this i ever held worse that all certitude,
to not know what the worst ahead
algernon charles swinburne
Her ears are bleeding.
Or she thinks it is, her hands blood stained after she’d clutched her ears, something warm and sticky on the sides of her head. Jiu’s not really sure what.
She’d inhaled smoke and dust, chest heaving as she continued to cough them out, legs still numb and uncooperative so she’s stuck trying not to breath in the leftover smell of gas from the explosion too much.
“-re you okay?! Please tell me you’re alive!”
Jiu can only groan in response, too sore to speak, everything too painful at the moment.
“Oh my god, Jiu unnie!”
Jiu winced, the sharp call doing nothing to help her ringing ears.
A frantic Yoohyeon emerged from behind her before immediately dropping down to check on the older girl, hesitantly touching Jiu’s head to check where she was wounded. Jiu flinched.
“,” Yoohyeon breathed shakily, eyes meeting Jiu’s.
Jiu widens her eyes a bit, urging the younger girl to explain what it was she seemed hesitant to say. Yoohyeon clenches her jaw and somehow Jiu knows it means she’s either angry or thinking hard.
“What the hell was in that bag you said you found…” Yoohyeon muttered under her breath although Jiu could hear it clearly.
They’d separated from Siyeon and Sua to gather dry woods and leaves for the campfire at night when she’d found a rugged bag in the middle of the forest. She wasn’t expecting it to explode as soon as she poked it with a stick.
“God unnie! I don’t know what to do! Is it alright for you to stand up? Or should I get Sua and Siyeon unnie? But I don’t wanna leave you here-”
Jiu’s heart was pounding and as she scanned where she was again, the splitting headache she couldn’t feel awhile ago hit her without warning.
“Yoohyeon…” Jiu starts, her head aching even more as the younger girl continues to ramble.
She motions for Yoohyeon to help her up instead, her world spinning for a moment as the darkness on the edges of her vision grows and she just needs someone to ground her. Yoohyeon looks disapproving but she helps her up anyways, hands gripping Jiu’s arms tight but loose enough to not hurt.
‘a gift from LOTUS LAND’
Jiu inwardly cursed herself. She should have known not to touch anything that came from the island prison they were in.
“Unnie what’s that?” Yoohyeon suddenly speaks up, fingers pointing towards a glinting object that came from where the bag once stood.
Before she could protest, Yoohyeon was already gently letting her down on the ground and Jiu expected more explosions as another dizzy spell hits her but Yoohyeon comes back only seconds later.
“It looks like some kind of key?” The younger girl whispers, palms open as she shows Jiu the object she’d just picked up.
Sure enough, an apple shaped sapphire key was in Yoohyeon’s hand and Jiu frowned. For some reason, it was unsettling… and familiar.
Jiu blinks, nausea hitting her and suddenly she’s vomiting whatever she had managed to digest the last few days, cold sweat trickling down the back of her neck and before she could warn Yoohyeon, her eyes rolled back as darkness overwhelmed her senses.
She was screaming.
Her wrists were bleeding from pulling on her restraints, the chains rubbing her skin raw. Every part of her was being torn apart.
Then it stopped but the painful ache remained. Her vision was spinning, eyes downcast and she tries to steady herself by focusing on the hanging blur of red that served as some kind of pendant. Some kind of necklace.
Someone was sobbing.
And she’s screaming again.
Her eyes snapped open. Yoohyeon hovers above her with panicked eyes, hands clutching Jiu’s shoulders tightly.
It was already dark, the cool air of the night waking her up further as the breeze hits her sweat soaked clothes, making her shiver. Yoohyeon helps her sit up.
“What- where? What happened?” She managed to croak out.
Yoohyeon hands her some warm water.
“You… you passed out and… and you were screaming,” Yoohyeon answers shortly, eyes unable to meet Jiu’s.
Jiu checked her surroundings. Somehow, Yoohyeon was able to make a tepee shelter. Beside her was some blood soaked towels which the younger girl must’ve used to clean her up and she could feel the bandage that’s now wrapped around her head.
“Where?” Jiu asked, fingers grazing the bandage on her head to clarify herself.
Yoohyeon tilts her head towards a slightly burnt bag.
‘a gift from LOTUS LAND’
“It had some supplies in there. Food, water, first aid kit,” Yoohyeon explains.
Jiu nods slightly as Yoohyeon’s voice falters for a bit, “I’m sorry I’m really bad at this.”
Jiu frowned, a disapproving look crossing her face because if building them a temporary shelter and fixing her up was a bad job then they clearly have different ideas of bad.
“You did amazing, Yoohyeon. Thank you.”
Hearing that, Yoohyeon sighed in relief.
“Where are we though?” Jiu asked again, wondering why she hadn’t seen Sua or Siyeon at all.
Yoohyeon opened to explain before she paused and seemed to hesitate, brows furrowed in concentration. A few seconds passed before the younger girl remembered that Jiu was waiting for an answer. Yoohyeon gives her a nervous smile.
“I didn’t want to move you too much while you were unconscious,” Yoohyeon finally said, moving to dig into the backpack so that she wouldn’t have to face Jiu, “It was getting darker too so I figured we should wait til it’s morning again to go back to Sua and Siyeon unnie.”
Jiu didn’t reply. Yoohyeon continued what she was doing.
“That’s not really the whole reason, is it?”
Another long stretch of silence passed between them and it brings them memories of when they first got to know each other, of the rare moments of calm between the bright energy they’ve both decided to put on, of Yoohyeon’s hesitance in sharing something she’s not sure of and Jiu’s subtle way of making her talk. But not this time. Somehow, despite Yoohyeon remembering everything and Jiu knowing everything about her friends, they’ve become different persons. Jiu wonders if it’s part of the island’s charm.
“You’ll tell me eventually right?” Jiu sighed, trusting that Yoohyeon will tell her when she wants to.
“Hopefully not, unnie.”
Jiu stared at the girl’s back. Something wasn’t really adding up. Yoohyeon seemed more different than when she first woke up.
“Why not?” Jiu asked, a tremor in her voice as the suspicions starts running up her mind again.
Yoohyeon turns around, this time looking at Jiu and this time, all her vulnerabilities laid out, eyes angry and resentful.
“Because I hope I’m wrong about it, Jiu unnie.”
“Where the hell are they?!”
Siyeon flinched, Sua’s voice shrill against the silence of the night as she paced around, the boots she’d been wearing digging into the sand. They’ve been waiting and looking for Jiu and Yoohyeon for hours and as soon as the sun had set, Sua had started having a mini tirade.
“This is your fault!” Sua screamed, eyes blazing as she holds Siyeon’s gaze.
Siyeon sighed. Perhaps, in a way, it was her fault for suggesting for them to split up but Sua agreed to it so she was as much to blame. Siyeon doesn’t tell her that though. The smaller girl was a raging fire when mad and she was every bit as furious as an inferno at the moment. Siyeon at least knows she can’t put out fire with fire.
“Calm down,” Siyeon starts and Sua’s already about to interrupt but the younger girl continues before she could, “Look. Yoohyeon and Jiu unnie are smart and rational. If it got dark before they could come back here, they would stay put and will come find us in the morning.”
“And what if they don’t?” Sua challenged.
“They will,” Siyeon assured with a forced smile, “Shouldn’t we be more worried about the others instead?”
Sua narrows her eyes at the change of topic but relents anyways.
“Gahyeon’s probably with Yubin and Handong. They’ll be okay.”
Siyeon wasn’t satisfied with that answer.
“And what about that thing written in the skies hours ago, unnie? What was that?”
There’s a flash of irritation that crossed Sua’s eyes before she blinked it away. Siyeon stops herself from saying anything.
“I don’t know,” Sua answers, a hint of anger in her voice.
Siyeon decided not to push. Sua seemed to have an inkling on whatever it was and whatever it was, Siyeon hoped it was something that wouldn’t make her regret trusting the older girl.