You never told Lisa, but she knew. She knew the love you had for her wasn’t the same one she had for you. It was passionate and burned you to your core, your love for her. But it was also destroying you from the inside.
From fellow trainees to producer and idol, you’ve been with Lisa through hell and back, lending a shoulder to cry on as she scrolled through the numerous hate comments and her being a source of strength and encouragement when you realized that being on stage wasn’t what you wanted to do after all, ending your short-lived career to pursue a behind-the-scenes job instead. You practically lived in the studio, working day in and day out with your friends and former label mates, producing hit after hit with your skills and tutelage under Teddy, laughter and inside jokes squeezed in between those days of work.
It was perhaps only a natural progression that the affection you had for Lisa would turn into romantic interest.
But it was only on your part.
Lisa loves you. A soft and childish kind of love, the love that lets her call you in the wee hours of the morning to talk about whatever was on her mind. A kind of love that she carefully nurtured with smiles and hugs.
But she knew that such a love couldn’t keep you alive.
She could see the small flashes of pain as the petal scratched your throat and the roots pierced your lungs. The pure white petals that you cough up taunts her, reminding her that she was the cause of this and that there was nothing she could do to help but watch as you hurl the petals up. The dancer doesn’t miss the way you wipe the blood from the corner of your lips as you return to the studio, a smile on your face to mask the pain.
She wants to help, wants to be the one to save you, but she doesn’t know how. She can’t find it in her heart to love you the way you love her, but she’s far too selfish to tell you that losing her is better than dying. So she dances like it’s the last time you’ll see it. She dances her heart and soul out even when her members tell her to rest. She stays with you when you work through the night, making you eat and rest properly, visits you when you can’t find the strength to make it to the studio, accompanies you to the doctors to offer you a shoulder to cry on when they shake their heads and tell you the bad news.
When your condition deteriorates to the point where even the smallest movement brings you pain, Lisa comes by to keep you company. She doesn’t ask about the dried blood on the walls nor about the sudden appearance of whole daffodils scattered on the floor. She doesn’t ask about the bittersweet smile on your lips whenever she stops by, as if you’re happy to see her but also haunted by what she did to you. Lisa focuses on cleaning up the flowers and helping you take your medicine, she focuses on your steady but shallow breathing as you sleep, too tired to engage her in conversation. She focuses on the rhythmic thump of your heartbeat under her hand, reminding her that you're still alive.
It’s all she can do to keep herself from breaking down.
But it gets increasingly harder, watching you struggle, hurling up blood and daffodils. If you noticed her smile getting increasingly strained, you didn’t say anything, letting her feed you tasteless soup and tell you about her day, about how her members miss you, about how the album is almost done.
“I love you.” She says one day, holding your hand as you coughed, frowning at the way the once white daffodils came out. It’s not the first time she’s said that she loves you, but it is the first time since the hanahaki. You want to curse and scream, to tell her that she has no right to say such words, but you don’t. Maybe it’s the way she’s so careful with how she says it or the vulnerable look in her eyes as she bites her lips, but you can’t find it within yourself to blame her for your misfortune. Maybe months ago when the flowers were still little buds, but not now.
Instead, you only give a small smile, ignoring the way she frowns at the small trickle of blood that drips from the corner of your lips, and whisper, “I know.”
Lisa breaks on a stormy night. The window by your bed rattles as the wind hits it, the violent storm raging outside your apartment, the boom of thunder in the distance. A single white daffodil lays by your bedside, untouched by blood.
“I love you.” Her broken voice was somehow louder than the roar of the storm outside, tears running down her face as she clutched the blood-red petals in her hands. The stress of the album coupled with your declining health has made her weak and she could no longer hide her fear and anguish. “I love you,” she says again, pouring as much as she could muster into those words, hoping that they would ease your pain just a bit. Once, she would’ve said it offhandedly, but now she holds them delicately in her heart, knowing how ing meaningless and shallow they sound to you.
There’s a flicker of disappointment in your eyes, a small but angry flame that makes Lisa shake, before it’s replaced with pain, you curl in on yourself as you cough up the once-white flowers. In an instant, the dancer is by your side, rubbing your back soothingly and cleaning up the blood and petals.
Lisa takes your hand and presses it against her cheek, her heart breaking at how cool you are to the touch, and begs you to live.
Neither of you realize that you’re beyond saving.
“Please,” she cried, “I just need more time.”
It’s a desperate plea, one that you don’t hear over the boom of thunder and the sound of raindrops hitting the glass. You see her lips forming words but you don’t hear them over the sharp ringing in your ears. You don’t see the look of confusion and horror on her face over the tears welling up in your eyes. You think it’s her shaking your shoulders, but there’s a sharp pain in your chest and then the sudden numbness. You open your mouth to say something, but all that comes out is blood and daffodils.
Before you close your eyes, you see Lisa leaning over you, screaming your name.
The next time Lisa visits you, it’s snowing.
Her hair is longer and dyed in some crazy color and she looks like she’s lost some weight, but it’s not very noticeable under her thick jacket. The pale blue scarf around her neck was a gift from you, as is the beanie she’s wearing.
She gives you a weary smile before kneeling, ignoring the way the cold ground bites at her knees. She tells you how she’s doing, how happy she is about the success of the album, and how her fans liked the songs you produced. She tells you about her appearance on the cover of a magazine, pulling it out to show you, and about the group’s next comeback, the first without you. She plays a sample for you to hear and tells you her thoughts on it, mulling over the long nights at the recording studio and at the practice room. She mentions how her members and Teddy miss you terribly and how quiet the studio is, everyone’s a little more withdrawn and guarded, blaming themselves for not noticing anything.
When she runs out of things to say, the smile fades from her lips, replaced with a bitter and angry scowl. There are no tears that spill from her eyes nor are there any screams, and she tells you that she understands what you felt back then, just a bit. It’s an ever-present hum that mocks her, reminding her of what she did to you. It’s not painful but it still rips open the wound that never seems to heal.
She pulls out a flower from the pocket of her jacket: a purple hyacinth. It’s a little wilted from being in her pocket but she could still see the vibrant color of the petal. It’s not the same color as your daffodils, but it still makes her heart ache. She tells you that she’s picked up an interest in flowers and their meaning, biting back a sob. She tells you the meaning of the hyacinth and smiles, twirling the flower in her hand.
Setting the flower down, Lisa takes a moment to press her hand against the stone, tracing over the words etched in it before standing. There’s a brief moment of hesitation before she sighs and walks away.
As the snow continues to fall, a small breeze comes by and blows the hyacinth away.