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Shot Through the Heart

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It must be past midnight, but Sana just couldn’t sleep. She lifted her head and peeked over to her right, both Jihyo and Mina were motionless save for the rhythmic breathing, and across the room Nayeon shuffled on her bed as she always does. She was asleep as well. Sana let her head fall against the pillow and exhaled deeply, her arms crossed over her stomach. It had been quite the busy day and her body was definitely tired, but her mind is still moving around thinking of everything and nothing at the same time. One thing’s for sure, her brain won’t let her go to sleep.

Sana reached for her phone from the small desk beside her bed, the screen illuminating her face almost blinding her. She barely saw the time, but it was around 2am. Sana got up as quietly as she could, leaving her phone on her bed, opening the door as slowly as possibly so the others wouldn’t wake up.

The hallway was dark and she stretched her hands out to find her way around until she reached the common room, where a low light lamp was turned on and the TV was playing a movie on mute. Sana frowned, maybe someone had forgotten to turn it off before going to sleep, then moved towards the couch to look for the remote not noticing the person wrapped in blankets sitting down.

“Sana-unnie?”

“What the f-” Before Sana could complete her sentence she locked eyes with the girl who was apparently watching TV. “Dahyun. You scared me.”

“Sorry. Why are you awake?”

“I should ask you the same thing,” Sana replied. It wasn’t often that Sana was up at this hour, in fact this is the first time she got up for anything at 2am, but Dahyun looked like she’s been here for a while and that she did this often.

It wasn’t a secret that Sana had a soft spot for the younger girl. Ever since that incident during SIXTEEN where she had reprimanded Dahyun for not attending practices, Sana made it a point to make sure she took care of Dahyun as best as she could. After all, Nayeon’s attention has always been on Tzuyu and Chaeyoung, something Nayeon admits is her fault and the eldest tries her best, but Sana couldn’t help but think that maybe Dahyun needs someone focusing on her care too.

“I had a nightmare,” Dahyun says, pulling Sana out of her thoughts. “I couldn’t go back to sleep. I didn’t want to bother Chaeyoung or Tzuyu, or anyone really, so I thought of watching some TV.”

“You could’ve come to me, you know. You know you never bother me.”

Dahyun gave Sana a sheepish smile. The blanket wrapped around her made Dahyun look smaller than she actually is, and she’s already small to begin with. Sana noticed the dark circles around Dahyun’s eyes and without lipstick or make up she looked paler than usual. Her lips didn’t have much color, and they looked dry. Dahyun’s hair (which was a nice ombre of purple) was in a messy bun, stray hairs sticking out at random places. Sana thought Dahyun looked beautiful. Natural. It made her chest tight and she couldn’t help but smile back.

“Do you mind if I join you?” Sana had already made herself comfortable beside Dahyun before the younger girl even had a chance to respond. She heard the younger girl give out a weak answer. Sana couldn’t make out the words but with the way Dahyun immediately rested her head on Sana’s shoulder probably meant that she didn’t mind at all.

Sana adjusted, putting the blanket around both of them. She snaked her arm around Dahyun’s waist and her fingers found their way to playing with the hem of her shirt. She felt the heat from Dahyun’s skin.

They sat in silence for a while. Dahyun’s eyes were stuck to the TV, which was playing what looked like an old K-drama Sana wasn’t familiar with, and Sana’s eyes were stuck on Dahyun. She watched as Dahyun’s facial expressions changed along with the scenes on the screen across them. She watched Dahyun’s brows furrow when the girl and who seemed like the lead male get into an argument. She watched Dahyun smile when the girl got to go out and spend time with her friends. She watched Dahyun shut her eyes really quick when the two main characters were about to kiss, and she watched as Dahyun peeked through one squinted eye out of curiosity. She watched Dahyun mouth the actors’ lines despite there being no sound. It made Sana’s heart flutter, being able to see Dahyun so pure and innocent and so amusingly concentrated on the drama.

Sana was so engrossed in the way the light shifted against Dahyun’s skin that she didn’t even realize the episode was over until Dahyun spoke.

“Can you pass me the remote?”

Sana reached for the remote with her free hand, handing it to Dahyun. She expected the screen to glow anew with the next episode but suddenly the room was much darker as Dahyun turned off the TV and put the remote on the floor. She still hasn’t moved from resting on Sana’s shoulder. Sana didn’t mind.

Sana didn’t talk either. Her eyes were still glued to Dahyun’s face, now illuminated in a soft dark yellowish shade from the lamp on the side table. Sana’s fingers drew circles on Dahyun’s skin just under her shirt. She felt the shivers that ran throughout the younger girl’s body. The silence was comfortable, but Sana’s mind was now growing tired. They both needed sleep anyway.

“We should go to bed,” Sana whispered. No one would hear them of course, they were far enough from the sleeping area that speaking wouldn’t be much of a bother, but she kept her voice low anyway. It’s as if the whole situation called for a sort of calm.

Dahyun moved away a bit. Sana took it as a cue that it was time to get up but just as she was about to stand, Dahyun’s head was resting on her lap and her arms wrapped around Sana’s waist. Sana felt her body grow hot. She was probably blushing right now. Dahyun was never usually touchy. She let Sana and Momo do whatever with her, sure, and she would comply whenever Sana and Momo asked for hugs, but Dahyun was never the one to initiate the contact, never the one to start the cuddles, especially in public. So, this particular display of softness caught Sana off-guard and, quite honestly, suddenly she didn’t know what to do.

“Are you okay?” Worry was laced in her voice. Dahyun just let out a soft hum in response, her breath tickling where it touched Sana’s skin. Sana should definitely do something. She couldn’t let Dahyun sleep on her. Especially because they were on the sofa in the common room. Sana remembered the last time she slept on the couch, her back still hates her for it. “Dahyun,” Sana tried again, “Dahyun, you need a bed, not the sofa.”

Silence. Only the sound of steady, heavy breathing could be heard and Sana feared that Dahyun already fell asleep. She started debating in her head on whether to carry the younger girl to her room when Dahyun shifted, pulling Sana closer. Sana could feel her heart beat faster. She could feel her cheeks grow warm. The smile on Dahyun’s lips made Sana feel soft. She lifted a finger and poked Dahyun’s cheek.

“Come on, sleepyhead. You need a bed,” Sana said, but Dahyun only nuzzled in more. Sana heard a giggle escape from Dahyun’s lips, her breath hot against Sana’s skin.

“I don’t want to sleep in my bed. I want to sleep here.”

“And why is that?” Sana continued playing with the hem of Dahyun’s shirt, occasionally drawing circles on the skin just above her hips.

“Nightmares.”

Oh. Right. Dahyun mentioned about waking up because of a nightmare. Did this happen often? Sana leaned down and placed a gentle kiss on Dahyun’s temple. Her skin was soft. Sana lingered for a moment, a smile beginning to form on her lips before she pulled away. “There. Now the nightmares won’t bother you.”

Sana tugged on Dahyun’s shirt, pulling it down finally to cover her properly, and nudged the younger girl to get up. This time, Dahyun obeyed. She shifted, turned around, and sat down. Dahyun let out a soft sigh before standing up. Sana took Dahyun’s hand as she stood up as well, using her free hand to grab Dahyun’s blanket.

They walked slowly, quietly, and Sana noticed how Dahyun was chewing her lip, how Dahyun was fiddling with her shirt, how Dahyun’s hand was stiff in hers. Dahyun was mostly hanging on instead of holding, like she was waiting for Sana’s grip to loosen so she could run away. Sana felt a pang of guilt in her chest. She couldn’t let Dahyun sleep by herself again if she was this nervous about it. Sure, Chaeyoung and Tzuyu were in the room but it wasn’t like Dahyun could wake either of them up.

The two girls reached the door to Dahyun’s room. They stood there in silence. Dahyun didn’t move. Was she stalling? Or was she waiting for Sana to open the door for her? Sana opened her mouth to ask, but before she could speak Dahyun’s soft voice filled the empty hallway.

“Can I sleep with you tonight?”

Dahyun looked guilty for even asking. Her eyes were staring intently on the floor. Whatever this nightmare was really bothered her. Sana couldn’t take it. “Of course.”

Dahyun’s hand relaxed and Sana felt that a hundred pounds of weight were lifted from Dahyun’s shoulders. Her bed was a bit small, it wasn’t made for two people, but if this is what Dahyun needs then Sana will definitely be there to give it to her. She made her promise after all.

They walked over to Sana’s room. Jihyo and the others wouldn’t mind. They entered quietly, closing the door properly behind them. Sana still held onto Dahyun’s hand, pulling her close as she sat down on her bed. She laid down then adjusted so that Dahyun would fit beside her. They faced each other, and Sana wrapped an arm around Dahyun’s waist, pulling her closer.

They couldn’t really talk right now. Dahyun snuggled closer, burying her face in Sana’s neck. At least Sana knew Dahyun was comfortable. That’s important. Sana used Dahyun’s blanket to keep them warm. It smelled of vanilla. Sana felt Dahyun breathing into her neck, hot breath tickling against her skin. Sana rested her hand on the small of Dahyun’s back.

“I’ll keep the nightmares away,” Sana whispered. She wasn’t sure whether Dahyun heard or not. Sana couldn’t see if Dahyun had already fallen asleep, but that’s okay. Dahyun needed sleep, and so did she.

Sana closed her eyes and placed a soft kiss on Dahyun’s head.

“Good night, Dahyunnie.”

Chapter Text

It had never occurred to her that stress was something that she’d ever get used to, but here she was, on her bed, tears soaking her pillow. It had become such a common thing, crying, that the managers might as well have written “Break down and cry” on her itinerary for the day, every day.

Mina had gotten up at five in the morning, when the girls would take turns doing their routines. They’d showered, eaten breakfast, and gotten ready for their day. Usually, they’d go off in groups of three. Mina’s schedule on this particular breakdown, along with Dahyun and Momo, had required her to be at the JYP dance studio at 7am until 11am, where they would learn their choreography for the different songs for performances and music videos. Once that’s over they’d had a 45-minute break before having to shower and go briefly to the make-up department to get their hair and make up done for the day before following the mini-itinerary their manager gave them to shoot for one of the many reality shows they’re doing. They had always been told to be natural and act like they’re alone, but the sight of the small crowd always gathering and following them around makes her heart beat fast. Dahyun and Momo were plenty talkative anyway.

From then the shoot had ended at 6pm, where she’d have a good one-hour break before she had to go to a voice coach. They’d stay until 9pm and sing until their throats were dry and their vocal chords would simply give up until she can barely make any sound. Mina, she was just tired. She wanted to go home, back to the dorm. Sometimes, she wanted to go back to Japan, but right now the dorm was all she had.

It was a blur, really. Mina had no recollection of how she ended up in her bed. All she could remember, no matter how hard she tried, was that as soon as she had opened the door, Mina had told Momo that she’d be in her room if they need anything. The older girl nodded and headed into the kitchen, while Dahyun went for the couch in the living room. So here she was on her bed, tears soaking her pillow, clutching onto a tiger plushie a fan had given her, soaking that too. She couldn’t breathe, her breath hitching every so often. She would wipe the tears away but more tears just fell down her face. She wanted so much to stop, to calm down and be thankful that her dreams of debuting had come true as early as it did. She thought of Nayeon, who was a trainee for five years, of Jeongyeon who trained six months longer than that. She thought of Jihyo, who trained for ten years before being able to debut. Mina couldn’t imagine the stress they were feeling, with an added pressure of being better than everyone else simply because they had trained longer.

“Mina-unnie?” The lights turned on as a familiar soft voice filled the room. Mina wanted to stop crying, not wanting whoever it was that entered the room to see her like this. Mina did not want any of the members to see her like this.

“Go…” That was all Mina could manage, the words stuck in her throat. She tried again. Mina tried breathing in, breathing hard, but all she could manage was a shallow hitch which didn’t seem to help her. “Go-”

“No way. I’m calling-”

“Don’t.” Mina had sat down and grabbed the younger girl’s wrist. “Don’t, Chaeyoung, please.” That was all she could say through the tears. Chaeyoung frowned but nodded. Mina’s grip loosened, and Chaeyoung had asked if she wanted to turn the lights off. Mina wasn’t sure if she had answered Chaeyoung, but the room grew dark all of a sudden anyway.

Mina adjusted her position, she tucked her knees close to her chest, kept hugging the tiny tiger plushie, and kept crying. She felt the bed dip beside her, and suddenly a warmth had spread through her, starting from where Chaeyoung’s skin had come into contact with hers. Mina’s heart skipped a beat, probably from the crying, and she hugged the tiger tighter, and she cried harder, but quiet, still, and she had felt a hand wrap around her shoulders.

“It’s okay, Mina-unnie. You’re okay. I’m here.” Chaeyoung’s voice was soft, calming. Even when she was just talking Chaeyoung sounded like an angel, like music was in her very core and that there was so much passion that some of it had been wanting to escape, and they escaped each time Chaeyoung spoke. Mina had always loved listening to Chaeyoung speak.

And Chaeyoung kept speaking, kept whispering, kept reassuring Mina that everything was going to be okay until the older girl had, after what was about ten more minutes, relaxed a bit. Mina kept her eyes closed, her forehead resting on her knees. She breathed in, counting to eight, before exhaling. In. One. Two. Three. Four. Five. Six. Seven. Eight. Out. And again, and again, and again.

“Thank you, Chaengie,” Mina whispered. Still, that was all she could manage. She looked at her phone to check the time, the small screen illuminating Chaeyoung’s face. The others should come home any minute now. She sighed, but kept the phone lit to see the younger girl better.

“What’s wrong?” The concern was apparent in Chaeyoung’s voice and also in her eyes. They looked at Mina like she was a lost puppy, so innocent and pure and genuine that Mina could feel her heart beat against her ribcage, begging to escape. “Did anything happen?” Chaeyoung pressed. She had let go of Mina now, adjusting so that she sat facing the older girl, legs crossed.

Mina shook her head, the smile disappearing from her lips. No, nothing happened, but too much was happening all at once. She missed home, she missed her family, her friends in Japan. She missed being able to sleep more than three hours at a time. She missed being able to go out to eat and not worry much about the calories that will affect her weight. She missed not having cameras follow her, not having to worry about being pictured without her consent, not needing to hide from the people just so she could buy cup ramen at the corner store.

Mina looked at Chaeyoung, who was nodding. “Did I say that out loud?”

Chaeyoung smiled. “Yeah, sort of.”

A sigh escaped Mina’s lips. She let go of the plush tiger and let her legs stretch across her bed. Mina rubbed her hands on her jeans. She still hasn’t changed out of the clothes from the time they were shooting, but that was okay. Mina rubbed her hands against the rough fabric, trying to get a sense of something – anything – that would ground her into reality. Suddenly, then, just as everything was happening all too fast and all at once just minutes earlier, the world had stopped, the hand on the clock suddenly broken and unmoving, and her hand no longer rubbing against her jeans. Another wave of warmth ran through her from her fingertips as Chaeyoung slipped her fingers between Mina’s and held her tight, held her down into reality.

“Chae-”

“It stresses me out too,” Chaeyoung said. It was barely above a whisper, so soft and silent that anyone would’ve missed out on what she said had there been even just a fly buzzing about inside the room. But, no, it was dead silent, and Mina heard Chaeyoung.

She confused Mina, Chaeyoung, and had always intrigued her. From the start Chaeyoung had always had a loud energy emanating from her small body. She was only 5’2” and yet when Mina finds herself in the same room as Chaeyoung the older girl had always found herself attracted to her. Chaeyoung was confident, bold, and always laughing. Whenever she had the chance, Chaeyoung would show off her rap skills or dance with Dahyun and Somi or get voice lessons from Nayeon and Sana. And when Chaeyoung wasn’t around people, she always had a pen and paper at hand, always scribbling away. Whether she was drawing a design or writing a few lyrics, it didn’t matter to Mina. Everything Chaeyoung did was perfect. It was hard to imagine someone like Chaeyoung be stressed, someone as talented and as beautiful as her shouldn’t have to worry about anything. It made Mina feel… well… weak.

Mina felt a soft squeeze, jolting her back to the present.

“But I guess I don’t mind the stress,” Chaeyoung continued. “After all, this has been everything I’ve ever wanted.” Mina smiled at that, at the thought that Chaeyoung was finally living her dream. They all were.

“How long did you train?”

“Three years.”

Mina nodded. She had trained for a year and a few months and every so often she would still break down and cry, just as she was doing now. Though during her trainee days, Sana and Momo had been there for her. No matter how utterly spaced out Momo always was and how every interaction with Sana seemed to borderline flirting, she appreciated them both. She considered them sisters, and they treated her like one, but the nights where they spent together to release stress didn’t somehow compare to how time stopped this very moment. Chaeyoung’s hand was in hers, and the younger girl was drawing circles with her thumb on the back of Mina’s hand. It relaxed her even more.

“Did you ever feel like quitting?” Mina had always seen Chaeyoung around during their trainee days when she started, but Mina was grouped with the other Japanese girls (where she met Momo and Sana) and never really had the opportunity to get to know the younger girl better. Still, during their trainee days Mina would always spot Chaeyoung from across the room, as if a radar was built into her just to find Chaeyoung. Sometimes, she would find Chaeyoung already staring at her too. The thought of it made Mina’s heart skip a beat.

“Never,” Chaeyoung replied. “I’ve always known that I wanted to become an idol. This has always been a goal of mine ever since I was young.”

Mina couldn’t see it, but she felt the smile as Chaeyoung talked. Warmth spread through her body, as if the warmth from Chaeyoung’s memories, the simple determination that Chaeyoung had in her, it seemed that it was enough to give Mina strength. A smile appeared on her lips as well.

Mina thought of all the times she and Chaeyoung had spent time together as trainees. She remembered the hip hop lessons they took together, although the schedules were coincidences since JYPE made them, and remembered how she would watch Chaeyoung dance with Dahyun. Seriously at first, but then Dahyun would make a mistake and then they’d groove into silly actions. Mina thought of the voice lessons they’d take together, how Chaeyoung was always the first in the room already practicing before anyone even arrived. Sometimes Mina would stop and listen before entering just so she could hear the younger girl sing without any walls up.

Mina thought of the time JYP PD-nim called on her and fifteen other girls to the meeting room where he had told them about him wanting to create another girl group, how he would like to choose the seven girls from among them. Mina was, to say the least, excited, though the thought of being in a group with Chaeyoung was more than what Mina could have asked for. It made her feel giddy. Yes, SIXTEEN was tough. That show really pushed Mina to the limits but it was all worth it. She was in TWICE with Sana and Momo, and Chaeyoung.

She felt her face heat up. An old interview during SIXTEEN had resurfaced in her memories.

“I’d date you,” Mina said, letting a small chuckle escape her lips. She felt no reaction from Chaeyoung, no flinch from the body beside her nor a hesitation from the hand she held. A laugh, however, did escape from Chaeyoung’s lips.

“Is this a confession?”

“No, no. It’s just, I remembered an interview during SIXTEEN. They asked who I would like to date if I were a guy,” Mina replied. A smile still played on her lips. “I said I’d date Chaeyoungie.”

Was that too forward? Mina wouldn’t know. She was used to Sana always saying things like this; however, Mina wasn’t as affectionate, wasn’t as showy or clingy as the others. It’s only been a few weeks since SIXTEEN ended and Sana had already landed a kiss on each member’s cheek. It was awkward at first but Sana has done a good job taking the awkward out of everything by now.

“Did you say why?” Chaeyoung asked. Her voice was innocent, and the younger girl had asked it almost matter-of-factly, like there was nothing else besides simple curiosity in her question. Somehow, that disappointed Mina.

“I said you were sexy.” Mina looked over to Chaeyoung, but the light from her phone faded and it was dark and she couldn’t see anything. She wanted to turn her phone on again just to see whether Chaeyoung was blushing. She didn’t. Instead, Mina smiled at the feeling that Chaeyoung’s hand stiffened just a little bit when Mina said that out loud.

Mina had stayed silent for a while and in the darkness with Chaeyoung, it had grown quite comforting. It’s almost ten. The other girls must be outside, waiting for whatever dinner they had ordered for the night. It had become part of the routine as well. After the daily musings of the nine members they would eat dinner all together in the dorm. It gave them something nice and comforting to look forward to after all the stress that they may experience during the day.

As if on cue, Jihyo’s voice boomed from the other side of the walls.

“Mina-ya, Chaeyoungie, dinner’s here.” Chaeyoung didn’t hesitate to let go of Mina’s hand. She remembered, suddenly, that specific feeling of having her SIXTEEN necklace taken away from her, as if someone had ripped her heart out of her chest. So, when Chaeyoung moved away from her, letting her hand slip away from Mina’s, it had felt to the older girl as her ribcage had broken, caved in, and pierced through her heart before having it ripped out of her chest once again. Mina wanted to hold onto Chaeyoung a little longer, wanted to tighten her grip on the younger girl’s hand and let them stay there in her room, but she didn’t. Mina let her go.

She listened to the shuffling of Chaeyoung’s feet, walking further from her and closer to the door. There was a long pause before Mina heard the doorknob turn, but she just sat there on her bed.

The door opened and light entered the room. Mina saw Chaeyoung smiling at her before exiting and joining the others. She suddenly felt her body grow warm and, with a smile on her face, walked towards Chaeyoung to the door.

“For the record, Mina-unnie, I’d date you too.”

Chapter Text

Let’s be honest, Momo is a little dumb. She’s twenty-three years old, still refers to herself in third person, doesn’t understand what’s going on at any given moment, has been losing the ability to speak Japanese day by day despite growing up there and actually being Japanese, and absolutely cannot go to sleep without first having a glass of warm milk.

Truly, the list of why Momo is a little dumb could go on. It’s a running joke among the members and fans now. On multiple occasions across a number of variety shows the girls were asked which member needs the most care. One would expect Chaeyoung or Tzuyu, both being the youngest members in the group, but they are instead two of the more responsible members. Even answering Dahyun would be a bit of a stretch despite her always going around trying to find something to do, but Jihyo would – without so much as a second thought – always answer the same way.

“Momo,” she would say, a little shyly. “She forgets things easily.” Jihyo knew, of course, why Momo acts the way Momo does, but with Momo’s consent the answer to this question would always be her, and the older girl didn’t even have to act. More often than not, Momo would be spaced out and whoever it was by her side would have to shake her back to reality or gently poke her side.

Which is exactly why Sana took it upon herself to become Momo’s guardian. Well, not guardian guardian, so to speak. It’s still Jihyo who makes sure Momo has all her things when they go on tours, still Dahyun who makes sure Momo doesn’t get lost in the crowd, still Jeongyeon who makes sure Momo doesn’t forget to breathe when they sleep, and still Mina who makes sure Momo doesn’t forget how to speak Japanese. But it’s Sana who can’t bear the thought of all the Onces calling her a little pabo, and it’s Sana who makes sure that Momo isn’t always the target of teasing on national television. It’s all done in jest, Sana knows that. The fans love Momo just the way she is and Sana knows that with all her heart, but Sana also knows how Momo feels.

Because no one else hears Momo cry in her room, alone in the middle of the day, screaming about the phantom pain in her head from a memory not even hers, but one that her mother simply told her. No one else sees Momo stand in front of the mirror and talk to herself, lecturing herself for being too spaced out all the time or being too slow to understand. No one else feels the way Momo still shakes right before every stage, every variety show appearance, every shoot for an episode. No one else sees Momo when Momo is alone, but somehow Momo lets Sana see through it all, lets Sana through her walls, lets Sana hold her close.

And so, even just to lessen a little bit of the burden Momo feels, Sana pretends for Momo, pretends to be a bit of a clutz, pretends to be a little airhead. Sana catches a few of the dumb jokes thrown at Momo’s way, and no one else gets to see the way Momo smiles with relief, unwavering thanks behind her beautiful black eyes.

When the shoot for the episode on Idol Room is over, and everyone does their customary bow of thanks, Sana is able to take off her mask like everyone else, and her heart fills with warmth as Momo’s hand finds its place in hers.

“Thank you,” Momo whispers shyly. A little too shy.

“Don’t worry about it,” Sana says, squeezing the older girl’s hand. Mina finds her way beside them and rubs Momo’s back in a way she knows would calm Momo down. Momo thanks her as well.

They get into their assigned cars one by one, Sana, Momo, and Chaeyoung at the backseat of the first car with Nayeon and Jeongyeon sitting in front of them, while the rest climb into the second identical car behind them. The two eldest members doze off while Chaeyoung blasts rock songs from American singers through her earphones looking out the window. And Sana is glad for the sort of privacy, because the way Momo lifts her hand and kisses her fingers makes her heart do little somersaults in its place.

 

Only when they enter the dorm does Momo finally let go of Sana’s hand. The girls take off their shoes and place them neatly on the rack before spreading out. Chaeyoung is on the sofa immediately scrolling through her phone, Dahyun squeezing herself between Chaeyoung’s legs, already grabbing the remote from Nayeon who sat beside Chaeyoung. Jihyo, Mina, and Jeongyeon all head for the bathrooms, and Tzuyu heads for the kitchen.

Sana heads to her shared bedroom, wanting to take a nap before anything. She lets herself fall onto her bed, barely shutting her eyes when a knock on the door suddenly demands for her attention.

“Momo, hey.” And there it is again, Momo’s shy smile.

“Hey, are you busy?”

“Not really.” Sana sits up, gesturing for Momo to enter the room. Momo hesitates at first, but eventually makes her way to Sana’s bed, sitting down beside her.

They sit in silence at first. Momo is always silent at first, and it amazes Sana to see how different real life Momo is from nation’s girl group dancer Momo. Nation’s girl group dancer Momo is confident. Nation’s girl group dancer Momo is always ready to take the stage, and always enjoys when a camera is in front of her. Nation’s girl group dancer Momo never misses a beat, never forgets her moves. Nation’s girl group dancer Momo is the definition of sexy and exudes cool vibes. Nation’s girl group dancer Momo is funny and sweet and sometimes even quick witted, and Sana loves nation’s girl group dancer Momo, but Sana loves real life Momo even more.

Because real life Momo is quiet, she keeps to herself and rarely speaks up first. Real life Momo enjoys word games with Mina and Disney movie nights with Dahyun and Chaeyoung. Real life Momo enjoys shopping for clothes, and always goes out with Nayeon and Jihyo for random shopping and coffee dates. Real life Momo always sits down with Jeongyeon and watches her build legos but never plays with them herself. Real life Momo likes learning Mandarin, and often goes to Tzuyu for lessons. Real life Momo is timid, always has a wall around herself, always in her own world unless she chooses to be a little brave. Real life Momo sometimes breaks plates or cups, or spills food down her shirt, and it’s that thought that brings a soft smile to Sana’s lips.

Momo finally speaks up. “I just wanted to say thank you.” The smile suddenly turns into a little bit of confusion. Before Sana could reply Momo starts to elaborate. “You know, you’ve been looking out for me lately. You’re never really as ungraceful in real life as you are on TV, and we all know you don’t giggle as much in real life like you do when we’re in front of a camera. Mina and I know you’re great at Korean but you choose to pretend to not know words.” Momo pauses, taking her time to look Sana in the eyes. “You don’t have to do that, Sana.”

Sana nods and places a hand on Momo’s. She understands. Momo hates knowing she needs to be cared for, needs extra attention. Momo feels uneasy knowing that she’s on everyone’s minds, watching her next moves in case she makes a mistake, but it’s not like that’s all the girls do. They were worried at first, maybe the first few weeks, but Momo is Momo and eventually everyone just relaxed. “But I want to,” Sana replies.

And Sana really does want to. She wants to care for Momo more than anything else, because it’s Momo who was with Sana since Day 1. Momo always stood by Sana’s side during training, always takes extra time to teach Sana the steps whenever she had difficulty. Momo always gives Sana the first bite of her food even though everyone knows Momo loves her food and rarely actually shares. Momo is there for Sana for every breakdown, every outburst, every existential crisis, always hugs her close until she stops crying. And when Sana feels a little homesick, Momo would always cheer her up by bringing her to that place across the city that has a lot of authentic Japanese food.

Sana takes Momo’s hand and squeezes it a little, trying to reassure the older girl. Sana wants to take care of Momo the same way Momo takes care of her, because Sana likes seeing Momo smile, likes seeing Momo relax. Sana likes being around Momo when Momo decides to be a little brave, talking a lot more than usual. Sana likes hearing Momo laugh and Sana likes knowing she caused it. And mostly, Sana likes taking the burden off Momo’s shoulders, because Sana knows Momo doesn’t deserve that stress. Because Momo is pure and kind and sweet and funny and careful and caring and innocent and Momo is Momo, and Sana loves Momo.

“I love you,” Momo says, almost as if she read Sana’s mind. And Sana’s heart did another somersault. “Thank you for being my friend.” Sana nods and smiles at Momo, and Momo leans in and kisses Sana on the cheek. And it’s a bit dumb, the way Sana’s free hand reaches for the spot that Momo’s lips touched as soon as Momo pulled back. It’s a bit dumb the way Sana can feel herself turn red as her face heats up. It’s a bit dumb how Sana’s heart not only did somersaults but also started beating way too fast. It’s a bit dumb when Sana fails to say anything as Momo smiles at her.

And so, Sana does the only thing she remembers to do, she laughs at herself. Because, let’s be honest, Sana is a little dumb, but who isn’t when it comes to love?

Chapter Text

Despite her outgoing personality on camera, all her members know that Dahyun prefers the quiet. She enjoys reading books whenever she has free time, and Dahyun always buys new books whenever she goes out. (Chaeyoung and Tzuyu have repeatedly asked her to stop buying new books until she finishes her pile of unread ones in their room, as it was beginning to take up too much space.)

The other members don't mind, really, when she goes out to buy books and she's most usually alone. She's okay with that because she knows the rest of the group aren't big on reading, they're into other things like dancing or drawing, Jeongyeon even started learning guitar. The only one to really match her love for reading is, unsurprisingly, Mina. You'd think it was an odd match, the energetic eagle hanging out with the shy penguin, but Dahyun enjoys Mina's company.

So more often than not Dahyun asks Mina to go with her to the bookstore a few blocks over to check out new books, and no matter what she was doing the moment Dahyun asks, Mina drops it and goes with her (much to the disappointment of Chaeyoung and sometimes Jeongyeon). But their mutual love for freshly inked pages and the thrill of being lost in words is where most of their similarities end, because Mina very much prefers reading those boring science books. You know, the ones that state facts and not at all take you to another world.

"But it does take you to another world," Mina says when Dahyun begins to complain. "You don't live in a penguin's mind, do you? You don't know their thoughts. That counts as another world."

"Yeah, but you're still on Earth," she argues.

"Your books are also set on Earth."

"Yeah, but not our Earth, and you don't know if it's Earth at all. What if they're on an entirely different planet that just so happens to function like our Earth?"

"Okay, then. Maybe I just like learning." Mina takes Dahyun's hand as they walk, still a few minutes away from their destination.

"Hey, you learn a lot from my books."

This time, Mina lets out an awkward chuckle, one that Dahyun has learned to enjoy trying to get the older girl to do. Mina was the one member in her group that didn't put on a mask in front of cameras. Whereas Nayeon and Jihyo pretend to have their shit together, and Jeongyeon pretends to be all tough and stern, and Sana and Momo pretend to be airheads, and Chaeyoung pretends to be innocent (she really isn't), and Tzuyu pretends to be awkward, and even Dahyun pretends to be outgoing and weird, Mina is just Mina. She is just as shy and quiet and awkward in front of the camera as she is behind it.

Dahyun envies that a little. Dahyun wants the freedom Mina has, because more than anything Dahyun just wants to be herself. She wants the fans to know who she is when she isn't Dahyun-in-charge-of-hype Dahyun, or Dahyun-the-eagle-dance-church-girl Dahyun, or Dahyun-the-one-who-does-weird-faces Dahyun. She just wants to be Dahyun.

 

"We're here," Mina says, pulling the younger girl out of her thoughts. They stood in front of a wide building, the gentle airconditioned air blowing across their faces from the open doors. Dahyun smiles and lets Mina's hand fall, begins running towards the Fiction section.

Each time they go here, Dahyun feels like it's a different place. She never sees the same customer twice, and somehow the decorations always change. Last week they had a Charlie and the Chocolate Factory theme, this week's is Barbie and the Nutcracker.

Usually, the minute the two girls enter the shop is the moment Dahyun even forgets Mina is with her. Dahyun gets so lost in that new-book smell, gets so overwhelmed with all the different stories she has yet to discover, that she gets lost in her own little world. Mina usually sticks to her corner of documentaries and non-fiction books, where they sell autobiographies and almanacs, and they usually only see each other when it was time to pay, when Mina sends Dahyun a text that it was time to leave. The store clerks also see her enough that they know Dahyun doesn't need help checking books out, so when Dahyun feels someone tap on her shoulder she turns around far too quickly, bumping into the bookshelf and almost toppling it over.

"Hey," Mina says with a smile. She looks over Dahyun's shoulder, studying the books behind her. "So, what can you learn from that?"

"Huh?"

Mina shrugs. “You said I can learn a lot from your fantasy books. So,” Mina points at one of the books behind Dahyun, “what can I learn from that?”

Dahyun turns around to look at it. It's about some kid who discovers he's a demigod and suddenly has to go on an adventure while defeating mythical creatures to stay alive. Dahyun picks the book up.

"It's about mythology. Greek, I think." She flips the book over to read the back. "Yeah, he goes on an adventure in modern day America while dealing with myths."

"And that one?" Mina points at another book, this time about a dystopian society where a bunch of boys are dumped on an island and they begin killing each other off.

"The importance of government, of rules and leaders and why we have them."

Mina nods then picks up another book. "What about this one?"

"I haven't read that yet," Dahyun says, setting the book she has in her hand down and grabbing another copy of the book Mina has in hers. Dahyun reads the back, something about aliens coming to Earth and trying to take over the planet by inhabiting the host's body. It looks interesting.

"We should buy it then," Mina says.

"We?" Mina shrugs, going over the other books on the shelf. Her finger lands on another book Dahyun has read, something about kids being forced into an arena to fight to the death for entertainment.

"Yeah. I mean, you said I can learn stuff from your books, and I like learning." Mina gives Dahyun a half smile, the kind of smile that spreads a warmth throughout your whole body. Dahyun smiles back.

"Then maybe I should check one of your books out, Miss I-am-so-smart. Since you say they can take me to another world."

Mina raises a brow, letting a giggle escape her lips. "Is that an insult?"

"Best I could come up with." Dahyun gives Mina a sheepish grin.

With that, Mina and Dahyun head over to the science section. It took a while, but eventually Dahyun chose a book about birds, with an eagle soaring over the top left corner of the cover edited over a group of waddling penguins on the lower right side. Mina gets a copy for herself.

They spend another hour and a half walking around the bookstore, sometimes going off on their own like they always do, sometimes together. Eventually Mina tugs at Dahyun’s sleeve, a basket in her hand filled with a few books she wants to buy. Mina gestures for the counter, indicating that it’s about time they pay. Dahyun frowns and looks at the books in her own basket, not nearly as filled up as she wants it to be, but it’ll have to do for now. Chaeyoung might start setting her books on fire if she brings home any more.

They pay for their books and Mina lets the cashier put her ensemble inside the plastic bag they provide, except the one Dahyun pointed out earlier. Mina set it aside, opting to carry it around instead.

They exit the bookstore with smiles, and Dahyun is thankful that it’s Mina she gets to share her world with.

 

On the way home Mina suggests they go get ice cream, noting that it’s early enough for them to stop for a few minutes and still make it in time for dinner at 8:30 at the dorm. Dahyun agrees, because who isn’t in the mood for ice cream?

Though she happily walks to the ice cream parlor the girls frequent, Dahyun’s mind goes over to Mina. She thought of how Mina usually prefers heading home right away, never one to leave the house more than two hours at a time. And right now, they just passed that limit, the time on her watch reading 7:15p.m.

Dahyun offers to carry Mina’s bag of books for her. The older girl is still holding onto the book she and Dahyun bought as a pair, her now free hand holding onto Dahyun’s arm. Dahyun smiles when the warmth from Mina’s body hits her, a welcome change against the cool afternoon air.

They didn’t talk much, which Dahyun appreciated. Mina can be chatty if she wants to be, especially when she is around Tzuyu. They just walk in silence, but in no way did Dahyun feel awkward. Just safe. Dahyun felt safe, safe with her new books, safe under the almost setting sun, safe with Mina’s arm around her.

Don’t get her wrong, Dahyun feels safe with all of her members, knows when she wants to be just Dahyun that she can and the others won’t judge her for it. Dahyun knows that all the members put on masks, creates personalities for TV or Naver or VLive, and Dahyun knows that she can be herself when there are no cameras around, but sometimes even the other members forget that Dahyun isn’t Dahyun-who-likes-to-goof-around Dahyun, or Dahyun-who-makes-funny-jokes-all-the-time Dahyun. But Mina doesn’t forget. Mina lets Dahyun be just Dahyun.

They reach the ice cream place a few minutes later, and Dahyun feels a little sad that Mina let go.

 

“What are you getting?” Mina says, already by the display of flavors. Dahyun smiles, Mina looking like a kid with her nose almost against the glass.

“Do you not have ice cream in Japan?” Dahyun laughs.

Mina moves away from the display, a blush so subtle on her cheeks that you might miss it if you didn’t pay enough attention to her face. But Dahyun is paying attention, and so notices the way Mina becomes shy for a moment.

“I’m in the mood,” she says, her attention back on the flavors, albeit a little farther away than before.

“Chocolate for me.” Dahyun moves to stand beside Mina, looking over the flavors even if she doesn’t have to. Dahyun always gets chocolate.

She looks over at Mina, obviously having a hard time. She doesn’t usually see the older girl like this, Mina isn’t one for sweets like Chaeyoung, so the fact that Mina is having a hard time choosing a flavor is beyond her. Another laugh escapes Dahyun’s lips.

Mina looks at her. “What’s funny?”

Dahyun just shrugs, then sends Mina a smile. Mina smiles back, looks over the flavors one more time, then goes to the counter to order. One large chocolate scoop for Dahyun, and one fresh mint ice cream for Mina.

They sit on one of the tables outside, Dahyun setting their books down beside her, while Mina still held onto the book they both chose together.

“Why do you insist on carrying that around? There’s plenty of space in the bag,” Dahyun says, spoon playing with the chocolate syrup in her cup.

Mina shrugs, doesn’t speak. Dahyun just nods. Maybe Mina is in one of her moods too, where Mina isn’t Mina-who-is-playful-and-fun Mina or isn’t Mina-who-actually-likes-talking-about-her-day Mina, but just Mina.

They sit there for a few silent moments. Dahyun imagines if it was Nayeon or Sana or even Jihyo with her right now. No doubt they’d be talking all throughout, but it isn’t like Dahyun minds when they talk, just that sometimes she appreciates the quiet moments too. So Dahyun looks at Mina, who is currently too distracted by her ice cream to even notice Dahyun staring, and Dahyun lets her heart feel the love she has for the older girl, for being Mina-who-lets-Dahyun-be-just-Dahyun Mina, for being just Mina.

Dahyun lets herself go over moments she had with Mina. Like the first time they met when they were trainees, and Dahyun exhausted herself over doing funny dances with Chaeyoung, and she accidentally sat beside Mina since there were no other available seats, Mina who didn’t try to get a conversation out of Dahyun but just let Dahyun be. Or the time while filming SIXTEEN when Dahyun was too stressed about everything and went to the Major dorm’s roof, and Mina who apparently thought the same thing and spent the night with her there. Dahyun thought of the time she was sick after their debut and had to stay in the dorm, and Mina who took care of her the whole time. Or the first time Dahyun asked someone to accompany her to the bookstore because Dahyun was injured that time but still wanted to go check the books out, and Mina who volunteered to go with her. Dahyun thinks of now, right now, how the bright orange glow of the setting sun behind Mina is giving her a halo and making it look like she’s glowing, and of Mina who even without the sun is always radiant.

The thought makes her heart feel happy.

But Dahyun must be staring too long, because Mina is giving her a weird look. “Do I have something on my face?” Mina says, grabbing her phone to use as a mirror.

Dahyun shakes her head, partly to answer Mina, partly to clear her mind. “The sun looks good right now. Stay that way, hold on,” she says. Dahyun takes her own phone out, opening the camera app right away. “Let me take a picture of you.”

Dahyun sets her ice cream down, moves the chair back a little, and angles the camera just right. “It’s a bit of a silhouette, but I can still see your features. Smile for me.” And Mina smiles, poses, and Dahyun clicks the camera, capturing the moment. She takes a few more, Mina moving into different positions each time.

Dahyun nods, satisfied with the pictures she took. She moves the chair back into its original place, leaning over to show Mina her pictures. “You should really try taking up photography lessons, Dahyunnie.” Dahyun smiles at the nickname, smiles at Mina for making her feel so warm despite the cool night air. “And we should head back to the dorm,” Mina continues, already getting up.

Dahyun looks at the time on her phone. 8:00p.m. Jihyo would kill them if they were late for dinner, so Dahyun gets up as well, positioning her backpack well and then grabbing the plastic bags with their books. She pockets her phone then looks down at her ice cream.

“Oh, wait, I haven’t finished my ice cream yet.” Dahyun looks over at Mina’s cup, which is already empty. Mina grabs Dahyun’s cup and her book.

“I’ll feed you while we’re walking,” Mina says. Dahyun could have easily just given Mina her own plastic bag of books and eaten the ice cream herself, save Mina the trouble of having to walk and give her bites of ice cream at the same time, but she didn’t. She let Mina be Mina and this is Mina-who-likes-taking-care-of-others Mina.

They start walking towards the dorm, Mina occasionally feeding Dahyun spoonfuls of ice cream. And maybe it’s because the ice cream was half melted the way Dahyun likes it, or maybe because it was Mina who’s feeding her, but Dahyun swears she’s never had ice cream this good.

So maybe a mask isn’t so bad. No one can escape the fact that there are things that we don’t want others to see, or that there are roles thrust upon us that people expect us to be. And Dahyun is thankful that she has Mina. Mina who is really just Mina, letting Dahyun be just Dahyun.

Chapter Text

Tzuyu loves the moon because the moon follows her wherever she goes.

The moon was there for Tzuyu when she was in Taiwan, spent countless sleepless nights with her whenever she had nightmares as a child. The moon was there for her when she moved to Korea, keeping her company during the moments she missed home the most. The moon was there for her the night before they filmed the final episode of SIXTEEN, giving Tzuyu the strength she needed to accept whatever decision Park Jinyoung-nim made. The moon was there for Tzuyu during times of stress after they debuted as well, comforting her and encouraging her to keep going. The moon was there for her right before her first concert, whispering to Tzuyu words of luck and love. And right now, the moon is here for Tzuyu as well, even though everything is fine and Tzuyu just wants some company.

 

And just as much as Tzuyu listens to the moon, the moon listens to Tzuyu as well.

The moon listens to Tzuyu when she is having problems with school, when the lessons become difficult and the language confuses her and Tzuyu just wants to complain. The moon listens to Tzuyu whenever she gets homesick and tells the moon about all the things she’s going to do once she gets a chance to visit Taiwan again. The moon listens to Tzuyu about all the things that brings her worries, about not being good enough of an idol and that she’s only here because the fans thought she was pretty. And the moon listens to Tzuyu when Tzuyu just feels like talking about her day.

But when the moon isn’t there, when the sun shines against the blue sky or when the clouds hide the heavenly body behind them and Tzuyu needs to talk, it’s Jihyo who’s there for Tzuyu, Jihyo who listens and doesn’t judge.

Tzuyu wasn’t used to it at first, when one night Jihyo followed Tzuyu up to the dorm’s roof and discovered her talking to the moon. Because it wasn’t like Tzuyu just sat there and stared at the moon, Tzuyu really talks, really voices out her words even when her throat is tired from singing. Jihyo sat beside Tzuyu that night, and at first Tzuyu was silent and it was Jihyo who did the talking. But eventually, and if only because Jihyo was too stubborn, Tzuyu learned to talk to Jihyo as if she was the moon too.

“Today was really good,” Tzuyu says. Jihyo’s arms wrapped around her like a blanket, her back against Jihyo’s chest. Tzuyu never finds skinship comfortable, but Jihyo likes sitting this way. And who is Tzuyu to deny Jihyo this simple pleasure?

“Tell me about it,” Jihyo replies, resting her chin on Tzuyu’s shoulder.

Tzuyu recounts the events throughout the day. She, Dahyun, and Chaeyoung were invited to appear on a TV show where they had to plan a short vacation, and today they carried out everything they planned. Dahyun chose Ganghwado Island because it was close, but also because they had a really busy schedule and a day was all they had.

They started the day with Dahyun’s activities, and Dahyun catered the very first activity for Tzuyu. She chose a popular café that served the most delicious bread and pastries, and that was enough for Tzuyu to call it the best day ever. Their chocolate drink was good too. Then they went on a sort of go-kart ride, going all the way downhill. Tzuyu lost, but it was okay, because the lunch Dahyun chose was the best. The spicy beef noodles and the sesame noodles were the most amazing things Tzuyu ever tasted since coming to Korea.

Tzuyu planned the second part of the day, and they went to a spa and afterwards a beach to watch the sunset. It didn’t go quite as planned, the clouds were in the way, but the sight was beautiful nonetheless.

Lastly, Chaeyoung brought them over to this place that used to make these traditional Korean cloths or something which doubled as a cafe, and they had a chance to draw for each other. The dinner Chaeyoung chose was immaculate, and Tzuyu swore she never had seafood that good.

“I’m glad you had fun,” Jihyo says when Tzuyu stops talking. “It’s good that you get to relax with the others.”

Tzuyu nods, understanding that Jihyo meant more than what she said. Jihyo never says it out loud, but Tzuyu knows that Jihyo worries about her the most. Ever since the incident way back a few years ago, Tzuyu became much too quiet for Jihyo’s liking. Not that Tzuyu was talkative to begin with, but Tzuyu used to be so full of energy that when she started pulling away, started being cautious both in front of and behind the camera, Tzuyu knew that it bothered Jihyo. But Tzuyu also knew that it was Jihyo’s job to worry, knew that it was Jihyo’s job to be worried when things don’t go the right way for her members. Jihyo was, after all, the leader.

Which is exactly why Tzuyu ignored the way her heart suddenly decides to run a marathon when Jihyo places a soft kiss behind her ear.

Tzuyu isn’t sure when all the kisses from Jihyo started, just that she always waits for them to happen. And really, Tzuyu never has to wait that long. Jihyo kisses her all the time, like when Tzuyu wakes up in the morning and walks into the kitchen half asleep and Jihyo wakes her up with a kiss on the cheek. Or when their schedules for the day don’t line up and Jihyo gives Tzuyu a kiss on the forehead for good luck. Jihyo kisses the back of Tzuyu’s hand whenever they’re in the waiting room and Jihyo grows bored of doing nothing. Jihyo also kisses Tzuyu before concerts, when Tzuyu is nervous and Jihyo presses her lips on her shoulder as the older girl hugs her from behind.

Jihyo never misses a day without giving Tzuyu a kiss, and in turn Tzuyu always misses Jihyo’s kisses. Maybe that’s why she can’t seem to get her heart to calm down.

“I wish you were there, though,” Tzuyu says, ignoring the way Jihyo’s fingers played with her own. “It would’ve been more fun if you were there with m- us. And all the others too.”

“Then let’s go there one day, all nine of us.”

Tzuyu just nods, lets out a soft hum, lets Jihyo pull her closer. Tzuyu stares at the moon.

 

Tzuyu loves the moon because the moon keeps all of Tzuyu’s secrets, and it is only the moon who knows how much Tzuyu actually loves Jihyo.

But it isn’t like Tzuyu doesn’t trust the other members to not tell them, just that Tzuyu knows her own heart is very, very stubborn. Because Tzuyu knows Jihyo is kind to her because Jihyo is naturally kind. Tzuyu knows that Jihyo takes care of her because she’s the youngest among the others. Tzuyu knows that Jihyo spends extra time with her because she is still a little insecure about being the only Taiwanese in the group and Jihyo makes sure Tzuyu is comfortable. Tzuyu knows that Jihyo looks out for her because she’s a member of TWICE and Jihyo is their leader.

Tzuyu’s mind knows that Jihyo is just doing her job, and she curses her heart for thinking otherwise. But it’s times like these, when Jihyo holds Tzuyu so close to her, when Jihyo’s lips are inches away from Tzuyu’s skin, when Tzuyu can feel Jihyo’s breath on her neck, when Jihyo does things to Tzuyu’s heart without her knowing, it’s times like these that Tzuyu wishes her heart to be right.

“Are you okay?” Jihyo asks.

Tzuyu nods. “Just thinking.”

 

Tzuyu loves the moon because the moon is patient. The moon knows when there are things Tzuyu wants to say, but the moon also knows when Tzuyu can’t say them right away.

And Jihyo is just as patient with Tzuyu as the moon, like the time they had to learn Like Ooh-Ahh for the first time, and Tzuyu had trouble with the choreography. It was Jihyo who took her time to teach Tzuyu the steps while the others were resting. Or the time when Tzuyu had to issue out that apology, after which she immediately ran to the nearest bathroom and cried for hours. It was Jihyo who was on the other side of the door, waiting for Tzuyu to calm down, and hugged her tight. Or the first few nights Jihyo tried spending time with Tzuyu on the roof, and Tzuyu was quiet and didn’t talk at all, and Jihyo was patient enough to stick around until Tzuyu was comfortable to do so.

“About what?”

 

Tzuyu loves the moon because the moon gives Tzuyu strength, gives Tzuyu a chance to do things she’s never done before.

But Tzuyu doesn’t answer. Not yet, just bathes under the light the moon provides, still gathering the strength she needs. And Jihyo doesn’t speak after that, and Tzuyu is thankful that Jihyo doesn’t force her to talk right away.

Tzuyu gathers strength from the moonlight to make Jihyo stop tapping at her arm, and instead lace their fingers together. Tzuyu gathers strength from the moonlight to give way to a smile on her lips as she rested her head on Jihyo’s shoulder. Tzuyu gathers strength from the moon as she tugs on Jihyo’s arms, making the older girl embrace her fully.

But Tzuyu also gathers strength from Jihyo’s warmth to lean into her more, feeling Jihyo’s heart beat against her back. Tzuyu finds strength when she feels Jihyo smile as she kissed Tzuyu’s forehead. Tzuyu also finds strength with each passing moment simply spent with Jihyo by her side.

“About you,” Tzuyu simply says.

For a moment, Tzuyu feels Jihyo’s body panic beneath her, feels the way Jihyo’s arm stiffen around her, feels the way Jihyo slightly pulls away, but the panic disappears just as fast as it came.

Tzuyu wonders sometimes if she makes Jihyo’s heart do crazy things the same way Jihyo does with her. And Tzuyu wonders if, maybe in another life where Tzuyu is still Tzuyu and Jihyo is still Jihyo, they could ever be what Tzuyu wants them to be.

Why couldn’t it be this life?

“What about me?” Jihyo says, barely a whisper.

 

Tzuyu loves the moon because of many things, and Tzuyu has lost count on all the reasons of why she does so.

But Tzuyu doesn’t forget all the ways the moon makes her feel. Tzuyu doesn’t forget the first time she met the moon, almost petrified in awestruck admiration. Tzuyu doesn’t forget the way the moon’s soft light bathes her, ridding her of all her sins and worries each night. Tzuyu doesn’t forget the way the moon makes her happy by displaying its beautiful rainbows against the dark sky. Tzuyu doesn’t forget the way the moon tries its best to shine even when there are clouds hindering it from doing so.

Tzuyu doesn’t forget the way the moon welcomed Jihyo with open arms, shining much brighter than usual, as if the moon knows just how important Jihyo is to Tzuyu. And Jihyo is important to Tzuyu, because it’s Jihyo who makes her feel like she has a family in Korea, Jihyo who makes her feel like she has a home. But it’s also Jihyo who makes Tzuyu’s heart compete in marathons and do somersaults. It’s Jihyo who makes Tzuyu blush by simply smiling.

Tzuyu wants nothing more than to be with Jihyo, to feel all the things Jihyo makes her feel because most of all Jihyo makes Tzuyu feel safe. Jihyo makes Tzuyu feel happy and carefree and innocent and Jihyo makes Tzuyu feel herself. And Tzuyu wants to make Jihyo feel the same way.

And now the moon has been patient, and the moon has given Tzuyu enough strength to utter the words she’s always wanted to say.

“About how much I love you.”

 

She isn’t afraid. Not anymore, because most of all Tzuyu loves the moon because Tzuyu knows the moon loves her back.

Tzuyu knows the moon loves her back because the moon always shines brighter when Tzuyu is sad, because the moon becomes playful when she is happy. Tzuyu knows the moon loves her back because the moon is always there during her darkest hours, and the moon never fails to shine on her to make her feel better. Tzuyu knows the moon loves her back because the moon keeps all her secrets, and only reveals them when Tzuyu is ready. And Tzuyu knows the moon loves her back because the moon shares secrets of its own, and Tzuyu guards them with all her heart.

And Tzuyu is thankful how much like the moon Jihyo has become, how Jihyo is always there for Tzuyu, follows her wherever she goes. Tzuyu is thankful that Jihyo always listens, always lets Tzuyu open her heart. Tzuyu is thankful because Jihyo keeps all of Tzuyu’s secrets, how it is now only Jihyo and the moon who knows how much Tzuyu loves her. Tzuyu is thankful that Jihyo is patient with Tzuyu, and Jihyo let Tzuyu take her time with her feelings. Tzuyu is thankful because Jihyo gave her the strength to say her feelings out loud simply by being there and being herself.

Tzuyu feels Jihyo pull her closer, so close that Tzuyu didn’t think there was any more space between them. Tzuyu feels the way Jihyo’s arms are strong around her, their fingers still laced together as if they are one. Tzuyu feels how soft Jihyo’s lips are, and Tzuyu feels the way the sudden welcomed warmth on her cheek lingers for longer than it used to.

Tzuyu is thankful that Jihyo is like the moon, because Tzuyu loves the moon, and Tzuyu knows the moon loves her back.

 

“I love you too.”

Chapter Text

Jeongyeon didn’t want to be here.

She was surrounded by about a few hundred or so people, all of whom she didn’t know, all being in some different level of drunk. They were all loud, filled with so much unnecessary energy, but maybe a night like this called for it. Still, Jeongyeon despised the loud music, bass ringing in her eardrums forcing her heart to beat to the rhythm. She despised the different colored flashing lights, all too bright and blinking much too fast, and hated the way they strained her eyes. The room was hot and the suit she wore didn’t help her at all, the inner shirt already clinging to her skin because of the sweat. Jeongyeon would have left hours ago if not because of the free drinks and the one person in the whole area she knew.

Jeongyeon watched from one of the tables as Nayeon smiled, laughed, and talked in turns with a few of her friends just outside the designated dance area. She was graduating in two days and tonight was their official graduation gala. Nayeon all but begged her to come a few weeks prior, promising her that it’d be fun and Nayeon wouldn’t leave her side. Jeongyeon agreed. She forgot about it, to be honest, didn’t really think about it afterwards, but then Nayeon showed up a week ago at the dorm with a beautiful sequined dress and a matching dark blue suit.

Jeongyeon protested at first because, well, of course she did. Just because she was TWICE’s designated girl crush doesn’t mean she should go out on occasions wearing suits. Besides, the girl crush idea was abandoned long ago. Still, Jeongyeon couldn’t say no to Nayeon’s pleas and annoying pouts. Jeongyeon hated when Nayeon pouted.

Jeongyeon watched Nayeon for a little longer, the smile on her face Jeongyeon knew to be the same smile she gave cameras on red carpets and award shows. The I’m tired but still having fun sort of smile, and she was glad Nayeon was having fun. But Jeongyeon, on the other hand, Jeongyeon was tired and not having much fun at all. The music was too loud, the lights too bright, and the air inside much too hot. Jeongyeon grabbed a glass, filled it with the wine on the table, and got up.

She found a balcony on the other side of the room, placed the glass on the ledge and took the suit jacket off, setting it neatly beside her glass. It provided only some relief, as the polo underneath it was still thick enough to prevent Jeongyeon from feeling the cool wind against her skin, but Jeongyeon enjoyed the breeze hitting her face and the exposed portion of the back of her neck (her hair was done in a neat low bun thanks to Chaeyoung’s insistence).

Jeongyeon took a sip of the wine, hoping that somehow the party ends faster so she could go home, ended up downing the whole glass in one go. The earlier parts of the night were okay. It was a nice formal event, one where people would be on their best behavior. Sure, there were people asking for either or both of them for pictures. It was to be expected, they were idols after all, but other than that the people were okay. The room was well lit with normal lights and the music was calm and serene, but after dinner and the first formal dance that Nayeon opted to not do, the place went crazy much like it was now. Like it was a pub across the street from a college dorm and not a very expensive hotel. But maybe Jeongyeon shouldn’t complain, after all, these were a bunch of college students having a good time. And Jeongyeon was a college student too. Still, Jeongyeon thought, maybe they could not play trashy club music at a pristine 4-star hotel.

Jeongyeon looked at the empty glass in her hand, silently asking it to be full again without having to step back inside the room to refill. She sighed when it didn’t work, just closed her eyes and placed the glass down by her coat again.

“You alright?” A voice called out. Jeongyeon spun around in surprise, spun around much too fast, almost hitting and breaking the glass with her elbow.

“Nayeon,” Jeongyeon frowned. She was supposed to be inside. “Why are you here?”

“Just checking up on my date.” Nayeon shrugged, then moved closer, walked slow until she was beside Jeongyeon.

Nayeon leaned against the ledge, arms folded across her chest. She looked into the party, watched the people dancing and having a good time. Jeongyeon faced the other way, faced the stars and the city skyline, leaning over the edge. The song from inside still boomed in her ears.

Neither of them talked for a while. It was just the kind of friendship they had, a friendship that didn’t need words or grand gestures. It was the kind of friendship that just needed presence, and Nayeon’s presence right now helped relieve Jeongyeon of the uneasiness she felt at the moment. They’ve always been this way, Nayeon and Jeongyeon. They’ve been friends since the day they met and even back then they felt like they’ve known each other before that, in another life perhaps.

Jeongyeon looked over at Nayeon, noticed how her hair fell down in perfect curls over her shoulder, how the lipstick she had was a shade darker than what she usually wore but still suited her, how her skin seemed to be freckled with stars thanks to the body glitter. Jeongyeon noticed the way Nayeon stood tall, posture perfect like Tzuyu, radiating elegance like Mina, an aura of command around her like Jihyo, and just a hint of sexy like Momo.

Jeongyeon couldn’t quite believe this was the same Nayeon she met years ago, the same Nayeon who was small and awkward with her cute bunny-teeth smile, the same Nayeon who never spoke but always shouted, the same Nayeon who (believe it or not) was insecure about the way she looked. Surely, the Nayeon standing in front of her wasn’t the same Nayeon who knocked on her front door in the middle of the night, crying into her arms because of stress and pressure and a failed debut. The Nayeon standing in front of her was strong, serious, filled with confidence, not someone who would scream at the smallest bug out of fear.

“You’re staring,” Nayeon said, pulling Jeongyeon out of her thoughts.

“Oh, sorry. Just thinking.”

Nayeon nodded, and Jeongyeon noticed the way she was rubbing her hand against her arms. Jeongyeon still thought it was hot, but Nayeon’s arms are bare and the breeze outside is definitely cold. Jeongyeon took her coat and placed it around Nayeon’s shoulders, earning a soft chuckle from the older girl. Jeongyeon frowned.

“What?”

“Nothing,” Nayeon said, a smile still on her lips. “Just, it was very ‘boyfriend’ of you to give me your coat.”

Jeongyeon felt her face heat up. Just a little bit. “Well, it looked like you were cold. Do you want me to take it back?”

Jeongyeon began reaching out for her coat again, but Nayeon pulled back quickly. She sent Jeongyeon a pout, as if Jeongyeon was trying to grab her favorite toy. It made her smile but only because, for a moment, the Nayeon in front of her right now looked like the Nayeon she met years ago.

“You’re staring again, idiot,” Nayeon said, gently flicking Jeongyeon’s forehead.

“Is it so wrong to stare at someone so beautiful?”

It was Nayeon’s turn to blush, and Jeongyeon’s smile only grew wider.

“Idiot,” Nayeon whispered.

“Yeah, but I’m your idiot.”

Nayeon glared at Jeongyeon, but the blush was still obviously there. From the comment or the cold air, Jeongyeon didn’t know, just that she liked seeing Nayeon all shy and cute.

They stood there again in silence, Jeongyeon positioning herself to stand beside Nayeon properly, their shoulders against each other. They watched the people inside, all of them somehow still so full of energy at this hour. Though, in their defense, Jeongyeon didn’t actually know what time it was, just that its passing was counted by each change of song. She lost count when Dalla Dalla by ITZY started playing.

Jeongyeon scrunched her face, almost in disgust, and Nayeon let out a laugh.

“Don’t tell me you don’t like our hoobaes?”

“It’s not that,” Jeongyeon said, almost needing to shout because the song was so loud. “I just think it’s weird that a bunch of graduating college students are dancing to a girl group song on the night they’re supposed to celebrate the fact they’re becoming adults.”

“Right,” Nayeon laughed, nudging Jeongyeon’s shoulder. “Don’t worry, I won’t tell Chaeryeong.”

Jeongyeon let out a soft groan, rolling her eyes. “You’re an idiot.”

“Yeah,” Nayeon shrugged, “but I’m your idiot.”

Jeongyeon went back to watching Nayeon’s schoolmates, watched as they jumped around while Yeji’s voice filled the air. The tables and chairs were empty save for a few couples resting, everyone else on their feet dancing and singing along. Jeongyeon saw the excitement in their eyes, heard it through their laughs. Then she realized that they were celebrating their adulthood, but not in the way one would imagine. They celebrated adulthood by holding onto their youth, by remembering how it felt like to be a kid listening to girl groups and just having fun. It was a beautiful sight, seeing all these twenty-somethings let go and be free.

The feeling of a hand slip between her fingers pulled Jeongyeon out of her thoughts once more, and she immediately she looked over at Nayeon, who was watching all her friends celebrate inside.

The alcohol must finally be working, Jeongyeon thought, because in that moment nothing looked more beautiful than Nayeon. The stars in the night sky looked dull against the way she shined. But no, Nayeon has always looked beautiful to Jeongyeon. It was just that Jeongyeon never appreciated it until now.

Jeongyeon felt her face heat up, the cool air stinging against her skin. Yeah, it was definitely the alcohol, because otherwise Jeongyeon’s heart wouldn’t be beating so fast just by looking at the girl beside her. But it felt good, the feeling of Nayeon’s warmth and soft skin against her own felt safe. It felt like home.

Jeongyeon wondered why she felt that way, felt like she wanted nothing more than to pull Nayeon close and hold her. But deep down, Jeongyeon knew she’s always felt that way, just never decided to let her feel it as much as she felt it now. Was it the alcohol’s doing? Was she drunk? Probably not, she only did have three glasses of wine, and wine isn’t that strong to make her drunk. Tipsy, maybe, but not that much.

But maybe she was just looking for something to blame.

The song stopped, and a voice boomed loud from the speakers.

Alright everyone. We’re taking it slow for the last song for the night. We hope you had fun, and congratulations!”

The students cheer as the next song played, and Jeongyeon couldn’t help but laugh when she noticed Nayeon cringe.

One of their own songs played, and Jeongyeon could feel the uneasiness emanating from Nayeon as she listened to their members’ voices.

“What,” Jeongyeon said, “you don’t like our songs?”

Nayeon sent her a glare, letting Jeongyeon’s hand go. “It’s not that, but I just know one of my friends paid the DJ to play this.”

Jeongyeon shrugged, smile on her lips as she reached for Nayeon’s hand once more. She wasn’t quite sure where this sudden urge came from, maybe because Nayeon sat out earlier and hadn’t gotten a chance, but Jeongyeon couldn’t let this one go.

“Dance with me?”

Nayeon’s eyes widened for a moment, then looked around for people in the area. “Are you serious, Yoo Jeongyeon?”

Jeongyeon didn’t answer, just pulled Nayeon close and placed the older girl’s hands on her shoulders, resting her own on Nayeon’s waist and swayed.

 

Always by my side

Will you be next to me

So what if you’re a little slow

I’ll wait for you like this

 

“What are you-”

“Just, be quiet,” Jeongyeon whispered, looking Nayeon directly in the eyes. “It’s the last song, and you haven’t danced at all.”

Nayeon looked like she was about to protest, opening her mouth then closing it again. Instead, she shook her head, then leaned against Jeongyeon’s chest.

 

My heart is growing like a balloon

Won’t it pop

My heart’s like that

When I see you, it’s just like that

 

Jeongyeon hoped that Nayeon felt how fast her heart beat, hoped that Nayeon listened to what it had to say because Jeongyeon didn’t have the courage to.

 

I think I like you

More than you like me

I mean it, my heart

Is ahead of yours

 

It wasn’t the alcohol, but rather the simple fact that Nayeon was beside her that made her so brave to do this, or maybe stupid. Jeongyeon set the thought aside. When it came to love, brave and stupid were the same thing.

 

I’m in love with you

Will you hurry a little bit

There’ so much we have to do

 

Jeongyeon felt another urge, felt it in the pit of her stomach, felt it bubble into her throat, felt it ever since she met Nayeon in the depths of her heart.

The song was almost ending, only a few seconds left and the moment would be gone. Jeongyeon pulled back, but only enough to look at Nayeon.

“You’re staring,” Nayeon whispered, her eyes gentle and her smile soft.

“I know,” Jeongyeon answered.

Jeongyeon stopped swaying, still staring intently into Nayeon’s eyes. It was now or never, and now was the perfect moment.

 

My heart is growing like a balloon

Won’t it pop

My heart’s like that

When I see you, it’s just like that

 

Jeongyeon leaned in just as their song ended, pressed her lips gently against Nayeon’s own, tasted the alcohol on her tongue. Jeongyeon felt Nayeon’s hand on the back of her neck, not necessarily deepening the kiss, but still pulled her closer. Jeongyeon rested her hand on the small of Nayeon’s back, not wanting to let her go, not wanting this moment to end.

But it did, it had to. They pulled back, both of them running out of air. Jeongyeon smiled, and Nayeon smiled back, rested her head once again on Jeongyeon’s chest.

“Idiot,” Nayeon whispered.

“Yeah,” Jeongyeon answered, “but I’m your idiot.”

Jeongyeon held Nayeon close, held her tight and never wanted to let go. She placed a gentle kiss on the top of Nayeon’s head, felt Nayeon hum happily in her arms. It didn’t matter that the crowd inside was leaving, didn’t matter that the air stung against her skin, didn’t matter that the lights were still flashing too brightly, or that the remnants of the noise from tonight still rang in her ears. Nothing mattered to Jeongyeon right now, just the fact that Nayeon was in her arms. And Jeongyeon wanted nothing more than to be here forever.

Chapter Text

Love makes you happy.

 

The sound of Mina humming softly against her neck sent a shiver down her spine. Momo quietly pulled her closer, pressing a soft kiss on Mina’s forehead. Mina seemed to lean into the kiss, and Momo let out a soft laugh. She moved away, just a bit, just enough to press another kiss on Mina’s cheek, then on the tip of her nose. Momo ran her fingers through Mina’s hair, staring at the younger girl in her arms, before leaning in to press a soft but firm kiss on the lips. Another hum escaped Mina’s lips as Momo pulled back, the lazy smile and soft giggle indicating that Mina was now awake.

“You have to wake me up like that all the time now,” Mina whispered, burying her face in Momo’s neck.

“Mm,” Momo hummed, placing another kiss on the top of Mina’s head.

If someone told Momo three weeks ago that Mina would end up sleeping in her bed on their day off, arms around her waist, and legs all tangled under the sheets, she wouldn’t believe them. Because three weeks ago Momo believed Mina loved Chaeyoung. There was some truth in it too, everyone knew that Mina had a soft spot for the youngest, but who wouldn’t when Chaeyoung was all over her, sending her gifts and writing her poems. Momo, for the sake of friendship, decided to set her feelings aside, decided to ignore Mina besides during practice, but that immediately proved to be difficult when one day while going over their routine in the studio hours after the others went home, Mina grabbed Momo by the shirt collar and kissed her. But that was then. This was now, and right now Mina was suddenly pressing kisses all over Momo’s neck.

“You’ll leave a mark,” Momo said, stifling a laugh. Mina’s kisses tickled.

“-n’t care.”

Momo leaned back, gave Mina space to move around. Mina kept peppering her skin with kisses, pushed Momo onto her back a little too rough, and placed her legs on either side of Momo’s waist. Momo couldn’t help but laugh, hand still tangled in Mina’s hair as she placed the kisses lower, slowly moving towards her chest.

Momo loved the way Mina made her feel, loved the way Mina always knew what to do without ever being asked. Momo loved the way Mina grabbed her free hand, lacing their fingers together as if to hold steadily onto reality. Momo let out a soft moan when Mina bit at the skin between her breasts, but Momo loved the way it felt, loved the fact that Mina was marking her, calling Momo hers.

It was during these moments, these small infinities that Mina gave her, that Momo was the happiest. Not because Mina was kissing her, but because it was in these moments that Momo knew Mina was hers.

Sort of.

“I love you,” Momo said, knew that she shouldn’t have. She regretted it instantly, because the second the words left Momo’s lips Mina immediately pulled back, letting Momo’s hand drop onto the bed.

“What?”

 

Love makes you sad.

 

“I love you,” Momo repeated. Momo adjusted out from under Mina, moved back to sit so she could look the younger girl in the eyes. “I love you, Mi-”

“No, Momo.” Mina got up, stood by the edge of the bed, but didn’t move after that. Her eyes looked like they were filled with anger. Maybe so, but not quite. “You don’t.”

“I do,” Momo looked at Mina, watched the way her body was suddenly too small, watched as Mina wanted to be smaller.

Momo loved Mina, loved Mina with all her heart, loved Mina since the day they met. There was just something about the way she smiled that sent arrows into Momo’s heart, something about the way her eyes looked at Momo that made her melt, something about the way their fingers would brush against each other that made Momo want more.

Momo loved Mina, knew Mina somehow loved her back, but for some reason, Mina won’t let herself. Sure, Mina was Momo’s. Mina promised not to kiss anyone else, promised not to sleep in another person’s bed, promised not to look at anyone else the way she looked at Momo. These were all good, and Momo appreciated the effort Mina did for her. But Mina still couldn’t give Momo the one thing she asked for.

Despite giving Momo everything, despite promising Momo the world, despite baring every inch of her soul to Momo, Momo knew Mina couldn’t bring herself to love her. At least, not the way Momo wanted her to.

“Why don’t you believe me?” Momo asked, fingers now playing with the blanket. “Do you not want me to?”

“I don’t, Momo. I don’t want you to love me.”

“Why not?” Momo studied Mina’s eyes, studied the way they called out for Momo, asking her to come closer but at the same time begging her to stay away.

Mina took a deep breath in. “Because I don’t love you that way.”

Momo saw the way Mina’s eyes wavered, saw how she looked away for a split second before finding Momo’s eyes again, saw how they didn’t have anger in them. Only sadness.

 

Love makes you crazy.

 

“But you do,” Momo replied, not sure who she was trying to convince. “You love me, I know you do. And I l-”

“Don’t finish that sentence,” Mina said, a little too harshly.

Momo winced, Mina was never one to raise her voice or shout, but even now her voice was much louder than usual. Momo let the blanket fall, crawling towards the younger girl over the bed. Tears started running down Momo’s cheeks, not even sure when she started crying, not sure why she was crying at all. She was used to this, Mina pulling back, Mina pushing her away, but that didn’t mean it hurt less.

“Mina, please.”

Was it all in Momo’s imagination? Were all the smiles sent her way a dream? Were all the late night talks and warm cuddles hallucinations? No, Mina was here in front of Momo. And just two minutes ago Mina was in her arms, holding her close like nothing mattered.

Momo reached the end of the bed, lifted her hand and immediately pulled Mina closer by the arm, kissing her with all her strength, pulling her closer once more.

Momo felt Mina melt under her touch, felt the younger girl relax and lean into the kiss. Momo adjusted, cupping Mina’s face in her hands and pulling her even closer. Momo felt Mina’s hand on hers, gently rubbing her thumbs over her knuckles before pulling them away, taking a step back, but still holding Momo close.

“Momo.”

“Mina, please. Just listen.”

Mina stayed silent, waited for Momo to talk. But Momo didn’t know what to say. What could she even do? Beg? For what? Mina’s love? No, Mina made it clear that she wasn’t going to give that to Momo. Not yet.

Hopefully.

Momo jerked away a little at the sudden feeling of a hand on her face, but Mina just continued to wipe the salt from Momo’s skin. The tears may have stopped, but Momo’s breathing was still shaky.

“You’re crazy, Momo.”

 

Love makes you sane.

 

“For you,” Momo whispered. “Completely crazy for you, Mina.”

“You shouldn’t be.”

Momo nodded. She closed her eyes and simply leaned into Mina’s hand, relishing the feeling of the younger girl so close, even if her heart was far away.

Logically, Momo knew what to do, and Momo knew why Mina was so afraid to love. Or, rather, why Mina was so afraid to love her. Logically, Momo should stay away, keep distance, and maybe go on with that plan of ignoring Mina unless it was for work. It went well before, there had been no problems when Momo decided to choose friendship over love.

Momo breathed in, let her mind wander over the past three weeks after their first kiss. It was almost as if nothing changed between them after that, at least for Mina. She simply kissed Momo and called her stupid for ignoring her, then called it a night and left the studio. Momo was a mess, but Mina continued to humor Chaeyoung and her cute love songs for Mina. She tried at first, tried to ignore the way her heart ran marathons and her mind turned to goo whenever Mina was within sight or earshot, but Mina gave Momo one too many knowing looks and it was more than Momo could handle.

Logically, Momo knew she shouldn’t have begged Mina for a chance, shouldn’t have celebrated when Mina said yes. Logically, she shouldn’t have even tried at all. Everyone knew how much Chaeyoung adored Mina, and everyone knew how much Mina admired Chaeyoung as well whether or not it was love. Still, Momo shouldn’t have broken that, shouldn’t have tried to get through to Mina.

But logic and love never did make a good pair.

“Momoring?”

Momo’s stomach turned at the nickname, one that only Sana ever used to call her, but the way it rang in Momo’s ears made her melt further into Mina’s touch.

 

Love makes you strong.

 

“I love you,” Momo tried again, knew that it wouldn’t make a difference.

“I know,” Mina answered, “I’m sorry.”

Mina did sound sorry, sounded genuine in her sorrow. And, really, that was enough for Momo to pull it together. Momo wrapped her arms around Mina’s waist, pulled her closer and back down on the bed. Momo adjusted once more, laid down and let Mina lay on top of her, took another risk by kissing Mina’s forehead.

“I don’t understand.” Mina’s head rested on Momo’s chest, and for a moment it looked like she was talking to Momo’s heart instead of Momo herself. Mina closed her eyes. “How could you love me? Why do you let me break you over and over again?”

Momo frowned, almost decided against answering until Mina looked up at her when she didn’t, eyes filled with genuine curiosity.

Why did Momo let Mina break her heart? What was it about her that just made Momo so willing to pick up the pieces, put them together, and then hand them right back to the hands that dropped them? Surely, love didn’t make her this stupid. Momo was an adult, and Momo was well aware of what a broken heart can do to people. It wasn’t like she’s never loved before Mina, never gone through a break up, or never had to break someone’s heart. She knew. Momo knew the destruction that always came after this, knew that when things don’t go well now they never end well later. So, why?

“I don’t know,” Momo whispered truthfully, looked away from Mina’s gaze, “but I don’t mind.”

Momo wished she lied, wished that she did actually mind, but it was Mina she was talking to and when it came to her Momo never did mind. And because it was Mina, Momo was willing to go through anything, withstand all the pain, ignore all the voices telling her to stop, just for the tiniest hope that Mina will one day love her back.

It would be no different than when she was in SIXTEEN, Momo thought. It was just mission after mission, week after week of preparing and trying hard. Momo could deal with the stress, deal with the heartbreak, deal with the knowing eyes of the girl she loved. Momo was used to working for what she wanted, used to exerting effort for even just a little bit of a reward. She was willing to go through all of that again, even the parts when they took away her necklace.

Momo just had to make sure that, this time, she wasn’t eliminated anymore.

 

Love makes you weak.

 

Momo still remembered the feeling of being eliminated like it just happened yesterday. That feeling of pain bubbling in her stomach, of a scream wanting to escape her lips but instead came out as sobs, of the tears that never seemed to stop running down her face no matter how many times she wiped them dry. Momo also remembered the feeling of each time Natty took her necklace, grabbed it and pulled it away from her without care. It always felt like it was her heart they were holding on to, and that it was her heart they were ripping away from the cavity of her chest.

It was that exact heart-shredding feeling Momo got each time Mina smiled at Chaeyoung instead of her, each time Mina sat beside the younger girl, or held her hand, or kissed her cheek in public. What’s worse is that Chaeyoung had absolutely no clue about Momo, absolutely no idea how much her heart begged for Mina’s presence. Sure, Momo was strong, she’d do anything for love, for Mina, but Momo wasn’t sure how much longer she could hold herself together.

“Momo,” Mina said, pulling Momo out of her thoughts. Mina reached out, tucked a stray strand of hair behind Momo’s ear. She smiled, but it didn’t quite reach her eyes.

“I love you,” Momo replied, her voice cracking from trying to stop the tears.

“I know. And I hope you know that I want to love you back, Momo, I really do.”

“What’s stopping you?”

It was a pointless question. Momo already knew the answer, already knew that the reason was 5’2”, came in strawberry blonde hair, and had mole just below her lip. Still, Momo wanted to hear Mina say it, knew Mina never would.

A weight lifted from Momo’s chest, and immediately she opened her eyes to find Mina sitting down on the bed, legs crossed. Momo copied her position, facing her.

Mina leaned it, placed a kiss on the corner of Momo’s lips. And that was all it took for Momo to break, to shatter into a million pieces.

 

Love makes you hopeless.

 

Momo shut her eyes, tried to stop the tears from falling down. Failed. She didn’t move, didn’t bother trying to wipe the tears from her face as they fell, didn’t do anything. Momo just sat there, legs crossed, hands balled into fists, jaw clenched, eyes shut, heart beating a mile per minute, and Mina still kissing her.

Mina placed a hand on Momo’s chest, right above where her heart should be. Momo wondered if Mina could feel the love Momo had for her, if Mina could hear all the things her heart wanted to shout but her mouth just couldn’t say out loud.

This wasn’t like their usual kisses. This wasn’t the kind of kiss Mina gave Momo when they played around. This wasn’t the kind of kiss Mina gave Momo when Mina was just a little bit desperate. This wasn’t the kind of kiss Mina gave Momo when they day is bleak and they spent it lazily in bed. This wasn’t like their usual kisses, where they’re playful and quick and fun. This wasn’t like their usual kisses, when one of them is tired and the other wants to help relieve stress. This wasn’t like their usual kiss at all. This was different, because Mina was crying too.

Then all too quick, Mina pulled back. Momo opened her eyes but Mina still kept hers shut, wiped her tears away, kept her head bowed.

By now, Mina knew just how much she meant to Momo. Momo made sure of it. She wanted nothing more than to let Mina feel that she is loved, but Momo figured Mina didn’t need her for that. She had Chaeyoung.

“Mina,” Momo whispered, reached a hand to tuck Mina’s hair behind her ear. “I want to know something.”

Mina looked up, looked at Momo but not quite at her, like she was looking through her. Mina didn’t speak. Momo just took her hand, laced their fingers together then rested it on her knee.

“Do you love her?”

Mina’s eyes glazed over.

“I don’t know.”

Momo’s heart stopped beating.

She asked her next question anyway.

“Without her, would you… would you love me?”

 

Love makes you hopeful.

 

Mina finally focused on Momo, finally looked into her eyes. Mina was searching for something, wanted to find something in Momo that Momo wasn’t quite sure what. Momo found herself doing the same thing, searching for the love she knew Mina didn’t have.

Or the love Mina did have, just not for her.

Mina must’ve found what she was looking for, because a smile appeared on her lips as another tear fell onto the bed.

“Yes,” Mina answered, “yes, Momo. I’d love you.”

Momo exhaled, releasing a breath she didn’t know she was holding. Momo smiled, felt a light inside her start burning. It was small, maybe that of a candle, but still, it burned.

There was hope, but even if there hadn’t Momo still would’ve held on.

Momo nodded, a genuine smile on her lips. She pulled Mina closer again, made it a point to pull her close whenever she started pulling away. It’s just the way things were, like the moon and the ocean, something Momo could live with. She ran her fingers through Mina’s hair, then kissed the top of her head.

 

Mina was in her arms, laying on top of her, listening to Momo's heart beat for her. Right now, Mina didn't love her, but also didn't want to let her go. It was cruel, and it was painful. But, no matter, Momo thought. This was enough.

Chapter Text

She misses her.

She remembers the last time they spent together, joking around and laughing. She remembers getting to hold her hand whenever she wants, place kisses wherever she felt like. She remembers all those late nights, all those times spent with the moon and the stars and seven other girls surrounding the two of them, filling the air with warmth and secrets and love. She remembers the way her eyes beg, but for what she couldn’t say. She remembers all the times she saw her smile, remembers the feeling in her chest knowing she caused it.

She even remembers how she likes her morning coffee, with two teaspoons of sugar and just a dash of milk. She remembers the days when she says she prefers tea instead, and she remembers just what flavor she always drank. She remembers how much she actually ate, despite probably being the one with the smallest waist, and remembers how she doesn’t care about what other people think.

She also remembers the day they first met, remembers feeling so mesmerized by her beauty. She remembers how she thought she sounded like a goddess, and she remembers the way she stumbled on her words and forgetting all the things she wanted to say.

She keeps these memories in her heart fondly, but that’s all they are now. Memories.

 

Jihyo wakes up to muffled vibrations, something buzzing on the nightstand next to her. She looks over the bed, Daniel still sound asleep, arms wrapped around her waist. A smile appears on her lips, her eyes barely open still heavy with sleep. She moves, stretching behind her to reach for her phone, making sure Daniel doesn’t wake up. She answers without looking at who it is.

“Hello?”

Unnie.

That voice. Too familiar. Too painful. Jihyo takes a quick look at the time. 1:17a.m.

“Tzuyu? It’s late,” Jihyo whispers. Her eyes immediately watch Daniel, no signs of him hearing her or waking up.

I’m sorry.

“It’s okay. It’s just kinda hard to talk right now.” Jihyo feels Daniel squirm, snuggling closer to her. A lump begins to form in her throat.

I just-

“Hold on,” Jihyo says, getting up from under her boyfriend’s arms. She walks over to the door as quietly as possible, closing it as gently as she could behind her.

Jihyo grabs the blanket resting on one of the armrests, turns on the lamp sitting on the side table next to the sofa. She wraps it around her shoulders as she sits down, phone still next to her ear, frowning.

She doesn’t talk, even considers just hanging up right there, but she’s already on the couch and she hasn’t properly spoken to the girl in months. Ever since Jihyo came home to the dorm one day with Daniel in tow Tzuyu has somehow done her best in avoiding and ignoring Jihyo, only ever staying in the same room for a meeting or practice, and even then Tzuyu always leaves after thirty minutes. And Jihyo knows when Tzuyu sets her mind on something, Tzuyu does it perfectly, somehow having been successful in not being in the very presence of Jihyo despite living under one roof. Jihyo almost thought she ran away, but the others assured her that Tzuyu was still there.

A sob grabs Jihyo’s attention.

“Tzu? Are you crying? Is everything okay?”

A sniffle.

“Tzu, hey. I… I have to be quiet. Daniel’s asleep and I… Tzuyu?”

Jihyo brings her knees up to her chest, hugging herself into a ball. A wave of guilt washes over her, and she starts silently reprimanding herself for not being able to comfort her maknae. Because Tzuyu hasn’t spoken to Jihyo in months, and suddenly she calls in the middle of the night, holding in a sob.

I’m sorry, unnie. I didn’t- I’m sorry. Please, go back to sle-

“No. Talk to me.”

Jihyo hears a shaky breath on the other end of the line, and it breaks her heart knowing how much of a hard time Tzuyu is having just talking to her.

There was a time when Tzuyu used to talk only to Jihyo, used to voice out her opinions and concerns through the older girl. Jihyo took pride in knowing Tzuyu trusted her that much. They’d spend late nights under the moon and in each other’s arms, whispering secrets and declarations of love. They were young back then, innocent and carefree. The world was their oyster and it didn’t matter what people had to say. But Jihyo grew up, grew older, stared knowing better. The more time passed by the more she felt unsure of her actions. She ended whatever it is they started.

I miss you.

Hearing those words made Jihyo feel weak, made her feel like a bullet was shot straight into her chest and suddenly a war is being declared inside her head. Because Jihyo may be unsure of her actions, but she is never unsure of what she feels.

Jihyo smiles. “I miss you too.”

How have you been?

For a moment, Tzuyu sounds genuine. Her voice is still small, still shaky, and still very much riddled with fear, but Jihyo can tell that Tzuyu really wanted to know how she is. Jihyo answers carefully.

“I’ve been good,” she says, trying to make her voice as friendly as she can, “but you know we still live together, right? You can ask me when I come back tomorrow.”

I know,” Tzuyu replies, her voice barely above a whisper, “I just-

“I know.”

Tzuyu doesn’t reply right away. Jihyo almost thought the younger girl hung up.

Jihyo always cares for her members. She always makes sure all eight of her girls are happy and cared for. Jihyo always puts the safety and health of the others before hers. If Jihyo were to be honest, she thought of it as a job. It had taken her quite a few months to get used to always being left out, to barely having anyone check up on her when she needed it. Jihyo used to find it a burden that she had to stay strong for the others when she could barely stay strong for herself. But that feeling didn’t last long.

Eventually Jihyo found herself falling in love with all her members, and she found so much joy in knowing she makes them smile even after a long day. Eventually, Jihyo felt the love each girl had for her as well, and every time she took care of them they would always find a way to take care of her as well even when she never asked.

But Jihyo played favorites, and all her attention went to Tzuyu, and Tzuyu returned every single act of love Jihyo gave.

If you ask, Jihyo wouldn’t say they were in love, or in a relationship, but if you ask, Jihyo would definitely say that Tzuyu held a special place in her heart.

Unnie?

She still does.

“Yeah?”

I dreamt of you.

Oh.

Jihyo could hear the gears turning in Tzuyu’s head. Jihyo knows the younger girl never spoke without thinking first, never does something without a plan. Normally, Jihyo could figure out what Tzuyu was up to even before Tzuyu did anything, but right now she has no clue, and as much as her eyes had to drown in the room’s darkness, so did her heart drown in the pain of the realization that the girl she was talking to right now is no longer the same Tzuyu she held in her arms.

Still, Jihyo couldn’t deny the fact that she still thinks of Tzuyu once in a while, and tonight was just one of those nights.

“Would you believe me if I say I dreamt of you too?”

You shouldn’t say things like that,” Tzuyu says.

Jihyo frowns. “Why not?”

A pause. Another calculation. Jihyo sighs.

Is he with you right now?

Jihyo pinches the bridge of her nose. She shakes her head, momentarily forgetting that Tzuyu can’t see her. “No,” she answers, “no. He’s in the bedroom and I-”

Okay.

And Jihyo’s heart suddenly breaks. She could hear Tzuyu cry, could hear her try to hold in her sobs and fail. Jihyo wonders how long this has been going on, how many times Tzuyu cried when she isn’t there, and Jihyo especially wonders why the other members don’t tell her about it.

“Do the others know you’re talking to me?”

… No,” Tzuyu says softly, but her next words are riddled with guilt, “they told me not to talk to you.

Jihyo wants to be angry, wants to go over to their dorm immediately and tell whoever it is that told Tzuyu not to talk to her to mind her own business. They have absolutely no right to meddle with Jihyo’s relationship with each member, and to find out that one of them told Tzuyu to stop contacting her hurt. But Jihyo let it slide, because no matter how hurt she feels knowing Tzuyu can’t be by her side, Jihyo knows Tzuyu is hurting even more.

“Who told you?”

Nayeon-unnie and Jeongyeon-unnie.

Hearing those names feels like a punch in the face. Nayeon and Jeongyeon are Jihyo’s closest friends in TWICE, having known them for all of ten years already. She trusts them with her whole life, but to find out they suddenly don’t trust her around Tzuyu? Jihyo doesn’t even know how to describe the pain.

It’s taking all of Jihyo’s strength to not just throw her phone against a wall, taking all her courage to keep the call going, because even though she’s in an immense amount of pain, there’s no denying that hearing Tzuyu’s voice helps ease it.

Hey… Jihyo?

Jihyo’s eyes glaze over. She shuts them tight, trying to stop the tears from falling. She hasn’t heard Tzuyu say her name in months, and to hear it again with so much love, it’s threatening to shatter her into a million pieces.

Jihyo doesn’t know what kind of love she still has for Tzuyu, because Jihyo is so sure of Daniel, so sure of the love she has for him. Jihyo feels safe and protected and has no doubts as to whether he loves her as well. Daniel has proven time and time again that he does, because he was there when Jihyo was having a hard time during promotions, was there each time Jihyo left for a concert in another country, was there for her whenever she came back. Daniel was also there when Jinyoung-nim decided to have Mina sit out on their concerts, and he comforted Jihyo when she felt like she wasn’t a good enough leader. Daniel was there for her through all her hardships since the day they met, and Jihyo loves him for that, she really does, but the way Tzuyu just exists and knowing Jihyo can’t be with her at all is heartbreaking.

Jihyo?

“Tzuyu.”

I still love you.”

And in this moment, Jihyo knows exactly what to do, but in a much more real sense, Jihyo has no clue what to do.

Tears are running down Jihyo’s face, no strength left in herself to stop them from coming. She should hang up. Jihyo should definitely hang up. Jihyo should go back to sleep next to Daniel, next to the man who she loves with all her heart and would do anything for. The proper answer is that Tzuyu is tired, that she should go to sleep as well, and they should both just forget this conversation ever happened and move on.

Because Jihyo has already moved on, already stepped away from that path, and she should do her best as an unnie to help Tzuyu move on as well.

“I love you too.”

Fuck.

Jihyo.

“Don’t make me do this, Tzu,” Jihyo whispers, voice cracking from the strain crying did on her throat.

Okay.

“Go to sleep,” she continues, “or I’ll tell Nayeon and Jeong that you were talking to me.”

You wouldn’t,” Tzuyu replies, and Jihyo could imagine her smiling, “because you know they’d kill you too.

Jihyo laughs, still trying to wipe the tears from her face. She’d never tell the two older girls about this. Tzuyu is right, they’d murder her for doing this to Tzuyu. To herself.

Good night, unnie.

Jihyo sighs, closing her eyes once more. She lets herself remember simpler times, when she and Tzuyu would spend hours talking to each other, spent moments laughing together. She lets herself remember the times when she could hold Tzuyu close, kiss her hand or her cheek without consequences. She lets herself remember all the moments she spent with the girls, and how for the next few months having all nine of them together just won’t be the same anymore. Still, Jihyo knows she can’t let the comforts of her past make her not want to live in the present. She is happy, and she wouldn’t trade what she has now for anything in the world. But, even if she won’t admit it, not even to herself, Jihyo sometimes wishes it was Tzuyu waiting for her instead.

She makes it so hard to be faithful.

“Good night, Tzuyu.”

Chapter Text

It started out as a game.

 

“First one to fall in love loses.”

“You’re on.”

 

But things got out of hand, and Dahyun wishes Nayeon wasn’t so bold.

 

 

Nayeon pulls Dahyun behind one of the large sets, away from prying eyes. She immediately presses her lips on the skin of Dahyun’s neck, and it takes Dahyun every ounce of her strength not to let out a moan.

“Unnie,” Dahyun says, the pitch of her voice higher than usual, “there are cameras everywhere.” Nayeon let out a groan and just runs her fingers through Dahyun’s hair.

Dahyun keeps her eyes open, trying to look out for people who might find them. They’ve had too many close calls for Dahyun to not worry, but it’s obvious with the way Nayeon presses her leg against Dahyun that she doesn’t care.

Dahyun tries again.

“Unnie.”

But Dahyun melts under Nayeon’s touch, and suddenly she forgets what she’s trying to do. For a moment, Dahyun pulls Nayeon closer, holding onto the older girl’s shoulders. She lets out a soft moan, quiet enough that only Nayeon gets to hear it, and Nayeon’s hands find their way under Dahyun’s shirt.

And just as quickly as the moment came, it disappears immediately when one of the staff drops a prop causing a commotion. Suddenly Dahyun is trying to push the older girl off her but it only results in Nayeon biting down on her pale skin, and Dahyun knows she left a mark. Dahyun curses under her breath, fingers digging into Nayeon’s arms.

Only the sound of their director calling for the dance portion pulls Nayeon away from her.

 

The shoot is done, and they all tiredly stumble to the cars. Dahyun sighs, eager to climb in the back seat and fall asleep on the way to the practice studio. She was expecting Chaeyoung to sit beside her, but then Nayeon suddenly appears, taking up the empty space next to her.

“Hey,” Nayeon says happily, sending Dahyun a warm smile.

Dahyun hesitates, but then smiles back when no one is looking. “Hey.”

And Nayeon must be satisfied with the response, because she lets out a soft hum and rests her head on Dahyun’s shoulder. Dahyun sits up as straight as she can to make Nayeon comfortable, and she does her best to keep her heart from leaping out of her chest when Nayeon holds onto her hand.

Dahyun couldn’t fall asleep no matter how hard she tried.

 

She is not in love with Nayeon.

 

Dahyun is tired now. After the shoot for the music video, the girls spent the whole day practicing the other dances for a few songs on their album and all she wants to do is rest. The minute Dahyun gets home she excuses herself from Sana and Momo and quickly crawls into bed, not bothering to remove her make up or change out of her clothes. Even the light is still on.

She closes her eyes and tries to count as she breathes, but Dahyun ends up thinking of Nayeon instead and all the things she did to Dahyun earlier during practice. Dahyun thinks about how Nayeon would always find a way to ‘accidentally’ bump into her, or the way Nayeon would kiss her cheek during breaks when nobody is looking, or the way Nayeon would hold her hand under the blanket wrapped around them while in the waiting room, or the way Nayeon smiles at her whenever they danced, or the way Nayeon suddenly pulled her down an empty hallway and kissed her like her life depended on it. They’re all ingrained in Dahyun’s brain and she plays each moment over and over again until she falls asleep.

 

She wakes up after what seems like five minutes, head spinning and eyes heavy with sleep. The lights are off. Dahyun feels Chaeyoung shift in her sleep on the top bunk and sees Tzuyu shuffle on her bed from the corner of her eyes. Dahyun looks down on herself. She doesn’t even register that she’s out of her work clothes, she’s still so sleepy, but then she notices the arm wrapped around her waist as she feels someone snuggle closer against her, and Dahyun’s whole body suddenly stiffens as she realizes Nayeon is cuddling beside her.

Nayeon hums, her breath tickling Dahyun’s skin. Dahyun gulps, somehow not used to the softness Nayeon is showing.

“Dahyunnie,” Nayeon whispers, and her lips brush against Dahyun’s neck lightly. It sends a shiver throughout her whole body.

Dahyun manages a small whimper, earning a soft giggle from Nayeon. “Unnie.” is all Dahyun can manage.

“Go back to sleep, Dahyunnie,” Nayeon says through a yawn.

Dahyun just nods, a soft okay escaping her lips. She closes her eyes, but it does nothing to help her sleep. Instead, Dahyun heavily focuses on the way Nayeon’s fingers are tapping on Dahyun’s arm.

She only falls asleep the minute Chaeyoung’s alarm goes off.

 

 

A photoshoot is scheduled for the day, and the girls get ready to leave. Dahyun is in the maknae room putting a book in her bag and it catches her by surprise when a pair of arms wrap around her waist. She isn’t surprised, however, when she turns around and finds Nayeon smiling at her.

It’s only her luck that her heart decides to run a marathon when Nayeon gives her a quick kiss. Dahyun feels her face turn red.

“You’re so cute.” is what Nayeon says, and Dahyun responds with a soft thank you before shuffling her way out of the older girl’s arms, quickly rejoining the others.

 

She is not in love with Nayeon.

 

They’re taking promotional photos for their comeback and Dahyun is up next, but right now it’s Nayeon and Dahyun decides to watch her. She tells herself that it’s to get ideas for the concept. She does a terrible job of convincing herself.

Dahyun focuses on Nayeon, watching as the older girl thrives in front of the camera. Nayeon looks over at Dahyun and sends her a knowing smile and a wink, then continues on to pose for the next pictures.

Dahyun feels herself turn red again, hurriedly returning to the waiting room. She drinks a cup of cold water to balance the sudden heat she felt growing in her body, and Sana laughs and comments on how cute Dahyun was for still being nervous about being in front of a camera.

Dahyun doesn’t mention that she’s nervous about being in front of Nayeon instead.

 

She’s done shooting and Dahyun goes over to the laptop where the photos are stored to look at her pictures, only to find Nayeon there, already scrolling through the ones the photographer took of Dahyun.

“I like this one,” Nayeon says, pointing to the one where Dahyun’s head is tilted sideways, eyes on the ground and a finger on her lip. Before Dahyun could speak Nayeon takes a picture of it on her phone, immediately setting it as her wallpaper. “There,” Nayeon declares, “now I get to stare at you for as long as I want.”

Dahyun ignores the butterflies in her stomach.

 

She is not in love with Nayeon.

 

It’s Momo’s turn for the shoot, but it doesn’t matter, because Nayeon drags Dahyun to one of the bathrooms in the set, needily placing kisses all over her neck once she locks the door. Dahyun is incredibly flushed, feeling heat wherever Nayeon’s lips touched her skin. She lets out a moan, unable to stop herself before it happens.

Dahyun grips tight onto Nayeon’s shoulders, shutting her eyes in an attempt to savor every moment. She melts when Nayeon’s lips press against the corner of her lips, and instinctively she pulls the older girl closer.

Nayeon pulls back once more, placing kisses down Dahyun’s jaw, on her neck, even going for a hickey just below her collarbone.

“Nayeon,” Dahyun whispers, almost a moan, lightly scratching the older girl’s skin through her clothes.

Dahyun silently wishes for this moment to never end.

 

Nayeon is definitely playing games, because the moment they enter the dorm Dahyun notices how Nayeon is suddenly all over Jeongyeon. Jeongyeon hates it, but that doesn’t stop Dahyun from feeling a pang of jealousy in the pit of her stomach.

 

She is not in love with Nayeon.

 

 

It’s a free day, and Dahyun decides to stay in bed. The image of Nayeon hanging onto Jeongyeon’s arm from yesterday is tattooed onto the back of her eyelids, and each time she shuts her eyes it’s all she sees. Dahyun couldn’t bear the thought of having to see Nayeon do it again today. She instead goes over the book she’s been wanting to finish since last week.

 

It’s noon when Jihyo knocks on the door, calling Dahyun out for lunch with the others. And she must be playing her games again, because Nayeon usually sits across Dahyun, but this time she chose to sit on the other end of the table with Jeongyeon and Jihyo. Dahyun normally doesn’t mind, but then Nayeon hasn’t even sent her so much as a glance since last night and Dahyun ignores the way she’s slowly losing her appetite.

“Unnie,” Dahyun says, trying to get Nayeon’s attention.

Jeongyeon turns her head instead. “Yeah?”

Dahyun feels herself deflate and asks for the kimbap near Mina in defeat. Jeongyeon passes it with a smile, and Dahyun is just a little bit jealous of the way Nayeon is leaning into her.

Dahyun eats her kimbap in silence.

 

She is not in love with Nayeon.

 

 

Three days.

It’s been three days since Nayeon last gave Dahyun the light of day, and three days is all it takes for Dahyun to completely lose herself in her thoughts, all of which are somehow either about the way Nayeon looks, the way Nayeon feels, or just Nayeon herself.

Still, Dahyun ignores all the emotions bubbling inside her, ignores the way her heart aches whenever she sees Nayeon pretend she doesn’t exist.

And Dahyun hates the way Nayeon plays her games, because now she’s even going as far as leaving the room the second Dahyun walks in.

“Dahyunnie!” Momo says when Dahyun enters, holding a phone an arm’s length away. Nayeon and Chaeyoung are with her. Chaeyoung smiles, but Nayeon’s expression doesn’t change. Dahyun tries to ignore it.

“Is this V live?” Dahyun asks, moving into the frame. She waves to the camera, and suddenly she notices Nayeon leaving the room. She doesn’t say anything.

Momo hugs her, and Dahyun pretends it doesn’t hurt to see Nayeon leave.

 

She is not in love with Nayeon.

 

 

It must be bad now, because Tzuyu is giving her a weird look.

“Are you okay?” Tzuyu asks carefully.

Dahyun pretends she’s okay. “Yeah, why?”

“You’ve been sulking for the past week.”

Dahyun gives a quick glance towards Tzuyu, and she is thankful to see that the younger girl is being so nonchalant about it, moving her chopsticks around the take out she ordered earlier. Dahyun begins wondering how down she’s been considering Tzuyu is asking her, because Tzuyu is never one to initiate a talk about emotions. But then, right now, just thinking about the way Nayeon has been distant sends an ache in her chest.

Just the silence between Tzuyu and Dahyun right now sends her into a bad mood and she immediately starts thinking of Nayeon again, which she suddenly notices she’s been doing often for the past week.

But Dahyun misses the way Nayeon looks at her, misses the warmth she feels when they’re together. She misses the fingers that run through her hair and the way Nayeon gently taps them on her skin. She misses the fact that Nayeon used to always be by her side and the way Nayeon always just makes her day feel brighter. Dahyun even misses each time Nayeon drags her somewhere recluse and kisses her like no one else matters. But Nayeon hasn’t ever kissed Dahyun on the lips, so maybe it was still a game, but it’s a game she’s willing to lose, no matter how scared she is.

And maybe it was stupid, but the way Tzuyu looks like she doesn’t care makes Dahyun want to ask for advice.

“Actually,” Dahyun starts, expecting Tzuyu to pay attention. She doesn’t. Dahyun continues anyway. “Actually, I have a question.”

“Hm?”

“I like someone,” Dahyun says, but then pauses with hesitation.

Tzuyu doesn’t even stop playing with her food to reply. “What’s the question?”

“Oh. I just,” Dahyun starts playing with her fingers, “well, we were okay at first. We were really good together, but then they suddenly stop talking to me. I think maybe I did something wrong.” She pauses again, completely unsure of what to say. Why is it so difficult to talk?

“The question, unnie,” Tzuyu says impatiently.

Dahyun takes a deep breath in, gathering all her strength just to speak. “Should I ask? If I did something? I really like them, and I think they like me back and I just…” Another pause. She looks at Tzuyu, unsure of how to continue without giving away the fact that it’s Nayeon she’s talking about.

Tzuyu finally sets her chopsticks down and looks at Dahyun. Expressionless as ever, Dahyun only wishes she could read Tzuyu’s mind so the silence isn’t as overbearing as it feels. She’s close to tears, because she really has no clue what to do, but then Tzuyu suddenly speaks up.

“If it’s a mutual thing, I think you should just talk it out,” Tzuyu says, “no use in playing games and ignoring each other.” Dahyun was about to thank the younger girl, but then Tzuyu suddenly adds, “Besides, you look stupid when you’re wallowing.”

Dahyun was about to protest, but then Tzuyu’s attention is back to her food, and Dahyun just stays quiet.

 

Okay, she may be a tiny bit in love with Nayeon.

 

 

Dahyun notices the way Nayeon keeps playing her games. It’s almost like a tug-o-war, where Nayeon does her best to pull Dahyun in, while Dahyun does her best to pull back. But Nayeon is good at these games, and just when Dahyun starts to accept that Nayeon isn’t talking to her, she sends Dahyun a warm smile from across the set.

Dahyun hates her heart for wanting Nayeon so much.

 

Nayeon must’ve felt Dahyun’s internal gay panic, because Nayeon is walking towards her now. And Dahyun’s brain is shouting at her to move and leave but her feet won’t listen. Maybe this is a good time to ask her about the ignoring.

The question is at the tip of her tongue. Dahyun knows what to say, but her entire body turns to jelly when Nayeon stops in front of her.

“Hi,” Dahyun says, completely forgetting her conversation with Tzuyu just yesterday.

“Let’s go,” the older girl replies. Nayeon just takes her hand, quickly pulling Dahyun into motion.

Dahyun feels her heart in her throat, and she could feel her hands start sweating and her knees are about to give in when she weakly asks, “Where are you taking me?”

Nayeon looks back at her, an amused look in her eyes. “It’s our turn for the shoot,” she says. “We’re partners, remember?”

Dahyun relaxes, remembering that somehow Nayeon is still her workmate, and lets Nayeon drag her to the set.

Still, even though she panicked, Dahyun can’t help but wish that Nayeon dragged her off someplace else instead.

 

“Can you hold hands?” asks the photographer, and Dahyun immediately reaches out for Nayeon. It’s easier this way, focusing on all the lights and people and the camera in front of her. Nayeon laces their fingers together, and both of them put on smiles. The photographer gives out more directions, and Nayeon and Dahyun easily comply.

For a moment, Dahyun forgets her weird thoughts, successfully ignores the quick beating of her heart. She lets herself enjoy this rare peaceful moment with Nayeon, even if they are in front of a camera and thirty other people, because right now is when Dahyun is reminded that Nayeon is also a friend, someone who’s gone through the same things as her and someone who she can share important moments with. Right now, Nayeon is one of Dahyun’s eight best friends, and she just so happens to have feelings towards her too. Nayeon squeezes her hand, as if reading Dahyun’s mind, and Dahyun looks over to the older girl already staring at her. Dahyun feels her heart jump out of her chest.

 

She’s just a little bit in love with Nayeon.

 

They’re done for the day, and Dahyun goes over the laptop with the photos, again already finding Nayeon there.

Nayeon takes her phone out, taking a picture of one of their photos. Dahyun leans in over the older girl’s shoulder. The screen is displaying a picture of the two of them, Nayeon hugging Dahyun from behind, and they’re both laughing, their smiles reaching their eyes. Dahyun takes her phone out as well, taking a picture of it and setting it as her wallpaper without a word.

 

She’s maybe more than a little bit in love with Nayeon.

 

 

They arrive home hours later, everyone scattering as soon as they enter their dorm. Dahyun heads for her room again, immediately throwing herself onto her bed.

Dahyun knows it’s a problem, knows that having feelings for Nayeon is dangerous, because Nayeon is a flirt and this is just Nayeon flirting, right?

Right?

Dahyun grabs a pillow and covers her head, screaming into it to muffle the sound. Dahyun hates the way she feels, hates how frustrated she becomes when Nayeon isn’t by her side, how needy she gets when Nayeon riles her up, how Nayeon fills up her thoughts whenever she’s alone, how she’s always looking for a way to see her, or talk to her, or be with her. This was a game. This had to be a game.

But if it’s a game, Dahyun definitely lost.

It may just be the stress, or the adrenaline from the busy day still rushing in her body, but she’s crying now, unable to stop herself, the tears soaking the pillow.

She’s too lost in her thoughts, too caught up in her tears, that Dahyun doesn’t even register the door of her room opening and someone sitting beside her until a hand is on her arm. Dahyun jolts up, quickly wiping her tears.

Nayeon.

“Unnie, wha-”

“Hey.” Nayeon smiles. The kind of smile that’s soft and bright and makes Dahyun feel all warm and safe. Dahyun can’t help but smile back. She looks so beautiful.

Another wave of tears falls down her face and before she could wipe them on her own Nayeon reaches out for her, running her thumb over her cheek to wipe them clean.

“I lost, unnie,” Dahyun whispers. She closes her eyes, afraid of the words that might come out of the older girl’s mouth.

“What?” is all Nayeon says.

Dahyun takes a deep breath, and as she exhales everything she’s been wanting to say comes flowing out of her like a river.

“I lost. I lost the game and I know I promised not to do that but I can’t help it.” A hiccup escapes her. “I hate it when you smile at me or kiss me or hold my hand. I hate it because it makes feel so good and when you’re gone it hurts.” Dahyun opens her eyes. “Unnie, Tzuyu asked me how I am, and she said I was sulking. Unnie, Tzuyu asked me to talk about my feelings to her. It’s that bad, unnie, but I can’t help it. You make me so happy and I want to be with you all the time and it’s just,” Dahyun does her best to look directly at Nayeon when she says, “I may be in love with you, unnie.”

“Oh.”

“I’m sorry.”

Dahyun is expecting to be scolded, expecting to be told off, and expecting for this – whatever it is – to stop. She braces herself, hands gripping the pillow on her lap so hard her knuckles are turning white. She’s ready for whatever Nayeon is about to say.

She isn’t ready, however, for whatever Nayeon is about to do.

And Nayeon kisses her, not on the cheek, or the forehead, or her hand, but on her lips. Nayeon, who has never once dared kiss Dahyun directly on the lips, is now pulling Dahyun closer by a hand on the back of her neck, kissing her with such urgency it’s making Dahyun’s head spin. More tears fall, leaving both Nayeon and Dahyun’s face wet.

It’s Nayeon who pulls back, a smile on her face and a blush on her cheeks. It’s also Nayeon who first speaks.

“I lost way before you did, Dahyunnie.”

“What?” Dahyun says, not quite connecting the dots. Her mind is still hazy from the fatigue of the day, or maybe she just wants to hear it again.

Nayeon just smiles, capturing Dahyun’s lips in a slow, burning kiss. Dahyun is breathless by the time Nayeon pulls back again.

“I may be in love with you too.”

Chapter Text

Due to unfortunate circumstances, we as a band have subsequently decided that it is of the group's best interest to disband.

 

In addition to this, we would also like to address the multiple speculations about the relationship between former members Kim Dahyun and Son Chaeyoung.

 

These are a series of letters written by member Son, made public by leader Park Jihyo with the permission of the recipient Kim.

 

These letters hopefully answer whatever questions remain from our fans.

 

In honor of the love given and received.

 

You are one in a million.

 

Thank you for supporting us.

 

- Im Nayeon.

 

 

 

Day 1

 

Dahyun.

 

You’re reading this now because something happened.

I’m starting this project four years after we started dating. As I’m writing this, we have already been friends for four years and band members for another six. Yes, at the moment I’m writing this, we’ve been together – whether as friends or lovers or both – for fourteen years.

 

I just wanted to do something for you, to remind you how much I love you and that I appreciate you. You know I don’t do well with expressing how I feel with actions. You always did complain about how I never wanted to hold your hand, or cuddle when we sleep, or kiss you even though it was just us and the girls in the dorm, but I’m good with words. I decided that aside from telling you every day that I loved you, which would somehow be nothing more than a passing second in our lives, I will write you one letter every day for a year.

I hope that no matter what, you’ll keep these letters with you. It doesn’t matter if you read them once and never let them see the light of day again, but my one request is that you keep them somewhere safe, as each one of these letters will contain a piece of my heart.

I guess you can say I’m expecting whatever will happen to happen, as you will only be receiving these letters when and only when it comes true, but I’m doing this so it wouldn’t hurt as much if it does. This will probably become my closure as much as it is yours. If you’re reading this, the letters will come to you once a day, and I hope that the memories I write down are things you cherish as much as I do.

 

This is the first of my letters, so I guess it would only be appropriate to start from the beginning.

 

I was only twelve when we met. It was the day before our official training and everyone who passed the auditions within the past six months were called in. I was never a shy child, you know this, and that day filled me with so much excitement and awe that I would – at any chance I get – run off from the tour group I was with and wander the halls by myself.

There were so many cool things to see back then, I wandered each floor and maybe entered rooms I wasn’t supposed to, and I had lost track of time. I didn’t have a phone with me then, and I got lost.

It was the best thing to have ever happened to me, because if it didn’t happen I wouldn’t have met you.

I was mess though, my clothes marked with sweat and tear stains on my cheeks. My hair was probably disheveled, as I kept running my fingers through it like I do whenever I’m nervous or frustrated or scared. I kept frantically looking around, and when I looked down the hallway I saw a group of people walking along. I immediately ran towards them, fresh tears running down my face from relief. By the time I reached the end of the hall everyone was out of sight, so when I turned the corner I wasn’t expecting to fall down face first into the floor.

I expected rough hands to pick me up, and a deep voice to fill the air with harsh words and a scolding. I expected more tears to run down my face, to stain my clothes and wet the floor. I expected that when a hand came in contact with my cheek, it would be a hard slap telling me I shouldn’t be here, but expectations are often different from reality.

Because instead of large hands and calloused skin, small, delicate fingers wrapped around my arm to lift me up. A small, shaky voice whispered concern so quiet in the air that I almost didn’t hear it from the mumbling of everyone else. Instead of a quick hit for being disobedient and unruly, a small hand wiped the tears from my face.

You asked if I was okay, and all I did was nod, jaw dropped and eyes wide open. You must’ve thought I looked crazy, some kid tripping on air, snot on her face and tears in her eyes. Yet you showed me kindness.

You asked if I was sure. I didn’t answer. In retrospect, that might’ve been quite rude.

Still, you smiled at me at that moment, the very first time I saw the most beautiful smile I’ve ever seen. And it was that time I knew God existed, because one of His angels stood in front of me.

We didn’t bother telling the leader of the group that I wasn’t supposed to be there, but you held my hand the whole time, said something about making sure I don’t run away again. It’s funny, because I still wasn’t able to concentrate on the tour. I was too focused and too distracted at the same time. I noticed all the little things, like the way your thumb would rub the back of my hand when you were listening, the way you tightened your grip whenever you felt like I was slipping away, the way you would take my hand in your free one if our hands get too sweaty then wipe them with your handkerchief. These were such little things, something an unnie would naturally do for someone younger, and these were things that I didn’t know would mean so much to me one day.

We didn’t talk, but you held onto my hand like a lifeline.

But all good things come to an end, and the tour finally finished right where it started, the cafeteria. We said our goodbyes when I saw my own tour group, and I ran towards them before they disappeared again.

They didn’t notice I was gone, which I guess was okay. I reached them in time to be handed my own schedule for the next month. There were a few more reminders from the guide, and after that we were all dismissed.

I wasn’t sad though. I caught your eye just as I exited the building with my dad, and I knew I had found a home.

 

I pray to the God that sent me you that day to still give you a home as you read this, to be at peace like I was when you held my hand.

I wish you never get to read these letters though, but I know you will, and I’m sorry that you have to. But it’s here now and there’s nothing we – you – can do about it.

 

But I love you, Dahyun, you will always be my home.

 

 

Day 7

 

Dahyun.

 

Today marks the end of week one. I hope the letters aren’t too boring. I really am trying my best to let you know how much I love you.

I’m writing this in May, so all the flowers are in bloom everywhere. When are you reading this? Is it May too? Are the flowers blooming? Or is it July, and you’re at the beach with the others. Perhaps it’s January, and you must definitely be wrapped in a blanket with hot chocolate by your side.

I remember your obsession with chocolate, choco pies to be specific. I find it cute that whenever you were sad a choco pie would brighten your day, or if you were happy it’d make your day a thousand times better.

 

There’s a specific memory I associate so closely with choco pies. We were still trainees back then, barely a year into the process, and it was midnight. I was sleeping, blacked out from the day’s training. We had just learned new choreography then, and the unfamiliar moves made my body sore. But the buzzing phone on the desk by my table was much too loud, and I answered without even looking at who it was, ready to tell them to fuck off.

But I didn’t, because the second I pressed the phone against my ear a wonderful laughter echoed inside me. Your voice was enough to wake me up, to give me energy to sit.

I don’t know why I was worried, you were laughing when I picked up, a lightness in your voice that I’ve by then learned never really disappeared.

I asked what was wrong, and all you said was, “I want choco pies.”

You always did crave them at the weirdest of times.

I tried protesting, not sure why, because nothing ever came between you and your choco pies.

I remember telling you that it was midnight, and that most stores are closed. You argued, of course, that those 24/7 corner stores were – in fact – open twenty-four hours a day. You begged me to come with you and even promised to treat me to whatever I wanted.

Who was I to say no to that cute voice you used on me? I said yes, but I just want to let you know that I would’ve picked you up anyway even without the offer to buy me food.

I didn’t bother telling my parents that I left, but I did tell Jeonghoon. Not sure why he was still up that night. Did I ever tell you that I had to sneak out my window? I walked on the roof and climbed down the drain pipe as quietly as I could, because I didn’t want to leave the doors unlocked.

You’re lucky you were only a ten-minute walk away, or I guess I was lucky. I had to cover myself with that huge black hoodie you once gave me, walked by myself in the dead of night.

It was worth it though, that smile you had when you looked out the window when I arrived felt brighter than the sun, and immediately somehow everything around me had illuminated. You were out your door five seconds later.

You held my hand as we walked.

I’ve never felt safer.

The corner store came too soon, and you let go when we entered. It felt almost like entering a different dimension. One of the lights were blinking randomly, the cashier was half asleep, and there was this guy who was in a muscle shirt and boxers buying Peppero and booze. I always felt like that entering weird places, or going to new rooms, like every door I walk through is a door through another universe, but one thing always remained the same.

I watched you bounce towards the sweets aisle. I couldn’t see your face but no doubt you were smiling, happy to get your choco pie fix. And when you turned around and held your hand towards me, I felt that thing that always stayed no matter what dimension I crawled into.

Because no matter what I felt when I entered rooms, or walked onto the stage, or go through doors, the only thing constant in me was that I knew you were my home, that you would be there for me – with me – no matter what universe I end up in.

You bought me those jelly snacks you knew I liked.

We ended up staying longer than expected, laughing and talking about nothing on the curb outside the store. It was past three in the morning when we decided to go home.

 

I’ll never forget that. Out of all the dimensions and universes I’ve ever felt in my life, that one was the one I loved the most because it had all my favorite things.

The stars, a cool breeze, jelly snacks, choco pies.

And you.

 

Thank you for being my constant.

 

 

Day 10

 

Dahyun.

 

How are you? I hope you’re still reading these. Well, I mean, I hope you never have to read them, but I know you are. I’m not sure how things happened, but I wish I could have prevented it.

As I’m writing this, we’re at the park with Tzuyu. She doesn’t know I’m doing this, none of the others do. I don’t know when I plan on telling them about this project of mine, but I’ll let you know when they know.

I don’t have much to talk about from before, so I’ll talk about today. Though I guess by the time you read this it’ll all be in the past.

Do you remember how we ended up here? It’s a day off from our schedules, but only for us three. The unnies all have photoshoots or interviews or tv appearances to attend, so it was just you, me, and Tzuyu in the dorm.

 

It was a little past lunch time, and you cutely dragged me into our shared bedroom for cuddles, thinking that just because the others weren’t there that I’d give into your whining. You were right though.

We were huddled up in your bed, and it was hot enough that being so close to someone should be uncomfortable. But I wasn’t, because it was you I was next to. It was cute too, the way you visibly complained when Tzuyu entered the room despite it being hers just as much as it is ours.

She suggested going out today, to make the most of our day off to relax and unwind. You protested silently, staring into my eyes and directly at my soul. I guess it wasn’t so much as you not wanting to spend time with our maknae, but rather you wanting to spend time with me.

Or at least, I hope that was why.

But I took Tzuyu’s side, sat up immediately and announced that I just needed to change. I looked at you with a smile, if only to annoy you. The way you puffed your cheeks in disappointment was cute.

So, we ended up here, where I am right now, you and Tzuyu laughing under the spring sun. It’s almost picturesque, the way the flowers are all in full bloom, but none of them are as beautiful as you.

But just to let you know, Tzuyu comes a close second.

Of course, you knew that though, because right now you won’t stop telling her how beautiful she is after she mentioned about being a little insecure.

 

I’ve always admired that about you, how you always want someone to see the best in them. I love how you never fail to think of our members, our family, and how you always want to make them feel good or better.

I do hope that you never lose that quality of yours. I hope that whatever way you took to the events I know will happen, I pray that you will never lose the way you love the others.

Tzuyu looks a little more confident now, and it’s because of you, and how much you love her.

You’re giving me a weird look right now. I’ll tell you more about today in tomorrow’s letter.

 

Anyway, thank you for sharing your love to the world.

 

 

Day 16

 

Dahyun.

 

I realize that I haven’t told you about how I knew I loved you, or at least when I decided you were special to me. Today is as good as any day to talk about it, but I’m a bit sad that I don’t get to tell you this in person.

I’d say it isn’t a big deal, there were no sparks flying in the air, no butterflies in my stomach, no huge realization, but I guess it is a big deal, because it was the night before Jinyoung-nim was to announce who the final members of TWICE were. And we were all nervous wrecks.

 

It was always me and Somi back then, we were so close it was crazy. She’s like a sister to me, and who else better to spend the day before being thrown into a situation that would determine the next ten years of your life?

We spent every minute together, walking around the neighborhood with no clear destination in mind. She did most of the talking like usual, you know how Somi is.

She went on about how excited she was, but also how scared, talked about how the whole program changed her, made her want to work hard but also made her want to give up. She talked about working twice as hard if she were to be chosen, to continue improving and do her best to be better. She also said something about if she were to be eliminated, and that she wouldn’t take it as a sign to give up on her dream. We were all feeling that way back then.

I would pitch in sometimes too, but I was much too distracted. No thought seemed to stick in my head. I kept running my hand through my hair, scraping my fingers against my scalp to ground me into reality. Somi talking always made me lose myself, and I needed an anchor.

I remember her asking if I was alright, mentioned something about me looking too nervous. I said I was alright, but her next words really took me by surprise.

“Don’t worry,” Somi said, “even if I don’t make it, I know she will.”

She.

Somi said “she” instead of “you”, like she wasn’t talking about me, like she knew what was on my mind. Which I didn’t understand, because at the time even I didn’t know what was on my mind. But Somi was like that, always good at reading people.

“Can you come with me for a minute,” she continued when I didn’t talk. I didn’t have the energy to tell her that I had no choice anyway, that we were already together at the moment. But I smiled and said sure.

We bought water melon at the local market, and a bunch of other fruits and milk and cream. And she kept saying things like “She’ll like this” and “This will cheer her up”. At first, I had no clue who she was talking about, but the more Somi kept saying she the more I kept thinking of you.

I was suddenly thrown into the reality that you were, currently, in Minor, and that there’s a huge chance that you wouldn’t make the cut.

I thought about being in TWICE without you for the rest of the day, and everything was a blur.

I imagined the next ten years of my life, the first song I’ll ever record, the first stage I’ll ever perform. I imagined my first radio appearance, my first time to guest on a TV show. I thought about my first concert, my first music video, my first award. I thought about the dorm I’d live in, the schedules I’d have to partake, the sleepless nights and hardworking days I know I’d encounter.

I didn’t want it.

Because for every song I saw myself singing, I imagined you right across me singing along. For every stage I saw myself performing, I couldn’t picture it without dancing along with you by my side. For every radio broadcast, every TV appearance, every episode of whatever it is we’ll shoot, I couldn’t imagine doing it without you. Those concerts, those music videos, those awards? They’d mean nothing to me if I didn’t experience them with you. I didn’t want to live in a dorm knowing you weren’t just in the other room, to go through a busy day without you by my side, to spend endless nights without knowing you’re there, or working hard knowing you were somewhere else.

I realized that this dream of mine, this idol life I wanted to live, I knew how stressful it would be. I knew the struggles and the obstacles that would come with it. I knew that this life, it wasn’t something I could face alone.

And as much as I wanted Somi to be a part of TWICE with me, I knew that I wanted you to be a part of my life forever.

I couldn’t imagine debuting without you.

I couldn’t imagine living without you.

 

I guess I would have to thank Somi one of these days. She knew me so well, knew me more than I knew myself, probably knew way before I did that I loved you back then the way I do now.

And I remember that night, Somi told the other girls in Major that she wanted to spend it celebrating and having fun with those in Minor. Thinking about it now, I think she did it for me.

 

I’m sorry it wasn’t a turn-of-the-century movie magic moment. I’m sorry it wasn’t some moment where you looked at me and I knew I was in love. I’m sorry it took me six more years after that to tell you how I felt, and I’m sorry that I’m only telling you now.

 

But hey, thank you for letting me love you.

 

 

Day 27

 

Dahyun.

 

You’re sick today. It’s just a cold, but you never really had a high pain tolerance. I wish I could be taking care of you right now, but I’m scheduled for a photoshoot and Jihyo said I couldn’t cancel. She promised to take care of you for me though.

I’m really thankful for Jihyo. She’s an amazing leader. She’s kind and caring, but also strict and just. She’s always looking out for all of us, and she always makes sure we’re okay. But I know you know that.

How is she now? Are you still keeping in touch? I hope so. I’d really hate for you to lose someone like her in your life.

She’s the first person I’ve ever told about you. There’s just something about Jihyo that makes you want to tell her everything, because you know it’s safe with her.

 

We were filming Elegant Private Life back then, and it was for that episode that we had to go on a date with the other members. I kept thinking about you during the date. I thought of whether you would like the places Jeongyeon and Sana took me to see, made a mental checklist of all the others we could visit. I thought about what food we would eat and tried to remember all the things you liked, looked out for the best places we could get them. I was so into it back then, and even when I tried to focus on filming you were always at the back of my mind.

I kept asking Jeongyeon and Sana when the perfect time to kiss was. I guess that was weird, but I was so head-over-heels for you, and I was young, and I thought kissing was an important part of a date.

It’s amazing how they never bothered to think that I liked someone, but I guess they didn’t care.

Even when the shoot was over and we were all back at the dorm, the thoughts of planning the perfect date still filled my mind. It bothered me so much, thinking about what you liked and didn’t like, and if it weren’t for how loud Jihyo’s voice was I probably wouldn’t have been pulled out of my thoughts.

“Tzuyu and Dahyun loved the surprise I did for them,” she said, and that immediately caught my attention.

She was talking to Nayeon, who was going on about covering Momo’s face with ice cream.

If it were anybody else, one would say that I was rude for interrupting two unnies talk, but it was Nayeon and Jihyo, and they insisted on everyone being treated as equals.

“What did Dahyun like? And Tzuyu. I mean, what did you do for them?”

Nayeon gave Jihyo a knowing smile, and then left. She immediately went to find Jeongyeon.

Jihyo asked how my day was, and I was quick to answer. Too quick, and then I asked again about what she did that you liked so much.

She just laughed and asked, “Why do you care so much about what Dahyun wants?”

I wanted to lie. Tell her simply that you were my best friend and I wanted to tease you about it, but something told me that Jihyo already knew. There is nothing, really, that one could hide from the sun.

The words were simple.

“I like her.”

Jihyo had a smile on her face, but there was confusion in her eyes.

“I like her,” I repeated.

She’s frowning now.

“I like Dahyun.”

Three words, whose implications suddenly weigh heavier than the burden of training for ten years.

I didn’t notice when I started crying, just that Jihyo wiped the tears away with her thumb.

Her words were just as heavy.

“You like girls?”

It rang in my ears.

I liked one girl, but I didn’t say that. Just nodded, head down in shame. I wasn’t ashamed of you though, no. God, no. Never. I was never ashamed that I liked you. Loved you. Love you.

I guess I was ashamed I never told her. That I made it look like I didn’t trust her.

But she hugged me so tight I couldn’t breathe, and it felt like freedom, like the sun’s rays finally broke through the leaves of the forest I was hiding in. And it felt good.

When Jihyo pulled back tears stained her face as well, but there was a happiness in her eyes, like a mother proud of her daughter, and I knew I made the right choice.

 

She didn’t treat me any different after that, but maybe teased me a little when you weren’t around. I noticed how she loved making me blush.

I hated it, but I loved her.

 

I can’t wait to get home later so I can take care of you. Did Jihyo treat you well? When you’re reading this, is she still taking care of you?

I hope you’re okay. If you see Jihyo, or if you’re with her right now, please remind her that I love her too.

 

Thank you for being strong.

 

 

Day 35

 

Dahyun.

 

Mina picked me up from my place today, so I’m writing this in her car. I finally told her about these letters. She’s going to help me organize and hide them from you. Once I’m done she’ll set them up with a company she knows that will send them to you when the time comes.

I really wish it never comes.

But I’ve just passed the one-month mark and I’ve received good news today. Everything is stable and they told me that I’m back to working conditions. I can go back to promoting with all of you. I can go back to the dorm too.

I hated what they had to do to me though, a week of shots and tests and scans. I wish you were with me while I was stuck there. Maybe it wouldn’t have been half as bad as it was.

Do you still keep in touch with Mina? I hope she’s there for you. She just promised me to be there for you when you receive the first letter. Was she? If she wasn’t, I’d come back and kick her for not keeping her promise.

I’m getting a bit dizzy now. It’s harder to write while the car is moving, and I’m still a little dizzy from all the things that happened for the past week.

Anyway, I’m on my way to you right now. I hope you’re there when I get back to the dorm.

 

Thank you for sticking around.

 

 

 

 

Day 64

 

Dahyun.

 

I just got back from the doctor. It’s getting worse.

 

I’m sorry. I can’t write much today. I just needed to let you know I love you so much, and that I’m trying to be strong.

 

Thank you for understanding.

 

Love, Chaeyoung.

Chapter Text

Chaeyoung loved the subway, always got up early in the morning even when she didn’t have to, always spent money on tickets to ride it even when she had no place to be. She loved the way it was always busy, always with people coming and going, always filled with a thousand nameless faces and a thousand hidden stories. It had started as a project for school, her professor assigning her the task to observe random people and draw them. A social experiment, to capture strangers in their most raw form. Chaeyoung would sit on one of the open compartments, earphones plugged in with a pen in hand, moving effortlessly against the sketchbook she laid on her lap.

The project was over now though, has been for months, and Chaeyoung was no longer obliged to wake up before the sun rises to sketch for a grade. It just became a hobby, a way to pass the time when she had nothing in particular to do that day. So Chaeyoung got up, ate breakfast and changed her clothes, grabbed a sketchbook and pen and her phone and earphones, and made her way to the station.

She could do an art gallery by now, filled with all her portraits of them. It was different each time. A young child, barely ten, with a Gameboy in his hand and his mother by his side. An old couple, hand in hand as they sat across her. A girl in her uniform getting ready for school, laptop out like she was doing last minute touches on a presentation. A wealthy looking man, wearing a long brown coat with a suitcase in hand. There were others too that Chaeyoung particularly liked, like that one with the guy, maybe no older than she was, carrying a large bouquet of sunflowers with a nervous look on his face. Or that office girl with blonde hair in a messy bun, lipstick as red as blood, smacking on gum like nobody’s business. She would also sometimes be able to capture idols or actresses, the most recent ones being the actress Gong Seungyeon and her idol sister Yoo Jeongyeon, both in simple t-shirts, jeans, and worn out runners.

But there was one particular girl that caught Chaeyoung’s eye all those months ago. Maybe it was the way she always had a coffee in hand, or always read a different book each time she saw her, or that she never wore the same outfit twice but god forbid she’s never seen without her long cream coat, or maybe it was the way her hair was always somehow a different color, and it made Chaeyoung wonder how even in a tight little bun it looked soft to the touch.

Chaeyoung always looked for her, the mystery girl. She would always get on the station at Madeul then get off at Sangbong, and that was more than enough time for Chaeyoung to draw her, to get every detail correct. It wasn’t that she was stalking her though, she would never go as far as following her when she got down. Chaeyoung just hoped that she would always get on the train, always prayed that she gets to see her muse. It’s a miracle that mystery girl hasn’t caught on yet.

Chaeyoung remembered the first time she saw mystery girl. It was during the first week of her assignment, and no one in particular had caught her attention enough yet for her to draw. She was growing frustrated by then, always started her ride drawing a girl on her phone, sigh in defeat when it doesn’t come out the way she wants it to, then start the next drawing of a guy standing up half asleep. She was about to give up back then, already through eight unfinished drawings that day. She already got up, waited by the doors so she could leave the minute it opened.

It was luck then, probably, or even fate, that brought them together, because just as the doors slid open Chaeyoung was suddenly standing in front of a girl, her milky white skin making the reds and oranges of her hair stand out even more against the uncolored chocolate brown. She wore that long cream-colored coat she never took off and large round glasses framed her face. She had her phone in her pocket with earphones plugged in, the music so loud Chaeyoung could slightly hear it. In her left hand she held a book Chaeyoung didn’t recognize, and in her right, she held a coffee cup. She looked like those typical hipster girls that think they’re too good for the world, that they’re better by reading unpopular books and drinking coffee from those cheap cafes. But god she was attractive. Chaeyoung tried looking for a name, but all she could decipher was the letter D with a poorly drawn bird – an eagle? – beside it.

“Are you getting off?” the girl asked, and her voice sounded so melodious that Chaeyoung could tell she sang.

“Uh.” Chaeyoung blinked, looked up at the posted map above the doors without reading it, then back down at the girl. “No, this isn’t my stop yet.”

Chaeyoung moved to the side, then sat back down where she previously had. It was again perhaps by luck that made the mystery girl sit across her. And as subtly as she could Chaeyoung opened her sketchbook, stole glances at the mystery girl every so often to get the details right, and smiled at the liberating feeling of letting her hand move on autopilot, drawing like it was as easy as breathing.

 

The next time Chaeyoung saw the mystery girl, it was a week after that. She had drawn several other people by then, almost let mystery girl be pushed aside from her consciousness, but none of her drawings were made as detailed or as passionate as she did with her mystery girl. Not on purpose though, just that the way mystery girl just sat so still, somehow balancing both coffee and a book with ease, made her the perfect muse. She wasn’t expecting to see her again, Chaeyoung rarely saw the same person twice, but when a flash of blonde and blue tips had passed and sat across from her on Madeul station Chaeyoung could barely contain the smile that played on her lips. It was mostly the same sight, the same long coat, the same large glasses, the same phone in the same pocket, no doubt the same music as well. She had the same coffee cup with the D and poorly drawn bird, but a different book and apparently a different hair color.

Chaeyoung abandoned drawing the girl with cute bunny teeth, instead focusing on her mystery girl and the way the sun makes her blonde hair shine like gold.

 

The third time Chaeyoung saw the mystery girl, her roommate was there with her. She hasn’t seen mystery girl in weeks, and it didn’t make sense to Chaeyoung why the thought of not being able to see her next hair color bothered her.

“So, you think I can finally meet this girl you’ve been drawing all the time?” Tzuyu asked, typing away at her phone.

“Yeah, right,” Chaeyoung answered, “I haven’t seen her in two weeks, what makes you think I’ll see her today?”

“Maybe your twenty drawings of her could magically summon her,” the younger girl teased.

Chaeyoung felt her face turn red, and Tzuyu sent her a knowing grin. It was no secret, though, that Chaeyoung kept thinking of mystery girl and the way she just dyed her hair another color in just a week. Granted, she could’ve had the red and orange tips for months before that, but the drastic change nonetheless made Chaeyoung wonder what other colors would look good on her.

But maybe Chaeyoung wasn’t imagining hard enough, not thinking of the right colors, because she almost didn’t recognize the girl who sat across her. It was the same calming sight though, the glasses, the earphones, the coffee cup with the D and poorly drawn bird, and the long cream coat, but she had a different book in hand, this time Chaeyoung recognized as Will Grayson, will grayson, and her hair color was – is that orange?

“What are you staring at?” Tzuyu said, but before Chaeyoung could rip her gaze away from her mystery girl Tzuyu is already nodding in approval. Chaeyoung knew she didn’t have to elaborate to Tzuyu who it was, or confirm if it was her or not, because Chaeyoung drew mystery girl in so much detail that Tzuyu once noted she could straight up jump out of her sketchbook, that she looked real to the touch. “Cute.”

“Shut it.”

“What? I just said she’s cute.”

“Don’t look at me like that.” Chaeyoung glared at Tzuyu, who still had the smug look on her face.

Tzuyu nudged her, then nodded towards the mystery girl. “Want me to ask her out for you?”

She laughed then, despite being shorter than her Taiwanese friend, patted her head. “Please, you could barely look Jihyo in the eye when she asked you out. What makes you think you can ask her?”

Tzuyu shrugged, then looked over at mystery girl again. “She’s not my type.”

“And you think she’s mine?”

“You wouldn’t spend hours drawing her if she wasn’t.”

It made sense. One would be right to assume that routinely drawing someone she’s never met would count as attraction, but Chaeyoung didn’t think it was. Just maybe a fascination, mostly with her hair, and how nice it would be to be able to touch it.

The older girl scoffed, then opened her sketchpad to draw the blonde Japanese girl in a hood shaped like a Shiba Inu to prove Tzuyu wrong.

Chaeyoung didn’t tell her about drawing mystery girl when they got home though, making her orange hair glow under the young careful sun.

 

The fourth time Chaeyoung saw her was four days after that, not like she was counting or anything. She wasn’t really expecting to see her muse so soon, but she’d recognize the cream coat and coffee cup anywhere, that little D with the poorly drawn bird beside it always on display to the world. And it amazed the art student how mystery girl already had a different book – she could barely make out the title as The Well of Loneliness – in her hand, but it was nothing compared to the realization that, upon further observation, mystery girl had already dyed her hair a different color.

Red. Just like a strawberry.

 

But it was always that way, Chaeyoung would sit on one side of the open compartment and mystery girl would sit across her. It wasn’t ever planned, nothing with mystery girl was ever planned, but it seemed that luck was always on her side, and Chaeyoung would always get to sketch her muse.

So, one could tell, of course, the obvious disappointment in Chaeyoung’s face when instead of the familiar sight of a long cream coat, two Japanese girls got into the compartment at Madeul station and sat where her muse should be. Chaeyoung frowned in distaste at the complete strangers, but still started watching them so she could draw. She was too focused, as well, on counting the visible moles on one of the girls’ face that she had completely ignored the person who sat beside her.

That is, until the stranger leaned over and commented on her work.

“You’re good,” she said.

Chaeyoung looked down at the page of her sketchbook, it was of that girl with the cute bunny teeth again, completed from memory. She flipped the page and started sketching roughly, drawing circles for outlines on her pad. She started shaping the jaw when she replied, “Thanks.”

“Where’d you learn how to draw?”

She smiled at the question, reliving a fond memory of grasping at crayons and doodling on the kitchen wall. Chaeyoung just shrugged, however, and went on to sketch the other Japanese girl, noted that her eyes were a piercing black color. “Been drawing ever since I could hold a pencil,” she answered.

It wasn’t that she was trying to be rude, but once Chaeyoung started a drawing it’s almost impossible for her to not focus at all. But the stranger didn’t mind not being looked at while they talked, and instead kept asking questions.

“Is this just a hobby, then?”

“No,” Chaeyoung replied, clicked her tongue and erased a misplaced stroke, “it’s for a project.”

“So, you’re studying art too?”

“Yeah, at Konkuk, Art Studies,” she answered absentmindedly.

“Cool,” the stranger says, “I go to Seoul, Music Composition.”

“Cool.”

Chaeyoung smiles proudly at her rough sketch, and the stranger all but abandons her questions, instead opting to watch Chaeyoung insert the details of the two Japanese girls across them.

She was too focused though, and the next time Chaeyoung was brought back to reality was when the voice of the announcer boomed inside the car.

Sangbong Station. Next stop is Sangbong Station.

Chaeyoung could feel the space next to her free up, and a flash of cream passes her vision as the stranger next to her walks by to the door. The train stops, the doors open.

“It was nice spending time with you,” the stranger says, “I hope you can draw me next time.”

It was the first time Chaeyoung looked at her, and her eyes immediately land on the coffee cup in the girl’s hand and noticed the letter D with the poorly drawn bird.

Shit.

Before Chaeyoung could say anything, the stranger – no, mystery girl stepped off the train, and Chaeyoung only saw a blur of blonde in a long cream coat, walking away in a crowded space.

 

By then the mystery girl had consumed all of Chaeyoung’s thoughts. She was in every doodle, every project, every song Chaeyoung listened to. She was in the lyrics Chaeyoung wrote and melodies she hummed throughout the day. She started reading the book she last saw mystery girl with – the one about the wells. Chaeyoung would even sometimes walk around campus, not knowing where her feet were taking her, then end up at the subway station, subconsciously hoping to see mystery girl again.

Chaeyoung hated the way she didn’t even bother looking at mystery girl three weeks ago, for once hated that she always got lost in her art. If only she looked up or turned her head slightly to the right she might have seen the cute little bird drawn on her cup.

And Chaeyoung hated the way her muse kept distracting her thoughts in the most random of times, like right now as she was third-wheeling for Jihyo and Tzuyu, somehow completely missing whatever Jihyo just said – despite the fact that Jihyo always sounded like she had her volume on a hundred.

“-n’t bother,” Chaeyoung heard Tzuyu say to Jihyo, “she’s been like this ever since she talked to the girl she’s crushing on.”

“Hey,” Chaeyoung protested, “I can hear you.”

“Funny you say that,” Tzuyu countered, “because we’ve been talking for ten minutes and you’ve been doodling on a tissue.”

She frowned then, only suddenly realizing that her hand had been on autopilot once again. Chaeyoung looked at the tissue. On it was a coffee cup with a letter D, the bird neatly drawn this time. She sighed in defeat, let the pencil go and rested her forehead on their table.

“I still can’t believe you had a whole conversation with her and not get her name,” Jihyo piped in.

“I’m stupid, I know.”

“Good,” Tzuyu replied, and Chaeyoung could imagine the smile on her face as she added, “because I don’t want to keep reminding you every two hours.”

Chaeyoung sent a glare towards Tzuyu, who never seemed to not have a smug look on her face ever since she found Chaeyoung’s drawings of her mystery girl.

“Anyway,” Jihyo said, “you’re coming to watch on Saturday, right?”

“Yeah.”

“Cool. I’ll save you guys seats.” Jihyo stood up, then placed a kiss on Tzuyu’s cheek. “I have to go. I’ll text you the details. See you Saturday.”

Jihyo left them with a chime of the bell on the door, and Chaeyoung slumped back, resting her cheek on the table once more.

“You’re useless,” Tzuyu said once Jihyo was out of sight. Chaeyoung sighed, eyes on the tissue with the drawing of mystery girl’s hand.

“I know.”

 

They arrived at the station later than usual that day, Chaeyoung adding last minute touches to her plates while Tzuyu had to practice for a small stage play her class had been assigned. And usually, Chaeyoung would sketch people going home as well, but today there were too many people in the compartment, and the two girls had to stand up instead of being able to sit down.

Her mystery girl still plagued her mind, each time Chaeyoung had to ride the subway she was all the art student could think about. Tzuyu had even suggested once that, since Jihyo had friends over at Seoul University, they could ask around for her name. Chaeyoung declined, of course, but mostly out of the embarrassment that will come with her mystery girl finding out that Chaeyoung has had a crush on her for months.

She recalled all the colors she saw the girl with. Red and orange tips. Blonde with a dash of blue. Orange. Red (her favorite). Strawberry blonde. It still made her wonder how her hair looked so soft despite probably the heavy chemicals that came with coloring her hair. Chaeyoung tried to imagine what other colors would suit mystery girl. Maybe green. Or silver. Did her blonde count as yellow?

Chaeyoung sighed, scrunched her nose at the obviously pathetic crush she has on a complete stranger.

Well, okay. Maybe not completely, because when Chaeyoung saw the long cream coat that walked into the compartment, felt the way the air grew warmer when she stood beside her, there was a familiar feeling about it, like she had known her this whole time.

Or maybe it was simply the butterflies that suddenly resided in her stomach that gave her a weird feeling when mystery girl sent her a smile, and it took Chaeyoung’s last functioning braincell for her to lift a hand and wave.

“Hey,” mystery girl smiled. She stood beside Chaeyoung comfortably, freeing one of her ears from the earphones plugged in.

“Hey.”

“This feels weird,” she said, “I usually see you in the mornings.”

“You know me?” Chaeyoung frowned.

“Yeah,” mystery girl replied, “you’re that art student I talked to the other day. The one who draws everyone.”

Chaeyoung didn’t reply, instead opted for the more awkward approach, she stared. Stared at the way the long cream coat wrapped around mystery girl, the way her phone sat comfortable in the front pocket, the way mystery girl barely had make up on, and the way her huge round glasses made her face look so delicate, but the thing that caught Chaeyoung’s eye the most was the color of mystery girl’s hair. And her last functioning braincell couldn’t have stopped her before she blurted out, “It’s black.”

Mystery girl smiled, but there was confusion in her eyes. “Excuse me?”

Chaeyoung blushed, suddenly feeling Tzuyu bump into her slightly, reminding her that she is in fact not alone. “I mean,” Chaeyoung said while she discreetly swatted Tzuyu away, “your hair. It’s black.”

“Oh.” Mystery girl smiled, then played with a strand of hair. “Yeah. You noticed?”

Chaeyoung could feel Tzuyu’s eyes drill at the back of her head, and it wasn’t helping at all to ease the nervousness she felt talking to her mystery girl. “It’s kind of hard not to notice you change colors every two weeks.”

Mystery girl laughed, and Chaeyoung could’ve sworn she’s never heard anything more angelic than that. Mystery girl tucked the stray hair behind her ear and smiled proudly to herself. “My friend goes to this cosmetics school and she took a class on coloring hair. It’s over now, so I get to let my scalp breathe a little.”

“It suits you,” Chaeyoung said, “the black.”

“Thank you.”

Madeul Station. Next stop is Madeul Station.

Mystery girl looked up at the map above the door, then smiled shyly at Chaeyoung as the train slowed down. “I’ll see you around, uh-”

“Chaeyoung.”

Mystery girl nodded. “I’ll see you around, Chaeyoung.”

She walks up to the door, a few other people blocking her way.

“Sure, see you around.”

“Dahyun.”

“Dahyun,” Chaeyoung repeated, then smiled. “Okay. I’ll see you around, Dahyun.”

 

And maybe it was the way Dahyun smiled at her that night, or the way she said Chaeyoung’s name, or the way the butterflies were still fluttering around her stomach, that made Chaeyoung unable to sleep. She didn’t mind though, because now her mystery girl had a name, and she loved the way it tasted on her tongue.

Dahyun.

 

 

But it’s been months since then, months since she last saw her muse. It was unfair, really, how the world worked. Because Chaeyoung finally learned her name, only to never see her again.

Still, Chaeyoung loved the subway, would get up every morning even if she didn’t have to. She’d spend on tickets to rides she didn’t need to take, but it’s become second nature to her, like an addiction she couldn’t quite quit. It’s a routine by now: eat breakfast and change her clothes, grab her sketchpad and pen, her phone and earphones, and walk to the subway.

There’s just a tiny bit of hope, too, that one day she’ll see the long cream-colored coat and coffee cup with the D and poorly drawn bird, and tell her that she feels like home.

Chapter Text

It was common knowledge in the world that when an angel commits a sin their wings are stripped from them and they fall. Fall upon the earth, cursed to wander it forever.

But if one knew better, they would tell you it is only half the story. Because though the angels are stripped of their wings, damned to walk naked and barefoot to display the wrongs they've committed, condemned to be judged by all those who see, these fallen angels are able to keep but one thing: their souls.

Momo's soul is the very thing keeping her alive, the only thing in her cursed existence that is keeping her from going to the Beyond. And Momo hates it with every fiber of her demonic existence because souls are pure and clean. Even when its host is composed of sin and darkness, souls burns. Her soul burns. It eats away at the very core of Momo's being, eats away the little hope that was left inside her to further punish her for her sins.

Momo did the only thing she could do.

Rampage.

Destruction.

She planted fear and doubt in the hearts and minds of innocent mortals, made them share the pain she felt inside of her. Momo whispered words of hatred in the hearts of children, planted jealousy in the minds of those who were pure. Momo encouraged anger and violence and desolation.

This demon was a plague, and mortals feared her.

God must have noticed the way Momo was disrupting His world, noticed the way she harmed those who did no wrong. Momo knew He wanted her to stop, and it was cruel of Him to send her.

Momo was in the middle of a massacre when she appeared. A warzone, in a far-off country that had been her doing, whispering to a powerful man the humiliation of weakness. Momo laughed at the destruction that pooled around her feet when a bright light threatened to blind her. Momo's face scrunched with disgust, and she immediately took a step back.

"What in the world do you think you're doing?" Mina said, hastily gliding towards Momo.

The demon smiled. "Am I not allowed a little fun?"

“Fun? You call this fun?” Mina raised her spear, points it directly at the demon’s heart.

She yawned. “I do not fear you, angel. I was once like you, and I know what you are capable of.”

And had it been anyone else Momo would have enjoyed the way the angel lowered her spear, would have found pleasure in the way Mina’s eyes faltered and glazed over, but it was Mina, and the memories of yesterday flooded Momo’s deteriorating mind, of times when Mina would hold her close and look at her with love.

The demon’s smile faltered, because suddenly Mina was in front of her. Close. Too close. And Momo could clearly see the tears in the angel’s eyes. Mina must have had the same memories wash over her, must have longed for yesterday as well, because Momo could tell that tears weren’t the only thing in Mina’s eyes.

Maybe sadness, at losing a friend and lover.

Or disappointment, for her most trusted confidant to fall short of glory.

But one thing was clear. Longing, for either one of her fellow angels to come back home, or for Momo to be in her arms again.

 

The burning sensation of Momo's soul returned, the silence giving way to the pain that Momo tried so hard to ignore. Her knees suddenly give in, and the demon falls to the ground.

"Momo." Mina falls to her knees as well, careful not to touch the sorry excuse of a demon in front of her.

 

It was common knowledge to the world that when an angel falls, she is stripped of her wings, cursed to walk the earth while enduring the burning of her soul. If one knew better, they would tell you it is only half the story, because a demon can still have redemption.

Redemption only in the form of a fellow angel, to touch the demon's destructive soul, and to send her to the Beyond.

And Momo wanted nothing more than peace.

"Mina." Momo hissed, clutched her hand over her heart.

 

Not every demon gets a chance to go to the Beyond, most of them stay on earth, wreaking havoc and leaving destruction wherever they go. But Momo, Momo wanted the pain to stop, wanted nothing more than to feel the tranquility she once felt when she was in Mina's arms.

"Mina, touch me." Momo lifted her head and looked Mina in the eyes, stared directly into the angel's own pure soul.

 

"Please."

 

Mina's eyes glazed over, and another tear ran down her cheek. Mina nodded.

Momo closed her eyes, waited for Mina's fingers to brush over her chest. But the feeling never came. Instead, Momo feels Mina's lips capture her own in a soft, slow kiss. Each second burning her skin more painfully than the last.

She is thankful, then, when the burning sensation stops, and Momo is once again at peace. But when the demon opens her eyes, Mina is gone.

 

Alone in the Beyond, Momo screams.

Chapter Text

They had been bandmates for years now, and each passing day only makes Sana more and more comfortable in being vocal. If she wants something, it's never going to be kept a secret for long. So when they got home from their vocal testing with Jinyoung-nim for the new comeback, Nayeon visibly noticed the way Sana was pouting, the tips of her ears red with emotion.

"Sana-ya, what's wrong?" Nayeon asked.

Sana crossed her arms over her chest, and Nayeon couldn't help but smile at the sight of the Japanese girl. "I'm not getting enough lines."

Nayeon laughed, then stepped closer to the other girl. "Hey, that's okay. You know that, right?" Nayeon lifts her hand to hold onto Sana's arm, but she jerks back, looking Nayeon straight in the eye.

"No, I'm tired of not getting a lot of lines. You get half the song."

"Do you want me to ask Jinyoung-nim to give some of my lines to you?"

It was a genuine offer, Nayeon would have been more than willing to give the other members her lines if they just ask. They never do though.

But Sana, there was something in the way that Sana walked towards Nayeon that made her step back until she hit the wall, and Nayeon's heart started beating against her ribcage, could feel the blood pump all the way through her fingers.

Sana didn't stop there though. She leaned her face close to Nayeon's, and the older girl could feel herself blush at how close Sana is.

"I'm going to get those lines without your help," Sana said in a low growl.

Nayeon has never wanted to press her lips on Sana's more than right then and there, and she promised herself to always get Sana riled up this way — if only to get this close to kissing her again.