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Break Up With Your Girlfriend

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Ryujin  was successful, unbothered, and rich.   

Yet she had to remind herself of this as she sat in one of the many offices in her agency’s building, slouching and leaning back into the soft chair, arms crossed, legs spread, and eyes widened. “Back-up dancer for Choi  Jisu ?”  

“Well...yes,”  Heejin  said, sitting across from  Ryujin . She clasped her hands together on top of the table that separated the two young women. “I mean, think about it,  Ryujin . You’re one of the most famous professional dancers,  globally.  She’s one of the most famous soloists,  globally.  It makes sense the managers would put you with her for her concerts.” A guilty look came over her face. “I shouldn’t even be telling you this. It was slated to be revealed tomorrow, in a meeting with both you and  Jisu .”  

“You’re on a first-name basis with her?”  Ryujin  screamed, jolting up out of her seat.  Heejin  gestured for her to quiet down, looking towards the shut door and shuttered windows nervously. “Shh! Like I said, I shouldn’t be telling you about this! No one knows we’re in here!”  

Trying hard to calm herself down,  Ryujin  slowly settled back into her chair, resuming the position she was sitting in before. All she wanted to do was scream, though. Choi  Jisu’s  name was known everywhere. She was a talented soloist who had won millions of awards, and she was still young – only twenty-two. It made sense  Heejin  was on a first-name basis with  Jisu ; Jeon  Heejin  was the well-known center of the girl group she had debuted in three years ago, having performed abroad and for massive audiences.  Ryujin  still didn’t know how  Heejin  was one of her best friends.   

Meanwhile,  Ryujin  herself was simply a professional dancer, building her career since she was fifteen. It had been six years, and she had made quite a reputation for herself.  Heejin  and  Jisu  weren’t the only famous celebrities. (Maybe it was a bit much to consider herself a celebrity, but  Ryujin’s  fanbase and the videos and posts she saw about her certainly made her feel like one.) From being a back-up dancer to participating in duets with well-known dancers, to performing solos choreographed by only the top experts, to choreographing her own dances, for herself and for girl groups. She had played a part in creating  one of  Heejin’s  group’s many viral choreographies, landing herself the role of having a say in every choreographed dance planned for them. Her achievements were many, but they weren’t things she liked to brag about; she preferred to stay humble. After all, the tables could turn on her just like that. She could go from a hundred to zero, and the very prospect of that scared her more than anyone else knew.  

That, and she was probably the biggest charmer and playgirl known to man. She won hearts and she broke hearts, something she passed off as a hobby. She knew it was shitty, but she always –  always –  did it. She never could stop. Men and women alike would fall in love with her, and she used them as playthings. To combat her guilt, she thought of it as fun, as a game, which made her seem even more like an asshole, but what could she do? Too late.   

Jisu  was one woman she wasn’t sure she’d be able to charm, even if she wanted to, which she didn’t. (Yet, she reminded herself. Not yet.) “Well, being a back-up dancer doesn’t sound too bad,”  Ryujin  sighed. “But come on. I’m nothing compared to her.”  

“Did I say back-up dancer?”  Heejin  looked like she had swallowed a lemon. “I mean, uh. You’re not going to be her back-up dancer. You’re doing a duet with her.”  

Ryujin  felt like her eyes were close to popping out of their sockets and rolling onto the floor. A  duet.  With  Choi  Jisu “You’ve got to be kidding me,” she whispered under her breath, leaning forward and resting her head in her hands.   

“I’m so sorry,”  Heejin  said, looking as terrible as  Ryujin  felt. “Though, seriously. What’s the real problem here?”  

“I don’t even know.”  Ryujin  got to her feet, moving to open the window shutters. “It’s just...look at her and look at me. I guess it’s  kinda  intimidating.  Plus  the last thing I wanted to do was,  y’know . This. I thought I’d be free for the next month or two?”  

“Just hope they don’t decide to present you and  Jisu  as a couple,”  Heejin  said dryly. She continued, ignoring  Ryujin’s  stammering. “Maybe they won’t. There are rumors of  Jisu  already being engaged or something like that.”  

“Choi  Jisu  being engaged?” The two  whipped around  towards the bright voice at the door. It belonged to a tall girl, with bright red hair and a wide, gummy smile. Shin  Yuna , a trainee about to debut in a girl group,  Ryujin’s   other  best friend. “God,  Yuna , how’d you know we were in here?”  Ryujin  said, letting out a breath of relief, her heart still pounding.   

“It was pretty obvious,”  Yuna  said, skipping into the room. “Where there’s mysterious, suspicious things, there’s  Ryujin . And a dark office with the door shut and shadows moving behind the window screams mysterious and suspicious.”  

“You little shit,”  Ryujin  hissed, though without real malice. She cared deeply for the younger girl, just as she cared for  Heejin . They were her closest friends, and she would do anything to protect them. “Anyways, yeah, there are apparently rumors about her being engaged, so they can’t pass me off as her girlfriend or whatever.”  

“I thought that’d be your goal,”  Yuna  said, plopping down in the seat beside  Heejin Heejin  smirked. “Oh, right. We forgot about our playgirl charmer Shin  Ryujin , winner and breaker of hearts.”  

“I can’t just do that with a whole ass Choi  Jisu !”  Ryujin  exclaimed. She had to admit, the temptation of aiming for a woman so famous and so beloved by her fans was overwhelming. And no one really knew what kind of person  Jisu  was, other than the stereotypical sweet and kind and thoughtful nonsense. It was all bull.  Ryujin  could take this opportunity. She could play her game, make it fun. Going by the assumption that  Jisu  was engaged, her goal would be to win  Jisu  over – and then subsequently break her heart. It wasn’t like she was going to feel anything for  Jisu  

“I can see the wheels turning in her head,”  Yuna  stage whispered to  Heejin , who nodded. “Everything’s been flipped.”  

“Shut up.”  Ryujin  headed towards the door. She needed to practice, think about it a little. Then again, who was she kidding? She had made her decision. If anything, she’d practice in her studio and then talk to the managers. “I’ll be in the studio if you need me.”  

“She’s doing it,”  Yuna  squealed.  Ryujin  heard pattering footsteps behind her, followed by slow ones, and she knew  Yuna  and  Heejin  were right behind her. “I guess we’ll have a lot of drama to deal with in the following months,”  Heejin  laughed. “But  Ryujin , if you screw yourself up, we’re going to disown you as one of our choreographers, got it?”  

“Like I’ll do that,”  Ryujin  scoffed. She wouldn’t ruin herself. No, she’d play a fun game, the most fun she’d ever play, and  the end result  would have her winning and being entertained. As always.  

Chapter Text

“Yeji, Chaeryeong, if you don’t slow down!” 

“We’ll get caught if we slow down, stupid! Hurry up!” 

Jisu revved the engine of her motorcycle, accelerating and catching up to Yeji and Chaeryeong, who were riding together on one motorcycle, Yeji driving and Chaeryeong holding onto her for dear life, arms locked around Yeji’s waist. The highway they were driving on was almost completely abandoned; it was an area not used by many at one in the morning, making it suitable for high-speed races. Jisu knew these were risky, but the rush of adrenaline was addictive.  

(“I can’t believe you’d trade your good looks and your singing career for driving,” Chaeryeong had said, nose wrinkled. Jisu had simply shrugged good-naturedly. “I can’t believe you’d keep your acting career over driving.”)

They came to a stop beside an empty park, a place that was filled with families during the day. Now the only things there were trash, trees, and the three girls. Jisu carefully stepped onto the ground, pulling her helmet off and running a hand through her hair. Yeji and Chaeryeong followed, all three of them placing their helmets on their seats. “Jisu, you looked so cool just now,” Chaeryeong said breathlessly. “Quit singing and start acting already.” 

Jisu smiled. Chaeryeong was only a year younger than her – twenty-one – yet she was like the equivalent of Jisu in the acting industry. That is, she dominated it. When people thought of acting, they thought of Lee Chaeryeong. “Need to look good for the hidden cameras, right?” 

“If they’re out here, we can have a photoshoot,” Yeji added, grinning. “Rebel photoshoot, complete with the motorcycles and everything.” In contrast to Chaeryeong, Yeji was a soloist like Jisu, just as famous as her and with just as many achievements. Both of them had started their careers around the same time and they were the same age, as well. (It baffled Jisu as to why everyone recognized her first and Yeji second, when both of them deserved equal recognition.) The three were referred to as the holy trinity when they were seen together; it was no secret they were best friends. After all, they had known each other since childhood. 

What was a secret was that Yeji and Chaeryeong were dating, made clear only to Jisu and their agencies, who had no problem with it and no problem with covering for them. Jisu was ecstatic over the relationship and supported it wholeheartedly. She had to admit, the PDA got tiresome at times, but it was usually cute. It was obvious how much Yeji and Chaeryeong cared for each other. Quite frankly, Jisu didn’t want that for herself; her heart was full enough watching her two friends and she was sick of all the engagement rumors floating around in the air. It had made a bad impression on her, and she couldn’t help but wonder what craze society would be sent into had she actually been in a confirmed relationship. 

“So, what’s with you saying we would get caught?” Jisu said, stabbing her finger into Yeji’s forehead. “You couldn’t slow down just a bit? There’s absolutely no one in sight other than us.” 

“Isn’t that a bit worrisome...?” Chaeryeong muttered, but Yeji spoke confidently over her. “Well, miss Choi-I'm-about-to-go-on-a-tour-Jisu, reporters everywhere are scrambling to find a story about your bad side. And when they find out you not only take late night risk drives with your best friends, but you’re also going to be taking Shin Ryujin along on your tour, it’s going to be chaotic, don’t you think?” 

Jisu was speechless. She lowered her hand, mouth suddenly dry. Chaeryeong giggled, leaning against Yeji. “You spoiled it for her!” 

“Oh, oops,” Yeji said, covering her mouth, though her eyes gleamed with laughter. She twirled her hair, tied high up in a ponytail, wearing a mock expression of surprise and guilt on her face. “I forgot you were supposed to find out tomorrow.” 

“What’s tomorrow?” Jisu choked out, though only one sentence was making rounds in her mind.  Shin  Ryujin  is coming on my tour?   

“There’s no way you couldn’t have heard about it by now,” Chaeryeong said dubiously. “Everyone’s been talking about it. It even spread from your agency to mine.” Upon getting no reaction from Jisu, she took Jisu’s face in her hands, staring at her, eyebrows furrowed. “Choi Jisu. You’re going to a meeting at Ryujin’s agency tomorrow to discuss the details and sign the paperwork. It’s been decided already. I still find it so stupid they didn’t tell you before deciding.” 

“Well, it’s not like there’s much of a problem,” Yeji said. She paused, smirking. “Yet. Just wait until the press conference.” 

“There’s going to be a  press conference?”  Jisu’s jaw dropped. First, her manager had already decided she’d be performing with Ryujin during her tour. Now she’d have to not only meet and talk it over with Ryujin but hold a press conference with her afterwards? 

Yeji and Chaeryeong exchanged glances. “You didn’t know that either. So it  was  supposed to be a surprise,” Chaeryeong said. 

Well, shit.  

Then again, what was the problem? Jisu could practically hear the question, voiced by a confused Chaeryeong, agreed with by an equally confused Yeji. They had teased her about it, smiling, but now they looked bewildered by Jisu’s attitude towards the news. And even she didn’t know what the problem was. Or rather, there were too many problems with this. She had worked hard to build up her flawless reputation, and she wasn’t exactly willing to have it be scarred by Ryujin’s troublesome past and present. There was, of course, the selfish worry – what if Ryujin overshadowed her? This was Jisu’s tour and Ryujin was supposedly just a guest. But Ryujin, despite only being a dancer, had millions of adoring fans who would no doubt buy tickets just to see her. The shift of attention would be a tantalizing story for the press to tell and a major issue for Jisu’s own career.  

And then there was the side Jisu wished she could ignore. If she wasn’t a soloist, she would’ve been one of Ryujin’s screaming fans. She followed the other girl’s work avidly, and even admired it. Her own dance skills, improved over years and praised by many, seemed mediocre compared to Ryujin’s, and why wouldn’t they? The choreography, whether it was performed by music groups or Ryujin herself, proved how dedicated she was to her work and her talent. Not only that, but Ryujin was incredibly attractive, and said to be a magnet, in terms of relationships. People couldn’t help but be drawn to her, and they’d fall in love or try to pursue a friendship. The results never seemed positive. Ryujin would toy with them and break their hearts, and it was hard to be good friends with her; the only people close to her were trainee Shin Yuna and girl group member Jeon Heejin.  

So, yes. There were plenty of problems. “I don’t know how I’m going to do this,” Jisu said, sinking down to the curb. Yeji and Chaeryeong sat down on either side of her, both resting a comforting hand on her shoulders. “Honestly, Jisu, she should be the stressed one, not you,” Yeji said confidently. “The pressure is on her way more than it is on you. You’re just bringing her along on something you’ve been preparing for over months. She needs to work hard now and deliver perfect duet after perfect duet – and she hasn’t even been on a tour, has she? This is her first.” 

“Right,” Chaeryeong agreed. “You’re an expert, Jisu. Ryujin’s probably beside herself. I mean, her first tour with  the  Choi Jisu? Can you believe it?” 

Jisu chuckled, shaking her head. “And I’m apparently bringing  the  Shin Ryujin along. Can you believe it?” 

Chaeryeong wrinkled her nose. “I could care less about a person who likes to be featured in scandals twice every month.” 

Jisu laughed, pulling Yeji and Chaeryeong into a hug. “What would I do without you two?” she whispered, only to laugh again when Yeji brazenly responded, “You’d be a part-time worker at McDonald’s, drooling over Ryujin and crying over your k-pop boys.” 

What was really funny was that Yeji was already half-right. But she didn’t need to know that.  

Chapter Text

Either Jisu and her manager were really, really late, or Ryujin had showed up to the office really, really early. She wanted to believe the former, but she knew better. In her mix of excitement and anxiety, she had woken up three hours earlier than she normally would have, and showed up – she glanced at her watch – an hour and a half earlier than the time she was supposed to get there. Eleven-fifteen a.m. 

Her agency’s building was only a ten-minute walk away from her house, too. If Ryujin wanted, she could’ve slept in, chugged a thermos full of coffee, pulled on a baggy t-shirt and loose sweatpants, and strolled on over to the building, where she’d inevitably walk into the meeting as the last one there. But no. She woke up earlier than her alarm (which was set to ring at eight), fixed herself a proper and gigantic breakfast (normally, she wouldn’t even bothered to cook for herself!), and the greatest surprise of all was that she was wearing proper clothes. Black dress pants, heeled black leather boots, and an ironed black blazer buttoned over a crisp plain white shirt. She was able to keep her black color scheme while still looking professional and good, if she did say so herself. Her hair rested gently on her shoulders, curling at the tips, the faded pink strands tucked behind a curtain of black. Normally her hair would be askew, ruffled and messy, or tied up. Not today. 

If Yuna and Heejin could see me now, they’d scream, Ryujin thought, smirking to herself. The thought of her two friends made the small, strange feeling of absence in the pit of her stomach grow larger. She wanted nothing but for Heejin and Yuna to be here, to be with her during the meeting and whatever she had for her afterwards. She missed them. With a little frown, she pulled her phone out, scrolling through her texts until she got to the group chat with Yuna and Heejin. Can’t you two just stand outside the office or something? she typed. It’s right next to the break room, too. You’ll have an excuse! 

Heejin’s text came only seconds later. I thought I told you we have a schedule today. Performance at a music festival. Yuna’s followed. Going to school. You’ll do great, Ryuddaeng! Keep us updated.  

Ryujin snorted. Like they’ll let me send you minute by minute updates. Come over tonight and I’ll tell you myself. She sent the message and slipped her phone into the back pocket of her pants, approaching the long table in the middle of the room. There were papers taped to the back of the four chairs there, two on each side of the table. The chairs with their backs to the wall had papers with Ryujin’s name and the CEO of her agency’s name. Damn, this is that big? The chairs on the opposite side belonged to Jisu and a man Ryujin assumed was the singer’s manager. He would be facing the CEO. Jisu would be facing Ryujin. 

Ryujin tore her chair’s tag off, crumpling it up and tossing it into the trash can. She sat down, positioning herself just so. Leaned back, slouched down, legs spread, arms crossed. She snickered, imagining the look on the CEO’s face. The look on Jisu’s face. Would they even be surprised? They had to be. Ryujin looked professional, yet she was sitting in such an un-professional manner. Whatever. She had already gone to such great lengths; waking up early, cooking breakfast for herself, wearing decent clothes and showing up before anyone else. They didn’t have the right to complain. (She may have been humble with her work achievements, but she was snarky with everything else. Like all other shitty things she found fun, this behavior was just another one of them.) 

The door creaked open. Ryujin’s head snapped towards it, a twinge of pain flashing in her neck. She was going to regret that later, but what really mattered was the person entering the room. It couldn’t be anyone for the meeting; they’d all come on time, wouldn’t they? Exactly on time. Not a minute or second earlier or later. Right? 

The person closed the door behind them gently. They had long, dark brown hair, curled at the ends and streaming down to their waist. They had applied light makeup that suited their features, and their short white dress paired with a thin grey cardigan and short black boots made them look – Ryujin couldn’t believe she was admitting this – pretty, beautiful even, in a surprisingly light and ethereal sense. Simply put, they were intimidating in the best of ways. Of course, it was none other than Choi Jisu who had walked in. 

“Ah, hello,” Jisu said, bowing to Ryujin. Flustered, Ryujin straightened, bowing back. Her panic came as a shock; typically, she wouldn’t have reacted like that. She would’ve stayed seated in her obviously inappropriate position and given no hint of acknowledgement other than a slight eye roll. But she was in the presence of Choi Jisu. That alone was enough to send her into internal chaos. She took a deep breath and briefly turned away from Jisu, trying to compose herself. The last thing she needed to be was a blubbering mess and embarrass herself. Last time that had happened, Ryujin had practically hibernated for a week straight. Heejin had to drag her out of bed, and even that had taken hours. 

“So you’re here early, too?” Heejin had dragged Ryujin out of bed the first time, Jisu’s polite and quiet voice dragged Ryujin out of her daze this time. Ryujin nodded, making her voice equally as quiet. “I couldn’t sleep.” 

“That makes two of us,” Jisu laughed softly. Ryujin took a sharp inhale of air. She’s so cute! Imagine that. Shin Ryujin had dropped her ignorant, arrogant, charming persona and revealed her more vulnerable side because of Jisu. It was an accomplishment in of itself. Seemingly oblivious to Ryujin’s ongoing fluster, Jisu continued, settling down in her chair across from Ryujin. “I didn’t know we’d be in this whole situation until just yesterday. And I guess this morning, too, with that official text from my manager.” 

“I didn’t even get a text,” Ryujin said, eyebrow raised. “But I guess it doesn’t matter. I heard about this yesterday, too. Everyone knew about it except for me, apparently.” 

“Same!” Jisu said, leaning forward, eyes alight with excitement. Ryujin didn’t know why anyone would be excited about hearing that they were the only ones who didn’t know about something, but she let it go. More opportunities to tease Jisu would come later. “It had spread all over our agency and apparently yours, too. They had to have leaked something.” 

“You think?” Ryujin muttered under her breath, flashing Jisu an innocent smile immediately afterwards. “Of course. Makes sense.” Her earlier anxiety and strange panicked state were wearing off, and her aim was coming back into focus – the very reason she wasn’t protesting against this was her game, of course. The big prize: Jisu’s heart, all hers to play with. It was entertainment. A small voice in the back of Ryujin’s mind warned her not to go overboard with this, but she only pushed it away. She wasn’t making any promises.  

Though she had to admit Jisu’s excited puppy-like exterior was cute. She watched as it faded, giving way to the professional behavior Ryujin was so used to seeing. Jisu crossed one leg over the other, back straight against the chair and hands neatly folded on top of the table. “So. I’ll be taking you on my tour.” 

“Sounds about right,” Ryujin said, deciding to lean back again. She couldn’t help but feel impressed, as Jisu didn’t even bat an eye seeing Ryujin slouch down, instead casually saying, “That’s the gayest I’ve ever seen anyone sit.” 

“Well, you know me.” Ryujin struggled to keep a straight face, wanting nothing more than to burst into a wide smile. This girl really was different, wasn’t she? “Back to business. You’ll be taking me on your tour. I’m supposed to perform a couple of duets with you?” 

“As far as I’ve heard, yes,” Jisu confirmed. “With all due respect.” Here we go. “Your reputation isn’t exactly...the best. And you’re a guest on my tour. On my tour.” 

Ryujin knew she should have been insulted, but she was only further impressed. Jisu wasn’t the polite, sugar-coating, afraid of confrontation girl Ryujin thought she was. She was bold. Kind, but not soft. “True. Is this your way of telling me to be careful?” 

Jisu gave her a look, raising her eyebrow. “More than be careful. Watch yourself. As much as I like you, Ryujin –” 

“You like me?” Ryujin said, immediately straightening and leaning forward. She grinned at the red that flooded Jisu’s cheeks and waited eagerly for Jisu’s reasoning. This was a first and completely unexpected thing from Jisu. Ryujin had expected Jisu to be interested in other things, not her. She couldn’t wait to hear why, and she couldn’t wait to tell Heejin and Yuna that the Choi Jisu liked her. 

Unfortunately, at that very moment two men burst into the room, panting and looking around. “Oh,” one of them said, giving his suit a few brushes with his hand when his eyes laid on Ryujin and Jisu. “You two got here early?” 

“Yes,” Jisu said, a sudden cold vibe radiating from here. This was the singer Ryujin saw on T.V. Detached, but not so much that she didn’t have her innocent, sweet image. The man exhaled through his nose, sitting down beside Jisu. “You could’ve texted me. I thought there were other women in here.” So this was Jisu’s manager, Ryujin realized. He seemed like an ass. 

The CEO of Ryujin’s agency, on the other hand, was dressed much more casually. With a simple flannel and jeans on, he strolled over to the chair beside Ryujin and sat down, ruffling her hair. ”How’s our Ryuddaeng today?” 

“This is the one day I actually take care of my hair, and you ruin it,” Ryujin grumbled, swatting the other man’s hand away. “And don’t call me Ryuddaeng. Or I won’t call you Hyuk.” 

“Fine, geez,” Hyuk said, pouting. It was all in jest, as both of them were friends. Hyuk was fairly young, only a few years older than Ryujin, having landed the position of CEO when he was Ryujin’s age. He had been a trainee and slated to debut in a boy group, with his stage name being Hyuk – short for his full name, Sanghyuk – but he had been kicked out, and that boy group went on to be globally recognized. It would’ve been an understatement to say Hyuk was bitter, but it allowed him to be more familiar with the people under his agency. “I’m just used to your messy hair.” 

Ryujin pouted back, trying desperately to fix her hair. “Whatever. What’s this all about?” 

Jisu’s (stuck-up) manager cleared his throat, pulling a manila folder out of the briefcase he had placed on the table. “In case you were not aware, a deal had been made between the representatives of your agency and Miss Jisu’s agency, respectively. It has been decided, for recognition on your part and further exposure to the media, as well as a hefty share of the money earned from the tour, that you will be accompanying Miss Jisu on her tour. You are Shin Ryujin, are you not?” 

“No, I’m Shin Yuna,” Ryujin said dryly. Hyuk elbowed her, and Jisu bit her lip, clearly fighting the urge to laugh. “Yes, she’s Shin Ryujin,” Hyuk answered instead, shooting Ryujin a mock glare. “If you don’t mind, could you go over the terms in detail before Ryujin and Jisu sign the papers? By the way,” he added, turning towards Ryujin and Jisu, “I don’t think you two know, but in no way are you obligated to sign. This is a really good opportunity for you, Ryujin, and in a way you could be benefited too, Jisu. That’s why the deal was struck. We tried to keep your best interests in mind. If you’re opposed to doing this – say, Ryujin, if you don’t want to go, or Jisu, if you don’t want to take her, it’s fine. You don’t have to sign.” 

This changed the whole game, didn’t it? Ryujin knew, if she had been told this a day earlier, she would’ve immediately refused to sign the papers. But after meeting Jisu, her mindset had changed even more. Jisu was interesting, and surprisingly – especially to Ryujin herself – Ryujin wanted to get to know her more. And there was always her game she played. She was going to win Jisu’s heart and coerce her away from whoever she was engaged to. She shrugged, lazily meeting Jisu’s eyes. “Sure. I’ll do it.” 

The shock on Jisu’s face (as well as Hyuk’s) was evident. Now it was a matter of waiting for Jisu’s response. Against her will, Ryujin’s heartbeat sped up. What would happen if Jisu refused? What if she got up and left, not wanting to take Ryujin? It would embarrass Ryujin, but that was the least of her worries. She would’ve been disappointed and even hurt. It would just prove how much people didn’t want to be associated with her, and what was even more sad was that she understood completely. She’d be hurt, but not entirely. 

“I’ll do it too.” 

Ryujin had no time to react to Jisu’s agreement, as Hyuk shoved the papers in front of her along with a pen. “Read along as he talks,” he whispered. Jisu’s manager cleared his throat again, adjusting his tie. “Yes, that makes it easier. From the start of the tour, which is in eight days, you will accompany Miss Jisu on each of her stops across South Korea and Japan. You will be briefed on your performances, for which you will have these following eight days to practice for. The brief time is given based on your experience and ability to pick routines up easily. There will be rehearsals on the morning of and before the shows. During the tour, you will be sharing a room with Miss Jisu. This is to cut costs, as the tour is expensive, and you will already be paid a large sum at the end of the tour, provided you perform well and stay on the tour. You only have a few performances together on each stop, but you are welcome to make an appearance during the encore stage. Any other information you may want to be aware about is detailed on the papers. Once you sign them, I will give you a copy with solely the information.” 

Ryujin picked her pen up, hesitating. Was she really ready to go on a tour? Sure, it’d get her more exposure and possibly more fans, but from what she had heard, tours were draining and were hard to get through. The fans’ support was one thing, but it couldn’t make up for the exhaustion and potential pain. Did Ryujin want to do this, just for Jisu? Her eyes flickered up to Jisu, who was signing the papers, a trace of a smile on her lips.  

Yeah, Ryujin wanted to do this, just for Jisu. This opportunity couldn’t be lost. She quickly signed the papers and exchanged them with Jisu’s manager for the informative papers, folding those up and handing them to Hyuk. “Just put it in my studio,” she said. “I guess I’ll have to be there twenty-four seven now.” 

“It’ll be worth it,” Hyuk assured her, taking the papers. He got up, along with Jisu’s manager. The two shook hands. “Thank you for this,” Hyuk said, receiving a curt nod in reply. The two made to leave, pausing in front of the door when they noticed Ryujin and Jisu weren’t following. Hyuk gestured to Ryujin. “Why are you still sitting there? Come on!” 

“Come on where?” Ryujin asked, baffled. She looked over to Jisu, who smiled sheepishly. “We have a press conference...” 

Ryujin stared at Jisu. She whipped her head around and stared at Hyuk, who also smiled, but apologetically. She hadn’t signed up for a press conference!  

Yuna’s voice entered her head at that moment. Okay, but what if they thought you were the one Jisu was engaged to? Ryujin grinned. It was a perfect idea. She got to play with the media, too. 

She got up, walking over to the other side of the table and taking Jisu’s hand in hers as the other girl got up as well. Jisu’s eyes slightly widened, but she didn’t pull her hand away, something Ryujin took note of. “Maybe this won’t be too bad,” she said, winking. Jisu blushed again (Ryujin had to remind herself she couldn’t entertain her thoughts of how cute the other girl was all the time) and nodded, squeezing Ryujin’s hand. They walked out of the room, hand in hand, Ryujin’s charismatic grin threatening to turn into a stupid, goofy smile. She was getting a thrill from holding Jisu’s hand, but who wouldn’t?  

As they neared the doors, coming closer to the flashing cameras outside, Ryujin held on to Jisu’s hand tightly. The spotlight was about to be on them both, and Ryujin knew she’d have fun. Showtime. 

Chapter Text

Jisu’s hand was sweaty. In fact, she was soaked with sweat. Press conferences were nothing new, yet when she was with Ryujin, anxiety consumed her. 

Speaking of Ryujin. Jisu looked down at their entwined hands before looking back up to the flashing cameras, a smile plastered to her face. Ryujin holding her hand was...unexpected, but Jisu wasn’t complaining. It was nice. She felt somewhat comforted, knowing Ryujin was there with her. 

Only somewhat, because Ryujin was having way too much fun with the reporters. 

She kept subtly brandishing their hands, swinging them back and forth every now and then. The questions of Ryujin being the person Jisu was engaged to were hurled out from the crowd often, and though Jisu was grateful for her manager and Hyuk’s strategical avoiding of them, she noticed Ryujin perking up at them. It was obvious Ryujin was playing around. She was doing the same thing she always did – looking for the opportunity to cause chaos. After all, it was fun for her. 

Jisu didn’t have the heart to quietly tell Ryujin off. Where had that courage from earlier gone? She had told Ryujin to behave herself, and now she wasn’t calling her out. Perhaps it was because of Ryujin’s child-like grin as she picked questions to answer, ignoring the glares from Jisu’s manager and Hyuk, or perhaps it was because of the constant thrill running through Jisu. She was getting the thrill from holding Ryujin’s hand, but who wouldn’t?  

“Ryujin, who are you to Jisu?” a reporter yelled out among the clamor. Ryujin looked for the person who had said it, nodding to them as her grin grew wider. “Well...” She bashfully looked over to Jisu, expertly meeting her eyes for the briefest of glances then turning back towards the reporters. It was all an act, clearly, but it was convincing, even to Jisu. The charmer had turned into a girl who had seemingly fallen head-over-heels for Jisu. “I don’t know what I am to her, yet...but to me, she’s a confidante, a close friend, someone I trust deeply and someone I want to spend all my time with. I can only hope I’m the same thing for her.” 

More shouted questions were thrown at them, with more intensity. The camera flashes were almost blinding. Jisu looked over to Ryujin. “Why the hell would you throw that out to them?” she whispered through gritted teeth. Ryujin winked at her. That damn wink. “Isn’t it fun to toy with them? Besides, I can tell you liked that.” 

“It wasn’t the truth, though.” Jisu’s attention stayed on Ryujin, though both of them went back to waving and smiling at the cameras. She found it hard to not roll her eyes at Ryujin’s reply. “How do you know? Maybe I was telling the truth.” 

It would’ve been almost magical if it was the truth. Jisu’s dreams, unfolding into reality right in front of her. She knew better. They had known each other for years through the media and the Internet, but they had just met and known each other in person for barely three hours. Jisu definitely wasn’t a “confidante” or a “close friend,” nor was she someone Ryujin trusted deeply and she doubted Ryujin wanted to spend time together. As for her...she wasn’t willing to get her hopes up, only to have them crushed.  

“Choi Jisu!” Her thoughts were interrupted by a reporter – a rookie, by the looks of it – who had shoved his way to the front of the crowd. He was glaring at her. “Why don’t you address the engagement rumors?” 

“That’s right!” someone in the back called out. “We’ve been waiting! Neither you nor your agency will give any information!” 

“It’s been months!” the man at the front yelled again. “Give us what we want!” 

At this, some of the more veteran and respectful reporters started to push the rookie back, snapping at him. Jisu could feel Ryujin’s eyes on her. “Do you want to talk about it?” 

She met Ryujin’s gaze. To her surprise, the other girl looked concerned. With the smallest, just barely noticeable shake of her head, she exchanged a glance with her manager. He walked up beside the two girls, holding his hands out towards the reporters. “We’ll take one last question before we leave.” 

A particularly humble and honest woman standing at the front, Jisu’s favorite reporter, raised her hand. “Jisu, what are your thoughts on this tour? What are your expectations on working with Ryujin?” 

Now, that was a question Jisu was happy to answer. “I’m excited for the tour,” she said brightly. “Admittedly, I’ve been ecstatic at the prospect of meeting my fans, and I want to give them a time they won’t forget. I want all of us to have fun.” She took a deep breath before continuing, squeezing Ryujin’s hand. “I’m even more excited to work with Ryujin. I’ve always admired her dancing skills and I’m glad we get to work together. Even though she’s a troublemaker,” she teased, laughing at Ryujin’s pout. “Seriously, I expect that our performances will blow everyone away. I think we’re going to get along really well, and we’re going to enjoy the tour. Isn’t that right, Ryujin?” 

Ryujin took her hand away from Jisu’s, crossing her arms and turning her head away. “You called me a troublemaker...” It was all in fun, though, as she held Jisu’s hand again and gave her the warmest smile she had ever seen from the other girl. “Of course. I already like you so much; do you really think I won’t enjoy our performances?” 

“All right, that’s it for today,” Hyuk said, coming up beside Ryujin. “We’ll be posting a notice when the tour starts, and there will be plenty of opportunities after it ends for interviews with Ryujin and Jisu, whether you would like individual interviews or with both of them. Thank you!” 

All four of them bowed briefly before making their way back into the building. Away from the cameras, standing in a hallway close to a private exit, they stood across from each other – Ryujin with Hyuk, Jisu with her manager. “Was that even a press conference?” Ryujin said exasperatingly. “That was a pathetic excuse for one, if you ask me.” 

“That’s typically what they call press conferences,” Jisu said. Ryujin snorted, shaking her head. “Damn. I’m sorry.” 

“Listen up, tomorrow is a free day for both of you,” Hyuk informed them. “Ryujin, you’ll need to report to the studio after tomorrow for the next consecutive seven days to practice the choreography before packing up and heading to Jisu’s agency to get ready for the tour. I’ll be waiting here on that day. I’m looking forward to what you guys have in store!” 

“I don’t even know what we have in store,” Ryujin muttered. Hyuk rolled his eyes, ruffling her hair again before walking away and disappearing into an elevator. “I will be waiting outside in the van,” Jisu’s manager said to her, walking away as well. Ryujin and Jisu were left alone. 

If anything, this is a perfect opporunity... 

“Hey, Ryujin,” Jisu said hesitantly. Her hand suddenly felt cold without Ryujin’s in it. That was to be expected, she reminded herself, feeling stupid for thinking it was just more than that. She had been holding Ryujin’s hand for so long. “Since we’re going to go on tour together, I think we should get to know each other more.” 

“A date?” Ryujin asked, tilting her head. “Don’t tell me I’ve won over you that fast.” 

Jisu shook her head, stifling her laughter and settling for a smile. She had smiled a lot that day. “Just a little get-together tomorrow, if you’re up for it? You know my friends, Yeji and Chaeryeong, or at least you’ve heard of them. And I’ve heard of your friends; Yuna and Heejin. I was thinking we could all go to a café tomorrow, just talk and spend time together.” 

Ryujin hummed thoughtfully. “That sounds good. Yuna would be ecstatic at missing school, so I know she’ll come. I just need to check in with Heejin.” 

“Great!” Jisu noticed her hands were suddenly trembling. Had she really been that nervous about asking Ryujin? “So, I’ll...” 

“Wait. Give me your phone.” Ryujin held her hand out. Bewildered but not giving it a second thought, Jisu handed her phone over. Ryujin typed something before giving it back. “You’ll need to text me where we’re going, right? I put my number in your contacts. And, hey, maybe if you’ll want to text me more...” She trailed off, voice lilting almost sultrily. Jisu scoffed, trying to ignore the way her heart sped up. It was just the aftermath of Shin Ryujin’s charisma. She scrolled through her contacts, finally landing on Ryujin’s number. Ryujin <3 Jisu raised her eyebrow, inducing a hearty laugh from Ryujin.  

“I guess I’ll text you tomorrow, then,” Jisu said, brushing past Ryujin. She stopped, hand suddenly being pulled back. Looking behind her, she sighed. “What is it, Ryujin?” 

Ryujin shrugged, an innocent look on her face. “I just missed holding your hand.” 

Jisu quickly whipped around, pulling her hand away. “Bye, Ryujin.” She stalked towards the exit, pushing through the doors. The cold wind that greeted her was refreshing, soothing her hot face. I just missed holding your hand. It wasn’t possible for Jisu to respond, yet she badly wanted to, for she missed holding Ryujin’s hand, too. 

Chapter Text

“You disgusting charmer,” Heejin said, though there was admiration in her voice as she watched the video playing on her phone. Yuna peered over her shoulder, eyes wide. “Wow, and in front of all those people too? This is going to be broadcasted nationally!” 

“It’s not that big of a deal,” Ryujin said, coming up behind her friends. They had gathered in Ryujin’s house, sitting on the floor of her living room. Just three hours after the press conference had ended, Ryujin went home, meeting Yuna and Heejin there. After eating dinner and talking about how Yuna and Heejin’s day was, Heejin had pulled out her phone, grinning mischievously. “It’s time to watch Ryujin in action!” 

Ryujin couldn’t stop them, of course, so she went to clean the dishes while Heejin and Yuna watched. Now, coming out of the kitchen, she watched with them. The reporters were starting to get rowdy in the video, yelling at Jisu. Heejin gasped as the camera zoomed in on Ryujin, looking clearly concerned as she leaned over and whispered something into Jisu’s ear. “They’re going to paint this as you two trying to hide your relationship.” 

“And? What about it?” Ryujin couldn’t care less. If the media wanted to portray her simply being worried as attempting to cover her non-existent romantic relationship with Jisu up, then fine. It wasn’t like it would negatively affect Ryujin; it would just get her more attention. She had done her research. Jisu’s fans were dying for her to get into some kind of relationship and would be thrilled at Jisu actually being engaged to someone, as long as that someone was respectable. Ryujin didn’t know if she could be considered respectable, but again, she couldn’t care less. “I was just worried.” 

“Really worried?” Yuna gazed at Ryujin knowingly, distracted from the video. Only briefly, Ryujin knew. What was playing on Heejin’s phone was too tantalizing to ignore. “You were actually worried about her and the questions, or were you faking?” 

“I have emotions,” Ryujin snapped, playfully shoving Yuna’s arm. “Is it so bad that I was worried? I mean, she never talks about those rumors, and all of a sudden I’m introduced...anyone would be overwhelmed in her situation. Pretty sure whoever she’s really engaged to is fuming.” 

“Or maybe she’s not engaged to anyone,” Heejin said, pausing the video and turning around to look at Ryujin, wiggling her eyebrows. “Maybe she’s still single. Sometimes agencies decide to not address any rumors in the hopes that it’ll blow over. You remember the dating rumors with you and Yuna?” 

“Oh, god,” Ryujin groaned, leaning into Yuna, who was laughing. “All we did was go shopping and everyone thought we were the couple of the century.” 

“Exactly. Imagine what would’ve happened if Hyuk let that mess go on any longer,” Heejin said. “If he hadn’t let you clarify anything...” 

“I would’ve clarified it myself,” Ryujin said, settling down next to Yuna and resting her head on the younger girl’s shoulder. “You really think I would’ve let that crap happen?” 

“But I kinda liked being called your girlfriend,” Yuna pouted, bursting into laughter at Ryujin and Heejin’s stares. “I’m joking, don’t worry! Seriously, though, whoever dates Ryuddaeng is gonna be lucky. Imagine saying, yeah, I date Shin Ryujin.” 

“We all know who’s going to be saying that soon,” Heejin smirked. She exchanged a look with Yuna, leaving Ryujin baffled. “Who?” 

“Choi Jisu, engaged to Shin Ryujin,” Heejin and Yuna crooned together, dissolving into giggles at Ryujin’s glare. “We’re not getting romantically involved, at all.” 

“Are you sure about that?” Heejin said, her tone suddenly serious. “Ryujin. You have never shown any emotion, concern or otherwise, for people you play around with. Not in private and certainly not in a press conference in front of god knows how many reporters. This is a first for you.” 

“I actually was watching it during school,” Yuna blurted out. Ryujin lifted her head off of Yuna’s shoulder, grabbing her arm. “You what? Haven’t I told you to focus on your classes when you’re in school? Do you want to get kicked out?” 

Yuna’s gaze was cast towards the ground. “No...I was just curious. But!” She met Ryujin’s eyes, surprising the other girl with the amount of desperation she saw. “It was so obvious Jisu wasn’t like any of the other ones, in the way you treated her and everything. The teasing too. Everything. And the way she was talking to you...!” 

“Oh, that,” Ryujin muttered, loosening her grip on Yuna’s arm and caressing it with her thumb, knowing it must have hurt as she held it. “She said something about liking me. But I promise you two, I don’t feel anything for her. She’s nice and pretty interesting, but that’s all. Of course I’ll treat her a little differently – she's Jisu.” 

“You’re taking it so seriously,” Yuna said, a small smile on her face. She gently took Ryujin’s hands in hers, the rings on her middle finger and thumb brushing against Ryujin’s own fingers.  Rings.  “If you liked her, I’m pretty sure Heejin and I would be happy for you.” 

“Finally, someone to keep our Ryujin in control,” Heejin joked, leaning away from Ryujin as the other girl lunged towards her. “I agree with Yuna. I’d be happy. As long as Jisu liked you back...” 

“And she’s probably engaged, so all the more reason not to fall for her and to get her falling for me instead!” Ryujin got to her feet, pulling her hoodie down over her shorts. “You guys want to stay overnight? I can prepare the rooms for you.” 

“One room,” Yuna said, wiggling her eyebrows as Heejin had done. “We can sleep together.” 

“You snore,” Ryujin quickly replied. Yuna narrowed her eyebrows, crossing her arms and leaning into Heejin, who hugged her from behind. “Mean. I’ll share a room with Heejin, then. We don’t have school tomorrow.” 

“I don’t have any schedules for the next two days, so I’ll be free,” Heejin said. Ryujin grinned. “Great. Then you two can come with me tomorrow on a date?” 

“Jisu’s coming, isn’t she,” Heejin said, lips curled into a knowing smile. Ryujin nodded. “Jisu and her two friends...Yeji and Chaeryeong. She said she wanted us to know more about each other. Plus, through this, I got a bonus.” She shook her phone at Heejin and Yuna. Yuna mock gasped, covering her mouth with a hand. “You got her number?” She dropped her hand, face expressionless. ”I’m not surprised.” 

“It’s a date, then.” Satisfied, Ryujin strolled over to her room, preparing the bed for Heejin and Yuna. She was looking forward to tomorrow, even excited.  Why was she excited? She was never excited for such a trivial thing...it didn’t matter. She’d wait for Jisu’s text before going to bed. Tomorrow would be fun. 

Chapter Text

Jisu slipped her wallet back into her bag, uncrossing and crossing her legs as she tried to get more comfortable on the bench. Yeji and Chaeryeong watched her, clearly amused. “This is why we’re standing,” Yeji said. Jisu rolled her eyes. “I’d rather sit on a slightly rackety bench than have to stand for fifteen minutes.” 

“That’s the thing!” Chaeryeong exclaimed. “Fifteen minutes! Did Ryujin even get your text? Did –” She broke off as Jisu showed her the text she had sent Ryujin earlier that morning (There’s a nice café nearby, the directions are right here. [Link attached]) and Ryujin’s response (See you there <3). “Oh. You guys are dating already? That’s a new record.” 

“We are not.” Jisu quickly turned her phone off. “She’s just flirty, is all. And honestly, I’m not surprised. But she’s not that bad, either,” she added upon seeing the cynical looks on her friends’ faces. “She’ll be here.” 

Almost as if she had heard Jisu, Ryujin seemed to appear out of nowhere, flanked by two girls (one significantly taller than both of them, Jisu noticed). One was easily recognized; she was Jeon Heejin. Jisu would know that face anywhere at that point, with Heejin’s group’s popularity, not to mention Heejin’s own popularity. The tall one, with dyed bright red hair, had to be Shin Yuna. So these were Ryujin’s friends. Heejin wore a warm, friendly smile, accompanied by Yuna’s cheerful and blindingly bright smile. Both were contrasted by Ryujin’s smirk, though Jisu observed how there was a subtle hint of happiness hidden behind it. Ryujin clearly enjoyed being in her friends’ company. It was cute. Yes, Jisu thought – cute. Just as Yuna holding Ryujin’s hand was cute, and Ryujin holding Heejin’s hand was cute. “They look like children,” Yeji murmured, but Jisu heard the warmth in her tone, looking up at her and smiling. “Cute, right? And they’re not much younger than us.” She got up as Ryujin came to a stop. “Nice of you to join us.”  

Ryujin sighed, casting a sideways glance at Yuna. “Well, this one overslept, even though I had told her about this last night.” Yuna scrunched her nose up, crossing her arms and mock glaring at the other girl. “I told you, I couldn’t help it! Your bed is so warm...and Heejin was still sleeping, too!” 

Heejin’s face flushed a light pink. “Ryujin told me I could sleep some more when she went to make breakfast for us...” 

Jisu didn’t miss Yeji’s widened eyes and Chaeryeong’s sharp inhale. “They sleep together,” Yeji whispered, watching the other three girls bicker playfully. “Ryujin makes breakfast for them,” Chaeryeong breathed, looking at Jisu. “You’re set for the tour. Imagine, Ryujin letting you sleep in and making you breakfast in bed. She’s such girlfriend material.” 

“Enough of that,” Jisu said, rolling her eyes. “It’s sweet of her to do that for her friends.” She cleared her throat, interrupting the other girls’ talking and commanding Yeji and Chaeryeong’s attention. “There’s a nice café not too far away from here. I’ve called ahead so they know we’re coming, and we’ve got some reserved seats outside, since it’s a nice day. Are you all fine with that?” 

“We don’t really have another option, since you’ve already done everything for us,” Ryujin called out, her tone snarky. Jisu flashed her a look full of daggers before smiling gratefully at Heejin, Yuna, Yeji, and Chaeryeong, who were nodding. “Good. Let’s go.” 

Almost naturally, they fell into an order of pairs, Yeji and Chaeryeong leading and Jisu and Ryujin taking up the back. Ryujin put a hand on Jisu’s shoulder. “I was just kidding, you know? Thanks for doing all of this.” 

Though Jisu was touched, she wasn’t going to admit it. “I couldn’t leave everything up to you,” she said flippantly. “You’d probably have us stay over and give us week-old pizza.” 

Ryujin laughed. “You got me there.” Her hand slipped down Jisu’s arm, fingers entwining with Jisu’s. Smooth. Jisu kept her hand there, in a comfortable grasp. She liked it when Ryujin held her hand. It reminded her of –  

“We’re here,” Yeji said, turning to face the other girls, arm around Chaeryeong’s shoulders. “Jisu, you and Ryujin can go get our drinks, okay? We’ll find our seats.” Before Jisu could protest, Yeji led the other girls to a table next to the café building, shrouded in pleasant shade and surrounded by vibrant, blooming flowers. Sighing, Jisu pulled Ryujin towards the entrance. “Alright, let’s go.” 

“You’re still holding my hand,” Ryujin said, almost wonderingly. Jisu stopped, her free hand resting against the café doors. She looked back at Ryujin, who met her gaze boldly, though Jisu thought she saw a trace of questioning in the other girl’s deep brown eyes. “Is there a problem with it?” Jisu said. Ryujin looked at her for a few seconds more before shaking her head, lips curling into a small, thoughtful smile. “No.” 

That’s weird. Jisu opened the door, still not letting go of Ryujin’s hand. Why did it matter so much? And what was with Ryujin’s reaction? Sure, she was the infamous charmer, but wouldn’t she be satisfied and smug instead of...whatever that was? Jisu thought she herself would have reacted like Ryujin had, or just given some kind of reaction other than accepting it. Perhaps she was quickly getting used to Ryujin and her antics. It was nothing to dwell on for too long.  

She stopped in front of the counter, tapping her chin as she looked at the menu on the wall in front of them, waiting for one of the bartenders to finish working on another customer’s order. “What do you think the other girls will want?” she asked Ryujin, who stood beside her, looking at the menu as well. “I know Yeji and Chaeryeong will probably want plain black coffee, but I’ll have to bring them endless packets of sugar and cream.” She laughed, recalling how her friends were always called cold by the press at first, and when they found out the two ordered black coffee, they pounced on that fact like wolves. Bitter, like their souls. Little did they know both girls drowned their coffee in sugar and cream – if that was even possible. 

She was jolted out of her thoughts as she noticed Ryujin gazing at her. “What’s wrong?”  

Ryujin shook her head again, that thoughtful smile from before making another appearance. “It’s nothing.” Jisu opened her mouth to continue – it definitely wasn’t nothing – but Ryujin turned back to the menu. “Yuna would want an iced caramel macchiato, but with a shit ton of whipped cream. I’ll get the same for Heejin, just without the whipped cream and without the...ice.” 

“And you?” Jisu asked, idly stretching her fingers still entwined with Ryujin’s. The other girl still didn’t let go, but nor did Jisu, her fingers returning to their curled position. Ryujin shrugged. “Maybe black with two shots of espresso. So the Black Eye. You?” 

Catching the eye of a bartender who had just finished whipping up an order, Jisu pulled her credit card out of her purse, which had been slung over her shoulder and resting at her side. It made it so that she wouldn’t have to let go of Ryujin’s hand, which was amusing, since she hadn’t planned on holding Ryujin’s hand before this. She hadn’t even imagined she wouldn’t want to stop holding Ryujin’s hand. It just felt comfortable. “Americano. That’s the order, then? Two black coffees, two caramel macchiatos, one iced and one hot, one Black Eye, and one Americano?” 

Ryujin snorted. “You should be a barista instead of a singer. Yeah, that’s it.” 

“Maybe I should,” Jisu said, though secretly she knew if she left the music industry she’d be driving her motorcycle every night at reckless speeds instead of serving up coffee. She broke into a broad smile as the barista came over. “Ah, Tzuyu! I didn’t know you had a shift right now!” 

Tzuyu, a tall, pretty girl with her long, tumbling brown hair tied up into a swinging ponytail and her mesmerizing brown eyes, had been in the music industry along with Jisu – they had trained together for years. Tzuyu had been slated to debut just a month before Jisu, but she had abruptly left, choosing to work at this café which garnered many famous celebrities on a daily basis. Jisu remembered the smile Tzuyu had given her before leaving, saying they’d still see each other. And see each other, they did; as Jisu visited the café daily. She didn’t know Tzuyu would be there when she was with Ryujin, though. 

“I didn’t, at first,” Tzuyu admitted, pushing a lock of hair out of her eyes. “But I may or may not have heard that you’d be here today and I wanted to see you.” She gave Ryujin a bright smile. “Ryujin? Nice to meet you.” 

“Nice to meet you, too.” Ryujin’s voice was polite, and as Jisu glanced at her, the other girl didn’t look sly or alluring in any way. She was genuinely polite. It wasn’t just her voice. Tzuyu hadn’t struck her as another plaything, Jisu realized, and for reasons she didn’t know, she felt oddly proud and relieved...and satisfied. Satisfied? She couldn’t think about it then; she had spent too much time lost in her own thoughts. “I’m happy to see you, Tzuyu,” she said. “After this outing, I’ll stop by again and treat you to something. For now, we’re ready for our order.” 

She rattled off her order, Tzuyu typing it all down. The barista pressed a few buttons on the tablet in front of her. “That’ll be sixteen dollars and eighty-nine cents.” 

Jisu started to hand her card over, but Ryujin stopped her, pushing her hand down. “I’ll pay.” 

Jisu scoffed. “You? Pay? You’re not broke?” She softened her tone, squeezing Ryujin’s hand. “It’s fine. I’ll pay; I suggested this, in the first place.” 

“What does that make me if I just let you pay without saying anything?” Ryujin argued, reaching to her back pocket and pulling her wallet out. “C’mon. I’ll pay.” She held the wallet against her chest and opened it, holding it open as she pressed her chin against the flap to her chest and pulling out her own credit card. Jisu couldn’t help but giggle. “You could get that out easily if you just used your other hand, you know.” 

Placing the credit card on the counter and closing her wallet (with obvious difficulty), Ryujin put her wallet away and gave Jisu a look. It held so many words, some Jisu couldn’t interpret, but she understood enough. She wasn’t going to push it any further. She squeezed Ryujin’s hand again, hoping the other girl knew Jisu understood. “Okay, fine,” she said. “We can split it. Is that okay, Tzuyu?” 

Tzuyu nodded, the smile on her face almost motherly, having witnessed the exchange in front of her. “Of course.” She took Ryujin’s card and swiped it, pressing more buttons on the tablet, then returned Ryujin’s card and took Jisu’s. As she completed the transaction, she said casually, “You two are really cute together. If I didn’t know better, I would’ve thought you two were dating.” 

Jisu didn’t know how to respond. Wordlessly, and praying her face wasn’t as red as it felt (why was she getting the sense she had blushed more times in the last two days than in her whole lifetime?), she took her card and thanked Tzuyu, bowing as the other girl told them their drinks would be ready soon. She walked over to the pick-up counter, Ryujin following suit. Someone’s hand had gotten sweaty. Jisu bet it was hers. She finally looked at Ryujin, mouth dry, expecting the other girl to be smirking or staring at her with a knowing look in her eyes. 

Once again, Ryujin didn’t meet Jisu’s expectations, and in the best way possible. If Jisu looked closely, she could see a hint of pink in Ryujin’s cheeks. “You’re embarrassed,” she said teasingly, poking Ryujin’s arm. Ryujin raised her chin, frowning. “I’m not. Who told you that? You should be the one embarrassed, if anything.”  

Her attempt to turn the tables failed, though. Jisu leaned close to Ryujin, lips just inches away from Ryujin’s face. But why lips? “I won’t tell anyone! You’re embarrassed, you’re totally embarrassed!” 

“Okay, and so what?” Ryujin snapped. The hint of pink had grown darker. “Your friend just told me she could’ve thought I was in a relationship with Choi Jisu.” 

“And would that be so bad?” Jisu said, dragging the last word out as she leaned even closer. It was dangerous and a huge risk, Jisu knew, but she couldn’t help it. Ryujin’s head whipped towards her, most likely to catch her by surprise, and she did. Their noses were touching, and their lips –  

Jisu quickly pulled back. Ryujin finally smirked. “What about you? Remember when you told me you liked me? I certainly haven’t forgotten about that.” 

“I like you?” Jisu said, baffled. She groaned upon remembering the earlier day, at the meeting, when she had unwillingly blurted out how she admired Ryujin. “That. Ugh. So maybe I’ve followed your dancing and liked your work...” 

Ryujin seemed surprisingly shocked. “Really?” Jisu nodded, hanging her head in both embarrassment and defeat. She’d never hear the end of it now, considering Ryujin’s relentless teasing nature. “I seriously think if I hadn’t become a singer, I’d be one of your fangirls. I guess I already am one. Just don’t tell anyone, because no one knows, not even Yeji and Chaeryeong.” She waited for the silent seconds to pass, waited for Ryujin to burst into laughter, let go of her hand – now how is that important right now? – and yell for the whole world to hear.  

It didn’t happen. Her hand, still holding Ryujin’s, was squeezed. She looked up at Ryujin, who was smiling warmly at her. Something had shifted. Something monumental had shifted, something that would last for the months after now, but Jisu didn’t know what it was. It bothered her. 

Ryujin laughed, a laugh that was sweet and sugary and pleasant and unlike anything Jisu had ever heard. “Since we only communicate through squeezing each other’s hands, I guess I don’t have to say anything, right?” Her smile was so confusingly warm, and Jisu couldn’t get it out of her head. She settled on a nod and a smile back, though she had never been as bewildered as she was then. 

There was more to Ryujin than anyone thought, that was for sure. It was interesting. She was interesting. Jisu wondered if she’d be able to see more, for what she saw then was certainly captivating. Jisu wanted to see more. She wanted to see who Shin Ryujin really was, past the seemingly charming playgirl persona. She wanted to see more. Badly. 

Chapter Text

Y: Oh my god Chaeryeong is so cute. 

H: ???? 

Y: Chaeryeong is SO CUTE 

R: Yuna, you know she has a girlfriend, right? 

Y: Oh. 

Ryujin looked up from her phone, staring at Yuna from across the table. Heejin stared at her as well, both of their gazes heavy with exasperation and disappointment. For the past fifteen minutes, Yuna had been doing nothing except spamming Ryujin and Heejin about how cute Chaeryeong was in their group chat. Normally, Ryujin would’ve chided her and told her to get off her phone, but Jisu had left upon being called by Tzuyu – something important, Ryujin assumed – and Yeji and Chaeryeong had retreated to a spot near the table where they were talking privately. So, for the time being, Ryujin let it go. What else was there to do? 

“She has a what?” Yuna whispered. Heejin rolled her eyes. “You really couldn’t tell? The two have been clinging to each other.” 

“That doesn’t mean anything!” Yuna said adamantly, quickly lowering her voice when Chaeryeong glanced over. She shot the older girl a sweet smile before her face reverted back to its focused, stubborn, borderline angry look. Ryujin snorted. “Whipped. You want me to ask Jisu?” 

“Right, I forgot you had her number,” Yuna muttered. She tapped her chin. “Mmm...I don’t want to be intrusive, but...” 

“Whatever.” Ryujin swiped to the chat she shared with Jisu. Are Yeji and Chaeryeong dating? She looked up at Heejin’s scoff. “Do you really think she’s going to tell you? Are you two that close?” She paused, shaking her head. “Wait, I take that back. You two were holding hands when you went to get our drinks.” 

“In Yuna’s words, that doesn’t mean anything.” Ryujin stared at her phone screen. A text popped up. Yes. She held her phone up to Heejin and Yuna triumphantly. “There we go. They’re dating.” Her phone vibrated as another text came through. Yuna leaned closer, eyes squinting as she slowly read the message. “You...really...couldn’t tell?” 

“Great minds think alike,” Heejin said in satisfaction. Yuna pouted, slumping back into her seat. “Maybe I should be like Ryujin and try to get Chaeryeong to fall for me. I mean, Yeji is super nice, and I don’t want to hurt her, but Chaeryeong...” Her mouth twisted and her eyebrows furrowed as she pulled on her ear. Ryujin let out a laugh of disbelief. “You’re serious about this?” 

“I’m in love, Ryujin,” Yuna snapped. Ryujin exchanged a knowing look with Heejin before holding her hands up. “Okay, okay, Yuna. You love her.” Of course, that was far from the truth. Despite not being much younger than Ryujin and Heejin, Yuna could be extremely inexperienced (and immature) sometimes. It was normal. Ryujin could feel affection washing over her as she watched Yuna mutter to herself, clearly torn over this. Yuna really was just a baby, wasn’t she? And incredibly dear to Ryujin. Though she “bullied” Yuna (according to Yuna), she always cared for her and wanted to protect her. She knew for a fact Heejin felt the same way. 

Her kind thoughts vanished the second Yuna spoke, her voice taking on that annoying teasing tone that meant nothing but trouble. “Ryuuuujin! Do you still think you don’t like Jisu?” 

“Right, I was just about to say that,” Heejin said. Ryujin sighed. “Are you two ever going to stop talking about this? Does it matter?” 

“You’re going on tour with her, of course it matters,” Heejin said. “And based on what we’ve seen lately, you’re getting really close with her. Who knows what you two did in the café together?”  

Ryujin glowered at her. “What is there to do in a café other than get drinks?” She sighed again, leaning back and throwing her arm around the back of Jisu’s empty chair, placed on the right of her. “Even if we were going to do anything, she was talking to the barista. Turns out she’s friends with her.” She recalled what Tzuyu had said to them, ringing up their order. You two are really cute together. If I didn’t know better, I would’ve thought you two were dating. She recalled how embarrassed she had gotten, the way Jisu had tried to tease her, only to get flustered herself when Ryujin caught her off guard. Ryujin had been embarrassed, she admitted that much. Dating Jisu? She knew her goal was to somehow achieve that in the future, yet she got overwhelmed thinking about it, just like how she was hiding how overwhelmed she was holding Jisu’s hand. Jisu hadn’t seemed fazed, like it was normal. Was it really?  

And then there was Jisu’s confession. Ryujin was actually flattered by it, if she had to be honest. All this time, she had a celebrity as one of her fans. Of course, that wasn’t too surprising; Ryujin had received many shout-outs by various idols, giving her more attention and the opportunity to take their offers of choreographing their next comeback. But Jisu was different, wasn’t she? That was why Ryujin reacted the way she did, or at least, that was why she thought she reacted that way. She was still confused about the warm emotions she showed so easily towards Jisu, emotions she rarely even showed to Heejin and Yuna. They seemed to tumble out of her when she was with Jisu. And she wasn’t in love with Jisu, so why? Perhaps she was naturally attracted towards Jisu? Though she was aware of Heejin and Yuna’s probing eyes on her, she couldn’t help but slightly shake her head. She wasn’t “naturally attracted.” That was bullshit. She hadn’t ever fallen in love with anyone. Well, no, the closest thing to love I’ve felt was with...her, but I knew I couldn’t ruin our relationship. Jisu was simply different. Until Ryujin could find an answer for this problem, she’d settle on Jisu being different for her. She’d also try to distract herself with her game, though the motivation for that was slowly wilting away. She didn’t want to toy with Jisu, and she didn’t know why. Ridiculous. 

“Well,” Yuna said, after a few seconds of silence. “If you think you start liking her...just remember...she’s engaged!” The grin on her face looked more like a shit-eating grin than an innocent one, Ryujin thought.  

“That’s just an assumption,” Heejin said, laughing. Ryujin shook her head (again, though it was under different circumstances). “But it’s a good assumption to make if I’m going to try and win her over, right?” The last few words seemed dull and dry, lacking the usual enthusiasm and anticipation they would be injected with. Both Heejin and Yuna seemed to pick up on this, opening their mouths at the same time – probably to assure Ryujin that she didn’t have to if she didn’t want to – but before they said anything, they quickly shut their mouths and plastered smiles on their faces. Ryujin stared at them, confused, then flinching when she felt a hand rest on her shoulder. She turned around, looking up at Jisu. “Oh. It’s you.” 

“You really should start being more excited when I come around,” Jisu scolded, sitting down and gesturing to Chaeryeong and Yeji, who started to make their way over. “How are the fans going to feel when they see me appear on stage and you just look at me all disappointed, like you were expecting someone else?” 

“Maybe if you let Yuna and Heejin replace you, I’ll be more excited,” Ryujin responded easily, swinging her other arm over Heejin’s shoulders and winking at Yuna, who rolled her eyes, though she was clearly trying to hide a smile. Her eyes drifted over to Ryujin’s right arm, similarly swung around Jisu’s chair. Ryujin knew. She could feel her arm pressing into Jisu’s back, and Jisu hadn’t said anything. Rather, she had subtly leaned in, almost comfortably, against Ryujin’s arm. Unless Ryujin had imagined that. She doubted it, yet she didn’t remove her arm. Not yet. 

“I see how it is,” Jisu said, pouting. Ryujin swallowed. This wasn’t fair. This really, really wasn’t fair.  

Jisu turned to Yeji and Chaeryeong, who sat back down. “And what, pray tell, were you two talking about that made you need to leave?” 

“Listen, if you can leave to talk to Tzuyu, we can leave to discuss private matters,” Yeji said, crossing her arms. Jisu scoffed. “Private matters as in what? What you’re going to make for dinner tonight?” 

“Private matters as in you and Ryujin being girlfriends,” Chaeryeong smirked. Yeji, Yuna, and Heejin all burst into laughter, none of them able to stifle it even as they covered their mouths with their hands. Ryujin could understand. The prospect was so absurd, topped with what Tzuyu had said earlier. If it was anyone else, Ryujin would have been laughing, too. But the only thing to do now was to bear it. Heejin clutched her empty coffee cup tightly, only letting go when Ryujin laid a hand on hers. “Don’t break it, geez. Go ahead and laugh; we can’t do anything about it, right?” 

“So you heard about what Tzuyu said, too?” Yuna asked, her question directed to Yeji and Chaeryeong but her attention obviously only focused on Chaeryeong. Chaeryeong nodded. “How could we not? I mean, we didn’t exactly hear about it, Yeji is just really good at reading lips and she knew exactly what Tzuyu said. She had the decency to look away after that, though we knew exactly how our Jisu would react,” she added, looking at Jisu, who couldn’t even meet their eyes. “You guys are so mean,” she whined,  hanging her head like she had done in the café with Ryujin. Her hair fell in front of her eyes, hiding her face and what must have been an incredibly dark flush from the people around the table. Ryujin was only half aware of how Heejin reached over to high five Yeji and Chaeryeong, talking about how they would get along well. She was focusing on someone else. 

Leaning over, Ryujin gently brushed away hair from Jisu’s face, tucking the strands behind the other girl’s ear carefully. Indeed, as she had expected, there was a dark flush on Jisu’s face, and her eyes were shut tight. Ryujin didn’t know where the urge had come from, but she slipped her fingers underneath Jisu’s chin, turned the other girl towards her, and leaned her forehead against Jisu’s. At the slightest touch, Jisu’s eyes flew open, immediately meeting Ryujin’s. Ryujin expected Jisu to draw back, but Jisu shattered those expectations in the best way possible. She only smiled, a different smile, one that held more than the ordinary gratefulness and warmth. There was so much more. Ryujin had a feeling she would remember this smile, long after her time with Jisu would come to an end. 

Up close, Ryujin could see every single feature of Jisu’s face. There were no flaws. Everything was perfect. Jisu was perfection, Ryujin thought. I probably look like her now. Face the shade of a beetroot. Then she remembered that Jisu was probably blushing because she was engaged to someone else, and she quickly pulled away, her expression shifting as her lips formed her trademark lazy, I-don't-give-a-shit smile. Heejin, Yuna, Yeji, and Chaeryeong were still recovering, laughter lingering in the air as they rubbed at their cheeks. “God, I laughed way too much,” Yuna said, wincing. “My face hurts.” 

“Mine too,” Chaeryeong said. Ryujin could almost laugh at the way Yuna’s face brightened upon hearing Chaeryeong’s agreement. It’s just her face. Yeji and Heejin look like they feel the same way, idiot. Somehow, though, it seemed pure – Yuna's adoration for Chaeryeong. It was so innocent, so young and even beautiful. It was the kind that made one want to cherish it forever. Then again, Ryujin wouldn’t know; the only love she had felt was poisonous and toxic, harming her from the inside out. She bit her lip, trying her best to make the fog from years past vanish.  

Almost as if she had sensed Ryujin’s mood, Jisu stood up. “So, since it’s really nice and everything, I was thinking we could take a little walk? The flowers are pretty and to be honest, I’ve been wanting to see them for a while now.” 

“Ah, so your motivation for this was selfish,” Yeji teased. Ryujin laughed along with the others as Jisu pouted again, though her laugh was cut short by her frown as she noticed her heartbeat had sped up as well. Yuna nudged Chaeryeong and Heejin, pointing at Ryujin. “Looks like our Ryuddaeng doesn’t like this!” 

“Aww, you thought Jisu did this for you,” Heejin said, mock sympathetically. Ryujin’s frown vanished (she wished her memories had vanished as fast as her frown) and she shot glares at the other girl. “Well, what else was I supposed to expect? Anyways, I’m not disappointed because of that. If Jisu wants to see the flowers, let the girl see the flowers.” 

“Shin Ryujin has spoken,” Yeji said dramatically, standing up. She was followed by Chaeryeong, then Yuna, then finally Heejin, leaving Ryujin to be the only one at the table who remained sitting. Yeji gestured to Ryujin, raising an eyebrow. “Come on. Or are you going to wait here and leave Jisu all alone?” 

“She has you four,” Ryujin said, raising her own eyebrow. The others didn’t respond. Ryujin rolled her eyes, getting up with an exasperating sigh. “I see how it is. You all are like children.” She couldn’t stop her voice from brightening as she looked at Jisu, who looked considerably happier. Was she happy Ryujin was coming along? What had she expected? Ryujin found it amusing Jisu seriously thought Ryujin would stay back and not go with everyone, though she wasn’t surprised. That was the kind of person Ryujin had showed herself to be, after all. But she thought her recent behavior had more or less gotten rid of that appearance. Maybe not.  

“Let’s go, let’s go!” Yuna took Heejin’s hand, skipping around the table. Yeji and Chaeryeong, also hand in hand, followed, Chaeryeong catching up to Yuna and holding her hand as well. The four started to stroll along the path, all of them connected through their entwined hands. Ryujin took close note of Yuna’s flushed face – it seemed like there was a lot of blushing going around lately – and the way her hand was tightly gripping Chaeryeong’s. It probably felt comfortable, though; warm and secure. Someone was with Yuna, and she would be reminded of that. Someone she liked very much.  

Ryujin looked down at her own hand, opening and closing it. Holding someone’s hand felt nice. It was different when it was Yuna or Heejin’s; that was comfortable, but it didn’t cause Ryujin to feel the way Yuna most likely was holding Chaeryeong’s hand. Ryujin wanted to feel those flowery bubbles inside her, feel her heart almost swell, wrapped in warmth and making her feel like she was on top of the world. 

What had gotten into her? 

Her opened hand, before she could drop it by her side, was covered by another hand. Another warm hand, another hand she realized she missed holding. She looked at Jisu, who squeezed her hand. “We’re communicating through hand squeezes, aren’t we?” she said cheekily. Ryujin couldn’t stop the laugh that escaped her mouth. “Maybe we are.” Secretly, though, she was relieved Jisu didn’t comment on that humiliating behavior she had just shown. She was getting embarrassed and embarrassing herself a lot that day, things she didn’t want to do and things she didn’t think she would do.  

Holding hands once again, they were on their way, their four friends ahead and just barely visible in the distance. It was fine. Ryujin preferred to be alone with Jisu, no one knowing about their held hands except for them, a comfortable silence covering their atmosphere. She gazed at the trees shadowing the stone path, lush and vibrant pink and red flowers hanging from their branches, nestled between thick green leaves. Reaching out, she plucked a particularly bright pink flower, holding it to her nose. It smelled sweet, the fragrance filling her nose and invading her mind. She felt like wisps of soft strawberry pink were curling around her, like she had stepped out of a cotton candy cloud. Her heart felt light. She felt...happy? Truly happy, only a happiness she could possibly feel around Yuna and Heejin. 

She turned to Jisu, who was admiring the flowers as well, eyes shining. Her lips were slightly parted, traces of a smile flashing across them every now and then. With her other hand, she reached up, fingertips grazing against the petals and leaves. A breeze flew through the trees, slightly shaking them, one tree showering Jisu with cherry petals, naturally adorning her hair. She looked so beautiful, in her leather brown boots, light blue jeans ripped at the knees, collared crisp white shirt fitting against her torso comfortably, her dark brown hair loosely braided. She really did look beautiful. Ryujin realized she wouldn’t have wanted to be there with anyone other than Jisu. 

Something had possessed her, that was for certain. Something had possessed her. With the flower in her hand, she stopped walking. Jisu paused as well, looking at her in confusion. Gently, what must have seemed like lovingly, Ryujin let go of Jisu’s hand – she smiled at the way the corner of Jisu’s lips tugged downwards – and held her face instead, fingers searing hot against Jisu’s cheeks. She bit her lip, concentrating, then placed the flower in Jisu’s hair, right above her right ear. She adjusted it carefully, then stepped back, hands falling to her side as she looked Jisu up and down. “Perfect,” she said, giving a nod of satisfaction.  

Jisu’s eyes were wide. That wasn’t shocking; this was a rather bold move on Ryujin’s part, even for her. Had she ever done that with anyone else? No – not even with Heejin or Yuna, which was strange. Why Jisu? Perhaps it had something to do with how she was feeling, surrounded by the flowers, walking beside Jisu, thoughts revolving around the other girl. This wasn’t part of Ryujin’s game. She wasn’t playing it. That surprised her, and she knew eventually she would revert back to the game to distract herself, but currently she didn’t want to. The goal was still the same – win Jisu over and take her heart from whoever she was engaged to – but Ryujin was more genuine about it. It wasn’t just a prize. Somehow, Ryujin was more invested in it...though she didn’t know why. 

Jisu started towards her, taking Ryujin’s face in her hands like Ryujin had just seconds ago. Yet again, Ryujin’s heart betrayed her, pounding so hard she suspected Jisu could hear. She willed it to stop. Why was she even reacting like this in the first place? The real question was, who wouldn’t? Who wouldn’t be incredibly flustered if Jisu was holding their face in her hands, noses almost touching and lips – why lips? – mere inches, no, centimeters away from each other? It was like Jisu was going to kiss Ryujin. A little voice chirped in her mind. And you wouldn’t be opposed to that, would you? God, Ryujin wanted it to shut up. 

Jisu leaned her forehead against Ryujin’s, just as Ryujin had done at the café. “Thank you,” she breathed. Ryujin could only smile back. She reached up, holding Jisu’s hands and slowly pulling them down. “Let’s go?” she whispered, glancing towards their friends, who had stopped, taking pictures of each other against the swaying trees. Jisu closed her eyes, almost as if she was savoring the moment before they had to go, as if she didn’t want to go, then opened them. “Okay.” 

They continued to walk, hand in hand again. This time, Ryujin was not only feeling light, but dizzy. What had just happened? Something had passed between her and Jisu, and whatever it was, Ryujin wanted more of it. It was absolutely amazing...and dangerous. Ryujin wanted more. She couldn’t want more, but she wanted more.  

She looked at Jisu, who was beaming. The other girl met Ryujin’s gaze, and of course, Ryujin felt her squeeze her hand. She was feeling something akin to flowery bubbles, something similar, like it was blooming into that sensation, and though her heart wasn’t enveloped in warmth, it was definitely melting at the gorgeous woman next to her. Ah, Ryujin thought, enjoying the feeling of Jisu’s hand in hers. This tour is going to be fun.  

Chapter Text

When Ryujin had leaned her forehead against Jisu’s at the café, Jisu hadn’t wanted Ryujin to pull away. When she did the same thing to Ryujin and the other girl suggested they catch up to their friends, Jisu tried to savor the mere seconds they had together like that. She really didn’t want to go.  

Six a.m. the next day, and the memories would not let Jisu go, holding her tightly. They had seven days until her tour started, and with their free day spent outside, the rest of the days were for practice. Jisu practicing. Together with Ryujin.  

Curled up on her bed and staring at the clock, Jisu knew she was supposed to be getting dressed. She needed to drive over to Ryujin’s agency to practice in her studio for the first half of the day before she met up with Yeji and Chaeryeong so they could help her go over the schedule and help her practice the songs. Then, of course, after practice was over late at night, they’d go on their drive. For once, though, Jisu wasn’t looking forward to that the most – she was looking forward to practicing with Ryujin. 

How was she going to react? How was Ryujin going to react, after the moments they shared? Ryujin would probably brush it off and go back to her normal carefree, lazy attitude. Though that wasn’t at all how she was acting the other day. She was so different. Jisu wondered if that different, maybe even real side of Ryujin would surface again. It had to. Jisu wanted to see it.  

She was concerned about herself, though. First, there was the issue of her mindset interfering in their practice. If she kept acting shy around Ryujin, they wouldn’t get anywhere, and Jisu knew Ryujin would remind her of that. Then there was, of course, her self-confidence. She was practicing with Ryujin. Ryujin. The other girl would pick up the choreography faster than Jisu, who had taken a week to fully master it. It would intimidate Jisu, and she was practicing with someone she strongly admired.  

And how she was feeling about Ryujin...that confused her the most. Ryujin was not the scandalous and charismatic yet cold-hearted girl she was portrayed as. No one attending the tour would know that though. Yeji and Chaeryeong certainly didn’t. Though they were the two people closest to Jisu, she didn’t know if she wanted to tell them about Ryujin’s reality. How was she going to describe it without sounding like she was lovestruck? She wasn’t lovestruck, she couldn’t be lovestruck. That was out of the question. 

I’ll tell them tonight, Jisu decided, dragging herself out of bed. The clock read 6:10 a.m. Before we go on our drive, I’ll tell them about Ryujin. They won’t let me hear the end of it, but I’ll tell them. Drowsily, still stuck in the fog of memories from the day before, she pulled out her outfit – black sweatpants and a dark blue hoodie, she wasn’t going to be photographed or anything – and tied her hair up in a loose bun. It didn’t matter. She was just going to practice all day. If she wanted to change before she went on her drive, she could, but for now she was going to dress casually. 

She walked to the kitchen, making herself some coffee and pouring it into a thermos. Typically, Jisu didn’t drink coffee in the morning; she’d have something more substantial, but she wasn’t feeling it this morning. More like, she wanted to get to the studio as quickly as possible so she could see Ryujin. No, it’s just because I’m tired and lazy! Jisu knew she was lying to herself. But she didn’t pursue the topic any further, letting it linger in the corner of her mind. It could collect dust there.  

Slipping on a plain black mask and white sports shoes, she grabbed her keys and stepped out of her house, locking the door and double checking to make sure no one would be able to get in. The only other people who had keys to her house were Yeji and Chaeryeong (and she suspected Ryujin would, soon...no, that was ridiculous. She shook her head violently, dismissing the thought to the corner of her mind where the other Ryujin-related thought had gone). After the announcement two days ago, and the rather suggestive way Ryujin was acting around Jisu, Jisu knew there would be more press than usual hanging around her house. She looked around. There were no cameras in sight at that moment, but she still had to be careful. She jogged over to her car, getting in and glancing at the shut garage, in which lay her motorcycle. “I’ll be back soon,” she said quietly, before turning the keys in the ignition and pulling out of the driveway. 

Ryujin’s agency wasn’t too far from Jisu’s house, only taking fifteen minutes. Jisu suspected it would’ve taken less time had there not been traffic on the highway that morning, but it was a Monday morning, and it was the beginning of rush hour. She carefully parked in the spot reserved for her, hidden behind the building and next to the private exit she had used the day of the press conference. Sighing, she climbed out of the car, thermos in hand and keys securely tucked in her pockets. 

“You seem tired.” 

Jisu looked up. Ryujin was standing next to the door, leaning against it, her arms crossed. She was in her usual attire; ruffled hair in a messy ponytail, baggy sweatpants just barely covering her worn black shoes and black t-shirt riding up her stomach, revealing just a bit of her toned midriff. She tilted her head, grinning. “Yesterday tired you out? You’re not up for practice?” 

“Maybe you’re talking about yourself,” Jisu muttered, rubbing her temples and walking up to the door. Ryujin opened it for her, and she gave the other girl a nod of thanks as she stepped into the warm building. “Where’s your studio?” 

“This way, your highness,” Ryujin said, taking the lead. Once Jisu was safely behind Ryujin, out of sight, she let herself relax. Though the relaxation was tinted with disappointment. Of course Ryujin was going to go back to that sarcastic, brazen persona of hers. What had Jisu expected? Ryujin to tenderly caress her, placing another flower in her hair and whispering to her as she told her how beautiful she looked? Jisu’s mind flashed back to the flower Ryujin had so gently nestled in her hair during their outing. That flower was now floating in the small pool that was the center of Jisu’s private garden, located just behind her house and protected by a stone wall border. It allowed the sun to shine from above, but shielded eyes from the garden. Jisu had sat on the bench next to the wall, looking at the flowers and bushes and the fish swimming around the pool, not used to the new flower that was now in their midst. She imagined Ryujin sitting next to her, a delighted smile on her face as she saw the flower. So you still keep it? I’m surprised...and a little happy, too. Jisu had abruptly stood up and left at that. Ryujin wouldn’t say those words. 

“You awake?” Jisu jolted out of her daze, Ryujin waving a hand in her face. Her other hand was firmly gripping Jisu’s arm. Following Jisu’s gaze, Ryujin quickly let go, shoving it in her pocket. “You had bumped into me. Are you okay?” 

“I’m fine,” Jisu said. I’m not. “It’s nothing.” She looked at the room they had stopped at. “Is this it?” 

Ryujin nodded, gesturing for Jisu to walk in first, and so she did. The room was spacious, a mirror greeting her on one side of the room. A small laptop sat atop a shelf on the other side. There were no wires trailing from it to the four speakers hanging from each corner of the room, so Jisu assumed the laptop was connected wirelessly. There was a pink tape grid on the floor, most likely to help with positions. “Impressive, right?” Ryujin said, looking satisfied. “Actually, it’s not much, but it’s enough for me. This is where the magic happens.” 

It certainly was. Jisu recognized the room from all of Ryujin’s videos ever since she had been signed onto the agency. “You’ve had this for such a long time,” she said. Ryujin shrugged, looking indifferent. “Yeah, maybe. I don’t really care. I’m used to it. Hyuk’s offered me a bigger, separate studio, but I can’t bring myself to change, you know? I like this studio. A lot of things have happened here.” With those words, her face twisted, as if a bitter taste had flooded her mouth, but the expression didn’t last long enough for Jisu to ask about it. “Anyways, should we get started?” 

“Ah, right.” Jisu set the thermos down by the shelf, next to a water bottle she assumed was Ryujin’s. “You’ve been briefed on the choreography for the songs I’m performing, right?” 

Ryujin nodded. Her expression had shifted; she looked serious and determined, eyes focused on Jisu, drinking in whatever she was saying. It felt surreal. Jisu was teaching Ryujin. “After yesterday, I came here. They sent me a compilation, so I have the gist of each move and everything, but I haven’t got it down completely. First of all...” She walked over to the laptop, browsing through videos until she landed on the one she wanted. Jisu stood directly behind her, perhaps a little too close than she thought was appropriate, but it didn’t matter. Sure, she could subtly feel the slight rise and fall of Ryujin’s shoulders, and their arms and hands were brushing, but Jisu had an excuse. She placed her hands on Ryujin’s shoulders, peering around her. “Which one is it?” 

Ryujin didn’t turn to face her as she responded. “I think it’s a song from your recent album. It’s the second track.” Her shoulders had been stiff when Jisu first held them, but now they were relaxed. In a move Jisu didn’t expect, Ryujin leaned back. Jisu dropped her hands as Ryujin looked up at her, head resting on Jisu’s shoulder and back leaning into Jisu’s chest. “Do you want to show me the choreography first and then help me through it step by step?” 

“Okay.” When did we get this close? They never had, of course. Shared moments weren’t enough to warrant this. Jisu stepped away, turning around and facing the mirror. She was glad she was still wearing her mask, so that Ryujin wouldn’t see her biting her lip – hard. She closed her eyes, taking a deep breath. Whatever they had been doing, all those lingering touches, that was supposed to happen weeks into the tour. Preferably the last week. Was Ryujin’s charm really that strong, that everything was happening this early? Despite them not liking each other? Did it matter? Jisu was already confused and she didn’t want to know what was going to happen as time went on. She took another deep breath, focusing. She had to think about right now, firstly. She needed to keep her tour in mind. Practice was more important. 

“I’ll start the music,” Ryujin called. Jisu nodded, getting into position. She didn’t need the grid on the floor, but she glanced towards it anyways. There was no harm in using it if it was there. She closed her eyes and waited for the music to start. 

“Three...two...one.” 

Jisu’s eyes flew open as her song started to thrum through the studio, immediately starting the choreography that had been engrained in her mind. She could do it in her sleep; she had memorized it so thoroughly. Though she was wearing a mask, she still adjusted her facial expressions as she danced, lips moving along to the words. Every move matched with the beat of the song, satisfying her. This is how it should be when I perform. Perfect. It was almost like she was getting caught up in the music, drowning in the choreography and losing herself to her song. It was a song she had heard several times, a song she had painstakingly recorded, but it was still her favorite song and it never got old. And the choreography...! The choreography was beautiful, aptly conveying the meaning of the song. If nothing else, Jisu was glad the song was understood by the dance and the dance was understood by the song. It only reminded her of why she loved her career; not just the singing, not just bringing a rhythm and melody and life to words on a page, but the things that came along with it. Dancing carried the words along in a way singing never could, but dance paired together with singing made them even stronger.  

She finished the song, breathing heavily, feet exactly where they were supposed to be. She hadn’t made any mistakes. It felt like a showcase, her own personal showcase, where she was presenting the song and choreography after months of getting it down and practicing. In this case, it was going to be rather hard to perform this song – there were many high notes and hard rhythms and the choreography was already rigorous enough. She had almost fainted doing promotions for it. But she had also been promoting her title track back then, and if she recalled correctly, this would only be performed at one stop along the tour. She’d be fine. 

The sound of clapping startled Jisu. She turned around, remembering she wasn’t the only one in the room. Ryujin looked considerably impressed. She stopped clapping, reaching down to grab her water bottle. “Damn. That was good.” She approached Jisu, squinting at her face. “And you’re already sweating? Wow.” 

“It’s not that bad,” Jisu said, though she felt like she was starting to burn up. She tugged at her hoodie, drawing her sleeves back then pulling her mask down. Ryujin held the bottle out to her. “Here. I don’t think you have water in that thermos...” 

“I don’t,” Jisu admitted, taking the bottle gratefully. “It’s coffee, but I don’t think I’ll drink it anytime soon. You’re welcome to it, if you want.” Without a second thought, she drank from the water bottle, the water tasting sweet as it ran down her dry throat. Her heart, beating wildly from the complex choreography, started to calm down. Capping the bottle and messily wiping her mouth with the back of her hand, she handed it back to Ryujin. “Thanks.” 

Ryujin took it, though she gave Jisu a suggestive look. Jisu stared at her. “What?” 

Ryujin didn’t respond, only shaking her head and chuckling as she put the bottle away. Jisu was filled with bewilderment. What was up with that look? She slid her mask back up, turning around to face the mirror just in time to see Ryujin taking a swig from the bottle. 

It all clicked. That was Ryujin’s water bottle. It was essentially an indirect kiss. Jisu inhaled sharply, clenching her fists. “I see how it is.” 

“How what is?” Ryujin walked up beside her, tone confused and clueless but eyes shining with mischief. Jisu shook her head. “Never mind. There’s no point. So, which parts are you stuck on?” 

“Um.” Ryujin looked down to her feet. “The really weird foot sequence near the end.” 

“Are you sure?” Jisu was surprised. The foot sequence at the end was complicated, but it hadn’t been too hard for her to get down. She’d expect Ryujin to think of it as child’s play. Apparently not, as Ryujin nodded and looked back up at Jisu, arms crossed almost defensively, as if she could read Jisu’s thoughts. “I thought it would be easy but it’s one of those things where I need someone helping me, you know?” 

“Wow, Shin Ryujin needs help?” Jisu said sarcastically. She was secretly relieved that Ryujin seemed to be on the same level as her – meaning, she needed help too – and still shocked that she was going to teach Ryujin. Never in her wildest dreams had she imagined this would happen, yet here it was, unfolding in front of her eyes. Without waiting for Ryujin’s response, she kneeled, holding Ryujin’s right leg. “Okay. So you start in this position.” She moved Ryujin’s leg to the appropriate marking on the floor, then nudged Ryujin’s other leg to where it had to be. “Got it?” 

“Yeah,” Ryujin said. Jisu stood up, dusting her sweatpants off. “Good. I’ll help you with the next part.” Once again, she stood directly behind Ryujin, hands on Ryujin’s shoulders, the front of her shoes touching the back of Ryujin’s. “Make sure you’re touching my shoes at all time.” 

“This is interesting,” Ryujin murmured. Jisu was ready to step away, an apology forming on her lips (the technique of learning she proposed wasn’t popular, and she could see how Ryujin wouldn’t like it), but Ryujin continued, smiling at her in the mirror. “I’ve never gotten help like this before, but I think it’s better than the other ways. More interactive.” 

Jisu couldn’t stop the rush of pleasure that flooded her, bringing a joyful smile to her face. It wasn’t like Ryujin could see it, though. Which, in a way, made it better. “Well, it’s the only way I’ve learned and it’s always helped me. So, I just thought...” 

“I won’t know how I’ll like it if you just stand there,” Ryujin said, grabbing Jisu’s hands and putting them around her waist. “You’ll get better grip this way. So, what’s first?” 

Face engulfed in heat, Jisu started to direct Ryujin’s movements, gently prodding Ryujin’s shoe before moving her own leg, brushing against Ryujin’s which mimicked the direction Jisu’s leg was guiding it in. They ran through the movements of the choreography a few times, slowly picking up the pace until Ryujin was being made to do it at the performance’s tempo. It took five minutes before Ryujin was moving before Jisu, each detailed movement being executed perfectly.  

Jisu stepped back, hands dropping from Ryujin’s waist. She watched Ryujin practice in the silence, the other girl’s face screwed up in an expression of determination. It was admirable. Contrary to what others thought, Ryujin wasn’t the same girl when it came to dancing. No, she was someone entirely different. This was someone who could care less about winning hearts and toying with emotions, someone who didn’t have charming women and men on their minds at all. This was someone Jisu was beginning to like. Very much. 

“What’s with you and constantly making me blush?” 

Ryujin paused. “Did you say something?” 

“Ah, no.” Jisu turned around, staring fiercely at the wall. She was lucky she had whispered those words and not said them loud enough for Ryujin to hear. Taking a deep breath and composing herself, she turned back around. “Should we move on?” 

In similar style, Jisu helped Ryujin through the other moves, then doing a run-through of the full choreography with the music – Ryujin did as well as Jisu would’ve expected her to do on the real stage – and continuing on to different songs. Time passed, and before Jisu knew it, her phone was buzzing with reminders from Yeji and Chaeryeong to make her way back to her agency’s building for vocal training. She and Ryujin were collapsed on the floor, hair clinging to their necks and sweaty faces. Jisu’s hoodie was a bundle lying next to her thermos; she had thrown it there halfway through practice after excruciating minutes of not being able to stand how hot she was.  

“I need to go,” she said, propping herself up on her elbows. Ryujin rolled over, tugging lightly at Jisu’s arms. “Don’t,” she whined. “I’ll miss you.” 

No, you won’t. “You’ll see me again tomorrow, Ryujin,” Jisu said. She knew she needed to get going, but one look at Ryujin’s pout and Jisu was lying down again, arm brushing against Ryujin’s. “What did you think of the choreography?” 

“I’ve seen the official dance practices you’ve released, so I knew what to expect, but surprisingly I like them,” Ryujin said. Jisu laughed. “Surprisingly? What is that supposed to mean?” 

“It means, I thought I’d be bored. Somehow I’m not.” This time, Ryujin was the one to get up, leaning over Jisu. “Maybe it’s because I’m doing it with you?” 

For some reason, Jisu could see herself getting up, meeting Ryujin halfway with a kiss. She quickly pushed that scene to the designated corner of her mind, pushing Ryujin back and standing up. “I’m glad you’re liking it. We have six more days after this and then the tour is starting, so keep that in mind.” 

“Yeah, yeah.” Ryujin’s eyes wouldn’t leave Jisu as she gathered her things and headed to the door. “Hey, Jisu?” 

“What?” Door half open, Jisu looked back at Ryujin, who was sitting upright with her legs crossed. Her hands were clasped, lying in her lap, her hair had long since escaped its ponytail, and the smallest, worry tinged frown was on her face. Her eyes spoke volumes. “Take care of yourself. Don’t wear yourself out before the tour. And text me when you get home.” 

Jisu could’ve chosen any number of things to say, from a simple “I’m fine” to making fun of the return of concerned Ryujin. She didn’t say any of those; she didn’t say anything, and instead gave Ryujin the most reassuring smile she could. Would her eyes convey her unspoken words as well as Ryujin’s had? She could only hope. She shut the door behind her and made her way to her car, shooting a quick text to Yeji and Chaeryeong. I’m going to stop by my house and take a quick shower first. I’ll be there in five. 

Even as she got in her car and leaned back in her seat, ignition running, her heart would not stop pounding. Even as she closed her eyes, Ryujin would not leave her mind. What was happening to her? She wasn’t in love, she didn’t like Ryujin in that way, and yet the other girl had etched herself in her mind – permanently, Jisu feared.  

After sending the text, Jisu thought over just going straight to the agency so she wouldn’t have to make Yeji and Chaeryeong wait any longer. Now she thought, maybe she would need that shower after all. 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ 

“Vocals impeccable as always,” Yeji said, walking into the recording studio and patting Jisu on the back. Jisu took her headphones off and stepped away from the microphone. “I don’t know about that.” 

“Oh, don’t kid yourself,” Chaeryeong yelled from outside the studio, sitting in front of the many computers that were processing Jisu’s voice. “It’s a complete match to the released song. And you recorded that, like, three years ago!” 

Jisu shrugged, though she was pleased that her singing was still doing well. Yeji and Chaeryeong were nothing if not honest with her when it came to her career, and for them to be saying she was doing well meant the truth (and a huge compliment). She had found their practice strange at first; practicing in the recording studio and then recording and seeing if her notes matched the original song or if her adlibs could add more to it wasn’t what she was used to. But with time, it became as normal as waking up in the morning.  

Yeji steered Jisu out of the studio, both of them gingerly stepping over the wires. Chaeryeong got up as they approached her. “It’s about time for today’s practice to end. Satisfied?” 

“It went better than I thought it would,” Jisu admitted. “If it’s going to be like this for the next six days, I can’t say I’d complain.” 

“Oh, right, I forgot.” Yeji switched the recording tech and monitors off before leading the other two out of the room. She locked the door, then turned to Jisu, swinging the keys around her finger. “How was it with Ryujin?” 

“Efficient.” At Jisu’s short answer, Yeji and Chaeryeong exchanged looks of dissatisfaction. “Oh, come on, Jisu,” Chaeryeong said, rolling her eyes. “It had to be steamier than efficient. For example, if I was practicing with Yeji...” She leaned towards Yeji, hands clasped and held to her chest, eyes widened in mock worship. “I’d take note of everything she did...she’d notice, get embarrassed, tell me to stop...I’d come closer...we’d hold hands...our bodies would get closer, until we’d be chest to chest...and–” 

Yeji quickly slapped a hand over Chaeryeong’s mouth, looking as embarrassed as Jisu felt imagining that with Ryujin. “Enough of that. I guess if she says it was efficient, then it was efficient.” 

“Thank you,” Jisu said. Yeji gave her a thumbs up before reaching for her hand and holding it. Chaeryeong held Jisu’s other hand, sticking her tongue out at Yeji. “I’m breaking up with you.” 

They walked down the hallway and into the main room towards the exit. The silence lasted approximately a minute before Jisu let go of her friends’ hands and blurted out, “I thought about kissing her.” 

“I knew if we gave you time, you’d say something eventually,” Yeji said, grinning. She high fived Chaeryeong, who was laughing. Jisu stared at Yeji in betrayal, quickly switching to disgust. “You two are more like bros than girlfriends.” 

“And? What about it?” Chaeryeong shoved her finger into Jisu’s forehead, pushing her back into Yeji’s shoulder. “Don’t try to change the topic. Did Ryujin finally win you over?” 

“Not really.” Jisu took a deep breath. How was she going to explain that mess of emotions that was churning within her? It would be a terrible explanation, but she’d do her best. “I...don’t know. I guess I always thought of Ryujin as the person we saw in her videos and in the press.” 

“Jisu, even you know better than to judge someone by their media appearance,” Yeji scolded. Jisu shrugged sheepishly. “I just didn’t care about her too much to take that into consideration. Besides, you two did the same thing!” 

“That was different,” Yeji said. “We were simply teasing her, but we knew she couldn’t really be like that. I thought you knew that too.” She shook her head. “But it’s not that bad. Plenty of people do it, and it wasn’t like we knew you’d get to know her better. Go on.” 

Jisu took another deep breath. “I’ve been so confused lately. It’s not like I’m in love with Ryujin – I mean, I definitely like her, but not in that way. Or at least I don’t think so? I keep second guessing myself when it comes to her and the smallest things she does could be stuck in my head on repeat, but I don’t have any romantic feelings...and if I do, I’m just not picking up on them. I guess maybe because she’s revealed so much of who she really is lately, it’s messing with me. One moment I’ll be completely fine, the next she’ll be making me want to dunk my head in ice water, whether she’s said something or done or something or it’s just my imagination. And I don’t...I don’t love her. Maybe I don’t know for sure yet. But this is screwing me up.” 

“You’re imagining kissing her,” Chaeryeong said dryly. “Isn’t that enough of a sign?” 

“No, Ryeong, I think I know what she’s talking about,” Yeji said, rubbing her chin thoughtfully. “I felt the same way before I realized I liked you.” 

“But I –” Yeji shook her head, cutting through Jisu’s protest. “I get it, you don’t love her, you only like her in a friendly way. I’m not saying you’re going to want to date her. I’m just saying. I know how you feel. It’s weird; you’re learning more about her and figuring out how exactly you perceive her. It’s a confusing phase.” 

“So how’d you see me?” Chaeryeong said, elbowing Yeji playfully. Yeji smiled warmly at her. “You were so cute – you still are. But I loved your bold personality, the way you’d launch yourself at things before getting embarrassed. Your genuine and kind compliments, how you’d look at people you cared about like you’d give them the whole world. You teased, but it was obvious that you loved your friends. Words couldn’t describe that. Now, I could’ve chosen to see your other qualities,” she continued, sighing and holding her hands up, palms facing the ceiling in helplessness. Chaeryeong, though she looked pleased and flattered, elbowed Yeji again before reaching up and kissing her. “Aren’t I lucky you didn’t?” 

“Save it for later,” Jisu said. In a different situation, she would’ve found that interaction sweet. Now, biting her nails nervously, she walked beside her friends as they left the building and headed to their cars. “I was always confused since the press conference. When she first held my hand, okay, yeah, that was expected, but then when she looked at me with such genuine concern, it caught me off guard. Yesterday, so many things happened and it was like I couldn’t recover. We went to get the drinks and I was still holding Ryujin’s hand and the look she gave me, it was like...I can’t even describe it. The look she gave me when she pointed out I was still holding her hand, it wasn’t a bad one, it was just so unlike her. I embarrassed her, too. Tzuyu said we looked like a couple and she was blushing and I pushed her and she admitted it. And then...” She stopped to take a breath, feeling dizzy as the memories overwhelmed her. “Walking down that flower path, she...something had changed. That flower...” 

“Oh yeah, there was a flower in your hair,” Chaeryeong said. “It looked pretty. Ryujin did that?” 

Jisu nodded, swallowing hard. She could practically feel Ryujin’s hand, gently holding one side of her face as if she was going to kiss her (what was wrong with Jisu? Why did she keep thinking of Ryujin kissing her?). “If anyone saw us, they’d probably say we were dating. That was how strange Ryujin’s behavior was. And then this morning, I don’t know what I was expecting, I just thought maybe the Ryujin from yesterday was going to be there, not her charmer persona. The real Ryujin, tender and caring and so sweet. Did you know?” She took Chaeryeong and Yeji’s hands in hers, hoping her voice didn’t sound too desperate. “Today, before I left, she looked worried again. She told me to take care of myself and not to wear myself out before the tour. It wasn’t casual or anything, it was...” 

“Unlike her,” Yeji finished. Jisu nodded again. Yeji laughed softly. “Well, you have a lot to sort out. But you have a lot of time with her, too. Unless you think this is going to distract you?” 

Immediately, Jisu shook her head violently. It wasn’t going to distract her, but some part of her also didn’t want to stop seeing Ryujin. The tour was going to happen with Ryujin, not without her. Somehow, Jisu couldn’t imagine doing it with anyone other than Ryujin. “Am I going insane? It’s only the third day we’ve talked in person, yet I’m going through all of this.” 

“Considering Ryujin, it’s not much of a surprise,” Chaeryeong said, rolling her eyes. They stopped at Jisu’s car. Chaeryeong leaned in, pulling Jisu into a hug. From behind, she felt Yeji hug her as well. “It’s nothing to stress about,” Chaeryeong whispered. “Take all the time you need. Everything’s just happening so fast, you can’t process it, and no one blames you. Before you know it, you’ll have figured things out. You still have six more days before the tour. Everything is going to be fine. And you know we’re here for you.” 

“I know,” Jisu murmured. Safe in her friends’ arms, she closed her eyes. Chaeryeong was right. She still had six days. Whatever she was feeling for Ryujin, it would all be resolved soon. It wasn’t anything serious. It wasn’t love. Ryujin’s personality was just overwhelming her. Everything was overwhelming her. She was just stressed. Like Chaeryeong said, she still needed to process everything. It was fine, everything was fine, she was feeling absolutely nothing for Ryujin. She just liked Ryujin in the friendly way. 

Right?