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still in bloom

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 The scent of flowers
Still in bloom from morning shower
And I
Say your name
In hopes you'll hear it in the stars


 

BAE JOOHYUN ISN'T particularly fond of parties yet she's present at one because of Kang Seulgi—and she's missing.

   She can't quite place why she's at Jongin's house party, she's never been quite civil with him—he carries himself with an air of importance, as though charming his way into a girl's knickers makes him royal—her invitation came as an extension of her friendship with Seulgi and she arrived as an extension of the girl's protection detail. An hour into the party, Seulgi's wandered off somewhere and Joohyun is ready to call in a fully armed battalion.

   It's not even half past ten and anyone she accidentally makes eye contact with is ridiculously inebriated, not that she isn't tipsy herself. She blames the one too many shots she had earlier during some senseless party game. Junmyeon walks behind her, holding her hand; completely sober. He always reminds her of comfort and of the security of the known—he's the only constant variable in her life.

   "Hey, love," he says, stopping her by tugging at her hand, "stop worrying. Have fun, it's a party."

   "I'm clearly not in the mood to be groped tonight," she retorts, voice laced with annoyance. Junmyeon smiles regardless, it's tender and caring. He then places his hands on her shoulders to make her focus on him.

   "I'll go look for her, ok? You stay safe." Joohyun scoffs but before she can reply, he pulls her close and kisses her forehead. "And don't accept any drinks from strangers."

   It's hard not to smile at him, "I'm not five."

   He goes off to find Seulgi, promising she's safe with Jongin. Joohyun leaves the living room to get away from arseholes that have no concept of personal space. She finds Wendy and Sehun huddled together in a corner, snickering—curious and desperate for company she walks over to them. Wendy is the first one to spot her, "Joohyun!"

   Sehun nods politely at her then elbows Wendy. "Hey, let's tell her."

   "Tell me what?"

   "You know the git that's been bothering Yerim?" Wendy says, amused. "Well, Sooyoung and Yerim put some laxative in a cup and just got him to drink it."

   Joohyun bursts out laughing, feeling some misplaced satisfaction on Yerim's behalf. She'd found out about the boy recently and had plans to humiliate him publically herself, but oh well. "Oh my god, that's hilarious."

   "Don't forget that I found someone that gave it to him," Sehun interrupts, "I took one for the team!"

   "Yes, and we'll never forget your noble sacrifice," Wendy says, patting him on the shoulder.

   "You guys seen Seulgi around?"

   Wendy nods. "Yeah, I saw her a while ago with Jongin." Joohyun just groans in response, glancing around for any sign of Seulgi.

   She unlocks her phone, calling her again and going straight to voicemail again. She can't stand being in a situation where she can't control any variables, anything could happen to her best friend.

   "You alright?" Sehun asks.

   Wendy picks up on Joohyun's mood, "Hey, uh, Sooyoung and Yerim are having celebratory beer in the back, you wanna join?"

   Joohyun hums thoughtfully, shaking her head. She walks away, trying to avoid people as she forces herself through the little space offered though—someone spills beer on her arm, she's been touched inappropriately more than six times and pushed for the nth time—pissed, she heads for the bathroom when she bumps into Seulgi coming out of it. "Hyun! Hyun, oh my god, Hyun, where were you?"

   She can't formulate a reply, and instead she stares at Seulgi—all dopey smile and flushed cheeks, hair in disarray—words die at the base of her throat, her anger melts away in the background. Joohyun wants to hurl accusations, to say something, anything.

   "I—I've uh—I couldn't find you, Seul."

   And Seulgi grins, honest to god grins, the kind that reaches her eyes and Joohyun is suddenly transfixed by the sheer beauty of it. Joohyun prioritises only a couple of things in her life, this smile is at the top of the list—she could stare at it for an eternity.

   Oh.

   Oh.

   "I kissed him," she says, "I kissed Jongin."

   Joohyun swallows the bitterness down her throat, "Congratulations."

   As the song changes, Seulgi's eyes widen in realisation—she leans close, their foreheads touching—moments pass but Joohyun thinks someone paused the entire world except them. Oh god. Her stomach feels hollow, one touch and she might collapse in on herself. She notices Seulgi's lips, swollen a bit from kissing Jongin and she realises how attractive that little pout is.

   "It's our song, Hyun. You owe me a dance." Seulgi's hand is at the nape of her neck and it's so goddamn warm. There's something about the music, and Seulgi and this moment that Joohyun feels ridiculously euphoric and somewhat strange.

 


 

A week later and Joohyun concludes Seulgi and Jongin are a thing.

   It's not an assumption based on baseless facts; whatever Seulgi says always points back to Jongin, Jongin, and Jongin and she suspects she's not the only one a little irritated because of it. Last Monday, Sooyoung told Seulgi to, 'go fuck him or shut up', much to everyone's amusement. Joohyun blames everything that happened at the party on alcohol, yet her mood is still a little sour since that night.

   Junmyeon has his arm over her shoulder as they walk into university, Sehun behind them, offering varying commentary about a post on Facebook. She leans into Junmyeon, savouring the warmth. "You ok, love?"

   "Yeah... Just didn't sleep much last night, I had to finish that paper for Professor Yujin's class."

   "You know that's due next week, right?" Junmyeon says but Joohyun ignores the question—he leans down to place a soft kiss on her cheek, "I'm gonna get something to eat, do you need anything?"

   She mumbles no, and watches him leave. Standing by Sehun who's engrossed in his phone, she catches Seulgi looking at her from across the crowd—one wave and a grin from her is like soft sunshine on your face after a melancholy day—no, it's more like coming home.

   "How very," Sehun comments, an eyebrow raised in amusement.

   "Seen Heathers recently, I presume?"

 


 

Joohyun isn't particularly fond of feelings, of different possibilities, of anything she can't control—for months she only read novels she'd read before for fear of the uneasiness she felt not knowing what happens next. So, it takes her about three months to realise the absolute massive crush she's got on Seulgi and to stop herself from deflecting these feelings by thinking about Junmyeon over and over again. Other than being bitter, she feels red hot guilt in her chest; Junmyeon is her boyfriend, and Seulgi is her best friend and a girl.

   And it's hard to push Seulgi out of her mind every time she kisses him; she's always there, ever present in Joohyun's mind like a curse. Her heart is so very cruel, a conductor of misery wrapped in every beat. Her mind is set on loop, every thought is tinged with the aftertaste of Seulgi.

   It's not easy to end their relationship, she's known him since they were seven and can see the way his heart breaks in his eyes—she's not unkind as she faces her own heartache at losing the only person she's ever loved in some way. Unlike what it may seem, he's not the villain of their story. She breaks up with him on the day she whispers always and forever into Seulgi's collarbone over an alcohol induced fog, the Originals playing in the background.

   She's only told Wendy and Seulgi about it and they can't seem to wrap their heads around that fact.

   "What went wrong?" Wendy asks, seeming distraught about it all.

   They're all sat together outside on a sunny day that came after a week of dreary clouds—Joohyun looks at Seulgi for a second too long and savours the way sunlight falls on her face.

   "I don't know," she shrugs, "I guess he just wasn't my type."