Title: Skandl! (Chapter 13)
Pairing(s): TaengSic, side!YulTi
Rating/Genre: PG-13; AU Idol Romance
Warning(s): Watch your step.
Disclaimer: I don't own Soshi. I don't own anyone, in fact. All Fiction.
Author's Notes: I’m baaaaack!! Thanks for being awesome, y’all. :’)
Jessica’s involvement in the breakfast cycle lost its edge after her first attempt--simply arranging a spread of bagels and fruit. These girls, she discovered, ate literally anything remotely edible. She should have picked up on this sooner from Tiffany’s oatmeal torture and Sooyoung’s precollection for cold pizza every turn. To Jessica’s delight, Seo Juhyun and Hyoyeon were the real magicians of the kitchen, tirelessly battling for Lucky Six’s Top Chef title.
Seohyun rinsed a handful of blueberries, piling them aside to dry. “Practice went perfectly yesterday. A healthy morning meal should give everyone the boost for a repeat this afternoon.”
Jessica sneaked a berry to her mouth, grinning. Elite’s original plan wasn’t to come out with a new single so early, yet due to internal fuckery, the Six were briefed, styled, and given the green light to rehearse “Charged on Kisses”. And this track in particular contained more lines and adlib opportunities for Jessica. Thrilling, though she’d only revealed these feelings to her girlfriend. Lucky Six re-stoked her zeal for taking the stage. New songs she could claim as her own and perform as a unit with amazing women made idol heartaches worth the strain.
Taeyeon had been busy, too. Skandl yoyoed many trips to China in the past weeks, promoting a Mandarin translation of “Knives”. She hinted at a drama version of its music video and it tickled Jessica’s Rumor side pink.
Physically pink in the cheeks, she unlocked her phone to skim unread texts on Chatty Bang Bang. The cute messaging app embodied their safe space since the blind item reveal a month ago. Restless from lockdown, Taeyeon put 300% more effort into their chats and weekly Skype dates. At least something good came out of that gay witch hunt.
M00dy bear: morning, swt♥. woke up to this. made me think of you ;)
As the picture attachment loaded, Jessica slouched onto the counter, dopily fixated. It took a lot out of the girl to use non-assholic endearments. Hence the abbreviation.
Jessica hicked, incredulous. “Am I that obvious?”
Seohyun topped the last parfait with a perfect circle of juicy red slices. “I would say so. You only smile if someone makes you smile and well,” She shrugged, blushing herself. “Your partner makes you smile often.”
“I guess you’re right.”
“We don’t have…” Seohyun took pause while she washed her hands. “...the best history with Taeyeon. So, it’s awkward for me. Seeing you hit it off changes my perspective. She’s a stable soul, correct?”
Jessica hadn’t gotten around to inquiring on their mysterious past. Out of fear or merely a lack of needing to know. It didn’t affect their current situation, anyway. “You’d be surprised. My bear’s sensitive and tender and--oh my god!”
The zoomed-in shot of a massive spider knocked the flattery train off its rails. Very hairy and very, very dead. Next to its upturned, curled carcass lay a few crooked, severed legs. Seohyun rushed to her side and groaned in disgust. “There goes my appetite.”
“Ugh,” Jessica exited the full-screen view, suddenly more green than giddy. “Tae sent it to me. Said it made her think of me.”
Seohyun snickered. “How sensitive and tender.”
“I rescind everything. She’s nasty and demented.”
C♡ma: whyyyy?? ;(((
C♡ma: FUCK YOU
C♡ma: SO mean to me…:(
M00dy bear: lol.
“That reminds me,” Seohyun said as she helped Jessica set the table. “It’s about your PicPockette.”
“What about it?”
“I think I should stop sweeping through your hate comments.”
Jessica gathered six sterling spoons, frowning to herself. “Why?”
“Honestly,” Seohyun took the silverware from her hands to make face. “Non-Korean comments are difficult to decipher, filtering only brings in petty trolls, and most of all, it’s not helping you. Sica, that ridiculous button trend died down and your fan base is making great strides. Read your most recent posts and you’ll realize the good outweighs the bad.”
Seohyun was right. Anti-duty did less to protect; it served a false sense of security. “Are you sure?”
“Yes. You’re a Lucky Six member and our leader. Here to stay.”
“Do I have to be the leader?” ‘Captain of Lucky Ship’ blood didn’t flow through her brains, as far as Jessica was concerned. Taking the helm suited Tiffany, her girlfriend, and even Jinnie, she bitterly conceded. “Can’t we operate as egalitarians?”
“No-one’s crowning you chief monarch, Sica.”
Jessica couldn't burden Seohyun further, but she also felt unsuitable. Used to functioning on the backburner at Elite for so many years, this type of drive didn’t come easily. Of course there were times she wanted to pump the girls up with a succinct pep talk or command the overbearing members to shut the hell up during meetings. She didn’t want to overstep any boundaries. “Why don’t you take the reigns?”
Seohyun sucked her teeth. “Puh-lease. Nobody listens to me.”
“I don’t!” Sooyoung affirmed, mounting her regular end seat. “Extra seeds in mine, right? I love that shit.”
“Mmhm. And vegan almond yogurt for Yoongie, double blueberries for Hyo, and whipped cream on top for Fany.” Sometimes Jessica wondered if their dorm was only a restaurant in disguise.
“What about me?” Tiffany asked, slumping into her chair.
The room muted for a second, then went back to normal with the clink of Sooyoung digging in. “Your personalized parfait, m’dear.”
She granted an empty nod, bouncing her sloppy bun of dark hair. “Oh.”
The blind item’s eerie accuracy and Skandl’s curfew limitations devastated Tiffany. Similarly to Jessica and Taeyeon’s arrangement, she’d been communicating with Yuri solely through technology. A month had gone by and her homebound sulking had let up enough for her to show up at the dining table again.
“Juice?” she murmured softly, giving Tiffany’s shoulder a squeeze.
Jessica’s practiced smile dropped once she turned to the refrigerator. Memories of a painfully uncomfortable sit-down with JiWook, a few execs, and the group echoed in her mind, turning her stomach.
They’d never outright questioned the manager’s views on homosexuality, yet the glaring offense tinging his every word concerning “vile, distasteful” rumors confirmed their suspicions--he wouldn’t be marching in a gay rights rally any time soon. As a precaution, he warned Lucky Six to curate their associates and cut back on outings in general. Then, near the end of his lecture, he singled out Tiffany, Jessica, and Seohyun--they were the ones to stick close to home upon Elite orders. Despite the foreboding atmosphere, they shared a hysterical laugh at Seohyun’s inclusion the moment JiWook and the suits left.
Unanimously decided, the six took a break from the public eye other than work-related schedules. Even sociable Hyoyeon downsized to exclusive two-woman parties with Sooyoung, as evidenced by loud music and empty vodka bottles in the morning trash.
Hyoyeon spooned a fat scoop of yogurt, eyeing the youngest. “Is the cure for a hangover in this?”
“Hyo!” Seohyun reacted just as the blonde probably planned.
“I’m joking, girl! Unclench.”
Jessica patted Seohyun’s arm after setting a pitcher of orange juice on the table. The woman caught a lot of (love-filled) ribbing from the louder members. Nevertheless, Seohyun kept them in line when Tiffany was out of commission. Jessica thought to take pointers.
“Besides,” Hyoyeon tried her best Gossip Girl impression. “There are bigger issues at play--scandalous shit.”
Splendid. As if they hadn’t reaped their fill of hearsay.
Sooyoung was 100% receptive, audibly sucking poppy seeds from her teeth. “Out with it.”
Jessica pointed a spoon at the empty seat. “Where’s Yoong?”
“Yoona didn’t sleep well,” Seohyun supplied. “When she got home last night, she seemed distracted.”
“Oh, that’s right. She had an evening schedule.”
Hyoyeon shrugged, chomping at the bits to dispel her story. “Yeah, yeah. Someone will brief her later. Anyways,” She wiggled her fingers in ghost story fashion. “This bitch right here has the sauce on our company’s internal fuckery.”
Four spoons halted mid-air, their owners instantly absorbed.
“Notice anything suspicious about the practice building--how it’s no longer shaking from fifteen boys bouncing off the walls?”
“I knew it!” Sooyoung exclaimed, seizing her utensil like a pitchfork. “Which one of them’s suspended?”
“Minseok finally got a girl pregnant.”
Hyoyeon snorted. “Uh, no. Not yet.”
“Did someone quit?”
Jessica spoke softly, though it turned Hyoyeon’s head. “Drugs?”
The girl’s face lit up. “I would go ding ding ding, except you’re only partially right. A half ding, if you will.”
“Yikes,” Seohyun breathed, “Rehab?”
Tiffany pushed her half-eaten parfait aside, clearly frustrated. “Just say so already.”
“So much for the element of suspense,” Hyoyeon mumbled. She got down to business regardless. “They got jumped.”
A few gasps touched the quiet. Sooyoung asked, “What, all of them?”
“A third of them beaten up?! How bad?”
“Weeks ago, they were at their stupid boy lair, doing whatever they do and some dudes appeared out of nowhere and shit got rough. At the hospital, all five’s blood tested positive for drugs and alcohol, which explains the dead silence on their front.”
Seohyun mouth sagged open. “So, who was it?”
“Luhan and Seok-Jin were fortunate to fair a couple black eyes. Sehun got socked in the nose and a dislocated shoulder. Taehyung and Chanyeol had it the worst--I heard both of them have a broken leg. Channie was hit in the head so hard he blacked out.”
Jessica was frozen to her seat in shock. She had an inkling that drugs were involved in the fray; this went beyond anything she expected. Some of these guys were allies when the training became too hard and she needed a chin-up. To be physically hindered from their goals so early in the game was more than tragic. “What’s going to happen to them?”
Hyoyeon chewed her lip. “Lu, Seok-Jin, and Sehun should be fine in a few weeks. Recovery time for the other two isn’t determined. Hopefully, they’ll be healed for the next comeback or...I have no idea how Elite’s gonna dress this one.”
“Not a damn thing. People are whispering that the attackers are from the inside since they evaded security so well.”
“Damn,” Sooyoung muttered, scraping at the walls of her glass. “Poor boys.”
“Our upcoming single is distraction Number One. Number Two will be a second subgroup from Fifteen since Triple Threat’s screwed. The Elite team’s also patchworking a new girl group to sway the public’s attention until they come up with a non-defaming lie.”
That level of danger could have easily happened to Lucky Six, Jessica considered. No wonder JiWook’s panic streak extended. Glancing at Tiffany who wore the same pensive face from the day Jessica came out to the girls, she collected Yoona’s parfait. Breakfast in bed might lift someone’s spirits.
“Yoong?” She knocked twice, pushing the door ajar.
The taller girl tensed, immediately relaxing when Jessica smiled. “I thought you were Seohyun here to yell at me for staying in bed.”
“No, only me with a treat.”
Over time, Jessica could identify the many sides of her groupmates. Timid, eye-averting Im Yoona made her eyes water. Or, that in addition to the grisly Fifteen news. “Did you have a busy night?”
Yoona grunted, stirring the top level strawberries into non-dairy white.
“Want to talk about it?”
“Ah, ‘kay.” Jessica surveyed the tidy room. Framed prints and awards adorned the walls in interior decorator skill. The furniture arrangements had a feng shui appeal. Even the overall color scheme down to the bed linens were unified. Seohyun’s neat-freak nature definitely overruled Yoona’s laid backness in this environment. “Will you stroll those pretty legs into practice today?”
“I’ll be late.”
The tardiness didn’t rattle Jessica; just these subdued replies. She ran a hand through Yoona’s black hair. “Yoongie, babe. You’d tell me if something’s wrong, right?”
“Sica…” Yoona’s puppy eyes blinked into Jessica’s. “You wouldn’t hurt a fly, would you?”
“Well, yeah. I’d kill a fly. But, I wouldn’t hurt you.”
Yoona’s smile wrapped around Jessica’s heart. These ladies felt like sisters a tad more every day. “That works for me.”
Jessica leaned into a hug, bedwarm by an unspoken bond. She closed her eyes, wishing with all her being that nothing would steal that grin from her friend’s face ever again.
Distraction Number One was making the appropriate waves. “Charged on Kisses” climbed to the peak of the charts in a day, spurred on by an astonished, thankful populace and their well-paid promotion team. The song had an electropop feel that not only charged the audience; it cheered the girls themselves whenever the catchy mix of horns, lasers, and whistles tumbled into melody. The dance required more exertion than “Rotate the Love Train” and “Astro-Energy!” combined, but they conquered it swimmingly. They had to--it squashed any looming (correct) theories of a rushed song release to cover some menace within the company.
This conveniently coincided with ‘First Class: A Night of the Elite’--a huge concert of Elite’s host of dazzling idol acts. Lucky Six, as always, headlined the show with three of their new tracks in the first half and a couple classics in the latter.
This would be the first time Jessica sang in place of a Bae Jinnie original. Her body’s adrenaline anticipated that very moment. The amazing night, interacting with lively singers and receiving easy back hugs from her girls, permitted a sense of belonging. A cherished aphrodisiac for five and a half hours.
The press release of Sine, a four-member offshoot of Fifteen, and Jolis Hérissons, three wide-eyed ballad vocalists with a penchant for short skirts, evoked mixed reactions, as expected. That didn’t stop the audience from losing all marbles when both groups premiered.
Fifteen fans begrudgingly accepted the five missing links who’d reportedly “took hiatus for undue stress” by Elite orders. The announcement relieved their foaming-at-the-mouth enthusiasts and put the company on a respectable pedestal--win/win.
Three songs were left. “Lilium” and “Every Time’s the Right Time”, two of Lucky’s greatest hits, and a ‘we’re a big happy family; nothing to hide here’ song by all the performers combined in their Elite mascot t-shirts.
“How y’all feelin’ toniiiiight?” Tiffany crooned at the arena in English, easily earning a deafening mix of screams and gold shamrock lightsticks swinging triumphantly.
Concerts brought the best out of Tiffany Hwang. Where she could mesmerize Korea’s Elite patrons, megawatt smile in full throttle. She pulled Sooyoung by a sleeve and they hollered the question even louder, naturally gaining a shriekier response.
“Goody! Okay, soooooo...” Tiffany cheekily spun to acknowledge Jessica. “This version’s going to be a liiiiiiittle different than the old. Please love it as much as we do!”
Tears nearly sprung from her eyes as Yoona and Hyoyeon threw proud arms over her shoulders and waist from either side.
The tight harmony of “Lilium” gobbled every corner of the stadium. Like clockwork, they stepped into their respective ends of the formation. Yoona in the middle, quietly brushing their hands as a last-minute affirmation. She could attest to the extra voice practice Jessica went through to do the hit justice.
An extended remix allowed time for Jessica to close her eyes, take a breather and--
The electric sound was low, but that’s all Jessica needed for her heart to stop. She tapped her ear mic, willing the faulty device to switch back on. It didn’t. She hissed at Seohyun in fright when a raspy laugh slithered through the speakers.
“You didn’t think you’d start this song without me, did you?” A voice from above cackled.
God, it couldn’t be.
Lit up by a circle of beams, Bae Soojin aka Jinnie the Terrible ascended from the floor’s hell trap, exuding a haughtiness that haunted Jessica’s deepest, most unprotected insecurities. Every giant LED screen illuminated the aforementioned face in sickeningly high definition. She could sense the upper level full of stricken idols consuming the scene with as much interest as the fans. Jinnie pressed a handheld, crystal-studded microphone to her Pirate red lips. “Let’s end this iconically, shall we?”
Unlike the others in wedge sneakers, Jinnie dominated in 6-inch heels, an Elite shirt tied snugly over her belly button. The empire waist jeans masked her aforementioned stretch marks well. In fact--Jessica bristled in her stance--she gave the aura of the leader again. Effortlessly.
And Jessica wished to effortlessly wring her neck.
“You missed me, too, my beloved Charms?”
Gold lightsticks flapped in the air enough to break elbows. For most fans, Jinnie had her contract terminated because of ‘life-altering ailments’. So, they wouldn’t understand Seohyun’s clenched fist or Tiffany’s set jaw, for they were just as confused as Jessica.
Jinnie turned towards the team, lipping the word “move” to supercede Yoona’s position in the middle. “I’ll take it from here, Sica. Thank you!”
Behind that chipper tone and unwelcome nickname lay the biggest fucking insult in Jessica’s life.
What else could she do? Only nod stiffly, obediently to the bitch. Then, trot off, stifling tears hot enough to melt flesh.
“Restart the track!” Jinnie’s aegyo voice boomed, “I’m feeling Lucky!”
Jessica’s forced smile was put to the task as she bowed past every gaping staff face, snatching her mic off and placing it gently in a stunned JiWook’s outstretched hand. “Fix that, please.”
“Don’t make the scene bigger, JiWook. I’m fine.” She pressed on a final smile and picked up speed, running to--anywhere.
The decision was made for her when Kwon Yuri of all people caught her arm, speech laced with distress. “Jess, are you alright?”
“Yul, what--” Jessica stubbed her sentence when Sunny came into view.
“We were gonna surprise you and Fany…” whimpered the guitarist, dressed casually in shorts and sneakers, “That wasn’t supposed to happen, was it?”
She shook her head, feeling her cheeks heat.
“Jinnie’s a cunt.”
Yuri shoved the black-and-white-haired woman in the arm. “Sunny!”
“What the fuck?!” Sunny squawked, equally offended, “I use every other word!”
Jessia wiped at the corners of her eyes, thankful for their irreverent comfort. Even Sunny’s attempt. But a particular question tickled her tongue. “Wh-where’s--”
“Is that your manager stalking us?”
She nodded, aware of the man following her step for step. “He’s worried about me.”
“Make him vanish.”
“JiWook shies away whenever the girls and I have intimate moments...”
“Okayyy,” Yuri murmured, “I’m talking. We’re talking.” She cupped both hands on Jessica’s shoulders. “We’re talking some more.”
Jessica snorted at their little charade. “Yadda, yadda dialogue.”
“Sunny, hug her.”
One hesitant pause later, she found herself wrapped into a Lee Sunkyu cocoon. As if the moment couldn’t get weirder, Yuri joined in, fastening awkward arms around them both. Eternities passed until Sunny wrestled free. “Enough, you homos. He’s gone.”
Yuri lead them down a hall. “Musn’t tarry, ladies!”
Jessica nervously scoped top wall corners as they rushed. “Won’t a camera see us?”
“Don’t worry your newbish head,” Sunny whispered, relaying a smile to her taller friend, “most cameras over here are for show. We’ve done some crazy shit behind the scenes of this stadium. But, to be safe...”
Yuri slid a door open. “You have approximately seven minutes. I’ll stand guard.”
“And I’m outta here.” With a push of Sunny’s hand, Jessica tripped into a tiny room of blinking lights and dials. Tumbling into arms she hadn’t bathed in for what seemed like ages.
“Careful, Coma,” Taeyeon giggled, smoothing thumbs beneath Jessica’s wet eyelids. “Hitting any of these buttons will probably shut the show down, not that I’m not tempted.”
Jessica exhaled what she’d been holding for a month and a half. “Tae, you came to see me.”
“If anyone deserves a space on that stage, it’s you. That’s your group, not that fucking snake.”
She grinned for real, stroking the line of Taeyeon’s soft jaw. “Can we not waste our time talking about her?”
“Nice, um...the way you tied your shirt. I’ve been staring.”
Jessica ran fingers into Taeyeon’s brilliant hair. Then, her pinky nail scratched the silver hoop at the corner of her lip. She adored every inch of her girlfriend’s transformation.
In high contrast to the humiliation, this moment of sheer happiness was surreal. It overwhelmed her, even. All she could get out was, “Hi.”
Taeyeon closed her eyes and stopped short of her lips to breathe, “Hi back.”
Kissing Taeyeon brought on so many emotions, Jessica leapt into the curvature of her hungry mouth. Her natural taste, petal-soft fingertips ghosting eights along the small of her back, the scent emanating from her chest, and especially the cool touch of a piercing assaulted the whole of Jessica Jung’s senses. This moment added itself to the stack of nine zillion reasons she’d fallen in love. Reminding her of alternatives to this crummy, invasive universe where she desired to murder Bae Jinnie.
“Tae,” Jessica groaned, threading through those gorgeous locks with both hands, “I wish there were better words for how I feel right now.”
The woman snickered, straight lashes accenting an eyesmile. “Missed you too, sweetheart.”
“Not just...” So unfair. How one human can affect another. “I...I more than like you.”
Their noses grazed, interrupting the static with impatient, wet kisses. Drained of superficial confidence, Taeyeon whispered, “M-my heart’s beating too fast to think.”
“Did you hear that?”
“Shit!” echoed Yuri’s voice from the other side of the door. “Mayday! Mayday!”
They snapped from the heavy conversation just in time to face Taeyeon’s bespectacled manager with a start. Jessica twitched to move; the blonde held her closer instead.
Narsha stone-faced her client, mostly. “Playtime’s over. Out.”
“Jinnie humiliated her. Why should she go back out there?”
“Jessica Jung of Lucky Six,” she stressed, not looking her way, “leave before someone worse catches you.”
Jessica nodded an apology, sinking from her favorite arms to walk out. In turn, Taeyeon twirled her back around to plant one more deep, heart-shattering kiss. She whispered into her lips, grinning like a fiend. “Text me tonight, gorgeous.”
She knew Taeyeon was playing the rebel card. Didn’t stop her from smirking over this petulant, bratty lover.
Jessica hadn’t exhausted her fake smile quota after all.
She bopped through the rest of the show, determined to convince Korea, international watchers, Elite peers, and herself that she wasn’t on the verge of emotional combustion.
Jinnie’s grand appearance. The audience’s ecstatic reaction. Visiting Taeyeon for a brief session à la prison. Getting walked in on by a damn manager.
This was a turning point.
Elite reserved one of the nicest restaurants in the city for their entertainers. Jessica concentrated on nibbling her decadent meal and not the blaring center of the long table. Bae Soojin centered herself like Last Supper’s Jesus, animatedly poking jokes, making suggestions, and mentioning an impending solo contract to humorless expressions.
Tiffany sat at her side, uncharacteristically mums about how Jinnie upstaged them. Displeasure could be read from her body language, from how she swigged her cosmo whenever the bigmouth laughed in her direction. Jessica resented her cowardice during the smoothie argument. It was in her defense, for god’s sake. Sadly, she didn’t know how to revisit the subject without making her friend even more miserable. Security had hustled them to their van after the concert; so, Tiffany only snatched a cruel glimpse of Yuri.
To add onto the gloom, Fifteen’s (or, rather, Ten’s) table was death warmed up. Strenuous last-minute comebacks and a lack of illegal energy enhancers...they practically snored bubbles into their bisques.
Her fingers itched to text Taeyeon or her sister. It wasn’t a safe environment to do so, though. Nosy singers and JiWook patrolled their table like a guard dog, producing a less-than-appetizing experience. Specifically with his ominous caution about “palling around with non-traditional women”.
So Jinnie could get off Scott free, but Jessica couldn’t befriend Skandl? Bullshit.
Like a curse, Jinnie followed them home. By then, most had grown haggard and weary from the energy-spending event. Even JiWook, who quietly bid them goodnight from the van. On the flipside, Jessica’s was wide awake, Digivolving out of pure frustration from everyone’s complacency.
“Me oh my!” Jinnie stretched her legs along the couch, hands tucked beneath her head of thick red hair. “Whose room am I crashing?”
Zombies formally known as Lucky Six glanced at one another, unspeaking.
“Yoonaramaaa,” she purred, “you’re skin and bones as it is. I’ll have ample room in your bed.”
“Sure, Jinnie,” Yoona mumbled, giggling.
Jessica recognized that laugh. The same fake, mouth-covering kind from Heechul’s show. She noted the younger girl self-consciously pinch at her own arm. This was unacceptable. “Yoong…”
Large eyes met hers, hardly hiding something bitter. This wasn’t the bouncy ‘Jinnie, are you back?’ girl from before. “Yeah, Sica?”
“If you want, we can share my bed. That way, Jinnie can have all the space she wants.”
Member-shaped sculptures stood half-dressed, agape around the living room and kitchen. Seohyun hadn’t parted her lips from a full glass of water.
The shade didn’t escape Jinnie. “Yoongs already agreed to it, Jung. Let it go.”
“I just think...I think…” She really couldn’t stomach her own weakling voice, when blinding anger made her stutter. “Yoona would be more comfortable spending the night with me.”
Jinnie’s heels hit the floor like gunshots. Gripping the fabric of the couch cushion, she coldly replied, “What the fuck are you on? I’ve known Yoongie longer. She’s like my kid sister.”
“Except, she’s not a kid. Don’t talk down to her. Same with Seohyun--she’s mature beyond her years and it’s refreshing.”
“You’re ignorant, so I’ll educate you. There’s something called ‘Lucky culture’ and this is it. They know I’m kidding.”
“They’re only appeasing you when they laugh.”
Jinnie rolled her head, giving a blood-curdling cackle that shook the suite. “You have some nerve coming at me like this, Jung.”
“I’m only saying what she won’t.”
“Who’s patronizing now?”
“It’s not in Yoong’s nature to start conflict.”
“And it’s in yours?”
“Everyone’s spent,” Hyoyeon interjected, being the first of the opinionated members to find her voice. “Let’s take off our rage helmets and get some shut-eye.”
Jinnie ‘OK’-gestured. “Good thinking, Hyo baby.” She clapped twice, waking the sculptures from their watching posts. “Sleepy time, bitches! Go to bed.”
And, miraculously, the five members resumed their nightly duties. Jessica’s jaw fell in awe. Detestable personality aside, Jinnie’s uncouth leadership gave Lucky Six the uniformity and consistency it needed to reach this stage. But, it was a new day and age and Jessica’d rather tolerate loudmouth displays of divergent opinions than drones in the name of accordance.
Jessica swore she shouted that demand in her head. When the dorm froze again, she knew the truth.
“My god, Jung.” Jinnie rose, reaching her full height and then some from her Manolos. “Drop your ego trip and get some rest.”
The goddamned audacity of that woman to remark on anyone else’s ego induced vertigo. “Nobody’s going to bed until one matter is resolved.”
“This is flippin’ exciting. And that’d be?”
Jessica surveyed the room, determined to make direct eye contact. Tiffany and Yoona’s hurt the most, for they’d been through a lot lately. “I’m not a good dictator, so I’ll let everyone vote--Jinnie or me?”
Hyoyeon winced. “You can’t make us fucking choose.”
“I’m not here to break any friendships, Hyo. The fact is she blindsided our group tonight. None of us had a solid clue concerning her entrance and the fans will pick up on it. And while ‘Lucky Seven’ makes sense as a name, that’s not an option, is it?”
She never spoke so boldly to the Hyoyeon--any of them. Sweat pebbled at the back of her neck.
“Is it?” Jessica repeated.
Silence hadn’t swept by long before someone straightened her throat, rounding the counter to stand poised at Jessica’s side. Seohyun. “I love you, Soojin, but enough is enough. You did not consider Lucky interests at the concert.”
Jinnie scoffed. “If you really loved me, you’d forgive that.”
“Juhyun’s right,” Sooyoung piped in, crossing the invisible line to join them. “To me, what happened to you was fucked up and sexist as hell. But, you jeopardized our group then and you’re doing it now.”
“Soo, I expected more from you! Let’s see how trusting everyone will be if you miss your next period. That would be a hoot, huh? Although, I’ve--”
“I’m tired of the weight jokes.”
Red hair whipped to Yoona’s small confession. “Why are you so damn sensitive all of a sudden? You are skinny, Yoongs. There are worse insults.”
“I’m sorry, Jinnie…”
Jessica pulled Yoona into a hug once she was within arm’s length, wondering how much shit she had to laugh off over the years. “Thank you.”
4-3. That’s how the room was split so far, suddenly alerting Jessica of Tiffany’s monumental silence for the entire ordeal.
As she observed the woman searching the floor, Hyoyeon sniffed loudly. The blonde reciprocated a hard embrace with Jinnie, words unintelligible in the muffled sobs. Jinnie’s sobs slightly touched Jessica’s heart, she couldn’t deny. This world had been everything to her. Maybe a solo deal was what she needed to find some purpose.
Or not. Tonight, Jessica didn’t care.
Hyoyeon gulped, croaking through her sentence. “You should return your keys, Jinnie.”
“The copies I made after you moved out.”
“Hyo!” Seohyun gasped. “That’s extremely dangerous! Why would you make copies behind our backs?!”
Hyoyeon wiped at her withering face. “I was mad, okay?! I thought this was temporary.”
Jessica felt a stab through the chest. “Wow, god…”
“Not anymore. You had no control over…” She raised her hand to the ceiling, grasping for fluency. “this shit. It’s not your fault. It’s not Jinnie’s fault...it’s…”
Jinnie prodded her arm. “It’s what?”
“It’s about the group. And you’re not in it anymore.”
The admission hung darkly in the air as Hyoyeon accompanied the bigger team. Jinnie’s tears evaporated into enmity, sending her swinging at a lamp. She slapped it to the floor, jumping not a little when the bulb and glass shade shattered. “I fucking bought that. Now, it’s no one’s.”
“Classy,” Jessica muttered. That lamp was ugly anyway.
“You turned these bitches against me!” Jinnie double-taked at Tiffany, lips dipping downwards. “And you, Hwang? How’s it feel living outside my shadow? I’m amazed you were the first one to kiss Jessica’s traitor ass.”
Without cracking her reserve, Tiffany stepped backwards onto the Jessica side. The Lucky Six side.
Jinnie nodded, hazel eyes gleaming, and folded her arms. Her words were uttered lowly, but she knew they heard. “Good show. Very good show. Better than ‘A Night of Elite’. Remember me when you fail…”
Hyoyeon shook her head, still crying. “Jinnie, c’mon.”
“No, no. You belong to Jessica now.” She motioned to, “Kim Hyoyeon...Choi Sooyoung...Tiffany Hwang...Im Yoona….Seo Juhyun…” Then, she leaned into Jessica’s ear, burning her nose with the same spicy perfume. “...and Kim Taeyeon.”
Her weakness. “How--”
“Have you forgotten what I told you? I am everywhere.”
Worry lay plainly on Seohyun’s ashen face. “Soojin, I think you should go.”
“I’m already gone,” Jinnie drawled, twirling light pirouettes to the entrance. “Looks like Jessica Jung has a fondness for my leftovers. Fuck buddies included. I’m flattered you’re so obsessed with me.”
Everyone trudged to their bathrooms and beds, mutely trying not to dwell on the manipulative woman in a convertible’s intentions. Jessica’s mind ran rampant with possibilities. Asking one of the members for their side of this hazy past would probably sate her demand for details. Nonetheless, she wanted to receive them from one person.
Jessica kissed Yoona on the crown of her head, wishing the sleeping woman sweet dreams. After that drama, either of them could benefit from a sleepover. She shimmied under a blanket beside her, scrolling through missed calls and lonely texts left from Taeyeon.
M00dy bear: home yet?
M00dy bear: yul’s drunk again. =__= floor nap lol.
M00dy bear: kissing today wasn’t enough
M00dy bear: swt♥?
M00dy bear: ok bedtime joke. what do you call a charm and rumor rubbing up on each other?
M00dy bear: you’ll never guess
M00dy bear: lol my spam
M00dy bear: ok ok my eyes hurt zzzzzzz. i’m getting old
M00dy bear: dream big, coma :)
She let the tears finally surge in earnest. Missing their chat time pierced her and at the same time--it confirmed Taeyeon’s feelings. Once upon a season, she’d never leave a train of cutesy, unanswered messages.
C♡ma: You’re so adorable. :))) ♥♥
C♡ma: Tell me the punchline! haha
Jessica listened to the drumming of Tiffany’s shower, recalling the woman’s strange mood. Her stare marked her screen, mentally acknowledging what she truly wanted to ask. Inhaling a tepid breath, her thumbs did the work.
C♡ma: Tae...what happened with Bae Jinnie?
She didn’t expect a response at that hour, but she fell asleep waiting, anyway.
Parts of this chapter had me feelin’ some kinda way. But, the story must go on~~