Wendy sees the woman before her, eyes gleaming and glimmering with such familiarity and longing.
She wishes the moment would last forever. It angers her that every single time she comes so so close to figuring it out, something will always interrupt it.
“What are you doing here,” the man asks. It is not much of a question—more of a demand if anything. Standing beside him is the woman who caused Wendy more trouble than necessary in the past, several times.
Trouble that should still enrage Wendy.
“As much as you hate me, is it so surprising to see me here?” Wendy says nonchalantly with slight play. Her particles are always ready, it’s not like she has ever let her guard down.
“We’re not letting you near our daughter,” the man says with a heightened viciousness in his tone.
Now Wendy is caught off guard.
Bae Joohyun’s parents are the same people who have tried to kill her multiple times in the past.
Her life must be a joke.
Wendy chuckles. “It’s not like you’ve really been here for her. I could’ve killed her and you wouldn’t have noticed.”
“What,” the man steps closer as purple particles assemble themselves into a bow. “Do you want,” he grabs the collars of her coat and stares hard into her silver eyes. “With my daughter.” His voice is low, and dark.
Wendy knows this man means business. The clenching of his fists and purple eyes would terrify any lesser enemy. And Wendy should run to avoid a mess.
In a different situation she’d put them into the ground where they were supposed to be in the first place, but things have become much more complicated.
“Not much. I sensed an energy coming from this direction and she just happened to be here.” Wendy says, unfazed by the strong grip.
She smiles wide, and then with a shove, she is released from the grip.
The man turns and looks at the woman who has been standing there, silent and observant.
The most brilliant enemy Wendy ever fought.
Wendy is putting up a confident demeanor but the fact that the woman is alive is terrifying to say the least.
When they start walking away, Wendy perks up one more time.
“You shouldn’t get in my way,” she says almost cheerfully. “Unless you forgot your defeat those many, many years ago.”
That stops them in their tracks. The woman turns her body just slightly and Wendy sees the terrible hue of pink shine.
“You lost all four limbs back then,” she says. “It has been quite a while since. I would be careful with your words, Son Seungwan.”
Wendy still has a faint smile on her lips. She’s trying her hardest to disguise her frustration and fear for these two people.
She stays dreadfully silent.
What the is she supposed to do now?
All Joohyun can really do is stand there and watch. What’s she supposed to do? She could feel the tension from a distance away. Particles floating, glowing objects appearing; everything seemed like it came straight out of a dream.
“Joohyun, you must have a lot of questions,” her mother says.
“I’m sorry we kept you waiting,” her father adds.
They seem to be their usual selves again; no murder in their voices, eyes pitch black, concern straightening their lips.
Joohyun is out of breath somehow; she realizes she was holding her breath almost the entire confrontation. She looks at Seungwan who is now walking away and she continues to look.
The small frame of the woman, getting further and further away makes her angry.
Her eyes flit back to her parents. “What was that for? What did she do?”
They both look at each other in a pause and then back to Joohyun.
“We have a history with her that isn’t particularly,” her father pauses. “the best.”
Joohyun has never been the type to dismiss or disrespect her parents but she feels as if a part of her was just ripped away. As if she had been betrayed.
Everything has become so confusing. Seungwan, the picture, the dream, the events, and now her parents.
Everything is right there but nothing is clicking.
She turns around and walks away dismissively. She doesn’t want to see her parents or talk to them.
In fact, she doesn’t want to see anyone at all.
She wants to lay in bed, Nabi at her feet, warm soft blanket, Seungwan beside her, feeling her warmth and her smile, and--
Joohyun is at the door and her hand rests on the handle. Everything comes to a stop and she feels longing, like she hasn’t seen someone in so, so long.
Ghost touches of lips, fingers weaving through hair, sentimental sounds of laughter; all of them are whispers in her head. They make her way through the cracks and ridges in her brain, but they never meet.
All her memories seemingly come from nowhere, like someone implanted them into her while she was asleep.
She doesn’t know how or why, but something has been set in motion to happen.
And if she can’t get answers from Wendy right now, then her parents will do.
Her whole life she has followed the rules, tried to be careful about anything and everything. She studied phenomena and miracles in history again and again, never knowing where the drive or motivation came from.
Someone has to have answers.
Wendy wonders if it’s depression she has. Can a Wisp experience depression? Well, they can certainly experience feelings of romance, and betrayal, and sadness, and despair.
Her guess is just that, if any living thing has the capacity to feel all those things, then depression is a possibility too. Being half human, it’s tougher for her.
Her teachers never showed any signs of weakness. It is completely okay to have weaknesses, but once you show it, there is no taking it back from your enemies. So, it’s best to completely hide your weaknesses, and to never show them.
But this feeling that she has been chasing is separate from depression. It’s nostalgia. Maybe.
Nostalgia. A longing for the past. That too, is a weakness.
Wendy groans and rolls on her stomach so she can bury her head into her pillow.
How is she supposed to kill two people who are the parents of Joohyun?
The last time Wendy had such a dilemma was when she was starving and she had to pick between saving Jinheung’s hanging from a tree and a delicious meal.
She groans. “Shhhhhit.”
“Seungwan is someone who we knew a long time ago. We ran into some...conflicts with her family and we aren’t exactly on good terms,” says Mr. Bae with a gentle caution.
Joohyun raises an eyebrow. “Not on good terms with her or her family?”
The two parents share a glance. “Both. I guess—you could say.” Mr. Bae replies.
There is another silence.
“Look, honey. There is...a lot that we have to tell you and it will take some time to get adjusted to new information,” Mrs. Bae speaks with a hand over her daughter’s.
Joohyun knows her parents are acting weird. Her father has never been so cautious or alert around her. And her mother is being quieter than usual.
Whatever Seungwan or her family did to them, it must’ve been something terrible.
“What did Seungwan and her family do that was so horrible?” Joohyun asks and she makes her voice stern when her question is met by tentative silence. “I need an answer. Because the way you two talked to Seungwan, who happens to be the only new friend I've made in years, was disrespectful and,” she pauses, “vile.”
Her father taps his finger on his thigh, contemplating, thinking. He sighs defeatedly and braces for how his daughter will react.
“Princess Son Seungwan. I’m sure you know her from your history classes. That is who you are dealing with.”
Joohyun almost laughs but the look on her parents’ faces means that this is no laughing matter. They’re dead serious.
“Ignoring the fact you implied that Seungwan is a princess who died centuries ago, what did a princess do to cause you so much harm?”
“She uh,” her father says very awkwardly. “Um.”
Her mother sighs. “She nearly killed us.”
Joohyun’s face scrunches up terribly with an expression that transcends one of confusion. And disbelief.
Small and gentle Seungwan?
She’s sure that this is the definition of “confused silence” because she simply stares at them and nothing else.
“You know what,” she says as she stands up. “I’ll go ask her myself.”
“Joohyun no, she--,” her mother tries to protest, but Joohyun does something that she never thought she would do in her lifetime. She doesn’t know where it came from.
She put up her index finger towards them. A gesture that attempts to silence. “I am going to ask her myself.” She turns back around to walk towards the door.
Her father stands up with clenched fists. He lets out a booming demand. “Bae Joohyun, you will absolutely not step foot into her presence.”
Something boils inside of Joohyun. It accumulates. She swings open the door and turns back towards her parents in an explosive rage she’s never felt before.
Unbeknownst to her however, is that her eyes start shining a fierce pink as she screams at her parents.
“I WILL GO TALK TO HER AND ASK HER QUESTIONS MYSELF AND NOBODY INCLUDING YOU WILL STOP ME.”
And that was it. Joohyun steps out and slams the door behind her.
She doesn’t know what that was. Never in her life had she ever screamed at her parents like that; she’s never raised her voice at them at all, but she’s tired of missing answers. She’s tired of her parents not being around and only showing up when they want to.
It’s not fair. It’s not fair they interrupted a moment that could have been so crucial, so important.
A moment that could’ve answered so much.
She starts running. She runs until she’s met with the outside cold air.
Ah. She’s just realized she has no coat. It’s really cold.
But she runs anyway, towards something.
God, she feels so dramatic.
She runs and runs until the cold air settles into her skin and it makes her stop dead in her tracks.
“ it’s so cold,” she shivers and crouches down to warm herself.
She should definitely go home and grab a coat.
Just then, she feels warmth blanket her. A warmth resembling the warmth she feels when she drinks hot cocoa after being out in the cold for too long.
“What the hell are you doing out here without a coat?”
Joohyun looks up and sees Seungwan standing over her. A new sight to behold considering the latter is of a shorter height.
“S-Seungwan!” Joohyun stands and quickly slides her arms through the coat, taking in its warmth almost immediately.
“What are you doing out here?” She asks and Seungwan just stares with her smile.
Oh, her smile. It’s so beautifully familiar.
“I sensed something was up,” Seungwan replies.
“Like what?” Joohyun asks.
“Like you were about to do something stupid and that I should come out and check up on you.”
Joohyun is about to reply with a playful rebuttal, but she falls silent.
She doesn’t feel anything all of a sudden. From Seungwan. She doesn’t feel anything.
She also doesn’t feel anything she was feeling earlier; The feelings that made her yell at her parents and run out here in the cold like a mad woman.
“You okay?” Seungwan leans in closer to check.
Joohyun snaps out of her confusion. “Yeah. Yeah. Just--,”
Jesus. She wonders if she’s going crazy after all.
“Can I sleep over?” she asks. “...Tonight?”
Seungwan chuckles. “Yes.”
Joohyun’s heart starts to race once again. She’s so confused. Never in her life has she been so confused.
She knows next to nothing about Seungwan’s history and yet, she trusts her. An awful amount.
“But what about your parents?” Seungwan asks.
Joohyun’s expression falls from the mention of her parents. “I was actually...hoping to get some answers from you about them.”
. Wendy would be more delighted to have a beautiful woman like Joohyun to sleep over, if said beautiful woman wasn’t the child of two murderous generals from the past.
Wendy would greatly prefer it if a battle didn’t take place right in front of Joohyun.
If she’s really beginning to like Joohyun, a battle is absolutely forbidden.
Wendy sighs. Now she likes her. This is just great. Just fine.
The car ride to her apartment is silent. The hum of the car gliding through the road is the only sound, with the radio at a minimum volume.
Wendy’s not ready to tell Joohyun everything. She wanted to avoid this happening from the very start.
Wendy has been so stupid. She was beginning to get reckless by getting close to Joohyun and even meeting some of her friends. Her brain lately has just been a mess, like thoughts of Joohyun and her familiar aura just attacked all her brain cells and now that is all she can think about.
“You think we knew each other in a past life?” Joohyun asks whilst looking out the window of her passenger seat. This causes Wendy to come out of her thoughts.
“Past life? Maybe.” She chuckles and says. “Why do you ask?”
Wendy can see the raising of the corners of Joohyun’s lips. A soft smile amplified by the gloomy light from the window.
Joohyun is beautiful. Beautiful in a way that makes Wendy wonder; of all the Wisp and humans she has encountered, why has none of them come close to possessing the same beauty?
“I feel like I’ve seen you somewhere before. I wonder if we’ve ever crossed paths,” Joohyun replies. All her answers seem short, and they sound soft and sweet. Wendy feels calm when hearing her voice. It’s a calm that has become scarce over time, a calm that Wendy missed with all her heart.
With that, a tear slowly appears from the corner of her eye and drifts down quickly to her cheek. She hopes Joohyun doesn’t see the internal turmoil the tear indicates.
Why can’t she just be happy?
“Are you okay?” Joohyun asks with gentle concern. Her tone is with caution, so she doesn’t startle the other woman.
“Ah, yeah. Just sleep deprivation,” Wendy replies all while yawning.
She’s so tired.
“You know, despite seeming really quiet and shy, you’re actually really bold,” Wendy says as she unlocks the door to let the other woman in.
“Oh really?” Joohyun questions with amusement as she steps inside. “Bolder than you?”
Wendy laughs and closes the door after she comes in. “Well I wouldn’t go that far.”
“That’s what I thought. You’ve been bold from the very first moment we’ve met,” Joohyun says after taking off her shoes.
Wendy doesn’t have much in her home. Just personal belongings and old items from the past.
She’s happy. That Joohyun sometimes comes over to make the place feel a little less cold.
Joohyun sits on the warm couch and stares at the television. She uses it as an escape to think about all the questions clouding her mind.
And then she suddenly remembers her good boisterous friend, Kim Yerim. She remembers how the younger woman would go on and on about time travel, about demons who would travel in time to ensure that they would win the wars they lost in their time, about the Mandela effect, some nonsense about her soulmate being trapped somewhere in the past.
“Hey you want some tea? I can make some food before we sleep so you can watch TV while I do.” Wendy gets no answer from the other woman, who is spacing out into her thoughts.
“Irene? Would you—,”
“Why,” Joohyun starts off quiet, but abruptly. She then looks at Wendy. “Why did my parents treat you that way?”
Wendy’s bright smile freezes, until it gradually recedes to a simple frown.
“We just brushed each other a few times in the past because of my parents,” she replies with no hesitation. “But I didn’t take any offense to it though! It’s okay really.”
Joohyun thinks. The answer makes enough sense. But she has never seen her parents behave in such a way. She reaches into her back pocket and holds up the picture she was looking at nearly all night the other day.
Wendy’s eyes grow wide at the picture, terrified, mortified. Her face twists and contorts in fear. She begins to sweat, and there are tears pooling in her faded brown eyes.
Joohyun’s hold on the picture weakens as she looks at a disturbed Wendy, who is usually calm and nonchalant in demeanor.
Wendy brings her palm to , gagging before turning and rushing to the bathroom.
“Seungwan! Are you okay?” Joohyun runs after her, dropping the picture in the process.
Wendy slams open the bathroom door and quickly drops towards the toilet. She leans her head over it and regurgitates everything. Her food, the acid, her emotions, her confusion.
“Seungwan!” Joohyun is nearly in tears as she falls to her knees to pat Wendy on the back. The bathroom is filled with noises of gagging, and it’s deafening.
The feeling of guilt looms over Joohyun, until the gagging comes to a direct stop. Then the guilt consumes her.
What had she done? Did the picture bring back memories that Seungwan wanted to block out?
Inconsiderate. Joohyun was being inconsiderate.
“Are you okay? I-I’m really sorry,” Joohyun apologizes.
Wendy lifts her head and reaches up to lower the toilet lid to close up everything.
“It’s okay,” she says weakly. She flushes everything down.
Seeing Wendy on her knees, her heels touching her bottom, hands slightly shaking.
Joohyun knows she messed up.
“I’m so sorry. I’m—“
Seungwan suddenly stands and crashes into the shower and slides over the curtain to hide herself.
“I-it’s okay, really!”
Wendy felt her hair color start to revert back and her silver eyes were aching to be let out after her reaction to the picture.
God. This is truly embarrassing. She shouldn’t have had the picture lying around. She falls back and sits in the tub. She hides her face in between her knees.
Wendy looks up, silver eyes bare and blonde hair revealed. By this point, her hair has almost turned white, but not to the point it is not visibly blonde.
She wonders when she will start again.
“I know that..there are things you wish you don’t remember, and things you wish didn’t see. These things carry a lot of weight, and burden that you have tried so hard to leave behind. And I am truly sorry that I brought that pain back.”
Joohyun’s voice is gentle, and genuine. Every word was formed from guilt, empathy. There is nothing superficial about it in her tone.
Wendy hasn’t felt so vulnerable in years. She smiles weakly. “It is me in that picture, you know. It’s just a period in my life that I wished with all my heart to just disappear. Be forgotten.” She sighs. Still smiling. “Some things in the past just can’t be left behind.”
There is another unsure silence. Wendy knows Joohyun is still thinking of what to say, but there isn’t anything to be sorry for anymore.
“Where did you find the picture?” Wendy asks finally to break the silence.
“...I found it in your room and it caught my eye. I don’t know why I didn’t just ask you that same day, and I shouldn’t have even been snooping around. So I really am sorry.”
Wendy laughs. “Well, as long as you know not to snoop again. You’re forgiven.” She stands up with a push of her knees. Now she has to come up with an excuse to buy some time to hide her Wisp features again.
“Can you go get my towel? There are extra ones in my hamper. It's in the living room,” Wendy requests and of course Joohyun doesn’t hesitate to go.
“Oh, and Joohyun-ssi,” Wendy calls playfully before Joohyun can exit the bathroom.
“No snooping, okay?”
She hears embarrassment from Joohyun. “I-I’ve learned my lesson!”
And the door closes shut as Wendy laughs from behind the curtains.
Joohyun continues to look at the picture, wondering what horrific event is tied to it. An event so terrible and traumatizing that it caused such a reaction.
Seungwan’s expressions is embedded into her mind. The pure panic, and fear, and sadness.
All these questions are driving her mad. The more she thinks about it, the more questions she has.
She knows better than to pry now though. She’ll just find out when Seungwan willingly shares it.
Joohyun hears the door to the bathroom open and sha braces herself to go back out into the living room again. She sets the picture face-down onto the nightstand and waits a moment, before getting up and walking out of the room.
“Hey Seungwan, should I-,”
As soon as she gets into the living room, she sees a half- Wendy pulling a shirt, back bare.
Joohyun has always thought Seungwan’s skin would be soft and smooth and porcelain in all areas, but she realizes she has never seen any other part of her body besides the skin she chooses to bare on a daily basis.
So, the split-second image before her startles her.
Seungwan’s back is covered in scars running in all sorts of directions.
There is one scar that runs diagonally across her back, from her shoulder to her waist; a deep and long gash standing out from the rest. Joohyun catches herself staring, but quickly turns her head away when Seungwan pulls the shirt down and looks back.
“Oh, I forgot to bring my laundry into my bedroom earlier so I changed in the living room instead,” Seungwan explains, attempting to mask her embarrassment. “You wanna shower?” Seungwan asks and sits down to cross her legs. She seems to be in a cheeky mood.
“No,” Joohyun replies, trying her best to not stutter in the other woman’s presence. “I was about to ask if I should just go home after...you know...”
Seungwan grins, as if she had forgotten all that happened. “Why would I force you to go home in this weather? I’ll make some hot cocoa so you should just come sit by me.” she pats the spot next to her on the couch and Joohyun hesitantly goes to sit down.
As soon as she sits down, Seungwan presses the power button on the remote and leans to put her head on Joohyun’s shoulder.
Joohyun catches her breath and keeps it in . Her whole body system seems to freeze for at least a second, feeling Seungwan, smelling the shampoo and conditioner, the fresh clothes.
Seungwan is so warm. Joohyun realizes she can’t stay stiff forever, and leans her head to rest against Seungwan.
She wants to comfort this girl, who seems to have gone through so much pain in her life.
Joohyun reaches for Seunwan’s hand out of instinct. She squeezes it just slightly.
“Don’t worry about me, Joohyun. The last person you should be worrying about is me.”
Ah. So she is acknowledging her scars instead of avoiding the topic altogether.
Joohyun adds more pressure to her squeeze. “Let yourself be comforted, idiot. I know I’ve seen things I shouldn’t have, but just this once, let me.”
She feels Seungwan laugh.
“You really are so warm, Joohyun.”
“What should we do about that girl?” Mr. Bae asks as he pours the piping hot tea into the cup.
“She’s been inactive for quite a few years. If she meant to do any harm to us or Joohyun, we would’ve been informed. She seems to be idling about nowadays,” Mrs. Bae replies, being handed a cup of tea by her husband.
To say that she isn’t tired of this man and his constant need and suspicion for violence would be a lie.
Well, that is how this life for them is. Constant scheming and deceit and whatnot.
The Toxotis have barely changed their ways.
“Still, I do not trust that girl around our daughter.”
“Well, our daughter seems to trust that woman. What will you do to stop our daughter? Will you storm in and start a fight? Exposing her to a violent world that we have tried so desperately to keep her from?” Mrs. Bae responds after taking a sip of her tea, and setting it down on the table. “This is the sole reason I did not want children. Our partaking in violence and war would be too much for a child.”
Her eyes are cold, and half lidded. Her brown hair gradually fades out, until it turns a light red. “But you insisted, on raising a happy child, training them, nurturing them.” Her voice is unforgiving. “As if two people, who had never known what love was exactly, could give that to a child. Two loveless people, who only knew blood and arrows. We are hunters, not nurturers.”
The man is calm as he sits in front of her. “And so? She is already in this world. So far, we have been successful in keeping such a world from h