Chaewon knew that this day would come.
For years she tried to run away from it, she tried to shut herself off from the past but it’s true what they say, the past always comes back to bite you. Even now sitting in front of the tv, with a woman she loves holding her, Chaewon knew that something shifted, that everything she tried to run from was coming back to get her, that she needed to face the music.
It was a regular day in Chaewon’s life. She woke up to the morning sun hitting her face, brushing away her blonde hair that was a mess in front of her face, kissed her girlfriend’s sleeping forehead and got up. After getting up from her bed she stretched, rummaging around her and Jinsoul’s closet trying to find something to wear, grabbing the clothes and walking to the washroom to brush her teeth and fix her hair. Once that was done she put on her coat and walked out the door.
She ran a coffee shop in the middle of town, it wasn't big but it was a nice shop, and it was something that Chaewon loved, something that she was thankful she could do everyday. She loved the smell of coffee in the morning and seeing people, both the regulars and new people enjoying her work.
She was smiling, taking the customers orders, while one of her employees, a ray of sunshine named Yerim was making the coffee. They both took turns taking orders and making coffee and today was the blonde’s turn to take orders.
It was after she was talking to a regular customer and she waved her off that her day went from normal to anything but.
“You’re still blonde.”
Chaewon looked up, looking at the girl in front of her, the years that they spent together flashing before her eyes, the laughter, the tears, the look Hyejoo got when she looked at her, the same one written on her face now. every memory with Son Hyejoo hit her like a truck, tinged with the bittersweet feelings of the day she had left.
Chaewon froze in her spot, she wanted to say something, do anything, something to make sure she wasn’t just seeing things. That Hyejoo, her Hyejoo was standing in front of her.
The other girl gave her a small smile, looking at her patiently but Chaewon knew that she was checking her for any reaction to her presence.
Chaewon wished she didn’t look at her like that, wished that she didn’t have to do this, pretend that the girl in front of her was never someone she would give the world for, pretend that they were nothing more than old friends, but she knew that’s all they were now.
“Olivia Hye?” Said Chaewon, in a calm voice, trying not to let her emotions seep into it, “What are you doing here.”
“Do you… Do you remember what we promised all those years ago?” asked Hyejoo.
Chaewon paused, there were so many things, so many promises they made throughout the years but Chaewon couldn't think of what promise would lead the other girl to her.
Suddenly it hit her.
Chaewon felt as if she was punched in the gut, her world started spinning and she suddenly felt like crying. "That?" Chaewon asked in a soft voice.
Hyejoo gave her a sad smile, "it's time Gowon." She said gently. Chaewon flinched at the name, it was the name that she left behind all those years ago.
She remembered the train station where they went their separate ways, the look in Hyejoo's eyes. Gone was the fierce girl who would do anything, but a sad one who was about to lose someone they loved.
Chaewon shook her head, trying to steady herself.
"When." Chaewon said, not trusting herself to use full sentences.
"Tonight. I'll wait for you." Replied the raven-haired girl, passing her a piece of paper.
The girl looked down, opening the paper, seeing an address written on it.
She looked up, but the girl was already gone.
“Who was that?” Yerim asked, making Chaewon flinch.
“Just an old friend.”
“Baby, you ok?”
Chaewon flinched, she was at home now staring at the address pulled up on her phone, the tv murmuring in the background.
She looks over to her girlfriend not realizing that Jinsoul had gotten this close to her, and she saw the look in her eyes, and it reminded her of the look Hyejoo always gave to her.
She stretched her arms, silently asking the other blonde for a hug, pleading with her eyes. Jinsoul’ s eyes went soft and she immediately enveloped the small girl in her arms.
“I had a bad day.” Chaewon said with a soft whine, immediately feeling a bit better now that she was around Jinsoul. She dug her face into her girlfriend’s chest chasing the warmth and comfort that She provided her with.
Jinsoul hummed, bringing her arms to Chaewon’s head as she slowly started to stroke the girl’s hair.
“It’ll be ok,” whispered Jinsoul. Chaewon hummed in response, that was one of the nicest parts about Jinsoul, she didn’t pry, she was patient and waited for her to talk about what she was feeling instead of trying to pry it from her.
Chaewon remembered how they first met, it was a year or so after she ran from her old life, she had just settled down into this small town, not too far that she didn’t hear news, but not close enough that people would bother looking for her. It was like fate that the one day that she chose to get food from the convenience store, she bumped into Jinsoul, feeding a cat canned fish from the store, and the sight was so gentle that when Jinsoul looked up and smiled at her, as if telling her that it was ok, she knew she would fall for her.
And so she did, and she keeps falling everyday, but a part of her was always scared that her past would catch up with her, that something like today would happen and everything would come crashing down.
In a way this was it, this was the day that everything would change, that everything from her past would finally disappear, after today she would be free.
“Yea, your right, everything will be ok.”
It was dark out now, she had told Jinsoul that she had to meet an old friend out of town for an emergency. Jinsoul was surprised, not that Chaewon blamed her; it was after all one of the few times she willingly brought up her past. Nonetheless she was supportive and told Chae to take all the time she needed, as long as she was kept updated about her whereabouts. Jinsoul was understanding but she always found ways to be just a little possessive of her which she enjoyed if she was honest with herself.
Now as she’s driving down the highway, the lights of other cars illuminating the street ahead, she could hear the wind and as she travelled down the road heading towards the outskirts of the city. She didn’t know what to think, if Hye meant what she said but Chaewon knew that she would regret it if she didn’t go, no matter how many years it’s been she knew that she only walked free because the younger girl fought for her, and for that she knew she owed her.
Well, that and their promise. And maybe something more that she didn’t want to admit to herself.
The mansion looming in the middle of a rainy forest strikes an imposing image, but one that she must admit fits Olivia Hye to a tee. As she pulled up to the gate, she was barely surprised that it opened by itself, the soft creaking being the only sound able to pierce the sound of the falling rain.
She left her car, closing the door with a soft thud behind her, walking up to the door, she paused. After this there was no turning back, if she walked through this door everything would end, nothing would ever be the same.
Casting aside her hesitation she knocked on the door. It was a long time ago but she still remembered the pattern that they had, a knock that was used to know that it was the other, that it was safe. There were so many little things that Hyejoo brought back, that she had almost forgotten, it was as if she was remembering another life and in some ways it was.
The sound of the door opening broke her from her thoughts.
Through the crack she saw Hyejoo, who pushed the door open gently looking so happy to see her that for a second Chaewon forgot why she was here.
“Hye.” Said Chaewon, her lip trembling as she reached out to touch the other woman’s face.
The black-haired girl grabbed her wrist gently, bringing it to her face as she breathed out a sigh. To Chaewon her face was warm, it was familiar and soft, and she couldn’t help the tears that formed in her eyes, as she felt her eyes start to water.
“I-I missed you.” Chaewon choked out, and though she hated to admit it she did, as happy as Chaewon was now, the younger girl never left her mind, always lingering on the edge, everything in her world was tinged with Hyejoo, her laugh, her eyes, her presence, everything reminded Chaewon of her even if she didn’t realize it at the time.
“I missed you too…” said Hyejoo, her eyes searching the older’s as if looking for something, but as Chaewon stared back hoping to find out what she was looking for, the black-haired girl closed her eyes, a look of resignation and something else was on her face, in her eyes before she closed them she thought she saw a look of wistfulness.
Before she could think about it any longer a small smile graced the other girl’s face, as she took her hand and led them to a different room of the house.
The house was large and filled with various paintings and it had a large chandelier hanging from the top of the foyer. As she was making her way down the hallway, she smelt the distinct smell of gasoline.
As soon as Hye led them through a door, she turned on an old francophone and lowered the needle, filling the house with a warm, soft song, one that she remembers as their song, something that they would dance to on good days, bad days whenever they were happy or whenever they needed to get away.
Hearing the song again made the blonde even more nostalgic, it made her think of what the younger girl had gone through, of what she was here for today, and all of the what if’s in their life.
What if they ran together? What if she stayed? What if she told Hyejoo the truth, that she was utterly and hopelessly in love with her? So many things ran through her mind but she knew that she would never have a chance to to know, she made her choice and that is what led them to today.
The wistful look was on Hyejoo’s face again as she turned to her and held her hand out.
“Dance with me?”
It was a simple request but one that held so much meaning, this was how they met at some stupid gala where they were sent on the same mission, sent to kill the same person but in between all that they had found each other.
Daintily Hyejoo took her hands, she might have asked, but she already knew that Chaewon could never say no to her.
She led her in a familiar dance, like always it was the black-haired girl taking the lead, and all she had to do was follow her.
As they danced Chaewon found herself drawn to her, like time never passed she knows that a part of her always belonged to her, but she’s scared, because today was the last day, their last day.
She stepped closer, wrapping her arms around the girl’s waist, and pulling herself against Hyejoo’s chest. They’re still slowly swaying to the music as she listens to the girl’s heartbeat.
She’s scared knowing what has to happen next but as always Hyejoo was there for her, holding her close and comforting her in her own way.
“Even for just a little while i wanted to remember, no, believe that you still love me.” The brunette whispered into Chaewon’s ear.
Chaewon nodded, knowing that the taller girl can still hear her muffled voice. “I love you, Hye. Even after all these years I've always loved you.”
Chaewon felt the other girl tighten her hold around her, she felt her tremble against her and as she looked up, she saw a tearful Hyejoo but a bright smile on her face.
“Chae, that’s the best goodbye present you could’ve ever given me.”
“Hye… do we have to?”
“I’m afraid it’s the only thing left… at least if I have to die, I can die at the hands of someone I love and not some gang member or by rotting in prison.” Even in the face of her own impending death Hyejoo still was as sarcastic as ever.
Hyejoo turned, dropping her arms from the other girl and grabbing her hand. She was trying to lead them further into the house, but Chaewon stopped her.
She pleaded with her eyes, grasping her hand with both of hers.
“Hye, run away with me, please we can go anywhere just me and you, it doesn’t have to be this way.” She was pleading, her voice desperate, Hyejoo didn’t deserve to die, she couldn’t imagine a world without her, even if they haven’t talked or seen each other in years it didn’t matter, at least Chaewon knew that the other girl was ok, but now this. She couldn't imagine how it would be, to live in a world without Olivia Hye. She didn’t want to live in a world without her.
Hyejoo froze, her eyes widening. A flicker of hesitation gave Chaewon hope, but as soon as it came, it left leaving only steely determination.
“What about Jinsoul?”
Chaewon flinched, out of all the arguments that Hyejoo could have given her this was the only one she wasn’t prepared for.
“H-how do you know about Jinsoul?”
“Why do you think no one came after you when you ran, or why I have a house so close to where you live?”
“You were watching over me?”
“The entire time, whenever i wasn’t working i made sure that you were safe… and happy.”
Chaewon felt like crying again, she had tried so hard to forget everyone from her past, to not think of this girl, who did so much to take care of her to protect her she felt so guilty and ashamed.
She looked down, her fists balled, tears of frustration falling from her eyes, all she felt was shame.
Suddenly two hands grabbed her cheeks, raising her head and a pair of lips were suddenly on hers.
Hyejoo’s kiss was everything she imagined it to be, but nothing like it at the same time. Her lips were soft and warm, and she could feel what Hye was trying to say through it. That it was ok, that she shouldn’t be ashamed, that everything would be ok.
Chaewon kissed her back, the kiss was slow, but it was just what they both needed.
As they parted, Hyejoo looked at her sheepishly, “I lied.”
Chaewon was puzzled. “About what?”
“This was the best goodbye present you could’ve given me.”
Hyejoo was gone.
As Chaewon stared at the fire in her rearview mirror, at the remnants of the house that belonged to someone so special to her, all she could think about was Hyejoo’s face, the resigned smile as she pulled the trigger, one bullet straight in her head, quick and easy.
She could still hear the bang. Picture her smile as her head knocked backwards, her gaze that told her, that this was the only way, that things would work out for them both.
And in the empty, silent house Chaewon lit a match.
It was over, everything would be fine, she was ok.
Hyejoo was dead, Hyejoo wasn’t fine, this was the only way.
Chaewon stopped the car and cried.
“Promise me that if one day I can’t run anymore that if i have no choices left, you’ll be the one to kill me.”
Why did she make that promise?
It was a regular day. Chaewon got up, kissed her girlfriend’s forehead, and walked downstairs for breakfast. She had a day off today and so she thought she would make Jinsoul a nice breakfast.
As she was cooking, she felt two hands wrapping around her small frame.
She leaned back into her.
It had taken a while, and it may have taken her dying her hair a mint blue, but she was starting to feel better, starting to feel like herself again.
She felt the older girl chuckle against her, and she thought that maybe Hyejoo was right, she would be ok.
She could still remember the last thing they talked about.
“Does Jinsoul make you happy?”
She thought about it for a second picturing her girlfriend’s smiling face.
Hyejoo smiled at her, one of contentment as if to say that was all that mattered to her.
“You should marry her then.”
And as she stood there making Jinsoul breakfast, wrapped in her arms and the feeling of love, she thought that maybe Hyejoo was right about a lot of things.
‘Thank you for everything Hyejoo.’
“Hey babe? What would you say if…?”