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nothing more; nothing less

Chapter Text


 And I see it coming, not so inviting
The blue coast is calling, I'm so scared of falling
Seasons are changing, we're rearranging
Our plans in the sand, I'm so tired, could we just
Skip down the road back home?


 

The sheets are soft under Joohyun's hands as she clenches them in order to anchor her thoughts—they're not the stiff material one usually finds in hotels and they're devoid of any smell, remaining neutral amidst the background of the paraphernalia scattered across the room. The room itself, though, is pungently clinical, as all hotel rooms are, it leans toward a certain aesthetic of minimalism interspersed with the vague shapes of what was congealing behind shadows and corners. She's in a state of lethargy in which sleep evades her like a frightened animal and her mind is foggy, unfiltered and open—pain being her only companion in the quicksand that are her thoughts. Joohyun feels terrible pangs of loneliness hit her in successions, even though Seulgi is a few short steps away, getting ready for bed.

   The hot shower she took earlier did nothing to calm the ache in her shoulders which has been present since yesterday's concert. Joohyun is typically a fan of the hard adrenaline that shoots through her veins whenever she's on the stage, always relishing in the response of the people that come out to see Red Velvet but she's so tired, ready to collapse in a week-long hibernation—ready to fade away in the blissful nonexistence of sleep. And yet, her wakefulness is fitful, caught between falling inside an unfamiliar passageway of her psyche and acknowledging just how tired her body is. She's worse than just agitated; wanting to pull at her skin until she sees blood, to scream until her throat is filled with pins—the frustration settles, somewhat sedated in her stomach, curled up like a content cat as tears fall down her face. They're the tears brought upon by the sheer unnameable frustration taken to Joohyun like a cruel obsession, these tears don't redeem her soul instead they propagate misery. Her silent tears form a cacophony until—

   —the veil lifts as Seulgi emerges from the bathroom. Soapy, fruity air filters inside, robbing Joohyun of the privacy she didn't need. "I didn't think you wanted to room with me," Seulgi says, all light and airy, completely unaware of the melancholy that's clung to the walls in her absence, she continues, as though clarifying, "I'm happy, though—reminds me of the old days."

   Joohyun can't respond, her throat is filled with vile guilt that's been begging to escape and coat her tongue red until her secrets are laid bare through decayed words.

   "Joohyun unnie?"

   It isn't until the bed dips with Seulgi's weight that Joohyun wants to hide away the scattered pieces of herself until there's nothing left of her to see. One more touch and she might completely break under her fake composure, one more touch and... Seulgi's hands are warm against her skin, shooting electricity up her arm—it's so pleasurable that it stings, spine tingling in anticipation. Seulgi settles into the bed next to her, every movement measured and precise, tugging at Joohyun's wrist as though asking her to turn around.

   She feels horribly petulant. "I'm—I'm fine, don't—"

   But she's lost the war, head hung low in surrender as Seulgi wraps her arms around Joohyun's small frame. Sadness pours out in waves, drenching Seulgi's shirt like blotches of ink. It's been years since she's cried like this—with frustration and emotions all coming out in tears—voice thick with the possibility of redemption. Each sob purges her heart of the accumulated pain and exonerates her soul. Her wrist throbs with a need she pushes away, Seulgi's clean scent infuses in Joohyun's clothes that if she were somewhat rational, she might have gone mad.

   "Are you alright?" Seulgi pauses and the air swirls and swirls as if perplexed. Joohyun sniffs, pushing herself up, unaware of how close they are until she glances up. Her cheeks suddenly feel hot, hotter than the tense air around them. She swipes away her tears in an attempt to not feel so ashamed, eyes not meeting Seulgi's curious gaze.

   "I'm sorry I..." she trails off as Seulgi gets up, unable to process the loss of comfort.

   "There's no need to apologise."

   Joohyun feels hot shame like glitter on her cheeks, face still slightly damp acting as a reminder of her weakness. She wants to be alone, left to the vile vengeance and emptiness she deserves. If only the dark and cold emptiness of the starless void was something she could achieve and reach out to. Every part of her seems to be in mourning for every spec of dignity she lost—but inside she's calm and stationary. Seulgi stands uncertain near the bed, thrust into a situation where she can't see any possible outcome.

   "Do you wanna talk about it?"

   It's almost like Joohyun has nothing left to say—in a pointless state of shock—she just shakes her head.

   "Come on, then." Seulgi pulls her up so they're stood face to face, enveloped in the faint rush of silence and darkness. A lamp shines dimly in a corner, protecting shadows from wandering eyes. Joohyun's heart practically rattles beneath her ribs, sending fire racing through every nerve until she feels alive.

   "Whenever I'm sad I like to dance," Seulgi whispers somewhat sheepishly, hands on Joohyun's waist.

   "I'm sorry," Joohyun says, chin on Seulgi's shoulder—breathing in Seulgi's scent at such close proximity makes her mind spin—hands gripping her shirt like a lifeline.

   "Whatever for?"

   The seconds before she replies seem so long stretched taut over time and space, arms looped around Seulgi's neck, "I'm sorry that I'm jealous of your boyfriend."

   "You know it's a publicity stunt, unnie—"

   "—No—"

   "—And I know it's unfair that—"

   "—I'm jealous because he's got you."

   Joohyun steps back at the intensity of her own words—Seulgi is wide eyed, her expression a mixture of fear and contemplation, hands hovering in the air frozen, where Joohyun was moments ago. The words create a fiendish atmosphere that goads the shadows, stripping away the sanctuary until Joohyun has the odd sensation that she's naked.

   "Unnie..."

   "I'm not—I'm—" She stumbles over words like she's just learnt how to talk—the weight of what she just said knocks the air out of her lungs. "I... I..."

   But Seulgi steps in closer, holding Joohyun's hands—offering her stability, an anchor to cling to lest she fall into the vicious circle of regret. Silence seems to create a conversation on their behalf, the only form of communication being the way Seulgi looks at her—as though Joohyun is a peculiar brand of strangeness. Seulgi squeezes her hand in lieu of a question and before Joohyun can even think of an answer her thoughts fade away in delicate curls of mist when their lips meet. There's nothing soft about the action—it's all brazen energy that crashes at the edge of her consciousness in tsunami waves—Joohyun practically falls limp into her arms, every beat of her heart in synchronous connection to Seulgi's as though they were in each other all along. And as soon as it started, Seulgi pulls away to press their foreheads together.

   Joohyun sucks in a breath, "You can't... do that to me. I don't—I can't be a part of some—some stupid phase."

   "Do you think you could ever be a phase in my life?" Seulgi's hand is on her jaw, it's an invitation this time for Joohyun to do anything first—but her mind is on the brink of collapse, a pulse of irritation passes through her.

   "Don't say that—"

   "Then what do you want me to say?" Seulgi is ever patient, voice slow and rounded with a certain softness Joohyun has come to associate with her—but there's an expression in her eyes that's completely foreign to her words, "That I'm not attracted to you?"

   "You're not attracted to girls, Seulgi-yah—I've known you since years. You don't—you—you don't..."

   "But I'm attracted to you. Doesn't that matter?"

   A hollow silence fills in the spaces between them, falling into every crevice with a tainted truth Joohyun is ready to forget. Whatever calmness her and Seulgi had together evaporates—leaving in its stead a sick sort of shame that travels across her arms like an army of ants. Shadows flicker lazily in her peripheral vision, tempting her to lose.

   "Unnie."

   "I'm tired, Seul," Joohyun says, a disconnect present in her eyes, "I'm gonna head to bed."