checkinyourbra: (taeyeon02)
[personal profile] checkinyourbra

Title: Skandl! (Chapter 27)

Pairing(s): TaengSic, side!YulTi

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

Warning(s): Beware of the writer's long A/Ns..

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

Author's Notes: Ooooh a three week break. Told y’all I’d be back!! *Harlem shakes* EAST COAST KCON IN THREE DAYS. AND DID Y’ALL BISHES SEE JESSICA’S B&E COMMERCIAL!?! DEM CLOSE UPS.





Twenty-seven: Taeyeon


--


Jessica and Krystal took after Mama and Papa Jung, respectively.

Taeyeon must have emitted ragamuffin vibes, sending the female half of the parental couple into Mother Hen-ish hysteria. Upon meeting, Mrs. Jung "awww"ed the international star. Meanwhile, she literally fork-prodded Soojung from a chair until Taeyeon sat to her immediate left. Maternal possession of astronomical heights ensued: face-wiping, fussing about uneaten vegetables, twenty-seven versions of "Are you cold?", and ultra snug side-hugs--just because.

This tested the blonde's emotional boundaries. As Jessica snickered sheer delight, Taeyeon let it ride. Albeit, intrinsically freaked out. Smother-fest gave her a window into decades-into-the-future Jessica. Thankfully, Mrs. Jung aged like fine wine. Boobs weren't so bad, either. Not that she'd been checking.

Papa Jung set the lunch's stage early. Arms crossed and lips screwed into a bow, he vetted Taeyeon for long minutes. And, stretching a gruffly tilted grin, he pronounced, "My daughters bring home prettier ladies than any of my friends' sons!"

Everyone surrounding her burst into laughter. She colored, all kinds of shocked. These people were more lax than she anticipated. In ways, it trumped a strict family's intimidation.

The Jungs' sharp-wittedness seemed like a second nature. They deconstructed every topic into some snarky debate. Comments hurled across the table at top speed--many going right over her head. Jessica held her own swimmingly, Taeyeon thought proudly.

Whenever Taeyeon stake a question, it hinged on Jessica's past. Grasping for embarrassing anecdotes--which they supplied shamelessly. Punishment for leaving them out the loop on their American travels.

Mr. Jung's favorite subject? Himself. Out of the blue, he urged the newcomer to rate his physique. She nearly died.

Despite the resounding snickers, he remained adamant. "Ignore these fools, Taeyeon. Ladies considered me quite dashing in my day."

He resembled any average male--similar to her own father's high cheekbones, brow wrinkles, and predilection for tan slacks. Regardless, she stretched excited eyes, comparing him to the first graying actor her mind conjured. He received her bloated accolades in indulgent stride. Other members of the Jung clan groaned.

"You're around P.A.G.A.N. and...what's that number band? Thirteen? Fourteen?"

Fifteen. Taeyeon didn't give a shit, though. "Fourteen."

"The handsome devil sitting before you spent his teens and twenties out-prettying any of those flower boys. Long eyelashes, a head of shoulder length hair, my irises--" Papa Jung lowered his spectacles for effect. "were light brown. Years of childrearing turned them darker than my soul."

"Dad," Jessica interrupted, sipping chai tea, "that's not a thing."

Too deep in his story, he persevered. "Envision a lad who'd disgrace any model. A hundred and forty pounds of sleek muscle."

"Where was this man when I met you?" their mother finally broke her amused silence to demand. "I should've married him!"

As an observer, Taeyeon revered every moment soaking in this uniquely-flavored family experience. Jokes, heckling, painless bickering, lewd tangents, full-mouth chuckles, smiles that squished eyes closed. Plate-sharing, comfortable pats at shoulders and hands. Graphic retellings of both C-section and natural Jung births. Soojung dropping items to be fetched by their attractive waitress. Sporadic swearing. Jessica proceeding to whine to Mama Jung for hogging her girlfriend. Taeyeon loved it all.

So, she shattered into pieces when she hugged Jessica goodbye. Their four days of happy came to a close. The popstar had to schedule a flight earlier than Taeyeon's at a separate airport to thwart speculation. Necessary heartbreak for protection.

"I love you," Taeyeon whimpered into flowery honey brown, sparing zero fucks that they were in a parking lot, watched by the trio of sassy onlookers.

Jessica exuded security, home. With her hair in a loose ponytail and that high, reassuring cadence. "I love you, too, Tae. Everything's marvelous. I don't want it to end."

"We should run away to adopt those puffins."

A deluge of tears flooded her neck, shirt collar. "Gotta face the music, bear."

She swallowed. "Promise to see me soon?"

"Duh."

Taeyeon ventured onto her own island of asphalt while the picturesque Jungs coiled into an organized jumble of kisses and jokes to compensate for watery eyes. Beauty, stable family life, a musical act on the road to a historical tour, and infinite love surrounded Jessica. Years earlier, envy would've trampled her into flattened, raving dregs.

She ruminated on this hours later, slouching in her airport seat. From a Narsha-esque command, she sprung to attention. The woman commanded Taeyeon’s obedience since her youngest daughter was a lost cause.

"Soojung, turn that down or you'll go deaf."

Krystal, occupying the place on Taeyeon's other side, sustained two more alerts until she raised one ear of colossal headphones. "What!?"

An exhausted breath. "Don't you work this evening?"

"Nope. Patel fired me."

"Young lady!"

"Kidding. I'm not that lucky." Her snicker devolved into a long screech once a middle aged handbag whomped her in the head. Taeyeon ducked out the way. "The hell, Mom!?"

"Be considerate of our guest."

"Depends. Are you done macking on her?"

The blonde'd been curled along Mrs. Jung's soft shoulder, red in the eyes and receptive of every affectionate whisper until she regained her composure. Taeyeon grinned at the mother winning round two of purse vs her daughter's ineffective defenses.

"Mom, you're a bully!" Regardless, Soojung chucked her headphones into a Marc Jacobs backpack freckled by iron-ons and obscure logo badges.

Taeyeon faltered to converse, immutably shy. "D-done with your school project?"

"Glasses nympho texted me.” Soojung stretched. “We fucked that deadline raw."

Feeling a parent's disapproving 'shush' brush her back, the singer squinted. "Will you get her in bed?"

"Yes."

"Damn. So certain."

"You've seen my assets.” A Shakira-inspired gyrate of the chest. “I got this."

Taeyeon approved of this human. Obscene. Like every freaking person in her inner circle. "True..."

"When will you visit again?" Soojung's lips, eyes, overall expression lowered their general space's temperature; however, the question’s content exposed sincerity.

"Dunno."

"Will you?" she reiterated.

"Sure, if your family doesn't mind."

"We won't. I don't care what those old people think, anyway. I'm inviting you."

"Then, I'll return."

Mr. Jung sunk into a seat opposite them. His presence bladed through their moment and so did his preceding statement. "Miss Kim, you're dating my eldest daughter. I'm compelled to--" He flexed stout shoulders. "--terrorize you."

Clingy and invasive. Jessica warned about this.

Soojung came to her defense. "Dad, you're obnoxious."

"You'll understand when you have..." The man winced, rethinking the latter fraction of his sentence.

"When I have…kids?! Really?"

"It slipped."

Younger Jung regarded Taeyeon to clarify. "I'd catapult a baby if our justice system wasn’t so harsh."

Psycho sister. "Ah."

"Common are stories of jealous older siblings trying to kill new additions in the family. Instead, we kept a careful eye on Soojung," the mother murmured, filing a nail.

"I never hurt Jess!"

"We were blacklisted by Manhattan’s nanny community! They tagged you as 'The Bad Seed'!"

"Some hid the knives," Mr. Jung cited.

Suddenly, Taeyeon's hand had been snatched into the grasp of the lady accused. "I will not take this abuse! C'mon, Taey."

She had no choice. "O-okay."

"By the way," Soojung snarled, "cutlery was hidden from Jessica after she threatened our fourth nanny for bathing me in holy water. Save the murder lecture for her!"

Little Jessica parlaying torment to adults? Cool. This posed a whole new mental image for Skandl’s “Knives” single.

Taeyeon welcomed the next twenty minutes in an emptier section of the waiting area. Simply her and Soojung, sharing earbuds connected to an eclectically fine playlist of any genre imaginable. Tracks in French, German, Hindi, languages she couldn't decipher. Remarkable. When the girl offered to ZIP her a file of copies, Taeyeon could've peed herself.

Speaking was minimal. The Marc Jacobs bag contained a thick bundle of fashion magazines. Soojung masked a blush as she explained they were Jessica's recommendations, so she read them. Afternoons flipping through material held a ritualistic vibe as sisterly bonding.

Extending this revered routine to Taeyeon weighed the singer with something foreign, yet warm. She parted to lips to thank her. Rather, the following song diverted all gratitude.

"Our song."

"Hm?" Soojung mumbled, sniffing a fragrance sample.

Taeyeon bobbed her head to ‘Hyperballad', invigorated. "Me and Jessica's song."

"This?"

"She played it for me on her accordion."

“Jess bought that nerdy piece of junk for you?!”

Did she? “Is there an instrument nerdier than an accordion? I wanna return the favor.”

“I’m entirely persuaded.” Jung eyes crinkled. "Tall girlfriends are overrated."

...

Fragmenting from the rest of the family slaughtered Taeyeon's mood. Two farewells in a day. Separation from amenity.

Soojung's hug lasted shortest, but it lacked no impact. Lowly, she hissed, "I can show you how to smuggle hallucinogens past customs."

"For heaven's sake!" Mother butted in, pulling Taeyeon into another smothering. "Take care of our Jessica. Con her into New York trips more often."

The blonde snuggled a bit. She smelled like a mom. Well, an expensive one. "Okay."

"I'll send you a link. To my high-caliber tunes," Soojung added, patting her on the head.

Mr. Jung laughed, petting the shortest, too. "Take Soojung, if you’re so inclined."

"Nice try, Dad. You and Mom are rent-free. I'll probably live with you forever!"

Taeyeon hauled her carry-on. They were already flaring into their millionth spat. "I..." She changed it up, pronouncing English that wouldn't tie her tongue. "You've been cool as hell. I love you."

Instantly regretting it by a barrage of squeals (even from the man), she sheepishly bowed her leave.

Soojung's words were the last she heard. "Mom, can we keep her!?"

If only.

...

In Korea, days passed for Taeyeon to recover. Nevertheless, she refused to unpack her bags. To make that claustrophobic hotel room home.

Jinho escorted her to Lim Theatrics’ headquarters. They exchanged a mere tip of the brow--enough acknowledgement to cover their years. Disquiet shaded the splitting moment with him and Nam. No trust. Losing Ye-seul, Skandl's pre-faerie fuckery stylist, sucked the hardest.

At the topmost floor--two thirds of it devoted to Andy Lim and his fondness for vast exorbitance--the girls of LTE's premier group convened. She'd been the final member to appear. Suited nobodies quickly sorted them into metal chairs, sparing no courtesy for a pre-meeting gameplan.

Lim's desk of stainless steel distorted three serious expressions. Unlike prior conferences, none of them visually straddled death. Yuri regained her lost curves; Sunny's mane shone teal-to-white ombre. And Taeyeon--complexion clear and hair radiant as Jihyun's renewed dye job before New York.

They looked healthy.

The CEO settled into his massive leather seat, folding gold-banded fingers. "No attorneys?"

Nervous chuckles responded.

His weak smile stiffened. "You could've reached that pinnacle; outshine the opposition. In truth, I'm furious."

Taeyeon heard Yuri gulp. Her arm twitched, itching to take her hand.

"Withstanding reservations about the past few weeks..." Lim's pupils searched their semicircle, scanning Taeyeon a hair longer. "I respect each of you. Skandl put this company on the map. Our rookies could rival veteran acts, facilities are top-notch, compensation isn't criminal..."

"Thank you," Sunny uttered.

"No. Thank you." He pushed two document folders--red and white--to his desk's edge. "Skandl's detriments are irrevocable. Furthermore, I'm not a well man and my successors won't understand my soft spot for you ladies."

'Successor' tingled Taeyeon’s spine.

"These are termination papers. I'm not Won Chi Woong, who'd hold you hostage until your contracts’ end date. For your mercy, I'll cut you loose."

Yuri thanked him immediately, eyes glossing. Sunny and Taeyeon followed her lead in soft voices and bows.

"Are you in accordance?" he asked.

The women matched eyes. Fear, discomfort, other negatives resonated secondary to confident nods and chairs scooting b-lines to the red folder. Taeyeon spoke for them. "We are."

He sighed, untying its contents. "Read at your own leisure."

Sunny scooped the files into her lap. As she pored over printed characters and jargon, her counterparts stared, relying on her judgement. Vibrant rows of silk fanned over her stoic expression. Very beautiful--a compliment Taeyeon couldn’t express. Not out loud.

"All fair," the musician finally announced. Lim slid a pen in her direction, stern face aged beneath under a hostile light source. Sunny uncapped the Mont Blanc and hitched.

"Leader," she choked out, "Do the honors of signing first?"

The packet of black and white blurred into mush. After drying tears into a fistful of Andy Lim's tissues, the top line amongst three lay crisp and unmistakable.

Fate.

The fate of Skandl.

Taeyeon scrawled her name and the date in the blackest black. Yuri carefully blew its ink before penning her signature. Sunny did her deed brusquely, rustling sheets as she tossed them to metallic finish. He showed no offense, eyeing their dried proof. "It's been quite an experience, ladies. And Miss Lee--"

Sunny plucked the white folder and thumbed the papers. Faster, like a refresher.

Taeyeon frowned. "What's that?"

"I'm pleased to hire her as an official composer," their ex-CEO disclosed, regaining some color.

Yuri's teeth sparkled in a huge smile. "For real?!"

As Sunny unfolded an arm for the taller girl's exuberantly Kwon-ish embrace, her eyes drifted to Taeyeon's. An 'I dare you to complain' scowl.

Smirking, Taeyeon gave her blessing.

"Miss Lee's been tremendously loyal," Lim stressed, "It'd be a travesty to deprive LTE of such a treasured brain."

Shade lurked somewhere in there. Taeyeon couldn't care less. Sunkyu made the best of the situation. By trucking through, not allowing problems to lessen her creative output.

Admirable.

She admired Sunny. For not forgetting her strengths.

...

"Liberation!" Yuri hollered not even out the front doors. "Fuck, I feel..." She blanched, awaiting Sunny’s furor.

Teal and white hair blew in the nighttime wind as the woman smiled. "I won't kill you for being thrilled, Yul."

Yuri tangled her into another hug. "You'll make a kickass composer!"

"Your colleagues will need it. Rid LTE of the suck," Taeyeon muttered.

"Tae, you sound like normal!" the guitarist whipped an arm around the blonde's neck, smelling of ritzy perfume. From Tiffany, probably. "No more crash diets, sleepless nights, wacky stage costumes--" Realization dipped into her list. "No more Lim Dong-gun!"

Their ex-leader lifted her eyebrows. "Right?"

"Yeaaaah, about him," Sunny leaned onto the trunk of her Audi, lips kinked skyward. "Andy Lim has a scandal or two to of his own to litigate."

Yuri gawked. "Spill!"

"Dong-gun's mani’d hands wandered into the wrong group. Dirty Laundry."

Incensed, Taeyeon's blood boiled. "Fuckin' hell."

"He made a pass at Hyuna. Colossal faux pas for him, considering Minah's tendency to--"

"Run her big mouth?"

"Periodic auditors made their rounds and Minah sang like a sexy canary. Andy Lim's son's hiatus will become permanent if this goes unresolved. And the whole company knows, so..." She shrugged, gleaming a heinous grin.

"No shit?!" Yuri squawked, dancing in place. She grabbed Taeyeon to join, knocking the girl out of her stunned condition. Stupendous news. Fucking terrific.

"Bang-me Minah's useful, kids." Sunny scratched her chin. "I'd copulate a thanks to her if I wasn't...uh. Involved."

Their dance stopped. "Did you--"

Annoyed hands flapped violently. "Okay, okay, shut up!"

"Our resident player's committedddd," Yuri squealed in monogamous bliss. "Three for three whipped by Lucky Six."

"I said, shut up! Bitch."

Skandl’s resignation tensed Taeyeon's muscles. Too green, too soon to reflect Yuri's excitement level.

She unzipped the Lisa Frank knapsack she inherited during the show-and-tell segment of Mrs. Jung's nostalgic anecdotes. They'd moved houses since Jessica became a trainee in Korea, so she boxed her keepsakes with excessive skill. Taeyeon valued the old school appeal. "Souvenirs, anyone?"

"And here I thought you'd forgotten your civic duty," Yuri teased.

"I didn't wrap them," she warned, hiding two items behind her back.

"Cough it up!"

"For you, Yul," Taeyeon slapped a quirky antique harmonica into Yuri's hand. Deep blue, engraved, with a hand-crafted painting of a topless mermaid creepily similar to Lucky Six's Californian.

And for Sunny...

"What the fuck!?" the recipient shouted, drowning out Yuri's cheers.

Taeyeon gripped her ribs laughing while Sunny examined a particularly large freeze-dried mouse. It'd taken her ages to scout a befitting gift--something memorable. "NYC’s full of rats, so..."

"Leave these goddamned suckers in New York!"

"Is it..." Yuri looked ill. "A real mouse..?"

"Yep!" She beamed, pleased by her gag. "Scoured an evolution shop for an unnaturally dyed one. When that didn't happen, I opted for classic laboratory white."

"Apparently, Tae loves me more," Yuri remarked, shuddering. "I don't see your car. How ya gettin' to the hotel?"

Blah. The hotel. "Cab."

"You hate that place, huh?"

"I do."

"Hm." Threading through hair as raven as Soojung's, Yuri mumbled, "I'm hunting for a roommate. If you're interested."

"Am I!?" Taeyeon threw herself at her friend, squeezing 'til the latter wheezed. Home, a real home. She and Yul could build new memories, away from empty walls and a trifling web connection.

"Whooooa," Yuri wasn't expecting that energy, evidently. Craning her neck, she strained, "S-Sunny? You in, too?"

To the discussion’s lull, Taeyeon glimpsed over. "It'd be like trainee times."

"I'm ready for a fresh start." She kicked the heel of a Doc Marten to her wheel. "My own path."

Yuri approved. "Understood."

"B-but--" Sunny stammered, spinning her stuffed rodent between delicate hands. "Tae, mind if I drive you to Yul's later? We gotta talk. Privately."

A tan, protective hand slithered into Taeyeon's. Yuri. "Your choice."

Her choice. Nice ring to it.

"Yeah. I'll go with Sunny."

...

Sunny supplied the best stash.

Taeyeon exhaled a white haze into Seoul's humid atmosphere. To children, fans, strangers she'd refrain from encouraging drug dependence. Though, on her own, in her previous rooftop haven, responsibility could fuck off. She fulfilled her adult demands in Lim's office. Kim Taeyeon, former idol group leader, praised the weed gods for placating her biology.

She ran tender knuckles over the concrete wall's crevices, smiling. Here, she kissed Jessica. Jessica kissed her back. Desperately so. Molded into this craggy texture, stoking a series of busty lusty dreams.

The setting also marked her first 'alpha chat' with Tiffany. Like a total knob, she disclosed her painfully single status. Idealists may claim that without the Hwang woman's interference, Taeyeon and Jessica wouldn't have become an item.

Bullshit. Somewhere, somehow, her and Jessica's lives were destined to tangle.

Destiny. Her own brand of idealism.

"You miss this?" Sunny's voice echoed as she wedged a doorstopper into the exit.

"Mmhm." Taeyeon slid to the floor, patting empty space. "What's up?"

Bypassing a side-to-side arrangement, Sunny parked directly in front of her. Legs pretzeled beneath a messenger bag. "Had to collect something...Mary Jane to your tastes?"

"Hell yeah."

"Skandl's gone, Tae," she murmured. Blunt nails scratched onto canvas. "Making peace with Yul's simple. She's innately forgiving." A gulp. "You, me--it'll take time and hella bargaining to excuse the nicks in our friendship. I loved that fuckin' group. We were beasts."

Shit. Taeyeon sucked a long pull, wrapping her silence in fog.

"Will you mourn Skandl?"

"Yes. I'll miss our concerts, privileges, locales, living room practice sessions. Many things."

"Is this worth it? Was your video worth it?"

"I shouldn't..." she started. Then, traded paths. "Composer, huh? You excel at maximizing your free time."

"Chronically brewing hard lemonade out of an avalanche of lemons. It's what I do."

"Damn impressive."

Sunny seized the stick of pot, deftly puffing. Taeyeon's mind drifted to Jessica's smoking fail when the other woman muttered, "Are you out of the music business forever?"

"Nah."

Her curved lips hinted at a smile. "My new position grants flexibility. I'll continue to coach trainees, feature in albums, host shows, write lyrics that won't be passed like a joint between Lucky Six members. And you."

Taeyeon's head itched. Just a tad. "Because your songs can't be equated."

"Jessica broke her first promise to me--about 'love:murder'. The second..."

"Sunny, please."

"New York go well?" She rolled her eyes. "Have a lovey dovey honeymoon?"

Jung Taeyeon. Christ. "I met her parents."

Authentic interest pricked on Sunny's feelers. Partially bewildered, sidetracked from her next sarcastic comment. "Officially? As in--"

"As a girlfriend. Bonded with her little sister, too."

"Wow. Damn."

"Crazy enough, I love them already. They treat me like a part of..." Tone abruptly remorseful, Taeyeon's fingers sought out a thin wrist. "Not that you and Yul--"

"Nah, I get it." Sunny bobbed breeze-swept bangs. Eyes intense, compassionate. "You've gained the nagging, snooping, uncalled-for-advice-shilling individuals that drive me to drink every holiday."

Taeyeon nodded, blushing at her shoes. "Precisely."

"Jessica gave you a second chance. For a family."

"I feel included."

"Your girlfriend made another promise to me."

The blonde inched forward, touching their knees. "What?"

"To never to break your heart. She's not Bae Soojin. I see that now." A wind of sadness dimmed her lowered gaze. "I dunno which bothered me more--failure or Jessica proving herself worthwhile."

"I'm sorry."

"From this day on, be wise with your words, Tae. They're powerful."

"I will."

"Onto the subject of words..." Sunny shoved her messenger bag into the space between their legs. How she surrendered the bulk's thick strap--digits pink and pressured--emphasized significance of the night. "It's impossible to compete with Yul's bitchin’ penthouse, but this is the best I can offer."

"Better than a rat?"

"See for yourself."

Taeyeon knew what it'd be. Though, the very vision of Sunny's holy binder of hodgepodged lyrics spurted tears from brimming ducts. "Nope. I won't tolerate this."

Sunny sniffed, voice rickety. "It's eighty percent; I'm keeping my faves. Everything in there is solid."

"Why?"

"Most of this music was for Skandl. Storing it in my room burdens me. This--" She flipped to a crumpled bar napkin. "This. This. This." Bond paper, sketchbook sheets, a flattened coffee filter. "A little rough around the edges--like me."

Taeyeon followed a friend’s lead, leafing through three years of ambition, aspirations, passion. "You're a fucking goldmine."

"Tiffany or Jessica--whoever--has 'love:murder'. That's rightfully yours. Actually," Sunny bared, "I preferred your rendition on the ukulele. Uniquely Kim Taeyeon."

"These are priceless. How can I repay you?"

"By using 'em. They were written with your voice in mind, so..." An abrupt hug stuffed the confession into Taeyeon's shirt. Swiping papers, bags, a fizzled joint out the way, they wept. Tears of regret, relief, hope, whatever.

"Thank y-you," Taeyeon hiccuped, "thank you for loving me."

Sunny froze for a millisecond, sighing. "Welcome."

"Friends?"

Full, firm lips pressed onto her ear. A kiss. A final kiss. "Best friends."

"Awesome."

"Okay, shit." The composer severed their hug, feigning a shudder. "Please explain the witchcraft Jessica's been casting on you. You're a Yul-tier uber-mush."

By Sunny's hand, she lifted from the floor. "After you fork out details on this 'relationship' with Yoona. Lee Sunkyu doesn't get involved."

"She does now."

"Shall I call the doctor?"

"God, no doctor talk. Yoona concocts new medical refs every time she goes down on me. Fuckin' weird."

"That's what I thought about Jessica." Taeyeon swung the mass of canvas over her shoulder, drinking in her friends' blush. “Whip me up a drink, Pinky. And can I not wear it this time?"

"Watch that smart mouth, honeybadger."

Sunny. Brilliant, assertive, bold--Lim Theatrics esteemed her genius, hopefully providing the most nurturing environment possible. Tailing Skandl's "sex kitten" down a winding staircase, Taeyeon took steps to forgiving herself.

Sunny was too valuable to chase Taeyeon any longer.

Loftier goals, personalized objectives. She could learn a lot from Miss Lee. And as they toasted "new beginnings" amidst frothy Kahlúa cocktails, smiling like cavalier Group B refugees, life's silver lining out-glowed its cloud.

...

Kim Taeyeon didn't view 'family' in the classical sense.

For years, family was her bandmates.

Kwon Yuri, the beauty with a knack for slaying chords, gay-converting female fans of all ages, and shelving her heart above her head. Aloofly sublime in performances; subsequently sensitive anywhere else. She and Taeyeon clicked in their first meeting. Figuratively and literally--for, Yuri didn’t hesitate to latch her skinshippy arms around the leader's waist.

Lee Sunkyu, music maestro who could out-foulmouth the toughest dude in a vocal equivalent of gumdrops. Sarcastic, sexual, diligent Sunny who mirrored Taeyeon's love of winning. Not the optimal woman to blubber one's problems; but she'd foster sound solutions and alcohol. Hopscotching the lines into incestuous, Taeyeon truly respected their chemistry.

And Narsha. The sole manager she'd depend on until her dying breath. Her protector. The first adult to celebrate Taeyeon’s sexuality, cradling the LTE artist's bruised ego. Love surpassing managerial guidelines.

Preceding the ill-fated sojourn on Elite territory, Taeyeon didn't fit the predictable, studious breed of daughter. Frequently, her parents, suspicious by hours of silence from her room, would walk into her rocking out in her faux leather jacket, lost in a superior world via headphones.

Reports, dazzling grades, father's projected math major dreams--all negligible. They attempted to compromise: paid talent show entry for every specialty school application. Needless to say, that experiment failed.

The Kims weren't the worst parents, Taeyeon conceded. Regardless, they were chasms away from the best. For a young lesbian entertainer, specifically.

Heritage shouldn't dictate family. Hence, she curated her own.

And it was growing.

...

"What have we here? A stallion and a bear?" Yoona demanded in a (bad) English timbre, cleating her frame in Lucky Six's front door.

The guests reacted in character--second-hand embarrassed grumbles from Taeyeon; Yuri's generous laugh--and gained no entry. Although, that became an afterthought to the drastically brighter hair beneath the girl's snapback.

"Snap! You and Yoongs are practically twins," Yuri observed, swatting the similar cap on her roommate's head.

Taeyeon pouted. "Don't insult me."

"Sunny and I got the hookup!" Yoona twirled her long braid. "Two for one special from sexybitch Jihyun."

Great. They had the same stylist. Taeyeon pointed to her dome, managing a grin. "Psychedelic Wheat."

The other blonde mimicked her gesture. "Golden Goat. Why the hell did you get the cooler-sounding color!?"

Yuri whipped a bottle of champagne from a paper carrier. "We come bearing gifts."

Weeks homemaking alongside the cheeky guitarist redeemed her return to Korea. In that lone hotel room, emotions stark naked to only herself, every dilemma budded steep, insurmountable limbs. Nowadays, running on post-vacation fumes and Yuri's over-the-top need to accommodate, Taeyeon developed a constructive rhythm. Jessica, friends, housekeeping, a gossip-lite regimen...and, recently, music. Her favorite pastime.

In a living room bigger than the dorm's, she and Yuri rekindled their love of strumming nonsense, trying out sounds. Sunny or Narsha visited sometimes, competing to out-professional each other with advice. It was entertaining.

Jessica summoned Taeyeon from her domestic hideout. A pre-World Tour hangout during Lucky Six's rare downtime.

"Aaand, what's that?" Yoona ducked her nose to the package at Taeyeon's feet. "It's huge."

Overgiddy Yul spoke up. "Your souvenir from the States."

"Mine?!"

"Well, the six of you."

Not listening, Yoona scooped the unmarked box in her arms, kneeing the door wider. "Cry, bitches! Moody bear bought me somethin'!"

"Don't call me that," Taeyeon whined.

One long swipe and distinct slam later, the kitchen counter portioned space for the present. A pack of idol wolves approached instantly. From that pack, Jessica detoured, sliding her chin onto Taeyeon's shoulder. "For Yoongie, huh?"

"It's for all you Elitists."

"Cake?" Hyoyeon sniffed over the cardboard, a little too animal-like.

Tiffany swung a used spatula. "Hello? I just frosted a cake!"

"But, I want one I can actually eat."

"Stop crowding me!" Yoona flailed stringy fingers, purposefully dotting Seohyun in the eye. A jerk move; though, Taeyeon snickered while Jessica consoled the youngest.

Sooyoung screamed loudest. "LEGOS!"

"Frackin’ hell. There's so many!" Hyoyeon scooped a bag of trans-medium blue bricks. "Did you rob some rich kids?"

Taeyeon smirked. "Got 'em at the Lego store. The loose selection's kinda insane; grabbed at many as I could."

"I was her monkey assistant," Jessica mentioned, digging into the refrigerator. "So, it's from me, too!"

Seohyun swiftly snagged one particular baggie. "Hide these clear pieces from Yoong or we'll be stepping on them for days."

"Juhyunnie, I'm not an imbecile!"

She avoided the women already pelting each other, bowing sweetly to Taeyeon. Eye slightly red from where Yoona smacked her. "Thanks for the lovely gift."

The blonde shrugged. "No prob."

Jessica reattached to her girlfriend's hip, pressing a cold bottle Taeyeon’s cheek. Cackling at her assumed response (shivering and a curse), she mumbled, "Wanna share?"

She recognized her cider of choice. "Sure."

"Sunny's here," Jessica said, unfastening its lid.

"Oh yeah?"

"She's in Yoongie and Juhyun's room, playing tech girl to their faulty Wii."

"Jeez." She tasted the cold sweetness after Jessica. "Sunny's pulling out all the stops for your buddy. When Yul or I broke anything in the dorm, she'd tell us to buy a new one. Asshole."

"We had a...civil conversation."

"About?"

"The weather. Starting generic, I suppose."

"Progress." By the hips, Taeyeon veered the honey brunette against her, bent onto the counter's edge. Kissing openly permitted comfort. Isolated junctures to re-attain normalcy without traveling eleven thousand kilometers.

While sneaking caresses beneath a borrowed Pat Benatar tee, she aspired to make their 'puffins' future a reality. Minus the shitty climate. That solitary, worry-free lifestyle.

Not yet, though. They were young. Unexplored avenues awaited, packed with joys and challenges alike. Jessica touted a blossoming career.

Taeyeon, too, if she played her cards right.

A smattering of razor-sharp Legos stung the left half of her face, popping all whimsical thought bubbles. The assailant’s voice rose from a kitchen full of laughter. Hyoyeon, of course. "First basing in the line of fire is prohibited!"

"Holy--" the singer cried, view at least two hundred blocks littering the tile like prismatic hail. "In my culture, we fuckin' build shit with those!"

Inexplicably, Hyoyeon, Yoona, Sooyoung, and Yuri were adorned with warpaint. "Say it to my face, shortie!"

"I'll defend your honor, babe," Jessica playfully gritted, shoveling a palm of orange pieces.

"No, no! You're on our team!" the dancer shrieked, running the action into another room. Rowdy soldiers restocked on scattered ammunition before tailing the sharp shooter and her pursuer.

Not ten seconds passed until a loud crash and Hyoyeon's swearish wail sluiced into the giggles.

"Woman down!"

"Chair down!"

"Holy fff-, I'm bleeding!"

"Somebody catch Jessica!"

"Throw Miso at her!"

"Medic!"

"Medic, Medic, damnit!"

"I'm beckoned," Seo Juhyun sighed, smearing paint under an eye.

Korea’s Goliath girl group sure was….interesting.

Taeyeon would have joined the medical team if she sooner realized the leftover person. Kicking bricks in her slow advance, Tiffany straightened her throat. "So."

"Right."

The taller woman unzipped a bag of purple connectors. "Are these for me, too?"

"Only the ones that'll choke you, Mrs. Ace."

"I'm not seven or younger, Sataeng."

"Ha." Taeyeon hummed at the moniker, fishing a stray cube from her hair. "Who taught you that? Yul?"

"Maybe."

Sensitive to this obvious friction, Yuri employed military-type rigor into keeping them separated. Enforced 'boo time' ranged roughly 2 to 5pm and midnight to morning on designated dates. Taeyeon disappeared into her bedroom (with Jessica, if fortunate), the patio, anywhere that didn't expose her to unsightly spit-swapping.

Yuri testified on every religious text to uphold a trial at sexual abstinence. However, they were heathens. And the "faster, faster"s reverberating from her master bedroom obliged no explanation. "Heard you two the other night."

"You stole my roomie title. Wear ear plugs; I don't know."

"Must I thank you for the..." 'I love you, Moody jerk' text.

"We love Yul. We love Jessica."

"I've loved them longer."

"My point is," Tiffany pressed, visibly at her wit's end, "we'll survive...existing near each other for them. Agreed?"

Taeyeon regarded the offered hand. To think their main link happened to be mindfuck ex-leader Bae Soojin. On a divergent, non-manipulative road in their history, this could have produced a strong friendship. As consolation, she'd consent to a handshake. "Agreed."

Sunny stumbled into the kitchen, eyes shooting to the exchange. "See? Only minutes alone and you're holding hands."

Taeyeon scrunched her nose. "Ya done fixing your girlfriend's electronics?"

"I see what you're doing and you're an asshole." She nodded to the screamish living room. "Your souvenir erected infernal chaos."

"What should I do about it?"

"Calm 'em, enabler!"

Before the blonde yammered her 'hell no', Tiffany stepped in.

"Stand aside. I'll shut it down."

...

In a cyclone of domineering shouts, convincingly violent bluffs, two tugged heads of hair, and various timeouts, six pouty-lipped celebrities (and an enormous cat) were lined into a clean formation around the dining table. Taeyeon considered herself fortunate--Tiffany would've kicked her ass in the stage closet.

Smudged warpaint suited Jessica's soft face. Taeyeon scooted an extra chair next to the fallen soldier, cheesing. "Who won the final battle?"

"We did!" girls from both nebulous teams barked.

The dictator in a bunny tank raised a dark brow, quashing any impending spats.

Fany won. Clearly.

Seohyun gently tamed her long hair. "Shall we partake in a civilized activity?"

“‘Never Have I Ever?’”

Adamant groans shot Yuri's suggestion to the dirt. Sooyoung clarified. "I've endured enough depraved sexual fantasies to write my own tell-all."

"From Jessica?" Taeyeon inquired.

"Everyone. Especially Jessica."

"Oh?"

Her flustered girlfriend relayed a pointed glare to her groupmate. Meanwhile, Taeyeon searched the table's perimeter. Her eyes met with Hyoyeon who gave her the 'A-Okay' signal. She smirked in response, three hundred times more grateful to have that one's knowledge in her arsenal.

"How 'bout a card game?" Yuri slapped her trusty pack to the wooden surface. "In Skandl, we..." She paled, absorbing uncomfortable silence.

Tiffany rubbed the woman's neck. "I think it's a brilliant idea."

Taeyeon chimed in. "Yeah. Me, too."

"Me, three," Sunny concurred, bringing two six packs from the kitchen. "Cards and booze. A Skandl tradition."

"Tradition can be revamped," Sooyoung contributed. "Like, a rite of passage for us. All nine. Different journeys amongst us, connected by our...I don't know. Fidelity?"

Seohyun knuckled her neighbor in the arm. "Operative term is love, Sooyoungie."

"Ew."

"I don't love everyone currently in this apartment," Tiffany stated plainly. "Thus, I'll drink until I do. Help me, Lee."

Sunny divvied out the bottles, teasingly sliding a beer to Yoona last. "For you, my deviant nurse."

The Golden Goat-haired idol accepted, cooing, "Thank you, ho."

Even Star Bandit's greatest hits playing on a dock seemed to stop with a record scratch.

The skin around Tiffany's collar burned lava red. "Yoong. What. The. Fuck?"

Yoona's eyes rounded. "Uh?"

"You do not fucking call her a ho! It’s disgusting."

"That's Sunny's pet name!"

"No! Absolutely not!" Seohyun's finger flagged disapproval. "Choose something less…shame-y."

Hyoyeon wheezed laughter from her chair, almost squishing Miso as she buckled forward. "Sunny, do you like this name?"

Sunny sipped her drink. "Frankly, I don't ca--"

"Your opinion is dispensable," Tiffany interjected, clapping twice. "Voting time! For Soo, Jess, Juhyunnie, Hyo, me, and the unemployed ones."

Yuri bristled. "Shit, babe. Low blow."

"Darling, it's true."

"Might as well name our crew," she groused. "Suggestions?"

Freshly recuperated, Hyoyeon declared, "Seoul's Lesbian United Team. Aka SLUT."

"You are not helping!" Seohyun waved her full bottle. "Furthermore, it doesn't represent all the sexualities here."

Sooyoung laid slender fingers on the youngest's shoulder. "Face it. We're outnumbered."

"Even Miso," Yoona added, "I hear she likes pussy."

"SLUT feels empowering," Sunny admitted, high-fiving Hyoyeon.

Yuri shrugged. "It's growing on me."

"Focus, goldfishes!" Tiffany snapped, ready to duke out the varnished claws. "Vote on Yoona's tacky pet name!"

"SLUT votes on the ho," Jessica mumbled into Taeyeon's hair. They chuckled amongst themselves until the dictator's pupils flashed murder.

"Hands raised to nix the name; otherwise, you're messy as hell."

In close competition, Tiffany, Yuri, Seohyun, and Jessica beat Sooyoung, Taeyeon, and Hyoyeon. The losers lounged in their seats apathetically.

"Tae!" Jessica gasped, lightly elbowing her lady in the ribs. "Ho?! Really?"

Yoona pumped a fist. "Huzzah! That's our blonde affinity speaking, Moody bear! I'm feeling dumber already!"

"Too bad. You lost." Tiffany wrung dismissive fingers through wavy bangs. "Happy renaming."

"Bitches stay judging, god." The teal musician shuffled the deck, that is, after pecking consolation to Yoona's cheek. "Texas Hold'em's the game. Don't know the rules? Google's your friend."

Yoona kissed Sunny back, an idea glowing in her eyes. "Strip poker?"

"Er, no." Jessica shivered. A chorus of hums churned in agreement. "I think that'd get complicated."

Seohyun cackled wickedly. "Aww, don't destroy Yoongie's hopes, Sica."

"Stakes?" Sooyoung had her game face on. "I don't play for fun. We gotta quantify my impending victory."

Yoona flipped her jean pockets inside out. "I'm broke."

"Uh huh." Taeyeon pointed to a bedroom. "Bet your Wii."

Sunny slapped the troll, evading lazy retaliation. "Over my cold, dead body. Any chips?"

"I wager..." Hyoyeon plopped Miso next to her beer. "Our cat. Six to three chance of keeping her."

Tiffany shooed the betrayed animal with a napkin, sucking her teeth. "Off the table. Unsanitary."

"Rude!"

"Girls," Jessica danced fingers to their color coded floorboard. "We're surrounded by chips. Use the Legos."

"Ayyyy, nice thinkin'!" Sooyoung squealed, joining two others transferring clattering bricks onto the table's center.

"Fuckin' toys," Tiffany leaned to Taeyeon. "Congrats on purchasing something that'll annoy me for years. You topped Jess’ screechy monstrosity."

Pleased by the unintentional victory, she tightened her fingers into Jessica's. She couldn't recall when they vined together, but she loved this automatic intimacy. "What are you thinking?" she asked, fascinated by a small, mysterious glint in dark brown eyes.

She breathed wistful words. "Right here, right now...our friends under one roof. Lively, relaxed. More than perfect."

"Mm. Nice feeling."

"Are you still lonely, Tae?"

The singer stuttered into a reply, memories flooding her mind space. 'Love Cut Open' comeback, Lucky Six's announcement, the person-shaped wall of vulpine eyes, cashmere skin, shiny pink lips. "Not since I met you, Coma."

Jessica winked. "Good."

Yes, good. Taeyeon felt good.

Once, she wondered if her mild jealousy of the World Tour would evolve into anything unhealthy.

Huddled behind hand after mediocre poker hand, blowing a humiliated third of her pot to Seohyun of all people, vestiges of her envy evaporated through laughs, filthy puns, hard cider through the nose at the 'Is Donovan Zhou at work or in jail?' debate. She related to Kim Hyoyeon's derisive humor, adored Choi Sooyoung's clever rebuttals, digged Im Yoona's outlandishness, applauded Seo Juhyun's model poker face, enjoyed Tiffany Hwang's verbal reaction to a 20-game losing streak.

Plus, no Bae Soojin. That nightmarish ship passed. Replaced by Jessica Jung, whose gummy smile tempted her to commission a robot ring and make Jung Taeyeon a reality.

Lucky’s leader occasionally introduced the concept of "having it all". Every instance ended in more questions than answers.

While Taeyeon scraped scarlet and gold nails to wood, embracing a bluff-driven hill of Lego winnings, she settled on a resolution: Individually, their goals were staggering. But, together, they sealed a fighting chance. She and Jessica completed each other.

Felt better than any hollow victory.

///

Interior organs--lungs, stomach, an overactive heart, intestines-- wouldn't slow their pounding.

Bunched upon an off white Chesterfield, knees to chin flesh and midtops denting linen cushions, Kim Taeyeon commenced her breathing exercises. In- and exhale, expand and contract. Out with the nervousness, in goes confidence. The legitimate variety--not false bravado to dupe cameras and herself.

A year ago, around this time, she'd been suspended over a televised stage, serenading Rumors in German. And now, she was...

Taeyeon's limber fingers unlocked her vibrating phone. Jessica's inclination to overuse heart emojis charmed the upturned corners of her lips.

C♡ma: In Toyko! :))) I'm so cold. brrrrrr

Tokyo, Japan. Second stop in Lucky Six's "Rotate the World" Tour. God, that title still made no sense to her.

M00dy bear: don't get sick. yoongie never covers her gross mouth when she sneezes.
M00dy bear: :* ♥
C♡ma: Lol :*** You're wearing your hoodie, right?

M00dy bear: affirmative.

Unconsciously, she fluttered a magenta ear of Jessica's anniversary gift. As if her girlfriend could see.

Winter gave Taeyeon opportunity to deck herself out in tokens of endearment: Jessica's Taebear hoodie, Narsha's thick alpaca scarf, Sunny's striped knee-high socks, and a pink studded beanie swiped from Yuri's closet. Roy Lichtenstein-print headphones dressed her neck--gifted by the younger Jung. She signed for the surprise on Christmas Eve, its sender only evidenced by a plain tag attached, reading "Don't thank me. xoxo, Soojung."

Interestingly, a few of Skandl's fan clubs continued to pack the underside of their Christmas tree with pricey goodies. It swayed her more than her parents' invitation to holiday dinner. She politely declined, instead eating her weight in pie at the Kwon family household.

She'd moved on.

It spurred a revival of her Picpockette. Dedicated Rumors merited a glance into Taeyeon's future in music. Their social media support changed her mind--through yellow ukulele profile pictures. Some idols caught onto the solidarity trend, including Loco, Dirty Laundry, P.A.G.A.N., Rexikon and Chaeraptor of Chickasaurus, as well as the few Lucky Six members on Picpockette. Jessica's identical post scared Taeyeon shitless; thankfully, the backlash wasn't significant.

A revamped fanbase intrigued her. She'd wade through waves of homophobic garbage to read (and occasionally answer) their generous comments. Perhaps that small town gay student wouldn't marry her pastor's son. Taeyeon wondered about her often, wishing the teenager endless happiness and a harem of nice girls to date.

"Take your shoes off the couch."

She scrambled upright, bowing greetings to the Versace-clad woman and some scruffy geeks filtering into the recording room. The chubbiest smiled broadly before rolling a chair to the soundboard.

These hipsters brought New York to mind. Narsha, who crossed toned legs at her side, glided expert fingers over her tablet. Permanent manager to Kim Taeyeon, the soloist.

"Despite these guys' appearance," Narsha mumbled closely, tickling her client's nostrils with Chanel, "their portfolio's cutting edge. It'll complement your sound."

Taeyeon nodded. "I trust you."

"All ready?"

She'd memorized nine of Sunny's songs down the the punctuation. "I sing in my sleep at this point."

"Wonderful." The women handed a paper cup of something fragrant. "Tea. Drink."

Blowing faint steam, Taeyeon replied to the five-message-long speech sent to her Chatty Bang Bang. Jessica was fangirling again. Cute.

M00dy bear: thanks.
C♡ma: I'm so damn excited. Do your best!!!

M00dy bear: I intend to
C♡ma: Whatever.
C♡ma: Dream big, babe. ;)
M00dy bear: ha okay. love you
C♡ma: Love you more~
M00dy bear: doubt it


"You're up, Miss Kim."

"Ah, alright." Taeyeon stayed put for Narsha to cup her knee in assurance. Then, she carried her tea, lyric sheets, and the heft of productive anticipation into the booth.

The red 'recording' light held her stare while a sophisticated instrumental kissed both ears. A Kwon creation. It relieved everyone to see the chick make use of her abilities behind the scenes. Abilities appreciated by their tiny, independent label.

Lyrics, music, voice, proper management. A consummate team.

Balance restored.

Did she want a scandal? Not anymore.






End.




--



Did that ‘End’ part surprise you? Hope it’s a good surprise!

Yep, this the final chapter of my widdle story called ‘Skandl!’. Even while I type this, my sleep-deprived brain’s all….DOES THIS MAKE SENSE?? WHAT’D I FORGET? WHOSE LAPTOP IS THIS?!! MEDIC!!! DDDD:

Gotta say, I’ve been more than pleased by y’alls response to my story. I hope to keep on putting stuff out there as long as Jessica and Soshi are well-loved. OT9 trash doesn’t simply die, my friends. And despite recent news and anything in the future--chin up, y’all. Girls’ Generation is as human as us…..

…..
………

…..or, they’re goddesses. Moving on.

Can I give a shout out to #TaengSic shippers? Finding expensive gifs of those two that’s not from the Dark Ages is….*does wacky hand gesture to distract* Doesn’t matter, tho. Cus dis ship is spectacular. <3333

Random tidbit: This fic was supposed to be about 24 chapters, I believe. And down the line, I added more to flesh things out because writing’s magical that way. 27 is a good number: 2+7= 9 ^^

Ugh, I miss these characters already...

RAWRRR THANK YOUUUUUUU FOR READING. I cherish every frickin’ word y’all post on my page. EVERYTHING. So, if you haven’t said ‘hi’ yet….pwease drop a line in the comments? I don’t need my big ol’ head boosted up--I just like hearing from you. :3333

I think that’s it?

Oh yeah. Jung Soojung is hot. That is all.

♥♥♥.♥♥♥.♥♥♥,

checkinyourbra



--

Friendly reminder:





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