprenticeship with my dance teacher. She had promised to help me secure a career one day, as either a performer or a teacher. I would be sticking around our town while Minji was off to bigger and better things. Now that I think about it, that was always what life was like as Minji’s best friend. She was always flying high, headed towards a fabulous destination, while I was rooted on the ground, watching her soar. No matter how depressing it was, I could never find it in myself to regret the way things were between us. Minji deserved every good thing she ever got, and I enjoyed witnessing her success. Even if being by her side meant I was inferior to her, at least I got to be near her in spite of this. That’s all I could think about as the two of us walked hand in hand out of our graduation ceremony.

“I can’t believe it’s really all over. I hope people liked my speech. Well, I guess if they didn’t, this is the last time I’m ever going to see them again. Wow, it feels so weird to say that out loud!” Minji rambled as we headed towards our families.

I smiled at her, adjusting the tassel on her cap which had started to droop. I took it upon myself to readjust her robes as well. This was a common habit of mine, using any excuse I could to primp and prune her features. I just wanted her to always look her best, even though it was impossible for her to look anything but perfect. Once I had fixed these things, I poked her affectionately.

“Oh please, you could have said whatever you wanted into that microphone and had the entire audience eating out of the palm of your hand! You know the entire school loves you, Minji. There are so many people who are gonna go home tonight to their hidden shrines of you and cry that they’ll probably never be in your presence again,” I joked.

“Ah, you’re too much, Bora!” Minji giggled, punching my arm gently before continuing, “Thank you, though. Seriously, thank you for everything. You’ve never left my side since we were kids. I can’t tell you how much your friendship means to me. I don’t know how I’m gonna survive without you by my side in university. Promise you’ll visit me when you can! You know I’ll be calling you and writing you a bunch. I can’t wait to see what kind of killer choreography you come up with for your studio. Eventually I’ll be watching you onstage somewhere, but this is your first step towards your awesome career as the best dancer ever. Ugh, I’m gonna miss you so much! I love you!” she finished, enveloping me into a hug.

I looked over her shoulder at our families who were waiting for us so we could celebrate together. Our parents smiled at the heartwarming scene in front of them, two childhood best friends sharing an emotional goodbye at their high school graduation. I shifted my focus back to Minji, whose warm embrace had my head nestled comfortably in the crook of her neck right near her chest. I could hear her heartbeat drumming with the excitement of the big day. I took in the smell of her perfume, the sweet aroma of roses overtaking my senses. Minji’s words echoed in my head as I stood there, dumbstruck. Of course she meant them platonically, but their effect on me was anything but. I returned Minji’s hug with weak arms, my hands shaking as I patted her back. I took a deep breath and tried to summon any words that would make this less painful.

“Come on, this is no time for sappy farewells. We have a graduation dinner to get to!” I forced a chuckle as I grabbed her hands and yanked her towards our families.

To this day, I still hear Minji saying “I love you!” on a loop in my head from time to time. I can’t say I’m thrilled with how I replied to her, but I knew that I would never have been able to repeat her words back to her. We would have been saying them for two very different reasons.
~
Five Years Ago

There was actually a time where I almost slipped up and outed myself to Minji. You can probably guess that alcohol was involved. Man, I really need to reconsider my drinking habits. Anyways, it happened after Minji finished school. Naturally, we decided to go out and have some fun on the town together to celebrate her return. By the end of the night, both of us had drank more than enough. We were clinging to each other, stumbling over each other’s feet in a fit of giggles as we walked home. It was a perfect night to be outside, and I remember pointing up at the stars surrounding us.

“Look how pretty it is out here! Though, still nowhere near as pretty as you,” I slurred, smiling like an idiot as I turned to face Minji.

“That was smooth. Do you use that line to pick up chicks?” she snickered, caressing my cheek with her hand.

“As if! I have way too much game to rely on cheesy lines. I’m not quite as good at scoring dates as you are, but I have my ways. Unlike you, I actually have to work for them though,” I teased, clumsily wagging my finger at her.

Minji faked indignation and placed a hand over her chest.

“Excuse me, I have to put in some effort in the romance department too, you know! When I eventually get to Europe, I’ll probably have to work even harder to get noticed. It’ll all be worth it, though, when I go there and find my soulmate. I’ve already started saving up, I’m hoping to go in a few years,” she told me with a grin.

“Oh please, you’re probably gonna get proposed to the minute your plane lands! There is no language barrier when it comes to your charms,” I scoffed.

Minji grinned, “Does that mean even you can’t resist them?” she teased, wiggling her eyebrows and inching closer.

My breath hitched as the space between us grew smaller. Minji’s face was inches from mine, and she was even more irresistible than ever. My instincts told me to force our lips together, and finally satisfy the curiosity I’d felt since I was a teenager. I wanted to kiss her, to see if it would be as perfect as I imagined it. If I had been any drunker, I probably would have gone for it. Thankfully, I wasn’t in THAT bad of shape. Unfortunately, I was in rough enough shape to utter the following statement.

“I sure am having trouble resisting them right now,” I breathed, gazing at her lips.

Minji pulled back, staring at me in confusion. This lasted only a moment before she burst into laughter. I, realizing how awkward I had almost made things, nervously joined in.

“You’re such a card, Bora! Man, did I miss getting to hang out with you when I was at school. We really tore it up on the dance floor tonight. We have to do this again sometime!” she gushed once her giggles had died down.

“Yeah, definitely,” I muttered, having sobered up considerably.

The entire walk home I watched Minji closely. She was barely coherent, and I wasn’t sure if I was grateful for that or not. I still wonder, if she hadn’t been so drunk, would she have pressed the subject more? Maybe if she had, she could have pulled a confession out of me. I wonder what life would be like if that had happened. Well, five years later and I am still too much of a coward to confess, plus now she’s getting married, so I guess things between Minji and I will always just be a big “What if?”
~
With that final thought, I had finished running through my history with Minji. I had only highlighted on the major points, the moments that made it clear to me how screwed I was. When I had finished talking, I twiddled my thumbs nervously and waited for Siyeon to chime in. I hoped she would just launch into her own story with Yoohyeon. I really didn’t feel like pressing this subject any further.

“Based on everything you told me, Minji’s always been the number one priority of your life, even before yourself. If you ask me, a love like that is not something you should give up so easily. Maybe it’s time for you to let yourself be happy. Your lingering feelings are probably a sign that you’re meant to be with her. For all you know, you might end up making her happier than she could have ever been with Yoohyeon,” Siyeon pointed out.

“You’re just saying that so I’ll help you crash the wedding,” I mumbled, suddenly finding my hands a more interesting place to look than anywhere else.

“That’s not true. Bora, Bora, hey, look at me,” Siyeon insisted, grabbing my chin and forcing me to gaze into her eyes.

“Why did I agree to do this again?” I found myself trying to hold back tears I hadn’t anticipated.

Siyeon, noticing that my eyes were misty, wiped at them with her thumb. She seemed less caught off guard by my emotional outburst than I was. She looked at me with the kind of sympathy that only someone who has been in my exact position could possibly muster.

“I know you’re probably going through a lot right now, I’ve been there myself. I get it if you don’t wanna talk for a little bit while you process everything and let it all sink in. How about I tell you my story now?” she suggested, giving me an encouraging smile.

This was the nicest I had seen Siyeon act since getting here. Aside, of course, from us being drunk together, which doesn’t count since neither of us could really remember what all happened. It seemed that discovering her feelings for Yoohyeon had been hard for her too. This made me even more interested in finally hearing about their past together.

I nodded my agreement with her plan while wiping at my eyes. I hadn’t realized that talking about my feelings for Minji would take this much of a toll on me. Between this and my reaction to seeing Minji in her wedding dress, I wasn’t sure I could handle much more of this. This week was proving to be more emotionally draining than expected. It looked like my obligation to Minji as a friend, and the feelings I had bottled up for so long, were finally coming to a head. Everything Siyeon was about to tell me would be crucial in deciding which one would end up winning.

Chapter Text

Siyeon waited for me to get a grip on my emotions, making herself comfortable in the meantime. She had clearly warmed up to me after seeing my pain, because she had settled in a spot much closer to me than before. In just a short amount of time, I had seen a much kinder side of her personality. In fact, the way she was smiling at me while I composed myself was starting to give me butterflies. Nice as it was, though, her smile had nothing on Minji’s. Speaking of Minji, I think I was finally coming to terms with everything I had just unloaded. With one last sniffle, I figured that I had gotten most everything out of my system.

“Thanks for your patience. I have no idea what came over me just now. You can go ahead any time you want,” I told her.

Siyeon shook her head, “You don’t need to thank me. Holding on to feelings like that for as long as you have can do a real number on your emotions. I thought I had it bad, and I’ve only known Yoohyeon for, like, a third of the time you’ve known Minji! Even still, I have no idea what telling you about my past with her is going to do to me,” she warned me, her expression darkening.

I furrowed my eyebrows in concern at her change in demeanor. It was clear that whatever she was about to tell me was going to be painful for her. I grabbed her hand with both of mine, prompting her to look at me.

“You have my full permission to cry as much as you need to, or punch a wall, or whatever you have to do. You already know more about my innermost thoughts and feelings than, like, pretty much everyone I know, so we’re in this together. You can tell me anything,” I promised her with a smile.

Siyeon blinked, probably taken aback by how friendly I was being. We were still basically strangers, after all. I blushed a bit and let go of her hands, biting my lip nervously. This action prompted her to giggle like mad, putting a hand over her mouth. My eyes narrowed at her reaction. I was just trying to be a good person. Why the hell was she laughing like that? Did she want me to go back to not being able to stand her?

“I’m sorry, I probably seem like such an asshole! That was just so cute! Your hands are so tiny, I’m-” I cut Siyeon off with a hard punch to her shoulder.

“See if I’m ever nice to you again!” I shouted angrily, my cheeks pink.

Siyeon kept snickering, holding onto the shoulder I had bruised. It gave me some satisfaction to see that I had done at least a little bit of damage. Not so cute and tiny now, am I? Siyeon, aware that I was annoyed with her, decided to mend things over.

“Okay, okay, no need to get upset. I’m sorry for laughing at you. It’s just, you seemed to really hate me before, so I guess I didn’t expect you to be so nice to me this quickly. To be honest, I’m not used to people liking me much, aside from Yoohyeon. You’ll realize that soon enough, though, because I’m finally about to tell you what you wanted to hear all along,” she explained.

I nodded, pleased with her apology. I was somewhat hesitant to touch her, in fear that she would point out the size of my hands again, but ended up placing my hand on her arm in encouragement. Siyeon took a deep breath before sending us both on a journey into her past.
~
Six Years Ago

Siyeon leaned against the wall of the building, hands in her pockets. As usual, the first day of classes fell on a brisk, chilly day. It was as if all of the warmth in the world died with the hopes and dreams of students as they were trapped in the educational system once more. It was her second year of college, and she was already eager to get out of this hellhole.

She had just wanted to become a musician right away, but her parents had insisted that she should get some kind of degree first. She had had a hell of a time persuading them to let her choose music as her major. Now she was trapped in a program filled with haughty, arrogant people who only cared about their fragile egos. Cutting class had become her sanctuary, since she could be away from those terrible people and have time to herself. She had to be careful, though, because if she got kicked out of university, her parents made it clear that she would be on her own financially. Siyeon wasn’t stupid, she knew it was pretty hard to make it in music. She would need her family’s support as a fallback if things didn’t go as planned, otherwise she would end up on the streets.

Since it was the first day, Siyeon figured skipping would be harmless. The professors usually talked about themselves the whole time before handing out their syllabus. Siyeon could easily obtain copies of these online or in-person another day, so she was perfectly content to stand outside and watch students meander about the campus. People-watching was Siyeon’s activity of choice when she cut class. It was fun to make judgements about her peers, who all seemed so sure of themselves and their bright futures. She wondered what it was like to have dreams and ambitions. She had lost hers the moment her parents stuffed her in this expensive prison.

Siyeon grabbed a pack of cigarettes from her pocket, and proceeded to light one. Her trusted lighter and her smokes were her only true companions anymore. Siyeon was by no means the most popular girl in school. Her first year, she had had a roommate but they barely spoke. After that, Siyeon’s parents had managed to score her a single room for this year, much to her relief. In her classes, she made it a point to keep to herself (on the days she actually showed up). Considering her less than stellar attendance record, people preferred not to work with her on group projects. Siyeon was fine with this, and had worked out agreements with her professors to let her work as a lone wolf on all assignments. Perhaps if she had liked it here, she would have put in more effort to make friends. In high school she had had friends, not many, but a good group she trusted. They had made the bullying easier. Too bad she had lost touch with them after being sent to this stupid school. Oh well, no use in lamenting over the past and what was lost. She had already done that enough.

Siyeon took another drag, blowing out a cloud of smoke. A crowd of girls passed by, giving her a disgusted look. Siyeon smirked at their reaction. She knew she fit the typical stereotype of a delinquent, cutting class and smoking. She was even dressed like one in her ragged jeans and oversized jacket. She didn’t care what people thought of her anymore. The bad girl loner image had helped her survive thus far, and she was content to stick with it.

Siyeon’s cigarette was almost to her lips once more when she saw something that made her drop it to the ground. Siyeon cursed when she realized she had wasted a perfectly good cig, but couldn’t tear her eyes away from what she was looking at. There was a girl walking along the quad who was so beautiful that Siyeon found herself unable to tear her eyes away. She was tall, looming almost the same height as a few of the saplings that had been sprouting on the quad since last year. In addition to her height, this girl was as slim as a supermodel, wearing a sweater dress that clung to her stunning frame. Siyeon gawked at the gorgeous woman who was practically skipping as she toted her textbooks along to class. Her braids swung as she moved, making her even more adorable.

The stranger looked in her direction, noticed her, and lit up like a Christmas tree. Siyeon realized that this angel among humans was heading towards her, making her panic. What business could someone so wholesome possibly have with a trash heap like her? She looked for any distraction that could save her from having to interact with the girl and risk humiliating herself. Unfortunately, there was not enough time to escape and there was nothing nearby that would rescue her from carrying a conversation. Pretending to be on the phone would be too tacky, and she had no friends to call as it was. Tree girl burst on the scene, standing right in front of Siyeon with a smile that squeezed her heartstrings. Her nose crinkled a bit, probably put off by the smell of cigarettes, making her look like a rabbit. Siyeon gulped nervously, afraid of the effect this girl already had on her.

“What do you want?” she barked, inwardly wincing at how cold she sounded.

“Sorry to bother you, but I’m a first year, so I don’t know where anything is. Would you be able to show me to the music hall? I’ve been looking everywhere for it. This place is so confusing! You look like you know what you’re doing, and I’d really appreciate it if you could help me. My name is Yoohyeon, by the way. What’s yours?” the angel, now known as Yoohyeon, explained.

Siyeon felt her heart drumming against her chest. She could have lied and pretended not to know where the building was. That would send the girl on her way and leave Siyeon alone and at peace once more. The thing is, she wasn’t sure she wanted her to leave. Something about this girl radiated a warmth that Siyeon hadn’t experienced since coming to this university. Plus, it wouldn’t kill her to help her find her class. All she had been doing was smoking and drowning in angst, so this wasn’t interrupting much. Siyeon figured she would help her out.

“Oh yeah, sure, I’m a music student myself. I know exactly where you need to go. Why don’t you follow me? I’m Siyeon,” she replied, leading the way towards the music hall.
~
All it had taken was that one interaction, and suddenly Siyeon had made her very first friend at university. Yoohyeon, learning that Siyeon was a year ahead of her in the program, was always interested in hearing her advice. When she learned that Siyeon rarely showed up to her classes and therefore was not much of an expert on the topic, she had been horrified. After that, she had stuck to Siyeon’s side like glue, acting as her babysitter and making her attend all of her lectures. If it had been anybody else, Siyeon would have resented this, but right from the start she had been helpless to Yoohyeon’s charms. She would do anything the other girl asked, as long as she could be in her presence. She had finally found something that made going to university worthwhile.

Their friendship wasn’t just limited to academia. The two continued to grow closer as they spent more time together. Yoohyeon was curious about Siyeon’s life outside of school, which wasn’t particularly exciting, but Siyeon appreciated her interest. Siyeon introduced her to some of her favorite bands, not having much else to talk about aside from smoking and cutting class, which were hobbies she did not want Yoohyeon to pick up. She could still remember Yoohyeon’s excitement when she gave her the other earbud to listen. The younger girl’s reaction to her taste in music had been adorable. She had clearly never been exposed to much rock music before, and suddenly found it the best thing since sliced bread. She had confessed that her family mostly listened to classical music, and that her parents found rock and pop music trashy.

Yoohyeon soon became a full fledged groupie for the same bands Siyeon liked, and the two attended concerts together whenever they were in town. Siyeon made sure only to take her to the more wholesome concert venues. The last thing she needed was a bunch of seedy people trying to hit on her, or sell her drugs. Yoohyeon, as sweet as she was, was pretty naive. She had lived a sheltered life, coming from a well-off family, and had rarely been exposed to the dangers of the world. Siyeon didn’t want her to lose that innocence. It was one of the things that made her Yoohyeon. Siyeon couldn’t imagine her without her pure, trusting nature. One day, though, the very thing Siyeon feared finally happened.
~
“You can ask as many times as you want, but I’m not taking you there,” Siyeon put her foot down.

“Come on, please? I’ve been dying to go to this concert since it was announced three months ago! I’m only interested in the music. Why can’t we just show up for the concert and leave?” Yoohyeon whined, holding up the flyer for the event she had been asking to attend.

“Wonderland is the trashiest club in town! The place is littered with creeps, regardless of what events are being held. They’ll take one look at your designer handbag, and you’ll have a giant target on your back. I’m not risking your safety just to see a band,” Siyeon insisted.
“Oh come on, we’ll be together! If we feel unsafe, we can just call security. I’ll ditch the handbag and wear my cheapest clothes if that’ll make you feel better. You’re acting like I have no idea how to take care of myself. I’ve lasted this long in college, so I’m sure I can survive one night at a seedy nightclub,” Yoohyeon argued.

Siyeon could see the determination burning in the taller girl’s eyes. Yoohyeon was usually as sweet as they come, but the girl could be as stubborn as a mule. She had a feeling this was one of the battles she would not be winning. It was likely that if she continued to say no, Yoohyeon would just find her way over there herself. She would much prefer escorting her, and having the chance to protect her, so she knew she would have to give in. The older girl sighed and rubbed her temples.

“Whatever, I’ll go with you. Just promise that you’ll stick by my side the whole night, and if I notice anything that might pose a threat, you’ll leave without protest,” Siyeon conceded.

Yoohyeon squealed and clapped her hands in delight. Siyeon couldn’t find it in her to stay annoyed for long. She smiled at the younger girl’s happiness and watched her race to find an appropriate outfit for the concert. While sitting there, Siyeon uttered a silent prayer that everything would go smoothly. Despite her best efforts, she couldn’t shake the foreboding feeling that something bad was going to happen.
~
They had been at the club for a while now, and so far nothing had gone wrong. Siyeon had to say she was relieved, although she was still on edge. The night was young, and there was still time for things to take a turn for the worse. She wished she could be as carefree as Yoohyeon was, dancing to the music and giggling excitedly. Siyeon had to be the pessimistic one though, because it made her more careful. Yoohyeon could glide through life with Siyeon behind her, watching her back. The taller girl had been oblivious to the seedy characters making eyes at her throughout the concert, but Siyeon had set them straight with her iciest glare. Anyone who wanted to make a pass at Yoohyeon would have to do so over her dead body.

Towards the end of the concert, Siyeon’s bladder got the best of her. As much as she wanted to stay rooted to Yoohyeon’s side, nature was calling, and it was calling pretty aggressively. Siyeon grabbed her younger companion’s arm, explaining that she needed a trip to the ladies’ room. Yoohyeon groaned at being dragged along, but complied as part of the earlier agreement they had made. They arrived at the restroom, which was a one-off. Siyeon looked at Yoohyeon, expecting her to come in with her. The younger girl, being as prim and proper as ever, blushed at this and shook her head.

“Oh no, I can’t possibly come in there with you. There are boundaries that have to be drawn, even between good friends!” Yoohyeon protested.

Siyeon rolled her eyes, “Oh come on, it’s not like I’m asking you to stick your head in the toilet after I’m done. You can just hang out in there and look at your phone or something,” she argued.
Yoohyeon scrunched her nose in a cute, rabbit-like way, just like the day they had first met.

“No way, that’s gross! I’ll just wait right out here until you’re done. I’ll be literally no more than ten feet away from you,” she insisted.

Siyeon knew that she would have to compromise with Yoohyeon on this one. At least the younger girl promised to stay nearby. Plus, all she was doing was taking a leak. She would be gone for two minutes tops. Siyeon resigned and headed into the bathroom, closing the door behind her.

All in all, her trip to the bathroom couldn’t have been longer than the two minutes she had estimated it would take. She opened the door, ready to reunite with her taller companion and head back in for the end of the show. Her blood ran cold when she realized the hallway near the bathroom was empty, with no Yoohyeon in sight. She looked around frantically before darting out towards the rest of the club. She hoped that Yoohyeon had just heard a song she really liked and headed towards the stage to get a better look. The older girl would scold her for scaring her like that once she had found her. Much to Siyeon’s horror, there was no sign of Yoohyeon amongst the concertgoers. She had only been gone for two minutes, where could Yoohyeon have gone? Siyeon would never be able to forgive herself if anything happened to her dearest friend, the one person who made university bearable.

Siyeon noticed an exit that led into the alleyway where the club’s dumpsters were located. The door seemed to be propped open, making it an easy place to sneak out of. Her heart clenched at the thought of someone taking Yoohyeon out through that door. Nothing good could possibly happen in a place like that. Siyeon headed in that direction, silently praying that she wouldn’t stumble upon any of the sights she was afraid she might see.

The minute Siyeon was out the door, she heard a struggle going on. One of the voices belonged to Yoohyeon, she’d recognize that sound anywhere. Whipping her head in the direction the noise had come from, she saw a strange man dragging Yoohyeon by the wrist towards one of the dumpsters. Yoohyeon was not a fighter by nature, but she seemed especially weak in his grasp. Siyeon suspected that she had been drugged with something. Her blood boiled with a white hot fury she had never experienced in her life. Before she could even think, she was lunging at Yoohyeon’s attacker. A noise erupted from her throat that didn’t even sound human. To this day she wasn’t sure if it had really come from her. The next thing she knew, she had knocked him to the ground and was throwing punches. She kept hitting him, aware of what he had been planning to do to her friend. Her knuckles grew raw, and her hands were stained with his blood, but none of that mattered to her. All she could do was keep hitting him and screaming. Eventually, she was halted by a gentle hand on her wrist.

“Please, stop,” Yoohyeon pleaded in a weak voice, still intoxicated with whatever her attacker had given her.

Siyeon looked at her, and then back at the man, who had been reduced to a bruised and bloodied mess beneath her. He was alive, but barely. The only way they could tell was based on the weak moaning coming from his barely recognizable face. Siyeon looked down at her fists, which were covered in this man’s blood. She had almost killed someone. Her gaze wandered back to Yoohyeon, who was still holding onto her arm. The younger girl’s eyes reflected fear, an emotion Siyeon had never seen Yoohyeon direct at her. She knew that in this moment, her only friend thought she was a monster. Siyeon broke down into sobs, resting her head on Yoohyeon’s arm.

“He, he was going to hurt you!” she wept.

“It’s okay, you saved me, we’re both okay,” Yoohyeon whispered, although both of them knew that this wasn’t true.
~
The consequences of that fateful night were probably the worst part. Thankfully, the police were understanding of the situation and chalked it up to self defense, so no charges were pressed against either of the girls. Not to mention, the man who had gone after Yoohyeon was suspected of similar crimes in various clubs around town. A patrol car would be awaiting him once he was out of the hospital. Yoohyeon’s family, upon learning what happened, demanded that she come home for the rest of the semester to receive treatment and discuss next steps. They had been mortified that their daughter was found in such a place. In fact, that seemed to matter to them just as much as her being in danger.

As for Siyeon’s parents, they warned her that she would be wise to stay out of any more trouble if she wanted them to continue to pay for her education. Thankfully, all they had bothered to do was yell at her over the phone, so she didn’t have to interact with them much. She had returned to her old habit of keeping to herself, shutting out everyone she could. Siyeon and Yoohyeon didn’t speak for days, not from any lack of effort on Yoohyeon’s part. It was Siyeon who pushed her away, afraid of reawakening the side of herself she had shown that night. She most likely would have killed that man if Yoohyeon hadn’t intervened. Knowing that she was capable of such a thing terrified her. Yoohyeon could get hurt if she stuck around a monster like her.

Siyeon’s desire to avoid Yoohyeon was no match for the other girl’s sheer willpower. One day Yoohyeon came to visit, and knocked on her door until she had no choice but to open it. Siyeon was exhausted from sleepless nights spent crying and agonizing over her inner demons. She wanted to beg Yoohyeon to leave her alone, but lacked the energy to do it. She stood in silence, hoping that the other girl would grow tired of the cold treatment and leave. This did not end up being the case, since Yoohyeon was there on a mission. She stated her reason for coming almost instantly.

“Siyeon, I know you don’t want to talk to me right now, but I needed to see you. I’m sorry for what you went through the other night because of me, but I hope you know how much I appreciate you saving me from that terrible man. I don’t know what would have happened if you hadn’t come looking for me. Anyways, I came here to tell you that, and something else. My parents are worried that the music program hasn’t been a good influence on me. They’re grateful to you for saving me, but think that my time around you should be limited. I told them I’d never give up our friendship for anything in the world, and we fought a long time about that. We eventually came to the agreement that I would change majors, but I could still be your friend. Next semester I will be entering the linguistics program, and probably be doing graduate studies in Europe after that. I hope we can see each other from time to time, even if we won’t have any more classes together,” she explained before concluding, “That’s all I wanted to tell you, so thanks for listening. I guess I’ll let you get back to whatever you were doing.”

She headed towards the door, but Siyeon quickly wedged herself in front of it, preventing her exit.

“Wait, don’t go. I can’t let you leave thinking that you’re the reason I’m being like this. None of this was your fault, okay? I’m just scared of what I almost did to that man, and I’m scared of you being put in danger because of me. This never would have happened if I hadn’t introduced you to those bands,” the older girl confessed, tearing up.

Yoohyeon’s eyes widened, and she gently cupped Siyeon’s face in her hands.

“Siyeon, I won’t let you blame yourself for this. I was the one who insisted we go to that club, plus that man made the decision to try and hurt me. All you did was protect me. I don’t want to stand by and let you suffer. Please don’t shut me out ever again, okay? I want us to be friends forever, regardless of what the future holds!” she declared, gently wiping the other girl’s tears while crying tears of her own.

The key word there was “friends.” Siyeon realized that what she had been willing to do to protect Yoohyeon went beyond friendship. While platonic feelings could certainly make a person do similar things, it was clear that her heart belonged to the younger girl in a way that could only be given to a lover. It was then that Siyeon knew that it wasn’t only a fear of hurting Yoohyeon that had kept her away, but also a fear of hurting herself.
~
With that, Siyeon had finished her story. I sat in stunned silence, struggling to find any words to say. I could see how reliving these memories had hurt her. It was almost as if she had gone back in time herself, and was no longer in the room with me. I was scared of how distant she had become, her eyes vacant and her face looking as if it was made of stone. I felt another lump in my throat, this time out of sympathy for what she had gone through. Much to my shame, I found myself bursting into tears once again. Siyeon looked at me, surprised by my actions.

“I’m sorry, here I am bawling like a baby when you’re the one who just relived the worst years of your life! I wanna thank you for telling me all of this. I don’t know if this makes it any better, but I think you did the right thing. While you were telling me the story, I tried to imagine what I would have done if it had been Minji in that situation, and I think it would have been similar,” I sniffled.

Siyeon’s eyes regained some of their warmth, and I even saw her smile a bit. I could see tears of her own glistening in her eyes, ready to fall at any moment. It was clear what I needed to tell her next. I grabbed her hands and took a deep breath, trying to keep my emotions in check.

“After hearing all of this, I think I want to help you break up the wedding. I know Minji deserves someone who would do anything for her, and your story made it clear to me just how much you love Yoohyeon, who deserves the same thing. So, what do you say? Are you ready to ruin a marriage?” I told her with a grin, still holding her hands.

Siyeon’s smile widened and she nodded, which prompted some of her unshed tears to come down.

“Thank you, Bora. It means a lot to have you on my side,” she choked out, her voice clenched with emotion.

“Don’t mention it. As they say, people do crazy things for love. You and I can definitely attest to that!” I joked, prompting us both to giggle through our tears.

The two of us would have to get to work right away, seeing as we had only a few days to make this happen. Still, considering that Siyeon was capable of almost killing a man for Yoohyeon, and I was willing to do just about anything for Minji, we would definitely be able to pull this off. Operation “Break Up Minji and Yoohyeon” was finally about to start, for real this time.

Chapter Text

Once Siyeon and I had settled down a bit, we were ready to start getting down to business. We both still felt pretty shitty, but we had work to do. Thankfully, we had been left alone thus far and there seemed to be no signs of that changing anytime soon. Gahyeon and Handong were still getting things ready for the shower tomorrow, Yoobin was busy with her schoolwork, and Minji and Yoohyeon probably wouldn’t be back for a little while longer, which meant we had plenty of time to start concocting our plan. Now that I had committed to breaking up Minji and Yoohyeon’s marriage, I was going to give it my best effort. Better to have loved and lost, than to never have loved at all, as they say.

“Okay, so obviously our end goal is for Minji and Yoohyeon to be with each of us, but that is the less important part of our plan. The more important part is turning them against each other, since we’re on a time crunch with the wedding being so soon. The good thing is, it’ll be easier for us to pull this off since we know them both so well. I think the best way to tear them apart is by capitalizing on their weaknesses, as well as their differences. They say opposites attract, but a relationship needs to have some common ground in order for it to work. The more we make them realize that they aren’t a good fit, the sooner they’ll have second thoughts about getting married. Obviously, I know all about Minji, but what can you tell me about Yoohyeon that we can use? What’s her greatest weakness? Does she have any pet peeves? Help me out here!” I started brainstorming, poking Siyeon and urging her to join in.

“Wow, I’m sure glad I got you on my side! You seem like a real force to be reckoned with,” the other girl chuckled before continuing, “As for Yoohyeon, I love her just the way she is, but she definitely has some annoying qualities. Most of them are her family’s fault. I would say that her biggest weakness is how pretentious and judgemental she can be, especially when it comes to academic topics. I remember one time she nagged me for like five hours because I’d never heard of this one author she loves,” Siyeon mused, scratching her chin.

My eyes sparkled at this information. I’d been worried that it would be impossible to break up two people who seemed so perfect on the surface, but beauty really is only skin deep.

“This will be even easier than I thought! Minji’s sweet as can be, but she’s a bit of an airhead when it comes to high culture. Is Yoohyeon into fitness? Minji is the queen of exercising, she spends hours at the gym just about every day,” I mentioned.

Siyeon snorted, “Yoohyeon’s idea of a good workout is playing Wii Sports. She was lucky she had me around to lift anything heavy for her when we were classmates.”

“Well, this can all prove very useful for splitting them up. It can also help us make ourselves look better. You can show off how much you know about Yoohyeon’s favorite artists, authors, and composers, while I can show off how in shape I am. We’ll have to be subtle, of course, but I think that will be a really good place to start driving a wedge between them,” I pointed out.

“What about sabotaging this week’s events? I know it sounds terrible, but if everything starts to go wrong, maybe Minji and Yoohyeon will take it as a sign that things aren’t meant to be,” Siyeon proposed.

“Why, that is just diabolical! You are proving to be quite useful. I may be a terrible best friend for condoning this, but all’s fair in love and war,” I approved, giving Siyeon a thumbs up.

“I’m glad you acknowledge my genius,” Siyeon winked, blowing me a kiss.

I rolled my eyes, “Save it for Yoohyeon, hotshot. Anyways, you’re totally right about ruining the week’s events. We can start with the bridal shower tomorrow. I’m gonna feel bad since Gahyeon and Handong worked so hard, but this plan will have to involve some casualties for the greater good. Any suggestions on what we should do?” I prompted her.

Siyeon shrugged, “The bachelorette party will be easier since I’m involved in planning that. Yoobin’s gonna be a tough nut to crack, but I think I can slip around her easily enough. You can be in charge of ruining the rehearsal dinner, since that’s your solo gig. We also have more time to regroup and strategize before either of those. As for the shower, it’s hard to ruin an event we know very little about, given that we weren’t part of planning it. I barely know Handong or Gahyeon, but maybe you could try and squeeze some information out of them? That way we can make a more informed decision about what to do,” she suggested.

I gasped, “You are too good at this. Are you sure you’ve never sabotaged a wedding before?” I joked, prompting her to laugh and slap my arm playfully.

“I’ve already sealed the deal that I’m a terrible person by agreeing to this plan, so I guess I’ll have to put my conscience aside. Gahyeon has always been a blabbermouth, so getting information out of her will be like taking candy from a baby. I’ll go find her and Handong and offer to help them. I’m sure they’re not done setting everything up yet,” I offered.

Siyeon nodded, “Sounds like a good idea. When you’ve gathered enough intel, come find me in my room. It might look suspicious if I stay in yours while you’re gone,” she told me.

“You’re right, between that and our getting drunk together last night, it might start to look like we’re sleeping together. Although, I’m sure you wouldn’t mind that, considering the way you checked me out in the dressing room yesterday,” I teased with a wink.

Siyeon’s face turned so red so quickly that I thought she’d forgotten to breathe. I burst into laughter at the indignant squeak that came out of her mouth as a result of my words. I had never heard a more adorable noise in my entire life. Her personality really did not match the tough girl reputation she’d made for herself.

“I admit that I may have taken a peek at you while we were getting dressed, but only because you were treating that changing room like a stripshow! I felt like I was in Vegas or something. What kind of a dancer are you anyways?” she sputtered.

“Hey, there’s good money in exotic dancing! I actually tried it for a time. Anyways, it’s cute how you’re trying to defend yourself, but you can just admit you liked what you saw. I won’t tell anyone,” I kept going, winking at her.

“Oh, just go do your job already! We’re supposed to be breaking up Minji and Yoohyeon, not being greasy with each other!” she protested, shoving me out the door while I just cackled.

I had definitely warmed up to being around her. She was way too much fun to tease. Who knew a shared desire to tear two people apart could bring another two people together?
~
Once out the door, I took my mission seriously. I wasted no time hunting down Gahyeon and Handong, who were still setting up for the shower. It was going to be held in the sunroom, which meant that that room would be off limits until the event. I knocked before entering, and when the duo saw that it was just me, they greeted me with warm smiles. The two girls were currently running around, setting the tables and trying to get everything in order. Several of Yoohyeon’s and Minji’s friends and family members were invited to the shower, so it was going to be a full house. That was a perfect excuse to offer my help. After all, the more people that will be in attendance, the more there is that has to be done.

“Wow, the room looks beautiful! You girls are doing an awesome job. I’ve just been chilling in my room, and I got pretty restless, so I thought I’d come by and check on you. It looks like you’ve gotten a lot done, but is there anything you need help with?” I initiated the conversation, trying to seem casual about my intentions.

“Handong, our savior has arrived! Bora has always been amazing at artistic stuff, she should be able to help us. You see, Handong and I really wanted to make these elaborate centerpieces we saw on the internet, but both of us have failed miserably at trying to recreate them. We’d really appreciate it if you could give it a shot. I’m sure yours will turn out ten million times better than anything we’ve done,” Gahyeon confessed, pointing to a pile of cluttered fabrics, flowers, and ribbons.

“Wow, you’re good at art too? I’m still in awe of the meal you cooked us last night, and you’re an excellent dancer to top it all off. I’m surprised it’s not your wedding we’re attending!” Handong complimented.

“If you buy me a ring we can change that,” I joked, giving her a wink.

Handong’s cheeks colored and she placed a hand over her mouth to stifle a giggle. God, how cute is she? Gahyeon smirked and shook her head, used to my clowning around. Knowing that I needed to use my time efficiently, I got right to work on making the centerpieces. Gahyeon had pulled up what they were trying to create on her phone, and I followed it as best as I could. For me, making things was a way to relax, so this was actually helping my hangover, since I didn’t have to exert myself mentally or physically. I was able to focus all of my energy into gathering intelligence for me and Siyeon’s master plan.

“Wow, these decorations sure are beautiful. It makes me wonder what your plans are for the shower tomorrow,” I spoke up, trying to be coy.

Gahyeon beamed with pride and was extremely receptive to my praises.

“I’m really proud of what Handong and I came up with. We decided to go with a Parisian theme since that’s where most of their love story began. We even got a really cool cake that looks just like the Eiffel Tower! I hope they like it,” she gushed.

“We worked really hard on this whole thing. We even sat down and compiled a whole list of ideas for the event and a rough schedule of how we want everything to go,” Handong added, holding up the sheet of paper which contained everything she was talking about.

The minute my eyes landed on that piece of paper, I knew I’d need it in my hands. It would be like knowing the other team’s lineup and playing strategy before the game. This was too easy.

“My my, you two sure are organized! You know, I am mega struggling with planning the rehearsal dinner. Would you mind if I borrowed your agenda for the shower? I’m sure it would help me get everything in order,” I pleaded, clasping my hands together innocently.

“Of course you can! We have this thing basically memorized anyways. I hope it helps you out!” Gahyeon consented, taking the paper from Handong and giving it to me herself.

I gave her a grateful smile before tucking it in my pocket for safekeeping. I would bring it to Siyeon as soon as I could. For the time being, I kept working while chatting with Gahyeon and Handong. I felt a bit guilty fraternizing with the people whose hard work I was about to ruin, but this was all part of a more important purpose. This would all be worth it once I finally got to be honest with Minji about my feelings for her, and we could do this again, but with a different combination of brides. The thought brought me peace of mind and I was able to finish the centerpieces in a timely manner. Even though I wanted to bolt from the room and find Siyeon immediately, I asked if there was anything else I could do, as a matter of courtesy.

“No, you’ve done more than enough for us. Thank you so much your help! The centerpieces look stunning. I’ll make sure to tell everyone they were made by you when they’re admiring them at the shower tomorrow. Please let us return the favor if you need any help with the rehearsal dinner!” Gahyeon insisted.

“Of course, I’m glad I could be of service. I should really be thanking you guys for letting me borrow this. Let me know if you need it back at all. Anyways, I’m gonna go back to my room and wait for the brides to return. Good luck with everything, and let me know if you need any more help!” I said before waving goodbye and heading out.
~
I didn’t even bother to knock on Siyeon’s door before bursting in in a flurry of excitement. She was sitting on her bed, listening to music on her phone. She shrieked when I jumped on the bed and landed next to her, almost sending her flying in the process. She ripped out her earbuds and glared at me for the intrusion.

“How does someone so tiny manage to make such a big entrance? I hope you have a good reason for scaring me shitless!” she whined.

“Well, I’m not sure. Would this-” I paused to pull out the paper Handong and Gahyeon had given me, waving it around with a flourish, “be considered a good reason?” I finished with a smile.

I placed it in Siyeon’s awaiting hands, letting her read it to see what I was so excited about. I watched as her eyes scanned over the words, an adorable expression of concentration on her face. Once everything clicked in her mind, she let out a gasp before offering me a highfive and a cheerful expression.

“They really made a play-by-play for the entire event tomorrow, and you managed to get it from them! I could kiss you right now,” she cheered.

“I suppose you could, but that would kind of defeat our whole purpose, wouldn’t it?” I teased, puckering my lips and earning a shove from Siyeon.

“I never would’ve guessed you’d be such a shameless flirt. Is this how you treat all of your friends? God, no wonder Minji has no idea how you actually feel about her,” she scoffed.

Her words hit a little too close to home. I just tried to laugh it off, knowing she meant no harm. At least she had called us friends. It was nice to know that I wasn’t the only one warming up to our partnership. We made a good team.

“You have some nerve to mock me when I’ve done a majority of the work so far. Come on, let’s get to work on our strategy for ruining the shower. Then when the brides get home, we can use tonight as a practice round before we really get down and dirty,” I suggested.

“Do you have to use those words? You’re making it sound like we’re gonna make a sex tape to ruin their wedding or something! Don’t you dare even humor that suggestion. Anyways, here’s what we should do about tomorrow,” Siyeon scolded me and then went into the details of her battle plan.

I’ll let everything we said in her room remain a secret for now. After all, it was all going to unfold exactly how she said it at the shower tomorrow. In the meantime, the brides had finally arrived home, which meant it was time to begin experimenting with ways of tearing them apart. We had no time to waste if we wanted everything to go the way we hoped it would.

Chapter Text

Once the brides had returned from their meeting with their families, they were eager to gather everyone in the parlor for an evening of bridal party bonding. Siyeon and I wanted to use this time to test the waters with our tactics of marriage destruction. We would have to be careful about our alcohol consumption, in order to avoid any snafus. Not to mention, neither one of us was keen on the idea of nursing another wicked hangover for the shower tomorrow. We would need to be in the right mindset to make sure that tomorrow’s events went off without a hitch, aka with as many hitches as possible. Tonight was to be a simple, harmless endeavor for both of us.

“Alright, how do I look?” I turned around, displaying my outfit for Siyeon to evaluate.

The other girl was seated on my bed, looking at her phone in order to prepare her secret weapon for this evening’s shenanigans. When she looked up, her jaw dropped. I smirked, pleased that my appearance could elicit that reaction. Hopefully it would garner a similar one from Minji.

“Holy shit,” was Siyeon’s answer to my previous question.

“I’m assuming that’s a compliment. Do I look good enough to ruin a marriage?” I pressed.

“If I was getting married, I’d definitely have second thoughts if I saw you in that,” Siyeon assured me, eyeing me up and down in admiration.

“Good to know,” I winked at her before continuing, “Now then, let’s get down to business.”

The two of us shared conspiratorial glances before linking arms and heading out to join the others in the parlor. It was go-time.
~
Everyone else was already engaged in some kind of activity when Siyeon and I made our grand entrance as the last to arrive. Yoohyeon and Yoobin were setting up a game on the coffee table, Yoobin rattling off what she read on the instruction manual while Yoohyeon put the pieces together. Handong was watching them with quiet interest, sipping from a cup of tea. Gahyeon and Minji were attacking the snack table, their plates piled high with whatever goodies had been stashed in the room.

Minji noticed our presence, and intended to greet us (despite her mouth being full), but immediately choked on her food when she noticed my choice of attire for the evening. Gahyeon’s eyes widened and she rushed to pat her back and dislodge whatever was in her throat. I was of course concerned about my best friend, but it was hard to hide my excitement at her reaction to my appearance. This was already going better than I could have hoped.

You see, for the evening’s activities, Minji and Yoohyeon had instructed everyone to wear their pajamas. While everyone else had opted for cuter, more innocent sleepwear options, I had chosen one of my most revealing sets. The outfit definitely bordered on the classification of lingerie, but could also be considered a very sexy tank top and shorts combo, depending on who was judging. Siyeon and I had figured that sex appeal would be my strongest weapon for winning Minji over, and tonight gave the perfect excuse to start working this angle. Based on Minji’s behavior, it seemed to be working. Siyeon and I caught each other’s eye and smirked. The plan was already set in motion.

Minji finally caught her breath and swallowed whatever had almost killed her. She gave Gahyeon a thankful smile for saving her life, but Gahyeon was no longer paying attention to her. The younger girl had noticed my getup and was looking at me as if I had five heads. The other girls had noticed as well. Handong put a hand to her mouth at my scandalous appearance, but quickly removed it so as not to be rude. Yoobin looked concerned for a moment, but shrugged and went back to reading the instruction manual. I wasn’t surprised that she was unbothered. She probably didn’t give a shit about dress codes.

Yoohyeon, as expected, was trying to hide her distaste, but failing miserably. She forced a smile on her face in order to be a gracious hostess, but I could see right through that act. She was probably calling me all kinds of old-fashioned names in her head like “harlot” and “hussy.” Thinking about Yoohyeon calling me these things in a stuffy medieval accent almost made me laugh out loud. Thankfully, I was able to keep it together. An awkward silence had fallen over the room, most likely caused by my outfit choice. Minji ended up being the one to break it.

“So, uh, I think that’s everybody, right? Now that all seven of us are here, we can get our night started!” she declared, clearly out of sorts.

“That sounds like a plan. Siyeon, Bora, I’m so glad you could join us. We were just about to start a board game. Although, before we settle in, does anybody else feel a draft in here? I wonder if a window was left open. Bora, you must be freezing. Would you like a robe or a blanket?” Yoohyeon offered, clearly trying to get me to cover up.

“That’s sweet of you to offer, but I actually find it quite comfortable in here,” I replied with a stiff smile.

“Oh, that’s good,” her voice cracked, “then I guess there’s nothing stopping us from getting started,” she finished with a smile even stiffer than mine.

With that, the seven of us placed ourselves around the coffee table and commenced our night of hanging out. I made sure to take a spot next to Minji, casually brushing against her from time to time. This was easy to pull off, since our friendship already involved a lot of skinship. Yoohyeon was on Minji’s other side, monitoring my every move. Breaking them up was going to be a breeze based on how clingy Yoohyeon was being. It felt like she was some kind of yappy guard dog, growling and baring her teeth if I got too close to her fiance. She marked her territory not by peeing, but by enacting romantic gestures every time I got too close to Minji. Any time my bare thigh brushed against Minji’s, Yoohyeon happened to want a kiss from her. When I purposely pressed my cleavage against Minji’s arm while cheering her on, Yoohyeon decided that she wanted to hold hands for good luck. I caught Siyeon’s eye from where she sat on Yoohyeon’s other side, giving her a thumbs-up. She wiggled her eyebrows at me. Hopefully her mission would go as smoothly as mine.
~
Siyeon and I had discussed a timeline for tonight’s experiment, and had agreed that her part of the plan should happen later on. There were two reasons for this decision. One was that it would be suspicious if we frontloaded our efforts. My job started the moment we entered the room, so it made sense to let me go first. If Siyeon and I enacted our plans at the same time, both of our behaviors would be considered odd, and it would be clear that we were working together. It was better to let it look like I just made a strange outfit choice, and then let some time pass for everyone to get used to it. Our goal was to transition into Siyeon’s plan, and make it seem like a natural part of the night. That was actually the second reason for waiting, it would seem more natural if we waited and worked Siyeon’s plan into the night’s activities.

The time had come, and Siyeon gave me the signal in the form of a discrete head nod. I recited the lines she had given me to say, having memorized them and perfected how to say them in order to make them inconspicuous. I should really consider going in to acting.

“Hey Yoohyeon, I noticed that piano in the corner over there yesterday when we all tried on our dresses. I meant to ask you about it. Do you play?” I turned to the taller girl, gesturing to the object in question.

Yoohyeon beamed, “I’ve been playing since I was in diapers. I’ve actually gotten to play in competitions all over the world. Piano is one of the greatest loves of my life, aside from Minji of course,” she gushed, putting an arm around my best friend.

“It’s true, Yoohyeon has played for me a couple of times. She’s incredible,” Minji chimed in, gazing up lovingly at her fiance.

“How nice,” I said with false enthusiasm, glaring at Siyeon when the couple stopped paying attention to me in order to coo at each other.

Siyeon mouthed “Trust me” and indicated that she was about to step in. I sure as hell hoped she would. If her plan was to get Minji and Yoohyeon to fawn all over each other again, it sure was working. I was about ready to sock her in the face unless she had something else up her sleeve.

“Yoohyeon, you should play us a song! Everybody else has had the pleasure of hearing you play, except for Gahyeon and Bora. I’m sure they’d love to hear what a world-renowned pianist is capable of,” Siyeon spoke up, looking at me expectantly.

I nodded, “Yes, I’d love to hear you play,” I lied.

“Me too! It sounds like you’re very talented,” Gahyeon agreed, actually meaning what she said.

Yoohyeon blushed, “Well, it would be rude to turn down the requests of my guests. Does anyone have a particular song they’d like to hear?” she asked the room.

“You should do your favorite French piece in honor of you and Minji meeting in Paris. It can be like a toast to the wedding!” Siyeon urged.

Yoohyeon nodded, “That’s a brilliant idea! Would you want to sing the words that go along with it? I remember being your accompanist when you had to sing it for one of your classes,” she offered.

Siyeon placed a hand over her heart and faked embarrassment.

“This is supposed to be about you! Maybe we could harmonize on the vocals? You know it just as well as I do,” she argued.

With that, I realized what Siyeon was up to. She winked at me as she and Yoohyeon headed over to the piano bench and sat next to each other. The rest of us crowded around the piano as an interested audience. Yoohyeon prepared herself before fluttering her fingers along the proper keys for the opening. Even I was impressed by how seamlessly her fingers passed along ebony and ivory, hitting every note with perfect precision. Soon her and Siyeon began to sing in French, the mystical language enchanting the room. Their voices blended in perfect harmony, bolstered by Yoohyeon’s flawless accompaniment.

Those of us watching the performance were in awe. Gahyeon’s mouth hung open, clearly impressed. Handong wiped at her tears, moved by the beauty of the music. Yoobin looked like a proud mom, probably having seen Yoohyeon do this many times. Next to me, I could see Minji’s smile falter. She was watching Yoohyeon and Siyeon as they fed off of each other and performed with heart and soul. It probably hurt her to see that she could never do this with her fiance. She was a good singer, but hadn’t studied music or composition, and was hopeless at speaking in other languages, let alone singing in them. I reached for her hand and squeezed it in the role of a supportive best friend.

Even though I felt bad for Minji, I had to give Siyeon props for this plan. She had told me very little about her intentions for tonight, so I had just done as I was told and hoped it would all work out. Yoohyeon’s expression told me everything I needed to know. She was the happiest I had ever seen her, aside from when she was talking about the wedding. It was clear that music still had her heart. That made sense, considering that Siyeon and Yoohyeon had once studied together before Yoohyeon was forced to switch to linguistics. It was clear that Yoohyeon’s true love all along was music. Siyeon shared this love with her, whereas Minji did not.

Not to mention, being a good singer is generally attractive, but if you can sing in other languages, you might as well also learn how to ask people to sleep with you in all of those languages, because they will most certainly want to. Siyeon could use this if she wanted anyone to fall for her, let alone Yoohyeon. This was my first time hearing Siyeon sing, and I hoped it would not be the last. Her high notes were powerful, but had a sweet quality to them that made my heart flutter. Her lower notes were raspy and sensual, a testament to the range of her talent. I found myself hooked on the sound, while Yoohyeon’s voice faded away from my senses. Still holding Minji’s hand, I lost track of time as I savored every note until the song was over. With that, I was snapped back into reality by the sounds of applause.

“That was incredible! Thank you for letting me listen,” Gahyeon praised.

“You two sound amazing together,” Handong stated.

“I’ve heard you play and sing many times, but that might have been the best yet,” Yoobin confessed, wiping a tear from one of her eyes.

Everyone looked at me expectantly, clearly waiting for me to weigh in. I floundered for a moment, forgetting how to put words together. How was I supposed to describe what I’d just experienced? Siyeon grinned at me, clearly pleased with herself. I stared at her, remembering just moments ago how her lips had looked forming the words she was singing, how angelic her voice had sounded. Where was the gruff, easily embarrassed, wannabe bad girl in all of that? I realized that Siyeon was as mysterious to me as the foreign language she had just been using. Siyeon coughed, and it came to my attention that I still hadn’t said anything.

“That was beautiful,” I finally managed to come up with.

“Everyone’s right, that was great! You two did a wonderful job. Okay, what should we do next? The night’s still young, everybody!” Minji’s praise of the performance was abrupt and she immediately tried to change the subject, grabbing a hold of Yoohyeon’s hand and urging her up from the piano bench.

Gahyeon yawned and glanced at her watch, “It’s not that young. Handong and I have to get up early for the shower, so we should probably head to bed. Nothing like being sent to bed with a show! Thanks again for that wonderful performance. Good night everybody, see you tomorrow morning!” she declared before heading off to bed, Handong doing the same.

“Maybe the five of us can still hang out then?” Minji offered once the duo had left, clearly desperate to get her mind off of the performance.

“I’m down. We should watch a stupid movie like we always did at our sleepovers,” I suggested, linking arms with her.

I had to admit, I was also hoping for a distraction from everything we’d just witnessed. Siyeon and I would eventually have to go over tonight’s events and discuss what to keep and what to change moving forward, but I was in no hurry to do so.

“Uh, Bora, don’t you think we should all be going to bed soon? I mean, Gahyeon and Handong don’t have to get up that much earlier than the rest of us do,” Siyeon spoke up, giving me a look that suggested it was time to call it a night.

“Siyeon’s right. Lots of people are coming tomorrow morning, so we need to be at our best. I’m sorry, Minji, maybe we can watch a movie some other time,” Yoohyeon chimed in, rubbing soothing circles on her fiance’s back.

“I guess you’re right,” Minji conceded with a sigh.

The two bid the rest of us good night before heading off together. I had to resist the urge to cheer when I saw Minji jerk away from Yoohyeon’s embrace once she thought they were out of sight. Siyeon and I had already done some serious damage, and this was only phase one of the plan!

Siyeon, Yoobin, and I awkwardly stood there after the brides had left. Siyeon and I couldn’t delve into planning mode with an audience present, and Yoobin was clearly uncomfortable with what had just taken place. She coughed before making an excuse to get the hell out of dodge.

“Uh, I’m gonna head to bed. See you guys in the morning. Bora, I’m not here to judge or anything, but I don’t recommend wearing anything like that to the shower. Yoohyeon’s family make the pilgrims look like burlesque dancers. They can be pretty vicious about that kind of stuff too. Anyways, later,” Yoobin warned before exiting the room.

Once we were sure the coast was clear, Siyeon and I burst into cheers and high fived. The two of us headed to my room, where we had agreed to meet after the evening’s activities. I sprawled out on my bed, while Siyeon leaned against the dresser.

“Not bad, huh? Did you think I was gonna come up with something that good?” she asked me, sounding like a little kid wanting praise from the teacher.

“You sure took me by surprise. Where the hell did you learn French?” I snorted, careful not to go into too much detail about my feelings on the matter.

“Music majors use the international phonetic alphabet, which allows us to translate basic syllables in most languages. We can then break them down into sounds we’re familiar with. Anyways, that’s not the point. The point is, we killed it tonight! Did you see how they acted with each other as they left? We definitely caused some tension there. I say we stick to the same strategy and change nothing. You remember what to do for tomorrow?” Siyeon continued, eager to stay on target.

“Yeah, yeah, I’m all set. Is that all you wanted to talk about? If so, I never got to nap off my hangover, so if you don’t mind, I’d like to get some shut eye,” I yawned.

Siyeon rolled her eyes, “Okay, I get it. You want me to get the hell out of here. Good work today, Bora. I’ll see you tomorrow for operation ‘Shower from Hell.’ Sleep tight knowing that we’re on our way to dissolving a marriage and getting everything we’ve ever wanted,” she told me with a wink before heading out the door.

“Everything I’ve ever wanted, huh,” I muttered to myself before falling into a deep sleep.

I refuse to go into any detail about the dream I had that night. All I’ll say is that it was the beginning of the unraveling of everything.

Chapter Text

I woke up with a start, clutching my chest. It took me a couple seconds to catch my breath as I processed what had just happened. What was wrong with me? Here I was in the middle of trying to wreck my best friend’s marriage in order to win her over, dreaming about my accomplice for this crime instead of the girl I was doing all of this for.

I shook my head, running a hand through my hair. Clearly my brain was fried from the stress of this week. That had to be the explanation. Still, I couldn’t help the goosebumps cascading along my skin as I remembered the feeling of Siyeon’s lips on mine in my dreams. The hair on the back of my neck bristled as I savored the softness of her hands which had run themselves all over my body. Shit, this was not good. To make matters worse, the very last person I wanted to see burst through my bedroom door right as I was trying to calm myself.

“Morning, partner! Looks like you slept well. I’m sure glad I came to check on you, because you are gonna have to get ready real quick if we wanna sneak in the room before the others get there!” Siyeon greeted me with a grin.

“Right, sorry. Guess I needed the sleep to recover from yesterday. I’ll be ready in a jiff. Let’s meet in front of the sunroom,” I told her, scurrying to grab everything I needed.

Siyeon saluted and exited my room, closing the door behind her. Once she was gone, I turned to look at my reflection in the mirror.

“Keep your eye on the prize. It’s Minji you love. You’ve loved her for your entire life. Don’t throw this all away for some stupid dream that means nothing. Got it?” I scolded myself, poking the glass.
~
About twenty minutes later, I had finished primping and was ready for the shower. I headed over to the meeting place we’d agreed on and saw Siyeon waiting for me. I hadn’t gotten a good look at her when she came into my room (mostly because I was avoiding eye contact), but she looked good. While I had opted for a dress, Siyeon had chosen a navy blue pantsuit with a low cut neckline. Her hair was tied in a neat ponytail and her makeup enhanced the sharpness of her eyes. She looked powerful. I realized just how fragile I was next to her, even more so because of that stupid dream. I caught myself playing with my hair, a habit I only reverted to when I was nervous. It was rare for anyone to intimidate me, but Siyeon was beginning to have that effect.

“Wow, you clean up good! I never would have guessed you were in a hurry to get ready this morning,” Siyeon complimented me when she noticed my presence.

“You know, that sounded like a bit of a backhanded compliment, but I’ll take it. Anyways, let’s get this show on the road,” I replied, giving her a small smile.

I was grateful that we were in a hurry. I didn’t want to be alone with Siyeon for much longer. The dream I’d had last night scared me, and while I knew I’d eventually forget about it and move on, right now its contents felt all too real.

The two of us headed into the sunroom, searching for the objects we needed for today’s mission. It was easy enough to locate them. Siyeon grabbed the pile of papers containing the activities planned for the shower, and quickly hid them in her clothing. I went for the cake, which had been delivered ridiculously early this morning. With careful movements, I gently removed the many toothpicks that had been placed in the cake to hold its shape. Thankfully, it held its form, but the next person who touched it would be in for a surprise. With that, our work was complete. Siyeon and I nodded at each other before sneaking out of the sunroom, careful not to be seen.
~
Later that morning, everyone congregated in front of the sunroom before the event. Minji and Yoohyeon seemed to have resolved any tension between them from last night, or else were maintaining appearances for the bridal shower. Yoohyeon was practically draped over Minji’s arm, the two of them unable to stop smiling at each other as they greeted their guests. Both of them looked like princesses, dressed in white sundresses with their hair styled to perfection. Everyone kept commenting about what a perfect couple they were and how excited they were for the wedding. The brides-to-be gave everyone the same grateful response, their smiles never leaving their faces. Thankfully, the charade was cut short when Gahyeon and Handong announced that it was time for everyone to come in and find their table.

I shared a look with Siyeon before we all filed into the room. It was still a bit awkward for me to make eye contact with her, but we needed to be on the same page in order for everything to go according to plan. Besides, I was sure that that dream was a fluke anyways. I focused on finding my seat, pleased that I was put in between Minji and Gahyeon. Siyeon was seated on Gahyeon’s other side, a perfect vantage point for us to exchange signals without being noticed. Everything was shaping up quite nicely for this morning’s festivities.

Our hostesses stood at the front of the room in order to welcome everyone before things got started. Gahyeon, being the more confident of the two, clinked a fork to her glass in order to call everyone to attention. She cleared her throat before projecting her voice for us all to hear.

“Good morning, everyone! Thank you so much for coming today. My name is Gahyeon and I’m a friend of Minji’s. This is Handong, and she lived with Yoohyeon’s family for many years as an exchange student. We are both so grateful to be included in the bridal party for Minji and Yoohyeon’s wedding, as well as to be in charge of their bridal shower. Breakfast is about to be served, so please stay seated and your meal will be brought to you. We’ll let you all enjoy your food, and then we’ll be back to introduce some fun activities we have planned. Once again, thank you for coming. We hope you enjoy your meal!” she announced before she and Handong walked off to join us at the bridal party’s table.

Sure enough, the food arrived as promised. Everyone made pleasant conversation as they ate. I took the opportunity to people watch, and check out who had made the guest list. It was obvious which table belonged to Yoohyeon’s family. All of them were dressed in such extravagant rich people clothes, it felt like they might as well be fanning themselves with dollar bills. Minji’s family had a table next to theirs, I recognized her mother and some of her aunts that I’d met. Next to them was a table that contained some of Yoohyeon’s college friends, and I could smell their pretentiousness from a mile away. All of them might as well have tattooed “I think I’m smarter than you” on their foreheads.

Last but certainly not least, I spotted the table with Minji’s friends. I was surprised devil horns didn’t sprout from my head at the excitement I felt seeing so many of her exes in the bunch. I hadn’t even had to meddle and invite them, Minji had done that all on her own. She had probably done this to extend one final olive branch and give them closure about things truly being over. After all, Minji was friends with basically all of her exes, but most of them still had it bad for her. Her decision to play nice was about to bite her in the ass if everything went according to plan.
~
Once almost everyone had finished their breakfast, Gahyeon and Handong returned to the front of the room. On their way, they headed over to the spot Siyeon and I had been messing around earlier, most likely looking for the documents we’d stolen. When they realized that they were missing, the two girls looked much less composed than before. Unsure of what to do, they stared at each other in panic. I felt for them, I really did. I wished things could have worked out to where we didn’t have to sabotage their event, but Siyeon and I had to pull out all the stops if we wanted to get our way.

“Er, I apologize for the delay, but it seems that we’ve misplaced the games we’d planned for today. We’ll keep searching, and we apologize for this. Feel free to have some more food in the meantime!” Gahyeon chirped, trying to smooth things over while she and Handong frantically searched the room.

Siyeon nodded at me, and I stood up in my spot. Everyone looked up at the sudden movement and soon all eyes in the room were on me. My cheeks colored a bit at this onslaught of attention, but I made sure to speak loud enough for everyone to hear.

“It’s okay, Gahyeonie, we don’t need a plan to have fun! We can bring back a tradition from high school. Do you remember the boast and roasts? It can be like a fun, more casual way for us to toast the brides before the wedding. After all, we’re all friends and family here!” I suggested, looking at Minji in hopes that she would approve.

“Oh my gosh, Bora, that’s a great idea! Those were always so much fun,” Minji agreed, standing up with me.

“Er, what’s a boast and roast?” Yoohyeon asked, with several others (especially the old people) nodding at the question.

“It’s this thing we used to do every year for seniors at our high school. Basically, everyone gets the chance to say one good thing, a boast, and one embarrassing thing, a roast. Since it’s only the two of us being roasted and boasted, we can give anybody who wants to do it a chance! What do you guys say?” Minji spoke to the room, getting several positive replies.

“Alright, we’ll open the floor for a roast and boast. Bora, maybe you should demonstrate with Minji so that people understand what to do,” Gahyeon said, smiling gratefully at me for saving the day.

“Okay, but you’re giving me a pretty easy target. Minji and I have known each other a pretty long time,” I warned, winking at Minji who pouted for show.

Even though I had plenty of dirt to dish, I knew better than to be the bad guy in this situation. All it would do is turn Minji away from me for betraying her trust. I would leave that to her exes, and I was sure they wouldn’t disappoint. Maybe that made me even worse since I was willing to use other people to take the fall and make myself look better. Still, I had already come this far, I might as well keep going. With all eyes still on me, I turned to Minji and got started.

“Alright, let’s start with the nice stuff. Minji’s my best friend and is easily one of the most caring people I have ever met. I remember one time when we were ten, she made me stand with her in the middle of a rainstorm so that she could make sure all of the worms that came up from the ground would be safe from getting stepped on,” I paused to let everyone collectively coo at the story before continuing, “but since I’m her best friend, I also have the power to roast her mercilessly. Since it’s her big week, I’ll go easy on her. In all my years of knowing Minji, I have kept a running tally of how many times she was on-time for anything. She has not been late a grand total of eleven times,” I chuckled, everyone joining in shortly after.

Minji burst into laughter at my revelation, and even Yoohyeon smiled. I took a seat, pleased with how everything was going. Siyeon patted my shoulder once I was seated, leaving a cluster of goosebumps in the spot she’d touched. What in the hell was wrong with me? I grabbed my glass and took a generous swig of whatever was inside. Thankfully, my turn was over and the floor was open for someone else to go next. Minji’s mom, always the life of the party, volunteered to go next. After her, a handful of Yoohyeon’s friends combined their efforts in the lamest roast ever. I barely even knew her and I would have an easier time demolishing her than those geeks. Hopefully Yoobin would deliver on that front. Siyeon was too whipped to be a promising prospect, and Handong was too nice. The plan didn’t even need Yoohyeon to be roasted, but what can I say? I’m petty when I want to be. Unfortunately, Yoobin didn’t end up getting a turn before shit hit the fan.

A girl named Mijoo, probably the most volatile of Minji’s relationships, stood up and I immediately knew all hell was about to break loose. Without even realizing it, I had grabbed onto Siyeon’s hand since Gahyeon was no longer sitting between us. She gave me a confused look, but I was too busy biting my nails and awaiting the disaster that was about to strike. Minji, oblivious as ever, gave Mijoo a dazzling smile and encouraged her to take the floor. Mijoo returned the gesture with a look that had the power to make just about anyone else pee their pants. The entire room awaited what she was about to say, and the suspense made me squeeze Siyeon’s hand even harder.

“I’m confused, isn’t this supposed to be a good thing? I thought we wanted Minji’s scary exes to speak up,” she whispered in my ear.

“I mean, yeah, but this chick is the most terrifying of the bunch. I just hope we all make it out of this alive,” I explained in a hushed tone, gesturing at her to pay attention.

“Minji, babe, you were the best I ever had, in every sense of the word. Being with you was like being on top of the world,” Mijoo began, giving Minji a swoon-worthy grin.

This action caused Yoohyeon’s to wrap her arm around Minji protectively. I can’t say I blame her. Mijoo is one of those girls who makes everyone around her look like a potato in comparison. I caught myself doing the same thing whenever I watched her come on to my best friend when they were dating.

“Unfortunately, that whole world came crashing down when you ghosted me, you flaky bitch! God, I’ve waited so long to say that. Me and the other girls were talking about it during brunch. Right, ladies?” she went for the kill, seething with rage.

To make the situation even worse, the rest of Minji’s exes in attendance all stood up and chorused their agreement with Mijoo’s statement. Minji’s eyes widened as she realized just how many of them she had invited. Yoohyeon looked equally mortified, probably just now realizing how many people Minji dated before her. Soon, a small riot broke out of girls airing their grievances at how Minji treated them. Some of them even warned Yoohyeon to keep an eye on her, lest she get ditched at the altar. It was a complete disaster for the next several minutes, and there was nothing anybody could do to stop them.

Thankfully, the exes decided to leave after their mini venting session. The group strutted out of the room in a line, all looking mighty satisfied with themselves. One girl even kicked the gift table over as she was leaving. The tension in the room was palpable once they were gone. Minji’s mom looked like she was ready to keel over, and Yoohyeon’s family looked scandalized. Minji herself stood with her jaw dropped. She had been completely blindsided. Beside her, Yoohyeon was holding her head in her hands. No one was sure of what to say, so the room remained silent until one of Yoohyeon’s aunts spoke up.

“My, Minji certainly has led quite the life, hasn’t she? I suppose opposites attract. Our Yoohyeonie has always focused on broadening her mind rather than spreading her legs. I just hope this marriage is something you plan to be loyal to, young lady,” she declared, directing her last sentence at Minji with a hostile glare.

“Excuse me? I will not hear such things said about my daughter! Yoohyeon is lucky to have her, especially if she can tolerate marrying into a family like yours! You people are so snooty I have to physically will myself to tolerate spending time around you!” Minji’s mom snapped, storming over to their table.

“Mom, stop, we don’t need any trouble,” Minji weakly protested, clearly on the verge of tears.

“Everyone, please, let’s not fight. Why don’t we all enjoy some cake? That can help smooth things over after these unfortunate events,” Yoohyeon offered, trying to make peace.

“Excellent idea! I’ll cut it right now!” Handong agreed, racing over to the cake.

Even though I knew it was going to happen, I winced when the cake fell apart at her touch. The splattering sound as the Eiffel Tower collapsed into a mushy pile of frosting and dough made the entire thing even more tragic. Handong stood frozen in shock, staring at the ruins of the cake. This was the icing on the cake (pun not intended) for Minji. She raced out of the room, barely holding back tears. Yoohyeon helplessly watched her go, trapped in the role of hostess. She was left to smooth things over between their families and try to appease the guests who had been exposed to this entire spectacle.

Consumed with guilt, I chased after Minji myself. Siyeon watched me go and threw me a subtle thumbs up, which I did not return. I was not in the mood to celebrate anything that had just happened. I followed Minji to her bedroom, where she flung herself on the bed to lay down and cry. I closed the door behind me, locking it so no one would disturb her privacy. I gently sat down beside her and began to stroke her hair in order to calm her down. I admired the softness of her curls as they trickled through my fingers.

“Bora, what do I do? Yoohyeon probably thinks I’m such a slut! Her family sure does. Why would she ever want to marry me after embarrassing her like that? I’m such an idiot for inviting my exes, who even does that?” Minji sobbed into her pillow.

I felt my heart break seeing her like this, especially knowing I had caused her to feel this way. I bit my lip and continued caressing her hair.

“You did nothing wrong. It was your exes who decided they wanted their fifteen seconds of fame with that dramatic display. That Mijoo deserves a punch to her stupid, perfect nose. Besides, I was the one who suggested the boast and roast. If anything, this is all my fault,” I told her, truly meaning it.

I considered spilling everything, and letting her know what a terrible thing I had decided to do to her. I couldn’t do that without getting Siyeon in trouble as well though, and I was not going to double cross her. She and I had made a pact, and it was my job to stick to my end of the bargain. No matter how guilty I felt, I had to keep my eye on the prize. Being with Minji was the most important thing, and everything else was a means to an end. I focused on the feeling of her hair as I stroked it, something I could enjoy every day if we got together. She was beautiful, even with her makeup running from her tears. I grabbed a box of tissues from the nightstand and began gently dabbing away the trail of mascara streaking down her face. Minji sniffled and smiled up at me.

“Don’t blame yourself, Bora. You were just taking care of me, like you always do. I’m so lucky to have you. Poor Gahyeon and Handong. They worked so hard on that shower, but everything turned into a big mess. Thank you for trying to help, but I guess the universe just didn’t want today to go well,” Minji laughed bitterly.

Minji’s words sunk my stomach. It killed me to know that me and Siyeon’s sabotage had led her to believe that fate was out to ruin her day. Was it really worth it to keep hurting my best friend like this? If she knew what I was doing, would she even want to be with me at all? I was at a loss for words. I didn’t know how to comfort Minji because I didn’t even feel worthy of being called her best friend. Just then, Yoohyeon knocked on the door, bringing my time with Minji to an end.

“Minji, are you in there? Can we talk? Sweetie, please open the door,” she pleaded.

Minji patted my hand before getting up to let her fiance in. The two women embraced, Minji collapsing into sobs once in Yoohyeon’s arms. I sat on the bed, unsure of what to do or say. Yoohyeon turned to address me while Minji’s head was buried in her shoulder.

“Thank you for keeping an eye on her. If you don’t mind, the two of us need some privacy. I sent everyone home from the shower so you’re free to do whatever you’d like,” she told me.

I nodded and scurried out of the room as fast as I could. The door slammed behind me. I remained outside of the room, listening to their muffled voices. They spoke in hushed tones, so I was unsure of what they were saying. Anxiety flowed through me, and I felt like I was going to throw up. The other bridesmaids joined me, obviously worried about what was going on. Well, in Siyeon’s case, she was pretending to worry. I could actually feel the glee radiating off of her at how today had gone. I wished I could share in her enthusiasm.

“Oh my god, I feel awful. We really blew it. Minji and Yoohyeon might have had the most awful bridal shower in history. I hope we haven’t ruined their entire week,” Gahyeon despaired.

“Don’t worry, Gahyeon. Today definitely sucked, but you shouldn’t blame yourself. Any relationship that dissolves over a simple party isn’t meant for marriage anyways. I’m sure these two will bounce back, as long as they address the underlying issues between them. I can’t put my finger on it, but there is definitely something bigger going on here,” Yoobin speculated, stroking her chin.

“Geez, Yoobin, you sound like a sage over there. Anyways, we should all relax. It’s useless to try and make predictions about how things will go. Things often have a strange way of working out,” Siyeon breezed, winking at me.

While I was already on edge about Minji and Yoohyeon, my heart managed to beat even faster at Siyeon’s action. It dawned on me why I was having second thoughts about this plan. It was more than the dream, or my guilt about hurting Minji. When Siyeon said things have a strange way of working out, she was clearly joking. It turns out, though, her words actually held plenty of truth to them. In fact, things were shaping up to be an even bigger mess than I thought. I was totally screwed.

Chapter Text

As you can probably guess, the conversation between the two brides was not a happy one. While we couldn’t hear everything, the bits we picked up made it clear that everything was not sunshine and rainbows at the moment. Eventually, us bridesmaids had gotten sick of eavesdropping and went to find other things to preoccupy ourselves with. Siyeon and Yoobin had the bachelorette party to finish planning for tomorrow, assuming everything was still on schedule for this week. Handong and Gahyeon, bummed out about how their event had gone, decided to watch a movie to take their minds off of the shower. Not knowing where else to go, I just headed for my bedroom.There was too much happening, and I was beginning to feel overwhelmed. I needed to be alone and think. I laid on my bed, staring at the ceiling and desperately trying to rid myself of my troublesome feelings.

Suddenly, there was a knock at my door. I kept quiet, hoping that whoever it was would assume I was sleeping and head on their way. Unfortunately, Siyeon, the source of the knock, let herself in anyways. I groaned and buried my head in the pillows. I really didn’t have the strength to deal with her right now. Everything wrong with me was essentially her fault. Siyeon seemed confused by my actions, but sat down on the bed next to me.

“Dude, what is up with you? I sensed something was off when you went after Minji. I mean, you should have been ready to do a jig based on how perfectly today went. What’s the matter? Don’t tell me you’re going soft. I know it sucks to see your best friend upset, but did you think she was gonna be twirling around singing Disney songs while her marriage falls apart? Talk to me, I want to fix whatever’s going on,” she spoke up, poking my cheek.

“I’m fine, there’s nothing to worry about. Don’t you have a bachelorette party to plan?” I brushed her off, trying to sound nonchalant.

“Yoobin and I are taking a break. Anyways, you don’t sound fine,” she insisted, staring me down.

The way she looked at me got my heart fluttering once again. Against my will, I could feel my cheeks reddening. Damn it, what was wrong with me? Why was I making everything so much more complicated? What was it about Siyeon that got me like this anyways? I mean, sure her voice could make anyone’s panties drop, and the way she carried herself made me feel small and delicate as if I could slip into her arms and she could protect me forever, but was that any reason to disregard a crush I’ve had for over twenty years? Damn it, Bora, pull it together! I began slapping my cheeks furiously. Siyeon’s eyes widened and she grabbed my hands to stop me.

“Bro, what the heck are you doing? You’re acting so strange. Why won’t you just tell me what’s bothering you? We’re teammates, and dare I say, friends, now. You can tell me anything,” she insisted, still holding onto my hands as she gazed into my eyes intently.

I decided to give her at least half of the story in order to get her off my back. I would leave out the part involving my unnecessary, blossoming feelings for her. I was hoping that part would go away soon enough. After all, she was clearly still dedicated to winning Yoohyeon’s heart. Not to mention, it’s not like I no longer loved Minji. There was just a new, unforeseen complication in the mix.

“I’m okay, really, I am. Your first guess was right, it just really killed me seeing Minji so upset. When we were alone in her room, she was telling me what a good friend I was. How can I just let her say that stuff when I’m out here trying to ruin her wedding?” I explained, giving Siyeon a sad smile.

Siyeon nodded, “That totally makes sense. Eventually the guilt would have set in sooner or later. I’m sure I’d have felt the same way if it was Yoohyeon who had been torn apart like that. Still, you just gotta remember who you’re doing all of this for. Minji’s tears today are nothing compared to the lifetime of smiles you can promise her when you’re together,” she consoled me, rubbing comforting circles on my back.

Her soft touch sent shivers down my spine. I bit my lip to keep from making any noise and just wordlessly nodded at what she had said. She was right, I had to look ahead and focus on the future. Everything happening now would be a thing of the past when Minji and I got together. We could laugh about all of this on our wedding day. These feelings for Siyeon were clearly a product of my stress and guilt culminating this week, and would eventually disappear. I would just have to grow a pair and power through this.

“You’re right, Siyeon. I’m gonna be fine. I know you and Yoobin are wrapping up things for the bachelorette party today, but let me know if there’s anything I can do to help,” I said, sitting up so that we were now at the same height.

Siyeon grinned, “Attagirl! I’m glad to see you picking yourself up. I’ll text you to keep you in the loop about me and Yoobin’s plans for tomorrow. That way you can help me come up with ways to make it extra interesting. The party will be the perfect opportunity to really blow a hole in Yoohyeon and Minji’s relationship, which is already on the rocks. I put my ear on the door a little while ago, and heard them arguing. It sounds like they are putting the wedding planning on hold and taking the day to spend time together. I think they blame the stress of this week for tearing them apart. Why don’t you follow them on their little couple’s recharge and see what they end up doing? We’ll need to know the status of things between them to keep planning effectively,” she instructed.

I fake saluted, “Aye aye captain! You can count on me. I’ll be grateful for something to do so I can stop laying around and getting lost in my thoughts,” I admitted.

“Well then, there you go. I gotta go back to Yoobin. She’s waiting for me in her room. Keep me updated on your mission and I’ll do the same for you. Catch ya later,” Siyeon told me before returning my fake salute and heading out the door.

The moment she was gone, I balled my hands into fists of encouragement.

“You can do this. Stay on track,” I cheered myself on before getting up to go find the brides.
~
I made sure to hide a safe distance away from Minji and Yoohyeon’s room so that I could watch them leave and follow without being seen. It didn’t take long for the two to emerge, both of their eyes red from crying so much. I felt another pang of guilt knowing how much pain we had caused them. Still, I had committed myself to this, so I carried on. I texted Siyeon to let her know that the brides were heading out and I was on their trail. She texted back a thumbs up emoji and a GIF cheering me on. The text brought a smile to my face. I looked up from my phone to see my targets on the move, getting further away. I raced to keep up with them.

I noticed that they were headed away from Yoohyeon’s family’s estate. I had figured they would opt for a staycation and would do face masks and braid each other’s hair in some fancy sauna that I’m sure existed on the property. I had to admit, I was relieved they were out and about. I drew the line at voyeurism, and I assumed they would have the decency not to do anything obscene in public. I kept a close eye on my surroundings as I followed them, knowing that I would need to make it back to the house before they did.

Eventually, the two stopped to sit in a bench located in a park several miles away from the mansion. I could see why they had chosen this spot. The scenery was incredible. The colorful array of trees and flowers against the backdrop of blue sky and golden sun made my heart feel at ease. A delightful breeze blew, scattering flower petals through the air. Geez, even mother nature was setting a romantic mood. I found a hiding spot behind a well-sized tree and waited to see what would happen. I made sure to be close enough so that I could hear them as well.

“Well, what do you think? Isn’t it beautiful? I used to always come here as a kid whenever I fought with my family. I find being in nature quite healing,” Yoohyeon spoke up, grabbing Minji’s hand and gazing around.

Minji nodded, “I think it’s perfect. We can just sit here and spend time with each other. No talking about anything related to the wedding. This time is for us to be together without any distractions,” she declared.

Another breeze passed by, making the two of them look like living shampoo commercials. The two stared at each other, saying nothing. Yoohyeon leaned in, and Minji let her put her lips on top of hers. The two pulled apart after several seconds, smiling lovingly at each other.

“Minji, you make me the happiest woman on earth. I’m so lucky to be marrying you. I don’t care what anybody says-not even your exes, or my family. Being with you is all that matters to me,” Yoohyeon insisted.

“Aww,” Minji and I cooed simultaneously.

I clamped a hand over my mouth while the two brides scrunched their eyebrows in confusion and scanned around for the source of the noise.

“Huh, must have been a bird,” Minji speculated before continuing, “Yoohyeon, I love you. Today was terrible, but having you by my side makes it all okay. No matter how scared I am, I know you and I will work everything out. We’re so lucky to have great people by our side too. Bora and Gahyeon are like sisters to me, and you have Yoobin, Siyeon, and Handong who care about you lots. I don’t know what we’d do without our bridal party.”

I bit my lip at her words. Why did she have to keep vouching for what a good person she thought I was? Aside from that, why was I so touched by what Yoohyeon had said to her? Just two days ago I would have puked at her words, but right now all I could think about was what a cute couple Minji and Yoohyeon were. Sure it was an impulsive decision to get engaged in another country after only a few months, but there was real love between them. Maybe my jealousy had made me too biased against them to see that.

The two continued their conversation, but I turned my attention away from them when I felt my phone buzz in my pocket. It was Siyeon giving me a play-by-play of her meeting with Yoobin. She kept sending goofy closeups of the other girl, who was clearly unaware of her taking them. She inserted captions beneath them to turn them into memes. I had to put a hand over my mouth once again to muffle my laughter. I sent back a laughing GIF to communicate my amusement at her sense of humor. She asked how things were going with the brides, and I replied that I was currently hiding in a tree eavesdropping on them. Siyeon replied by calling me “Squirrel Bora aka Squora” and I almost fell to the ground. I was so wrapped up in coming up with a witty response that I almost missed the brides getting up from the park bench. Thankfully, at the last second I noticed their moving figures and raced to follow them, quietly cursing to myself for losing focus.
~
The next placed I ended up following the brides to was a creek just past the park. There were no benches in sight, so the couple stood on the bridge above the creek to gaze down at the running water. Yoohyeon grabbed a few stones and handed some to Minji while keeping the rest for herself. I crouched behind a large boulder that was the perfect distance for spying.

“Have you ever skipped stones before? This is something I loved to do as a kid. Since my parents were awfully picky about who I hung out with, I didn’t have a ton of friends. Playing out here helped me pass the time,” Yoohyeon explained as she flicked her wrist.

The stone she’d tossed skittered gracefully along the water, making several ripples before finally going under. Minji applauded her skills, prompting Yoohyeon to take an exaggerated bow which reduced both of them to giggles.

“You’re such a dork, but you’ve got game when it comes to skipping stones. It’s really nice to see so much of your childhood. I’m really getting to know you in a new way. I mean, getting engaged while abroad certainly keeps things mysterious, but I feel more at home with you now,” Minji confessed, leaving her stones on the ground so she could put her arms around Yoohyeon.

My vision misted with unshed tears, this time not of sorrow, but of admiration. The way they looked at each other made my heart swell. Here I thought spending the entire day watching Minji and Yoohyeon fix their problems would be torture, but I actually got the front row seat to an adorable romance. Was I supposed to be bitter that me and Siyeon’s hard work was being ruined and they were still going strong? Probably, but for some reason, I just couldn’t bring myself to hate what I was seeing. Heck, I was almost urging them to get married right on the spot. I felt another buzz in my phone pocket. It was Siyeon asking how things were going.

‘The brides-to-be are making up. Ooh, and now it likes like they’re making out!’ I texted back, glancing up to see the duo all over each other.

Siyeon’s response was a frustrated emoji, but she assured me that this wouldn’t last and that she had more tricks up her sleeve. She added a GIF of a magician which made me grin. I sent back a halfhearted thumbs up emoji and went back to watching the brides. In the past, watching Minji tongue wrestle with anybody would have made my blood boil. I almost punched someone’s lights out at her fifteenth birthday party when they got too handsy for my liking. Now, though, I was secretly rooting them on. I had to be delusional or something. Was the heat getting to me? What happened to over twenty years of wanting Minji to be mine? What could possibly have just made all of that passion vanish? Just then, my phone buzzed once more. It was Siyeon.
~
I kept on Minji and Yoohyeon’s trail for the entire afternoon leading up into the evening. They walked to various spots of significance in Yoohyeon’s life, taking time to say heartfelt things to each other and then bringing the PDA to the max. While most of these encounters were cute, there was one instance in a secluded spot on Yoohyeon’s favorite walking trail where clothes had almost come off. I paid attention to the couple when I wasn’t texting Siyeon. I probably would have gotten bored and ditched the mission if she hadn’t kept talking to me. Eventually, I heard the brides decide to call it a day. I made sure to give myself a head start so that I would beat them home. There was no need for anyone to question where I had been all day.

I got back to the guest house in record time, careful to sneak in so no one would notice that I had left. I entered my bedroom and tried to look casual, grabbing a magazine. I texted Siyeon that I was back and the brides would be home shortly. She had been awfully cryptic about her and Yoobin’s plans for tomorrow night. I hoped she was just holding out so that she could give me the lowdown in-person tonight. I may have been starting to find the brides cute together, but I still had a plan to go through with, and I was no quitter. My lack of jealousy today didn’t mean I wasn’t interested in Minji anymore, right? Siyeon had warned me that the guilt and stress would mess with me, that had to be it.
~
Once they got back, Minji and Yoohyeon summoned everyone for a quick meeting in the parlor. The two sat at the head of the room, both cool as cucumbers. Handong and Gahyeon looked like dejected puppies, probably expecting to be chewed out for how the shower had gone. Yoobin was twiddling her thumbs, clearly anxious to know what was going on. Siyeon sat beside her with a poker face. I wondered if she was pissed about the brides being back on good terms, or if she was excited about the mischief she had in store for tomorrow night. Her mysteriousness both scared me and excited me. I was trying to focus on the brides, but my eyes kept flicking over to my partner in crime to see if I could gauge what was going through her mind. Minji cleared her throat and launched into what she wanted to say.

“Everyone, thank you for being so patient with us. I know today was incredibly awkward, and I’m so sorry you all had to witness that. Yoohyeon and I just wanted to let you all know that we are working things out as best as we can, and for the time being, we want to keep moving forward with everything on schedule. Don’t let today get you down. Let’s all keep our heads up, okay? Nothing was anybody’s fault, and everything else will be smooth sailing from now on,” she assured us, giving her million dollar smile and linking arms with her fiance.

“Oh, what a relief! I was worried you’d be mad at me and Handong for how everything went today. I’m so glad you two are alright,” Gahyeon cried, running to hug both of them.

Handong began bawling, chasing after Gahyeon and copying her actions. Pretty soon Minji and Yoohyeon were motioning for a group hug. Yoobin, being a good best friend, obliged. I got up as well, squeezing in beside Gahyeon, since her hugs are notoriously awesome. Siyeon was the holdout, and everyone turned to look at her and urge her to join the party. Siyeon breezed over and wormed her way into the hug, the same unreadable expression on her face.
~
It was nearing bedtime, and Siyeon still had not given me any information regarding the bachelorette party. I decided that if she wasn’t gonna come to me, I’d go to her. I knocked on her door and waited for permission to enter. Several seconds passed with no indication that she was even in the room, so I decided to just let myself in. She had done it to me multiple times, so it was only fair. I saw her sitting on her window sill, staring out at the night sky. She turned to see who was interrupting her musing, and relaxed when she realized it was me.

“How can I help you?” she asked, returning her gaze to the moonlight.

“Wow, you’re awfully casual for somebody who has left her partner completely in the dark about her plans. Do you expect me to just wing it tomorrow or something? Didn’t you get the memo that the brides are back on track?” I snapped.

A light chuckle escaped her lips and she turned to look at me. She was surrounded by the glow of the moon and stars, making her look like a shadow. I felt my breath hitch at the impish expression she gave me.

“Don’t you worry, tomorrow will be a blast. Consider it our chance to play after working so hard these past few days,” she said.

With that, she went back to looking out the window. I took that as my cue to stop asking questions and head on my way. Once I’d closed her door, I caught my breath and sunk to the floor. I left Siyeon’s room feeling less ready for tomorrow’s events than when I had come in. Whatever game Siyeon was planning on playing, the stakes had been raised on my end.

Chapter Text

Every minute leading up to the bachelorette party was filled with dread due to Siyeon’s cryptic behavior lingering in my mind. She had been so nonchalant about her plans for the evening, but it all seemed so ominous somehow. My feelings already scared me, and not knowing what Siyeon had in store made me even more afraid. The day flew by as I spent it preoccupied with my worries. Avoiding Siyeon had been at the top of my agenda, and everything else was a blur. Thankfully, I had managed to survive up until it was time to get ready and head out for the party.

Siyeon and Yoobin had left early to make sure the venue was ready for us.The party was being held at a nearby club since Minji knew the owner as well as most of the people who worked there. I was surprised Siyeon had given in to Minji’s suggestions about the venue and allowed her to flex her social standing. Maybe she was picking her battles. It sure seemed like she was ready to have the last laugh tonight with whatever she had planned.

The rest of us were helping each other look fabulous for tonight’s events. Minji, as usual, looked stunning. Her dress was short, showing off her legendary legs, and it clung in all the right places to showcase her figure. Of course she had chosen to wear red, a color that would make her the center of attention. She completed the look with a stunning pair of heels and a flirty lipstick. Yoohyeon would have one hell of a time keeping people away from her fiance tonight. Then again, she looked pretty good herself. She had chosen a classy looking cocktail dress in silver. The sparkly design of the dress lit up the room along with the expensive accessories she’d chosen to complement it. Both brides were sure to be the belles of the ball, or in this case, the hottest girls in the club.

Those of us who were not the main focus of tonight still looked good, of course. Handong looked elegant as ever in a navy blue velvet dress, and Gahyeon had gone with a gold dress that suited her well. As for me, I had chosen my favorite clubbing dress: it was black with cutouts in the waist area and a plunging neckline. It was the most revealing of all the outfits, but that was expected from me at this point. After all, sex appeal was my secret weapon. This time, though, I wasn’t sure Minji was the one I wanted to use it on.

“Alright, we seriously need to head out right now. Yoobin will nag me relentlessly if we leave her waiting. Is everybody ready? The car should be waiting outside for us,” Yoohyeon called over her shoulder as she grabbed her and Minji’s purses.

Everyone squealed and followed her to where our chariot awaited. Gahyeon and Minji had linked arms and were buzzing about what fun tonight was going to be. Handong was helping Yoohyeon adjust her hair so it looked even more perfect as they chattered excitedly. I hung back, trying to seem relaxed even though I was internally freaking out. The minute we arrived at our destination, we would be entering right into Siyeon’s trap. The worst part was that I felt just as clueless about her intentions as everybody else.
~
We pulled up to the club and filed out of the car as gracefully as possible. The driver helped each of us out, making me feel like a celebrity. Heck, the five of us might as well have been famous based on the way we were greeted by the club staff. Minji looked like a pageant queen as she strutted along to the VIP entrance with the rest of us in tow. The bouncer removed the velvet ropes and ushered us through as if we were the most important people in sight. We had barely arrived and the night was already off to an impressive start. Still, the sinking feeling in my stomach only grew worse as we got closer to where Siyeon and Yoobin would be waiting.

“Wow, I never realized I was marrying club royalty,” Yoohyeon joked as we made our way inside.

Minji giggled and blew her a kiss.

“I’m happy to welcome you to my kingdom. Come on, let’s find Yoobin and Siyeon. I bet they planned something really great!” she urged, grabbing mine and Yoohyeon’s hands and dragging us towards the spot we’d been told to meet the duo.

As we made our way through the club, I clung onto Gahyeon and Minji’s hands in hopes that no one would get lost in the blinding lights and rambunctious crowd. I had been to many hotspots throughout the course of my life, as had Minji, so the two of us had no trouble raising our voices to be heard and charging past people to get to where we needed to be. Yoohyeon, Gahyeon, and Handong, however, were less experienced in the world of partying, and stuck to us like scared rabbits. Thankfully, all five of us made it to the area that had been zoned off for our private party. Yoobin and Siyeon were there, along with a collection of bottles so impressive it made everyone’s jaws drop.

“Welcome to your bachelorette party! You’re a few minutes late, but given the crowd, I’ll let it slide,” Yoobin joked, checking her watch before going on to say, “You know these types of places are seriously not my thing, but tonight is your chance to let loose and enjoy your last few days of freedom. I think it’s only fair that all of us should get a little crazy tonight. That’s why I let Siyeon convince me to buy bottle service for tonight’s events. Go wild, okay?”

Yoohyeon pulled her best friend in for a hug, overjoyed that Yoobin had stepped out of her comfort zone to throw one hell of a party. Yoobin smiled once the hug was over and handed both brides a sash and tiara. Minji and Yoohyeon jumped up and down in excitement before setting to work on opening their bottles of choice. The rest of the group followed their example, eager to get the night rolling.

While everyone else was making their first drink, I noticed Siyeon head over in my direction. I felt my heart begin to beat faster. If I had thought she looked good at the bridal shower, this was a whole new level. She was wearing a black romper with a neckline that rivaled mine in terms of how revealing it was. The look was complete with long, black boots that flattered her incredible legs. Her hair was down in wild curls which brushed my shoulder as she leaned in to whisper in my ear. I shivered at the sudden contact on my exposed skin.

“You’d better be careful, or it won’t just be Minji who’s gonna want you. You seriously look way too good for it to be legal,” she murmured.

I swallowed nervously at the lust in her voice. I really didn’t need her to be coming on to me right now. It wouldn’t take much for me to be putty in her hands. I had to play it cool.

“Thanks, you look pretty hot yourself. Any chance you wanna finally clue me in on your plans?” I whispered back.

Siyeon chuckled softly, “You just heard them from Yoobin. It’s simple, really. It’s a bachelorette party at a nightclub, so of course people are gonna drink. I’m just making it easier for them to do so. The more wasted people get, the more they lose control. I have a fun game planned for tonight, and I’m banking on everyone being drunk enough to go along with it. You’ll see, I’ve got it covered. Don’t worry about a thing, just let loose and have fun,” she reassured me.

I took a deep breath and tried to do as she said. At least now I knew there was nothing too elaborate going on behind my back. Still, what could this game possibly be? I was afraid of what she had in mind. Whatever, if all she wanted was for everyone to get hammered, I could certainly do that. In fact, I was more than ready to forget all my worries. I poured a generous serving for myself from one of the bottles and got to work.
~
Alcohol flowed like water, and soon all of us were starting to feel its effects. Yoohyeon was the biggest lightweight I had ever seen in my life. She was draped over Yoobin’s shoulder and giggling madly about who knows what. The poor thing could barely walk in a straight line, so everyone silently agreed it was time to cut her off. Handong was clearly inebriated as well, hiccuping daintily from time to time. She was too cute. Gahyeon held her own pretty well, but was louder than usual and incredibly giddy. I got a kick out of watching her shriek in excitement at every song the DJ played before dancing like her life depended on it. Yoobin, as expected, was not the partying type. Unlike Yoohyeon, she at least had the discipline to limit her drinking, but it didn’t take much to loosen her up. I liked her better this way, it felt less like she could stare into my soul and read my mind.

Minji, Siyeon, and I seemed to be the most coherent. Minji was reaching the stage where she got clingy and touchy, but she was still keeping it together. Siyeon had probably slowed her drinking on purpose, in order to make sure she was in the right mindset to follow through with her plans. As for me, anxiety was the only explanation I had for why I wasn’t mind numbingly drunk. I had gone out of my way to drink as much as I could in as short a time as possible, but my worries about Siyeon’s intentions were keeping me on high alert. I welcomed the distraction when Minji asked me to dance. One of our favorite songs had come on, and we were notorious for tearing up the dance floor at any club.

Being under the strobe lights and following the intense beat, I felt my worries melt away. Dancing always made everything better. I was drunk on the adrenaline of moving my body and enjoying the music. I felt myself relax as Minji and I moved our bodies in perfect synchronization, grinding against each other. A flock of admirers had gathered to watch the two hot girls dancing on top of each other. I welcomed the attention, not caring who watched us. Yoohyeon seemed too drunk to care that her fiance was all over somebody else. She clapped along to the beat and told everyone nearby that the one in red was her fiance, as if it was a badge of honor or something. The other girls were by her side, moving to the beat and cheering us on with the rest of the club. Siyeon was the only one not making any noise. From the corner of my eye, I saw her watching me. Her eyes seemed to eat up the sight of the way my body moved. My dress already left little to the imagination, but it felt as if Siyeon was taking it off in her mind. Somehow this brought me more satisfaction than I had felt having Minji’s body pressed against mine. I felt myself loosening up even more, her eyes on mine more powerful than any of the cocktails I’d consumed. The song finished and Minji and I returned to our party who were applauding us wildly.

“That was amazing, you two are so sexy!” Gahyeon exclaimed so loudly that nearby patrons heard and voiced their agreement.

Minji grinned in embarrassment and put her hands on my shoulders.

“We really know how to get people’s attention, don’t we?” she chuckled.

I smirked, “Don’t try to act humble now. You know you enjoyed being the center of attention as much as I did,” I teased her.

At that moment, Siyeon cut in abruptly. I hated how much it bothered me that she changed the subject so quickly. Just minutes ago, I had savored the feeling of her eyes on me. Oh well, she was a woman on a mission. Who was I to stop her? After all, I was still her ally.

“That was a wonderful performance, Minji and Bora. I’d say the night has really heated up. Now then, who wants to play a little game of spin the bottle to really take things to the next level?” she offered, holding up one of the empty bottles.

“Spin the bottle as in the kissing game? Are you trying to get us to make out with random strangers in this club? That’s ridiculous! Some of us are getting married this weekend, you know!” Yoohyeon snorted, her words slurred.

Siyeon smirked, “What makes you think we were gonna play with strangers? I was thinking we could just keep it between friends,” she told her.

“You want us to play with each other? Won’t that make things awkward?” Gahyeon shouted.

“Oh come on, this is a bachelorette party! It’s a night to do fun, wild things. This is just something we can all laugh about as part of our drunken adventures. The game has no strings attached. It’s just kissing,” Siyeon insisted.

She looked to me for help. My blood ran cold. Clearly, she was going to rig the game somehow so that she could kiss Yoohyeon and I could kiss Minji. I should have been jumping with joy at the prospect of finally getting to do what I’d imagined doing so many times. Unfortunately, I was more terrified than anything else, and it wasn’t because I was nervous to kiss Minji. Still, I knew I needed to say something. I took a deep breath.

“Siyeon’s right, you guys! It’s just a game. Let loose and live a little!” I chirped with false enthusiasm, slinging my arms around Gahyeon and Minji.

“Yeah, let’s do it! It’ll be fun!” Minji giggled.

Yoohyeon grinned, “I hope my spin lands on you,” she slurred, drunkenly stumbling over to her fiance and placing a sloppy kiss on her cheek.

With the two brides on board, everyone had no choice but to agree. Gahyeon, Handong, and Yoobin shrugged their shoulders in resignation. The three of them were probably too drunk to protest much anyways. Siyeon’s eyes lit up at her plans falling into place. She set the bottle on the table and summoned everyone around it. I stared at the object nervously, aware of the power it had to ruin everything.

“You all know the rules, right?” Siyeon asked the group and everyone nodded.

“Perfect. Well then, who wants to go first? I think it should be one of our honored brides-to-be,” she suggested.

“I’m too nervous! You go first, Minji!” Yoohyeon squealed, burying her head in her fiance’s shoulder.

Minji smiled and accepted the offer. She laid the bottle down in a position to where she could spin it and gave it a generous push. As it whirled along, I felt Siyeon’s hand grasp mine beneath the table. She was handing me something. I recognized the cold, metallic feeling of a small magnet. My hand froze, the magnet resting in my closed fist. Sure enough, the bottle came to a stop right in front of me. Everyone let out squeals and shrieks, while Minji just beamed at me.

“Looks like we get to pick up where we left off on the dance floor. I heard a few people begging us to kiss, now they get what they wanted,” she joked.

I chuckled nervously, “Heh, yeah. Well, are you gonna stand there all day or are you gonna pucker up?” I tried to sound confident as I stared at her.

Minji chuckled at my challenge and leaned in. Our faces drew closer together while everyone watched. Handong and Gahyeon stared at the sight with wide eyes, while Yoobin was checking on Yoohyeon to make sure she was okay with what was happening. Yoohyeon, still incredibly intoxicated, was grinning like an idiot and seemed unbothered. Siyeon’s expression was the only one I couldn’t pick up on. She was the one who suggested this, yet she was keeping a poker face while the two of us kissed. I refused to get my hopes up about her reason for being this way, figuring she was just trying not to look too excited to avoid looking suspicious. After all, to everyone else in the bridal party, Siyeon and I were just acquaintances. In fact, that was probably all we were in Siyeon’s eyes as well. This thought stung, and I found it difficult to focus on my impending kiss.

Minji’s lips were so close to mine they were almost touching now. This was supposed to be the best moment of my life. I was finally kissing the girl I’d been in love with for over twenty years. I’d imagined this scenario happening across a variety of situations, but I had never expected it to be during the week of her wedding which I was actively trying to sabotage. I should have been bursting with anticipation, but all I could feel was the dull ache of thinking how little I probably meant to Siyeon. I was just her accomplice, and maybe a friend. That was the best I could hope for. Why was she on my mind at a time like this? Feelings are so unfair! Before I even knew it, the kiss was over. I hadn’t even felt Minji’s lips for the several seconds they were there. Everyone was squealing and shrieking about our kiss, while I just sat there staring into space. Minji waved her hand in front of my face, laughing good-naturedly.

“Earth to Bora! Are you alright over there?” she joked.

I blinked, “Uh, yeah, that was just unexpected. You’re as good of a kisser as everybody says. Anyways, we shouldn’t hog all of the attention tonight. Whose turn is next?” I changed the subject.

“Ooh, me, me! I’m the other bride so it’s my turn!” Yoohyeon insisted like a child.

As Yoohyeon stood up and gave the bottle a wobbly spin, I felt Siyeon’s hand grab mine to retrieve the magnet. I looked up at her to see her wink at me and mouth, “You’re welcome.” I gave her a tense grin, trying to pretend I was grateful, like I should have been.

Moments later, the bottle stopped in front of Siyeon. I pretended to look as surprised as everyone else did. Yoohyeon giggled like a schoolgirl, while Siyeon tried to look relaxed. I had a feeling she was secretly jumping for joy or else having an internal mental breakdown. She had gotten her way and was finally going to lock lips with her crush. I tried not to let my disappointment show. I was supposed to be thrilled for her, just like I was supposed to be over the moon about my kiss with Minji. I watched with the others as Siyeon leaned forward, waiting for Yoohyeon to close the distance between them. Yoohyeon clumsily made her way forward and grabbed the back of Siyeon’s head, pressing their faces together. I saw the way Siyeon’s eyes closed as she gave herself in completely to the kiss.

Much to everyone’s surprise, including my own, I pounded my fists on the table and stood up abruptly. Realizing that everyone was staring at me, including the two who had broken their kiss apart at the sudden interruption, I felt my cheeks get hot. I could feel a lump forming in my throat and tears of shame forming in my eyes. What the hell was happening to me? I smiled, both to ease the tension and to keep myself from crying like an idiot in front of everyone, especially when I had no business being upset.

“Whoops, guess I’m drunker than I thought. What a noisy way to get up from the table. If you’ll all excuse me, I need to use the bathroom,” I excused myself, grabbing my purse and racing off.

I blew past the sea of people on the dance floor, desperately trying to keep my emotions in check. I burst into the ladies’ room and ran to the nearest sink. I gripped onto the edges and stared at my reflection in the mirror overhead. I glared at my own face staring back at me, willing myself not to cry.

“You’re being ridiculous. Get it together!” I yelled at myself.

The door opened moments later to reveal Siyeon who looked confused and concerned. She must have followed me to see what was going on. She was the last person I wanted to talk to right now. I tried to will my tears away, but they were threatening to come at any minute. Alcohol and emotional control rarely went hand in hand.

“Bora, what’s going on? Are you okay? Why’d you storm off like that? Is this because I didn’t go over the plan with you beforehand? Look, I’m sorry, but I figured kissing Minji would be a nice surprise. How was it by the way? Was it everything you’d dreamed it would be?” Siyeon inquired, her tone becoming whimsical when she mentioned Minji.

“I’m not mad at you. I’m okay, really. I’m just drunk and need to pee,” I insisted, trying to get rid of her.

“Alright, alright, I get it. I’m glad you’re not mad. It was a good plan, wasn’t it? I gotta tell you, that kiss with Yoohyeon was unreal. I think she liked it too. I thought I heard her moan my name-”

Siyeon was cut off when I slapped her. Hard. The sound of the impact reverberated off the bathroom walls, and was the only thing either of us heard for several seconds.

When I registered what I’d done, my hand hung limp at my side and the waterworks began. I cursed myself for how pathetic I must have looked in that moment. Siyeon, once she recovered from the shock of what had happened, put a hand to her cheek and glared at me.

“What the hell was that? What is going on with you?” she demanded.

“Do you really wanna know? Well, I guess it dawned on me that we are ruining a marriage! On top of that, all you can talk about is getting the girl who is marrying my best friend to moan your name when she’s too drunk to even properly function. I guess it just hit me that we’re both terrible people, and probably only deserve each other for what we’ve done. There, are you happy now?” I yelled, my voice getting louder as more and more rage fueled my words.

That was the final straw. I burst into sobs, a mixture of shame, anger, and sadness welling inside of me. I was angry that I had had to develop feelings for Siyeon, sad that I had ever gone along with this charade she suggested, and ashamed that I was too much of a coward to confront her with my real feelings. Here I was trying to hold moral high ground, when I was just a pathetic girl who could never reveal her heart to the person it belonged to. At one time that had been Minji, but after kissing her, I knew that wasn’t the case anymore. Watching Siyeon kiss Yoohyeon, on the other hand, had made it clear to me that the feelings I’d tried to brush off were a hell of a lot stronger than I’d anticipated. I was in love with her, and I hated both her and myself for it.

“Bora, what’s gotten into you? You really want to try and act all high and mighty right now? You were just on board with this plan as I was all of two days ago. Besides, are you trying to imply that I'd take advantage of Yoohyeon? You know how much she means to me. How dare you accuse me of trying to hurt her when you've done some pretty awful things yourself. I thought we were a team,” Siyeon spat, clearly pissed off by my actions.

“I guess you thought wrong. I’m done helping you. Don’t worry, I won’t rat you out or anything. I’m just hoping I can erase any of the damage I’ve done and start being a real best friend to Minji, like I should have been doing all along. Anyways, I’m not in much of a partying mood. Besides, I have a rehearsal dinner to plan, a real one. I’m taking this one seriously, and I’m not going to let you do anything to ruin it. Tell the others I went home with a stomach bug or something, I don’t care. See you later,” I decided, grabbing my things and storming out of the bathroom.

I didn’t turn back to see Siyeon’s reaction to what I had said. I just wanted to catch a ride and go home. I hoped tonight’s events wouldn’t destroy things between Minji and Yoohyeon once they sobered up. They had certainly screwed things up for me and Siyeon, I didn’t need anyone else caught in the crossfire. I was sick of other people getting hurt. At least I deserved it. That was all I could think of as I rode back to the guest house, leaning against the window of the car and letting my tears fall.

Chapter Text

Last night had been terrible enough, but the agony of my hangover combined with my broken heart made the morning after even worse. I lay crumpled in a ball, wishing I hadn’t woken up at all. As you can probably expect, I cried myself to sleep as soon as the car dropped me off at the guest house. I had heard the other girls return from the club at an ungodly hour, so it appeared that Siyeon had convinced them that I was okay and they should continue the night as planned. She really was a master manipulator. Heck, she had managed to pull on my heartstrings like a master puppeteer without even trying.

I was relieved that nobody had bothered me about my sudden departure yet, but I had a feeling that would soon change. Sure enough, I heard a gentle knock at my door. I remained silent, hoping that whoever it was would take a hint and buzz off. I was not in the mood to talk to anybody about last night. Besides, I’d have to lie to everyone except Siyeon, and I hadn’t even told her the whole truth in the bathroom. I would sooner die than have to face her again after our conversation. I’m sure she still had plenty of unfinished business with me, and I was fine with leaving things that way. I held my breath, waiting for whoever was on the other side of my door to go away.

“Bora, I know you’re in there. You’re only silent when something’s bothering you and you want to keep it to yourself. If you were still sleeping, you’d have groaned and told me five more minutes. Can I please come in? I’m worried about you,” Minji’s voice spoke up.

I sighed and got up to let her in. Minji knew me too well for my own good. At least she wasn’t Siyeon. Once she made her entrance, the two of us flopped down on my bed.

“I must be getting old because this is the worst hangover I have ever had in my life. At least I’m better off than Yoohyeon. The poor thing can’t even get out of bed!” Minji broke the ice before getting serious and continuing, “Anyways, I’m not here to talk about me. I wanted to check on you. It’s not like you to ditch when the party’s heating up. You were acting way off last night. Are you okay?”

“I’m fine, really. I guess I didn’t pace myself. Everything hit me and I wasn’t feeling well enough to stick around. I’m sorry for ditching on your bachelorette party,” I assured her, patting her hand which was resting on my thigh.

Minji furrowed her eyebrows, “You know you can be honest with me, right? I mean, we’ve been best friends for over twenty years! I don’t want you to feel like you have to brush your feelings aside and pretend everything’s fine just because it’s my wedding week. I was really worried that maybe you were upset about our kiss. I know we all had too much to drink last night, and Siyeon really shouldn’t have suggested that game in the first place, but it shouldn’t have to change anything between us. I hope I didn’t make you uncomfortable. You’re my best friend and I don’t want anything to ruin that,” she pleaded.

My eyes widened at her words. Leave it to Minji to be worried about me when I was being selfish and stupid. She really was too good for me. I quickly grabbed her hands and stared at her with earnest.

“I promise that our kiss is not the reason I was so upset last night. I was probably just drunk and PMSing. To be honest, I barely remember what got me all out of sorts like that. Whatever it was, it’s really nothing. You should be worrying about the details of your wedding, not about me. I appreciate the concern though. Anyways, I’m gonna spend all day putting the finishing touches on your rehearsal dinner. I want it to be perfect for you because you deserve nothing short of perfection,” I assured her.

Minji smiled at me and squeezed my hands. The gesture got me to smile as well. I was content to lie my face off for her sake. After all, she shouldn’t be burdened with my stupid problems when just hours ago I had been actively trying to break up her wedding. I didn’t deserve her friendship, but I was going to try and redeem myself by making the rest of her wedding experience the best that I could. I wanted to come clean to her about everything, but that would have to wait.

“Bora, you’re a good friend. I’m glad that we can move on from last night without making things awkward. Since we’re so close, can I tell you something? I’ve been thinking about this ever since a few nights ago, and it’s eating me alive. I’m just gonna go ahead and say it. I’m not really sure I should be getting married,” Minji confessed, biting her lip and awaiting my reaction.

My eyes widened. The plan was working when I least wanted it to! I had to smooth things over.

“You’re probably just getting nervous. That’s normal for any bride. I know that things didn’t always go according to plan the past few days, but you and Yoohyeon love each other, don’t you?” I insisted.

Minji sighed, “Of course I love Yoohyeon, but we did sort of rush into this whole thing. I mean, I’ve only known her for a few months. I’ve been with my doctor and my hair stylist for longer than that! Besides, I was thinking that maybe all of the drama and disaster this week is a sign from the universe that the wedding should be postponed,” she explained.

I shook my head furiously, “Look, things go wrong for a lot of reasons. That doesn’t mean the universe is telling you not to get married. Marriages are going to have complications, and as a couple, you and Yoohyeon need to face these challenges together and work through them. I know you’ve had a good lot in life and things tend to come easily for you. As someone who has had her fair share of adversity, I’m here to tell you that the best thing you can do is work past it. You love Yoohyeon, and your first instinct was to get engaged to her after a magical few months together. Trust that instinct, and let everything else fall into place. I promise that from here on out things will only get better, and I will work my ass off to make sure they do,” I told her.

Minji blinked, “Man, you always know exactly what to say! Okay, I’ll take your word for it. I’m still scared, but having you in my corner makes me feel better. You sure are a force to be reckoned with, Kim Bora!” she giggled.

“Now, go check on your fiance! She probably needs an aspirin and with her height, she’ll need enough water to hydrate the rainforest. I know she’s rich, but last I checked there were no servants running about the place taking care of her so that’s your job,” I joked, patting her shoulder.

Minji gave me a quick hug and a thank-you before heading off to follow my instructions. I smiled as I watched her go, all of my romantic feelings leaving with her. Life sure was funny. A few days ago, I would have jumped at the chance to dissuade her from marrying Yoohyeon. Now I was the biggest supporter of their marriage. I leaned back on my pillow, staring at the ceiling. I let out a chuckle, impressed by my growth as a person.

I was not alone for long. Siyeon stormed into the room shortly after Minji’s exit. She looked pissed. I could tell she had been eavesdropping on my conversation. I could care less what she thought. I was finally doing the right thing, and she would have to deal with it. I glared at her, waiting for her to start talking.

“Seriously, you’re not gonna say anything to me? I feel like I deserve an explanation for this lovely mark you left on my face last night. Then I come here ready to rip you a new one, and I overhear you telling Minji that she should go through with the wedding? I’m not leaving this room until you explain yourself,” Siyeon seethed, firmly planting her feet on the ground and giving me her coldest glare.

“I thought I made myself pretty clear last night that I am done helping you. That means that I actually want this wedding to happen and to see my best friend be happy. I’m sorry that you’re still stuck in your childish, selfish delusion that Yoohyeon belongs to you, but I’ve grown up and realized the truth. Minji and Yoohyeon are in love, and if you still want to try and ruin their wedding, that’s your prerogative. Just leave me out of it and let me try to become a better person,” I replied in my stiffest tone as I stood up to confront her.

It killed me to watch Siyeon’s hurt expression. I had no business talking to her like that when in reality I was just as selfish as she was. Still, I was too afraid to tell her the truth behind my change of heart. Her behavior made it clear that she was still determined to be with Yoohyeon. I don’t think it would have helped matters if I ambushed her with my crush on her. I needed to come clean, but not like this. I would rather have her hate me than be forced to have that conversation right now. I steeled myself, trying to look like her reaction to my words didn’t even phase me. Siyeon’s eyes were filled with pain and her voice wavered with emotion when she was finally able to speak again.

“I may be selfish, but at least I’m not a cold hearted bitch. You have some nerve talking to me as if you’re better than me. You know, it’s not like I never felt guilty about what we did. Do you know how much I’ve slept since we agreed to do this? I just keep thinking of that night I almost killed someone for Yoohyeon. Working with you has brought back that side of me and it scares me shitless. Still, I put those feelings aside because I know I can never hide from my sins and to be honest, I don’t think I can even pretend to be Yoohyeon’s friend after everything I’ve done. You know, Minji sure won the best friend lottery with how you’re running back to her, lying and pretending you’ve always had her back. You don’t even have the guts to tell her what you’ve been up to the past few days. Whatever, see you at the rehearsal dinner. Try not to fuck it up. Don’t worry, I won’t do that for you,” she spat before storming out of the room.

I was struck speechless by her tirade. Suddenly, my knees were weak and I felt sick to my stomach. I grabbed onto the bed to steady myself, my hands shaking. She hated me, and I couldn’t help but feel that I deserved it. She was right about me being a terrible person. How could I face my best friend and pretend I had nothing to do with her sudden doubts about her marriage? Not to mention, the only reason I’d suddenly developed a conscience was because I was in love with someone and afraid of facing her with this information, so instead I lashed out at her. Trying to remedy my behavior would not be enough, I needed to own up to it. I owed it to Minji to tell her the truth. In fact, I owed it to everybody, including myself, to air everything out in the open and clear my conscience.

I made my way over to my laptop and fired it up. My fingers began to type furiously as the words came to me. I saved the file and quickly typed in the name “Rehearsal Dinner Toast” before finalizing the document. I took a deep breath as I shut down the computer. Tomorrow night was certainly going to be something to remember.

Chapter Text

You know all those cliches people having about being nervous? The heart beating right out of the chest, the unceasing butterflies fluttering in the stomach, et cetera? Multiply all of those by a thousand and you’ll get the way I was feeling before the rehearsal dinner. I was about to drop a bomb on everybody, and who knew what the consequences would be. I doubted I would have many friends left by the end of the night. I had accepted my fate, though, and had mentally prepared myself to be kicked out of the wedding and on my way home tomorrow morning rather than standing by Minji’s side at the altar.

Everyone had gathered in the dining room of Yoohyeon’s family’s mansion for the festivities. Her mother had insisted that the rehearsal dinner be held in her home as her way of thanking all of us for serving in her daughter’s wedding. I hadn’t had much to do with Momzilla coordinating most of the affair, but I’d worked my hardest to make sure that everything would go well. Today was the home stretch, the final night before Minji and Yoohyeon would say their vows and be joined eternally in the bond of matrimony. I wanted the dinner to be perfect for them so they could feel ready for what was to come. Even if I was about to possibly ruin everything, I wanted the events leading up to my confession to go smoothly.

The actual wedding rehearsal before the dinner went well, from what I remember of it. For most of the time I was wrapped up in my thoughts about my toast, but there was one thing that stuck out to me. When I watched Siyeon perform her song for the ceremony, I was overwhelmed with the urge to run out and give her a big hug. Even though she would sooner hug a cactus than me after the way I treated her, I was still soft for her. I could tell that she was hurting, probably because the rehearsal made the wedding all too real. It must have killed her to have to sing a song about two other people loving each other when she had feelings for one of them. Still, she kept her word about staying out of the rehearsal. In fact, I had not seen her do any scheming since the bachelorette party. I guess she was coming to terms with the fact that Yoohyeon and her would never be a thing. Regardless of how much I wanted to take her in my arms and tell her everything would be okay, I knew that was out of the question. It was in her best interest for me to give her space for now. With that in mind, I made it a point to avoid her for the entire day. Anytime we approached being in the same vicinity, I made myself scarce so that she could have her run of the place. I figured that was what she’d wanted.

The dinner had started, and the sounds of clinking glasses and scraping silverware filled the room along with the din of upbeat chatter and the music played by an orchestra Yoohyeon’s mom had hired for the night. I could hear all of these sounds from outside the dining room, where I was preparing myself to deliver my toast. I frantically sorted my notecards for the umpteenth time, and tried not to to have a nervous breakdown. I was in the midst of doing breathing techniques when Siyeon approached. I was surprised to see her voluntarily seeking me out. Maybe she was planning to give me a nice shiner to match my purple dress. I certainly deserved a punch to the face after the way I’d treated her. I tried to act natural, leaning against the wall and tucking my notecards under my arm.

“Hey there. Is everything alright?” I asked her, unsure of what else to say.

“No, it’s not. Bora, I know now is not a really good time, but I need to say something. I know you think I’m a pathetic excuse for a human being, and I said some really hurtful things to you, but I miss you. I don’t even care about the wedding happening anymore. You made me realize that it’s useless to keep pursuing Yoohyeon. Besides, I’m not even really sure what I want anymore. All I know is that when we started getting to know each other, I was the happiest I’ve been since Yoohyeon announced her engagement. Can we please be friends again?” Siyeon pleaded, twiddling her fingers like a nervous child.

I was dumbstruck. She really did consider us friends! Also, she claimed to be over Yoohyeon, but if that was true, then what was with her performance today at the ceremony? That was not the face of a happy wedding singer. It made me giddy to think that maybe the reason she was so sad was because she missed me. Correction, Bora, my inner self chimed in: she missed you as a friend. I knew I didn’t have much time before Yoohyeon’s mother would be announcing my toast, so I frantically tried to whip up an answer to her question.

“Listen, I’d love to give you a concrete answer, but you might wanna hear what I’m about to say before you make any final decisions about where we stand,” I told her, putting my hands in hers.

Seconds later, I heard Yoohyeon’s mother call my name, and scurried into the dining room. Siyeon followed me in with a confused look on her face before taking her seat. Thankfully my training as a dancer gave me the strength to walk gracefully to the front of the room, even though my legs felt like jelly. My body trembled as I looked out at the audience surrounding me. It was pretty much the bridal party and the two brides’ families, but it may as well have been a sold out show at Madison Square Garden for how nervous I was. I knew that the minute I started talking, I wouldn’t be able to take any of it back. Everyone in this room was about to know my true colors in all of their messiness.

“So, how’s everybody doing tonight? Thank you all for coming. For those of you who don’t know me, I’m Bora, Minji’s maid of honor and best friend,” I introduced myself, bowing to the crowd who welcomed me with warm smiles.

I frowned before continuing, “Actually, though, I don’t really deserve that title. You see, I’m really not a good person. I’ve thought, said, and done some terrible things these past few days. This toast is actually going to be more of a confession and apology. I’m going to say some things that will likely shock and upset this entire room, and you all will have every right to hate me. All I ask is that you let me finish before anyone says or does anything,” I prefaced my big reveal.

All of the guests whispered amongst each other at the strange opener. Yoohyeon held Minji’s hand and looked angry, but held her tongue. She was probably pissed that I was ruining the dinner her mother had worked so hard to plan and agitating her fiance, but she knew better than to cause a scene. I was grateful for her silence, since she was one of the people I needed to address in my speech. Next to her, Gahyeon and Handong wore the same face of confusion while Yoobin looked apprehensive. When my eyes fell on Siyeon, my heart clenched. She looked terrified. I tried to give her a signal that I wasn’t planning to throw her under the bus. The only person I intended to expose was myself.

“Bora, what are you talking about? What’s going on?” Minji spoke up, looking worried.

“Minji, please let me do this. I won’t be able to live with myself if I keep any of this bottled up any longer,” I begged.

“This one sure is dramatic. I told Yoohyeon she should have put Yoobin in charge of the rehearsal dinner,” I heard Yoohyeon’s mother sigh to her tablemates.

I smiled, “Ms. Kim, you’re completely right. In fact, Yoobin should have been in charge of everything. When I first met her, I thought she was an uptight do-gooder with an intolerable holier than thou attitude. It turns out, that was just my jealousy talking. Yoobin is the kind of best friend everyone deserves. She’s a much better person than I could ever be,” I conceded.

Yoobin looked at me as if I had five heads. She seemed grateful for my acknowledgement of her loyalty to Yoohyeon, but she was still confused. Everyone else seemed equally unsure of what was going on. I smiled and kept going.

“I owe Yoobin an apology, along with the rest of the bridal party. Handong and Gahyeon worked so hard on Minji’s bridal shower, and as most of you know, things did not go according to plan. Let me make it clear that it was no accident that things turned out that way. I purposely stole the activities they had planned for the day and made it a point to stir up drama with Minji’s exes in attendance. The cake being destroyed was my fault too. Dongie, Gahyeonie, I’m so sorry for betraying your trust and sabotaging your hard work,” I admitted, looking at the two of them.

Handong gasped at the revelation and clutched her chest. She seemed shocked that I was capable of such an awful thing. Gahyeon looked like a kicked puppy. I wanted to cry at the feeling of betrayal in her expression. She looked up to me as an older sister of sorts, and I had broken her trust. Siyeon, aware that I had left her out of my confession, looked worried for me. I smiled at her, trying to be brave about taking the fall for everything alone. Yoohyeon and her family all looked furious. Minji, bless her soul, was still as confused as ever. She seemed incapable of believing that I could do something like this.

“Bora, why are you blaming yourself for everything? I invited my exes. All you did was suggest a game, right? As for the cake, it’s okay if you accidentally ruined it before the party. There’s no need to do all of this,” Minji insisted, showing her faith in me as a friend.

“Oh Minji, your trusting nature has always been one of my favorite things about you. You stand up for people, regardless of whether they deserve it or not. I wish I was worthy of you as a best friend, but it turns out all along, I never was. I was too much of a coward during the entire course of our friendship to ever admit my true feelings for you. Instead I just hid from them and brushed them aside, thinking it would never matter. I watched you go from relationship to relationship, bottling all of it up the entire time. Then you decided to get engaged and invited me to be your bridesmaid, which was the breaking point. I thought I could handle it, but I was too weak. I decided to do what I could to ruin your marriage because I thought you belonged to me. You know what, though? The truth is you never did and you never will. At first I thought you and Yoohyeon rushed into this whole thing as a result of being loopy from your fairytale experience in Europe, but you two are meant for each other. I can see it in the way she looks at you, and the way you two interact. The two of you are perfect for each other, and I’m no longer afraid of accepting that. That’s why when you came to me yesterday, I knew it was time to come clean and try to move forward. You and Yoohyeon are meant to be, and I’m sorry for trying to interfere with that. The shower, the bachelorette party, the subtle attempts to tear you two apart and make you question your marriage, I’m sorry for all of it,” I confessed, tearing up as I told my best friend everything.

“You did all of that? Bora, how could you? I don’t understand. This doesn’t seem like something you’re capable of, but I guess I never really knew you at all,” Minji whispered, barely able to speak.

She was crying with me, clearly devastated by what I was telling her. Who could blame her? She’d just learned that someone she thought she could trust had been keeping a secret from her for over twenty years and had been trying to ruin her happiness. Yoohyeon pulled her into a hug and looked so angry I thought she might lunge at me with her mother’s expensive cutlery. It was good to know that I was leaving Minji in good hands. Yoohyeon clearly loved her. The other guests were in an uproar now, scandalized by my confession. Yoohyeon’s mother was yelling at her servants to get me out of her house while Minji’s family was ranting about how wrong they’d been about me and what a snake I was. Gahyeon was still staring at me with the same dejected look, while Handong averted her eyes from me entirely. Yoobin was outraged, but looked like she had somewhat suspected this all along. Siyeon looked concerned for me and I was grateful for her support. At least one person in this room didn’t despise me. Then again, I hadn’t delivered my grand finale yet.

Someone who worked for Yoohyeon’s family was approaching me, ready to drag me away by any force necessary. I put up my hands in surrender but gave him a pleading look.

“Wait, please, there’s one more thing I have to say. I promise I’ll get the hell out of here right after I say it. It took me a little bit to realize it, but there’s someone else I’ve developed feelings for. I need her to know about them before I leave,” I begged.

Thankfully, he nodded his approval and backed off. I bowed to him in gratitude before turning to face my audience once again. I locked eyes with Siyeon, who like everyone else, was anxiously awaiting what else I had to say for myself.

“Siyeon, you don’t have to say anything, please just hear me out. I don’t know how or when it happened, but I’ve fallen for you. Being around you makes me feel alive again. I used to think I was always the protector, and could never be the one being protected. I thought I had to be Minji’s rock and that nobody would ever be mine. Getting to know you, it reminded me that there are other people out there who have only ever given and gotten very little in return. You taught me that loving others hurts like hell, but hiding away in fear will never get you anywhere. So, I’m facing a huge fear right now. Lee Siyeon, I think-no, I know I’m in love with you,” I declared, unloading everything off my chest once and for all.

My confession was met with silence. Siyeon was frozen in shock. Everyone stared at her and looked back at me, unsure of what to do. I took matters into my own hands and turned to the lackey in charge of getting rid of me. I offered my arm for him to take.

“With that, I’ll go pack my things now and be on my way,” I told the crowd before making my exit.

On my way out, I was stopped by a hand on my shoulder. It was Yoohyeon.

“I take it you know your wedding invitation is revoked and that I never want to see you anywhere near me or Minji ever again?” she fumed.

“Don’t worry, I don’t think I’ll ever be able to look anyone in this room in the eyes ever again. You won’t be seeing the likes of me,” I assured her, trying to hold back tears.

Pleased with my response, she let go of me and I raced off. I had lost basically any shred of dignity I’d held, but I still didn’t want to cry in front of all of these people.

I made it back to my bedroom and had even managed to drag out my suitcase before my emotions overwhelmed me. I fell onto the bed and began to sob heavily. It was a big relief to have gotten everything out in the open, but I’d paid a heavy price. I was going to miss seeing my best friend get married, if I could even still call her that. Minji probably hated me now. Yoohyeon certainly did, and she had every right to do so. Everyone else probably felt the same way. I had seen the hurt on Gahyeon and Handong’s faces, and seen the anger in Yoobin’s. As for Siyeon, she didn’t even have anything to say to me. I was such an idiot. She had forgiven me and wanted to be my friend, and I had gone and ruined any chance of that working out. I had no one left anymore. Sometimes doing the right thing really sucked.

Chapter Text

I must have cried myself to sleep because before I knew it, morning had arrived. I cursed myself when I noticed the sunlight streaming through my window. I had definitely overstayed my welcome. I’m surprised Yoohyeon’s mother hadn’t stormed in here and dragged me away by the scruff of my neck. Heck, I’m surprised Yoohyeon herself hadn’t done that either. They were probably all busy getting ready for the wedding ceremony, but that didn’t mean I was welcome here in the meantime. I wasn’t about to press my luck and stick around any longer. I quickly got ready and finished packing.

Once out of my room, I ordered an Uber and waited near the front door. I was studying the make and model of my driver’s car when I heard someone call my name. I instinctively looked up and saw Minji racing toward me, dressed in a silk robe with her makeup only half done. She looked like a bride out of hell. I had no idea why she even wanted to see me, let alone while looking like something the cat dragged in. I could only gawk at her appearance in stunned silence. She ran to me, not seeming to care about anything else.

“Thank god I caught you before you left. We need to talk,” Minji insisted between gasps.

“Aren’t you supposed to be getting ready for your wedding? Besides, I’m not even supposed to be here. I should have been gone ages ago. My Uber’s gonna be here any minute and Carl in the blue Chevy is probably gonna be pissed if I keep him waiting-” I was interrupted by Minji snatching my phone from my hands and cancelling my ride request.

“Carl be damned! I need to speak to my best friend. Now you won’t be going anywhere,” Minji smirked.

“Well, I’ll be receiving a lovely cancellation fee from Uber now, so thanks for that. Honestly, Minji, what is even going on? It’s your wedding day and you’re wasting it hunting down the likes of me. You shouldn’t even want to face me right now. In case you forgot, I basically ruined everything. Besides, no offense, but you should really get back to whoever is doing your hair and makeup. You do not wanna get married looking like that,” I told her, wincing slightly.

“Gahyeon and my mother are two of the sweetest people I know, but they are both tragic at hair and makeup. That’s one of the reasons I’ll need you to return to your position as maid of honor,” Minji said with a wink.

I blinked, “Wait a minute, you’re asking me to come back? Why on earth would you want that? I literally admitted to being in love with you at one point and trying to sabotage your wedding!” I squawked.

Minji sighed, “Yeah, at first I never wanted to see you again. I was so upset last night that all I did was cry and wonder what went wrong between us. However, Siyeon came to me and told me that what you said wasn’t the whole story. She confessed to being the one behind the plan and coercing you into joining forces. When she said all that, Yoohyeon and I were ready to kick her out too. We were both so angry that the two of you could do something like that. However, Siyeon also gave a personal testament to what a good friend you have always been, and insisted that she was the one who tainted you with her problems. Her speech was so raw and powerful that it brought Yoohyeon and I to our knees. We couldn’t kick either one of you out after that. Besides, we’d already given Siyeon her check for performing at the wedding. So we decided to let you both back in and move forward with a fresh start. Our families were a bit upset with our decision, but they have to deal with it since this is our wedding day. So, what do you say? Will you be my bridesmaid once more?” she confessed, finishing her speech with open arms.

I wasted no time running into her embrace. That was my answer to her question. Soon the two of us were crying and hugging in the middle of the entryway to the guesthouse.

“I’m so glad you forgive me. I gotta admit, I much prefer being asked this time around. The brunch and basket of stuff was nice, but being blindsided about your marriage when I had a secret crush on you was not. Anyways, let’s give you the kickass wedding you deserve!” I chuckled, grabbing Minji’s arm and racing towards her bridal chamber.

Minji just laughed at my words and followed along. I was thrilled about the turn of events, but hearing Siyeon’s name had made these feelings bittersweet. She had nothing to say when I confessed my feelings for her last night, and had yet to approach me in the meantime. Her going to vouch for me to the brides suggested that she saw me as a friend and wanted to do the right thing, but didn’t have the heart to find me and reject me before the wedding. I guess this was yet another crush I was going to have to get over.

We arrived at the room where Minji had been getting ready. Minji went first, with me awkwardly trailing in behind her. I had a hunch that most of the people involved in this wedding still hated my guts, so I was going to try to stay out of the spotlight. This day was about Minji and Yoohyeon, so I hoped people would tolerate me for their sake. I was surprised when Gahyeon practically tackled me in a hug, shrieking in delight at my presence. Minji’s mom gave me a tight smile and nod, probably still deciding whether she wanted to forgive me. I hesitantly put my arms around my younger friend, stunned by her reaction.

“I’m so glad you’re back! Minji said she was going to find you. I knew you weren’t as awful as you pretended to be last night! Thank god you’re here. Minji’s makeup is a total mess! Nobody here is as good at this as you are,” Gahyeon gushed, still in my arms.

“Aw, thanks kiddo! Although, the ‘as awful’ part feels a bit like a backhanded compliment. I’m gonna let it slide, though, in the spirit of Minji’s wedding day. Besides, we have a lot to do! It’s time for me to work my backstage magic,” I declared, striking a silly pose.

I could see that Minji had left my dress out next to hers. I smiled and raced to put it on, scurrying to also do my hair and makeup. I moved as quickly as possible, since today wasn’t about me. I owed it to my best friend to give her the perfect wedding she had always deserved. Once I was ready, I turned and smiled at Minji who returned the gesture.

“Well, what are waiting for then? We only have a few hours, and I need to look perfect for Yoohyeon! Let’s get to work everybody!” Minji cheered, prompting us into action.
~
Thanks to my hard work and Minji’s already beautiful features, we were able to get her wedding ready in a record amount of time. Before we knew it, it was time for the ceremony to begin. All of the guests had already taken their seats, and Yoohyeon was waiting for her beloved bride to join her at the altar. Minji’s mom went to take her place with Yoohyeon’s family while Minji’s father arrived for his duty of walking her down the aisle for her big moment. While they were getting situated, Gahyeon and I linked arms and made our way in.

Upon entering the venue, I took note of my surroundings. I could tell that Yoohyeon’s mom still wanted to wring my neck, but she seemed to be the only one angered by my presence. Yoohyeon looked over the moon just to be getting married, so it was likely that she had overlooked my and Siyeon’s transgressions. She wore a radiant smile as she anticipated the arrival of the love of her life. I can’t believe I had ever tried to break up such a lovely couple. Next to Yoohyeon, Yoobin and Handong were standing with pleasant expressions. It seemed that both of them were willing to go along with whatever made their friend happy. It was a relief to know that there was no bad blood there, based on how they were both beaming at me. Gahyeon could see how relieved I was to not have everyone hate me, and patted my hand affectionately.

Thankfully, Siyeon was over by the orchestra, and thus I would have to physically turn my head in order for us to make eye contact. I could feel her eyes on me, but that was expected, since Gahyeon and I were the prequel to the main event, the bride. I didn’t want to get my hopes up about her anymore. It was nice of her to get me reinvited to the wedding, and I needed to leave things at that. Eventually I would thank her for her troubles, but other than that I needed to limit our time together. I was still recovering from last night’s fiasco, and I didn’t want to make things any more awkward between us. Besides, this was Minji’s day. I had done enough being selfish to last a lifetime. It was time to prioritize my best friend again. I kept my chin up and made my way to the altar, taking my place beside Gahyeon and leaving a space for where Minji would stand.

The minute we were in place, the orchestra switched to the bridal march and everyone stood and turned to welcome the star of the event. Yoohyeon clasped her hands together and drew in a sharp breath. Minji and her father soon made their way inside, walking at a leisurely pace with as much grace as possible. I felt a lump in my throat as I admired my best friend’s perfection. For so long I had longed for her, and now I was able to appreciate her freely without the burden of my secret feelings weighing me down. The inescapable crush, which had kept me in its clutches for over twenty years, was finally gone. This gave me hope that my feelings for Siyeon, which were a much more recent development, would soon disappear as well.

Minji made it to the altar where she parted ways with her father, who kissed her cheek and headed to his seat. Minji hurried to Yoohyeon’s side, beaming at her lover. After a topsy turvy week, the two were finally going to tie the knot. I smiled at their joy, finally able to be genuinely happy for them. Now that everyone was in their proper place, the wedding was ready to happen at last.

The person officiating the wedding promptly began the opening remarks and carried out the ceremony. I caught bits and pieces of what he was saying, but my thoughts kept meandering back to Siyeon. Leave it to my stupid brain to be dwelling on a silly crush while my best friend since childhood was getting married. I just couldn’t get over her silence in the face of my confession. While I appreciated what she had done to get me back in the wedding, I would have appreciated an answer even more. Even if she had rejected me, at least I would have gotten some damn closure. Sure, I kept telling myself I was gonna move on from this, but it was hard to do so when I had never gotten a proper yes or no on whether she liked me back.

Sure enough, right as my thoughts about Siyeon were reaching their peak, it was time for her to perform her song. I would look like a real asshole if I avoided eye contact with the wedding singer while she was singing, so I grudgingly turned my head to look at her along with everyone else. The minute our eyes met, my breath hitched. Perhaps it was a trick she had learned as an entertainer, but she had a way of making me feel like the only person in the room. I watched, transfixed, as she approached the microphone.

“This song goes out to that special person all of us have in our lives. That person who we make mistakes with and for, who we love despite all of their faults, and who loves us in spite of ours. I hope mine is listening right now,” she announced as her accompaniment played the introduction.

Soon Siyeon’s melodic voice filled the room. I had already heard her perform this song at the wedding rehearsal, but the real deal was even more powerful. Maybe coming clean to Yoohyeon and Minji had cheered her up, because her expression was one of passion rather than pain. I found myself falling for her even more, my breath taken away by her talent. This was just like the first time I had heard her sing with Yoohyeon, the first time I had begun to feel things for her. It looks like I was royally screwed when it came to getting over her. The thing is, I didn’t even care. The entire time she was singing, it felt like she was directing all of it to me. She was probably trained to make each audience member feel that way, but I was content to stick to my fantasy. As she delivered the final note of the song, I felt my eyes misting with tears. I clapped harder for her than I had ever clapped for anyone in my life, even my favorite dance company. Much to my surprise, Siyeon seemed to point at me and mouthed “Can we talk later?” I looked around to see if she could have possibly been sending this signal to anybody else, but Minji grinned at my actions.

“She definitely means you. Who do you think the song was really for?” my best friend whispered.

My cheeks turned a similar shade to my dress. Not quite as pink, because then I’d have probably stopped breathing. Still, you get the point. I stared at Minji as if she had just told me the Illuminati was at her wedding. She had to be joking. I sure didn’t seem like Siyeon’s “special person” when I told her I loved her last night and her reaction was to go stark silent. Unless turning into a statue is her secret code for “I love you too,” I think Minji was sorely mistaken.

“Minji, just because it’s your wedding day does not mean I will hesitate to kick your ass if you’re messing with me right now,” I warned her through clenched teeth, keeping my voice down since the ceremony would be resuming soon.

“Siyeon’s not exactly the face of emotional control. You kind of threw her for a loop last night, so can you blame her for not having a rational reaction at the ready? I know you’re still mortified, but you better talk to her later or I’m not letting you on the dance floor at my reception,” Minji hurried to tell me.

I gasped, offended that she would impeach the dancing queen by force. How dare she threaten to keep me from my domain! Unfortunately, the brides were summoned for the remainder of the ceremony and I had to hold my tongue. I frowned and glanced back in Siyeon’s direction. The poor thing looked like a nervous baby animal. Her legs were shaking while she wrung her hands and stared at the floor. Obviously the performance held some serious significance. She wanted to talk, but that didn’t necessarily bode good tidings. Talking might mean a brutal rejection and securing a spot at the bar for the entire reception. On the other hand, there was a slim chance that maybe she wanted to pursue something more. I bit my lip, assessing my options. I was brought back to reality by a hard elbow in the ribs from Gahyeon.

“Bora, the rings?” she hissed in my ear.

I blinked, just now noticing that all eyes were on me. I hurried to hand them to the officiator, and mumbled an apology. All thoughts of Siyeon ceased as I watched my best friend exchange vows with the love of her life.

“Yoohyeon, our adventures in Europe were only the beginning. From this day forward, we’ll embark on a new journey together in marriage. Being with you will make every day more special than the last. I love you, and I give myself to you entirely,” Minji declared, beaming at her soon-to-be wife.

“Minji, you have brought excitement into my life from the moment I met you. You make me a better person, and I am thrilled to be marrying you. I promise to give myself to you and only you for the rest of my life. You are my world,” Yoohyeon promised, choking up as she spoke.

“By the power vested in me, I declare you two officially married. You may now kiss your bride,” the officiator stated, smiling warmly at the new couple.

Everyone burst into thunderous applause as Minji and Yoohyeon locked lips. Gahyeon grabbed my hands and jumped up and down. I smiled, sharing her enthusiasm. My best friend had found someone she loved enough to settle down with. Even better, she had forgiven me for my past mistakes and now I could be the best friend she deserved all along. I was over the moon, and this rush of happiness brought courage with it. I was ready to face whatever Siyeon had to say to me. Whether it end in heartbreak or happiness, I would finally get closure.

Chapter Text

After everyone had filed out of the ceremony venue, I looked for Siyeon among the countless guests. My search was fruitless, and soon the two brides emerged, which meant I would have to put my mission on hiatus so that I could join everyone in congratulating them. I figured Siyeon must have been helping put away the sound equipment she used in her performance. I would just have to hunt her down later so that we could talk.

I continued to keep an eye out for her as the bridal party was dragged away for photos. I figured she’d have to be included in the group shot since the brides had gotten her a pink dress like ours, but apparently I was mistaken. Time continued to pass with no sign of Siyeon. Had she ditched in fear of actually having to face me? That was all I could think about as time drew nearer to the wedding reception. With the way things were going, it would be hard for me to have a good time. How was I supposed to enjoy the night with so many unresolved feelings lingering in the air?

Before I knew it, it was time for the reception. The entire afternoon had passed with no word from Siyeon. I found myself brooding alone in a cloud of anxiety while everyone fluttered around me in excitement. I wanted to be happy with Yoohyeon and Minji over their newly cemented marriage, but it was hard to do so when the girl I loved was ghosting me. How could everyone act so calm when Siyeon was MIA like this? Did they all know something I didn’t?

On our way into the reception venue, Minji pulled me aside. I had been so focused on brooding and staring at the ground that everything else escaped my attention. I wasn’t even aware of her approaching me until she physically grabbed my arm and dragged me away.

“Lighten up, buttercup. You look like you’re at a funeral instead of my wedding,” she teased.

“Minji, you know why I’m upset. Siyeon said she wanted to talk and then vanished without a trace. What am I supposed to do now? Am I gonna run into her at the party? Are we supposed to discuss our feelings while doing the “Cha Cha Slide” on the dance floor? She probably chickened out and is ditching because she doesn’t wanna reject me during your wedding. This sucks! I wish she’d just grow a pair and face me so I can drink myself numb and forget any of this ever happened,” I grumbled.

Minji nodded sympathetically as she listened to my griping. This was her wedding day and here she was listening to me bitch about my stupid feelings that only happened because I tried to sabotage her marriage. I really didn’t deserve her.

“Minji, why are you even putting up with me right now? This is your day, and here I am ruining it with my drama. Go be with your new wife. I’ll get over this on my own. I’m a big girl,” I told her, giving her a shove.

Minji giggled, “Despite your tiny size, you’ve always been tough as nails. I know you’ll get through this. I may not know Siyeon well, but I don’t think she’s flaking out on you. She probably has a way she wants this to go. Just be patient and have fun in the meantime, okay?” she comforted me.

She might as well have told me to climb Mount Everest in an hour. Forgetting about Siyeon and trying to have a good time would be just as impossible at this point. Still, I forced a smile on my face and followed her into the venue.
~
All around me, people were having the time of their lives. I felt like I had a tiny rain cloud hovering over my head, isolating me from all the joyous partygoers. I had staked out the primo location at the bar and was ready to drown my sorrows with my favorite antidote for a broken heart: a good drink.

I had yet to see Siyeon. Dinner was going to be served soon, and I was beginning to worry. Was she not going to show up at all? Who ditches their good friend’s wedding reception after singing at the ceremony? That girl was still such an enigma to me.

Gahyeon, Handong, and Yoobin had all made it a point to come by and check on me. They were probably doing it at Minji’s behest, since she was unable to get a moment to herself amidst the barrage of congratulations. Gahyeon had hugged me and told me that Siyeon had no idea what she was missing out on and then went off to dance with a group of her friends whom Minji had also babysat as children. Handong told me she was willing to listen while I vented my frustrations over a round of drinks. I think she was grateful when I thanked her for the offer and dismissed her. Yoobin was the one who gave me the tough love I needed.

“Siyeon stood you up so you’re sitting here feeling sorry for yourself at the bar? You should be hunting her down and demanding an explanation! Either get your ass up and figure this out or power through it and have fun because you’re bringing down the mood of the party. Nobody wants to watch Minji’s maid of honor sob over tequila shots. Get over yourself and get a move on! I know you’re tougher than this so act like it!” she barked, yanking me off my chair and shoving me out the door.
~
I barely had a moment to protest before I was thrust out into the chilly evening air. My phone and belongings were all in the reception venue. I was out here with nothing. I was about to storm back in after Yoobin, but something caught my eye. There was a scattering of flower petals and candles leading back towards the guest house. I knew for a fact that Minji and Yoohyeon had not arranged this. Their plan for after the wedding was to leave for a hotel near the airport and then fly off for their honeymoon tomorrow morning. Whoever had done this was going rogue from what the brides had ordered. I decided to investigate.

As I followed the trail, I realized I was heading into an isolated location all by myself. Everyone else was at the reception. If a serial killer with impeccable romantic taste decided to off me, my screams would be silenced by Minji and Yoohyeon’s party playlist. I had already gotten into enough trouble this week. Still, I had already gotten this far. There was no backing out now.

I eventually reached an area near the swimming pool of the guest house. This was the spot Siyeon and I had spent that fateful evening that began our messed up time together. I peered around the corner of the house, trying to keep from being spotted by the mysterious trail leaver. Lo and behold, Siyeon herself was sitting there, holding a guitar. I wonder if she had planned a surprise for the happy couple before they left. It was nice that she was at least being considerate to some of the people involved in this wedding. Siyeon seemed to be practicing a song, silently singing to herself as she strummed the same chord over and over again. I found myself falling for her all over again, despite my anger.

Actually, now was as good a time as any to confront her. It was just the two of us, and the reception would be going on for several more hours. I marched out from my hiding spot, making it a point to stomp loudly towards her. Siyeon’s head jerked up at the sound, and her face brightened at the sight of me. She jumped up to greet me, but hesitated when she registered the icy glare I was giving her. She shrunk back to the ground, holding onto her guitar like a nervous child clutches a teddy bear.

“You know, most people don’t take too kindly to being told that someone wants to talk to them, and then being ignored by said someone for hours without any indication of their presence. I don’t know what you’re pulling with this vanishing act of yours. If you wanna reject me, just do it already! Quit playing games with me, Lee Siyeon!” I fumed, putting my hands on my hips and stomping on one of the flower petals out of spite.

Siyeon pouted, “Hey, those petals took hours to put down!” she whined.

I scoffed, “I poured my heart out to you only to be ghosted and all you care about are stupid flowers? I couldn’t even enjoy my best friend’s wedding reception because of you! It’s nice that you can plan an elaborate surprise like this for Minji and Yoohyeon, yet meanwhile you treat me like I don’t even exist. Remember when you called me a cold hearted bitch? Looks like it was a classic case of pot meeting kettle! You know, I deserve to be treated with respect and given closure. If you can’t do that for me, you were never worthy of my feelings in the first place!” I ranted, balling my hands into fists.

Siyeon’s eyes nearly bulged out of their sockets. Good, it seemed that I had gotten my point across. I was ready to storm off in style (and then cry over copious amounts of liquor), but Siyeon frantically jumped up and grabbed my hands. She was clearly freaking out.

“Oh my god, I’m such an idiot! I thought surprising you would be romantic, but all I did was make you upset. I’m so sorry, Bora, Yoobin was right. At least she kept up her end of the bargain and got you outside,” she spoke, mumbling the last part mostly to herself.

“What are you talking about? Are you saying you did all of this for me?” I realized, putting a hand to my mouth.

Siyeon nodded, grinning sheepishly. I shrieked. Well, there went my chances of ever being with her. She had done something chick-flick worthy for me and I had screamed at her and called her a coldhearted bitch. I groaned and put my head in my hands.

“Is there any way we can have a do-over?” I whimpered.

Siyeon chuckled, “I would like that very much,” she agreed.

I nodded and scurried back behind the house. I then strutted out in a much happier fashion than the first time around. Siyeon laughed and stood up to greet me once more.

“Oh my, what could this be?” I gasped, putting a hand to my chest in an exaggerated acting attempt.

“Okay, you can tone it down a little there. I gotta admit, though, that was an Oscar-worthy performance. Anyways, now I can say what I had intended to the first time you got here. Bora, what you said to me last night took so much courage. Courage is something I thought I lost after the night I almost killed that man to protect Yoohyeon. I didn’t know who I was anymore, and I was too afraid to face the things I did know, like my feelings for her. Then you came along, and showed me that you can still do brave things in the midst of feeling like a coward. Despite hiding from your feelings for Minji for so long, you took a risk with me and did something awful. Sure, it almost ended in disaster for everyone, but we made it through. Coming out of all of this, I’ve realized that you’re the exact type of person I want to be with. I was scared out of my mind to confess all of this, which is why I decided to surprise you tonight. I wanted time to mentally prepare myself and make sure I did things right. I’m sorry for being so vague and putting you through all of that confusion and sadness. I don’t know what else I can say to convey my feelings, so I actually have a song to sing for you. I hope it can do justice to how much you’ve come to mean to me,” Siyeon confessed, positioning her guitar and biting her lip nervously.

She was able to strum all of two notes before I grabbed her face and smashed our lips together. Sparks flew in the evening air as we held onto each other, our bodies meant to be beside each other. We stayed like this for as long as we could, my arms around her neck and hers around my waist while we made out. Eventually we had to come up for air, and I nestled my head in the crook of her neck. I took in the smell of her perfume, a scent I wanted to be able to inhale forever.

“Wow, I didn’t even have to serenade you. To think I practiced until I got blisters on my fingers all for nothing,” Siyeon breathed, running her fingers through my hair.

“You’re welcome to sing for me now. If you still have enough breath in you to carry the notes, that is. That was one hell of a kiss,” I chuckled.

Siyeon smiled, putting her arms around me and lowering both of us to the ground. I was laying on top of her, her arms wrapped around my smaller frame. All of the bad things that had happened this week went away when I was in her embrace. I wanted to stay like this forever.

We may not have been there forever, but we did spend several uninterrupted hours alone in our bliss. Siyeon and I sat side by side on the ground, her strumming her guitar and softly singing to me while I gazed at the stars and silently thanked them for bringing us together.

We were debating whether the bushes or the swimming pool gave us enough privacy to take the next steps in our relationship when we heard a chorus of familiar voices approaching.

“Please tell me you weren’t seriously considering getting it on in my family’s hedges or our swimming pool,” Yoohyeon groaned as she came around the bend with Minji, Gahyeon, Handong, and Yoobin.

“Aw come on, they’re so happy together! Need I remind you that we too have done it in some interesting locations?” Minji giggled, prompting Yoohyeon to turn crimson while the rest of us snorted.

“I’m glad everything worked out and I could be of help. Then again, you two would have worked things out on your own. You’ve both proven that you’re pretty good at scheming,” Yoobin chuckled, giving us a thumbs-up.

“You were an awesome actress. I really thought you were yelling at me earlier,” I complimented.

Yoobin shrugged, “What can I say? I’m a sucker for romance. When two people are meant to be, I wanna help ‘em get together,” she explained.

Siyeon smiled, putting her arm around me before speaking up, “Not that I don’t appreciate this little celebration of me and Bora, but this isn’t really our day. I still can’t believe you guys threatened not to invite me to the wedding if I didn’t resolve everything. Don’t you guys want to focus on yourselves? You’re the stars of this show,” she pointed out, gesturing to Minji and Yoohyeon.

The newly married couple shook their heads and smiled at each other.

“The spotlight has been on us all day. We’ve enjoyed our wedding, but it makes us even happier to see the people we love be happy. Besides, if you two get married we totally reserve the right to steal your thunder just a little as payback,” Minji told us with a wink.

“Whoa there, let’s not get ahead of ourselves. The two of us just became a thing!” I spluttered, my cheeks getting hot.

“Oh my god, I haven’t seen Bora blush like that since we were kids! This is so cute! She’s so in love! Siyeon and Bora sitting in a tree, K-I-S-S-I-N-G!” Minji teased, bringing me back to our childhood.

“Do you really wanna spend your honeymoon with a black eye? ‘Cause you’re seriously asking for one right now!” I threatened, holding up my fist.

Siyeon just laughed and grabbed my hand, holding it to hers. I buried my head in her shoulder to hide my blushing face. Everyone cooed at the adorable sight. It was mega embarrassing, but I had to admit it was nice to be in a relationship like this. Minji was right, I hadn’t had a wholesome love for anyone since my crush on her. With Siyeon, I finally had everything I had ever wanted. My tough exterior melted the minute she told me she loved me back, and now I was hopelessly infatuated with her.

“You know, guys, the reception is still going on. We came here to make sure that you two finished any unsettled business so that we can all party together! Come on, I put in a request for your go-to song once you hit the dance floor, Bora!” Gahyeon squealed, grabbing onto me and hoisting me up.

The seven of us ran back to the party, giggling like a bunch of giddy schoolgirls. We had all linked arms and pranced through the grass, not caring if our dresses got dirty. We finally looked like the joyous bunch we were meant to be all along. We burst into the venue and the party instantly livened up. Everyone could feel the joy radiating off of us. The minute my feet hit the dance floor, that was where I remained for the rest of the night. With Siyeon by my side, I was finally able to let everything go and truly enjoy myself. I danced the night away in her arms and hoped that was where I could stay for the rest of my life.

Chapter Text

I clenched my teeth and tried to stay strong. This had to be one of the most exhausting things I had ever done. Still, I knew the final product would be worth all of the pain.

“Come on Bora, breathe and push! Do it for Siyeon!” Minji urged as she held onto me.

“I can see the head! We’re making serious progress!” Gahyeon cheered, peering in.

“I don’t think I can do this anymore,” I panted.

“You’re doing great! Don’t give up now!” Minji insisted.

She was right. I had to do this. I screamed and used all of my strength to give one final push. Finally my wedding dress was on.

Gahyeon and Minji let out excited cheers before making the finishing arrangements. They had insisted on making sure I looked perfect for my big day, especially after all I’d done to help Minji with hers. Once I’d stopped trying to ruin it, that is.

Once they’d adjusted my hair and put my veil in place, the three of us turned to admire our handiwork in the mirror.

“Oh Bora, you look so beautiful,” Minji breathed, on the verge of tears.

“You and Minji tie for the position of prettiest girl to ever get married,” Gahyeon chimed in, already dabbing her eyes with her handkerchief.

“I don’t deserve you guys,” I wailed, pulling them in for a group hug.

The three of us sobbed in each other’s arms for several minutes until Gahyeon pulled away and checked the time.

“Oh shoot, it’s go-time! Siyeon’s probably already at the altar,” she exclaimed.

With Minji and Gahyeon’s help, I hoisted up my skirt and hauled ass to my wedding venue. I couldn’t believe I was actually marrying Siyeon. So much had led up to this moment. From our lukewarm introduction to the chaos surrounding Minji’s wedding, she and I had endured a lot to be together. Thankfully the years of dating that proceeded all of that were much less eventful. We mostly just cuddled a lot, made love in just about every spot in my apartment, and then cuddled some more. Things stayed that way for several months while we both went about our lives and tried to make our way in the world.

Siyeon’s career as a musician had taken off, and I was shocked when she called me up onstage to propose during a concert. I refuse to admit how hard I cried when she sang a song about how I’d changed her life and made her want to spend the rest of her life with me because I made her a better person. Minji still has the picture of my makeup running down my face. She calls it the “emo sea witch” look. Fortunately Siyeon still wanted to marry me even after seeing me like that. I hoped she would still feel that way by the end of today. I’d bought waterproof mascara, but that didn’t guarantee anything.

Once we arrived, Minji and Gahyeon joined the other bridesmaids which were Yoohyeon and Siyeon’s only other female band member. They both kissed my cheeks and wished me luck before linking arms with their partners and heading into the venue. After they left, I pulled out my compact to check over my appearance one last time. I wanted to make sure not a single hair was out of place. Siyeon deserved nothing but the best. We’d already seen each other at our worst, but I wanted today to be perfect. Once I felt that I was runway ready, I linked arms with my mother so that she could escort me down the aisle. This was one of the few days where she seemed to be proud of me. I think watching me finally commit to a stable relationship was a miracle for her.

As we made our way down the aisle to the bridal march, I made sure to smile at every single guest in attendance. All of these people were here with me on the happiest day of my life. Even though a majority of them were people we only invited to be polite, I was still grateful to have them here. Two faces that stood out to me in the crowd were Yoobin and Handong. Both of them gave me warm smiles which I returned with just as much enthusiasm. It made me happy that we were all able to stay in touch after Minji’s wedding. After all, they had been there for the rocky start of our relationship. It was wonderful to have them here for the culmination of everything we’d been through.

Once I got closer to the altar, I gazed at my beloved bridesmaids once more. The combined wattage of Gahyeon’s and Minji’s dazzling smiles could have put the sun out of business. I was so lucky to have such good friends by my side to share in my happiness. I gave Yoohyeon a smile and nod from her spot beside Minji, a gesture that she returned. It was a relief to see her and Minji going strong after the events surrounding their wedding. They really were a match made in heaven. I was sure Siyeon and I would also share such a bond once we sealed the deal.

Finally, my eyes made their way to the wonderful woman I was about to marry. Siyeon was radiant in the jumpsuit she had chosen for the wedding. While I could barely move in my mermaid-style gown, Siyeon was sleek and modern in her attire. I thought we looked like we could be on the cover of a magazine. Siyeon’s eyes were watery as she took in my appearance and mouthed, “You look incredible.” I teared up as well when replying, “You do too.” It took all of my willpower not to take her in my arms and just pretend we were already married. I held my breath as we took our places in front of the officiator so that we could commence the ceremony.

The minute I heard “You may now kiss the bride,” I wasted no time following instructions. It had been agony having to listen to Siyeon’s vows without being able to embrace her. Both of us had cried a lot throughout the ceremony, and so did several of our guests. It was an emotional affair to say the least. Then again, just about everything involving Siyeon and I could be described in that way. All around us, people were cheering and throwing rice, but I drowned all of that out as I savored the feeling of my wife’s lips on mine. That’s right, I could officially call her my wife now.
~
After the frenzy of photographs, thanking guests for their gifts and congratulations, and getting ready for our reception, we were finally ready to celebrate. Siyeon and I came out to thunderous applause and performed the best wedding dance ever (choreographed by yours truly). Once things settled down and we were seated for dinner, Minji prepared to make her toast. I smiled at her as she clinked her fork against her glass to get everyone’s attention. When all eyes were on her, she raised her glass and cleared her throat.

“Hi everyone! My name is Minji, and I am Bora’s matron of honor and best friend. Bora was actually the maid of honor at my wedding and did a phenomenal job. Well, she did a phenomenal job when she got serious about things,” Minji joked, which prompted me to nearly choke on air and Siyeon to snort, before continuing, “You see, folks, Bora and Siyeon actually met under unconventional circumstances. The two of them were in my wedding and actually ended up joining forces to try and stop it from happening. Isn’t it ironic that trying to break up a marriage is what eventually led to their own wedding? I say all of this not to make my best friend and her new wife look bad, but to point out that life has a funny way of working out. These two have proven that sometimes you have to fall down to rise up into something amazing. Please join me now in raising a glass to this lovely couple. To Siyeon and Bora, and to the many adventures you two are bound to have!” she declared, finishing her toast.

Minji grinned at me as she toasted us. I smiled back at her with watery eyes. Sure, there was a little bit of roasting involved in that toast, but it was exactly what I needed to hear. Siyeon noticed my tears and laughed, pulling me closer to her. Everyone in the room could tell that we were madly in love and was wishing us a bright future, although it was pretty clear that we would be just fine.
~
One thing I wish I had been warned about before getting married was that you barely get a moment to yourself at your wedding reception. I had to limit my time on the dance floor in order to take pictures with people and pretend to be interested in their advice about marriage and family life. People were constantly asking me about Siyeon and I’s plans for the future. We both eventually wanted kids, but with her career being so unpredictable, and my inheriting the dance studio, we weren’t sure when that would be happening. For the time being, our only plan was to enjoy our time together and fall in love all over again every day.

Yoohyeon and Minji were excellent role models as a married couple. The two had decided to move back to Europe where their love story began, and start their new life there. Yoohyeon’s mastery of so many languages made it easy for her to get a job teaching at a prestigious international academy in France, and her family’s money helped to make sure the two could live in a fabulous home. Minji was finally chasing her dream and had gotten an apprenticeship under a renowned Parisian designer. The two of them had adopted several pets and hoped to eventually adopt a child as well. It made me happy to watch them flourish.

Those two weren’t the only ones doing well for themselves. Gahyeon had gotten accepted into the medical school of her dreams, and Handong was at one of the best veterinary schools in the world. The two of them were doing excellent, and I had no doubts that they would accomplish fantastic feats in their fields of choice. As for Yoobin, she had graduated from her literary program and was currently working on a book. She had Siyeon and I to thank for the topic. That’s right, she wrote a book about two people joining forces to sabotage a wedding and then falling in love themselves. It was surreal to see my love story made into an actual book. Her publisher had read the first few chapters and assured her it was bound to be a best-seller. I had joked with Yoobin that if someone bought the movie rights, she should cast me to play myself. Siyeon had been pretty bitter when I said I thought my favorite actress would do a better job portraying her. All in all, everyone was doing well.

After hours of going through the motions, I was relieved when Siyeon and I finally found the time to join our friends on the dance floor. It felt like Minji’s wedding all over again when Siyeon held me in her arms and our bodies moved in synch to the music. There was nothing better than dancing with my wife and my closest friends. I could have stayed there forever.

In a rush of adrenaline, I wrapped my arms around Siyeon’s neck and began to kiss her hungrily in front of all of our guests. While I’m sure some people were scandalized by our display of affection, I tuned all of them out and dipped my wife toward the ground so I could lean over her while I attacked her lips with mine. Siyeon didn’t seem to mind my ambush and it took only seconds for her to wrestle tongues with me. It was just the two of us in that moment, nobody else mattered. Lee Siyeon had become my entire world. We may have had rocky pasts, but our future was bound to be smooth sailing from here on out. We had finally found the happiness we both deserved all along.