checkinyourbra: (jessica01)
[personal profile] checkinyourbra

Title: Skandl! (Chapter 19)

Pairing(s): TaengSic, side!YulTi

Rating/Genre: PG-13 + language; AU Idol Romance

Warning(s): Road Work Ahead.

Disclaimer: I don't own Soshi. I don't own anyone, in fact. All Fiction.

Author's Notes: GREAT. Now I’m addicted to Fluttering Feelings and Tamen De Gushi. I won’t lose to you, Writing Distractions #580495645 and #580495646!!!!

Hope to hear from you soon; this chapter was a doozy to edit/rewrite. ^^;;





Nineteen: Jessica



--


In the Lucky Six household, when crappy circumstances rained, they poured. Stormed, torrented, monsooned.

Sooyoung pulled a shoulder muscle and infamously blurted Yoona’s “Fatty” nickname for unsmiling netizens. Hyoyeon and her publically official/unofficial boyfriend’s heated argument was filmed by several tech-equipped eyewitnesses. Yoona and Seohyun were on Day Two of some unresolved yet assumably stupid feud. Yuri’s accident ruptured what little hope they had in Tiffany going back to normal. And on top of feeling responsible for these lady creatures fumbling in her universe, Jessica had to be reminded of Taeyeon and Loco’s ‘confirmed’ relationship on every Korean website’s sidebar. In short, they were delivering the opposite of stability to a vigilant team of managers.

The World Tour was still in the works, thankfully. It had to be, for it’d become everyone’s mantra--world tour, world tour, goddamned world tour. Lucky Six thirsted for that experience as strongly as Hyoyeon thirsted for authentic European pub life.

Pre-Lesbian Rumor-gate, Jessica’s roommate epitomized noisiness. Tiffany aced at bubblegum popping. She whistled while crackling cover-to-cover through magazines. Conversations with her slaphappy family went the speakerphone route. Heaven forbid she contracted a cold--grave-raising sniffs, snorts, and “I’m dying!” hysterics abounded. Unsubtle phone sex. These instances came to a full stop, leaving Jessica in an ominously speechless room, ignoring the breathing corpse.

When cameras and stage lights dimmed, Tiffany kept her trap sealed shut. And it drove Jessica crazier than any moist gum smacking.

Complicating matters, she resented this woman. Diming out her own groupmate as insurance topped Jessica’s list of unforgivable Lucky acts. But, damnit, they shared the same living quarters. Routine enhanced their environment and around that hour, Tiffany should have been corralling the girls for dinner. It was her night to cook.

“Order out,” Tiffany muttered, concealed by an eye mask she’d worn all day, “Sooyoungie can decide.”

Jessica balked. Her patience wore thin and her girlfriend’s seeds of “let her wallow” advice started to take root. “Yul’s safe, Fany.”

“Says Taeyeon.

It’d been two weeks since they received that mortifying text about Yuri in the emergency room. Taeyeon provided the only means of communication due to suffocating parents’ “unplugged regimen”: no phones, no internet. Techy/Media detox for 100% relaxation. The longest the three-year couple spent away from each other. “Tae’s given nothing but the truth.”

“She hates me.”

“She should.”

“Tell Soo to order.” Tiffany flipped to her chest. Conversation over.

...

In the living room, Yoona and Seohyun sat on opposite ends of the wall-length sectional couch, faces contorted for a sulking contest. Jessica covered her grin. These women couldn’t be intimidating if it’d save a burning rainforest. At first she passed by, intent on seeking Sooyoung before their dorm resorted to cannibalism.

However, a cloying itch of obligation surfaced and she settled at Yoona’s side, vining her into a hug. “Yoongie, what’s up?”

“Nothin’.”

Jessica glimpsed over her shoulder, catching Seohyun staring. They didn’t even know how to fight properly--still inseparable. “Juhyun, are you okay?”

The youngest clicked two knitting needles into a finished sock. “I’d be tremendous if she accepted my apology.”

“Yoona?” Jessica pieced four strands of black hair behind the girl’s ear. “Seohyun wants to apologize for….” She waggled her eyebrows, at a total loss.

“Nobody here respects me,” Yoona remarked, lanky body stiff as a rock.

“You’re exaggerating.”

“Do you remember what Hyo cooked for dinner last night?”

The delicious recollection drove a growl from Jessica’s stomach. God, she was so hungry. “Mmmm, yes. Beef ribs--”

“RIBS! Fuckin’ ribs and only ribs!” Yoona’s shoulders shook. “Ribs from a steer which--call me naive--is a flippin’ goddamned animal!

Eek. “Yoongie, I didn’t--”

“Everyone treats my lacto-ovo vegetarianism as a joke! H-how’d Hyoyeon like if I made her eat off the floor or if I injected pine nuts into Juhyun’s pudding and--what the hell is Sooyoung allergic to? Fat? What if I drizzled fat over her cornflakes?”

Oh, to have innocuous fights again. Jessica rose to scoop Seohyun into her own embrace. “Want to tell me what happened two days ago?”

Seohyun unhooked her needles, balling a tuft of yarn for the next sock. “I used corn oil.”

“Hm.” The honey brunette eyed Yoona from the distance. “She used corn oil.”

“There’s more!”

Flinching at Yoona’s volume, Seohyun altered her statement. “I used corn oil...that’d been previously used. It’s cost efficient and convenient, so...”

Jessica sighed. Of course. “What’d been fried in there first?”

“Pork cutlets!” Yoona answered for her. “I can afford to throw out tainted oil as an act of decency. Can you?”

“I can,” Seohyun grumbled, knitting miles-a-minute, “It slipped my mind and for the fiftieth time, I’m sorry.”

“You fed me that gyoza! I was retching all night!”

“I’m sorry, Yoong.”

Examining the shudder of a jaw, Jessica went on the defensive. “I understand why you’re angry; though, Seohyun’s apology feels real. And you know she’d never stir up conflict on purpose.”

Yoona flicked frays of her vintage jeans. “Evs.”

“Be reasonable, Yoongie. Don’t take your frustrations with all of us on one person. That’s not fair.”

“Hyo even forgot to make me a substitute dinner.”

“Babe,” Jessica held out her free arm, waving dancing fingers for Yoona to squeeze into a quiet hug, gaze unfocused. “I’ll talk to Hyo. Actually, I’ll commence my first Lucky meeting for a thorough discussion about respect. Would that help?”

Yoona nodded and pushed her nose into Jessica’s ear. Impish yet again. “Yep.”

“Anything you want to tell Seohyunnie?”

“Sorry for being a sensitive vag,” Yoona murmured, stuck in a crooked smirk.

Seohyun reached around Jessica to paw the other girl’s face. “I should have called Sica! You yield to her like a puppy!”

“I do not!”

The oldest shimmied from between them, proud, yet ultimately starving. “Cute. It breaks my heart when Lucky girls are fighting.”

“Like you and Fany?”

Jessica regarded Yoona, tactfully guiding every facial muscle. “We’re...okay.”

“Yeah right. You hate each other.”

“Hate’s too strong a word,” Seohyun corrected. “Honestly, you two haven’t been on good terms in weeks.”

Just when she considered herself a capable leader, her cover was blown. “Misunderstandings. Big ones.”

“Are you two fucking?”

Yoona!” Jessica and Seohyun croaked, steps away from their eyeballs littering the floor.

The black-haired woman couldn’t have looked more nonplussed. “Fany’s smokin’; Sica’s a Ten. They’re gay. They sleep together--”

“In separate beds!” Jessica included, not knowing whether to wave off a blush or throw her friend overboard. “Rework your theory, hun.”

Seohyun lobbed a thumb at her roommate. “That one’s adamant about it. Vocally fantasizing, forcing me to wager on sexual positions, spending hours with her ear cupped onto the wall--”

“Fuckin’ liar!” Yoona slapped both hands to Seohyun’s mouth in guilty horror. “She’s lying. I’ve never--”

“The point is--” she muttered, escaping from spindly fingers, “Lucky Six holds no grudges, no matter the circumstances. Lose the egos and be friends again.”

If only they knew. “We’ll talk.”

“Do more than that. Or, I’ll tell JiWook and he’ll mediate.”

Yoona was still suffering. “Snitch monster, god.”

“I really don’t care. We’ll be touring overseas next year, curtailing stress and new challenges while crushed into tight, essential contact. As leader, it’s your duty to keep us a united team. From the inside--something no manager can access.”

Jessica’s observant groupmates knew. Like, why wouldn’t they? And JiWook was the very last person to deliberate lesbian drama. “Why do you think I can fix this?”

“Who says I do?” Seohyun flexed on a challenging smile, swiping away long, chestnut hair. “You’re not a diffident churchmouse anymore. We’re sisters.”

“Sisters don’t screw around. Well, some do. I saw this incest docu--”

“Yoong, your tangents!” Hopeful eyes accentuated Seohyun’s next question. “Are you our Lucky Six leader or not?”

The golden glove was thrown. Jessica bit her lip, wondering how the hell she’d switched mindsets so easily. Or, she hadn’t been as anti-Tiffany as she thought. Taeyeon acquired that role because her group’s fate didn’t ride on Lucky Six’s daily interactions. But, even she reached some strange reconciliation with Bae Jinnie, of all people. “Are you sure you don’t want leader duty?”

“Nobody listens to her,” Yoona explained, laughing off a glare. “I mean, you do. That’s it.”

“I anticipate the meeting about respect,” Seohyun affirmed. Knitting needles bobbed back into motion.



Moments later, Jessica barged into the messiest of the three rooms, scaring its inhabitants--Sooyoung, Hyoyeon, Miso, and Hyoyeon’s boyfriend--half to death.

Hyoyeon rushed to dismiss the prohibited guest. “He w-was just leaving!” Chucking a polo to a rather colorful guy--turquoise undercut, empty hipster rims, neck tattoo of a dolphin--the blonde’d never appeared more shaken.

“Hyo…” Jessica paused, taking another stare at the cartoon sea creature, and continued. “No troubles; I wouldn’t report you. Soo, you’re in charge of dinner.”

Sooyoung gestured to her shoulder sling. “Fany’s turn.”

“I know that,” she groaned. “Order enough for four--um--” She nodded to the dude clumsily stumbling around the cat. “-five. Order for five. Tiffany and I will be out.”

Sparing no other orders, Jessica left to rouse her roommate.

--

“That’s her brother’s car. There.” Tiffany pointed to a bright red Ferrari. Its scalloped bumper smiled at them in a fractured curve.

Jessica peered at the inviting yellow windows of the Kwon home, an hour or so out of the city. “Are you positive?”

“Yes.” An extra dash of pep sparked Tiffany’s lips. “Hyuk-jun shows off his ‘baby’ in every other Picpockette post. You’d think he’d fix that dent, but he says it gives it character.”

“You haven’t gotten in touch with him?”

“We formally met once, so it’d be awkward as hell.”

The mention of social media put its own impression on her mood. Following incoherent directions (“turn here, no the other here”) Jessica’s disposition worsened as Tiffany’s posture improved and vocal confidence was restored.

Nerves warned Jessica not to prompt Taeyeon on their nightly mission. And as expected, her text screen filled to the brim with expletives. This went against her family’s wishes, directives by their watchful management, and common decency, her girlfriend claimed, forging the most exhaustive manifesto on Tiffany’s deception. She dethroned Bae Soojin’s place in her hate rankings.

She couldn’t blame Taeyeon. In fact, Jessica needed to analyze that side of reality, accumulating in her growing culture of trust issues. Tiffany schemed behind their backs and her potential treachery had yet to be extinguished from the books.

“Jesus, I’m scared,” Tiffany confided, pulling her shirt hem inches away from modesty’s standard. “Yul’s family knows about me...not who I am.”

Jessica exhaled, relating to this piece of anxiety. She couldn’t imagine approaching Taeyeon’s conservative parents--nevermind visiting without notice. “I’m sure they’ll love you.”

“Will they?”

Startled at the tectonic crumble of her question, Jessica put her guard down. Let herself park into watery eyes that could scream lies in frequencies too low to identify. Jessica’s girlfriend had every right to dislike Tiffany--even hate her. Though, as this industry made clear, the whole of Lucky Six mattered more than their beef. It outweighed any dispute--solvable as reusing tainted oil or humungous enough to slash friendships and careers into golden shreds. Jessica sucked it up and became a leader. “There’s only one way to find out.”

Tiffany looped onto Jessica’s arm when the car doors slammed behind them. This closeness infuriated every touching cell. Despite feuding consciences, Jessica tried on her fake smile. And judging by the real creases of the responding woman’s eyes, it passed with flying colors.

The doorbell chimed twice before someone answered. A comely, sun-bronzed guy with a patchy mustache and Yuri’s grin welcomed them, bowing low enough to eat dirt. “Dad called me get the door and I said, ‘Two women to see me?. Something must be amiss.’”

They giggled, confounded by the family resemblance.

Hyuk-jun winked like Yuri, too. “We convene again, Tiffany,” he murmured softly, mindful of ears nearby. “I’d be a fool to turn down an appearance by my little sister’s girlfr--” He recognized Jessica and paled. “Unless you’re both her girlfriends?!”

Tiffany lightly batted his head. “Hell no.”

Yuri’s brother shrunk away, ruffling the touch from his cropped hair. “I-uh-tryin’ to be open-minded. Monogamy's so humdrum mainstream and we commoners are...yep. Please, take a seat inside.”

The neat apple hadn’t fallen far from the tree. Complete immaculance besides titled couch pillows (that Hyuk-jun corrected immediately) greeted Jessica and Tiffany once they tipped off their flats in the walkway. Tiffany squealed at Yuri’s Air Jordans orderly arranged at the end of the shoe line.

“I’ll get you some tea--erm, you’re allowed to drink tea, right?”

They nodded; though, Jessica knew what her groupmate wouldn’t ask. “And Yul?”

“Oh!” Hyuk-jun spun at breakneck speed. “I’ll get Yuri. Then, tea.”

“Thanks,” Tiffany whispered, giving the other woman’s hand a kiss. “I’m nervous.”

“Mmhm.” If she really wanted to thank Jessica, she’d leave this betrayal nonsense behind and let life take its own course. In that case, she’d will herself to reciprocate.

“She’s doing chick stuff,” Hyuk-jun announced as he returned to the room holding a tray and no cups. “Putting on a bra or something.”

“That won’t be necessary,” Tiffany blurted, turning all three of their faces into tomatoes.

The Kwon guy tangled into his own legs for the kitchen. “I’m gonna--uh, hot water. For this--” He noisily disappeared.

Yuri breezed into the living room soon after, pink sweatpants and holey band tee taking nothing from her billion-dollar smile. “Ladies, you’re here. Fany--”

And a tic later, Jessica became spectator to a Yulti makeout session.

Memories. Of simpler times.

She bashfully chaperoned as the groping commenced, sounding a, “Psst!” when a middle-aged woman and man filed down the stairs.

“Mom, Dad,” Yuri announced, roughly brushing lip gloss off her chin, “I have visitors. That’s my friend Jessica and this,” she softened with a blush, “is Tiffany.”

Yuri’s father’s eyebrows rose with faint understanding; her mother’s face colored with something else. Something familiar. And jarring.

“I LOVE LUCKY SIX!” Mrs. Kwon exclaimed, patting her permed hair like a teenager on her first date. “Yuri, why didn’t you tell me they were coming? Our home is a mess!”

“Um…” Jessica peeked to either side of this lie. “It’s nice to--”

“Tea, Yuri! Where’s the tea?”

“Here, it’s here!” Hyuk-jun whistled for Yuri to move out the way as he lowered a platter of full cups and assorted teas. “I don’t even know what you’d like.” He brushed several containers. “Oolong, green, black, red--ah, you want cream and sugar--is sugar in your diet?”

“Sugar’s fine, dummy. They won’t break,” the younger sister scoffed, snatching two tea bags from a box and dipping them into water. To others, it’d come off as quite brusque; Jessica could tell Yuri not-so-randomly chose Tiffany’s favorite white blend.

Mrs. Kwon sharply frowned at her offspring, commencing to grabbing Tiffany and Jessica by the hand. “I’m your biggest fan!”

Tiffany’s grin could have ripped through the skin. “A-are you?”

“She likes you more than my group,” Yuri laughed, piling sideways onto a loveseat.

The woman shooed her daughter to sit properly. “How could I not? I watched Lucky Six grow up from the day of their debut!”

“Mom, you literally watched me grow up.”

“Cry me a river, Yuri.”

Despite the fake-dimpled pout on the Skandl member’s face, a difference was clear. Yuri re-gained her lost weight. Eyes shone brighter. Smile more relaxed. Skin smoother. Completely refreshed, shoving playfully with her brother and relaying stingless remarks while her mom went on and on about her album collection.

“--and Jinnie. What happened to Bae Jinnie? Tell me she’ll be alright?”

Jessica, Yuri, and Tiffany exchanged controlled expressions until Tiffany broke the silence, grinning and chirping, “We’re right as rain behind the scenes!”

Her mother expended a lung-worth of air into a sigh. “Thank god! The very thought of you girls fighting just--” Mr. Kwon handed her a napkin from the platter. “It breaks my heart. Get along forever, babies! Your bond keeps us Charms strong.”

Oh, jeez.

Jessica’s false smile soon shaped into a real one when the emotional woman wrapped Tiffany into her momma-arms, begging her to never leave. Tiffany’s dumbfounded blush was priceless.

“This is the best birthday present a woman could ask for! Thank you, Yuri!”

Yuri floundered, matching her brother’s fish-like lip movements. “S-sure, Mom.”

“It was my idea,” Hyuk-jun added.

“Yuri and Hyuk usually get me the dullest birthday presents. A crotchet set, diamond earrings, a day at the spa...yadda, yadda...drab. Then, this--you two?! In my home? And a day earlier to catch me by surprise! Phenomenal!”

“Happy early Birthday,” Jessica said, joining the threeway hug as Tiffany hadn’t parted from Mrs. Kwon.

Two hours passed of Yuri, Mr. Kwon, and Hyuk-jun begrudgingly mounting the steps to the rec room, bringing Lucky Six mementos for the mother to recall a story. Jessica enjoyed this; however, it was pitch black outside and Yuri and Tiffany hadn’t gotten any private time. So, she dragged a deep breath, stood up, and offered a hand to Mrs. Kwon. “Would you like to learn a Lucky dance?”

The woman’s round face gaped, Yuri-ish nose glowing red. “Astro-Energy!? It’s the best!”

“Astro-Energy!, it is!” Jessica gritted, memories of The Giant pinching her limbs. “Fany and Yul have to discuss….part two of your birthday present.”

“Nothing can beat this!”

She shrugged. “They’ll try! Let’s check out that rec room while I teach you, Mr. Kwon, and Hyuk-jun some moves.”

“Yes!” Before following Jessica’s duckling trail to the first step, Mrs. Kwon pressed a firm kiss to Tiffany’s forehead. “Vist any time. Our doors are open whenever you miss your family, sweet girl.”

“Oh-okay,” Tiffany stuttered, close to tears.

“You’ve always been my favorite. Yuri’s, too.”

With an enigmatic wink, the mother led them up the staircase. As Jessica waved a, “goodbye, dignity” to the remaining girls, Tiffany lipped a silent “thank you”.



“Truthfully, how awful were they?” Yuri pocketed both hands in her sweats, leaning onto Jessica’s car.

“They were...fair. Your mom made your father and Hyuk-jun sit down halfway through,” Jessica mused, cracking a grin.

Tiffany hooked her arms around Yuri’s neck. “She opened your doors to me. I can come by any time I want.”

“My mom loves you more than me.” Yuri dabbed their foreheads together. “We’re in trouble, aren’t we?”

“When will you be back in Seoul?”

“When I feel better, I guess.”

Jessica eyed her head-to-toe. Decidedly, Yuri seemed healthier than ever. “Admit it--you like being taken care of by your mommy.”

“Better food, more space, my old instruments, my big bro,” She spoke into Tiffany’s hair, sighing. “I could stay here, really.”

“Don’t talk like that,” Tiffany snapped, giving her flat stomach a whack.

Yuri poked a lip out. “I dunno...the classy strip club down the street needs a dayshift dancer.”

“Shut up.”

“C’mon, babe,” Out grew a short, wry type of smile. An unfamiliar one. “What am I but a glorified stripper? I perform for a paying audience. I titillate, I’m basically naked on-stage…”

“Yul.”

“Am I better than a stripper? Are you?”

“Darling,” Tiffany flung her eyes at Jessica, acknowledging this as a private matter. “You’re making me uncomfortable.”

“Am I? Answer me.”

The shorter woman groaned. “Yes, damnit! You are!”

“How?”

“I’m done with this, Yul.”

“Sorry,” Yuri gathered Tiffany into her arms, singing apologies like a hymn. “Shhh, I’m sorry. I’m sorry, Fany.”

“It’s late,” Jessica’s mumbled. That’s all she could get out: It’s late.

“Tell Tae I’ll be back next week.”

She casted Yuri merely a hint of eye contact. Things felt off. “She’ll be glad.”

“I wish you could leave Fany with me.”

Jessica almost considered it. “No, we have English recordings in the morning.”

“Fany told me about the world tour! Congrats! Too bad I didn’t celebrate with you girls…”

“It’s fine.”

“I’ll make up for it,” she breathed moreso to her girlfriend, “when...life settles.”

Did Yuri know Tiffany’s plans? About the pictures? The cold threats shoved in Taeyeon’s face? Jessica studied the couple a hair more, then snatched her door open. The sudden movement set them to slowly kiss farewell, using the car as leverage. And Jessica sat there, asking herself if playing the selfless card was worth it.

“You’re a godsend,” Tiffany declared, hugging her seatbelt as they departed the Kwons’ driveway, “Yul’s glowing, oh my god, I can’t wait to have her all to myself again.”

Jessica snapped on a turn signal. “She does look happy.”

“She’s getting more sun, too. Could you tell? They have a tennis court in the backyard.”

“Ah.”

“Her mom totally supports us. Like, did you hear what she said?”

“I was there.”

“I feel rejuvenated! How will I sleep tonight? Ugh, I love her so much.”

“Hot damn.”

That last comment gained her attention. “Has Taeyeon rubbed off on you?”

Jessica bit her lip, hating the way Tiffany said her name--like some sort of disease. “I didn’t bring you here just for you; it’s to help the group.”

Tiffany steadied her tone. “And I appreciate that…”

“I did something for you, so do something for me.”

“Like?”

“Trash those pictures. All of them.”

When quiet replied, Jessica repeated herself, “All of them, Fany.”

“I haven’t sent any--”

“I don’t care! I want them gone. Please.” Tears she’d been lugging all day trickled down the space beneath her nose. “We’re friends, aren’t we?”

“Yes...”

Jessica pushed on the gas, weaving past a few sedans. “Then act like one! This is driving me insane.”

“You or Taeyeon?”

“Does it fucking matter?”

“Uh huh,” Tiffany huffed, grunting as they accelerated. “I can tell when you’re speaking for yourself and when it’s Taeyeon bitching through you.”

“It’s me!” She severed a hand from the steering wheel. “God, it’s me talking to you.”

“You’re near me 24/7. I’ve been harmless.”

“Delete the photos, Fany.”

“Don’t you trust me?”

Frigid, Jessica sped around a Mazda.

“Talk to me.”

The nerve. The fucking nerve of this woman.

“Jess, slow down!”

Stupid trust.
“Jessic--!”

The grim ka-thunk sound of impact paired with Jessica slamming the breaks sent them flying forward. Tires screeched from every direction. Burned rubber’s toxic scent clogged her nostrils. Red brake lights glared fiery eyes.

She didn’t hit her head; although, the jerk rearranged her insides. Questions flashed in seconds.

Are we hit? Was it my fault?

Is Tiffany okay?

Where were the damn airbags?

A winded voice resonated. “It...wasn’t us.”

Jessica finally blinked through the haze, viewing a moderately severe accident not three cars ahead.

They loudly heaved oxygen, possibilities of the worst case scenario tainting the air. Jessica glanced down--seeing, feeling her fingers laced into Tiffany’s. She met the other woman’s wide eyes, watching her tremble. Who grabbed whose hand wasn’t certain. It didn’t matter. They needed each other for Lucky Six to work.

“We gotta get out of here before someone sees us.”

Traffic proceeded; a long line of mergers rounded the wreckage. Jessica tapped the pedal gingerly, hand still stringed to the other member.

“Yul wants to buy her own house.”

The brunette licked her lips, nodding. “That’s a big step.”

“Or a condo. Overlooking the city. She’d give me a key.”

“Would you move out?”

“I can’t live with her, Jessica,” Tiffany stressed, slapping fingers into her hair. “What would people think of two unmarried women making a home together?”

“So, that’s a no.”

“Please trust me with those photos.”

“How can I? That’s absurd.”

“They give me control, Jess. It may not make sense to you, but knowing I could send them out, destroying something else before it destroys me...it’s therapeutic.”

“You’re right. It doesn’t make sense.”

That something she’d destroy would be Taeyeon’s career. Their relationship. Her highest source of happiness--over armies of beautiful fans and clubs and songs and limelight, charity, famous buddies, influence...everything.

Imagining spikes drilling into the space between her fingers, she untied them from Tiffany’s grasp. Wanting, craving more than anything to hold Taeyeon instead.



Jessica flung her handful of papers into the empty recording booth, on the third day of Lucky’s English album-a-thon. It coincided with an unsmiling “discussion” involving her sister and accidentally losing herself in a Taeyeon/Loco forum. The relationship was bullshit, yet the media did a crackerjack job at selling that filth.

She’d grown tired of the humiliation. JiWook, in one of his moods, threw his weight around more than usual--overpowering producers, barking commands like a headmaster, using members’ compliance as a weapon against others.

Admittedly, Jessica was off her game that morning. She awoke jaded, in no condition to re-sing the planet’s peppiest hooks for hours on end. JiWook nagged too harshly, she groaned a curse word or five, and soon she was put on a timeout. But, not after hearing directives for Tiffany to record some of Jessica’s lines until she adjusted her attitude.

Tiffany.

She couldn’t predict their fractured friendship’s future. All she knew was to make a show of the lifted tension to the girls. It didn’t hurt to have roommate conversations again, either.

Jessica’s concentration was shot. The argument with Soojung--concerning Taeyeon--left a chalky taste in her mouth. It coated her cumbersome tongue and smothered her pitch control.

Soojung never hid her disdain for the idol entertainment business. The 20-year-old supported Jessica out of unconditional love and nothing else. So, her rude-ass commentary on the “TaCo situation”--going as far as implying they looked comfy around each other struck the last match to Jessica’s bone dry limits. In the longest tear-streaked rant she’d ever pushed upon a family member, she made it crystal clear: Taeyeon was hers.

And she missed her Moody bear. Picpockette and Skype couldn’t appeased either half of the couple. Last time she’d seen her girlfriend in the flesh, she was tucked cutely within Jessica’s comforters. Where she belonged.

The honey brunette buckled onto a bench, lifting a discarded sheet as an afterthought. Elite expected her to happily sing tunes of pathetic guy crushes and fairytale love stories. Revolting, false advertisement.

Thinking back on Taeyeon, she closed her eyes. What she wouldn’t do to track her fingers through her fading red fringe or drag the ball of her lip ring across her front teeth. And her voice--her rich, passionate tone made specifically for pronouncing “Jessica” and singing her ass off. She’d kill to hear her live again. Singing “Lithograph”...or better...that “love:murder” song. Now, those were lyrics meant to turn heads.

Giving little mind to one of the least favorite names shining in her contact list, Jessica’s sent off a message. Incomplete details on why formed as she waited for a reply.

She had to see her.



Sunny’s hideout in Hongdae was nestled in a hispter-y café/clothing store hybrid. Decked out in Taeyeon’s black beanie, sunglasses, and a wraparound scarf, Jessica located her desired checkpoint--ChoA, an employee close to bursting from her popover blouse. Immediately identifying Jessica (despite her concealment efforts) and the capped woman thumbing through a rack of suede belts, the busty sales associate brought them to a curtained-off space behind the register counter.

“Sign my bra?” ChoA hissed as they passed the threshold. Sparing no shame, she tugged her top four snaps, spilling out more boobage.

“Um-um,” Jessica felt a Sharpie forced into her hand.

Yoona, three purchased belts buckled around her neck, jumped at the racy opportunity. “Just my autograph or a message?”

“Make that cup out to my darling Way,” she giggled.

“That your girlfriend?” Yoona asked, marking the fabric with eager finesse.

“My twin sister.”

“Hot! How kinky is the--”

“JESS-I-CAAA JUNG-UH,” Jessica enunciated at top volume to chokehold the invasive question.

With both bra cups inked to riches, ChoA bowed a perfect 90 degree angle and rebuttoned her blouse. “Another curtain’s in the back. Sunny’s there.”

“Thank you.”

Yoona stuck her marker into the clerk’s cleavage. “My pleasure, Hot Tits. Kiss your sis for me.”

Jessica pulled the neck belts like a leash, wondering when she’d opened Pandora’s box to Yoona’s sexual aberrations. She made quite the sidekick, volunteering to break the monotony by escorting her to this meeting.

A cloud of smoke watered her eyes once the thick mauve curtains parted. Seated alone, legs kicked up on a table consumed by paper stacks and empty coffee cups, Sunny wasn’t one for formalities. She simply said, “Close that.”

As Yoona fumbled to the order, Jessica raised a filmy espresso shot cup. “Anti-sleep, huh?”

“Pro-coffee.” Sunny slurped from a hefty mug. “Tae’s not here.”

“I’m not here to see Tae.”

“Well, you’re wasting your time.”

“You don’t speak English!”

Stealing both women’s attention, Yoona scowled at a page-long block of lyrics.

“What?” Sunny lowered her Converses to the floor.

“Since when have you written in English?”

“I practice.”

“I bet this shit makes no sense.”

Recovering from shock, Jessica remembered these girls had interacted back in trainee days. She’d asked about Taeyeon. Never the other ex-Elite recruit.

Sunny argued with slight hesitance, facially more amused than offended. “Leave the real music to the pros.”

“Sica’s American. And Fany. I bet your English is child’s play compared to theirs.”

When Sunny raised an eyebrow at Jessica, she ran to the rescue. “Yoongie, you’re abnormally hyper today.”

“Sunny would let me read her poetry books--until we were split into A and B.”

“True,” the Skandl member relented, “Don’t tell Tae. She thought she was special.”

Glowing green, Jessica changed subjects. “Are you full of inspiration or caffeine?”

“I spawn enough material for a legion of girl groups. I write hits.”

“Give me a hit,” Yoona whined, sniffing a glass bong, lip quirked in fascination.

“Yoongie.” Jessica deflated into a wicker chair. “You don’t even smoke.”

“This junk smells janky.”

Sunny chuckled. “And here I thought you were stuck up after all these years.”

“Same.”

“Me?! You’re senile.”

“Coulda fooled me…”

Leery of Lee Sunkyu’s greasy, slinking gaze, Jessica heightened her tone. She meant business. “I’m not here to see Tae. But, this does involve her.”

Sunny folded her Kafka novel over a pen to save her place. “I’m listening.”

“You’re not the only one.”

Picking up on Jessica’s hint, she held her empty mug upside down. “I’m thirsty again. Mind grabbing us some coffee, Yoona? ChoA gives 100% discounts to sexy customers.”

“Does my shirt read ‘waitress’ to you?”

Sunny tore off a notebook sheet’s corner and scribbled a note. Smirking, she slid it around the mess to Jessica’s side. In chicken scratch cursive to thwart Yoona’s basic knowledge of the English alphabet, it read:

Your friend’s sassy & pretty hot. I’m on the prowl.

Oh, hell no.

Jessica frowned to call Sunny’s bluff. When the Casanova brushed her bangs into an instantly stylish array across her long eyelashes, the brunette blanched.

Yoona snatched the paper. “What’s this say? The anticipation is stabbin’ me!”

Jessica routinely helped her get through English words and pronunciation, but even Yoona would crack this code eventually. Reclaiming the note in a lucky grab, she smashed it into a dirty cup. “A latte, Yoongie? With soy.”

“For you, yes.” Yoona grappled at the curtains, pausing to say, “I’m cutting off Sunny’s java supply. Her pee’s gonna be disgusting.”

They snorted at the weirdo, watching her sashay away.

“I’m not shitting you.” Sunny fanned herself. “She’s deadly in a button-up.”

“I forbid that union.”

“Wouldn’t work for me against you and Tae.” And there, the setting grew serious. “What do you want?”

“Why don’t you like me?”

“Frankly, Tae hasn’t been the same since you came on the scene.”

“That’s not bad.”

“For you, probably not.”

“Tae makes me happy.”

“Womp womp womp love.” Sunny churned slender hands at each word. “Eternity, commitment, wicked oral--”

“W-wicked…”

“I blame your tongue for her downfall.”

Jessica struggled through a blush, not prepared for Taeyeon to presumably brag on their sex life. “Would it be awkward for me to ask a favor?”

“You don’t know me at all, do you?” Sunny coyly posed a shoulder beneath her chin. “I hate awkwardness.”

“I won’t make it awkward.”

“Clock’s tickin’ Sixer.”

“Teach me ‘love:murder’.”

As expected, a grim distrust darkened the other woman’s features. “How do you even know about it?”

“Please, Sunny.” Her fingers tapped the antsy seconds until Yoona’s return. “I need it.”

“For?”

If Tiffany could have insurance, so could she. Only, the knightly route went in a different direction.

“I don’t know yet. I need you to trust me.”




I can't even decipher the overall feel of this chapter. So, here's Yoongie on a bike.



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