Title: Skandl! (Chapter 25)
Pairing(s): TaengSic, side!YulTi
Rating/Genre: PG-13 + Language; AU Idol Romance
Warning(s): Blood, guts, lots of death. (I’m lying)
Disclaimer: I don't own Soshi. I don't own anyone, in fact. All Fiction.
Author's Notes: A LOT HAS HAPPENED. #LoveWins in my lil’ country of America, CMIYC OT9 leak ♥♥♥, Soshi comeback teasers (3 MVs!!), I gotta get into Jessica’s B&E pants, KCON NY tickets purchased, and I can’t get enough of the manhwa ‘What Does the Fox Say?’. Idek how the hale I got writing done.
Kwon Yuri detested conflict.
Fights among friends, war on television, occasionally duelling cats outside. She hated it. Butting heads was inevitable, of course. Didn’t mean she had to accept the rocky course.
The past week tested her strength. Sunny’s “I quit” announcement made sense. While her friend usually operated within the system, she didn’t hesitate to take huge steps. Yuri envied that, actually, as a wishy-washy type who needed a year and a couple crises to express K-Pop’s declining appeal. Sunny spoke her piece surefoot and boldly, summing up weeks of rubbish.
However, Taeyeon kamikazeed herself into Andy Lim’s shithouse. Altering everything.
Yuri unboxed a stack of towels. Mismatched. Some bearing warrior holes from their abuse in the Skandl household. Thumbing frayed fabric, a smile surfaced for soft seconds. Hastily, it fell sterile behind every recent occurrence repeating like a medical disclaimer:
Skandl was no more. Side effects may include anxiety, declining funds, sleeplessness, depression, and a phobia of social media.
She avoided time with Lim Dong-gun that’d be considered ‘quality’, but his pulsating neck veins and wine breath said heaps: he’d never been so mad. He barreled into their dorm the same night as Taeyeon’s coming out post--
Yuri choked on air. Taeyeon came out as a lesbian--to everyone.
Being an avid anti-sensationalist, she had a rude awakening online. To the point of not confronting browsers or news sources altogether. Coming out was a sacred affair. Taeyeon (irrationally or not) disclosed a personal fraction of herself, inciting pandemonium. Her Pickpockette was wiped clean two hours after the video made waves.
Too little, too late for LTE. TaCo was fake; orchestrated liars.
Sponsors vanished, braver ones held on. Fandoms across the board and people who couldn’t care less about K-pop clogged comment sections, forums, TV panels over two polarizing subjects: homosexuality and privacy.
Tearing tape, Yuri’s subconscious revisited the shouts, the tight-lipped exec types scrutinizing their dorm’s interior, the ‘where is she’s to two confused groupmates. Neither checked Picpockette at that hour--too busy stewing in their respective rooms. Dong-gun sniffed out his prey, a pajamaed lead singer and her finest weapons: a cell phone, her mouth.
The manager insulted Taeyeon in every facet of the definition. Meanwhile, Taeyeon lounged on their couch, legs coquettishly crossed at the knees, gaze chiseled and disturbingly lucid.
Kim Taeyeon snatched the ripcord before Sunny and Yuri thought to jump.
Dong-gun rotated to the latter women, allotting his resentment evenly. Yuri could merely anchor a shoulder to the wall and numb her features. That lowlife perpetuated a dangerous environment. His plotty ass released her private photos just to swing his limp dick for power. Disgusting.
Taeyeon was evicted, forced to pack her bags for the morning.
Yuri, in turn, earned a ticket to Lim Theatrics’ dungeon (no appearances, no promoting, stagnant idol limbo). Sunny retained the freedom to ‘contribute to the LTE’ brand by continual songwriting and trainee mentorship. Of the three, she’d proven herself worthwhile.
Ironically, Sunny ended up the single contractually active Skandl member until the company sorted shit out. Phasing the group into obscurity, no doubt.
Sensing no harmony within the dorm, Yuri quickened to leave, as well. She owned an empty penthouse, after all, and stopped short of opening her doors to Taeyeon. They needed their space.
No matter how much Yuri’s heart told her otherwise.
“You’ll need energy-saving lights.”
The raven-haired guitarist acknowledged Narsha. Her adored ex-manager held her trusty tablet in hand, business wear replaced by a yellow polo and shorts. For today. The Kwons bore the brunt of the shotgun move, promising to return later that week to accessorize.
Normally, Yuri glued Tiffany to her hip. Without Tiffany, Taeyeon and Sunny entertained. Without them, her family. All unavailable. Narsha filled these empty, sequestered gaps.
Skandl was responsible for her loss, Yuri concluded. Dong-gun might have chosen the gun model and LTE supplied bullets, but she and her best friends basically shot their favorite authority figure out of a long-term job.
Thankfully, Narsha accepted her homemaking offer, deeming it a nice break from back-to-back consulting gigs. The stickler tested every outlet, inspected the house’s infrastructure, swatched and coded meticulously, and consolidated her findings in a doc.
Efficient, helpful, purely Narsha.
Best of all, she slept over a couple nights. Simply hearing the floor creak of another loved human made a neverending list of ‘to do’s bearable.
“My brother will grab some bulbs,” Yuri asserted, patting dusty hands on her capris. “My stomach’s running empty!”
Narsha presented a professionally scribed sheet. “I compiled a list of restaurants in your area. In order of quality rating and distance.”
“Kickass! My salvation until I learn how to use that big hot cube in the kitchen.”
Her laugh soothed every muscle. “That big hot cube bakes food, Yul. Use the rice cooker I bought you. You’re underfed.”
Yuri shyly let the woman tickle her stomach, giggling. “Or, I could combine rice cartons from all this junk I’m gonna order, fridge it, and never plug in that...oven thingy.”
“You’ll regret it,” Narsha muttered, shaking her head in feigned disappointment. “I can’t stop you from surviving on hard, microwaved rice.”
“Treat you to take out?”
“Can’t. I have a 5’2” date at a hotel.”
“Oh,” Yuri studied a curl of tape dancing on her ankle. “How is she?”
“Fair. Asks about you often. Are you not answering her messages?”
“I’m...keeping myself clear-minded.”
“Don’t eliminate essential friendships, Yul. Tae misses you.”
“I miss her, too.”
The younger woman’s lips pursed, tone provocative. “Speaking of dates, have you snagged a main squeeze yet?”
Ruffling, Narsha swiped new motivation onto her devices. “My bed’s not a barren wasteland thanks to her.”
“Score!” Yuri bounced giddily. “Ooh, ohh! Is she a powerful lez who wears those sexy corporate suits? Your age or mine? Some fresh meat lovin’?”
“Absolutely not in her twenties. Your kind have no common sense.” A beat passed. “She’s a year older than me.”
“Will I meet her?”
“It’s too early to expose her to my little terrors! Knowing Sunny, she’d hit on her.”
Spreading a nostalgic grin, Yuri asked, “Is she okay?”
“Sunny’s a rock. She’ll adapt.” Narsha arched an eyebrow. The smallest movement prefacing the hot pink, eyesmiling elephant in the room. “Tae told me the whole story...regarding Tiffany.”
“Yeah?” She didn’t even know. Didn’t want to know, honestly.
“Had this been Tae’s girlfriend, I’d implore her to move on, no regrets. Tiffany Hwang’s done her damage and Taeyeon’s grudges...” She chuckled. “will outlive us all.”
“Geologists will find fossils of Tae’s grudges.”
“I wish you’d come to me with these problems.”
“Am I too late?”
Narsha shook her head, placing the tablet and phone onto a counter. With a firm tap, she led Yuri to the one unwrapped piece of furniture--a tan loveseat. “Yul, I’m a 24/7 automated advice machine for you three.”
Ashamed, Yuri swallowed. “No girlfriend, no friends. What to do?”
“Don’t be dramatic. Sunny and Tae couldn’t shake you if they tried. And they wouldn’t. As for Tiffany…”
“I made the right choice. Breaking up with her.”
Yuri flinched, pupils reading Narsha’s face in a fretful sweep. “You do?”
“Isn’t that what you want from me? Confirmation?”
“You’ve heard the story. She hurt my best friend, kept secrets from me…”
“Sweetie,” Narsha tittered, smoothing a thumb across her ex-client’s cheek, “what Tiffany said to Taeyeon was hateful, underhanded. Using history and knowledge of her personality, she clocked many of Tae’s weaknesses.”
“She changed for the worst.”
“Elite, the industry, associates shape what we see in her--all of you. You’ve all changed.”
“No excuse for what she’s said.”
“You’re right. However, words, in this profession, mean little to nothing sometimes. Your ex was obviously bluffing. She had no intention of taking action against you or Skandl. ”
These weeks made Yuri question everything. “How are you so certain?”
“After you confided about dating an Elite star, I laid a suspicious eye on Tiffany Hwang. But, it didn’t take a genius to verify her feelings. Even now, while she’s smiling through that lavender coupling with Mr. Olympian, I can read her eyes. She’s not into it. That spark happened with you. Just you.”
“For years, I’ve seen you and Tiffany exchange glances backstage, at events, in huge crowds. Heard you whisper ‘I love you’ into phone receivers. Discounted your personal visiting expenses on LTE’s dime. Stood secret guard until you exited dingy closets.” Narsha lifted a brow to go on, quieting a blubbered response. “Whenever you were sick, this Californian ‘Hello?’ would answer your phone. I’d accept her makeshift secretaryship, giving dates for schedules and such. Always safe in her hands.”
“Should I forgive her?”
Narsha sighed. “You’ve changed, Sunny’s changed, and lord knows Taeyeon’s different. Tiffany’s mistakes don’t dictate her character overall. I’m positive she’d rectify that if you gave her a chance. What she really needs is a shrink.”
“What does Tae think?”
“What do you think?”
“I…” Yuri pressed into her closed eyelids, sulking. “I feel incomplete.”
“You’re upset because Tae excluded you. Think further than this--she wouldn’t have attempted her misguided version of protection if she thought you were in trouble.”
Taeyeon’s immediate stress over Dong-gun’s pictures. She brought attention to it within hours, dutifully. Because he posed danger. Though, in the case for Tiffany, she allowed blissful, ignorant time to YulTi. Irresponsible, but… “Tae loves me.”
Narsha rubbed Yuri’s shoulder, initiating a vital hug. “No shit, Yul. She’s lost without the other two Stooges.”
“I’m aimless without them.”
“Remedy it. Sunny’s stubborn and Tae blames herself. You’re the only one strong enough to take that leap.”
“Sure you don’t wanna play mediator?”
“Sweetiiieee,” Narsha teased, rustling Yuri’s black strands. “You’d have to pay for that.”
“Thanks for showing on such short notice.”
“No problem, ba--” the visitor truncated the remaining bit, clutching her canvas tote handle. “I’m surprised you called.”
“You smell yummy.” Bathed in an apple cinnamon scent so vivid, it made Yuri’s stomach growl. ‘I should take a bite out of you’, she’d croon. If they were dating.
Something shined in Tiffany’s eyes. She leaned in, inches apart while they digested the proximity. Without Narsha, friends, or acquaintances to intervene. “I understand why you cancelled last week. Taeyeon’s--”
“Brain accords to her heart.”
“We’ll say that. May I come in?”
“Yeah, it’s a bit messy,” she commented. “I ordered lunch.”
“Lunch for two?”
The singer was dressed casually: shorts, blue tank top, an unbuttoned shirt covering silky shoulders. Perfection. Visual perfectionist.
Yuri slapped her own cheek. Stay focused.
“I think you look beautiful, too.”
The guitarist changed into less dusty jeans and a Rainbow Brite tee she’d borrowed from Sunny. “Thanks,” she muttered, plagued by their synchronicity.
“Chat on the loveseat?”
“You sit. I’ll stand.” Yuri needed oxygen if she wanted her brain to work.
“This place is marvelous. Bet you can’t wait to decorate.”
“Aka conning Hyuk-Jun into painting.”
The preceding giggle affected her too much. Yuri shrinked away, fisting hands into her pockets. It reminded her of Taeyeon, the point of their meeting. “Fany, I love you, alright? But, if there are present, vicious sides of you...I’m repelled.”
Tiffany nodded slowly, smile extinguished.
“Your drive is sexy, a little naughty. Can’t be more sinister than that. I’ve skipped sleep; sitting up all night, wondering if you’ve been harbouring this hate.”
“Be real with me.”
“Yes, fine,” Tiffany whined, hands threading into her thick hair. “There’s a bitter part of me. Compliments of Bae Jinnie. Y-you know of our...sexual past.”
Her stomach knotted. “I do.”
“She’d been stripped of Lucky status and...I didn’t feel vindicated. Stupidly, that frustration migrated to Jess and Taeyeon. Neither of them deserved that.”
“Are you and Jess on good terms?”
“She kisses me more than Yoongie lately.” Smirking at possessive eyes bulging, Tiffany edited her statement. “On the cheek, in my hair, once on the lips by accident.”
Yuri clucked her teeth. “You like that, I presume.”
“Maybe I do. I hate being single.” A half-shrug. “Jess kissed me on the nose.”
Err, no. Noses were YulTi’s domain. “Why’s she so damn kissy? Taeyeon’s gotta abort her pity party and busy Jessica’s mouth before she makes out with my--”
Yuri ticked her finger forward, grinning despite herself. “You’re sneaky.”
“I don’t want to be.” The mood shifted to somber. Tiffany examined her white nails, running them along her thighs. “I’m partially responsible for Tae’s video. She has trust issues and all this drama...that Fifteen mess….I kicked her while she was down, making her worry about Jessica and her career. As a matter of fact, my original plan was to sing ‘love:murder’ at the end of my solo--for you. I realized that’d make me no better than Jinnie. Willing to go the extra yard, disregarding others, to broadcast my personal life. I chose against it and when Tae kissed Sunny for the cameras, I knew I made the proper decision.”
Ditching Tiffany in the car knocked her down so many notches. “Tae dealt with her hatred of you to appease me. It’d be dishonest to count you out of the reasons she came out.”
“If she hadn’t broken the group, it’d be me. You prevented that, remember?”
“Not all me. You drip stage presence, you’re talented. I mean, you taught yourself the harpsichord. So random.”
“I’ve changed,” Yuri conceded, flustered. “The Kwon Yuri you met fueled herself on caffeine and laughs, ready to dominate as a Skandl member. Then, I grew a repulsion to this celebrity status, pressure of outdoing armies of new acts, exceeding physical limitations, a lack of artfulness…My hospital stay forced me to think it out.”
“Am I too idol for you?”
“To me, you’re still Fany.”
They shared a small laugh, which the doorbell severed.
Yuri grabbed a face-obscuring cap from a wall hook. “Food’s here.”
Saved by the bell. Time to regroup, stuff her face, and evaluate the pros/cons of her forgiving personality.
Lunch was quiet. So, Yuri self-deliberated to her frazzled mind’s content. In print, from an objective stance, giving Tiffany the ax cohered to basic logic. Didn’t The Spice Girls sing, “If you wanna be my lover, you gotta get with my friends”?
Rewinding to happy noraebang times, she smirked. No longer tied to simplistic 90s lyrics, no longer a slave to the past. Taeyeon had trapped herself in the past, pridefully slandering faultless Lucky Six members for years.
And Yuri failed to defend her fiancée, chronically rehashing excuse after stale excuse. Condoning Taeyeon’s rude tendencies in the impenetrable name of friendship.
“Explain your problems with Tae.”
Tiffany lowered her metal chopsticks, huffing. “Do you have all week?”
“Taeyeon and I have a weird magnetism,” she described. “I bothered her on the roof and she picked me up outside our dorm. I called her, she found me backstage at ‘Girls Only’. We can’t stand each other, yet her dumb face won’t leave me be.”
Consoled by an authentic chuckle, Yuri asked, “How do I know you won’t stoop that low again, Fany?”
“If our roles were reversed, wherein I scar the crap out of Yoong or Soo for selfish gain, could you let it go?”
Tiffany wiped her chopsticks. “Scaring Sooyoungie is impossible. I’ve tried.” Her gaze stayed floor-ward. “I’d probably kill you.”
“How? By brute force?"
"Yep." Yuri, caught in habit, slid her hands onto Tiffany's neck. "Like this. Strangling."
"Physical contact, oh my!"
"Headline: Ex-Skandl guitarist sentenced to eight thousand years in prison for pop superstar murder. Details on page twelve."
"How the mighty have fallen."
"It was the drugs, I swear."
"Don't joke about that."
Memories of the accident seized Tiffany’s smile. "I love you. Exactly like I asked Jessica, I'll beg you--please, trust me."
"I don't know who to trust anymore."
"Having Tae out of the picture," she ceded, "isn't what I hoped it be. I don't feel any better. This blackmail shit's not for me."
Yuri pushed cartons of vegetables from between them, interlocking her fingers upon her knees. "Wish you recognized that sooner."
"Aren't you curious about what I did? Exactly what happened?"
"Okay..." She spun slender hands, a touch of baby in her voice. "Sip of your drink?"
"Sure, I'll get it." Yuri twisted awkwardly to claim her seltzer water. When she spun back around, Tiffany’s face, nose, lips, were closer. Not insanely close, but sufficient to smack a tremor straight to her stomach. “Babe…”
That was all the incentive they needed, drifting into a kiss. A short, delicate meeting of velvety flesh. It flashed starbursts beneath her closed eyelids. Vibrations from her lips down to her painted toes. Comfort. Absolute comfort.
“Did you feel that?” Tiffany whispered.
Yuri soaked her in--featuring teeth, tongues, tugs, stifled moans. She and Tiffany were equal parts chatterbox. Therefore, sitting quietly on the hard floor, skirting attraction for the sole purpose of convincing herself that the wasn’t fucking crazy for this woman, slaughtered every tenant she followed. They were hands-on, passionate types. Something unexplainable to Taeyeon.
“Mm, you called me babe,” she purred, plucking the open seltzer.
The raven woman watched Tiffany’s neck constrict as she drank. Jerking forward to steal a taste.
A lightbulb flashed over Yuri’s head as her body relaxed, reacting to the calm endearment. Her ex-fiancée (like herself) was vulnerable and clingy to this delectable familiarity, doing neither of them favors. They’d fall into the same pattern--nothing learned on Yuri’s behalf.
“I can’t be engaged to you,” she whispered to fingers clenching the can.
Tiffany’s brows knit, distinct panic reflected. “Why?”
“Months in the future, I’m no longer a part of your idol world. When my royalty checks cease and I’ll be on saving mode, will you be ashamed?”
“I’ll be a hasbeen. Irrelevant.”
“Why are you berating yourself?” Tiffany climbed halfway into Yuri’s lap. Apple cinnamon attacked doubly. “I can’t promise to throw it all away like Taeyeon…” She dropped her head, smirking. “But, I’ll withstand JiWook’s hissy fits for you. I do have a gay boyfriend as cover.”
“What about our photos? They’ve resurfaced. A slew of new questions.”
Dark, chocolatey pupils stroked her jaw, neckline. “Let me handle that.”
“In a few months,” Yuri continued, “I may be different. And I don’t know you like I thought I did.”
“I’m the same girl.”
“That’s what I’m afraid of.”
Tiffany swiped her wet face before the tears rolled down her chin. Reminiscent of her pitiful state as Yuri untied her that one night, gulping back apologies, promises to never abandon her again.
“I’m sorry, Yul.”
“I hoped if I fought for you, everything would repair itself.”
“‘Cause I’m permissive. It’s weak.”
“Who told you that? Taeyeon?”
“Think on your own. Weakness is relative.” Sodden lashes, lips designed for smiling, a pallid complexion were impossible to ignore. “Do you want to be with me or not?”
“You should go.”
Her stomach wrenched as Tiffany rose to sprain into her shoes. Movements deliberately pronounced to make her anger candid. A lot like Tae. Jesus, she and Tiffany were soulhates for real.
Friends vs. Girlfriends. Friends were supposed to win by default, right?
She glanced up at her name. Merely a serf in the hierarchy of the star towering, fixed at the entrance. Tiffany jingled her car keys. For her ex.
“I won’t give up, Yul.”
The faint click--a sad shell of Hwang-ified door abuse--punctuated dismal static. A confusing fog of heartache, regret, isolation.
Yuri flew to her unpacked suitcases, typing Taeyeon’s memorized phone number because she could. Calling for a second chance of friendship. Knowing she’ll answer on the first ring.
And trying to erase the visual of a light-up penguin keychain dangling on beautiful fingers.
Yuri parked next to Taeyeon’s car in the dorm’s parking lot. Her heart palpitated, catching the smaller singer staring owl eyes at her from the front seat. She must have been waiting.
“You got in touch,” Taeyeon mused aloud as they trecked to their floor. Breaking minutes of hesitant silence.
She shrugged, masking her twinned thought.
“You still have your key?”
Freezing, Yuri met her sullen eyes reluctantly. “Yeah, don’t you?”
“Revoked in Dong-gun’s suspension,” Taeyeon answered in a sigh. “Punishment.”
Instinctive delight crept upon her lips once the door opened. Music. High-volume “Spawn” by Rosemary’s Babysitter; a Chiptune remix by an artist’s whose name probably consisted of more numbers than letters circuited from the occupied bedroom.
A good sign.
Taeyeon’s smile made a short appearance. “Should I fetch her?”
“Mm.” Yuri flopped onto the old couch, skin prickling upon contact. It’d take ages for that new shit in her house to match this coziness. Her lashes flickered shut.
She loved the hollow thunk of her heels landing on the coffee table. The soft, memorized pattern of Taeyeon’s footfalls. The refrigerator's intermittent motor run. Padded coos from the cofa when she leaned too far--a product of horseplay and sexually active entertainers. Their home was musical, basically.
The electronic beats shut to a stop when Taeyeon knocked. Yuri’s eyelid inched open, watching the girl fidget in place until someone greeted her.
That someone being Im Yoona.
“H-hey, you’re alive!” the Lucky member breathed, Pocky fingers unevenly buttoning her top. She took extra care in snapping the door shut at her back. “Sunny’s um...coming. She’s coming.”
By the looks of her matted hair and rush-wrinkled attire, Sunny already came.
Taeyeon followed Yoona to the front, where the youngest slipped into metallic jesus sandals. “Sunny knew we were visiting, right?”
“Her head was someplace else.”
“Apparently,” the couch-dweller commented from afar.
Yoona jumped slightly. Easing shoulders to Yuri’s unimposing grin, she replied, “It’s been a lonely week for Sunny. She needed me.”
“Did it help?”
“I played nurse. Gave her shots, tucked her in bed, rose her temperature…” As the euphemisms soldiered on, her greasiness exceeded fry cook heights. “Sexually healed the fuck outta her, tongue therapy, ate her--”
Taeyeon deflated, voice brittle. “Message received.”
“Someone around here’s gotta make her smile,” the Lucky girl murmured to the ceiling, angelic eyes averted. “A happy Sunny is best. Prettiest, too.”
“Don’t undo my handiwork, Moody bee.”
“Moody bear. I’m a bear!” Taeyeon snapped, brazenly immature. “Should I walk you downstairs?”
“My legs can manage. Sunny made a woman out of me, didn’t ya know?” Then, with the class and tact of any 23-year-old superstar, she brought long, crafty fingers to her nose and showily breathed in a noisy whiff.
Disgusted and equally amused, they jeered Yoona out the apartment. Their gazes crossed. Either woman startled at how they slipped into ‘best buddies mode’. The members within Skandl were fighting, right? Unresolved beef.
Although, Yuri detested conflict.
“We need booze,” Sunny declared, breaching their awkward lull.
Taeyeon scuffed Converse soles to the coffee table. Chin tilted, unable to face Yuri four feet away. “We’re driving.”
“Same car?” A twinge of unmistakable jealousy grazed Sunny’s question as she hunted through clacking cabinets.
It put hope in Yuri’s heart. “This discussion should happen tonight.”
“Which constitutes drinking, yes?”
She unscrewed a couple bottlecaps, grooming three glasses of gin, ice, and cola. “Spend the night if you get wasted.”
“We’re allowed to stay?”
The mixture’s color was thin. Over-ginned. “Depends on our talk.”
“Haven’t--” Taeyeon’s word came out in a squeak. She coughed. “Haven’t we dispelled enough garbage for the year? We should be making up.”
“Easy for you to say.” Sunny slid the platter of drinks to the table’s center. “You chose our fates for us.”
“Doesn’t cut it.”
“You were gonna quit!”
“My mind hadn’t been made up,” the musician grumbled. “When you posted that fucking video, I axed the lawyer call. Skandl’s fucked regardless.”
Sweating beneath her t-shirt, Yuri spoke. “Fany visited my new house today.”
Taeyeon cringed into a timid sip. “Before us. Shocker.”
“I’m angry at everyone right now. Alright, Tae?”
“Except Sunny and I can’t fuck the anger out of you...like she can.”
This salty twat. Belittling her long-term partnership to abject sex at every chance. “We’re not back together.”
“You think I’m lying?”
“My goodness, is this jealousy I hear?” Sunny sarcastically batted curled lashes. “Why don’t you bed Yul?”
The oldest slammed a clenched hand to the tabletop, rattling ice. “Real cute that you finally wrapped yourself in Im Yoona’s legs! Did you need the dorm all to yourself or my rejection as definite permission?”
A second later, Taeyeon was wearing Sunny’s alcohol. She gasped, blaring pink eyes astonished and round. “B-bitch!”
“Try to kick me around, Tae. I have more where that came from.”
Yuri went on as if one person wasn’t dripping onto the rug, too proud to dry herself off. “Spoken to Dong-gun?”
“A bit,” Sunny’s pressed on a smile. “He’s in hot water for our mismanaged group; Daddy Lim is hella pissed.”
“You you still conspiring with him?”
“We didn’t conspire,” Sunny groaned, prepping another glass. “We...we agreed about your below-average work ethic.”
“Fine,” Yuri caved. “I could’ve practiced harder.”
Taeyeon pulled at her stained shirt, pouting. “Dong-gun’s creep ass gambled with Yul’s privacy and her fucking career. Mine, also, if--”
“Kim Taeyeon,” Sunny interrupted, “that’s your MO. We’re on the precipice of disbandment because of you.”
“I…” The soggy singer hugged her knees to her chin. “I made…”
“A horrible mistake, Tae! Fuckin’ idiotic.”
“Not sinking in, apparently.”
Yuri sucked an ice cube into her cheek. “What Tae did was awesome.”
The bickering duo muted, double-taking in her direction.
She expounded. “Used more courage than I could drum up. We were Skandl: badass stars who gave no damns about society’s tiny, narrow-minded boxes. Kissing you onstage, fighting my girlfriend, coming out on Pickpockette--all on par with our cause.”
“Ex-girlfriend,” Sunny corrected.
“Admit it! Taeyeon epitomizes Skandl.”
“Yul,” the blonde sighed, “I’m as fabricated as any of our basic copycats.”
Sunny raggedly shoved bangs from her forehead, lividly shaking. “I’ll jump the Banpo Bridge before I praise Taeyeon’s total annihilation of Skandl! This wasn’t only my baby. Nor Andy Lim’s. Our idiosyncrasies, bruises, blood, humor, sleep deprivation contributed. Outcast status let us see the world, promote in styles unseen in our goddamned genre!” She sprouted from the floor like lava. “Taeyeon. This...this--” A middle finger pointed. “selfish coward didn’t caress her hipster ukulele and sing my fuckin’ lyrics for Skandl. She did it for Jessica.” Branching forward, she splayed hands onto Taeyeon’s sticky cheeks. “Her girlfriend from the opposition’s most lucrative girl group! You fucked me over for her, didn’t you?!”
Taeyeon blanched. “That’s not--”
“I loved you.”
Dead silence. Yuri believed those words, assumed them, tossed theories around to Tiffany.
Yet, hearing them. Shuddered, raw, open.
Sunny’s knuckles whitened, stringing damp hair. “When Elite roomed us as a pair, you weren’t sexy, especially gorgeous, or busty. Your confidence pulled me. Your hunger, your too-fab-for-bullshit smirk. We grew up as a team. Swore off ball-and-chain commitment and lady-shaped barriers to getting what we deserved. Skandl was ours.”
Yuri squirmed at the implication. This ‘our’ didn’t consist of three.
“My love wasn’t traditional. If you ate out Bang Minah or some random groupie, I wouldn’t care. I knew you’d find a stable girlfriend down the line and I accepted that. Jessica Jung, though. The way she first looked at you. The way you turned around,” Her grip loosened. “Scoping her as if she were the Sistine Chapel personified. I realized your tastes mimicked CEO Won Chi Woong’s standards. Group B girls like me--”
“Sunkyu,” Taeyeon growled, eyes brimming, “you’re golden.”
“I wrote ‘love:murder’ the next morning. Had a skull-splitting hangover, but the music wouldn’t let me rest. During our living room practice session, I read Jessica’s lip prints all over you. Then, your heartbreak ukulele. Never played it for me, you know.”
“Enough, god!” Yuri spat, at her wit’s end. “Stop hassling her! It’s annoying.”
“Blah blah, Tae and me, blah me and Tae. I was part of Skandl, too.”
“I haven’t forgotten about you,” the half moon haired-woman stood to full height. “You deserted your bandmates in your head; Taeyeon accomplished it through action. Pardon me for loving the hell out our success.”
Contrary to warring perspectives inside, Yuri maintained a reasonable attitude in the face of Rumors, staff, interviewers, and any bum holding a camera. To help their team. Unlike her spoiled, sometimesy counterparts. “You’d forsake me. For fame.”
“Fame brought us together. Agencies, Narsha--they seeked revenue for our group. We’re not ‘The Friendshippers’, a non-profit organization by LTE.”
They followed their names to the opposite side of the living room. Winding blonde into a short ponytail, timbre authoritative despite damp clothing. Similar to no-nonsense honeybadger days. “I’m leaving the country.”
Perplexed, the two members glanced at each other, waiting for more.
“Not permanently,” she supplied. “New York. Andy Lim bought me tickets. He said it’d be best to lay low until his board voted on what to do with me.”
Taeyeon’s skin blended with her hair, appearing washed out. Nose chafed. Gel nails chipped. Sweatpants baggy and faded. Voice shabby, her chapped lips flexed. “All I wanna know is...are we cool? Sunny, Yul--are we friends?”
“Yes!” the raven guitarist rushed, dashing her quest to be less permissive. This endless cycle of animosity benefitted nobody. They’d find extra reasons to quarrel, new methods to harm, more potent venom to spit. Besides, the responding smile splashed warmth into the room. “A vacation sounds amazing. Need a companion?”
“I already…” Taeyeon kicked the floorboard, lightly blushing.
Oh, yeah. She was the single bitch, not Taeyeon. Desperate for a topic change, Yuri matched Sunny’s hooded eyes. “Friends?”
“Search ‘friend’ in the dictionary!” Sunny screamed, striding backwards, searching ghosts of Skandl’s past in palpable disquiet. “Friends don’t trample hearts and bomb livelihoods, earning a free pass for being assholes.”
“You don’t mean that,” Taeyeon tried.
“Tae, this is not the time.” She palmed her doorknob. Tear-stricken, glossy cheeks creased her natural eyesmile into something terrible. Distressing. “Make up. Make out, whichever. Just stop pressuring me into forgetting our problems.”
“I’m out a job. And a dream. Allow me to lick my wounds. Please.”
Yuri gaped, struggling for miracle words. Magic syllables that’d turn this hell boat around. “I won’t give up, Sunny.”
Her ex’s statement.
Possibly as sincere. As crucial.
“We won’t give up,” Taeyeon amended, balling fists into her tight jeans. Serious leader dwindled to kiddish, stubborn First Year LTE recruit Kim Taeyeon.
“I still love her.”
“Hur--what?” Both women’s heads jerked in whiplash.
“Tiffany. Fany. I love her.”
“Fuckin’ A, Yul. Give it a--”
“Shut up, Tae.” Yuri gathered keys, Air Jordans, and nerves in her arms. Chest pounding, convinced that this weakling forgiveness trait didn’t sully her genetic makeup. The concept of hardening one’s heart to those begging for a fresh start sat brickish and unwanted in Yuri’s mental inventory.
They weren’t Skandl. They were Kwon Yuri, Lee Sunkyu, and Kim Taeyeon.
Sworn to be friends forever.
If doubt could injure such a bond, how else could it smite the crumbs of her three-year relationship?
That evening, Yuri functioned through a trance. A trance of speeding wheels. Ignored stop signs.
Dodged police idly parked on side roads.
A familiar guard’s uncertain nod. Parting gates. Glowing elevator numbers. Echoed steps.
Eyes. Sleepy eyes ringed in green goop.
A shy, shit-eating grin to the goopy version of Seo Juhyun in a sleeping shirt incredibly too transparent to mumble a request without turning red.
Lustrous hair side-braided. Prettier for bed than advertisements.
A husky voice. Purposed for music, moaning, snide remarks about pervert Charms. Not this. Not a stiff, “Hey, Yul.”
“I can’t marry you,” the former Skandl-mate blurted.
“Go to hell.”
Yuri grinned harder. God, she couldn’t stop grinning. “I’m a different person. Unemployed yet financially secure. I have a three-bedroom penthouse, a backyard, thousands of swatches and no paint.”
“Are you high?”
“Square one. Can we start from square one?”
“And then what?” Tiffany sucked at hiding her joy. Always did. “Act like we don’t know everything about one another?”
She snorted, curling shapely lips. “That’s absurd.”
“Why are you here?”
“I have a crush on you.”
“Oh god,” she snickered, searching over her shoulder into the dark room. In case the goopy one lurked. “You’re cute.”
“I shouldn’t…” Yuri broke the fantasy, tongue lapping tears from the corners of her mouth. “forget what we’ve endured. What you may have done.”
“You need time.”
Yuri grew sick of being careful. Or tactful in every step of this Tiffany vs. Taeyeon ordeal. So, she made a move, exhaled words--truth, not dirty lyrics or exploitive prose--into her ex’s skin, tickling the woman’s ear. “Steer forward, Fany.”
Because Skandl’s Kwon Yuri placed the group first. Kwon Yuri’s Kwon Yuri gave into her nature. The squishy, lovesick state that put Sunny on pins and needles.
“I have a crush on you, too, Yul.”
“How convenient,” she hummed, tapping the tip of Tiffany’s pretty nose à la YulTi’s role-reversed past. “Gimmie your number.”
“You already have it.”
Yuri stuck to her guns, fighting the urge to kiss.
A fresh start. Build themselves up from that point, then everything would organically flow into place. “Then, I’ll ring you later.”
“I might answer.”
Yuri chewed her lip. Pretending not to see her ex-fiancée cry. These would be the tears shed if her best friends reconciled. Happy tears. Worth the lost pride. “I think I’m going to like you.”
Tiffany poked her taut tummy. “I already like you.”
“Wait ‘til you see me naked.”
“Violation, you pervert. Square one.”
“Shhh.” She pulled back reluctantly. Missing her aura, the energy crackling between their slight bodies.
Positive attraction. Worthwhile.
So, Yuri abided by traffic laws on the drive to her not-quite-home house. Whistling. Albeit melancholy.
Stressing, contemplating, predicting how long it’d take for all her bonds to be whole again.
LOOK AT THIS. C’MON. *_____*
CRED TO MAH FAVORITE DINO <333 FOR THE METALLIC JESUS SANDALS. :DDD
We’ve now hit the point where I’m hustlin' to write a chapter in time for each update. So, it’s a bigger challenge for me. Per usual, don’t worry about an incomplete ongoing. #Igotyourback
If you’re curious about the countdown...
TWO. MORE. CHAPTERS.