sunshine and midnight rain
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joohyun keeps her eyes on the table.

three people in the room with her keep on talking, taking turns, sometimes even talking over each other. they keep putting up pictures on the projector, articles, comments, one of them even has that stick teachers have, pointing at words and saying them louder than the rest of her sentences are. joohyun doesn't need to see this, she already did. the sleepless night before this meeting comes to her mind. she sighs, tightening her arms around herself with her arms crossed over her body. what she could give to get out of this room.

people at her sigh, glancing at each other that is way too obvious to pretend it was discreet. honestly, for people working in this industry, they sure are dumb. if they wanted her to be 'safe' and 'comfortable' with them why are they acting like she's going to go berserk any second now?

one of them sits down across from her -- the person she knows since she debuted. never liked her. remembers her being a real b--

"what do you want to do?" she asks, getting joohyun to raise her eyes.

"what do i want to do?" joohyun asks, "since when has that been an available option?"

"don't be difficult." the man by the window says in low voice. she never liked him either, caught him looking around the girls' locker room once. thank god it was empty because otherwise, he wouldn't be standing right there, talking to her, he'd be in jail if she could help it.

"we know this is a," she pauses, glancing at the woman besides joohyun, her manager, "delicate situation. we want to hear from you."

"do you want to come out?" the man asks, cutting the bull. joohyun appreciates it, still doesn't like him though.

she huffs a laugh instead of snapping at them, "are you crazy? of course not."

"how do you want to explain this, then?" he gestures at the projector, where a photo of joohyun very obviously drunk, grabbing a hand of a man, who also has a phone's camera pointed at her face, "you just wanted to have fun at a gay bar?"

"sure." joohyun shrugs.

"listen," the woman across from her taps the table, "with your situation, wouldn't you want to," she pauses, "live an honest life?"

"an honest life?" joohyun scoffs, "these ers have no business knowing who I choose to sleep with."

"right. you're right, but," The woman tries again, joohyun can't help but notice how they're playing bad cop, good cop with her. "but it would explain some things?"

"more like excuse." the man says.

"what being gay has anything to do with this?" joohyun points at the projection.

"well, not -"

"it's a lie, people need to latch on to something, and being gay might be it." the man cuts the woman off, "honestly, people might even feel sorry for you."

"and," the woman says, slightly forcefully, joohyun thinks that maybe she's angry at being cut off, but the woman's eyes never leave her own, "if later on, you wanted to come out, people will remember this instance. the one where you lied and denied being gay. they won't like that."

"this isn't lying." joohyun grinds out, "not coming out isn't lying."

"we," the woman gestures at the man and then her manager, "know that. but common folk of korea? where would they get this information? there's no 'representative' or information source where they could learn this from."

"you could be it." the man says, crossing his arms, "after all the that you did these past months? might be a welcomed change."

"you can't be serious. they will stone me to death."

"that's not true." the woman sighs, "there's a lot of people kissing the ground you walk on. still. even after everything."

"when they don't really know everything." joohyun points out, clenching her jaw when the headache she had since four am intensifies, "they would drop me the second the news came out."

"well, we wouldn't know if don't try." the man says, staring her down.

"you will have to come out someday, why not now?" the woman asks, acting so sincere that her eyes start to water. joohyun doesn't buy it for one second. something is not right here and she can't shake the feeling since she came into this tiny conference room.

"i won't, though." she says, never letting her 'tough exterior', like her fans liked to call it, ease up, "i was never planning on it. plenty of people didn't and silently faded out from the public eye without revealing anything to them. i will, too."

"it would help." the woman insists, "we could write it off as you being not able to cope with your uality. like you just realized something about yourself, like you never told anyone and it ate you up inside. so, you lashed out, you were so unwell mentally that you nearly went out of your mind. then, in the light of last night's events," she nodded her head at the projection, "you decided to be honest with yourself. you went to a gay bar where other people like you were celebrating their lifestyle. and realized that, yes, you are gay and now you really wanted to share this with your fans. so in the end you were not lying to anyone, only to yourself."

"people would eat that up." the man shrugs.

"i knew i was gay since i was twelve," joohyun tells them through gritted teeth.

"sure, who really knows that though?" the woman leans back in her chair, abandoning her 'good cop' facade for a moment.

"you're forcing me to come out." joohyun realizes, her chest tightens and she hurriedly looks at her manager by her side. the same manager, who wouldn't look her in the eyes since the moment she picked her up. joohyun wrote it off as her being disappointed in her yet again. now she realizes it was a betrayal. "you can't just do that." she breathes out, feeling helpless.

"we have orders." the woman shrugs again, pointing up at the ceiling where several stores up there's the company's president's office. penthouse, that er wouldn't leave that place even if his employees were dying downstairs. the woman seems bored now, having realized she can't manipulate joohyun into coming out by herself. the man just stares at her with no emotion on his face. the room feels like it dropped several degrees and she's cold. but she's always cold, so it must be a coincidence.

"we can write some up." the man says after a long period of silence, "or you can write it yourself."

"you'll edit it anyway." joohyun says numbly.

her manager puts a hand on her leg of comfort that she shakes off. 

"not even a quote?" the woman asks, "not that people would know."

joohyun pauses. never in her life had she even entertained the idea of coming out to the public. only a few people knew about it. her parents, her sister. the people in the room and the company's president. several women, she hooked up with. her high school crush that she confessed to but got rejected. 

and seulgi.

what would she even say? probably, sorry. probably, please don't leave me. but what use would that be? for the last few months, people kept leaving her, leaving hate comments on her articles, even old ones, her instagram posts, the twitter notices of her schedules. no one really cared about her anyway. just a pretty face on the tv screen, in magazines, advertisements, merchandise. more than anything she's always got comments on her looks.

but she can't blame them, of course, she was a fraud. she was manufactured, her make-up, hair, clothes, even the way she talks - she was never like that. not before joining the company. she was an actress and a good one at that. when they were praising her for her looks, they had no idea what a mess she would become a few years later after her debut.

"no." joohyun sighs out, "not even a quote."

"the announcement will come at six am." the man tells her, pushing off of the wall he was leaning against, "before work, so people will have something to talk about."

"right." joohyun swallows the lump in .

"this is a good thing. the president oversees good things coming." the woman grins and stands up, "imagine being in a proud accepting company. only good things, irene."

"good for the company," she says, staring blankly at the table.

"same thing." the woman laughs, gathering the scattered papers and then the laptop that was plunged into the projector, "more money for us, more money for you."

"these days young people care about this stuff." the man says, just watching as the woman cleaned up, "and the overseas fans? they'll basically throw money at you to make you feel better."

joohyun swallows again, risking a glance at her manager, only to find her already looking at her. she doesn't want her sympathy now, not when she works with them, not when she knows where her loyalty lies. but she would kill for a friendly face right now. anyone really.

"it also means freedom, you can go get -faced and we'll just write it off as you being so thorn about your uality." the man makes a fake sad face, "poor, poor irene. she's suffering so much. and every time your fans will want to make you feel better. they'll buy things, trend things. and we won't have to get you in this room over and over again telling you to stop making scandals for no reason. now there is one, keep on making them. good for you." he grins, pats her shoulder as he walks by, and exits the room with the woman in tow, already talking about some thing or another.

a familiar feeling washes over her and she chokes at nothing.

she hasn't eaten since--

"i'm going to pass out." she says like one would say 'it's sunny outside' and then she does just that. 

joohyun is different from irene in style.

that's one of many things.

joohyun likes sportswear, joggers, wide, big t-shirts, caps, sneakers. irene can't wear those. irene wears sunny dresses, make-up, high heels that are way too high, but her team always says she's too short. irene can't sit comfortably with too short dresses and skirts, way too revealing tops, where you can expose yourself if you slouch if you turn in the wrong way or simply bend down. joohyun, like now, sits slouched, legs wide apart and one's ankle on another's knee. she wears a cap low down on her face and a mask to not be recognized. she wears all black and for some reason, irene has to wear white a lot. joohyun prefers darker colors.

joohyun sits in the corner of a dimly lit korean restaurant tent. she watches people, to see if they'd look at her while she waits for her food, half-finished bottle of soju already on the table. her phone keeps buzzing since this morning.

since the news came out.

she doesn't answer, doesn't check who's calling either. there's a good chance of it being sasaeng and another good chance of it being someone else, someone she knows. she doesn't know which one is worse.

she didn't check the reactions. she didn't read the official 'coming out' statement that she, herself, supposedly wrote to her fans and the public either. all of it is bull. what she knows is - she lost her recently gotten the acting role. five of fifteen advertisement deals dropped her, at this point she's just waiting for her manager to announce the other ten dropping her as well. One upcoming movie suddenly got postponed for mysterious reasons that her manager couldn't name, officially it's cause of re-shoots. joohyun wonders if they're replacing her with another, not gay, actress. the script she read few weeks back from a writer, who worked with her on her very first project suddenly got called back from her grasp. supposedly they got financial issues, but the actor she knows was up for a role in the same project posted about a table read in two days with the same name as the project. it would be a miracle if she ever got another job again.

she purposely ignored the cutout of herself that was in the very same tent, advertising the same soju she was drinking. funny how life works. someone she knew once said that seeing her in tents like this made her feel closer to her. like joohyun was always with her, eating, drinking together. now joohyun is sick of the face she sees in the mirror every day.

coincidently, her phone starts to ring again just as she was blankly staring at it.

speaking of someone she knew.. 

'kang seulgi calling...'

"here we go." a cheerful restaurant hostess comes up to her with a bowl of sujebi, "sorry for the wait. so many people today."

"good for the business." joohyun comments, the need to keep the conversation going is embedded into her brain because of all the variety shows and training she received for them.

"sure is." came an even more cheerful reply and joohyun cringed, "anything else?" She asks, when the food is finally on joohyun's table, a mist cloud coming up from it from how hot it is and cold outside.

"another bottle, please." joohyun points at soju, missing the slight hesitation the attendant shows.

her phone starts to ring again and, this time, joohyun doesn't miss how her eyes travel to look at the id, she immediately scrambles to flip the phone over.

'kang seulgi calling...'

attendant tilts her head to get a better look at joohyun's face already feeling panic in her chest joohyun tries to casually lower her cap, hiding her face with her hand in the process.

"right away." the attendant says, hesitatingly, and leaves. joohyun prays it's not to call the press but to really bring her another bottle.

she knows how business works, one call, one post about how bae irene is at the restaurant and suddenly it's booming with people. more people, more money. if joohyun was her, she would do it. what does she care if some celebrity got exposed for eating at some place, it's their job to entertain people. and she knows she should leave at this moment, just how it was integrated into her head with all the 'celebrity' training she received from the company, but feeling masochistic she stays where she is, grabs a spoon, and scoops up her way too hot meal into . as a way to torture herself, even more, she figures -- she has been to therapy before, she knows what the therapist would say. her eyes water and when she looks up at the attendant coming back with a bottle, it makes her freeze in place for a second.

"are you crying?" the attendant asks in a hushed tone, bending down to put the bottle down as well as peek at her eyes.

joohyun shakes her head, mouth full. she points to the food and , trying to communicate what happened. the attendant doesn't look convinced though, she looks around and then carefully takes a seat besides her. joohyun isn't sure that's entirely professional and eyes her, swallowing.

"excuse me for being forward," she says, looking around cautiously, "i'd hate to be a bother-"

"then don't." joohyun cuts her off, taking another spoonful.

"i can't help, but recognize you," she says anyway.

joohyun widens her eyes mockingly as she chews, watching as the attendant fidgets in her seat.

"i," the girl chews her at her bottom lip, "i heard the news and-"

"please," joohyun sighs, "i'm really in no mood for this conversation."

"i could sense that you were sad?" she furrows her eyebrows, looking like a worried puppy, and joohyun huffs a laugh, who says these kinds of things? 

"what gave it away?" she asks.

"it's not that-" attendant pauses when joohyun's phone starts to ring again, she looks at it -- screen down -- like she knows, who's calling and what kind of relationship the two of them have, "shouldn't you answer that?"

"probably." joohyun shrugs, taking another bite.

she looks at her while she chews again, basking in how uncomfortable that makes the girl.

"right." the girl says slowly, swallowing and twisting her hands in her lap.

then they just don't say anything, joohyun can see the girl's co-worker fluttering around, attending to the customers while the girl herself only pays her mind to joohyun alone. so, she eats and stares at her, waiting for anything to happen. honestly, she's drunk and she's welcoming the distraction from the mess that is her life. speaking of alcohol -- joohyun puts her spoon down, reaching for her glass and bottle with her hands. she pours one, raises the shot at the girl as if to say cheers, and downs it in one go, without even as much as a flinch. president's of a certain agency eyes flash in her mind as the soju burns down and she tries to blink the memory away. his eyes were throwing daggers at her when she was refusing to drink way back when. men as old as her father was pushing drinks into her hands and the president's breath was hot against her ear as he whispered in anger,

"i did not accept you for you to embarrass me-"

she did drink and then some. spent the night sleeping in the bathroom of her shabby first apartment, hugging the toilet bowl. she still does that, but now the bathroom is the size of that whole apartment and there's a jacuzzi in there, too.

her phone stops ringing for a moment, pings with a new message, and starts again.

"um," the attendant scratches her neck, joohyun wonders if that's a hygienic thing to be doing with a job like hers. "i'm seungwan."

"and you know who i am." joohyun offers, shrugging with one shoulder and continuing eating. she probably should have denied being her, but she probably should be doing a lot of things differently, so she doesn't try anymore.

"right." seungwan -- a nice name, being kind of a language nerd joohyun likes the sound of it -- swallows again. joohyun knows she's probably nervous, about meeting a celebrity, but she can't help but be annoyed. she was the one, who came up here, interrupted her dinner and now she's not saying anything. what was the reason?

"do you want an autograph?" joohyun guesses, watching as seungwan's eyes widen, "for yourself, for your friends? maybe to sell? i'm guessing it won't get you much now, but if you wait a bit you can sell it much more price-y since it would be hard to get one."

"why would it be hard?" seungwan rushes the words out and it makes joohyun pause, she lets out a small 'hm?' and seungwan darts her eyes around, "why will it be hard to get your autograph?"

"because i won't be around?" joohyun says slowly, furrowing her eyebrows.

the mask she pulled down itches her neck so she drags her finger across it, successfully relieving the itch, but seungwan's eyes widen and she moves forward, catching joohyun hand in hers. joohyun had no idea that the gesture looked like she was pretending to slice her neck open.

"it will be better." seungwan rushes to say, "you don't have to do it-"

"do what?" joohyun tries to pull away, "i really think you should get back-"

"your fans will stand by you." seungwan continues as if joohyun never spoke, "you can come back from this and-"

"seungwan-ssi, i really-"

"please, don't kill yourself."

"-what?" joohyun blinks, "i'm not- i'm not sure why-"

"you gave a lot of people courage, myself included, and it would take it all away if you were to just not be here anymore."

"i didn't ask for that." joohyun finally manages to pull away her hand, "that was not my intention and i don't see why i should be responsible for your so-called courage."

"what was the point if you don't plan to see this through?" seungwan doesn't move away, she scoots closer to joohyun, sitting at the edge of her seat.

"wasn't my intention." joohyun repeats, eyeing her with judging eyes as she returns to eating.

"you could start a wave of people being true to themselves, be an example to all the other celebrities, who are afraid. imagine what good image lgbt+ people would gain if you were to stand alongside us. you're- you're amazing and talented and so so good, so please-"

"i don't know what prompted this ted talk about me, but please restrain yourself." joohyun put up a hand, speaking around food, "i just came here to eat and if you want to get this off your chest i recommend twitter."

"i-" seungwan stares at her for a moment, a faint sound of a buzzing phone between them, deflates "i apologize."

joohyun shrugs, not even looking at the girl anymore as she tries to finish her food faster, it's amazing how quickly it cooled down. or maybe she just was here a lot longer than she thought?

"um, just," seungwan bites her lip, "will you just not be alone?"

joohyun looks up, staring, not knowing what caused her to say this. this strange girl that sat down next to her, started talking like she cared about her. like she knew her like she was her friend.

"maybe," seungwan taps joohyun's phone, which was buzzing once again, with her index finger, "maybe answer your phone? whoever is calling is probably worried about you."

"right." joohyun lets out a small smirk at seungwan's naivety.

"just try?" the girl shrugs, "do you have someone so you won't be alone?"

"i'm not alone." joohyun says, looking around as if to prove her point.

"that's not what i meant." seungwan frowns, "you know that's not what i meant. just- how can i leave you alone now?" she tries to lighten the mood by smiling, although the clench in her jaw gives her away.

"easy." joohyun smirks wider, her habit of using only one side of her lips for that shines through again, and snaps her fingers for a clearer message. 

the smile on seungwan's face disappears completely at that, she in her bottom lip, then with a sigh, she grabs joohyun's phone, ignoring her panicked protests. using the opportunity of not buzzing phone, seungwan quickly saves her number into the phone and shows joohyun to calm her down.

"look," she says, as joohyun settles down and stares at her in bewilderment, "you have my number now," she explains.


"so," seungwan continues even louder as if joohyun never spoke, "when you get home and are about to sleep, please text me good night."

joohyun stares, "what?"

"i get lonely." seungwan most probably lies, puts down the phone that once again starts buzzing, this time face up so joohyun sees who's calling, "and for whatever reason, you're ignoring everyone." she points at the phone, she definitely saw the number of missed calls and texts, "so, you don't want to talk to anyone, i get it. but, joohyun-ssi-"

joohyun blinks at her real name used, feeling like someone just threw cold water over her head. she really did not expect seungwan to know. why didn't she? she read the news, she must've known, but why is it so... intimate for seungwan to know her real name?

"-i think you'd be home alone in your room if you didn't want to see people." seungwan purses her lips, "after work, when i get home to my apartment, i get really lonely. i live alone, so, i think that's understandable. it would," she pauses, swallows, but still doesn't look at joohyun as she continues, "i think i'd be less lonely if you'd just text me goodnight. would you do that for me?"

"your friend is looking at you." joohyun says instead, noticing seungwan's co-worker staring at them by the kitchen, "maybe she wants to text you goodnight?"

seungwan doesn't turn to look, "she really doesn't."

"well, why would i want to?" joohyun pours herself another drink, avoiding seungwan's gaze, "she's your friend, she knows you better than i do, probably. and if she doesn't want to text you..." she trails off, making a face that she names 'yikes' in her head and drinks the shot in one go.

"and i don't know you, but i gave you my phone number." seungwan points out, "so, you have my information, i don't see what's so untrusting about that. If this was other way around maybe.. and i wouldn't mind if both of you texted me. that's exactly what i want, doubled."

"that's loads of bull you're coming up with, i applaud you for that." joohyun pours again, "maybe you should write a script. would probably get you more than you're earning here."

"joohyun-ssi." seungwan sighs.

"okay," joohyun gives up, suddenly not wanting attention on her anymore, "i'll text you goodnight."

"thank you." seungwan says, but doesn't look any less tense than before, "and good morning?"

"sure." joohyun laughs, drinking, "maybe i'll even text you what i have for lunch."

"i know you're joking, but i would really like that actually." she says as she stands, "i'll get you your bill."

"am i being cut off?"

"yeah, you're starting to smile a lot." seungwan says as she looks down at her, smiling to show that she's joking, "what an unsettling sight."

joohyun finishes the bottle, watching as seungwan talks to her co-worker a bit, they laugh together when taller - than seungwan - smacks her with a towel. there are a lot fewer people here now than it was when joohyun came in. that probably shows how late it is now. she grabs her phone, fumbling for a second -- she got drunker than she thought --, to check the time. before she could though, it starts buzzing again.

'kang seulgi calling...'

this time she doesn't let it ring through, she declines the call, checking the time as she wanted to. eleven pm. she doesn't remember the last time she got prepared to leave for home this early. while she contemplates whether or not should she head for the bar, the bill arrives at her table. this time it's not seungwan and joohyun thanks the tall girl absent-minded as she goes through her phone. she doesn't read the messages, nor the names of the people that called her. 

knowing seulgi, she won't stop calling until she hears from her. as bad as it sounds it was always their thing. joohyun always missing calls, text messages, never checking her phone, and worried seulgi always calling and leaving messages. there was more than one instance where joohyun ignored everyone that tried to reach out. seulgi never stopped doing that. she knew how much it annoyed joohyun that her phone kept buzzing or ringing. she knew if she wanted it to stop, she'd have to answer her. most of the time it worked. the rest of the time, joohyun drove seulgi to extremes, camping outside joohyun's front door.

she doesn't do any of those things anymore.

joohyun goes straight to messages and prepares a new one for seulgi.

'don't worry, your secret is safe.'

the reply comes almost immediately.

'that's not why i tried to reach you.'

'i'm worried..'

'where are you? are you home?'

'of course not. do you not know me?'

'which bar then? i can come to get you.'

joohyun stares at the text for a moment -- should she this feel enraged? seulgi basically called her a drunk without hiding it -- before getting her credit card from phone case slash wallet and then her stuffing her phone in her deep sweatpants' pocket. she always liked deep pockets, she thinks to herself getting her up. she wobbles, then steadies herself against the table, grabbing the bill and marching towards the counter with straight -- as far as she manages -- line.

"i'll pay." joohyun raises her credit card, then remembers herself and puts up her mask.

"ah, just a second." the tall girl says, moving around behind the counter before pulling up a device, ready for joohyun to make an extraction.

she feels her phone buzzing again as she waits outside for a taxi. she should probably meet the expectations seulgi has of her. it's only right.

"almost home, babe."

the world swerves right, but a grip from her left side and the warmness of her right, didn't let her fall. she feels hands on her, on her arms, her shoulders, someone is gripping her waist.

"come on, raise your leg." deeper than before voice on her right urges her, "no, not that one. your left."

"there we go. almost there." comes from her left and she whines.

really, she just wants to sleep, but these people -- she thinks it's people, because who else would it be -- keep pestering her, nearly lifting her up from the ground.

"oop, okay." her whole body is flung to the warmness of the right side, she snuggles into it.

then there's beeping, is someone calling her again?

"hello?" she mumbles.

"hi, hey. we're almost inside, let me open the door in a second." comes a gentle response, then a frustrated breath, "what's the password again?"

"she didn't change it, did she?" her warmth speaks, "940210."

"right." there's beeping again and she's moving forward.

"up we go." she doesn't feel the floor anymore, maybe she learned to fly?

she could update her resume now.

then she's on the most comfortable thing she's ever experienced, her shoes leave her feet and something is put on her but she doesn't protest. it feels nice, she doesn't want it to get taken away.

"alright, babe, we're leaving." someone says and lips are pressed to her temple.

she feels cared for, but whoever that is, they're leaving now. like everyone else in her life. she hates that even when she can't keep her eyes open, even when she doesn't feel her body -- not really -- she still feels this way. lonely.


"wait," she mumbles into what she figures out is a pillow.

"what? what is it? bathroom?"

"no-- i need--" joohyun pries her eyes open, swiping her hand across the bed, but it's empty.

"what do you need, babe?" her dear friend lowers herself to look for that something together.

"the thing-- that -- phone."

"phone?" someone from the other side of the bed asks, then her jacket is being pulled up from beneath the blanket, "here."

joohyun fumbles with the newly acquired item, squinting at the brightness of the screen. she slowly navigates her address book, finding one particular name.


she writes. the strength in her hand leaves and the phone tumbles on the bed, face down. she did what she had to, now she can rest.

"huh? seungwan? who's that?"

"did she mean seulgi?"

"she didn't send it."

"noona, did you want to send it? noona?"

next morning joohyun wakes, still in her clothes from the night before -- and somehow a newly acquired jacket she has never seen in her entire life -- she grabs her phone to check the time, surprised to see an unsent text message staring back at her.

she scoffs at her drunk self and deletes it.

another conference room meeting. like always joohyun sits bored at the end of the table while the projector is on screening all sorts of information. she's with her manager again -- who she hasn't talked to since she was forced to come out -- but she made sure to drink some juice so she wouldn't pass out again.

this time the meeting is about how they didn't anticipate all these projects dropping irene. they thought since all businesses want to be global and globally everyone wants to be inclusive and tolerant there would be no problems but there's always a but. they didn't bet on korea being her stubborn self.

they brainstorm about retaliation -- exposing them to being homophobic, but joohyun draws the line.

"it's a career suicide," she says.

people wouldn't offer her projects anymore, she explains, -- no scripts, photoshoots, or campaigns because if it falls through people will suspect them to be homophobic too and nobody wants that. another side of the same hard- coin is that people don't really care at all. a lot of the companies are homophobic, so why would they care that brands, agencies, or writers themselves were homophobic too? they're all among friends after all.

"it is what it is," she says after she's done making the most sense out of the room full of professionals.

they're all reluctant to agree and that makes them all angrier. but they do agree. she knows her stuff being in the industry for so long. she makes sense.

it's only natural that they turn on her though irene's team is threatening joohyun with a career end, there are still a few years before her contract end, she knows she's safe. she argues her case well, in the back of her mind thinking about the safest exit she can make out of this show.

but, she still has to live somehow, she has to get money. even if she had invested a lot, she still sends money to her family and her family depends on her. joohyun is not sure what can she do to get jobs, none of her 'networking' or 'advertisement' are working this time but isn't it not even her fault at all?

"i was the one, who didn't want to come out in the first place!" joohyun argues, perfectly reasonable.

they're ordered to be 'patient' by the president and they end the meeting with no result. the next day a hidden item about an actress losing her cool in a meeting that sounds suspiciously like her comes out and all fingers point at her. she really can't win at all, can she? even among her own people there are impostors everywhere. she's surprised the news of her being gay didn't come out even earlier than this, successfully ending her career and stuffing someone's pockets full of cash.

it's way too late to be wandering around, but joohyun somehow ends up in a familiar street, at a familiar restaurant. it's two am and, surprisingly, it's still open. joohyun stares, but doesn't go inside; somehow in between the nervousness and her favorite pastime hobby -- avoidance. she instead settles outside on one of the benches left for people, who are waiting to be picked up. she shoves her hands in her big jean jacket, cap low on her head as she looks around the quiet streets.

she doesn't know how long she sits there for, what she's waiting for, but she knows she has seen the loop of advertisements on the screen across the street at least ten times.

"you never call... you never text..."

joohyun looks up to see seungwan standing in the 'doorway' of the makeshift tent opening. she has her hair in a ponytail today -- joohyun wonders how she does it so prettily when her hair is short like that -- and a towel flung on her shoulder. she looks like a typical restaurant owner you'd see in a movie and if joohyun wouldn't know better, she'd mistake her for one.

"i'm beginning to think you don't like me." seungwan says after a moment of silence.

"i don't." joohyun shrugs, looking away, "i don't know you."

she hears seungwan sigh, then feels rather than sees her take a seat next to her, puts the trash bag that she was holding between her legs. she's not too close like last time they were sitting together, but close enough that she feels warmer, maybe the wind is blowing from that side, and seungwan is just blocking it for her. she's always so damn cold.

"well," seungwan fidgets with her pants, "how- how'd you sleep that night?"

joohyun furrows her eyebrows, turning to look at her -- just slightly -- from the corner of her eyes. the way this girl talks; how does she think of these things to ask, how does her brain work? to ask how one slept the night three weeks ago, really, how does one do so with a complete stranger?

"like the dead." she answers anyway.

and she felt like the dead that night. she woke alone in her big apartment, just an hour or so before noon. everything was so quiet and bright, she wondered -- just for a second -- if she entered purgatory.

"good or bad?" seungwan asks, but from the look on joohyun's face she figures out pretty quickly she won't get an answer, "well, i waited for your text."

joohyun just hums in response, rests her head back against the wall of a tent, but it just bends in. nothing stays the same, she wants something sturdy but things just bend in.

"i might," seungwan just looks at joohyun without hiding it, with her whole body turned towards her, "i might have not even slept because of it."

"it's just one night." joohyun closes her eyes, "and it's not even my fault."

"i didn't say it was, but i was under an impression that it was promised."

"you should know that i'm a person, who breaks promises very easily." she tries a lot, she had a lot of promises to give growing up like: yes, mom, i will make a lot of money just you wait, like, yes, dad, i will buy you that soju that you like, like yes, president, i will drink with that man over there in exchange of an advertisement campaign that you want so much.

she kept all of her promises so far, not with seungwan. with seungwan she lets go of the reigns and looks where it takes her. how much can she push before seungwan feels disgusted by her and leaves? how many of her own rules can she break before even this caring of a person as seungwan leaves her alone?

"that's not a good trait to have, but i guess we all have to have flaws." seungwan says easily, with no trace of anger behind her words.

"you're working?" she changes the subject, she doesn't like the feelings that arise around seungwan, "i'm afraid your co-worker might get ill feelings towards me. every time i come around, you drop all your tasks and sit with me."

seungwan grins, "we're closing up."

"and you feel okay with letting her clean up while you sit around doing nothing?" joohyun raises an eyebrow.

"she slacks off, too." seungwan purses her lips, "you should see how many times she takes breaks during the day."

"how many?" joohyun challenges.

"too many." is seungwan's immediate answer.

"sounds like a lie."

"well," seungwan grins, "you'll never know."

"unless i go in ask her myself." joohyun says, but makes to move to do so.

"she'll deny it."

joohyun just hums. she always has these moments when she forgets herself and just has fun, but they always come crashing back in. in the lull of silence, in laughter, in a touch. something happens and she remembers, she shouldn't be talking like that, sitting like that, she shouldn't even be outside right now -- the team's strict orders were to remain inside and not to show her face around so people would forget, even a little, that there were news about her -- she shouldn't, she really shouldn't be talking with seungwan right now.

"so," seungwan shifts closer, then mirrors joohyun's position, facing forward, "what's new?"

"what's new?" joohyun lets out a smile, "nothing. everything's the same as you last saw me."

"you're still sad and lonely?"

"that's-" joohyun straightens, nearly dives into anger, but gets a hold of herself, "kinda rude."

"it's the truth, is it not? how truth can be rude?" seungwan shrugs, "i am lonely. that's a truth."

"but not sad?"

"hmm," seungwan wiggles in her seat then scratches above her upper lip, "i guess, i'm working and i'm learning. my family flew out to see me, so i was happy to greet them after a long time. i also met with friends-"

"-but at the end of the day, at your apartment, you get

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