for ten years and counting...

ten years and counting

 

October 12, 2018


 

“Minjoo-unnie~” Yujin’s chirp could be heard around the room, and Minjoo stopped folding her clothes momentarily, turning her full attention to her cute dongsaeng and a smile instantly formed on her lips.

 

The taller yet younger girl entered their shared room, closing it using her foot and settled beside her on the floor, placing the plastic bag she was holding in front of her with a toothy grin.

 

Minjoo’s eyes darted to the said bag then to Yujin again, blinking in confusion. “What is this, Yujin-ah?” She softly asked, gently placing the folded shirt beside her and faced the younger girl fully, almost hissing because Yujin looked really bright right now.

 

“Apple juice,” Yujin responded, her dimples going deeper as her smile got wider.

 

Blinking, the older grabbed the plastic bag and scanned it. There were three bottles of apple juice in it, and surprisingly, she also saw some packs of jellies she loves to eat.

 

And there it goes again… her heart fluttered because of this sweet action. Yujin just bought her some drinks and food, when there was no really important occasion at all? Just how sweet and kind of her.

 

“What’s the occasion?” Minjoo questioned with a giggle, opening one bottle and then took a sip before in delight, giving Yujin a thumbs up for picking such a great brand. “Nonetheless, thank you for this, Yujin-ie.”

 

Shaking her head, Yujin just laughed it off. “Well, it’s just a small gift since we’re going to share a room from now on. Please take care of me well.” She murmured shyly before bowing her head a bit, making Minjoo almost choke from her juice.

 

“Of course, Yujin-ah! Unnie will take care of you very well even if you won’t say it!” The older squeaked, giving Yujin soft stares and the corner of her lips tugged upwards when she saw that the latter wouldn’t lift her head up, still bowing.

 

And so, Minjoo slowly reached for Yujin’s face, gently holding and cupping her chin then lifted it up herself. Their eyes met and the older let out a soft sweet smile. They just stared silently at each other for a few moments and Minjoo just only noticed how Yujin’s chocolate orbs were glittering and sparkling beautifully.

 

Respect and adoration were written all over it.

 

Only then, Minjoo realized that Yujin’s eyes are so expressive that she could see right through her with just one stare at it.

 

“I’m glad you’re my roommate,” Suddenly, Yujin whispered with full fondness and Minjoo witnessed how the former’s eyes softened even more.

 

The older girl grew weak but her hand remained still, cupping Yujin’s chin and slowly started to rub it, grinning widely at the younger girl. She needed to snap out of it!

 

“Oh, Ahn Yujin-ssi, smooth talker~” Minjoo teased, trying to hide her flustered state but the tips of her ears went red. Thankfully, her long black hair was down so it covered those ears that were proof that she was very moved and flushed over what Yujin said.

 

The younger girl just scrunched her nose up, poking her tongue out while Minjoo laughed wholeheartedly, still holding Yujin’s chin like it was a dainty fragile glass that would break once she retracted her hand back.

 

But then, suddenly, Yujin grabbed her wrist — tugging her closer which made her yelp at the sudden force and one moment later, she could feel a long pair of arms wrapping around her back and a soft and warm body being pressed against hers.

 

Minjoo’s heart momentarily stopped at the sudden action, catching her really off guard.

 

Yujin tucked her chin on Minjoo’s shoulders, tightening her hug but she never said anything, showing her affection and gratefulness through her sweet action.

 

Minjoo knew Yujin was still having trouble expressing herself and tended to use actions and gestures to express instead. She also knew that this tall girl was just an actual clingy puppy who always wanted affection and praises from others.

 

So, even if she was feeling tense, she slowly coiled her arms around Yujin’s nape and kneeled between the younger to hug her back properly, patting the back of the latter’s head gently like she had done a great job fetching the ball.

 

With that, the fire in her heart even ignited. She was going to take care of Yujin very well and help her in many ways she could.

 

Ahn Yujin deserved everything good in this world.

 

“Yujin-ah, we need to prepare. We have practice, you know~?” Minjoo gently chirped and reminded, her fingers sliding through Yujin’s disheveled short brown hair, not minding the strands of hair wrapping around her fingers.

 

A scent of lavender mixed with latte suddenly entered Minjoo’s nose which made her freeze a bit. It was Yujin’s. She smells very nice. For some reason, she wanted to steal the younger girl’s perfume and use it for herself.

 

Yujin let out a childish whine of protest, hugging her even tighter like a child didn’t want to detach herself from her own mother. “No,” She pouted and Minjoo let out a chuckle at the cute behavior.

 

“Yujin.” The older girl firmly called out and with that, Yujin detached herself disheartedly with a scowl and pout.

 

Minjoo didn’t even resist the urge to pinch her roommate’s puffy cheek, she gently squeezed it with a giggle before picking up the clothes and plastic bag on the floor. “Dress up now… Eunbi-unnie will call for us soon.” She murmured, placing her stuff on top of her bed but her eyes are following Yujin’s movements.

 

The younger girl hummed, checking herself on the mirror, fixing her fringes and Minjoo just watched her from the bed, she could see how Yujin adorably brushed her bangs with her fingers.

 

And then, the taller yet younger’s eyes moved sideways, meeting her eyes in the mirror. Minjoo was surprised, but she averted her gaze away and cleared when Yujin gave her a smile and a wink.

 

The older girl turned around, randomly fixing her things on top of the bed. She could feel her cheeks warming and so — she immediately hid her flushed red cheeks from Yujin to avoid further teasing from her.

 

She heard the closet opening and shuffle noises, then soon after, it was closed.

 

Minjoo heard some light giggles from Yujin before the fading pitter-patter of the younger girl’s feet.

 

When she realized that Yujin exited their shared room, Minjoo let out the breath she didn’t even realize that she was holding throughout. She brought her hand to her temples, massaging it as her mind ran — feeling a little bit light as Yujin’s faint scent lingered around.

 

She shouldn’t feel so flustered around Yujin. It was the bare minimum. It was not normal.

 

And Minjoo was afraid that these small fluttery feelings mean something more than she thinks.


 

***


 

February 06, 2019


 

Maybe, it does mean something more than she thought of.

 

After Yujin’s ice cream treat, the younger girl dragged her to the nearest park, saying that they should spend their afternoon there and probably get some tteokbokki on the way home after.

 

As they strolled around the park, Yujin never let go of her hand at all.

 

Sure, Yujin did let go but only for a few seconds, if it was really necessary but throughout, she would hold Minjoo’s hand tightly — intertwine their fingers together and clasp it like she was scared that the older one would lose her hold.

 

They slowly walked around the park beside each other, holding some ice pops with their free hands while still holding each other’s hands.

 

Minjoo’s eyes lowered down, eyeing their glued hands and noticed some details like: how her hand looks so small as Yujin’s bigger one engulfs it, it was very warm and soft like she was holding a mug with hot chocolate in it. And how perfect it was with one another — like their hands are meant to hold each other like this.

 

Gulping down, the older girl her bottom lip, trying to collect herself and her thoughts. It was seriously getting out of hand… especially when she took Yujin to her favorite place and had a deep talk with her last year — suddenly, everything became more extreme to the point she couldn’t easily meet Yujin’s eyes for a brief eye-contact.

 

Because… it was making her feel weird things…

 

Just Yujin’s soft and warm chocolate pair of orbs glued to her could already make her heart quake for some reason that she didn’t want to know at all.

 

It was not like she didn’t want to know… it was more like she was afraid to know the real reason why she had been a little bit wary when Yujin acted like herself.

 

Her train of thoughts came to a halt when Yujin turned around, looking down at her with a curious yet worried gaze as she took one last from her ice treat. “Hey, are you alright? Do you want to go home now?” The younger girl asked, a hint of concern lingering around her voice.

 

Minjoo’s gaze snapped towards her, eyes widening a little bit before giving out a furious shake of head. “A-Ahh, no, I’m all good. And it’s alright, I want to stroll around for a bit…” She muttered as sincerely as she could, trying to hold their eye-contact.

 

Yujin’s eyes — worriedness was written all over it. “Are you sure?” She asked again to confirm, her hold on Minjoo’s hand tightened, but not tight enough to hurt the latter.

 

The older one nodded again with a smile to reassure her. “Yes. I just feel a little bit cold,” She softly responded and Yujin hummed, silently walking in front of her and towered over her.

 

Minjoo had to tilt her chin a bit to match Yujin’s eyes but the latter herself broke the eye contact, reaching for her other hand — taking the empty ice pop and threw it on the trash can beside her alongside with her finished one. She then held Minjoo’s both hands, rubbing it alongside with her own, hoping the friction would create some warmth.

 

The older girl just dumbfoundedly watched Yujin bring both of her hands near her lips then started to blow on it.

 

Shivering — not because of the cold, but because of Yujin’s warm breath fanning her hands, Minjoo’s mind suddenly went blank because of the sweet intimate gesture. It made her almost harshly retract her hands back but she stayed still.

 

Minjoo knew that Yujin was a sweet girl. She was very, very sweet and a whole gentlewoman inside despite being a little bit childish. This side of hers rarely showed, but Minjoo was quite observant.

 

“I hope this will work for now. Let’s find a warm place.” Yujin murmured, finally stopping rubbing and blowing — then tugged Minjoo closer to her, looking around and finally, dragged her, exiting the park.

 

Minjoo could only silently follow, well, Yujin was practically dragging her around like a rag doll in haste while she kept looking left and right. She was too busy worrying over her erratic heart, trying to make it calm down.

 

Soon, she found herself in the convenience store nearby but she only budged when Yujin’s hand left hers, “Hold on, stay there.” She instructed sharply so Minjoo just stood there beside the aisle, fixing her cap because she could feel some eyes on her.

 

Yujin suddenly appeared in front of her after a few minutes, almost giving her cardiac arrest but before she could even scold her, the younger reached for her hand again and placed something on top of it.

 

Blinking, Minjoo realized that it was hot coffee. Yujin also got one, showing it to her with a small smile. “That will warm you up! I also got you some gummies. Treat it as my additional birthday gift, unnie.” She beamed, also getting the packs of jellies she bought, almost shoving it into Minjoo’s face before tucking it into the pocket of her hoodie.

 

Laughing breathlessly, Minjoo just shook her head, holding the warm cup with her both hands.

 

Yujin threw her another smile. “Feeling warmer and better?” She asked, taking a sip from her own coffee — grimacing after the bitter taste of it invaded her tongue.

 

Minjoo mutely nodded, her eyes landing on the cup of coffee she received.

 

Yujin’s hands are much warmer and better…


 

***

 

November 08, 2019


 

Minjoo slowly sat up from her bed, not wanting to create much movements and noises that could wake the girl sleeping below her. She then gently took a peek below the bunk, bracing herself on the edge and tightly holding the safety rails.

 

It was dark, but thanks to the open lamp Minjoo bought just last week — she could still see even with dim lightning. It was enough since even so, she could already see Yujin’s sleeping figure below her, hugging her extra pillow while the blanket was loosely wrapped around her body frame.

 

A sigh escaped between Minjoo’s lips, leaning her upper body to the rails. It was a very long day… they kind of talked about the issue and everyone was in distress earlier, suffering in extreme fear and worry — all of them got scared for the group’s future, even Minjoo.

 

Chaeyeon, Wonyoung, and later on — Yujin cried earlier because of the negative thoughts filling their minds.

 

So, Minjoo was really, really worried. All of them are having a hard time but for now, she’ll set her feelings aside and look for Yujin because the latter is much more fragile than any thin glass.

 

Earlier, when they decided to take a rest. The moment Yujin got into their room and laid on her own bed, she silently cried and Minjoo knew that but she never did anything and gave the younger some space because it seemed like Yujin wanted to be alone judging how she hid herself under the covers and sobbed there.

 

When Minjoo went back to their room, Yujin was already fast asleep — her cheeks were stained with tears, her nose was red from too much sniffling, and there were fresh tears on her closed eyes, clinging on her long eyelashes.

 

Minjoo tried her best to sleep but she couldn’t help but to overthink many things, including how she would comfort Yujin. She noticed that the younger one had been acting really strange around her lately… like she was avoiding her but entirely not.

 

It just felt really weird…

 

And Minjoo had been really gloomy ever since but she never said anything.

 

Suddenly, Yujin shifted, her brows forming into a deep furrow and snuggled further to her pillow which made Minjoo giggle a bit, scooting closer to get a better view of the sleeping Yujin.

 

She really looked so adorable, so peaceful while in deep slumber like… she was dreaming of rainbows and everything nice.

 

Minjoo resisted the urge to go down and admire her closer.

 

Her heart bloomed.

 

Yujin was precious.


 

***


 

December 02, 2019


 

Minjoo and Yujin silently walked home. No one dared to utter a word throughout their journey to the dorms.

 

The older girl badly wanted to hold Yujin’s hand and comfort her but she thought the taller girl wouldn’t appreciate it at all. She was also busy zoning out and always in daze after they left their usual place.

 

When Minjoo thought it would be just an emotional night, talking about the group’s future and other serious talks…

 

Yujin revealed something to her.

 

, Yujin confessed that she liked her.

 

No, it was not a sisterly admiration at all. Yujin clarified that. It was something romantic and Minjoo paled once again after she recalled what happened earlier — Yujin’s confession kept flashing into her mind, and the way she said those words really made her breath hitch up until now.

 

She didn’t know what to do.

 

For the first time, Minjoo felt so helpless. She couldn’t even reach Yujin. She knew that the taller girl needed space because technically, Minjoo indirectly rejected her. And both of them were in too much shock.

 

Maybe Yujin just mistook deep sisterly admiration as something romantic? Yes, yes! That might be! Yujin wasn’t like that! She was too young to know the difference, she was naive and inexperienced. It was not like Minjoo was against with same relationships, she was very open-minded and she knew there were people who catch feelings for the same gender but… Yujin? Impossible… right?

 

Okay, Minjoo was trying her best to convince herself but the more she tried to convince herself, the more her heart quaked in fury like it was defying Minjoo.

 

But when Yujin stared at her as words of confession rolled off her tongue — Minjoo knew that she was being genuine and serious. The taller girl’s chocolate orbs were glimmering in sincerity yet uncertainty and… fear.

 

Whenever she thought of Yujin’s confession, her heart would flutter in happiness and butterflies would fill her stomach — the scariest thing was that the corner of her lips would tug up to form a smile but before she could even grin at that, she would catch herself and stop immediately.

 

Tingling feelings won’t even leave her ever since with a dash of guilt because she really felt bad for making Yujin hurt and sad.

 

This was the right reaction, right? The right thing to do, right? Should she avoid Yujin? But it might hurt the latter even more but if she remained close—

 

Minjoo was going crazy because of this.

 

She didn’t know anymore. She couldn’t even breathe properly as thousands of thoughts kept entering and running all over her head.

 

When they reached the dorms, Yujin immediately dashed inside, not even waiting for Minjoo and immediately went to the bathroom without greeting the other members present in the room which caused confusion to the said people.

 

They all gave Minjoo confused and worried looks when she entered the place silently, padding towards them but her eyes were locked to where Yujin settled herself in.

 

“Did something happen between you guys?” Eunbi immediately threw her a question and confused look, seeing that Minjoo was also in a very… unstable state.

 

The older girl’s lips quivered, biting it so it wouldn’t. “I-I don’t really know what happened either… I think she’s just tired…” She whispered her reply, and before she could even stop her feet from moving, she followed Yujin while the others quietly watched her from the living room.

 

Minjoo halted in front of the door of the bathroom, not knowing if she should knock and ask Yujin if she was alright but then… she heard a muffled sob from inside.

 

It felt like cold water was splashed over her.

 

The visual stood there, frozen as Yujin’s muffled sobs filled her ears.

 

Yujin was hurt. And it was because of her.

 

Minjoo was very dumbfounded, every cry and sob Yujin would let out — it felt like knives stabbing her heart one by one. It hurts. It really hurts. She felt like throwing up.

 

And before she could also have her breakdown in front of the bathroom door, she immediately rushed to her and Yujin’s shared room, closing it shut with a loud thud and leaned her full weight to the door while panting lightly, clutching her heavy chest.

 

Her body’s strength slowly faded and because of that — she let her body slide against the door, sitting there as she leaned her back on it, pale and dazed as she stared at nothing.

 

A sting passed through her eyes, and soon enough, tears started to form and slowly fall from her eyes. The pain was too much. The heavy feeling in her chest is too much.

 

She slowly brought her hand over her lips, and let out a choked sob, followed by another, and another…

 

Those fluttery feelings whenever Yujin was around. Everything she felt whenever Yujin was near her. Those things she didn’t even feel with other members… they couldn’t make her smile like an idiot by just doing bare minimum like Yujin. She didn’t even admire the other members, letting her gaze linger for a while to trace their features and worship it like she always did to Yujin.

 

There were just so many things… so many things she couldn’t even explain.

 

Yet she shrugged those off.

 

And now, realization washed over her like a tsunami.

 

Every single detail that she thought it didn’t matter and thought that it was normal to feel like that towards a band member — it came crashing into her.

 

“I like Yujin,” Minjoo breathed, almost choking and hugged her knees tightly. Her lips were quivering badly as those words that were stuck in the back of throat finally managed to get out.

 

She couldn’t believe she admitted it outloud. It was a slap on her face.

 

“Oh my god, I also like Ahn Yujin.” Minjoo whispered to the wind, to nothingness, to darkness — shoulders slumping in defeat as waves of emotions started to hit her, creeping up into her whole existence.

 

And she didn’t know what to do.


 

***


 

March 13, 2020


 

It was so hard.

 

It was so hard to pretend that she didn’t also have feelings for Yujin.

 

It was so hard to resist jumping into Yujin’s arms and confess back, whisper her deepest secret and just cuddle with her until they fall asleep, succumb into their own world and escape from reality.

 

It was so hard to hold back the urges to just pull Yujin closer and hug her, tell her how much she liked her that it was starting to hurt and give her lovely praises as she stares at her face with full of fondness.

 

It was so hard to act like she didn’t care at all whenever Yujin was near her, pretend like she was not beside her and think of her as nothing to save herself from these feelings and pretend that everything’s good between them.

 

It was so hard to turn blindeye to Yujin’s longing stares. It burned her every time. It would make parched because of how intense those gazes were, she could always feel the yearning and oh, Minjoo just wanted to turn and meet Yujin’s gaze, stare back at her with the same intensity.

 

But she couldn’t.

 

She just couldn’t.

 

(She didn’t train as an actress before for nothing… She was great at hiding her feelings but Yujin was not.)

 

This deep attraction she had for Yujin was slowly driving her insane.

 

Call her a coward and fool for avoiding Yujin like a plague after that confession and her own realization of also harboring feelings for her other younger bandmate. Call her names and but this was her own way of escaping from all of this bullassery.

 

She never really intended to avoid her and hurt her purposely. When everything became too much for her, she pulled away as a reflex.

 

Damn, she noticed Yujin being in pain because of her sudden avoidance and the latter was probably blaming herself because they drifted away from one another.

 

Minjoo was so guilty of what she did that it haunts her every single night. But in the end, she did nothing and pretended everything was nice, that she and Yujin were just fine — so it won’t worry others. But she didn’t even realize that because of this selfish act she did, Yujin suffered very badly.

 

Selfish. Selfish. Selfish. You think of yourself only. You don’t deserve Yujin’s deep admiration. You don’t deserve her.

 

A voice would call her out and that increased the guilt even more to the point she would just have a breakdown in the middle of the hallway of their dorms at midnight.

 

Chaewon actually caught her once and comforted her without asking anything. From then on, she would usually go to the older woman to keep herself distracted from too much guilt.

 

But alas! Because of that, the guilt just added even more because whenever she and Chaewon would talk and laugh together, Yujin would throw glares at them from the corner, and stare at her with eyes full of betrayal and slight jealousy in it.

 

And yes, no one still knew that she was also harboring feelings for Yujin and it was eating her whole slowly. And she would like to keep it that way. This was too much for them, even if she knows that they will never judge her — it was too risky and she knew it was not that strong, the feelings, that is (she hoped).

 

She knew it would fade, it was just a phase, a strong attraction. These feelings would fade like a bubble soon and Yujin’s feelings would also fade so no need to tell.

 

That was why maybe she distanced herself from Yujin out of reflex, so it won’t bloom further and sort them out.

 

(But yet, even after all these months of avoidance, it didn’t even wither one bit. Instead, it got even stronger.)

 

And so, when Yujin confronted her with bloodshot eyes and croaked out, “Why are you avoiding me?” With the most heartbreaking tone Minjoo had ever heard from someone.

 

Minjoo’s world fell apart.

 

Yujin looked so… exhausted… heartbroken… in too much pain and so, so sad that night. She literally exploded from the frustration.

 

Minjoo wanted to kneel and ask for forgiveness for what she had done.

 

But instead she pulled Yujin into a warm embrace, hushing her down as Yujin cried on her shoulders, finally letting out her frustration and sadness over her sudden distance for months.

 

Regret and guilt bubbled up into her chest. It just got stronger and stronger as Yujin continued crying. “I’m sorry,” She could only breathe out that apology, she wanted to apologize and say many things, ask for forgiveness but her own self failed her. “I’m really sorry, Yujin-ah.”

 

Minjoo was scared. She didn’t know what she was scared of at that very moment because she was afraid of many things. She couldn’t even pinpoint what scared her the most. All she just knew was that she was a huge fool for making Yujin cry again.

 

“Please, I don’t want to lose you.” It was like a plea, a painful desperate plea from Yujin and another crack formed on Minjoo’s heart.

 

She could only tighten her hug around the taller girl. “You did not lose me, you will never.” She whispered back to reassure her. It was true. Minjoo might’ve slipped away a bit from her but for sure, Yujin would never lose her, she would never let that happen.

 

And then, she saw Eunbi appearing silently from the corridors, and Minjoo averted her gaze in shame when she saw the leader giving her a very pointed look. Of course, Eunbi probably knows something… and she was very disappointed in her. Oh, don’t worry, Minjoo was also disappointed in herself.

 

“Sorry, unnie. I’ll stop harboring these petty feelings for you.”

 

Minjoo’s world turned black after hearing that quiet murmur from Yujin.

 

This was what she wanted, right? For Yujin to stop? So everything wouldn’t be so complicated anymore?

 

She liked the idea, oh she was very relieved. But yet her heart kept beating in distress and rage against her ribcage.

 

Why was there a small voice echoing at the back of her head, whispering ‘No, don’t stop. Just like me, Yujin-ah. I like you too’?

 

Everyone had this selfish side. And unfortunately for Minjoo, it seemed like her selfish side wanted Yujin to be hers only — even if it was bad, even if it was wrong in any angle.


 

***


 

October 20, 2020


 

Their… friendship became better after that night of confrontation. They slowly became close again but there was always an awkward tension between them.

 

It couldn’t be helped, especially that… Minjoo still liked Yujin up until today.

 

Goodness, she tried to move on! But the feelings wouldn’t even fade one bit no matter how hard she tried. She would just fall right back to Ahn Yujin no matter what. Yearn for her, think of her and her goddamn dimpled smile that never failed to make her heart flutter.

 

It frustrated Minjoo because the more she tried to erase these feelings, the more they became stronger to the point it scared Minjoo how much this ‘attraction’ to Yujin could make her do.

 

On top of that, guilt and regrets were always piling over her. Every single night, they never failed to haunt her and make her feel like a over running away from all of these rather than confess back and make Yujin happy, to make the both of them happy.

 

Every single day, Minjoo never failed to imagine how everything would turn out if she and Yujin ever work out? Would they be happy? For sure they would be but the extreme fear of deeper consequences if they ever get caught by the public haunted her even more to the point those lovely made-up scenarios would be forgotten.

 

Maybe it won’t last anyway so it was for the best not to say anything.

 

Yujin was still young. Minjoo was still young. They still have a brighter future ahead of them and Minjoo would never let these feelings be the hindrance or worse, the main cause of her downfall, most specially, Yujin’s downfall. They would still meet a lot of people.

 

Yujin was passionate and hardworking. She knew how much Yujin adored being an idol performing on stage. And Minjoo would never let herself be one of the hindrances of unleashing her full potential.

 

Their current set-up would suffice. She was near Yujin yet she was also away from the younger one. This was what Minjoo wanted, for everything to smoothly flow even though a lot of things are always creeping up on her.

 

She was satisfied, she was content even though every night — she yearned for Yujin’s warmth and just stared at Yujin like she was the only woman to ever exist.

 

And speaking of...

 

It became Minjoo’s habit.

 

Watch Yujin sleep, that is.

 

Even way before, she already caught this habit when they were still roommates. Whenever she couldn’t sleep, she would take a peek from the top bunk and stare at Yujin for a few minutes because somehow, seeing the younger’s sleeping and peaceful state makes her calm down and sleep.

 

Now that they were not in the same room anymore, her creepy habit lessened but whenever she got a chance then she would do it.

 

For example — Yujin wasn’t really fond of locking her bedroom door or she was just really forgetful, sometimes, it was even fully agape — either too tired to close it or she was scared to sleep alone, unlocked all over.

 

And so, when Minjoo ever spotted a chance like that — she would immediately slip inside Yujin’s room and linger around for quite a bit.

 

Like right now.

 

After their heavy schedule, the members were immediately knocked down the moment they reached home — except for Minjoo. She was suffering from insomnia, even if she was sleepy, she simply just couldn’t. She mostly just thinks of many different made-up scenarios and falls asleep soon — sometimes, she cries herself to sleep but this time, it looked like it hit her hard.

 

She slowly went out of her room, silently padding towards a certain room and fortunately for her — it was wide open. Minjoo quietly took a peek, and saw a familiar figure on the bed, dead asleep.

 

A small smile formed on her lips as she entered the room sneakily, approaching the sleeping Yujin — the latter hugging her pillow as usual and her comforter loosely wrapped around her frame. Yujin must be really tired. Poor baby.

 

Taking a deep breath, Minjoo crouched near the younger girl’s head, silently eyeing her as usual and instantly, her heart warmed at the adorable sight of the sleeping Yujin.

 

She tried to suppress her grin but seeing her… like this made her really feel happy yet at the same time bad.

 

There it goes again, her stomach churned badly as unwanted thoughts filled up her mind and gulped. She tried her best not to think of it much and just admired Yujin like a creepy stalker.

 

And soon, her hand already moved to brush Yujin’s bangs gently. Surprisingly, Minjoo never got caught in the act, well — Yena caught her before and would about it from time to time whenever they were alone together. Minjoo was grateful that Yujin was a heavy sleeper.

 

Yujin would remain deep asleep while Minjoo kept staring at her lovingly and brushing her hair with her fingers — and… silently cry.

 

Before Minjoo could even notice it, a tear already fell from her eye. She hissed when she realized that she was crying in front of a sleeping Yujin again.

 

It was not like she could help it. Sometimes tears just fall on its own before she could even process and stop it.

 

Just seeing Yujin like this already overwhelmed her. So peaceful.

 

Because when Yujin was awake, Minjoo could see that the younger girl was still suffering from something. And she had a hunch.

 

Those longing stares, heart eyes, sweet small gestures and actions. Yujin never really said anything but her actions failed to conceal her feelings. There was a big chance that Yujin still liked her. And she didn’t know what to feel.

 

All that she knew was the moment Yujin ever tells her that she still likes her once again, Minjoo might fall apart and just tell her everything, jump into her arms.

 

It was scary and cold.

 

It was getting even more difficult to keep everything to herself. It was very painful to hold these lovely yet annoying feelings.

 

But what hurt her the most was that she knew there was a chance between them, and heck, it was already presented in front of Minjoo but yet — what did she do? She looked away and pretended that it was not there.

 

Another tear fell from her eye and this time, Minjoo didn’t bother to wipe it away.

 

She was really sorry and she already decided not to do anything. Even if both of them are hurting. This selfish yet selfless act Minjoo did would be the best for them, the perfect choice.

 

It was for the better if Yujin didn’t know. It was for the better if Minjoo kept it to herself, even if she was slowly losing her mind because of the secrecy, even if she dies in absolute frustration.

 

She was doing this for them, for their own sakes.

 

“It’ll fade,” It was the nth time Minjoo said that to herself but nothing happened anyway but even so, she continued. It was a reassurance for her part. “Please fade now. I don’t want to suffer anymore.” Every night Minjoo prayed.

 

“You said you will stop but why are you still acting that you still have feelings for me?” Minjoo silently whispered under her breath, eyeing Yujin with full fondness as her fingers gently caressed the younger’s cheek. “Stop. Please stop. It’s hurting you.”

 

Minjoo pursed her lips together, heaving a sigh as she tried her best not to let out a sob, she would just cry her heart out once she was alone in her room in the dark, not in front of Yujin. “I like you so much, Yujin-ah. But it’ll fade, right? It’ll fade.” She murmured before standing up, giving the sleeping girl one last look then dashed to her room.

 

She was scared. What if these feelings won’t fade? There were just so many what ifs that kept Minjoo up at night, and this night won’t be an exception.

 

She was crying because of many things: frustration, guilt, regrets, fear, hatred for herself, and the happy scenarios in her mind that she made where she and Yujin were happy.

 

Why does she like Yujin so much? To the point she was slowly losing her sanity over this? To the point everything was starting to get more unbearable?

 

And Minjoo was scared to think that this… attraction was something deeper than she was trying to tell herself.

 

It was already too much for her.

 

She wanted everything to stop yet at the same time… she doesn’t want to stop.

 

Selfless. Selfish. Foolish.


 

***


 

April 28, 2021


 

Everything that happened for the last two years just literally passed like a blur.

 

Bittersweet. That was all Minjoo could say.

 

She tried her best to accept their destined fate but still, it didn’t help much. IZ*ONE became her home, her everything. And without them, for sure — she would be lost, alone, and cold… once again.

 

Minjoo didn’t know if she was ready to be alone again. It was inevitable, this was their future. But when she thought of being left alone, no more noises around the dorm, no more funny companions… she just wanted to curl into a ball and cry her heart out.

 

She would miss her members, she would miss Yujin so much.

 

IZ*ONE was the only reason why she could be near Yujin and without the group, it would be hard to be close with the younger one once again. But what could she do?

 

As usual, she pretended that she was okay even though inside, she was hurting so much.

 

But wait, wasn’t it good? There’s an advantage. Minjoo would be away from Yujin. And so, these petty feelings would finally fade for good, right? Because no more, she would rarely see Yujin around, she would rarely see her charming smile. Maybe that was what she needed, to be away.

 

Uhh, heart, it was not a good time to ache over that thought…

 

And so, when Yujin asked her if they could visit their usual place and have a talk there. Minjoo didn’t even hesitate to say ‘no’. This will be the closure and inner peace for Minjoo’s part before she fully moves on from Yujin.

 

Just for one night, Minjoo would selfishly spend it with Yujin. She was going to spend it and cherish that time with the younger girl.

 

When she thought everything would be fine and peaceful that night…

 

“It feels so meaningless to me anymore. Performing, promoting, practicing — just all without you.” Yujin confessed truthfully after explaining.

 

No, no, no. Minjoo would not let that happen. She would never be the hindrance towards Yujin’s future because of her feelings. Just no… god, no. Minjoo would sacrifice her own happiness just for Yujin to live a peaceful life.

 

She already decided with finality, she would never get romantically involved with Yujin no matter what. Even if her feelings stay, she won’t.

 

Yujin would never be happy with her. Nothing good would happen between them if they ever try to work things out. Blasphemy. No one would accept them. No one. In this kind of society? Who would even dare?

 

There it goes again. Minjoo felt like throwing up as extreme fear engulfed her whole being alongside the haunting thoughts. Suddenly, Minjoo found herself standing in the middle of a crowd, prying eyes judging her, judging Yujin — giving them disgusted looks.

 

Minjoo went pale.

 

“Yujin…” Minjoo whispered helplessly and Yujin winced, biting her lower lip.

 

“Unnie…” She murmured back and Minjoo, with her trembling hands, reached for Yujin’s and brought it on her cheek, feeling the warmth of it. It was a sign of desperation. She couldn’t let that terrifying scenario happen in reality. It was already enough that it kept haunting Minjoo’s peace of mind.

 

“Please, don’t do this. Continue being an idol, this is your passion. Don’t let me hold back your potential, don’t let your feelings hold you back.” Minjoo pleaded, staring right back at Yujin and moved their hands together, pressing a kiss on the back of the younger girl’s hand.

 

She needed to convince Yujin. She didn’t care anymore if she looked pathetic and helpless, looked so vulnerable and . All she wanted was for Yujin to continue living on without her.

 

Minjoo was never needed in Yujin’s life. And that was a fact.

 

Look what happened when she subtly entered the picture of Yujin’s life. Everything became a mess. Yujin started to lose her passion because of her. Suddenly, Yujin’s world revolved around her and because of that… happened afterwards.

 

Minjoo was not good for Yujin.

 

“Okay, I will, unnie. For you,”

 

Yujin’s voice was full of hesitance and sounded so defeated but it made Minjoo’s heart flutter in relief and at the same time, Minjoo’s heart shattered into pieces. This was what she wanted, how dare she feel hurt about this?

 

. It was frustrating her so bad, she wanted to explode right there, right now.

 

It was too much. Too unbearable to hold.

 

Yujin was such a precious human being. Minjoo would never forgive herself for being one of the main reasons why Yujin got ruined, why everything turned into a mess.

 

No one knew but Minjoo herself, how much she wanted to engulf Yujin into a warm and reassuring hug, whisper how much she was hurting too and wanted to stop pretending. She was itching to blurt everything because it was too much, but fear held her back.

 

This was what she wanted. She didn’t want to ruin Yujin further.

 

Just why were these feelings so strong? Just what did Yujin bewitch her with to make her this so smitten for her?

 

Minjoo, once again, cried herself to sleep that night — murmuring Yujin’s name softly to calm herself down, chanting her name like it was some miracle spell that would make her feel better. It worked as usual.

 

She fell asleep with puffy eyes, tear-stained cheeks, and red nose. She fell asleep with self-blame, frustration, guilt, and regret piling on top of her head.


 

***


 

November 30, 2021


 

Minjoo loved Yujin.

 

She was such a fool for not realizing it sooner. But she loved Ahn Yujin, that was for sure.

 

And everything just became harder for her after realization hit her like a ten-wheeler truck just recently after Yujin sent her a picture of herself in KKT with a small message, ‘i miss you. so bad’.

 

She was too busy overthinking a lot of things to the point the possibility of her falling in love with the great Ahn Yujin didn’t pass through. She was too busy letting herself get eaten up by guilt and regret, frustration and self-blame.

 

Yes, even until now — those dark feelings… it never left her existence.

 

And even until now, Minjoo was still harboring feelings for Yujin. Even though they were already away from each other. It just won’t fade, it won’t leave her. In the end, she would dream of Yujin and yearn for her warmth every night.

 

All of her efforts trying to move on from Yujin, it didn’t do anything, it all just turned into a waste. She tried but… at the very end of her day, it was still Yujin. And it would be her only.

 

Even without seeing each other much, her feelings just kept blooming and blooming to the point, it scared Minjoo less. Like… how far could this feeling even bloom? It was terrifying. It was frustrating her to the core.

 

It was making her mad.

 

Outstanding. Minjoo would like to compliment herself. She was really good at keeping everything to herself, pretending that everything was fine, huh? But it was breaking her inside.

 

She only got herself. She was only alone in this deep abyss.

 

Loving Ahn Yujin was so complicated.

 

All she wanted was for these feelings to fade, but why was it just getting stronger?

 

Minjoo was exhausted already.

 

Very exhausted bottling up this absolute frustration, heavy guilt, deep regrets inside her.

 

Very exhausted holding these feelings back, pretending that everything was fine, crying every night, overthinking about what ifs, making happy fake scenarios with Yujin in it.

 

Minjoo was so exhausted.

 

When would this painful cycle end?


 

***


 

January 25, 2023


 

“Minjoo, are you ready for your first ever kissing scene?” The director teased Minjoo when he passed through Minjoo who was reading her own script.

 

The actress let out a laugh, nodding as a response then gave him a thumbs up. If she was going to be honest, she was a little bit nervous because it was her first ever kiss — not just for the drama but her very first kiss ever.

 

Not like it mattered much. She was never the girl who held deep meaning to first kisses, first love, first crush, and all. She was professional too, she would never back down in such a scene because she never got her actual first kiss yet. That was too low for an actress like her.

 

The director gave her a giggle before walking away with his assistant. Minjoo just heaved a sigh, grabbing her iced coffee and took a sip from it — her manager, Jihae, nudged her.

 

“Don’t be nervous, Kim, I know this will be your first kiss ever.” Jihae snickered while Minjoo paid no mind to her, just continuing to read her script. “Judging from his previous dramas, Eunwoo-ssi is a good kisser. So, don’t be nervous. He’ll take care of you well.”

 

Minjoo almost choked on her coffee, throwing her manager a glare but she never said anything, just letting out a sigh again and opened her phone — her notifications are bombing, it was IZ*ONE’s group chat. A smile formed on her lips.

 

All of the messages are just teasing Minjoo about her first ever kissing scene, some messaged her good luck, and Yena — mischievous as she was, told Minjoo to brush her teeth again before acting in that scene. All of them are there, chatting and messaging — except for one person, Ahn Yujin.

 

Her smile dropped. Even Wonyoung was there, actively messaging and encouraging Minjoo… Yujin was online, she was there, just reading the messages silently and it kinda hurt her.

 

Everyone was sending messages but she was just there, not saying anything. Chaewon mentioned Yujin to say something in a teasing manner but the second youngest did nothing, leaving it on the read.

 

Minjoo her own bottom lip, closing her phone before she could even call Yujin and ask why she was just reading the messages on the group chat and won’t even say ‘hi’. She had no right to be upset but because of that small little thing… her mood got spoiled.

 

Soon after, the director called for her and they were ready to go.

 

The main lead and her partner for this drama, Cha Eunwoo, asked if she was comfortable with the scene and Minjoo just waved it off. Thankfully, this man was decent and has respect unlike her previous partners who… shamelessly hit on her when they got the chance.

 

Eunwoo was attractive, he was literally one of the best male visuals, Minjoo was not going to deny that truth. He was also kind and calm, and professional too. He was easy to get along with, and Minjoo and him were quite close after working together for a month now. Maybe because both of them are idols.

 

But nonetheless, she was comfortable around him.

 

The acting went on smoothly, until they approached the kissing scene. For one last time, Eunwoo asked her if she was comfortable so Minjoo gave him a reassuring smile.

 

They tested the waters first, Eunwoo leaned in until their foreheads touched but he never pressed his lips against Minjoo’s. For some reason, Minjoo was more relaxed so like a professional actress she was, she just closed her eyes.

 

Series of teasing howls and whistles could be heard around them so it got both of them shy and leaned away from one another. Well, Minjoo could do it, good news.

 

“You ready?” Eunwoo gently asked, holding her hand softly with a small smile on his lips and Minjoo nodded firmly as an answer. With that, Eunwoo turned to the director and gave him a nod.

 

For the first few seconds, the both of them were exchanging dialogues, then the part where Eunwoo would tug her closer to him approached and soon, the guy reached for her face and cupped her cheek, leaning in closer — slowly and careful but full of emotions. He was a great actor.

 

Professionally, Minjoo followed the script. As written and instructed, also leaning in closer to meet him halfway. Even though she was inexperienced, she saw a lot of scenes like this before and so, the instinct moved. She was into acting too.

 

But before she could even close her eyes, for a moment — instead of Eunwoo’s godly-like face. She saw rather… a familiar face. The same face that she thinks and dreams of every night. The same face she used to love admiring in sleepless nights when they were younger.

 

The face she just badly wants to see and shower with kisses, trace every feature with her fingertips.

 

Yujin.

 

When their lips met, Minjoo’s heart bursted rainbows.

 

Kissing Yujin was something she already thought of even way before. Just one of the random thoughts in her sleepless nights. What does it feel like? Minjoo was curious, very curious. There would be a time she would dream of sharing a kiss with Yujin too but there were all just fragments of her imagination.

 

It was not real.

 

And she would never be able to feel those lips against hers.

 

Realization sunk into her head. And because of that, Minjoo froze. She was currently not kissing Yujin, it was not Yujin but Eunwoo — her partner for a drama.

 

And before she could do anything, they heard the director shouting, “Cut!” and Eunwoo immediately pulled away, and Minjoo fluttered her eyes open, reality slapping her that she just kissed a guy she didn’t even share romantic feelings with.

 

Minjoo felt bad because… she imagined someone else instead while kissing him.

 

“Are you okay?” Eunwoo asked, concerned as he patted Minjoo’s shoulders. The woman yelped, jolting a bit out of shock then shook her head, forcing out a smile.

 

“Y-Yes. Still shaken up, but I’m good.” Minjoo answered, scratching her nape as another heavy feeling started to creep up into her chest, black and uncomfortable.

 

The staff suddenly gave them a round of applause and teasings but Minjoo was in daze to even pay mind to it, she could only throw a small smile to them before excusing herself to the bathroom, lying that she wanted to pee but in fact, she was in the verge of having a breakdown. She took that chance to collect herself up because she might cause some scene there.

 

She glared at her own reflection on the mirror, caressing her lips. She wanted to throw up. She couldn’t believe she saw Yujin instead. She was so sick of herself.

 

And it was just a reminder that up until now, she was still very much in love with Ahn Yujin.

 

A painful reminder…


 

***


 

May 28, 2024


 

Minjoo was definitely in a good mood right now.

 

Her taping today got cancelled because of some emergencies and she managed to come to their small reunion party. She was in a foul mood last night because she thought she couldn’t come because of her schedule but it looked like god favored her today!

 

The others were shocked at her sudden appearance since she never said anything — she just surprisingly entered the venue with a bright grin and engulfed each one of them with a hug, especially the main stars of the day: Nako, Hitomi, and Sakura.

 

It had been a while since the trio went back to Korea. She absolutely missed them and playfully gave them kisses on the cheeks.

 

She sat on the vacant seat, just literally across Yujin that gave her a nice view of the latter. Her heart skipped a bit, suddenly racing giddily. It had also been a while since she last met Yujin personally so no wonder her petty heart is flipping in happiness.

 

Yujin’s eyes followed her movements, and cold sweat started to form on Minjoo’s forehead because of how intense the younger woman’s gaze was.

 

It burned her. It burned her so good. Yujin’s stare already satisfied her, tamed her longing for the younger.

 

But then, Hyewon called for Yujin’s attention but Minjoo’s eyes stayed still, gawking at the younger woman with adoration and amazement. Whenever she meets Yujin after a long time, it always felt like something changed and shifted in her but at the same time, there was nothing and she was just the same old goofy Ahn Yujin.

 

Maybe was it the new hairstyle? Yujin became more mature and good looking, more appealing too.

 

She was just becoming more beautiful each time and Minjoo’s knees were just wobbling because of that very reason. Damn Ahn Yujin and her huge effect on Minjoo!

 

Her stare stopped when Yuri started to bother her and so, her full attention went to others, having a light hearted talk with some of them — trying to ignore the pair of eyes glued to her just across her.

 

A shiver went down her spine when she realized that Yujin was staring at her from time to time. She shifted uncomfortably on her seat, her mind going blank and bit her lower lip to suppress her smile.

 

When Yuri stopped talking to bicker with Hyewon, Minjoo finally decided to meet Yujin’s eyes once again and her breath hitched when she saw the younger in daze, her soft chocolate honey orbs were looking at… her lips.

 

It didn’t last, Yujin probably realized what she was doing and looked away, composing herself and Minjoo tried her best not to blush, trying herself not to think of anything…

 

(Just for instance, there was a possibility that Yujin still also had feelings for her… but that overthinking was reserved later at night.)

 

“Yujin,” She found herself calling for the younger woman.

 

Yujin immediately looked back at her, a little bit surprised. “Yes?” She asked, almost breathless and in awe so she cleared .

 

Giggling, Minjoo crossed her arms as her smile just got wider over seeing how flustered Yujin had become because of their interaction. “How are you?” She asked with the softest tone she could ever use. She wanted to know if Yujin is doing well.

 

“I’m fine. I’m doing good.” was Yujin’s answer. Minjoo’s brow twitched a little at the tone she used but she didn’t pry on it further.

 

“Nice to hear.” The older woman responded instead, putting up her usual cheeky smile but before she could even say something more — Yuri suddenly called for her attention, showing her phone to her and Minjoo’s slight annoyance of getting disturbed faded when she recognized the person on the screen.

 

It was Yujin. She was sleeping with a little bit agape and Wonyoung was just beside her, doing some hilarious poses which made Minjoo’s heart swell in contentment. But the photo was kind of funny yet heartwarming so Yuri and her shared laughter.

 

She asked Yuri to send it to her and the latter did, still giggling as she did so. Her eyes went back to Yujin and saw that she was playing with Hyewon now, and so, she just let out a little smile and blended in with the members again — enjoying the lunch as much as she could.

 

Oh, how she missed the old times.

 

The lunch went well and smoothly, with light exchanges of banters and bickers in the middle of a conversation and gossip. But all of that happy and bright atmosphere instantly vanished when Nako suddenly exclaimed, “Omo, yah, Kim Minjoo! I saw a lot of kissing scenes in your dramas! Woah, woah, I’m impressed.” She teased.

 

Minjoo instantly went red out of embarrassment, she was a little bit uncomfortable talking about it especially when Yujin was around for some reasons but Nako really had to bring it up when she was present!

 

“It’s my job, what can I do?” She responded weakly. And the moment she said that, her eyes slowly went in Yujin’s direction and her heart halted beating momentarily when she saw how gloomy the younger woman looked after Nako inserted that topic, she looked almost furious and… broken.

 

She hoped that Nako would stop and feel the dark aura lingering around but unfortunately, the Japanese woman remained oblivious to the sudden awkward silence at the table. “Wow, your kiss with Nam Da Reum-ssi, ten out of ten. Minjoo-ah! You—”

 

Nako didn’t even manage to finish when Yujin suddenly butted in. “I’ll just go to the bathroom.” She excused herself, swiftly exiting the scene just like that with ragged breaths.

 

Minjoo could only stare at Yujin’s back until she disappeared into the bathroom, clenching her fists under the table as she chewed on her bottom lip — trying her best not to follow Yujin there. The urge was too much that her feet started to tremble.

 

She might do something beyond her thinking and that she might regret later on. So, even if it was so difficult to hold herself back, she didn’t move.

 

From her peripheral vision, she saw Hyewon throwing a glare at the short woman and Nako, who finally understood what happened, yelped in fear. “U-Uhh, anyways! Hitomi is dating someone!” She poorly shifted the topic to make it less awkward, earning a smack from Hitomi herself.

 

Minjoo knew that some of the members probably knew about Yujin’s feelings for her, especially Eunbi who kept silent throughout the years. Some who didn’t know manage to connect the dots, most likely. Yujin was kind of obvious and she was not even making an effort to hide it before.

 

But… she really thought that there was something else that they knew that Minjoo didn’t know… especially on how Eunbi sighed worriedly and shook her head when Yujin walked out. Minjoo didn’t dig on it deeper since she’s too occupied overthinking already.

 

Minjoo tried to ignore the sudden harsh action Yujin just showed but too late, her mind was already running. Those thoughts are already reserved for later but because of what happened, it won’t just stay still in her head.

 

She was not that dumb and oblivious but it was too unbelievable...

 

Does Yujin really still like her? Just what was just that action? It looked like she was jealous and so… furious over what Nako had said over Minjoo’s kissing scene with a man. A glimmer of hope then suddenly lit up into her yearning heart.

 

Oh no, this was so bad. So ing bad.

 

It hit her again, crashing over her like huge waves.

 

Yujin came back a few minutes after and the others immediately pretended nothing happened, chirping and bickering with one another. Yujin pretended like she was all good but the sudden quietness really caught Minjoo’s attention and how… the younger woman avoided to look at her direction throughout the rest of the lunch.

 

Minjoo kept staring though, throwing her worried looks from time to time and hoped that Yujin would notice it and look back at her, genuinely tell her that she’s fine but no — the taller woman stubbornly refused to meet her gaze again.

 

It shattered Minjoo’s heart.

 

Yujin never did look at her again that day.


 

***


 

November 07, 2025


 

Minjoo met Song Jihyeok last year when they got paired over this certain drama that became a huge hit nationwide, and not just domestically, their drama was also successful worldwide.

 

Jihyeok was a nice man — probably the most gentle and kind man Minjoo ever met. He was a guy with a golden heart and angelic personality. No wonder that women were all over her.

 

Song Jihyeok was every lady’s dream guy.

 

He was famous for having such a nice, clean, and honest reputation and being a good actor and model. Every person who worked with him and met him always said the same about him, ‘he’s a perfect man’. He doesn’t even have a single bad rumor and scandal with his name on it.

 

Minjoo could agree. She, herself, was a witness of Jihyeok’s kindness when they worked together. He was very charming and just so gentle around her. He was not double-faced, he was just genuinely a good man.

 

It didn’t surprise Minjoo much when she felt a slight attraction with the said man. Jihyeok was her ideal man. With his qualities? Who wouldn’t even feel attracted that fast? There’s no evil bone in him, he couldn’t even hurt a fly and worry over staff and other actors more than himself.

 

She was going to admit but she got swoon. Her heart fluttered a bit when he was being sweet with her on set. They became good friends too so even after the drama, they kind of kept in touch.

 

But just a few months ago, Jihyeok suddenly confessed that he likes her and would like to pursue her. Minjoo, of course, was bewildered and shocked at the sudden confession but she kind of expected it already since Jihyeok was acting sweeter and even more careful around her.

 

She was moved. Jihyeok clarified that if she doesn’t want to then they would stay as friends and that was just that.

 

After a few days of consideration, Minjoo accepted. Well, there was no harm in trying right? Maybe he was the way for Minjoo’s tired heart to finally stop yearning for Ahn Yujin. She had a little crush on him too so maybe, it would bloom and her feelings for Yujin would fade.

 

Maybe Jihyeok was the one who could help her with this trouble she had been suffering for years already.

 

(It was the hopeful ‘maybes’ again but Minjoo would gamble anyway. Yujin was the only risk she couldn’t take. Yujin was the only gamble Minjoo would never play.)

 

And so, she accepted for Jihyeok to court her and win her heart fully.

 

For the first time, she gave someone a chance to snatch her heart from Yujin’s tight grip.

 

She got to learn a lot of stuff about Jihyeok even more and vice versa — and Minjoo just became more attracted. The efforts Jihyeok did for her were just too much. He was very persistent in making her his girlfriend. He was always up to do anything for Minjoo.

 

And even just for a moment… Jihyeok made Minjoo forget about Yujin and all the heartbreaks she received from loving the latter. He made her genuinely happy in his own ways.

 

Even if she still loves Yujin, she opened her heart and accepted Jihyeok as her boyfriend. She likes Jihyeok, that was for sure — so, when he asked her if she could be his girlfriend (with a little bit hesitation, Minjoo answered, ‘yes’.)

 

She knew it was wrong to enter a relationship while she was still madly in love with someone she could never ever reach (wrong, she could reach her — she was the one who just won’t move closer). She felt bad but it would be fine, right? She was attracted anyway, who knows? It might bloom further on.

 

She took the risk just like that.

 

And so far, they were doing well. They’ve been actually discussing if they should admit that they were dating to the public since for sure, they would gather a lot of support and they would be less suffocated.

 

Minjoo hesitated at first. Sure, the other members already know but… Yujin — she never talked about her relationship with Jihyeok to her. She knew that the younger one was busy promoting her group’s newest comeback and… for some reason, she was just scared for her to know.

 

She was scared that she might hurt Yujin because of this. Even though there was nothing wrong with it — the last thing she wanted to do was to hurt Yujin because of this shocking news.

 

Sigh. Even until now, she still worried over Yujin in stuff like this. She should really stop…

 

Think of your boyfriend, Jihyeok instead of Yujin, Kim Minjoo.


 

***


 

June 05, 2026


 

She and Yujin just met earlier, and spent time alone together like older times.

 

And now, Minjoo was back in her apartment unit, laying down on her own bed and staring at the ceiling above her intently as her mind runs. It was very dark and cold but the lingering warmth around her hand eased her a little bit yet it also made her stomach churn in a bad way.

 

All Minjoo could think of was how warm Yujin’s hand was earlier when she held the older woman’s hand very tight as they walked around the neighborhood. It brought a lot of memories…. so nice little memories.

 

Minjoo didn’t even want to let go of Yujin’s bigger and warmer hand, greedily hold the younger woman’s hand and then just clasp their fingers together, forever.

 

Even if they only spend a short amount of time, Minjoo was the happiest earlier when she was with Yujin. She was so happy to be able to bond with the younger woman again like that. She missed Yujin.

 

It felt like betrayal when her heart still fluttered so hard for Yujin, knowing that she was in a happy (one-sided) relationship with Jihyeok.

 

She didn’t even think of her boyfriend one bit until Yujin herself brought the topic and she was actually in distress when she had to respond and give a comment about Jihyeok. She knew it was a bad move as it might get Yujin a little bit insecure but she saw how Yujin got relieved when Minjoo said that Jihyeok was one of the best around.

 

It was her subtle way of reassuring Yujin that she was doing fine, well, she was trying to be again. All went downhill when Yujin asked her if she wanted to spend some time with her. It was like the effort of trying to move on from Yujin, the long time she spent trying to convince herself that her feelings for Yujin had already faded — just went down to the drain, just like that.

 

With one ing message from Ahn Yujin herself.

 

Minjoo was so miserable.

 

Those feelings she tried to shove into the deepest part of her heart went back just like that. It was haunting her again, making her feel restless again.

 

Look, she already accepted the truth that she was still not in love with her own boyfriend — even after a year of being in a relationship with him, her feelings got stronger, yes, but still — its level still hadn’t reached even the smallest part of ‘love’.

 

And she felt bad because it felt like she was leading Jihyeok on for nothing but what could she do? He became her responsibility after she willingly took the risk. The only choice she has is to keep this bull going and hope for the best that she would fall in love with him, which was a blurry statement.

 

But to be honest, she was worrying over the fact she was very much into Yujin, still, more than anything. That she was still in love with the said woman throughout. That it was still Yujin who her heart desires, who she still really wanted.

 

It was scary.

 

Once again, Minjoo found herself in the deep dark abyss.

 

She was not happy at all. She was just convincing herself that she was happy with this current set-up.

 

“Did I really make the right choice?” Minjoo croaked out when she found her voice back, her lips were twitching as her eyes remained glued to the ceiling. Soon after, her sight became blurry as tears started to form in her eyes.

 

It was here again. Her old friends: guilt, regret, frustration, and haunting thoughts.

 

She couldn’t even stop thinking of the chances that she let pass through her. The chances she didn’t even bother glancing at.

 

For the first time after a year, Minjoo felt so helpless again, so broken again, so torn apart. She was so shattered.

 

There was a lump on , her chest heaving and burning. “How is it still you, Yujin?” She murmured to the darkness, clutching the bed sheets tightly until her knuckles turned white. “How is it still you whom I love?”

 

She wanted to know the answer, but the only one who can answer that is herself. But yet, she was still so clueless and frustrated.

 

“If I’m not a coward, If I’m not weak… If I just chose you. Are we happy right now?” Minjoo cried out, hundreds of possibilities started to enter her head. Those what ifs and maybes flooding her head like before.

 

Oddly enough, everything was so familiar. Minjoo couldn’t help but to laugh at herself, wow, she’s really this miserable even way before, eh?

 

“Are you still hurting too? Like me?” Minjoo whispered under her breath, hissing when a painful sting passed through her heart. Just the thought of Yujin suffering because of her... it hurts like hell.

 

Her hands itched to grab her phone and call Yujin, spill everything to her — maybe, run away with her and greedily claim her, keep her from the world like what she wanted ever since the very beginning.

 

But she couldn’t. God, she couldn’t.

 

Yujin was successful now. Minjoo couldn’t ruin all of her hard work. There are so many consequences they would face once Minjoo ever gets greedy, and takes Yujin away. Plus, Jihyeok... and the judging eyes of people…

 

Thoughts. Thoughts. Thoughts. It all stopped her.

 

Fear started to creep up into her chest, it felt like someone was twisting her aching heart and Minjoo couldn’t breathe.

 

No, stop. It was too late. There was no chance. Everything already happened. She couldn’t make everything right anymore.

 

Now, she would pay the price of her cowardice. She would suffer alone until the very end of her.

 

And Minjoo really thought that she deserved all of these sufferings and pain.


 

***


 

August 22, 2026


 

“You look like ,” Yuri commented and Minjoo laughed so hard at that, shaking her head in amusement, and took a shot of pure vodka.

 

Grimacing, Minjoo placed the shot glass on top of the table, wiping with the sleeve of her shirt. “Tell me something I don’t know.” She responded cheekily, pouring herself another glass.

 

Chaewon, who was also present, alongside Hyewon, eyed her with worry. “Are you okay?” Chaewon softly asked her friend, fiddling with her own shot glass.

 

Hyewon clicked her tongue, adding, “Did you have a fight with Jihyeok?” She asked, her brow shot up as she said that.

 

Minjoo was in awe for a few seconds before bursting into laughter, shaking her head furiously when her friends concluded that. The trio just eyed her with confused gazes. She had to calm herself down first before answering that stupid question between her giggles.

 

“God, no, we didn’t fight. We’re all good.” Minjoo answered, taking another shot and hissed when there was a burning sensation in as she drank the liquor.

 

Yuri’s lips twitched, squinting her eyes accusingly. “Then why are you... drinking like this? To loosen up? I’m sure there’s something, Minjoo-ah.” She softly murmured and Chaewon agreed to that.

 

Minjoo’s face fell, her gaze lowered down to the shot glass and her shoulders slumped in defeat but she never said anything.

 

To be honest, everything was just getting unbearable and the only way she could think of loosening up was to have a drink with her friends. But of course, they could already tell if there was something wrong with her or not… how foolish of her to think that they wouldn’t ask.

 

She had an internal battle with herself about whether she would pour every burden out, every thought, just everything that has been haunting her for the past years. In the end, the fear got to her badly. She knew that the others would never look at her and judge her but this would be too much.

 

She didn’t want further trouble to ensue.

 

The others probably sensed her sudden demeanor and all of them looked at each other and collectively sighed. Chaewon reached for Minjoo’s hand, tightly holding it to reassure her. “We’re always here, you can always tell us everything you know… but if you don’t want then… let us accompany you.”

 

Minjoo wanted to cry at that moment. She was so glad she got them. Her friends made her feel better.

 

“Thank you.” Minjoo could only mutter, holding back her happy and grateful tears, and poured herself another shot while the other three just gave her smiles, then joined drinking with her.

 

And soon after, Minjoo just found herself standing in front of a tall apartment building. It was a very unfamiliar building but Minjoo knew this address well.

 

Her vision was hazy and she was tipsy from all of the shots earlier but she could still manage herself. Her head was light and she might not be thinking so clearly (obviously) but she was all good.

 

She didn’t know why she was here also, if she was being honest. All she knew was she just wanted to take a walk around and get herself together after their drinking session. The three actually didn’t want her to go alone but Minjoo insisted. They let her go after countless bribes and reassurance.

 

And soon, her feet suddenly brought her to this address without thinking clearly.

 

With a sigh, she slapped her cheek lightly a few times to collect herself up. She couldn’t even decide clearly, she should go home and sleep but… her feet insisted to stay rooted there and enter the building, her heart stubbornly drummed in her chest.

 

Maybe it was the alcohol. Oh, not maybe, because it was definitely the alcohol that made her make such a rash decision like this. Sober Minjoo would never dare to make out a fool of herself like this, she would never be this desperate to see a certain someone.

 

It had been a while too. And she absolutely misses this certain someone so bad.

 

So, with a blank mind, she entered the building — the guard immediately let her in after she took off her cap to show her identity. She wordlessly entered the place just like that, ignoring the amazed gazes from the people present around and just went to the desired floor.

 

And before she could even stop herself from doing this, she was already standing in front of a door. She didn’t even hesitate to press the doorbell and waited patiently there, fidgeting.

 

She was already here anyway… might as well pay a visit.

 

Her mind was too cloudy and light, her eyes were a little bit unfocused and her body was swaying a bit. But she straightened up when the door was then opened, and the tipsy woman was greeted by a familiar tall woman.

 

“Minjoo-unnie!?” Wonyoung exclaimed, very shocked.

 

Minjoo let out a crooked and drunken smile. “Hi, Wonyoung-ah. It’s been a while.” She murmured, slurring a bit.

 

Wonyoung was really surprised but she immediately pulled the older woman for a hug and Minjoo could only chuckle as the younger whined, hugging the latter tighter. The hug didn’t last as Wonyoung was the one who broke it, holding Minjoo on her shoulders and looked at her with wide eyes.

 

“What’s with the sudden visit, unnie? You didn’t even send me a message! I could’ve fetched you or something.” Wonyoung said, tilting her head curiously.

 

Throwing a cheeky smile, Minjoo replied lowly. “I was nearby… and I just found myself here, kind of familiar. Just realized that it was the address of your dorms… I decided to pay a surprise visit… Sorry if it’s late. Did I bother you?” She explained, giggling.

 

Wonyoung was silent for a bit, her nose sniffing the air and Minjoo knew that the younger woman realized that she had a couple of drinks. Before she could even do anything, the tall woman pulled her inside the dorm — Minjoo almost stumbled and fell because she lost her footing but Wonyoung’s tight grip on her forearm saved her.

 

“Not at all, unnie,” The younger woman whispered with a small smile.

 

Minjoo gave her an awkward smile, her unfocused gaze looking around the place, and saw no familiar face. She could feel clogging up.

 

“I-Is Yujin here?” She finally found her voice, turning to Wonyoung when she didn’t spot Yujin nor any other person present in the room.

 

The younger woman nodded, tugging her a bit. “Yes. She’s asleep though. She’s kind of burnt out after the filming of her drama…” She said with a light tone and Minjoo nodded understandingly.

 

After a few seconds of silence, Minjoo gathered the courage she could get and asked, “Can I see her? I won’t wake her up, I just want to see her, please?” She shamelessly pleaded. She didn’t care anymore, she just wanted to see Yujin.

 

Wonyoung smiled, her eyes twinkling as she dragged her to the corridor and stopped in front of a blue door with some dog stickers on it. Minjoo almost laughed at that. “Of course, unnie. This is her room. I will be just in the living room, hmm? The other members will be here in a bit too, you should go say hi after.”

 

Minjoo nodded, her lower lip. “Thank you. And I will. I won’t stay for long,” She muttered and Wonyoung just scrunched her nose up before leaving her there after giving her one last meaningful smile.

 

She couldn’t help but to shake her head. Their maknae really grew up so well… She was not a baby anymore but to the other former IZ*ONE members, Wonyoung would be their forever baby.

 

After taking a few deep breaths, she finally decided to grab the knob and twisted it open, lightly opening it and didn’t immediately slip in. She took a peek first.

 

It was dark — the opened lamp being the only source of light but it perfectly illuminated the bed, and so Minjoo could clearly see the sleeping person on it.

 

A smile instantly formed on her lips. She quietly slipped in and closed the door gently as she could then slowly approached the sleeping figure with light footsteps.

 

Sense of familiarity struck her. Ahh, those times where she would sneak into Yujin’s room to stare at her while she sleeps. Brings back memories indeed.

 

Minjoo kneeled at the head of the bed, it just gave her the perfect view of Yujin’s sleeping state. Her heart instantly warmed up at the cute sight, oh how she missed watching her sleep like this.

 

Nothing much changed. Yujin still hugs a pillow whenever she sleeps, her blanket loosely wrapped around her body frame.

 

Minjoo bit her lower lip, trying to suppress a choked sob. She couldn’t believe that she was going to have a breakdown right here, right now. By now, she was completely sober and aware. The moment she saw Yujin, all the alcohol in her system left just like that.

 

Slowly, her trembling hand reached for Yujin’s face, gently cupping the latter’s cheek — softly caressing it with care and god, Minjoo almost lost it.

 

For this night, Minjoo would be selfish again.

 

“Hey, Yujin-ah… I missed you so much, you know?” The actress started to murmur softly, sniffling inaudibly as she brushed her thumb against Yujin’s firm cheekbone.

 

A choked sob once again got out from , so she covered her lips with her free hand as she let her tears fall down. She couldn’t hold it in anymore. “I-I’m so hurt, Yujin-ah. I’m so frustrated with myself. So frustrated. I don’t know how I survived while suffering greatly like this.” She paused.

 

“I ing hate myself…” Minjoo whispered breathlessly, biting the skin of her palm as she shut her eyes close, waves of emotions going through her — passing like gigantic tides that she had to brace herself from the upcoming impact.

 

Minjoo tried to calm her breathings down, afraid that Wonyoung might hear her cries and spot her in such stupid and messy state like this. She took a sharp intake of breath before continuing to murmur the things she wanted to whisper to Yujin.

 

“I’m so exhausted but it’s still you,” The older weakly uttered, nibbling on her lower lip as her eyes fluttered open again, the sight of Yujin’s sleeping face greeted her and suddenly, everything just went fine.

 

“I wish I could take you, run you away, be happy with you.” Minjoo breathed out, lowering her head down. “But I can’t…”

 

There was silence. The soft and calm breathings from Yujin could only be heard around the quiet dark room. For a moment, she thought the younger woman would open her eyes and reveal that she was awake the entire time but Yujin remained in deep slumber.

 

(A small part of Minjoo hoped that Yujin was indeed awake the whole time.)

 

Minjoo bit her inner cheek, trying to snap out of it and a sigh escaped between her lips, chuckling bitterly at her patheticness. “I’m really sorry for everything. I’m so sorry.” She whispered, and poorly wiped her tears away.

 

Finally, after a few minutes of silent staring, Minjoo gathered herself up and lifted her body up using her wobbly feet and legs — deciding to go home already and continue her crying session there in her own room. She might really wake Yujin up if she ever stays long.

 

She fixed herself first, making herself look more presentable and took a few deep breaths.

 

But before she left — Minjoo didn’t forget to fix the blanket around Yujin, draping it properly to the latter so she wouldn’t feel cold and after a lot of hesitating and fighting with her inner self, she waddled closer to the sleeping Yujin again and bent down to plant a small chaste kiss on top of her head.

 

“Min night. I hope you’re dreaming of something nice, baby,”


 

***


 

November 17, 2027


 

“Kim Minjoo, darling, will you marry me?”

 

Minjoo was dumbfounded when she heard Jihyeok say that after he kneeled in front of her and took out a ring box, opening it and presenting the elegant diamond ring in it.

 

She quite expected this already — she saw Jihyeok browsing through this jewelry online store just a few weeks ago and caught him finding some engagement rings. But Minjoo didn’t really pay much mind to it as she was too busy thinking about the news she got from Wonyoung that Yujin would quit the celebrity life.

 

She already had a hunch when Jihyeok suddenly prepared a romantic dinner date at his own apartment unit’s balcony and invited Minjoo. She knew that her boyfriend was up to something, especially when he started to blabber how much he loves her and that he was ready to give up everything just to be with her, and other cheesy s.

 

And now here he was, kneeling down in front of her — presenting a glorious diamond ring he picked himself, the ring he knew would be perfect for Minjoo, looking up at her with the most loving gaze she ever received from him.

 

Song Jihyeok was so in love with Kim Minjoo and she could tell that. It was all clear, anyone could tell that.

 

Suddenly, Minjoo’s stomach turned upside down, wanting to throw up as she stared at Jihyeok, proposing to her and asking her hand for marriage.

 

Her sight started to get blurry with pathetic tears forming in it.

 

No, it was not happy tears. She would never shed happy tears. Rather, she was crying because this was her cruel fate she decided upon herself. This was the outcome of her cowardice and foolishness. The result of her acts and not following her heart’s selfish desires.

 

She was ed up, she messed up big time. She dragged other innocent people into something deeper, she dragged herself to succumb into something she didn’t want at all.

 

These were just one of the worst consequences she ever received for making the choice she thought would be better for her and Yujin.

 

But now, she couldn’t escape this. She made this mess, she created this madness. She pity Jihyeok, she badly wanted to tell her that she didn’t love him at all and she didn’t want to marry him… that she was unhappy with everything she acquired until today, even with him.

 

She really felt bad for dragging Jihyeok into this mess and let it keep going for years. Poor man, he really thought Minjoo loves him back as much as he loves her. All of those ‘I love yous’ he received and would receive from Minjoo — they don’t hold truth, not even one bit.

 

Kim Minjoo deserved hell for all of these bulls.

 

(Wait no, she was already suffering hell. Minjoo would like to think she really deserved all of these continuous sufferings after making wrong choices and hurting someone precious like Ahn Yujin.)

 

Endless tears fell from her eyes and her ever-so broken heart once again gained another crack as she slowly parted her lips and weakly answered,

 

“Yes. I’ll marry you, Jihyeok-oppa.”


 

***


 

December 28, 2027


 

It was never Minjoo’s intention to hide everything from Yujin. She did what she did these past years to protect Yujin and partly, herself from harm, from judgement, just… from these nightmares.

 

She didn’t care if it cost a lot of stuff. Minjoo’s inner peace, mental stability, sanity, and calm happy heart are good examples.

 

It wasn’t an easy thing to do. Hiding, she meant. She’s her own witness.

 

But this was one of her best options, being running away, pretending, and keeping everything to herself as her other favorite options.

 

She knew she was wrong for the most part, however, those are the things she could only do the best. The ways she thought that would save the both of them from further pain and harm.

 

She had a lot of fears in life, and one of those extreme fears was to hurt Yujin — but she did hurt her anyway, and she was aware of that, she had been beating herself over it for quite a time now actually. Then, being judged for being who she was. And also, ghosts. Oh, seeing Yujin crying was, too. And the list goes on.

 

Now, she found her new found fear.

 

And that was — having Yujin’s eyes lingering at her engagement ring.

 

“So,” Yujin murmured, her lower lip and the older woman just looked at her silently. “When’s the wedding?” She finally asked, and her eyes went back to stare at Minjoo in disbelief.

 

Minjoo’s heart stopped beating. Her breath hitching as she winced at the question Yujin threw.

 

They were having a light conversation and Minjoo wanted to continue as that. She even tried her best not to use her right hand much, avoiding flaunting the eye-catching ring on her ring finger to Yujin’s sight.

 

But she failed. It didn’t escape unnoticed from Yujin’s keen eyes.

 

Minjoo bit her lower lip, averting her gaze away from Yujin’s intense gaze. “Next year, probably around September. We want more time to settle everything, I might take a hiatus from being a celebrity too.” She responded, voice full of hesitance.

 

Yes, she and Jihyeok discussed the wedding, of course but Minjoo was still not yet ready and the man understood that so they would stay engaged for a while. September… it was Jihyeok who suggested that and Minjoo couldn’t say anything.

 

Yujin laughed humorlessly, almost breathless and bitter that caught Minjoo’s breath. “Oh, congratulations, unnie. I’m seriously happy for you.” She replied, smiling genuinely at her but soon, that smile faded. Minjoo braced herself for the upcoming question.

 

“Then why did it take you a whole month to tell me about your engagement to Jihyeok-oppa? Everyone already knows. I had to learn it accidentally from Wonyoung.” She asked, feeling a little bit confused and very much hurt. “I just don’t get it. You guys hid it from me, when I asked Eunbi-unnie — she said it was your request.” Added by Yujin.

 

And there it was. The question Minjoo didn’t want to answer, not because she doesn’t want to but rather — she couldn’t as she ddin’t have any answer at all. She didn’t have an exact reason why she hid it like that from Yujin but informed every single friend of hers the day after the proposal and even asked them to keep everything a secret — she specifically told the former IZ*ONE members not to say it to Yujin (they didn’t ask why).

 

Why? Maybe she didn’t want Yujin to get hurt? She would get hurt either way. Maybe she was scared of Yujin’s reaction? God, Minjoo didn’t know.

 

“Y-Yujin, it’s—” She blabbered, not really knowing what to say but Yujin cut her off.

 

“Then why? What was the reason for your request? For your sudden secrecy?” Yujin threw another question and this time, Minjoo hung her head down low, guilty and embarrassed.

 

Minjoo kept mum, she couldn’t even think of the right words, right lies, right excuses to say. She just went silent, biting her lower lip as she tried her best not to cry in front of the younger woman. She’s too embarrassed for herself.

 

In the middle of her self-blaming session, she heard Yujin’s heavy sigh across her and soon, she felt a hand grabbing her own which caught her really off-guard. The way Yujin gazes at the ring with her sparkly bloodshot eyes almost made Minjoo kneel and sob.

 

Yujin eyed it with full adoration and envy, not resentment. It hurt Minjoo so badly, maybe — in another lifetime, where both of them are happy, where Minjoo wasn’t so scared of a lot of things — Yujin was the one who would give her a ring and the one Minjoo would spend her entire life being happy with.

 

A bitter smile formed on the younger woman’s lips before tilting her head up to meet Minjoo’s eyes. The older woman’s throat went dry.

 

“I-I’m really sorry for keeping it a secret, Yujin.” Minjoo just found herself blabbering a quiet apology, looking guilty and frustrated but she didn’t elaborate on it further.

 

Yujin chuckled weakly, shaking her head. “Hmm,” She just hummed as a response before caressing her hand softly again, smiling as she rubbed the ring gently. Minjoo let out a silent choked sob. “It looks beautiful.” She whispered her compliment to the ring, then looked up at Minjoo, meeting eyes with her again.

 

Minjoo swore — she saw the universe in Yujin’s eyes.

 

“You look beautiful.” Yujin lovingly whispered, not taking her eyes off her. It was so genuine and so sweet. Minjoo’s heart won’t just stop fluttering in giddiness and it also won’t just stop hurting.

 

Ahn Yujin, you’re beautiful too.


 

***


 

September 01, 2028


 

Minjoo dreamt a lot of random things. Be it something happy or a whole nightmare but she will never forget that she dreamt of Yujin saying the magical three words to her numerous times.

 

She will never forget this certain dream where Yujin directly confessed to her, and didn’t just say, ‘I like you’ but something deeper than those words. The words Minjoo is dying to hear from her at least just once.

 

Selfish it was, Minjoo just wanted to hear it. Was that very wrong? To have this greedy desire of wanting to hear Yujin saying these certain words to her?


 

When Yujin messaged her yesterday, asking if they could meet tomorrow which was this very night — Minjoo never really expected anything much — maybe another deep talk and stuff. But deep inside her, she was hoping that Yujin would say something.

 

Minjoo would never refuse, there was no excuse to refuse. And it was also her birthday,so might as well greet her. She also used this advantage to spend time with the person she really loves before she gets married to an innocent man that she made him believe that she loves him back.

 

Much to her shock, when she arrived at their usual place… the first thing she saw was Yujin smoking. She was surprised since she didn’t know that Yujin, in fact, knew how to smoke.

 

At first, it was all silent and awkward between them — Yujin did look serious and gloomy though, it made her breath hitch but when she started to speak, it felt like Minjoo couldn’t even breathe.

 

But she tried her best to respond casually, she also muttered a simple and short birthday greeting to the younger. Her heart surely did flip when Yujin mentioned that she ran away from everyone and didn’t even open her phone and read all the greetings she received as she only wanted Minjoo to be the first one to greet her.

 

After that, Yujin even became more serious than ever and Minjoo’s nervousness doubled.

 

“I won’t beat around the bush, unnie… I asked for you to meet me because I would like to tell you something… Tell you everything.”

 

Minjoo’s heart stopped. The way Yujin said it, it held seriousness and desperation — like she had been itching to say all of those things she wanted to say for a long time now. And Minjoo surely needs to brace and prepare her heart for this upcoming attack that she would take.

 

“I’m sorry but I think I can’t go to your wedding tomorrow.”

 

“It’s not that I can’t… but I think I’m unable to manage to see you walk down the aisle and exchange vows with Jihyeok.”

 

“I-I think I just can’t, unnie. I’m so sorry.”

 

Those were the first blows. Minjoo’s heart shrunk, but if she was being honest — she doesn’t want to see Yujin there at her wedding too because of the scary thought that she might really just run to her rather than walk to the aisle.

 

That would cause a lot of trouble. But if she ever does hold herself back from doing that, she couldn’t bear to look at Yujin’s face as she lies in front of Jihyeok and to everyone as she says her vows.

 

“Why?” Minjoo weakly asked, of course, she was curious about her reason. Yujin did look hurt as she said that, and she was absolutely feeling bad because of the fact she wouldn’t be able to attend the older’s wedding.

 

The younger woman did not answer that fast, turning her head to the glowing moon instead. Minjoo waited patiently for her answer, growing anxious as seconds passed by while scratching her palm.

 

“Do you think I will be able to handle seeing you, the one I love, walk down into that very aisle and witness how you marry the man you love?”

 

Now, now — Did Minjoo just hear that right? The one she loves? Is Minjoo hallucinating?

 

She was so shocked at what she had heard that she immediately looked at Yujin, staring at her with wide shocked eyes. The words sank in slowly to her head and while it did, she took a few seconds trying to figure out if she’s dreaming or is it reality.

 

Of course, it was not just a fragment of her imagination, she was not just hearing things.

 

And she didn’t know whether to laugh or cry over this. Oh good lord, she was going crazy once again and solely because of Ahn Yujin again!

 

“...Yujin?” Minjoo called out weakly, a little bit mixed with confusion. She was still not yet fully believing. It was too good to be true. The hints were all over her that Yujin still had some feelings for her but she shrugged it off. It had been years, after all! So, Minjoo assumed that there was no more left, for the goodness of her heart and her own self.

 

And when she thought that was the most shocking blow, Yujin opened to say something again that almost gave Minjoo a heart attack right on the spot.

 

“I love you, Kim Minjoo.”

 

“And it hurts.”

 

Madness!

 

Did she just freaking hear Yujin say the magical three words she had been desperately wanting ever since? Those words that will surely make her fall apart? Did she just really hear it come out from Yujin’s lips?

 

Minjoo was in awe, in disbelief, in absolute shock. Her ears were ringing for a few seconds — the colors of her whole body draining, going pale and weak. She was having mixed feelings over this but her heart — of course, her heart was beating like crazy. There were rainbows all over her chest, spreading through her whole being like wildfire.

 

She wanted to cry but she couldn’t bring herself to.

 

She wanted to celebrate but she knew she was not allowed to.

 

And so, to enlighten herself even further—she threw a question, “Since when?” Minjoo was so frail after that confession that her remaining strength just vanished like that.

 

Yujin laughed breathlessly at her question, suddenly standing up as she walked over to the railing, heavily breathing while staring at the familiar view presented in front of them. She looked conflicted and exhausted.

 

Minjoo also sprung up onto her feet, following Yujin — she gathered all of the strength left in her and went closer to the younger. She probably looked so pathetic too but she didn’t care about that anymore.

 

She stood near Yujin, with a gap, but close enough to hear her ragged breathing and see her eyes sparkling with tears, to notice that she has gotten taller and how her features even became sharper and became even more mature. Her heart gained another crack, and it would fall out after a bit for sure.

 

“Almost ten years and counting,” Yujin whispered, bringing her hand up to her lips, biting the side of her hand, an action to keep herself together. “Almost ten years and counting, Minjoo. It’s still you.”

 

Minjoo was so dumbfounded to hear that. Yujin still loves her all this time? Both of them are pining for each other, hurting for long years? Minjoo felt like she got into another dimension because of how extreme her emotions were at that very moment.

 

Yujin never stopped loving her like Minjoo never stopped…

 

“But that’s not important anymore,” Yujin shrugged it off, taking a deep breath and wiped her endless tears with the sleeve of her coat, nodding to herself before turning to face Minjoo.

 

“I just wanted for you to know that, I, Ahn Yujin — hopelessly, helplessly, and pathetically, pined and loved you for almost a decade and counting.” She added while looking directly into Minjoo’s sparkly orbs, breath hitching as she clutched her chest, biting her lower lip.

 

It was so sincere that Minjoo’s knees buckled at how it really struck her heart. It was a slap to her. She was too speechless, too shocked to move, too ty to part her lips and say something.

 

She just stood there like a dumb , staring at Yujin in disbelief with a blurry vision. She couldn’t even react properly as she was just too shocked for her own good. And so, she could only stand there while Yujin continued to pour her feelings out while tearing up.

 

“But that’s just it, unnie. I won’t do anything, I have no ill intentions towards you and Jihyeok-oppa. Your happiness is what matters the most to me, so here, I’m saying this all before your wedding to get some inner peace.” Yujin explained after calming down a little bit, shaking her head lightly and stared back at Minjoo.

 

Minjoo froze at the mention. She badly wanted to shake her head, and tell Yujin that she was not happy, that the older one won’t be happy when she will be hurt and away from her like this.

 

“So please,” A step, Yujin took a step forward after taking a deep breath, still staring at Minjoo. The latter did not flinch so she continued until there was no space between them anymore yet Minjoo remained unfazed, still looking at Yujin with an unreadable expression and sad gaze.

 

She was just feeling too much to the point she was just frozen like a statue — stare at Yujin helplessly. A pleasant smell of lavender and latte with a hint of mint cigarette entered her nose, and her heart crumbled.

 

With a smile, Yujin reached for her face, cupping it gently and caressed her cheeks with her thumbs so softly and leaned in.

 

Minjoo closed her eyes out of reflex, waiting for something and soon, she felt something soft being damp on her forehead.

 

Yujin planted a kiss on her forehead.

 

Her heart once again bursted into rainbows.

 

But it didn’t last because the kiss was just short, it lasted a few seconds and Minjoo wanted to throw a fit that very moment when Yujin pulled away, she wanted to greedily pull her back and probably tiptoe to reach for her lips.

 

Oh god, Minjoo just wanted to kiss her so badly and show her how much she loves her and how much she yearns for her.

 

“Please be happy and let me love you until I can. Please, let me love you freely at the back. Nothing more, that’s all I want, please. I’ll go away.” Yujin begged, choking out a cry, her hands trembled as she retreated, creating a huge painful gap between her.

 

Minjoo tried to hold herself back to shout, and beg Yujin to not go away. She tried her best, she couldn’t take a step forward, she couldn’t say a thing as old thoughts resurfaced and haunted her. The same old voice entered her mind again.

 

You can’t do that. You can’t own Yujin. You can’t greedily tell her not to go away. After what you’ve done to her, to everyone. Live on with your mistakes. Face the consequences you brought upon yourself.

 

Her nails dug into her palm. She couldn’t breathe.

 

“You were my everything — actually, still is. My heart, it all still belongs to you and I do not want for you to give it back to me.” Yujin whispered, nodding as she took another deep breath, flashing another sad smile.

 

Another blow.

 

With that, Yujin took a step backward, and another one, until she didn’t look reachable anymore, until it felt like Minjoo couldn’t grab her anymore. “Thank you,” She whispered, just loud enough for Minjoo to hear.

 

“And I love you, I will love you until the very end of me, Kim Minjoo. See you soon.” Yujin added with a sad smile.

 

Another blow. And Minjoo thought she couldn’t function anymore, she couldn’t bear the pain she was currently suffering. Everything just burned.

 

When Yujin turned around, Minjoo knew… she already had lost Yujin.

 

Minjoo could only helplessly watch Yujin walk away from her, and slowly disappear — away from Minjoo.

 

Oh how funny. Just look at that, Minjoo just witnessed the fruit of her bad choices in the past, it just literally unfolded before her and she just stood there, and watched it happen right before her eyes.

 

Her heart… was beyond broken.

 

And once again, Minjoo found herself getting pulled into the dark abyss.


 

***

 

(Minjoo silently gazed to the direction where Yujin disappeared to — ran into, and slowly walked to the rock they used to sit on every time they visited this place. Oh, how everything got ruined.

 

She ruined everything, she ruined Yujin — her cowardice ruined everything and it ruined her too, not being able to hold Yujin like she wanted to.

 

Minjoo hung her head down low, covering her face with her trembling hands, shaking furiously because she was absolutely mad and frustrated with herself. Why? Why did everything have to reach into this? Yujin, oh dear sweet, Yujin — she was so broken, hurting for the past years while Minjoo tried to turn blindeye on her feelings.

 

She knew, god, she knew! She knew Yujin loved her unconditionally all these years without fail yet what did she do? She ran away from it. Terrified of the judgement and pressure, the consequences it might bring to her, it might bring to Yujin even if the latter was so ready to keep her away from the world.

 

Minjoo choked out a sob, wailing painfully, as she patted her chest repeatedly like it would ease the pain — she cried like a mad woman, like it would bring back the time. She wiped her face with her sleeves, trying to collect herself up but she failed, looking at the moon who was eyeing her from above. Her quivering lips formed into a mocking smile.

 

“Yujin-ah,” She whispered like Yujin was present and right beside her, she whispered it like the younger woman’s name like she’s her everything. Well, she is. “The moon looks beautiful tonight, isn’t it?” She added, trembling insanely, glaring at the moon, hating herself inside.

 

Minjoo could feel her heart aching painfully. If everyone thought Yujin is the only one suffering, Minjoo was too. With heavy guilt and stupid decisions haunting her every night.

 

“I’m so sorry, my love. I’m so sorry.” Minjoo cried out, screaming in frustration after. Everything felt heavy, her heart was wholly shattered into millions of pieces. “I’m so sorry that I’m a coward.” She added, patting her aching chest.

 

It was like everything lost its meaning, lost the light. Minjoo’s world turned cold and gray, colorless and crushed.

 

Of course, she loved — loves, Yujin. She never said nor showed it but she loved Ahn Yujin with every piece of her that was why it was so difficult. Ever since the beginning, she did, she also loved Yujin back, even until now — yet, she was still a coward who kept running away from her.

 

But today, officially today, she completely lost her — she lost Yujin, her greatest love, the person she only loves.

 

Don’t blame her for just playing safe but it risked her whole world, and until Minjoo dies, she would bring regrets and guilt with her. What if she just became brave and also confessed to Yujin that she actually loves her back? They were surely living happily yet Minjoo chose the wrong choice.

 

Minjoo sat there, emotionlessly and lifelessly, she was so broken to the point she became numb, the face of Yujin etched on her mind. She stared at the scenery, and huffed, amused — she looked like a crazy woman. The moon, the stars, the wind — they know it all.

 

But what had been done was already done. And it was all your fault, Kim Minjoo. The woman thought to herself, smiling bitterly as she angrily looked at the ring. She never loved Jihyeok, and she would never be able to no matter what she does. She felt bad but she had to live in this set-up. Poor man, Jihyeok was indeed a nice guy and Minjoo would never forgive herself for involving other people because of her stupidness and cowardice.

 

As Minjoo sat there and thought of her life decisions, guilt eating her up. The scene where she first met Yujin that very moment in that survival show played on her mind, she knew she was in trouble because of how her heart fluttered when Yujin grinned at her. Minjoo smiled at the memory.

 

“In our next life, you’re the one whom I will choose and until eternity, it will always be you. I made a mistake this time but in the next ones, I will make sure I’m the one who will fix ‘us’.” Minjoo promised to the universe.

 

She fluttered her eyes open, the nice view of the night life of the city greeted her, with Yujin’s lovely laugh ringing in the back of her head, she added — “But even so, remember Yujin, my heart, my soul, every piece of me — it all belongs to you even though the world decided to give us up this time. It’s you, it’s still you, and it will always be you until the end of the day.”

 

With a smile, Minjoo finally let out the words she badly wanted to say to Yujin, but never got the chance to and would only like for the wind to hear it.

 

For ten years and counting, Minjoo loved Yujin, and still is. From the beginning, debuting in the same group named IZ*ONE, parting ways, and up until today — she’s still loving her and will never stop.

 

“I love you, Ahn Yujin.” She whispered, sealing that secret to no one. May the wind hold it until it vanishes.)


 

***


 

“Own up your own mistakes. Face the consequences of your decisions, be it bad or good. You can’t escape, it’ll chase you around.”

 

“Endings can be cruel and sorrowful too, especially if you know you did something beyond horrible a lot of times...”


 

***


 

A/N: whoopsies? i guess it didn’t hurt you guys much, i hope so lol. but anyway~ i hope you guys enjoyed witnessing the story through minjoo’s point of view. such a cruel fate for the both of them, eh?

 

but cheer up! there’s another lifetime anyway lmao!

 

kidding aside, i really rushed this one through since i don’t want for the readers to wait so long. minjoo’s pov and the sequel are absolutely not on our plans but because of the overwhelming support and demand, i decided to push through it alone.

 

speaking of the sequel. it’ll be up in two days ;)

 

that’s all! thank you once again for reading and supporting. please leave a comment, i would love to see your reaction (freely curse at me, i don’t mind!).

 

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