T/W: Mention of alcohol abuse and domestic violence
The smell of fresh-cut grass is one of Yeji’s most favourite things in the world. She was at the park with Ryujin, the latter pre-occupied with taking photos of flowers when a sudden gust of wind made Yeji’s newly dyed silver hair flutter with the cool breeze.
Ryujin got up from her crouched position and looked at the taller girl, “This hair really suits you,” she said as she reached out to remove a dry leaf that tangled itself in Yeji’s hair. After that night, there was a subtle shift in their dynamics – whether it’s good or bad, Ryujin is yet to find out.
They continued walking until they got to the bridge where they stopped in the middle so that Ryujin could take more photos while Yeji enjoyed watching the fish in the river, the sound of running water always welcomed by her ears. She closed her eyes and tipped her head back to appreciate the sun’s warmth.
“You know, with your eyes closed like that I can easily sneak away from you and leave you here alone,” Ryujin teased.
Yeji slowly opened her eyes and smirked at the younger girl, “But you won’t.”
Ryujin would be lying if she disagreed.
They found a café tucked in a little corner and decided to try it out. Yeji found herself taking in the aromatic smell of coffee beans as she chose a seat next to the huge window, watching the movements outside.
A few moments later, Ryujin joined her with their order, “Large dirty chai and a pumpkin scone for you mademoiselle,” she said, placing the cup and saucer down in front of the older girl.
“Why thank you, miss,” Yeji played along.
They shared a comfortable silence enjoying their food when Yeji spoke first, “So what games did you play that night with the girls from the other school?”
Ryujin looked at her, not expecting the question, “Ah, we just played some card games and stuff.” She wiped with a serviette and continued, “Actually, they asked us to convince you and Solar-unnie to come along but you just bailed on us so I think they were not very happy about that. They were using us to get to you,” Ryujin giggled at the memory. “Although I didn't like them pining on you, it would’ve been fun if you were there.”
“Yeah?” Yeji looked at the other girl expectantly. Somehow, Yeji was relieved to know the girls weren’t trying to get into Ryujin’s pants and not because she liked them back, she just wanted the best for her Ryujinnie. Her Ryujinnie.
Ryujin nodded, “Yeah, for sure! That way, I would’ve beaten you at all the games and get to rub it in your face.”
The sky has turned to a purple hue with a tinge of pink and orange mixed in. The girls found themselves at the beach, watching in awe as the sun gradually dropped below the horizon. They found a spot where there was no one around and the sounds of waves crashing was their only other company.
“I like going here,” Yeji said, her eyes never leaving the sea.
Ryujin looked at the other girl, studying her face. It was relaxed but her eyes held a hint of melancholia – like behind all the beauty, there’s a dark cloud brooding over the goodness that Yeji had in her. It made Ryujin want to hold her close and shield her from any form of pain.
After a moment, Yeji hugged her knees closer. “My father,” she said, voice quivering. There was a long pause while the taller girl tried to regain control of her emotions. “He came home drunk that night, when I went to see you.” Yeji let out a bitter chuckle, “I mean it’s not new, but I couldn’t say that I will ever get used to it, you know? When he’s intoxicated, he just becomes an entirely different person. He would yell at everyone and throw anything he could get his hands onto, even if that thing was my mum or my sister… or me.”
There was a lone tear that fell on Yeji’s cheek. Ryujin was about to reach up and wipe it but the older girl had already done so.
“I hate staying at home because it meant being around him, but it feels like I don’t have a choice. I couldn’t just leave mum and unnie on their own. Someone had to be the tough one,” Yeji scoffed.
“I learned to double-check everything to ensure that nothing will aggravate him. Growing up, my lullaby was the sound of my mum crying. My older sister had always been the better sibling and if there’s anyone that deserved to be protected at all cost, it’s her… so that’s what I have been doing.”
Ryujin unconsciously moved in closer while Yeji was talking. There was tightness in her chest and it ached so much that Ryujin felt a little overwhelmed. “I-,” she tried to speak but the lump in stopped her.
Yeji looked at her, “I’m sorry,” she said.“I shouldn’t have unloaded all that on you. It’s just… you’re you.”
This time, she let her tears fall freely. Taking a gulp of air, she continued, “And whenever you’re around, I feel like I don’t have to watch my back, there’s no need to double-check, and for once, I can be a child. I found peace in the version of myself when I’m with you.”
Ryujin’s heart swelled. She moved to kneel in front of the other girl and cupped her cheeks, using her thumbs to wipe the tears away. “It must’ve been hard,” Ryujin whispered. Yeji nodded as another wave of tears threatened to spill.
“You’ve been through a lot,” Ryujin continued, “Still going through so much and you’re strong. But you’re right. You don’t have to be all that around me. I have your back, I can check everything for you, I can listen to you cry when you want to cry,” she said. “I’m here, okay?”
Yeji sniffled, “Okay.”
“Thank you,” Yeji said. “Thank you, thank you,” She continued in between sobs, “Thank y-“
“Shhhhh, it’s okay,” Ryujin said, kissing the taller girl’s forehead. “It’s okay, babe. It’s okay,” she said as she held Yeji closer until the older one’s tears ran dry.