Seungwan tosses and turns on her bed, the sheets rustling every time she moves so suddenly.
It’s now almost 2AM, and she’s having the hardest time sleeping. So many thoughts are wiring through her head and she’s trying so hard to make sense of them.
Her silver eyes are now open, staring at the dull ceiling above her.
“This-this just happens sometimes but I don’t know why it’s so bad today.”
It’s troubling Seungwan, how Joohyun looked so tired, so worn out because of the tears that she implied appear at random.
She places her forearm on her forehead, wondering just why Joohyun’s tears are bothering her so much.
Seungwan can’t tell if these thoughts are actual thoughts or just dreams. She’s been fading in and out of sleep and she’s thinking of things she’s never seen or felt.
What the hell?
Her mother’s last words are also keeping her wide awake. Why did she have to wait until then to tell her? How long had her mother known?
It isn’t fair, definitely not.
“Joohyun,” she whispers.
If only Yeongweol had given her at least a surname, she wouldn’t have had to go through so much trouble.
Now Seungwan is thinking of a girl she’s just met the other day.
“Damn it, mom.”
She sits up and throws her feet over the edge of the bed, sitting there for a few seconds to stare at the floor, before hopping off. After putting on a black sweatshirt, grey sweatpants and white sneakers, she grabs her phone sitting on the table and heads out the door.
She’s now outside, looking up at the apartment building before taking a deep breath. Streams of vapor flow from due to the cold.
She stands a few feet away from the building, before running towards it. Then, using the strength in her legs, she jumps all the way to the top. Her hair drapes down as she lands with a soft thud.
She does this occasionally when her head feels disarrayed and jumbled. Miss Hwang ordered her not to do this, but this seems to be the only thing that can calm her down, albeit just a little bit.
She begins to run across the top of the building, before leaping over and landing on another building. She feels the breeze hitting her in the most pleasant way as she jumps with grunt after grunt, landing on top of building after building. The buildings have different heights, making it even more dangerous but she doesn’t mind.
Her head immediately turns when a sharp chill runs through her spine and her mind rings upon sensing a presence in mid-air.
She looks to see that an arrow is flying straight towards her. She turns her body and avoids it just on time, before landing on top of another building with a grunt. The arrow scatters into pink particles immediately before it can reach the surface of the roof.
“Miss Hwang what the hell?!” Seungwan shouts and stands up.
Miss Hwang lands in front of her, cackling as pink particles scatter and gently float back into her skin.
“What did I tell you about jumping on top of buildings whenever you want?!” the older woman questions as Seungwan pats her legs to remove any dust.
“I just needed to clear my head.” Seungwan replies. “When did you even come back?”
“Few hours ago, but I had a bit of trouble getting here.”
Seungwan looks at the woman with mild curiosity. “What happened?”
Miss Hwang’s once pink hair is now dark brown. It drapes down her lower back elegantly, and occasionally, it flows because of the wind. Her sharp pink eyes are on full display, as there is no human around. Her slim face with sharp features are still the same, but her long life has brought along some wrinkles.
She’s wearing a black coat that reaches nearly down to her knees, black pants, and a black shirt. The white beanie on her head covers her ears; Miss Hwang is still as beautiful as ever.
“Well, actually,” Miss Hwang starts and walks over to the edge of the building, before sitting down. Her feet dangle off the building as she looks longingly at nothing in particular.
“Come sit by me,” she pats the spot next to her with a cheery smile.
Seungwan complies seconds later and sits down next to her. Her curiosity is growing larger by the second.
“Now I don’t want you freaking out on me or anything, so I will deliver this news to you as carefully as I can for you to digest it, okay?”
Seungwan nods tentatively. Anxiety builds up inside her when Miss Hwang hesitates, and tilts her head up to look at the dark, seemingly star-less sky.
“Do you remember when I tried to stop Sunghwa from placing that curse on you? You know, the curse that would make others hunt you down?”
“Yeah, you stopped it, didn’t you? What about it?” Seungwan asks. She has a really, really bad feeling about this.
Miss Hwang has only ever brought up this topic once.
It seems it wasn’t a kingdom that Aera wanted, but Seungwan’s power instead, in order to lead the wisps above humans.
Seungwan wasn’t aware of her power, so Aera never mentioned her desire for it in fear of what Seungwan would do if she found out about her own power too soon.
So in case she failed and ended up dying, Aera ordered Sunghwa to place the curse upon Seungwan. This curse—Miss Hwang called it “The curse of the Sons”, was a curse where Toxotis only in close relation to Seungwan will try to kill her, whether they want to or not. This curse would’ve been passed onto Seungwan’s children, her children’s children, and so on.
“Well, I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but somehow, it’s awakened.”
Seungwan’s eyes grow wide and she snaps her head towards Miss Hwang.
“I can barely suppress it anymore, so I had to tell you as soon as possible,” Miss Hwang explains, still looking off into the distance. She doesn’t dare to look at the expression on Seungwan’s face.
“Tell me you’re joking.”
“Please don’t tell me it’s you,” Seungwan says dejectedly. Her voice is almost a whisper now. She doesn’t care if she is to be hunted down again, she’s survived it many times before. She just hopes and prays to whatever god created her that it isn’t who she thinks it is.
Miss Hwang is silent, and she heaves a tired sigh. She thought she had sealed the curse away, but Aera, even in death, proves to still be the most troublesome enemy they’ve faced.
She was hoping to die a long time ago so the curse wouldn’t awaken at all. She didn’t think she would live so many more years after Yeongweol’s death.
“It’s me. When I tried to stop the curse, she directed it to me.”
Seungwan’s heart starts racing and a feeling of absolute dread and fear spreads inside her.
This is definitely not what she expected to hear when Miss Hwang came back. The information just given to her really starts to register.
There must be a solution to this. Miss Hwang wouldn’t just tell her if there was no solution, right?
“Stop lying.” Seungwan says with a nervous laugh and as she stands up, Miss Hwang sighs.
“Stop joking around, it’s not-”
“Stop interrupting me, Son Seungwan,” Miss Hwang raises her voice and turns back to safely stand up.
She has Seungwan face her by grabbing her shoulders firmly and stares into the girl’s eyes. “I hate this even more than you do, but just listen to me. I’m trying my hardest to find a way out of this so the both of us don’t end up killing each other.”
Seungwan’s teary eyes show bewilderment. “We can’t go back to that day?”
Miss Hwang sighs in vexation as she closes her eyes before opening them back up to look at Seungwan again. “You know traveling back to the past is strictly forbidden. It can put everything in disorder.”
“Miss Hwang, everything is already in disorder. That obsolete rule is nonsense!”
“Stop. I don‘t feel like arguing with you over the rules right now. I think I know why it’s activated, but I have yet to find a sensible solution,” she starts and pauses to search Seungwan’s eyes, knowing her next words will hurt Seungwan as much as it hurts her. “If we fail, I want you to kill me.”
Seungwan’s expression falters. She blinks, and a tear trails down her cheek.
This can’t be happening. Surely, this isn’t happening.
When the girl doesn’t reply, Miss Hwang loosens her grip on her shoulders, and then lets go. She turns around to regain her composure with a deep sigh. “I know you’re strong enough to defeat me, Seungwan. You could even kill me right now if you really wanted.”
“But I don’t!” Seungwan shouts in anger. Her voice is amplified by the silence of the night. She’s almost seething because of Miss Hwang’s nonchalance about this whole situation.
Does she know the gravity of the information she just gave her?
The older woman simply smiles, as if she expected this reaction out of the girl.
Seungwan had stormed out of the apartment after getting ready as Miss Hwang explained the situation to Jinheung, who tried his hardest to remain calm. His eyebrows curved upwards to show his distress and he fiddled with his fingers nervously.
Seungwan didn’t stay long enough to hear what he had to say.
She walks into the class, one backpack strap hanging from her shoulder and her hair falling loosely down just below her shoulders. Her long-sleeved white turtleneck is tucked into black jeans. She didn’t think anything of a coat or jacket, anything long-sleeved is enough.
As she makes her way up to her row, she feels eyes on her. She hears whispers that barely count as whispers, and she feels a particular woman looking her way.
Seungwan places her bag down and sits, unblinking.
It’s not exactly mandatory to be in here. She doesn’t have to attend these classes, but she feels like she’ll literally go crazy if she looks at Miss Hwang.
She doesn’t want to feel that monstrous intent from Miss Hwang even though somehow, someway, for some goddamn reason, she finds the predatory and murderous aura familiar.
Of course someone wanting to kill her isn’t anything new, but this time, it’s different. She can’t pinpoint where, but she knows she’s felt it.
Seungwan rarely gets scared, but this is starting to affect her more than she expected. It’s starting to terrify her.
The universe is definitely making her pay. It won’t let her rest until she’s absolutely broken. It’s doing a damn superb job, because she doesn’t know if she can take it any longer.
A quiet voice snaps her out of her dangerous thoughts. Seungwan blinks, and turns her head to look at Joohyun.
“Are you okay? You’ve been zoning off since you walked in here.” Joohyun scans her face, eyes moving up and down.
Seungwan gives a thin smile. Ah, yes. Bae Joohyun had almost slipped her mind.
“I’m good,” she replies, before one corner of her lips curve up. She places her cheek on top of her fist. “Were you worried about me?”
Joohyun scoffs with a light chuckle after seeing the smug look on the other woman’s face. She looks down at her notebook and presses her finger below something she wrote down. “No, I was just going to ask you if the person I picked is good enough to write...” Joohyun glances up at Seungwan. “...a paper on.”
“Who is it?” Seungwan’s eyes move over to what Joohyun is pointing at, and she frowns upon looking at it.
The sight of her full name written down in neat and pretty handwriting glares back at her, as if taunting her. Each line, each loop, brings back memories and commands that still follow her around.
She can’t count how many times she’s heard her name being yelled, screamed, lied about, cursed about, and pleaded to.
The emptiness is filling her up. It slowly, slowly, creeps up inside her and she doesn’t know for how long it will continue to fester.
“I find her story interesting,” Joohyun says. “She was still so young too.”
Seungwan forces a smile.
“You don’t know the half of it.”
Seungwan shakes her head and widens her smile. “Nothing. I think Son Seungwan’s a good pick.”
Lies. If Joohyun knew the whole truth, she would be up and running away, Seungwan’s sure. Joohyun continues to talk, but Seungwan is barely listening.
‘Find Joohyun.’ the words repeat in her head.
“I wonder if you’re the one she talked about,” Seungwan mumbles quietly, causing Joohyun to halt her words.
Seungwan blinks rapidly, and snaps out of her thoughts. She gives a nervous and unsure laugh that isn’t missed by the other woman.
“Oh nothing, sorry.”
Seungwan’s more than glad to be out of that class because the mere presence of Bae Joohyun is distracting. Seungwan thought she was going to combust sneaking glances at her here and there, finding her almost impossibly beautiful, but also feeling her tremendous human aura.
An aura so huge it almost, almost mirrors a Wisp’s.
Her mother’s last words and Bae Joohyun just click, but just barely. She has no clue what she needs to connect the two together.
What’s missing? What does she do to find it?
Maybe she’s just simply overthinking it. Yeongweol was being vague and maybe she’s just over analyzing a then dying woman’s words.
Seungwan internally laughs at how she’s reduced her mother to just that; a dying woman. Has that much time really passed?
The war that she fought back then isn’t over. There are still remnants of it that have clung onto her, like the emptiness trailing behind her every day, like the curse she thought would be eradicated, gone, but has been reawakened due to some unknown factor.
Seungwan thought she could escape this unforgiving reality for even a little bit, but she’d been naïve. Her past won’t let her.
“,” she curses underneath her breath as she pushes open the door to step outside. She sighs, walking down the steps and onto the cement ground.
A peculiar chill settles inside of her, like snow falling down slowly onto the earth. It makes her stop dead in her tracks and stare at the ground. She feels like crying, but even more than that, she feels angry.
So, so angry that the silver hiding within the brown of her eyes present themselves. Her breathing grows loud and she tries her hardest to control herself. Every breath comes out as smoke due to the cold. It quivers when she tries to quiet it down.
She closes her eyes, thinks of moments worth living for as her chest heaves up and down.
Her thoughts only bring her back to Miss Hwang, images of her mother, a young Jinheung.
Then they go all over the place, making her remember once again just what kind of life she’s been living.
Her fists clench tightly and she feels a surge in her anger, a great pressure in her chest. It rises, it rises, and then-
Seungwan opens her eyes and looks down at a hand holding a wrapped ice cream. She looks at Joohyun, who stands beside her, slightly bent forward with an inquisitive stare. Her dark hair drapes down on the other side of her face, her soft brown eyes are wide, lips parted just so, and it’s one of the most beautiful sights Seungwan has ever seen.
Seungwan turns her head away, blinks a few more times to hide the silver in her eyes, and looks at Joohyun again.
“For me?” Seungwan asks.
Joohyun nods in response and straightens up her posture. “Yeah. You told me you like ice cream, so I...”
“So you went out and bought me one,” Seungwan says with a laugh.
She feels her anger dissipate in small waves, even though her sadness lingers on.
“Thank you,” She takes the ice cream from Joohyun and unwraps it, making sure to stuff the wrapper into her back pockets.
They walk beside each other towards the sidewalk as other people pass by them chattering, laughing.
“I still wanted to pay you back even though I don’t understand why you’d even eat ice cream when it’s so cold,” Joohyun says. She has the same coat on with a grey sweater under and black leggings—the same blue beanie Seungwan gave her rests around her head.
“C’mon, don’t lie, you were worried about me,” Seungwan teases and takes a bite out of the ice cream. The red bean flavor in it tastes sweet, and it melts in .
“Well, you’ve been acting weird all morning,” replies Joohyun.
“There’s just a lot on my mind right now,” Seungwan then keeps the ice cream stuck in , trying to control her emotions.
“Do you want to talk about it? Or is it personal?” Joohyun asks, to which Seungwan shakes her head.
“It’s not really anything serious. I’ll be okay.”
There’s a silence that follows, but this time, it’s uncomfortable. No, not uncomfortable. Peculiar.
Seungwan looks at Joohyun, who is staring straight ahead.
The half-eaten ice cream in her hand, walking beside Joohyun, it all seems so familiar and yet, Seungwan doesn’t recognize it.
“I didn’t see your boyfriend in class today, did he skip?”
The question halts anything Seungwan is thinking of in the moment and causes her to burst out into loud laughter. Jinheung being her boyfriend was and is one of the most preposterous things she’s ever heard, because he’s just a brother she keeps close.
Though she can see why people would assume they’re romantically involved.
“What’s so funny?” Joohyun asks, genuinely curious.
“Yeah, he’s probably at our apartment right now,” Seungwan replies nonchalantly. Joohyun’s eyebrows raise and she looks at Seungwan with lips parted in shock.
“You live together?”
“Your parents allow that?” Joohyun’s questioning voice goes up a pitch.
Joohyun doesn’t know what to say next, so they walk in silence for a few seconds more, before Seungwan chuckles.
“I’m kidding, he’s not my boyfriend.”
Joohyun clicks her tongue and glares at her. “Why’d you make it seem like he was?”
“Why? Do you want me to set you up with him or something?” Seungwan asks and Joohyun’s face twists into a scowl.
“I don’t really like men. Had some bad experiences with them in the past.” Joohyun explains and then fakes a disgusted shudder. “Never again.”
Seungwan raises an eyebrow. “...you like women then?”
“Then...what about me?” Seungwan asks, leaning forward to look at Joohyun with her most dashing smile. Joohyun looks away with a scoff and a laugh.
Seungwan stands straight again with a laugh and juts her bottom lip out to form a pout. “I’m hurt.”
Joohyun rolls her eyes, smiling.
“By the way, are we walking to your place?” Seungwan asks and takes the last bite out of her ice cream.
“We’re walking that way, yes,” Joohyun answers. “I guess you’re walking me home again.”
When they reach the building of Joohyun’s apartment, Seungwan puts her hands in her back pockets and inhales the cold air sharply, before exhaling. “Well, I guess I’ll see you tomorrow, Miss Irene.”
Joohyun looks at the door, and then at Seungwan, contemplating. “Actually, do you wanna come in?” she asks and when she doesn’t receive a response, she continues. “I mean, I feel bad you walked with me here and you don’t even have a jacket on, so...”
Seungwan chuckles at the woman’s frantic reasoning. She’s mildly surprised, but it’s not like she wants to refuse. She’d rather not face Miss Hwang right now anyway due to the obvious circumstances.
But, something hampers her.
“...Sorry, I have some stuff to take care of at home,” she finally says, and notices the very subtle disappointment that appears in Joohyun’s face.
Her eyes show the slightest glint of sadness, just for a brief moment though, because she blinks it away before smiling. She begins to remove her coat and after, she holds it up with both of her hands so it’s draping down.
Seungwan smells the sweet faint scent of laundry detergent and perfume as the coat is lifted over and draped onto her shoulders. She looks at Joohyun, whose fingers linger on the collars of the coat as she stares back.
The corners of Seungwan’s lips curve up just so to form a soft smile.
“Didn’t I tell you I don’t get cold easily?”
Joohyun clicks her tongue in response before letting go of the collars. “Just looking at you makes me feel cold, only idiots dress like that in this weather.”
“Oh, so I’m an idiot now?” Seungwan asks with a raised eyebrow, and she only receives a laugh.
“I’ll see you later, Wendy-ssi,” Joohyun says, chuckling.
Seungwan watches the woman’s smile pass by as she makes her way towards the door.
“Seeya,” Seungwan responds just loud enough to be heard. Joohyun waves her hand from the door with another thin smile. She pulls the door open and steps inside, disappearing into the building right after.
The door closes, and Seungwan’s smile slowly recedes. She hears the trees rustle and feels the rough breeze that blows against her skin, sweeping her hair off to the side. She stands still as she continues to stare at the door; the coat resting on her shoulders makes her feel warmer.
A beautiful human who shares the same name as the person Yeongweol mentioned years and years ago.
Seungwan can’t afford to get any closer than this. She’ll disappear one day, and Joohyun will forget about her. She’ll be a distant memory to Joohyun, a girl who she met in college, an insignificant, fleeting, and passing memory added to a small portion of her life.
Seungwan lets a sigh escape her lips and she turns to walk away, humming a light tune under the dim streetlights.
Joohyun enters in the code to the keypad and after a beep of approval, she pulls the door open and steps inside before shutting it again. The warmth of her apartment trickles into her skin and she finally stops shivering.
She leans against the door, tilts her head back, creating a soft thud.
Asking Seungwan—the woman who she knows as Wendy, to come in was maybe a little bit too weird.
Maybe she bothered Wendy too much. The other woman clearly looked like she wanted to be left alone for the day, so why in the world did Joohyun choose to do such a thing?
She barely even socializes with other people besides Park Sooyoung and Kim Yerim, so she surprised herself when she initiated a conversation with Wendy.
Joohyun chuckles to herself. Even going out of her way to buy Wendy, someone she’s just met a few days ago, some ice cream. Something must’ve gotten into her.
Wendy must be even crazier to eat ice cream in this weather, but it seemed to make her happy, so Joohyun doesn’t really mind that anymore.
There is one thing that bothers her though.
She always makes herself look like a fool in front of beautiful women. Asking Wendy if she’s alright even when she looked like she wanted to be left alone, buying ice cream for her, and oh the absolute horror Joohyun felt when her own tears betrayed her and started rolling down; it makes her wish she had never agreed to getting coffee in the first place.
Wendy must’ve found it strange, but her gentle gestures and soft brown eyes were reassuring; they showed that she really understands that these tears are beyond Joohyun’s control.
Soft brown eyes come to mind when she thinks of that moment; the moment when she noticed Wendy standing still in front of the steps. Joohyun hesitated, but she already bought the ice cream, so it wouldn’t have hurt, right?
She’s not certain if it was just her imagination, but she could’ve sworn she saw just the slightest hint of a lighter color in Wendy’s eyes.
It was a color that greatly contrasted the soft brown, but it disappeared in a fleeting moment. Gone. Poof.
Joohyun removes her white sneakers and places them on the rack by the door. She continues straight ahead until she reaches the door to her room, thinking nothing more of it. Right now, she can only focus on studying for exams and trying to get just the right amount of sleep so she doesn’t end up passing out.
Joohyun doesn’t see Wendy for the rest of the day. It’s silly of her to expect Wendy to just be anywhere she goes, but she hasn’t seen the latter at all.
A change of route maybe?
Joohyun shakes her head and averts her attention back to her work. There’s no room for distractions.
Though this class doesn’t require so much effort during this time, she must work her hardest now so she can relax later.
She tucks a lock of hair behind her ear as her other hand holds onto the heavy camera that is attached to a strap. She looks through the pictures she’s taken so far with the camera; there are mainly photographs of the sky at different times of the day and night. Each picture was taken with her having to position her body in awkward angles that eventually resulted in cramps after.
She knows she should refrain from taking so many pictures of the sky but she doesn’t find anything else prettier.
After setting her camera down on the table, she sighs and glances at the door.
The teacher hasn’t arrived yet and she’s getting impatient. She grabs her phone that’s on top of the table and turns it on to check her text messages. Before her thumb can even tap on a notification, a name pops up in the conversation taking place a few seats away from her.
“You know that new transfer student?”
“Yeah, Son Wendy, right?”
Joohyun isn’t usually one to eavesdrop on other’s conversations, but she finds herself doing so anyway. The three girls continue to talk, and Joohyun absent-mindedly scrolls through the texts from the group chat as she listens intently.
“She’s so pretty but she seems so hard to approach.”
“Really? She seems friendly enough though, I asked her if I could borrow any brushes from her the other day and she had this like, huge smile on her face when she gave them to me.”
“She does seem nice, I even saw her talking to Bae Irene.”
Joohyun’s ears perk up at her own name and she tries her hardest to restrain an eyeroll.
“I guess only pretty girls talk to each other huh.”
“She’s right there, you know,” one of the girls says quietly and Joohyun suddenly feels not so discreet eyes on her. She looks at them and they immediately turn away, causing an inaudible scoff from her.
It’s not like it’s high school anymore, gossip and whatnot doesn’t affect her nearly as much as it did back then.
She leans back against her chair and stares ahead.
People are starting to talk about Wendy after all. With exams and such coming up, students are too busy studying to do anything else, so she’s not surprised students aren’t bothering Wendy, yet. It’s college anyway, majority of students know how to control themselves in such hectic times.
Joohyun leans forward and places her elbow on the table, resting her cheek in her palm after. She looks at the blue beanie placed beside her camera and sighs.
For some odd reason, she’s now craving red bean ice cream.
After classes, Joohyun gathers her things together and places them neatly into her backpack one by one.
It’s starting to get dark outside and she should really get back home as soon as possible, Lord knows all the horrible things that happen in the night.
She grabs her grey coat and puts it on over her white shirt, making sure to pull her hair out from under it. After her coat, she puts her black backpack on with the support of its straps and then finally, she grabs the blue beanie to fit it onto her head.
She adjusts it to make sure it covers her ears before proceeding to the door.
“See you tomorrow, Professor!”
The teacher looks up, stops trying to look for his things “Oh, bye Irene!”
With that, Joohyun steps out o