Saturday was supposed to be a good day. It was the start of the weekend, the time when most people got off work and spent their day leisurely. Not that Taeyeon could relate— not when her work came at random bouts of overload and a lack thereof. Thus was the life of a freelance photographer, but a very successful one at that (this was not her ego speaking).
Unfortunately for Kim Taeyeon, the day had barely begun and she’d already burned her tongue twice from the same cup of coffee. You’d think she’d know she was bad with hot beverages from all the times she scalded herself but no, Taeyeon needed her caffeine if she wanted to survive another twenty four hours. Especially that she started today exceptionally early, like six in the morning early.
The singed girl was about to attempt another sip of her steaming drink when her phone buzzed insistently. Taeyeon rolled her eyes. That only meant one thing. She thought as she calmly unlocked her phone and accepted the call.
“Yah Taengoo! My plane landed fifteen minutes ago and I still don’t see any sign of my supposed best friend who promised to pick me up!” Taeyeon distanced her phone from her ear with a frown. The girl on the other line could rival Tiffany’s voice whenever she raised it like this.
“Good morning to you too Sooyeon.” It wasn’t much of a good morning at all and Jessica noticed that much. She combed through her short blonde hair trying to get her body to wake up as much as her brain.
“Awwhh I’m happy enough to know you’re actually awake but you’re still late. ” Jessica’s voice finally returned to its normal level— that strict General voice.
Seriously though, she should stop spending so much time with Tiffany. Her loudness was probably rubbing off. Americans. She shakes her head.
“I’m on my way princess, calm your pretty butt down.” Taeyeon decided to leave the offending coffee and picked up her car keys. It wasn’t a good idea to keep royalty waiting after all.
“Tick tock Taengoo. ” She sing-songs on the other end before hanging up with a soft take care thrown at the end. Taeyeon couldn’t hold in another eye roll.
“Royals, I swear to god.” She muttered but drove as fast and safely as she could anyway.
Jessica Jung was officially back.
It wasn’t much of a surprise that Taeyeon arrived at the airport within record time. Not finding any traffic at the ungodly hour (it was for her) it wasn’t too difficult to navigate. Her only problem now was that she couldn’t spot the princess at all.
Already sending an obligatory ‘I’m here’ text message but to no avail. Did Jessica fall asleep or something? It was honestly very likely knowing her best friend. The blonde was about to attempt another call when she received a soft tap on her shoulder.
That voice was familiar, she thought. One she hasn’t heard in person for years— only through distorted calls and video chats but even those weren’t too recent. A pang of regret abruptly shot through her but she still willed her body to turn around.
A girl much taller than her stood with a tentative smile, somewhat unsure. But Taeyeon was sure enough of who was standing before her. A sudden rush of memories came running back. Piggy-back rides, candy-filled mouths, story time under glow-in-the-dark stars, much simpler times.
Taeyeon’s jaw uncontrollably dropped. “S-Soojung?”
“The one and only,” the taller girl says with a shrug and smiled with a bit more certainty this time.
Finally realizing Taeyeon was gaping, she willed her mouth shut before replying, “you’re back as well.”
It was just a sentence but it somehow weighed more than how it sounded. Taeyeon didn’t understand why.
Krystal nodded then chuckled before suddenly wrapping the shorter girl into an embrace. Despite catching her off-guard, Taeyeon immediately relaxed and hugged her back. There was something natural about it that simply brought her guard down. One problem, it wasn’t hard to notice how her head only barely reached the other girl’s shoulder.
“Yah! How’d you become this tall in just a few years?” Taeyeon huffs after being released from the exchange.
Krystal laughed wholly this time, her usual stone cold face melting into a warm grin and in turn made blood rush into Taeyeon’s cheeks unexpectedly. It was too warm, was the airport’s air conditioning damaged or something?
Taeyeon coughed, trying to chase away her flustered state. “W-where’s the other princess?”
“She already left with her girlfriend,” the younger Jung scowls, “Yuri-unnie picked her up ten minutes ago. Didn’t she tell you?”
Taeyeon tried but failed to keep in a snarl. If she was being honest, she was actually really excited to finally see her best friend in person again despite acting nonchalant earlier. But apparently it wasn’t the same way for the older Jung.
Her best friend was a jerk.
“So let me get this straight,” her fingers pinched the middle of her forehead in annoyance, “my best friend, who I haven’t seen in years, who also begged me to pick her up at six in the morning, ditched me for her girlfriend?”
Krystal visibly winced before shrugging again, “well if you put it that way.” She simply patted the blonde’s head wordlessly. There wasn’t much she could do but that action itself seems to have calmed Taeyeon down significantly. She sighed and she found she was able to compose herself better.
It used to be me who did this to make you feel better when we were younger, Taeyeon remembered.
“You see this is why Tiffany has the official title as best friend.” That seems to lift up both of the girls’ moods as laughter bubbles up.
“If it’s any comfort, she ditched me too. But I guess it wasn’t too bad because I’m left with you.” Krystal sends her a wink which Taeyeon switly waves off.
“You make it sound like you’re cutting your losses kid.”
Krystal’s face warped into a mope after hearing the term. “Just so you know, I’m a twenty-four year old woman who can take care of myself well, thank you very much.” Krystal said it as a joke but it somehow also translated into something else Taeyeon couldn’t pin down.
“Yeah well I’m still older kid.” The younger girl continued to pout even more and Taeyeon pinched her cheeks in return.
Just like old times.
“Come on, I’ll drive you home.” She grabbed the carry-on from Krystal and started to walk to the exit before the latter pulled on her wrist halting her.
“My other stuff is over there,” Krystal points to a spot behind her with an apologetic face and Taeyeon paled in realization at the number of luggage stacked over each other.
Taeyeon sighed one last time before dragging her feet. She grabbed as much bags as she could carry with very little help from a certain Jung. She grunts and decided it was finally time to take Seohyun’s advice and actually exercise. Krystal cuts her thoughts with her laughter and Taeyeon tries her best not to get distracted by the symphonic sound.
She clicked her tongue and decided to cut her losses too.
“So I’ve officially revoked your best friend card,” Taeyeon drinks from her iced coffee this time around, an Americano with three pumps of syrup, just how she liked it. “I only know a Stephanie Hwang Miyoung as my one and only best friend from now on.”
“Awwhh is Taengoo still mad about what happened at the airport?” The ex-best friend had the guts to even tease her about it.
“I woke up at six Sica— six in the freaking morning.”
Everyone knew how Taeyeon wasn’t a morning person. Jessica may be the queen of sleep but Taeyeon rivaled that whenever it involved daybreak.
Lucky for her, the whole airport trip wasn’t a complete loss— nor was it a loss at all when she thought about it now. As much as she missed her (ex) best friend, she never realized till then how long it’s been since she last saw the younger sister too.
Once upon a time, when the Jungs lived in the same neighborhood and country as her, she made her first childhood friend. Contrary to popular belief, she befriended Krystal before the ice princess even with their five year age gap.
Where Jessica was cold and unapproachable, Krystal was wholeheartedly open and kind. The younger sister would share her gummy candy complete with a bright grin even if some teeth were significantly missing. Meanwhile the older Jung would berate her sister and Taeyeon for eating too much sweets.
You’re such a bad influence to Soojungie, Taeyeon-ssi— was what Jessica would usually say.
Unfortunately for Jessica, her parents loved Taeyeon what with her goofy but responsible (most of the time) personality. So much that they usually asked her to babysit the sisters— yeah, both sisters. Even when Jessica was as old as Taeyeon, her parents were simply worried that she’d burn their house down if she tried as much as be in a ten meter radius around the kitchen. It made her laugh then and it still made her laugh now.
“You look like a creep laughing like that on your own Taengoo,” Jessica snapped her back from her reverie, taking a bite from her chocolate cake.
So much for eating too much sweets.
“I was just reminiscing about old times,” Taeyeon smiles and it transforms into a smirk. “Which makes me think about how you turned into my best friend and not Soojung.”
Jessica knew what she was talking about if the amused smile on the brunette’s face made it evident. They seem to be on the same track of thought. She and Taeyeon were practically enemies when they were younger. They were similar in a lot of ways yet it was what made them clash as well.
“Well we do have Soojungie herself to thank for that.”
It was true, if it wasn’t for Krystal, the two would probably be bickering for hours, neither of them wanting to back down. But for ten year old Krystal, all she wanted was for her sister and new friend to get along. That meant Taeyeon was subjected to movie nights with both sisters present. Though the younger sister would always have to sit in the middle to try and mediate the tension.
She’d do her best to entertain the incompatible girls throughout everything. Sometimes it looked like Krystal was the actual eldest. She was always more mature for her age, Taeyeon recalled.
“Remember when I thought Soojung was the older sister and you hated me since then?” Taeyeon chuckled, trying not to splutter out coffee at the action.
“I admit I was stuck-up as a kid—“
“Shut up.” Jessica shoves a bagel to the blonde’s mouth in attempt to stop the mocking laughter which the latter happily accepted. She wasn’t a shikshin like Sooyoung but hey, food was food.
Jessica continued elaborating on how Taeyeon wasn’t one to talk when she had a perpetual baby-face. To which Taeyeon simply laughed at.
“Welcome back Sica.” A positively bright smile from Taeyeon, her chin dimple visible, made both women beam.
She really was back.
Taeyeon frequently met up with Jessica ever since the latter came back. But in the two weeks since the Jung sisters returned to her life, she’s only actually seen Krystal twice. Once at the airport and the other when she was invited for dinner at the sisters’ shared apartment.
She tried not to let that make her feel down. Jessica explained how busy Krystal’s become since landing back in Seoul. The youngest sister was officially making it big as a new and fresh model. She got booked by the daily and Taeyeon understood how important this stage of her career was.
Being a professional photographer, she’s been subject to witnessing both rising and falling model careers. It was always a make it or break it phase for a model’s life but having a solid foundation always did help create a steady career.
Though Taeyeon was pretty sure if there would be any rookie model to make it, it would be Krystal. Even if she wasn’t able to keep in touch with the younger girl throughout the years, Jessica’s stories proved her theories right. Jung Soojung was a hardworking girl and she still is.
If anyone noticed, Krystal’s practically the opposite of Taeyeon. A professional photographer who was currently ten minutes late for her scheduled shoot— a magazine shoot for a new fashion line if she remembered correctly. Also, if she was precise about her timetable, said fashion line was owned by her best friend.
As in Blanc and Eclare— in other words, Jessica Jung’s legacy.
And if you were to continue the equation, Kim Taeyeon’s head would be chopped off if she didn’t arrive at the location in five (5) minutes. Lucky for her, she got there in two.
Of course the loud, shrill voice was to be expected. All the shorter girl could do was raise her hands in surrender, her camera equipment hanging off her shoulders and head bowed in shame. Not at all attempting to look up at the angry fashion business mogul.
Mad Jessica was not a good Jessica. Not at all.
Taeyeon mentally prepared herself for the public lashing she was about to receive. She expected it to be harsh but hopefully quick. It was a good day to die.
But before Jessica could take another step forward, another voice unexpectedly appeared that finally made Taeyeon look up. “Ahh unnie you’re here!”
As expected, Jessica stood arms crossed, eyes looking like daggers targeting a small blonde. Taeyeon tried not wince a second time. But what caught Taeyeon’s attention more was Krystal standing next to the scary goddess looking all dressed up complete with make-up that complimented her face so well.
“Krys?” The surprise in her voice was evident and for a second she almost forgot about a certain goddesses’ rage.
“Kim Taeyeon.” Jessica says more sternly, disappointment also tucked in there. It made Taeyeon all the more ashamed. She hated disappointing the people she loved, she was supposed to be the opposite of all that. But maybe, she wasn’t all that she thought she was.
Maybe that was why Jessica didn’t choose her.
“Jess we’re wasting more time standing around like this.” To her rescue, Krystal tentatively reached out to Jessica’s stiff elbows.
The older sister seemed to relent and realized the same thing. Jessica closed her eyes for a second and with one deep breath she commanded everyone to get back to work.
“You,” she pointed to a still cowering Taeyeon, “we’ll talk later. Go set up your equipment.”
Not wanting to further upset her best friend, Taeyeon scurried off to the set and did just as she was told.
The thing that kept Taeyeon going on in her career— no matter how unprofessional she may seem at times— was that she was good at what she did. Taeyeon wouldn’t be at this stage if she wasn’t. Photography was the one thing she thrived at and it showed through her constant results.
She was right with her early assumptions too, Krystal was the model for the line. Taeyeon shouldn’t have been as surprised as she was. The Jung sisters modeled for Blanc and Eclare multiple times already after all.
This was the closest Taeyeon was to working with any of the sisters though. Jessica thought it was perfect to hire Taeyeon for their first shoot in Seoul, knowing the latter’s name was pretty big already. It would have made the transition of the fashion brand to the Korean market easier as well. Of course Taeyeon was ready to jump at any chance to help her best friend, hence her current situation.
Although she could feel Jessica’s anger still slightly simmering underneath her skin, Taeyeon mustered up all her courage and proved her work ethic was better than the initial impression. It seemed to be working as Jessica looked more than pleased with all the shots so far.
Taeyeon would sometimes look back to Jessica standing just a little bit behind her, asking for any opinion the fashion designer might want to bring up.
“It’s looking good, don’t worry,” Jessica said without looking away from the computer screen displaying Taeyeon’s work, her eyes fixed and focused. “Just keep doing what you’re doing. You too Krys.”
Taeyeon could cry— she knew she was forgiven. A glance to Krystal further affirmed it when the model gave her a triumphant smile which Taeyeon didn’t fail to return.
As much as Taeyeon was a good photographer, she wouldn’t be half as good today if her model wasn’t on par. Most days, Taeyeon would need to instruct her model multiple times just to get the shot she had in mind. But working with Krystal didn’t need much or any of that at all.
Krystal was a professional, even better than seasoned models Taeyeon has had the pleasure to work with. She couldn’t help but think if she was acting biased but the longer they got at it, the less she thought of it that way.
“If I didn’t know you— I’d have thought you were a model with ten years of experience under her belt.”
Taeyeon broke off a piece of her sandwich and fed the younger girl who was still busy getting her hair done for the next outfit. Krystal adorned with a shade of pink on her cheeks but Taeyeon decided to wave it off. It was probably the make-up.
“Thanks unnie,” Krystal smirks afterwards, “we work pretty well together.” So she noticed it too.
It was Taeyeon’s turn to blush but she quickly squashed it down. Unlike Krystal, she only had light make-up on. She could probably blame the lighting if anyone ever questioned her about it. But all that evaporated once she saw the knowing smile on Krystal’s face.
If Taeyeon was being honest, she was slightly taken aback by Krystal’s sheer beauty. Man she’s grown up so well. Not that Taeyeon expected any less, goddess-like beauty ran in the Jung genes if the older sister was any proof of that.
But this time, all Taeyeon could look at was Krystal— only her. It was pretty off-putting in the beginning but Taeyeon was a professional, or so she tried to be. Thankfully for the small photographer, her curious glances would be covered by her camera. She wasn’t ready for a confrontation if anyone ever noticed.
“Yeah, well it’s probably a good thing my model looks pretty decent.” That was an understatement.
Krystal scoffed, “I’ve seen myself in the mirror unnie. I know I weigh much higher than decent.”
The offense unmistakable in her tone made Taeyeon chuckle. One of her favorite past-time was poking fun at the Jung sisters after all.
Break time was almost over and Taeyeon stood up, brushing off invisible dust from her pants.
“You’re right.” She thought of ruffling the younger girl’s hair like she used to do when they were younger but she didn’t want to add the stylists on the list of ‘People Who Hate Kim Taeyeon’. Jessica was one person enough on that list.
So she tucked a strand of hair behind Krystal’s ear instead and gently pats her head, careful not to ruin the intricate hair style. “You’re the most beautiful woman in the room,” Taeyeon admitted truthfully, no teasing could be noted this time around.
But before Krystal could react, the shorter girl walked away back to her spot in front of the set. Little did anyone know, Taeyeon was scared as hell at the emotion she allowed to show. Even if it was just a little, everything was still currently confusing her.
Taeyeon didn’t dare to look at Krystal’s reaction after that declaration.
“Don’t worry my small friend. Jessica’s forgiven you already you know.” Yuri slung her arm over Taeyeon’s shoulders comfortably not breaking the walk as she lead the way to the Jung residence.
“I know,” Taeyeon turned her phone screen to Yuri’s direction, “she’s sending me hilarious photos of you and Krys again.”
Yuri’s eyes widen before taking ahold of the phone and staring in disbelief at the number of sleeping photos sent by her supposedly sweet girlfriend.
“WHEN DID SHE EVEN TAKE THESE??” Taeyeon had to hold back her laughter and Yuri looked back at the blonde with betrayal. “You and Sica never changed,” she shook her head, “thriving in the demise of other people.”
Taeyeon smirked. “Why do you think we’re even best friends?”
“That’s true, you two always did share a similar sense of cynicism.” Yuri paused her stride before continuing, “why the hell am I friends with you and dating the other one?”
Taeyeon could only laugh heartily at her friend’s new found realization. She doesn’t notice Yuri giving a relieved smile at finally improving the shorter girl’s mood. Yuri always did have a soft spot for the other girl that developed ever since she pulled her out of a slump after her first major fight with Jessica.
“Yah, get up. You look even more like a loser moping around like that.”
Yuri decided to ignore her. Didn’t this girl understand that she was just rubbing salt on her still open wound? But apparently the short girl didn’t care about any of that as she plopped down next to her instead.
“What are you doing?” Her curiosity took over as she gazed at Taeyeon.
“Trying to think of a reason for why you’re here sulking instead of trying to fix things with Jessica.”
Yuri scoffed. “That’s not your problem, Taeyeon.”
She wasn’t usually this rude. Hell, she hated conflict with her whole being but she just wasn’t in any mood to converse with anyone right now.
“Oh but it is Yuri-ah,” Taeyeon stared back, her eyes full of resolve, “Jessica’s my bestfriend and when you decided to date her, that meant having to deal with me whenever she was going through hell because of you.”
Yuri couldn’t argue back. Taeyeon had every right to call her out. She sighed.
“If Jessica was facing hell, then why are you here confronting me instead of comforting her?”
“Because,” Yuri caught a flash of something close to concealed pain in her eyes, “Sica chose you and I promised to do my damn best to support her happiness.”
“I still don’t get it.”
“You’re really an idiot,” Taeyeon shook her head in disbelief, “Jessica’s happiness is you, Kwon Yuri.”
Yuri didn’t want to admit it at first, but her relationship with Jessica probably wouldn’t have lasted this long without Taeyeon’s help. She’d support them both, branching out to anyone who needed it from her.
She couldn’t understand why at first until she noticed the way Taeyeon looked at her girlfriend. It was the same look anyone would see on Yuri’s face. She finally realized the feelings the girl had to lock up and sacrifice just to see Jessica smile.
Then what about your own happiness Kim Taeyeon?
“So if it isn’t Jessica, why did you look extra broody earlier?” Taeyeon sputtered out a cough at Yuri’s observation.
“I do not brood.”
“Oh, you so do small human, brooding should be your middle name.”
“Stop calling me small.”
Yuri wanted to question the other girl’s behavior more but they arrived in front of the Jung residence’s front door quicker than she wanted. Jessica welcomed them immediately, giving Yuri a quick peck on the lips and a hug for Taeyeon.
Taeyeon looked to the direction where the voice came from and her face instantly lit up. This doesn’t go unnoticed by Yuri as she observed Taeyeon even more.
“Soojung,” Taeyeon met Krystal halfway into the living room before melding into her embrace, “it’s nice to see you again.”
Krystal chuckled. “Missed me?”
Taeyeon shoved her shoulder playfully, “like you had to ask you brat. Of course I missed you.” Krystal’s cheeks flushed at her admission.
“Stop acting like you didn’t see me a few days ago.”
“Exactly, that was days ago Soojung-ah,” Taeyeon rebuts.
“We haven’t seen each other in seven years unnie, you can survive three days without me.”
Taeyeon pouts. “All the more reason why three days is a long time. We still have a lot of catching up to do.”
“Ugh, don’t give me that look unnie.”
Krystal tried to block Taeyeon but that only pushed the shorter blonde to keep doing her best impression of Yoona’s Bambi eyes. It was amazing how alike it was.
Their small argument would have pressed on further until the eldest Jung stepped in and announced dinner. The two bickering girls instantaneously dropped their argument and dashed off to the kitchen racing like kids. Jessica could only shake her head and chuckle a bit.
Yuri smiled, content from watching even in the sides. If her hunch was right, Taeyeon was finally on her way to discovering the happiness she deserved all this time. Whatever happened, Yuri promised to stick by the girl who had given her so much.
We all want you to be happy too Taeyeon.