this clear white light reminds me of your voice

Decorate My Undecorated Days (I've Been Looking for a Reason)

Joohyun's been in love before.

Joohyun's been in love before, and at the time, it had felt like something akin to one of those Greek epics she'd once had to study in school, because surely, Joohyun was the Icarus who had been too careless, who had flown too close to the sun.

An Icarus whose wings were on fire but the flame just wouldn't go out— instead of water, they'd tossed oil all over her, and she'd burned for the months that followed.

The sun, in all of its radiant glory, and the sun, with its larger-than-life presence, had remained ever ignorant. Joohyun thinks that it was for the best— she'd definitely prefer to take these feelings to the grave, bury the wings and maybe her heart along with it.

It makes her wonder why she continues to keep up her friendship with Wendy, though.

She still remembers the first time she'd walked through the doors of the recording studio. She had been shifting uncomfortably from foot to foot, anxiously glancing at the clock on the wall, wishing that she could skip the 2 hour-long session that had been scheduled in the blink of an eye.

Joohyun hadn't wanted to sing. She’d gone most of her life hating the sound of her own singing voice, but it had been SM’s decision to go the idol route to “jumpstart her career,” in the words of the CEO, and who was she to object? She just wanted to make a living.

“You just haven’t found the right song to sing,” Wendy had said on that first day they’d met, the young producer reclining casually in her rolling chair, grinning languidly at a Joohyun who’d been sitting stiffly on the leather couch across the recording studio. “I can fix that.”

“Is that so?” Joohyun had done nothing but raise a skeptical eyebrow. She’d never reveal how intrigued she’d been that day. She hadn’t even known she’d needed fixing.

“I’m right, and you know it,” the producer had declared with all the confidence in the world. With a smirk, Wendy had kicked her feet up to rest near the soundboard, and it had felt like an act of rebellion even back then.

Joohyun hadn’t even known what to do with herself, struck dumb in front of this strange girl.

A week later and with a new song blaring through the studio, ringing through her soul, Joohyun had met Wendy’s growing grin with an awestruck look of her own. Wendy had looked so proud that day; it’s a look that Joohyun’s never forgotten.

She’d kept that look with her, tucked it beneath the fabric of her cardigan and kept it close to her heart, as she’d slipped into the recording booth and pulled on her pair of earphones, Wendy’s encouraging, enthusiastic voice ringing in her ear.

By the end of the day, Joohyun had left the recording studio with the first iteration of her debut single and a new number making its home in her contact list— Wendy with a blue heart emoji tacked onto it.

To this day, Joohyun’s not sure Wendy had been entirely correct— perhaps whether it had been the right song was debatable, but when it came down to it, Joohyun had been positive that she’d found the right person she wanted to sing for.

But then—

“Joohyun, she’s your producer,” Her manager had said. His tone had been patient, but the underlying message had been anything but, and the words had lashed out at Joohyun like a whip. had opened and closed, but she can’t even remember what had been said. “You better stop with this foolishness, get out of this phase. It’s unprofessional.”

It had been the beginning of the end.

(Joohyun’s dramatic, she knows. But back then, it’d felt like everything was spiraling out of control.)


Honestly, she really should’ve just seen it coming.

Especially when Sooyoung asks to see Joohyun, sits her down in Sooyoung’s own, very homey apartment, and it’s almost striking to Joohyun, how different she remembers this place being.

In the past, Sooyoung’s apartment had been barren, much like Joohyun’s own. Now, there are pictures on the walls, the curtains are drawn back, letting light stream into the rooms and brighten the space, and there’s a distinct presence of the color blue mixed in with Sooyoung’s signature emerald green.

Yeah, Joohyun really should’ve seen this news coming.

“Sooyoung, she’s your producer,” Joohyun says, but a heartbeat later she’s wincing. The same exact words her old manager had hissed three years ago, and they burn as they leave her tongue. She misses any conviction, and judging by the amused raise of an eyebrow she receives in response, Sooyoung hears the lack of it too. Honestly, Joohyun’s not sure who she’s trying to convince more now— herself or Sooyoung, but her gut feeling is leaning more towards the former, and she hates how that seems to pose even more questions.

Or perhaps hate is too strong of a word.

All her life, Joohyun’s learned to be analytical, to see behind the masks of those around her, to peer through the cracks and find what’s hidden beneath. It’s a helpful skill, especially in the entertainment industry, where literally everyone is an actor and it’s sometimes hard to see the true intentions of those who approach you, hard to understand the hidden meaning behind a critique or even a compliment.

So maybe hate is a bit much, but it's incredibly frustrating to suddenly be the clueless one in the room.

Your brain is working too hard, Wendy had told her once. Back then, Joohyun, having been wide-eyed and infatuated, hadn't thought much beyond the producer's teasing tone. Now, Joohyun wishes that she'd taken the warning in stride.

It's Sooyoung's voice that pulls her out of her thoughts once more, Sooyoung’s steady voice and Sooyoung’s nonchalant shrug of her shoulder and Sooyoung’s eyes that are understanding, far too understanding of Joohyun’s reaction, because wow, Joohyun’s such a ty friend, she should be more supportive and—

"Joohyun," Sooyoung says levelly. "I don't care."

Somehow, three small words are more like a wake-up slap to the face than anything Joohyun’s ever had to endure at her old entertainment company.

It must show on her expression, because Sooyoung only manages to keep a straight face for so long before a smile is cracking through her serious countenance and a light laugh bubbles from her lips. The sound is so weightless, so carefree, and Joohyun is just stunned, because is this really the same Sooyoung who had locked herself in a recording booth with nothing but a pile of unsent letters and her sorrows? The same Sooyoung whose smash-hit debut album was nothing but break-up songs and longing for things that never came to pass?

(Joohyun still remembers the reviews; all of the critics who had been in awe of the way someone so young had managed to perfectly capture heartbreak in one single studio album.)

“I’m sorry,” Sooyoung laughs now. She tips her head back and grins. “Maybe that came across as a bit harsh.”

"No," Joohyun shakes her head. "I guess I'm not entirely following."

Sooyoung shrugs. "There's honestly not much to get. Wendy makes me happier than I could've ever imagined. When I found out that she felt the same, my first thought was wow, I've never been so light.” A laugh resounds from deep within Sooyoung’s chest. “I didn’t care about anything but us in that moment— just Wendy and I.”

“What’s that like?” Joohyun asks.

“What’s what like?”

“Not caring.”

Sooyoung snorts. “Don’t pretend you don’t know what it's like.”

Joohyun furrows her brow.


“Unnie,” Sooyoung says in exasperation, although there’s a hint of fondness below her reprimanding tone. At the sheer confusion that colors Joohyun’s brow, Sooyoung only sighs in amusement.

“You didn’t care when you invited Seulgi to stay over your apartment that first time,” She reminds her. Joohyun’s lips part slightly at the realization. “She could’ve easily stayed at a hotel, but instead you invited her over. That could’ve gone really bad, especially the day after. But at the time? You didn’t care.”

“I wanted to talk with her more,” Joohyun says quietly. She twiddles her thumbs, looks down at her lap. “I liked talking with Seulgi. I was acting out of selfishness when I invited her over.”

“There’s nothing wrong with reaching for something good,” Sooyoung shoots back. “There’s nothing wrong with trying to surround yourself with good people, with trying to make yourself happy. Adam and Eve were selfish and look how that turned out! Now we’ve got the human race.” Sooyoung crosses her arms. “Joohyun, I know exactly what your problem is.”

Joohyun chances a glance at the soloist.

“What’s that?”

“You think too much.”

“I— What?” Joohyun is floored. All her life, everything she’d been taught— “Is that really a bad thing?”

“You think too much,” Sooyoung repeats, reclining in her chair and crossing her right leg over her left, eyeing Joohyun’s mute, slouched figure. “And that can be a bad thing for a person like you. Because Joohyun, all of your calculated and successful career choices have blinded you from the fact that some of the best decisions you’ve ever made came to fruition because of your heart, and not your brain.”

Joohyun doesn’t even know what to say to that.

Sooyoung regards her kindly, a knowing smile being painted across her red, red lips.


The box labeled Personal remained unopened in the corner of her bedroom; she couldn’t bring herself to open it, even well after her first night in the apartment.

Now, she walks over to the box with newfound purpose, a pair of scissors in her hand that she uses to cut straight through the packing tape. It tears apart easily as the blade cuts through, and slowly, Joohyun parts the box’s flaps reaching inside to its contents.

One-by-one, she pulls out its items— the cookbook Yerim had presented her when she’d first moved out on her own; a series of photobooth pictures of her with Sooyoung; a dreamcatcher Yongsun and Byulyi had gotten her from somewhere on their travels; the friendship bracelets she’d made with Soojung, sitting on the floor of their old dorm as trainees; a Polaroid of just Joohyun and Wendy in that stupid, stupid FILA cap.

There’s her diary too.

She picks it up with clammy hands, kneeling on the ground as she flips open to a random page with shaky fingers.

“—I’m going to lose my ing mind—”

Joohyun slams the book shut. She heaves deep breaths before forcing herself to open it again, flipping to an earlier page.

“Today was another day in the studio. I think I’m looking forward to these days the most. Sometimes I run into Sooyoung and that’s always fun. Wendy’s always her amazing self too. It’s crazy to think that I’ve known her for over a year now. She’s nice and fun and pretty and everything good, I think, and I want to be around her more.

I realized that I stare at her a lot these days. She caught me once and winked and I think I might’ve flatlined.

The best part was that I caught her staring too.”

She skips a few pages.

“My manager caught me texting Wendy earlier. He’s been glaring at me a lot, recently. I overheard him talk to one of the stylists about taking away my phone. He said it was because I was getting too distracted. I don’t really know what to think. I’ve been getting lots of offers lately, but he just keeps reminding me that everything I am is because of him and the company. I don’t know anymore.”

She turns more pages. Her writing’s gotten shorter.

“He told me I was being foolish. I told him I was making every decision very thoroughly. He told me I was going through a phase. I told him that I loved her. He told me I was being unprofessional. I couldn’t argue against that one.”

The pages become crinkled and stained the more she flips. Joohyun absently traces her thumb over the rigid paper.

“I got called up to the CEO’s office today. I’m going to lose my career if word gets out that I feel anything towards girls. He said I’d be left all alone, that all my friends would leave me. They wouldn’t, right? Or would they be disgusted? I can’t afford to think this way. Then again, it makes sense that they wouldn’t want to be associated with an idol who plateaued far too soon. Wendy wouldn’t leave Wendy would stay with Hell, I don’t even know if Wendy likes me back. I can’t lose her I can’t lose what little I have. I think I’m going to lose my ing mind. I think I’m going to

The rest of the page is torn.

Oh, that’s right. She’d been trying so hard to forget.

There are only two sentences on the page that follows.

“I got yelled at by the CEO again today. I told him I was leaving SM Entertainment when my contract terminates next week.”

That had been the last entry. Joohyun had packed the diary away into a box in preparation for her move to her new apartment, and she hadn’t written anything since. It wasn’t that she would’ve had any time to journal, anyway; everything had happened so fast. She’d been sitting on the CEO’s sofa, and she’d gotten tired of the yelling, and she’d spoken about quitting without thinking.

She doesn’t regret that part, not a bit. Her life’s gotten so much brighter thanks to that impulse decision.

And then it hits her, as Sooyoung’s words from earlier ring through her head.

“Some of the best decisions you’ve ever made came to fruition because of your heart, and not your brain,” her friend had said.



This is what Sooyoung means.

There are song lyrics scribbled onto the back of the last page. Joohyun can read them clear as day—

“How many blue skies have there been?

I’ll shake off the cold wind and go meet you by the ocean—”

“I’m just the epitome of subtlety, aren’t I?” Joohyun chuckles drily, under her breath.

Staring down at the page, she tentatively reaches out for a pencil at the corner of her desk, twirling it absently as she contemplates whether to write. She’s gotten a fair way down the page, just a few more verses and the song could be finished.

Seulgi… Seulgi deserves better than this.

Joohyun heaves a deep breath. Seulgi’s not some rebound; she’s not some replacement for Wendy, she never was. Seulgi doesn’t deserve something that’s not wholly dedicated to her. Seulgi doesn’t deserve anything less than Joohyun’s whole heart.

And with that thought in mind, Joohyun grasps the corner of the page, ripping it from its binding and tearing it away from its fellow pages before slamming the notebook shut. She balls it up with both hands, crumpling from the force of her fist.

So what are you going to do about it? The little voice in her head nags incessantly.

She stands from her desk, walks down the hall and throws the balled-up paper into the kitchen trashcan.

“Sorry, Wendy,” Joohyun sighs, and it feels like she’s been freed from something. She shoves her hands into the pockets of her burgundy hoodie. “That wasn’t quite the right song for you either.”

She turns on her heel, heading back down the hallway, to where the notebook remains on her desk.

Sitting herself back down, Joohyun chews on her bottom lip, flipping open to a fresh, new page.

She doodles a bear in the upper right-hand corner before tapping her pencil against the desktop, letting her thoughts overtake her once more. This time, though, they manage to make it onto the paper.

Her heart does the talking for the first time in a long time.


She wakes up to her phone buzzing with a new text at 4AM in the morning. She’s hunched over her desk, her diary pages flattened under her left arm. Groggily, she checks the text.

come over, it reads, and Joohyun swallows, hopes that Seulgi's mind is in the right place.

now? she ends up sending after a minute of deliberation.

Not even thirty seconds pass before she receives a yes, followed shortly after with a please.

i'll be there in thirty.

Without any other thought, Joohyun swings her legs off her bed and goes to her closet to search for something to wear.


She gets there in twenty.

And then Seulgi’s there, pulling open the door, nursing her bottom lip between her teeth and looking more nervous than Joohyun’s ever seen.

“Hey,” Joohyun says lamely, a bit caught off guard by how cute Seulgi looks, all cozy looking in a fluffy light orange hoodie and leggings.

“Hey,” Seulgi smiles, ducking her head. “I… Thanks for coming, Joohyun.”

“No problem,” Joohyun says immediately, because it really is no problem; she’d probably do next to anything for Seulgi at this point. She follows Seulgi into her apartment, her eyes roaming over the walls like the first time she’d visited. Somehow, in the earliest of the morning, the sun not even in the sky yet, Seulgi’s apartment feels quieter, calmer, like a resolution.

Seulgi picks up a box of Pocky laying on the kitchen island before beckoning for Joohyun to accompany her to the balcony, where they sit on opposite sides of the swing seat and look out over the cityscape in silence, still dark at the early hour.

Seulgi quietly chews on a stick of Pocky as Joohyun shifts in place. When they speak, their words clash.


“You were right.”

“I— what?” Seulgi blinks, surprised.

"You were right," Joohyun repeats, slower this time, and Seulgi stares at her with her wide, surprised eyes, caught off-guard. "I wasn't thinking."

She heaves a deep breath, and Seulgi remains silent.

"I wasn't thinking when I asked you to stay over that first time. Or, I had been thinking, but I hadn't thought ahead, I hadn't considered the consequences." Joohyun squeezes her eyes shut, hopes that the stammering of her heart doesn't bring her to cardiac arrest before she manages to get this all out, because it's throbbing. Throbbing and aching and longing and she can't open her eyes yet because she'll break; she'll fall apart the moment she sees Seulgi and Seulgi's emotional, honest eyes, because Joohyun had never believed anyone when she'd been told the eyes are the windows to the soul until she'd met Seulgi.

Seulgi, who had bashfully walked up to her table at the fansign three years ago. Seulgi, who had smiled shyly and presented her with a rabbit plushie and a handwritten letter that Joohyun had read over and over and over again, late into the night, wondering why her heart hadn't ceased in its pounding.

"I wasn't thinking," Joohyun says again, shakily. "I couldn't— I can't think logically around you, but the scary thing was how okay I was with that, how okay I still am." She heaves in another breath, finally opening her eyes and meeting Seulgi's concerned gaze. Of course Seulgi's concerned; of course Seulgi's the one worried about her. That's just who Seulgi is, putting her whole heart into her actions and into her care.

"I don't know much," Joohyun whispers. Seulgi nods. "I don't know much, and I'm not good with words, not like Sooyoung or Wendy. But… But what I do know is that I started searching for you in every crowd. I know that I started waving off security guards to talk to you longer at fansigns. I know that the rabbit plush you gave me that first time still sits on the opposite side of my bed, that the letter you hand-wrote me is still tucked under my pillow. I— I know that I still read it every time I feel scared."

Seulgi slowly reaches forward, touches Joohyun's hand and gently embraces it within her own. Her fingers gingerly curl around Joohyun's, Seulgi's thumb gently tracing circles into the back of her palm.

"You know a lot," Seulgi says softly. Joohyun only looks doubtful, and Seulgi giggles. "What's your favorite fruit?"


"And what's mine?"


"Your favorite fruit is watermelon, and mine is pineapple," Seulgi smiles, and it feels kind of like the sun rising, far in the east, peeking its head out beyond the horizon and bringing warmth across the dark city. Joohyun feels like she's stepped into the sunlight for the first time. "What was the first thing I said to you?”


Seulgi rolls her eyes, amusement alight in them, and Joohyun feels her heart swell to twice the size.

“After that, silly,” Seulgi chuckles.

“You should’ve specified,” Joohyun finds herself weakly teasing, noticing the way Seulgi’s smile widens ever-so-slightly, perhaps at Joohyun slowly coming back to her old self; the one that Seulgi must have gotten more used to. “You told me that I reminded you of a bunny.”

“You still do,” Seulgi comments.

Joohyun can only smile wryly at that.

Some bunny she is. How Seulgi manages to see that, Joohyun has no idea, especially with how she’s been flailing around in an open ocean for so long, far, far away from land. Maybe a drowning, stranded rabbit. It’s still astonishing to her, how Seulgi somehow sees the good in everyone— it makes Joohyun wonder who the hell she saved in a previous life that allowed her to meet Seulgi in this one.

“Even after everything I’ve put you through?”

“You were still figuring things out,” Seulgi shrugs. “And I mean, I was too. I went home that day and did a lot of thinking.” She tilts her head in consideration, shifting her gaze from Joohyun to staring out, off the balcony, looking over Seoul’s skyline. “I realized that I’d been wrong.”


“Even though I thought I’d already had myself all sorted out, I realized that I hadn’t been looking at things from your perspective. I’m no celebrity, and no matter how many followers my Twitter page has, most of them have never even seen my face before. I never even thought that you— well,” Seulgi's smile softens into something tender. “You’re so busy all the time because of your job and lifestyle, and you were brought into the industry at such a young age. I had all the time in the world to come to my own conclusions about what I want in life and what I'm willing to do, but I’d never even considered that you’d never had the time to do the same. I wasn’t considerate of your feelings at the time, and I’m so sorry, Joohyun.”

Joohyun inhales, something pricking at the corners of her eyes.

“And so I realized something,” Seulgi laughs, the sound stirring something in Joohyun’s chest. “I realized that I wanted to be that someone who you didn’t have to think around. You don’t have to censor yourself with me, Joohyun. I wanted to be that someone who you could be candid with; that real person who you could trust to be with you through thick and thin, to ease your worries, no matter what. I thought about all of that, and how wonderful it would all be, how happy we could be!”

The smile that crosses Seulgi’s lips is so gentle, so tender, that Joohyun wishes she could take a picture of this moment, place it close to her heart and keep it there, treasure it for however long she has.

“I just want to be with you, Joohyun. All of you.”

And then Seulgi is looking up at Joohyun like she's something precious, something she needs to protect, and it nearly makes Joohyun cry because there's no one that she wants to protect more than Seulgi, who deserves nothing but good things and certainly better than Joohyun. The world they live in is a scary one, and the realm of the entertainment industry, complete with its flashing lights that are ten times harsher than Seulgi's camera, is even scarier.

“It’s okay to cry,” Seulgi says, and there’s something about the way she says it, those four simple words that carry more weight than Joohyun will ever realize.

It’s only then, when Seulgi leans forward to wipe away a stray tear Joohyun hadn't even noticed, that she breaks down, sobs wracking through her frame.

Seulgi’s arms are around her in an instant, and Joohyun clings to her like she would a lifeline after drifting too far out to sea.


She can't remember the last time she cried with much clarity. After all, Joohyun's mom once told her stories of how her sister would make her cry easily when she was younger, and Joohyun had vowed there on the spot to never cry again.

She'd held true to that promise for a good few years as well, until it had all her walls came crashing down on that one night she can barely recall.

She remembers curling up into a ball on her bed, muffling her cries into a pillow as she had pressed herself into the corner of a room that didn't feel like her room. It wasn't her first time away from home, but it surely felt like it had been— her own room back in Daegu, right next to her sister's and across from her parents', had never felt so far away that night.

Call her pessimistic, but while it had always been Joohyun's dream to be in the entertainment industry, there'd been a small, miniscule part of her that never thought it would happen; a small part of her that never believed that it could, a tiny part that had almost hoped it would never come to fruition.

She'd studied hard in school, and she'd worked hard to get where she was in life – employed and training under an esteemed company – yes, but oh, how she would've loved for those days to have continued without fail. There had been nothing else to think about back then besides training and the occasional weight check, and she nearly misses the simplicity despite how hard the work had been at the time.

Somewhere down the line, Joohyun had stopped wishing for things to pass and had instead started willing for things never to happen— she had wished time could stop, that she'd never have to face the future, as inevitable as it was.

It had all come to a screeching halt the first night after she had moved into her new SM Entertainment-sanctioned apartment, only one night's worth of sleep away from her impending debut as a soloist as Irene, another step closer to becoming the actress she used to dream of.

Until that day, she'd been rooming with Soojung, back before her friend had quit her training to become a manager.

"I'll miss you," Soojung had murmured, low into Joohyun's ear as they'd hugged goodbye. Joohyun can still recall the way Soojung had stood up on the tips of her toes, arms looped around Joohyun's neck. "You'll be amazing, don't ever doubt that."

Suddenly on her own, Joohyun had broken down in that lonely corner, and looking back, she wonders if she'd reverted back to that childlike self that had gotten lost so many years back.

She'd fallen asleep against a wet, tear-stained pillow at some point during the night.

The next morning, she'd woken up to the alarm her former manager had set and freshly built walls, and she had gone to work without a second thought.


She settles down after a while, both girls moving back to their respective sides of the swing seat. The distance between then feels much less this time.

"I guess I always had other things to worry about," Joohyun says uncertainly, genuinely contemplating as she chews on Seulgi's words. Once again, Seulgi had been right. As cutthroat as the entertainment industry is, it's also morbidly simple— the golden rule is to not do anything that goes against the general public's perception, with the second rule being or just don't get caught.

She’d never been brave enough to attempt the latter, not that she'd ever had enough time to consider it in the first place. She hadn’t had much time to think about relationships in general, especially beyond her prior infatuation with Wendy.

From the other side of the swing, Seulgi finally opens the box of Pocky again, pulling out a stick and taking a bite with a distinct crunch. Joohyun smiles slightly at the sight, Seulgi looking adorable as always.

"Everything was about the image that SM wanted me to give off," she admits. "I constantly worried about staying in their good graces. They," she lowers her voice, shameful. "They didn't want someone who identified as… as…"

"Not straight?" Seulgi supplies helpfully, Pocky stick hanging out of the corner of , and Joohyun blinks, surprised at how easily the umbrella term settles down somewhere deep. Seulgi shoots her an understanding smile, eyes crinkling up into crescent moons. "Don't worry about labels, okay?"

"Okay." Joohyun's smile is grateful, and she's sure that Seulgi can plainly sense the relief in the way her shoulders relax. "But yeah, SM definitely weren't keen on having any of their artists be… not straight. My image was the ideal girlfriend, after all—"

"You still are," Seulgi interjects cheekily, and Joohyun doesn't even try to hide the way her face heats up. Meanwhile, Seulgi pokes her shoulder. “Did you know? There was a survey where LGBT women were asked who their ideal celebrity girlfriends were, and you made it to the top 5.”

“That… That actually makes me really happy.” Joohyun allows for a small smile. Then she pauses, her dry lips. “Out of sheer curiosity, who got first place?”

“It was a tie between Sunmi and Kim Taeyeon.”

Seulgi offers her a Pocky stick.

“Okay,” Joohyun takes it gingerly, chewing on it considerably. Another moment of thought. “Yeah, they’d probably be my number one picks too.”

“Hard to choose between them, yeah?”

“Super difficult."

She must be floating or something. Having this conversation with Seulgi is nothing short of surreal, it's like she's ascended to some higher plane. And yet, at the same time, sitting here on Seulgi's balcony, sharing Pocky at 5AM in the morning, feels just as natural as breathing.

Joohyun lets out a breath she didn't realize she'd been holding.

"There's an easy solution to choosing, did you know?" Seulgi pipes up.

"Oh yeah? And what's that?"

"To pick neither, and just vote Bae Joohyun."

Immediately, Joohyun doubles over coughing, and Seulgi's laugh rings clear through the air, rising up with the morning sun and swirling around them, lingering.

"You can't just say things like that!" Joohyun grunts once she's recovered, hoping that Seulgi can still see the petulant pout gracing her lips despite the younger girl wiping away tears of laughter.

“I’m serious!” Seulgi says insistently, and she virtually bounces in place, a whole ball of energy at 5AM in the morning— not that Joohyun’s sure how. “You’re not with SM anymore, you’re with FX! And your old CEO! He’s a piece of !”

Joohyun never knew she needed to hear Kang Seulgi cussing out her old contacts, but now she does and she’s not sure she’ll ever be able to hear it enough.

"I think it's my fault, though," she finds herself saying in a musing manner, thoughts circling back to her talk with Sooyoung. Upon the way Seulgi's nose scrunches in clear disagreement, Joohyun scrambles to clarify, "At least partially, I mean. Yeah, SM and its CEO had said some horrible things to me but… in the end, I'm the one in control of myself. I'd never had any negative feelings about liking girls until then, and I shouldn't have let their words cloud my judgement into the self-destructive mess I became."

Seulgi hums thoughtfully, plucking up another Pocky stick and taking a swift bite.

"I guess that's fair," Seulgi concedes after a moment of consideration. "I do agree that people should be held accountable for their own actions, good or bad." She tilts her head, gazing up at Joohyun with knowing eyes. "But still, what you're doing right now, sitting here with me and talking with me, means that you're holding yourself accountable and atoning too, right?"

"I—" Joohyun's mouth opens and closes, not expecting that.

"We can move on from this. You've already taken the first steps, Joohyun." Seulgi smiles.

“I know we’re from different worlds,” she says, taking Joohyun’s hand within her own, and immediately, Joohyun’s thumb comes up to trace patterns into the back of Seulgi’s palm. She wants to treasure this girl. “I know, trust me. But if you’re willing, I want to try.”

“I’d really like that,” Joohyun says immediately, not even having to think for a heartbeat. She’d nearly lost Seulgi once, and that one time had been more than enough. If Joohyun could have it her way, Seulgi would never leave her side again.

“I don’t care if we’re from different worlds,” she says, feeling the weight of years at SM begin to lift off her shoulders. “If you don’t belong in my world, then I’ll carve out a place for you myself with my own two hands.”

Seulgi grins.

“I’d like that. I’d like that a lot.”


There’s one last stick of Pocky left in the box. Seulgi offers it to her.

“Want it?”

“Can we share?’

Seulgi takes one end of the Pocky in her teeth, leaning in.

The butterflies in Joohyun’s stomach flutter around like a hurricane, and yet, Joohyun gets the notion that it only took a single flap of their wings. Nevertheless, she wouldn’t trade this feeling for the world, especially as she leans in, takes a bite from the other end.

(Joohyun swears she’s never had a sweeter kiss.)

(It’s not just the chocolate.)


Joohyun thanks whatever higher being (Amber; Joohyun sends her thanks to Amber) for giving her the afternoon because as much as she loves watching the sunrise with Seulgi, by midday she’s running off an hour-ish of uncomfortable sleep when she’d been sleeping at a desk.

Realizing this, Seulgi rolls her eyes playfully and sends her off home to rest and recuperate before her nighttime schedule.

The moment Joohyun’s back in her bedroom, she dives into bed and tackles the bunny plush, innocently sitting on the opposite side of her bed, into a tight hug.

She goes to sleep with a wide smile on her lips, cradling the soft bunny to her chest, napping well into the afternoon.


She’s supposed to meet with Wendy and Sooyoung in FX’s recording booth at 8PM. When Joohyun arrives ten minutes early – she’s nervous, okay? – she finds herself entrapped within a dome of awkward silence that seems to permeate throughout the room and linger in the spaces between both Wendy and herself.

After exchanging greetings, Wendy’s smile is off-kilter and not-the-usual and Joohyun thinks it doesn’t suit her; thinks that Wendy looking at Joohyun like she’s afraid to hurt her doesn’t suit her at all. Where had their easygoing, confident friendship go? When did it start going south?

It happened when you left SM and you let yourself get buried in your own inability to move on, a small voice says in the back of Joohyun’s head, and she inwardly winces to herself. Yeah, she still needs to set that right.

Somehow, the both of them end up jumping when their phones buzz at the same time. It’s a text from Sooyoung, saying that she’s running late.

Joohyun chews on her bottom lip, looking up to see Wendy smiling at her sheepishly.

“Looks like it’ll just be us for a few more minutes,” the young producer says with a shrug. She motions to the bottle of red wine she’d brought for herself, Joohyun, and Sooyoung. “Wanna indulge in advance?”

Joohyun nods, and before she knows it, she’s staring at her vague reflection in the pooling red liquid, just about a million different thoughts swirling through her head. From the corner of her eye, she can make out the sight of Wendy pretending to fiddle with the soundboard in front of her. It almost makes Joohyun want to laugh— Wendy’s never known how to deal with these kinds of situations before, and it’s honestly rather endearing.

“I was in love with you,” Joohyun finds herself blurting out. She turns to look at her friend only to find her already looking back. She meets Wendy’s steady gaze head-on, furrowing her brow. “But… But I’m not anymore, I don’t think.”

There’s a pregnant pause.

“Sorry.” Joohyun mutters, and somehow, it’s that that garners a giggle out of her friend. “I’m trying to work on the whole communication thing, and I think I’ve been flaking on you until now.”

Making a noise of disapproval, Wendy shakes her head, and the red liquid in her glass sloshes around as she sets it down on the table. It’s only then that Joohyun realizes that Wendy had never taken a sip.

“You don’t have anything to apologize for,” Wendy says softly. She leans forward, resting her forearms on her legs and staring at the recording equipment across the room. “I didn’t really make things any easier. The songs I wrote were for you.”

“I’d hope so,” Joohyun frowns, not quite understanding. “You were paid to write me songs, after all.”

Perhaps it’s the confusion so plainly scrawled across her face coupled with the obscurity of it all, but something about the entire situation sends Wendy into a fit of laughter, the producer leaning so far back in her seat as she shakes with laughter that Joohyun’s genuinely concerned she’ll tip over her rolling chair.

“Joohyun,” Wendy says when her boisterous laughter dies down to giggles. “Joohyun, when I said that the songs had been written for you, I meant that they were written specifically with you in mind. My contract said I wasn't to get into any relationships with any of the artists I produced for, but I created those melodies and I wrote those lyrics for you. They were like… messages, in a way. From me to you.”

Silence echoes throughout the small room, but Joohyun’s sure that if you listened hard enough, you could hear the sound of something clicking into place.

“Oh.” Joohyun says dumbly. A lightbulb lights up. Oh.

“Yeah,” Wendy chuckles. “Oh.”

“I— But you—”

“I think I was in love with you too,” Wendy says.

“Oh.” Joohyun can’t help but say again, rendered speechless. Wendy giggles. “But— But now…?”

“Not anymore,” Wendy clarifies, some apologetic note intertwining with the honesty there. The short-haired blonde girl drums her fingers against the armrest of her chair.

“Not anymore,” Joohyun repeats, and it’s said with a sigh of relief that they both can hear.

Joohyun’s shoulders relax at the same moment Wendy’s does, and the silence that wafts around them and twines between is strangely comfortable.

“I thought that would hurt more than it did,” Joohyun admits after a moment. She sets down her own wine, still untouched much like Wendy’s. She doesn’t need it anymore, not really. She’d been walking around with a thorn in her side until now, not having realized that she could’ve had it pulled out this whole time. It hurts, but it's the good kind of hurt— the promising kind of hurt.

“I did too,” Wendy agrees quietly, but then her voice breaks and she’s wiping at her eyes with balled fists and it takes Joohyun a moment to realize that Wendy’s crying.

Immediately, Joohyun stands from her seat, stepping away from the couch in stride and pulling Wendy into a hug.

The words tumble from her lips before she can stop them.

“It’s okay to cry,” she says softly, echoing Seulgi’s words— those four words that had set Joohyun free from nearly all the baggage that had been wearing her down throughout this long journey. Rubbing her hands up and down Wendy's back, maybe, just maybe, she could ease Wendy’s aching as well.

“I wish you were crying too." Wendy's chuckle is wet, her voice muffled against the fabric of Joohyun’s woolen sweater. “That way I don’t think I’d feel nearly as pathetic.”

“Sorry, no can do,” Joohyun says in quiet amusement. “I already had my good cry with Seulgi a few hours ago, and I think I’m all out of tears for now. I'm working on it.” She pauses. “And it’s… it’s not pathetic.”

“Sooyoung will be here soon,” Wendy mumbles, sniffling. “What will she think if she sees me like this?”

“Everyone loves a woman with sensibility.”

Wendy barks out a laugh at that, looking up at Joohyun fondly.

“Seulgi’s really done a number on you,” she says, drawing back from the hug. Joohyun reaches for her purse on the couch, pulling out a pack of tissues. She presents one to Wendy, who takes it gratefully and quickly wipes away any remaining tears.

“She has,” Joohyun finds herself agreeing, and it’s right then that she suddenly finds herself overcome with the urge to play Wendy, and Sooyoung as well, in a game of Mario Kart. If she teams up with Seulgi, they’ll surely be able to win.

She’s about to voice the idea when Wendy opens first.

“I’m glad,” is all Wendy says, but the genuine smile on her lips speaks volumes, maybe entire epics more.

And Joohyun knows that everything is going to be okay.

But until then—

“So Sooyoung, huh?” She smirks, and Wendy lets out a tired groan.


The moment Sooyoung enters the room, locks onto Wendy's still-red eyes, and immediately whirls around to forcibly berate Joohyun with a Bae Joohyun, I swear if you ing made Wendy cry, Joohyun knows that Sooyoung's a perfect fit for her friend.

To her immense credit, Sooyoung takes their long-winded explanation in stride, her the corners of her lips curling up into a wry smile of amusement as Wendy, having joined her on the couch, curls around her and nuzzles into Sooyoung's hair.

Wendy's words start to get muffled, so Joohyun chuckles to herself and picks up where Wendy left off, explaining her mistreatment at SM Entertainment and elaborating on her conversation with Sooyoung from a few days prior.

"The other day, I thought you'd been talking about conclusions you'd come to own your own, Joohyun." Sooyoung frowns, chancing a look over her shoulder at Wendy, who whines and bumps her nose into Sooyoung's cheek. "I had no idea they'd instilled that fear in you like that, and I had no clue that Wendy had been contractually bound. That's so much worse…"

Joohyun sighs, a shrug rolling off her shoulder as she smiles wistfully.

“I’d say something along the lines of ‘I should’ve tried harder’ but I don’t think I really want to now.” She chuckles at the sight of her two cuddling friends. “I know this entire thing was messy, but Wendy and I have both moved on, and I’m really happy for you two, honestly. We were just awkward.”

“Hey, don’t worry about it,” Sooyoung says with a comforting smile. “I believe you, and I definitely believe in a heart that can move on. I mean, I’d be hypocritical if I didn’t.”

“Oh?” Joohyun raises an eyebrow at that.

“You heard nothing.”

“You can’t just drop something like that and not elaborate, babe,” Wendy prods with a giggle. She pokes her girlfriend’s stomach, eliciting a squeak from Sooyoung. “Who was it?”

“Okay, okay!” Sooyoung chuckles. “But trust me, you’re going to laugh at how sad this is.”

Wendy and Joohyun only share a look before fixating on Sooyoung with bated breath.

“So I might’ve had the biggest crush on Seulgi back when we were trainees.”

“Oh my god,” Wendy says, jaw dropping open.

“It’s obviously gone now!” Sooyoung says defensively, crossing her arms, and Wendy places an understanding hand on Sooyoung’s bicep, squeezing it. “I haven’t liked her in that way for years!”

There’s a heartbeat of silence.

“Wow,” Joohyun marvels, the single syllable breaking out into the most genuine laughter she’s had in a while. “We’re all such a ing mess.”

With that, the three girls burst into loud, boisterous laughter, and Joohyun once thought that she’d left her family back in Daegu, but now, looking at two of her closest friends, their grinning faces both mirroring her own, Joohyun figures that yeah, what I have is pretty damn great.


That weekend, Joohyun holds open the door to her apartment as Wendy crosses the threshold, a fish tank in her arms, Sooyoung following close behind her girlfriend with a bag of fish supplies.

If either of her friends are surprised to see Seulgi already sitting at the kitchen table, waiting for them as she hums to herself and uses Joohyun’s laptop like no big deal, neither comment on it.

Joohyun’s certainly not surprised; it’s easy for her to see the spare key to her apartment hanging neatly on Seulgi’s lanyard, sprawled on the table besides the photographer. She chuckles to herself as Seulgi gives the three of them a noncommittal greeting before immediately going back to whatever she’d been doing on Joohyun’s laptop.

“What are you looking at that’s more interesting than me?” Joohyun jokes. She leans over Seulgi’s shoulder, trying to get a good look at the screen, only to pout when Seulgi immediately hits ctrl + n and opens a new tab.

Wendy merely snorts at the exchange, heading to the living room to deposit the fish tank, taking the bag of fish supplies from Sooyoung with a light kiss to her cheek.

“For your information, I was looking at pictures of betta fish, silly! But you’re right,” Seulgi replies with a giggle as Joohyun presses an open-mouthed, feather-light kiss to the back of her head. “There’s nothing more interesting than my girlfriend.”

Somewhere behind them, Sooyoung makes a gagging noise and Wendy bursts into laughter.

Meanwhile, Joohyun has to stop herself from swooning.

Damn, she loves this girl.

Two hours later, Joohyun, Seulgi, Sooyoung, and Wendy leave the pet store with two betta fish, the color of their scales a beautiful mix of green and blue, occasionally mingling into a deep sea rainbow.

Joohyun thinks they’re beautiful.


“Are you humming?”

Joohyun pauses in her act of cutting up a bundle of leafy vegetables.

“I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

“I knew it!” Seulgi exclaims, pointing a declaratory finger. “You don’t hate singing!”

Joohyun opens , the usual rejection of the idea already on the tip of her tongue, but then she thinks better of it and settles for merely shaking her head instead. There's a small smile on her lips.

"I quit being an idol," she merely says. She sets down the knife to pick up a cucumber, flicking on the sink and running it beneath the stream of cool water.

"I know," Seulgi replies, not sounding deterred in the slightest. She beams, rocking her head from side to side, continuing the tune that Joohyun had so abruptly stopped humming earlier. Her lips part, and Seulgi sings under her breath. "Listen, listen! Only you can hear it, my heart!"

"It got stuck in my head," Joohyun admits solely because she loves the sound of Seulgi's voice. Once upon a time, she'd never understood why Seulgi hadn't pursued a singing career of her own, but through careful reflection on the industry and her own personal experiences, Joohyun decides that she's rather fine that Seulgi didn't.

“I never thought I’d get to hear Wendy sing in an official song,” Seulgi comments, and Joohyun nods. She’d heard Wendy sing before, yes, but those were in hastily recorded demos in the midst of inspirational adrenaline, or the occasional karaoke live in the off-chance Joohyun would get to witness Wendy drunk. “I think it’s really sweet and romantic that the first time the public gets to hear her singing voice is in a duet with Joy.”

“And yet for some reason, it’s a break-up song,” Joohyun chuckles. She places the cucumber on the cutting board, her knife poised to start cutting. “It’s a beautiful and catchy song, don’t get me wrong. I just find it amusing that their first duet is a song about heartbreak, when they literally could not be more in love.”

“You’re—” Seulgi scrunches her nose. “You’re not wrong. But at least it’s not like they’re actually breaking up. As much as Joy is Sooyoung, I think Sooyoung’s far too whipped to let Wendy go so easily.”

“Joy and Sooyoung…”

“Joohyun?” Seulgi frowns, stepping closer. “Is something wrong?”

“No, it’s nothing, it’s just—” Joohyun heaves a deep breath. Okay, time to work on this communication thing again. “Joy and Sooyoung aren’t the same, right?”

Seulgi furrows her brow.

“I’d say that even though they act different, Joy and Sooyoung are both personas of Kim Sooyoung, yes.”

“But they’re still a part of Park Sooyoung?”

“Of course,” Seulgi says. “Joy and Sooyoung are two sides of the same coin. Park Sooyoung isn’t Park Sooyoung without both of them. I think… I think it’s great how they mix together to create the Park Sooyoung that we both know and love.”

“I see… So Irene and Joohyun,” Joohyun mumbles. She places the knife back down onto the cutting board. “They’re both a part of me, right? I… I’m not someone entirely different?”

Seulgi’s eyes go wide, and then she’s nodding her head so vigorously that Joohyun’s genuinely worried the other girl might nod her head off. It’s an endearing sight nonetheless, and Joohyun almost feels bad for even voicing it.

“Of course they’re both you!” Seulgi says fiercely. Joohyun blinks, surprised by the emotional conviction. Seulgi just shakes her head, gripping Joohyun’s arms and staring into her eyes. “You’re Bae Joohyun. You’re the Irene who acts in dramas as the cold city girl, who graces the front covers of all the magazines ever, but you’re also the same Joohyun who cheered after she finally beat me in Mario Kart, who set up an entire chocolate fondue because I’d mentioned in passing that I wanted to try one; the same Joohyun who sat on my balcony and watched the sunrise with me as we shared Pocky at 5AM in the morning.”

Seulgi’s gaze softens.

“You’re still you, Joohyun. Irene isn’t someone different, she blends into the Joohyun you show to those closest to you to create the most wonderful human being I’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting. I think that’s what I found so amazing about you— what I still find so amazing about you even now.”

The smile that blooms across Joohyun’s face is genuine, Seulgi’s words wrapping around her like that warm blanket they’d shared when the sun had started rising on that fateful day.

“Thank you, Seulgi,” Joohyun says, hoping that her words can convey even a fraction of how grateful she is for this amazing, amazing young woman. “For reminding me. Really.”

“Of course! I’ll always be here to remind you, if you want that, that is,” Seulgi ducks her head bashfully, squirming in place for a moment before looking back up at Joohyun earnestly.

“I love both of them, after all,” she says softly. “I love all of you, Bae Joohyun.”

“Seulgi…" Joohyun's bottom lip trembles, and she blinks back tears, desperately trying to keep them at bay. "I don't… oh god, I don't deserve you at all.”

Seulgi frowns.

“Why do you say that?” She asks worriedly.

Joohyun's heart nearly bursts on the spot.

“I hurt you on that night,” she whispers, and Seulgi must hear the disappointment in her tone – the disappointment in herself – because then Seulgi's hand is gently encircling her wrist, and Seulgi's eyes are softening into something understanding, and Seulgi's inching closer despite how Joohyun continues. "I'd been hurting you during every moment up until then, and I hadn't even realized because I'd been too caught up in how I'd been hurting myself to see it. And you still somehow picked up my pieces, even though I didn't deserve it; even though I hurt you."

"But I'm not hurting anymore," Seulgi says steadily. She leads Joohyun away from the kitchen counter, steps forward to rest her chin on Joohyun's shoulder. "Are you?"

Joohyun takes a moment to ponder, trying not to focus too hard on the way Seulgi presses comforting patterns into her wrist with the pad of her thumb, fully knowing that she'd lose all train of thought to Seulgi’s touch. Her gaze wanders out over the counter and into her living room, lingering on the two Betta fish that swim circles in their respective halves of the fish tank, to the bear plushie that's now joined her bunny plush on top of the TV, to the bowl of fruit salad on the coffee table.

"No, I'm not," she finally says, and it feels good to say it aloud. Seulgi turns her head, pressing her smile into Joohyun's shoulder, and Joohyun absently lets her hand trail through Seulgi's hair. "Not anymore. I think I'm just disappointed that it had to happen in order to get here."

Seulgi makes a considerate noise, cocking her head. Her gentle smile never leaves her lips.

"Hey, y'know what I think?"

"What?" Joohyun asks.

"You might think that I picked up your pieces, but I think that's not entirely right." Seulgi's hand loosens from around Joohyun's wrist, slipping down to intertwine their fingers together with a fond look in her eyes. "I used to think that was what I was here for, but that's not the case anymore. I think… I think I came into your life not to put you back together, but to break apart with you. That way, we could put each other back together with pieces of one another. In that sense, we’re both a part of each other, yeah?"

Joohyun swallows.

"You think?" she asks quietly

"I know," Seulgi corrects, sure of herself.

Joohyun nods slowly, a small smile growing on her own lips.


"Okay?" Seulgi questions.

"Okay," Joohyun affirms and Seulgi grins.

"Let's finishing making dinner before Soojung and Amber get here," Seulgi suggests.

"You mean I'll finish making dinner," Joohyun jokes. She turns back to where she'd been chopping vegetables for a salad.

"Hey, I'm good with a knife!" Seulgi protests. "You just don't trust me!"

"No offense, babe," the term of endearment rolls off Joohyun's tongue, more natural than breathing, "but I hardly feel safe giving you a butter knife."

Seulgi merely grins at the affection before skipping off to take the plates and glasses out from the top of Joohyun's cabinets.


She has a phone call that night, after Soojung and Amber had left a cheery, feel-good dinner and Seulgi's taken up her spot in the guest bedroom, far too tired to make it back to her own place.

“Joohyun?” Sooyoung’s sleepy voice answers on the other end. “Is something wrong?”

“Oh, ,” Joohyun frowns, pulling her phone back from her ear to check the time. “It’s already 11PM. I’m sorry Sooyoung, I forgot about how you sleep so early. I should’ve just texted.”

“No, no, no worries!” Sooyoung says nonchalantly, already sounding much more coherent. “I’m used to it. Wendy used to call me at midnight all the time and— well, I mean, she doesn’t really have to call anymore so… Anyway.” Joohyun hears the shifting of bed covers from the other end, hears light snoring in the background and she can’t help but chuckle under her breath.

“So what’s up?”

“Oh, right,” Joohyun bites her lip. “It’s about the… you know. I’ve sorta changed my mind.”

“Oh!” Suddenly Sooyoung sounds that much more awake. “Yeah, of course! Want me to wake Wendy up for this?”

“No, it’s fine, I’ll just tell her tomorrow,” Joohyun smirks. “She’s caught on to your sleep habits, I see.”

“Hey, it’s the healthy way. Anyway, tell me about this idea of yours.”


“This one!” Seulgi proclaims the next day, grabbing the ceramic pot and holding up the plant for Joohyun to see. “This one’s perfect for you!”

Joohyun grins, gingerly taking the succulent from Seulgi and raising it to eye level. Seulgi was right, this particular cactus just fit the part, as nonsensical of an explanation as that was.

“I just need to water it at least once a week, right?” Joohyun clarifies. Seulgi’s the resident cacti and succulent expert, and she’s been taking care of her succulents despite her busy schedule for years now, so Joohyun knows she can count on her.

“Sounds about right,” Seulgi nods, adorably serious about the whole ordeal. “We have to think of a name for her.”

“I’ve actually thought of one already.” Joohyun laughs at the sight of Seulgi’s eyes bugging out in surprise. “Why are you looking at me like that?”

“Nothing!” Seulgi says quickly, her surprise easily slipping back into a comically calm façade. “What did you come up with?”

“How does ‘Faye Valentine’ sound for a name?” Joohyun asks casually, only to bite down a smile of her own at the fond look she finds crossing over Seulgi’s expression. Oh god, I love her.

“It’s perfect,” Seulgi whispers like she’s confessing a secret, before she and Joohyun turn into a pile of quiet giggles as they try to regain their grounding in the middle of the flower shop’s cacti aisle.


The first time they hear it on the radio, it’s a month later and they’re stuck in traffic on the way to the airport.

“Wait.” Seulgi whips her head around from where it had been looking out the car window to openly gape at Joohyun, sitting innocently in the driver’s seat next to her as a new song drifts in from the radio. “Wait.”

“I’m waiting.” Joohyun chuckles, chancing a glance over in Seulgi’s direction before checking her blindspot and deftly merging lanes.

“That’s your voice.”

“It is.” Joohyun nods in amusement.

“I—” Seulgi shakes her head in disbelief. “I’ve never heard this song before.”

“Oh, good,” Joohyun says playfully. Her eyes flicker to the rearview mirror before smirking at Seulgi. “That means it didn’t get leaked.”

“That means it’s a new song!”

“That it is.”

“You have a new song,” Seulgi repeats, as though trying to convince herself that this is real. “You, Bae Joohyun, have a new song.”

“I do.” Joohyun nods again. She eases her foot on the gas pedal, letting the car roll as the traffic comes to yet another standstill.

“You said you quit singing.”

“I quit being an idol,” Joohyun clarifies, incredibly entertained by the entire exchange. “And you were right, by the way.”

“I was? About what?” Seulgi’s brow furrows adorably, and Joohyun takes advantage of the unmoving traffic to reach over the center console and smoothen out the crease of Seulgi’s forehead with the pad of her thumb.

“I don’t hate singing,” Joohyun says simply, her smile small but happy.

“Oh!” Seulgi immediately perks up, but she falls quiet, listening to the lyrics pour through the speakers.

“This clear white light reminds me of your voice,” Irene’s voice sings as the instrumental comes down from its first high to something softer, gentler. “I felt it tumble into the palm of my hand, my finger moving along with the beat.”

“Your voice is beautiful,” Seulgi breathes.

"You keep saying that," Joohyun laughs lightly.

"Because it's true!" Seulgi shoots back.

"We'll agree to disagree," Joohyun tries to amend, and Seulgi pouts but returns to listening.

“I love your voice,” Seulgi says after the song has finished and an advertisement for Yakult starts playing during the break. Seulgi ducks her head, an uncharacteristically shy, small smile on her lips. “I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of listening to you sing.”

“I found someone to sing for,” Joohyun says. The traffic light turns green, and she turns into the airport parking lot.

“Y’know what?” Seulgi hums. “I think I did too.”


There are eleven of them total on this private jet, the entire friend group and more— Joohyun, Seulgi, Sooyoung, Wendy, Yerim, Yongsun, Wheein, Hyejin, Byulyi, Soojung, and Amber.

It’s loud, chaotic, and hysterical in all the best ways possible, and Joohyun finds herself with the largest grin on her face on the entire flight to Hawaii. It’s constant laughter surrounded by the family she’s found, and as she watches Seulgi play hand games with Yerim a few seats over, Joohyun realizes how large her family’s gotten.

Wendy sits in the seat directly behind her, and when Joohyun feels a hand come and clamp down on her head she barks out a laugh and snaps her teeth, pretending to bite the short-haired girl. From where she sits beside Wendy, Sooyoung snorts and bumps her shoulder against her girlfriend’s.

“Seulgi, your significant other’s a dinosaur,” Wendy whines, playfulness sparkling in her eyes. Joohyun only wrinkles her nose and swats at Wendy’s hand.

“She’s not a dinosaur,” Amber interjects suddenly, swept out of her previous conversation with Byulyi and Yongsun. “That’s my animal!”

“Wow, furry much?” Yerim smirks.

“I will shove your jaw into your eyes,” Amber deadpans, and Sooyoung grips Yerim’s arm tight, her shoulders shaking in silent laughter at the way Yerim’s mouth drops open in disbelief at the threat.

“Joohyun is a bunny,” Seulgi simply says, returning from where she’d been playing with Yerim to sit with Joohyun. She pulls Joohyun’s arm over her shoulder with a wide smile. “My bunny.”

“Is that why she tried to bite me?” Wendy jokes.

“Wow, furry much?” Yerim pipes up again.

Sooyoung has to pull their younger friend back to avoid Joohyun’s lunge as the rest of the girls keel over in laughter.


Their first day in Hawaii is eventful in a relaxing sort of way. It all starts when Joohyun wakes up in a queen-sized hotel bed, her head tucked perfectly into the crook of Seulgi’s neck, and the smile that spreads across her lips doesn’t leave her face for the rest of the day.

The eleven of them split into groups and roam around Honolulu with a spring in their steps.

Joohyun sticks with Seulgi, Wendy, Sooyoung, Yongsun, and Byulyi, who decide to go shopping over playing at the beach— while Seulgi’s always been fond of water, she’d quickly said that she’d rather stick with Joohyun, whose blatant grimace at the mention of the ocean makes her stifle a chuckle. Instead, they amble around the shops, happily greeting the shopkeepers and waving to the people who pass them by, with the occasional recognition.

She takes a few pictures with fans and when she returns to Seulgi’s side, she knows that the picture taking isn’t going to cease— they both fully expect low-quality pictures of them together to be circulating the internet in a few hours, although Seulgi meets Joohyun’s eye and smirks, not caring in the slightest.

Occasionally, Seulgi picks up her camera from where it hangs around her neck to snap a picture of Joohyun mid-laugh.

“Beautiful,” Seulgi breathes, and Joohyun blushes.

“For your personal collection?” she asks.

“For our personal collection,” Seulgi corrects, bringing the camera back down. “I’ve started an album. You and me, us and our friends… But mostly you and me, y’know?”

“I like the way that sounds,” Joohyun hums. She gets a glint in her eye, and the corner of upticks in a sly grin. “Almost as much as I like the sound of—”

Don’t,” Seulgi interrupts, raising an index finger warningly as Joohyun’s grin grows ever wider. “Don’t you dare finish that sentence.”

“Yes, ma’am,” Joohyun raises her hands in defense, chuckling.

Seulgi merely sticks her tongue out before intertwining their fingers and tugging her along to catch up to where Yongsun and Byulyi are looking at leis, the beautiful flowers blowing gently on a warm breeze.

Later that night, they have dinner on the beach. A long table to seat eleven has been set out, and Joohyun sits towards the center, Seulgi on one side, Amber on the other.

She’s in the middle of a talk with Amber about how idol survival shows are literally the worst thing in the world (and by extension, how Amber refuses to send FX’s trainees to Produce 101 or Produce 101’s newest rip-off), when Seulgi’s chiming laughter catches Joohyun’s attention.

“My Twitter notifications are going crazy! Joohyun, look!” Seulgi laughs. She leans over the arm of her chair, reaching over to show Joohyun her phone, resting her chin on the shorter girl’s shoulder along the way. Joohyun easily takes her phone, scrolling through the feed with a lazy finger.

Irene is on vacation???? And she’s with a GIRL???

omfg girlie with Irene is cute af

hold up, why does she look so familiar…?


Joohyun barks out a laugh that’s loud enough to garner the attention of their friends who’d been chatting further down the table. When she looks up to give a snarky comment to Seulgi, she finds several pairs of eyes already on her, accompanied by many grinning faces.

“Something wrong…?” She asks slowly.

Soojung shakes her head, smiling widely.

“No,” she says, but then her tone takes on something teasing, and the short haired woman smirks. “But is there something you want to share with the class?”

Joohyun rolls her eyes despite the heat growing on her cheeks.

“You can log on to Twitter yourself,” she retorts, fully knowing the hypocrisy behind that statement as she continues scrolling down Seulgi’s notifications. She sticks her tongue out for emphasis, nevertheless.

casual Irene fan here, who’s Rowoon?

ooooo a normie! jkjk anyway Rowoon’s the fansite master of Wanna Be With You Always aka WBWYA, one of Irene’s biggest fansites. she’s like, probably Irene’s most dedicated one too.

oh wow, that’s awesome! so Rowoon and Irene are close?

Apparently???? They’re on vacation together *crying-while-laughing-emoji*

Joy, producer Wendy, MMM, and Amber are there too, so company outing?

Rowoon’s under FX? Wait, are MMM even under FX? And who are the other ppl with them?


Joohyun snorts, burying her face into Seulgi’s shoulder, the younger girl laughing at the tickling sensation in the crook of her neck. Wendy, finally letting her curiosity get the best of her, finally takes out her phone and swipes at the screen, only to do a double take at the number of notifications hovering above the little bell icon.

“Whoa, thank god I had notifications turned off,” Wendy mutters. “My phone would definitely be lagging by now.”

Sooyoung furrows her brow, narrowing her eyes at a particular Tweet.

“Guys, what the is a ‘Wenjoy?”

Her words only spur Joohyun into another round of laughter, she and Seulgi leaning their heads together as they try to get to grips with the ridiculous influx of spasming Tweets.

It’s easy for Joohyun to pick out her favorite one, though.

It’s from Yerim, who amongst all the chaos at the table, somehow had managed to tweet:

Might just around and ship Seulrene, fam.


And as typical, all things end as they begin— or something like that, Joohyun supposes, because this crossing of a line isn’t really an ending, but more of the beginning of a new arc in her life. She really wouldn’t have it any other way.

“I think Spike Spiegel loved Faye Valentine,” Joohyun says as they laze around their hotel bed. She’s tucked into Seulgi’s side, Seulgi’s laptop balanced on a toned stomach as they watch the finale of Cowboy Bebop in the early morning light.

“Hm?” Seulgi down at Joohyun, who cuddles closer. “You do?”

“Mmhm,” Joohyun nods, and Seulgi starts tracing circles into her back. “In the end, Spike didn’t go with Julia, even when she asked him to run away with her. Even though she was his first love, he chose to stay with Bebop, with Faye and the new family he found. Maybe…” Joohyun shrugs. “Well, I don’t know they actually loved each other romantically, but Spike’s story was never really about the romance. It was about learning to move on after he’d been living his life stuck half in the past.”

“Very good points,” Seulgi appraises with a grin. She then sighs, content, burying her face into Joohyun’s hair with a noise of satisfaction. “You’re cool, Joohyun. As cool as Spike Spiegel.”

“Oh?” Joohyun eyes her in amusement. “Well, I definitely love you in a romantic sense though, Seulgi.”

“Look at you, getting so good with words!” Seulgi chuckles. Her own fingers intertwine with Joohyun’s free hand. Joohyun admires the way her own hand, despite being smaller, manages to fit so well into Seulgi’s. “You’re the person Spike strives to be.”

“So you’re okay with not being my Faye Valentine?” Joohyun asks.

“More than okay if I get to be your Kang Seulgi,” Seulgi grins.

“The Kang Seulgi who literally fell in love with me?” Joohyun jokes, and they chuckle lightly to themselves as Joohyun thinks back to Seulgi’s words from their fight. They’ve gotten past that now, they can stand to joke about it even a little.

“Well, yes,” Seulgi giggles, but there’s something solemn and utterly genuine in its raw form that glints in Seulgi’s eyes, keys Joohyun into the honesty in the words that leave Seulgi’s lips. “But also the Kang Seulgi who lied on that night when I spoke before thinking.”

Joohyun feels go dry. She her lips, suddenly nervous.


“I didn’t fall in love with you, not really,” Seulgi says, shrugs sheepishly before a smile spreads across her face, and not for the first time, Joohyun feels like she’s watching the sun rising. “Literally running into you? Yeah, that was an accident, but me growing to love you? That was purposeful. I love you with no strings attached.”

“Oh…” Joohyun whispers, in awe. Suddenly, she’s all the more aware of the way Seulgi’s body is curled up against hers, heat against heat, warmth against warmth.

“I jumped and here I am,” Joohyun blurts out before she can stop herself, and Seulgi’s gaze snaps up to meet hers, and there’s a spark in their air between them. “That was the choice. I messed up along the way but I had made the choice without even realizing, without thinking, but it wasn’t an accident either. I love you on purpose, Seulgi.”

“I’m your Kang Seulgi,” Seulgi says, grinning widely.

“And I’m your Bae Joohyun,” Joohyun replies, smiling just as bright.

There’s no protocol for this. Joohyun’s not entirely sure what it means to belong to somebody else, not quite sure what giving your entire being up for equal exchange entails. It sounds so complicated, like there should be some sort of manual or something.

Joohyun really can’t find it in herself to care— not that she would’ve read it anyway… too niche. But then again, Joohyun and Seulgi are pretty niche themselves, and there’s no need to define what they have with bold lines, put them in a box and limit what they have; they’re beyond boundaries, a Joohyun and Seulgi and that’s all there really needs to be. Lines were always meant to be crossed, right?

“I like the sound of this,” Seulgi hums. The arm around Joohyun’s waist tightens, pulls her closer. “It’s like we’ve reached some sort of checkpoint.”

And Joohyun smiles.

“I mean, we’ve always been crossing lines, haven’t we?”





“So how do you feel about getting ice cream tonight?”

“We’ll check to see if they’ve got an watermelon flavor here.”

“I dunno, I kinda wanna share a tub of pineapple with you.”

“I think I like the sound of that… Minus the Advil?”

A laugh.

“Minus the Advil.”

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175 streak #1
Chapter 2: Love this so much😭❤️
Oct_13_wen_03 132 streak #2
Chapter 2: beautiful 🤍
morphine007 #3
Chapter 2: This is beautiful and lovely
Good job author-nim
Chapter 1: I really really like this
How come i didn't read this before

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893 streak #7
Chapter 2: That is cute love it authy 😁😀😄
i love this story so much you have no idea <3 thank you for writing
mymomdied #9
Chapter 2: This was adorable 🥰