For What It's Worth (Part 1)

The Bunny and The Bear
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“I promise we’ll stay in touch.”   “You better, Unnie! You know I’m still gonna need you to comment on my dancing.”   Joohyun smiled at Seulgi’s pouty face, making the latter resemble more like a teddy bear. “I know, I know. I’ll make sure I’ll be harsh on my critiques as usual.”   “That’s… unnecessary,” Seulgi shuddered, remembering the first time she and Joohyun were put in the same group. The older girl didn’t exactly yell at her for making so many mistakes, but everything she said made her train harder than any other member of the dance club.   The panicky expression was enough to make Joohyun pinch Seulgi’s chubby cheeks, only stopping when the younger one resisted. She settled on hugging her lanky arm against her body, reaping as much warmth as she could from Seulgi. “I’m gonna miss you, Bear.”   It was merely a whisper, but Seulgi heard it as clear as day. They were alone on the hill behind their high school building, enjoying their last moment together. It seemed like yesterday when Seulgi entered the dance club hall as a freshman, nervous as heck. She was one of the few who had the courage to apply in the club, knowing how famous it was for competing and winning in national competitions. Her talent, grit, and persistence eventually budded into her participation as the only freshman competing in Joohyun’s last national dance competition as a senior.   “I’m gonna miss you too Unnie…” Seulgi answered, memories of hugging a crying Joohyun when their school was announced as the first winner vivid like it was yesterday. Tears were shed as they laughed and stood tall on the podium, representing their school.   “Promise you’ll take care of the dance group well?”   “I’m gonna help Byulyi-unnie the best way I know how.”   Joohyun smiled against Seulgi’s arm, imagining the kind of year that was ahead of the dance group with Moon Byulyi and Kang Seulgi holding the reins. Pity, she wouldn't be there to witness it and study hard in Seoul. Seulgi had been nothing but supportive, and she would have to work hard to make her proud.   Nevertheless, when her eyes panned on the town where she was born, melancholy swept through her chest. She loved the town with all her heart, but it's not big enough. People say Joohyun’s dreaming too big; she thought the town was simply too small.   After working hard on her test, Joohyun was accepted into Ewha Womans University, where she would study to be an Announcer. She had wanted it for the longest time, but when the time came to pack her bags and go, she couldn't help but be scared. There was no one to accompany her there. What if she’s bullied for her accents? What if she failed her classes because she’s not smart enough?   “You’ll be okay Unnie.”   A soft voice broke her reverie. Seulgi was smiling down at her, before continuing, “It may seem scary for now, but it will pass. Things will change, but only temporary. Just do what you think you should do; before you know it, I’ll be there with you.”   For a moment there Joohyun thought that Seulgi was holding back her tears. The what-ifs were plaguing her mind so much that she forgot how the younger girl would be once she was gone. “Seul…”   “You’ll wait for me right?”   There was no answer, instead, Joohyun hugged Seulgi’s arm tighter. She let her tears fall without any sound, not wanting Seulgi to see her cry or vice versa. As hard as it was for both of them, they finally bid each other goodbye in silence with the view of their city as their witness.   #   “There’s no way this plan is going to work.”    “Seungwan-unnie, this plan is foolproof. We just need Yerim to stall while we're preparing the cake!”   “Yah Park Sooyoung, do you think she would fall for such cheap trickery? What makes you think that Yerim would lie well in front of Seulgi?”   The tallest gasped, “Unnie! Do you honestly think there’s no more of Kim Yerim than her cute face? I’m so disappointed in you.”   “That’s not even close to what I really meant,” Seungwan deadpanned.   “Just trust me, Unnie. I'll make sure she will do a good job.”   “Who will do a good job?”   The sudden voice from her back shocked Sooyoung so much that she stood up and shrieked, gaining the attention of the rest of the café patrons. Meanwhile, Seulgi just giggled while walking up to her seat beside Seungwan, ignoring the sharp glare from the tall girl.   “I see you’re still having fun of shocking Sooyoungie,” Seungwan retorted while taking her bag off the seat for Seulgi.   “Can you blame me? You saw how she looked; it was funny, Wan.”   Seungwan shook her head in disbelief, silently took a sip of coffee while she watched Seulgi and Sooyoung bicker about the smallest things. When they finally simmer down, she opened up a new topic. “How's work Seul? Heard you were chosen as the main choreographer for the next comeback.”   “Yeah, I've gotten plenty of ideas for the dance. It's just a matter of putting them together.”   “When is your deadline?”   “I have to get it done by the end of this week. Good thing it's a solo, or else I'm gonna be sleeping in the studio with my team.”   Seungwan grimaced, remembering the last time Seulgi had to stay in the studio for a whole week since the Company kept wanting her to change the movements. For someone who was passionate about dancing as much as sleeping, Seulgi didn't mind sleeping in the studio. It was Seungwan who was worried sick for her, as she came by often with some homemade food and change of clothes for her to wear the next day. “Kang Seulgi, you still have to take care of yourself well. You work too hard sometimes.”   “Sometimes?” Sooyoung scoffed, “Try ‘all the time'. You change your dance routine even when the Company already gives the green light to train the idols.”   “It was for a good reason! I know I could push them further, knowing their abilities,” Seulgi pouted.   “Still not a reason to improve the dance that was okay to begin with.”   “Why settle with ‘okay' when it can be ‘good' or ‘great'?”   Just like that, the argument began again. Seungwan let the two girls argue some more, thinking that Yerim might not have to work so hard to distract Seulgi the following day. She, on the other hand, would have to make Seulgi her best cake for her birthday, making sure Sooyoung would help her instead of snacking on the ingredients.   Because after knowing Seulgi for almost a decade, the young woman seemed to be distant on her birthday.   #   With a huff, Seulgi let herself out of the sliding doors and on the balcony, leaving the ruckus in her apartment behind. Settling herself on the wooden chair, she took a seat and enjoyed her can of beer. Inside her apartment, some of her closest friends were coming together to celebrate her birthday. But there she was, deliberately having an alone time on the balcony.   Seulgi didn’t know how long she was there, until someone slid the glass door open, the sounds of laughter from inside the room alarming her.   “Oh, it’s just you, Byul-unnie.” Seulgi sat back on her seat when Byulyi leaned on the railing, facing her.   “Why is our Seulgi out here getting drunk by herself?”   “I’m avoiding Sooyoung. She kept giving me this weird look once Seungwan suggested the game.”   “It does look like she’s enjoying it the most,” Byulyi chuckled, looking at the party inside where most of them were too tipsy to form a full sentence without giggling. Seulgi, on the other hand, quietly sipped her beer, her expression hard to read. “How are you doing kid?”   Seulgi looked up at the older woman, smiling, “I'm good, Unnie.”   “All good with work?”   “Busy as always.”   Byulyi and Seulgi were working in different companies. Their teamwork in maintaining their high school's pride in dance competitions earned them dance scholarships in Korea National University of Arts. Their cooperation in college continued after Seulgi followed Byulyi to Seoul a year later, where they took freelance jobs as choreographers. It ended when they graduated, where they decided to work for different entertainment companies. Nevertheless, the friendship between them was maintained well.   “Nothing changed, huh?” Byulyi grinned, thinking of the time when they cooperated in past projects in college. Even when they're working in a company, the hard-working mentality was still there.   “Nothing changed indeed,” Seulgi smiled, somewhat nostalgically.   Byulyi was still observing her junior, knowing how hard she had been dancing and why. “Still chasing after her?”   It caught Seulgi’s attention immediately. “Who?”   “Do you really want me to say her name out loud?”   “I'm not chasing after anybody.”   Byulyi sighed. “Seulgi, we've known each other since you were fifteen. We might bond over dancing but we both know that's not the only reason why you agreed to go to K-ARTS with me.”   “I was offered a scholarship to do something I love at the best art university in the country. I'd be dumb to reject it.”   “Is that the only reason why you didn’t pick Ewha like Joohyun-unnie did?”   “What does my choice have anything to do with her?”   “Because I know how hard you studied to follow her footsteps.”   Seulgi sighed. “Unnie, we've graduated, like, a year ago. Isn't it too late to be talking about why I didn't do what you thought I would?”   “Maybe it is. But seeing how miserable you are with your decision worries me. I’m pretty sure Seungwan or Sooyoung notice it, but they don’t know what I know.”   Not responding to anything Byulyi said, Seulgi took another sip from her can. It was true; she didn’t tell anyone about why she suddenly decided not to study in Ewha like she said she would. But there were things that even her closest friends didn’t know. Nobody knew how miserable she was ever since Joohyun cut off any means of communication between them. Nobody knew how much she pleaded that Joohyun would be as tangled in thoughts about her and the times they spent together. Nobody knew how Seulgi had been condemning her weak heart for giving up before she could try.   “It doesn’t matter, Unnie. It’s too late to even talk about this.”   “So your solution is to look at her pictures and mope?”   Seulgi caught a glimpse of the huge billboard on the building across. On it was an ad for canned coffee, in which Joohyun was modelling. Never for the life of her did Seulgi understand why Joohyun would agree to model for a product she ha
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harlembeatfreak
Some of you early readers are lucky bcs I forgot to lock the update 😅
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