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half my bones

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when siyeon wakes up, she finds herself in a garden of lilies.

they settle around her head, tangled in her hair, kissing her sleep-swollen cheeks. she’s grateful for the privacy curtain around her bed, because she can hear minji and yoobin moving around on the other side, and she’s glad they don’t have to see.

she scoops the petals

(just petals, for now)

into her hands, curling her fists around them, letting them stain her fingers and the spaces under her nails with a mess of white and yellow.

she stashes them in her toiletry bag, so she can flush them down the toilet, hiding the evidence like murder.

“you were coughing a lot last night,” minji says, stopping siyeon in the doorway. “are you getting sick?”

“i think i am,” siyeon admits, with a rueful smile.

“i’ll make you tea for when you’re done in the shower,” minji replies, then slips out of the room.

siyeon turns the shower on hot, as hot as it can go, and the thunderous sound of the water pounding against the drain drowns out the coughs that come from deep in her chest. two petals drip to the floor and disappear down the drain like ghosts.

~ * ~ * ~ * ~

a week later, siyeon sits in an upstairs room at the company, drumming her fingers in time with the music playing through her headphones. yoohyeon sits next to her, her own headphones over her ears, her eyes closed.

the song finishes, and siyeon looks at yoohyeon, raising an eyebrow, “that was pretty good, i think.”

“yeah, we probably only need to run through it one more time.” yoohyeon agrees, her lips puffing into a mixture of a pout and a smile. her eyes shine, almost golden in the evening light that climbs through the window.

it would be so easy to fall in love with yoohyeon.

siyeon taps at the screen of her phone, backtracking to a certain timestamp in the song.

“there was one part though. i think we need to fix our harmonies.” she can’t quite find it, so she opens her mouth to just sing the section of the song, figuring yoohyeon will know what part she means.

the second the note swells in her throat, something else does as well.

siyeon covers her mouth when she coughs.

usually that’s enough.

today five petals explode forth at once, trembling through her fingers.

they drift to the table, still a pristine white.

almost as pale as the color yoohyeon’s skin takes on when she sees them, when she glances and sees a tiny fragment of flower on siyeon’s bottom lip. her hand is shaking when she reaches up and wipes it away.

“fuck, siyeon.” yoohyeon says.

the laugh that escapes tastes like flower stems and bitterness. “yeah.”

yoohyeon crushes her into a hug, and siyeon can feel all of the petals and stamens and stems in her lungs. she thinks for a second that yoohyeon might be able to just squeeze it all out, push it free from her body so she can go back to breathing without tasting flowers in her throat.

she could be in love with yoohyeon, maybe.

siyeon coughs out a petal against the other girl’s neck and yoohyeon lies to her that it’s going to be okay.

~ * ~ * ~ * ~

“who is it?” yoohyeon whispers, lips close to siyeon’s ear. bora and handong are singing in the kitchen while they do the dishes. gahyeon and yoobin are setting up a game of mario kart on yoohyeon’s nintendo switch in the living room.

siyeon shrugs, doesn’t answer. it feels sacred, like her own martyrdom, something she just has to bare.

then minji walks by, flashes siyeon the brightest smile, the one where her teeth show and her eyes glimmer like jewels. “hey, we’re still having a movie night in my bed tonight, right singnie?”

“of course,” siyeon manages.

minji slips into their bedroom.

siyeon crushes a flower petal between her teeth.

yoohyeon stares at her with an expression siyeon doesn’t even want to try to read.

“surely minji could--”

“i don’t want her to love me out of pity,” siyeon hisses, before yoohyeon can finish.

she brushes her teeth for ten minutes but she can’t get the taste out from between them.

~ * ~ * ~ * ~

siyeon has to leave dance practice early because she can’t stop coughing.

she hears the manager unnies discussing the possibility of bronchitis when she hurries past them. if only. if only her lungs were infested and infected with something that simple.

she slips into the bathroom and coughs and coughs into the sink until it feels more like choking.

the petals settle into the bowl and siyeon realizes that they’re stained pink.

how fitting.

~ * ~ * ~ * ~

bora confronts her the next morning. siyeon is nursing an americano in the hallway outside of the practice room, and the smaller girl effectively backs her into the wall the second she’s in front of her.

“what are you hiding?” bora asks.

“i’m not hiding anything,” siyeon retorts, “i just have bronchitis.”

everyone else has accepted it, even though she’s effectively avoided making doctor’s appointments. but bora looks at her with her lips turned downwards and her eyes all dark and...maybe a little scared.

“i saw the petals in the trash. you didn’t cover them very well.”

siyeon feels one of the stems in her chest expand, tightening her lungs.

“do you think she’ll love you back, siyeon?” bora breathes, voice low but still, somehow, so loud. too loud. siyeon’s ears ring. she muffles a cough and the petal tickles the place where she holds it hostage in her throat.

she thinks of minji and how beautiful she is and how it feels when she pulls siyeon close and asks her to hold her when she’s sad and kisses her cheek so close to the corner of her lips she can feel it. she thinks of minji telling her she loves her and calling her her soulmate and the way her eyes shine.

then she thinks of the words little sister and the times minji and bora have giggled over chris hemsworth during their movie nights and the way minji’s kisses never trail to her lips or along the aching, needy curve of her jaw.

“no.” siyeon says, quietly.

bora closes her eyes and replies, “then you need to get the surgery.”

“no.” siyeon repeats.

bora crumbles like an empire falling in one breath, her shoulders collapsing, “siyeon, please. this will kill you.”

“i think never loving her again would too.”

there’s a pause where they look at each other and the entire universe passes between them. bora sucks in a breath, wipes her tears with her hands. and then she tries, “is it me?”

siyeon levels her with a confused expression, and bora looks back almost desperately, “if it’s me, i’ll fall in love with you. i think i could.”

it would be almost as easy to fall in love with bora as it would be to fall in love with yoohyeon

“i wish it was you,” siyeon admits.

she leans in and kisses bora’s cheek before she drifts into the practice room, wondering if the dancer can smell the lilies on her breath.

~ * ~ * ~ * ~

minji comes to siyeon when she’s stressed. she always has, and siyeon has never complained. she likes being the eye of the storm, the one to redirect the maelstroms and keep minji safe. so when minji just crawls into her arms, siyeon is happy to hold her.

her fingers soothe up and down minji’s back, under her shirt, feeling her bare skin smooth and soft and warm over the mountain range of her spine. she just holds her and holds her together and hopes that minji can’t hear the garden in her chest as it blooms and takes up all of the space in her lungs.

“i love you,” minji says, before she moves to her own bed a while later.

siyeon feels a vine swell in her throat.

“i love you too.”

minji glances at her with that look , the one where she holds an entire galaxy of emotion and adoration in her face even though her smile is small and muted. she doesn’t say anything, just looks siyeon over for a moment.

then she climbs into her bunk and leaves siyeon alone.

at 3 am siyeon coughs alone in the kitchen and buries an entire bloom in the trash.

~ * ~ * ~ * ~

“i heard you last night,” bora says, when siyeon stumbles into the kitchen again barely four hours later, sleep still clouding her brain like a thick fog.

siyeon says nothing.

“the surgery is easy to heal from.” bora continues, her eyes soft and concerned as they study siyeon’s face.

siyeon scoffs, giving a laugh that’s flavored like perfume. “physically.”

“who is she that you’d rather die than--”

bora’s frustrated whisper cuts off at the sound of footsteps. a moment later minji appears in the kitchen, greeting them both with a sleepy smile. she then shuffles over to siyeon, curling up against her, face pressed into her neck.

“you’re my pillow. the best pillow,” minji murmurs. siyeon can feel the way the leader almost immediately lulls back to a pseudo sleep, leaning most of her bodyweight onto siyeon, warm and soft and scented like strawberry.

siyeon meets bora’s eyes over minji’s shoulder, red hair against her nose and her lips, her arms loose but very purposeful around the curve of minji’s ribs. it only takes a moment, and then the realization washes over bora like high tide.

she looks at them standing together and nods tightly, her jaw tensing.

before she leaves the kitchen, she squeezes siyeon’s hand hard but full of understanding.

~ * ~ * ~ * ~

the next person to find out is yoobin, and it’s a mistake.

they fall asleep together in yoobin’s bed, and siyeon awakes to a coughing fit. she means to race to the bathroom, but she realizes the bed is already full of petals, a darker pink than before. some of them streak with beautiful patterns of red, like veins, intricate across the surface.

she tries desperately to gather them in her hands, but she’s shaking and yoobin is a light sleeper.

she stirs to the sight of siyeon with blood and lily dust on her lips, arms oozing with petals, shoulders shaking with silent coughs. “siyeon...what--”

siyeon coughs an entire flower into her own lap. it blooms against her thighs. the stem itches against her skin.

“oh my god,” yoobin breathes.

“i’m sorry,” siyeon whispers, and she isn’t sure if she’s apologizing for the mess she’s made of yoobin’s bed or for something else entirely.

yoobin helps her collect the petals and the flowers into a bag to be thrown away. she rubs siyeon’s back when she coughs up another full one, petals and stem and all. and she stands in the bathroom with her when siyeon brushes the pink and red from her teeth until she can’t taste anything but mint toothpaste and an echo of blood.

“you need to tell her. you have to, unnie.” yoobin’s voice is soft and low but filled up with desperation. “you have to.”

siyeon looks up at her and their eyes meet in the mirror.

she realizes yoobin is crying, the tears slick and messy against her face.

“she never asked for this.”

siyeon’s mouth still fucking tastes like flowers.

“neither did you.”

if only it was that simple.

~ * ~ * ~ * ~

siyeon considers telling her. she really does.

but then she remembers how much rests on minji’s shoulders, how the weight collapses her spine, how many times siyeon has helped to hold her up. she knows what their managers would think, what the articles would say, what their parents would think. she knows she knows she knows she knows

she knows minji will never love her back.

she can’t put the pressure on her of expecting it.

selfish selfish selfish.

another night alone in the quiet kitchen; when she coughs alone over the sink the stems tear her throat raw and her tongue tastes like perfume mixed with old coins. the full flowers and their ragged stems are all a burning cherry red.

siyeon reminds herself that she’s taking care of minji and it makes it hurt just a little bit less.

~ * ~ * ~ * ~

bora stops asking her to get the surgery, at least out loud.

she begs with her eyes when she helps siyeon wipe the blood away from her lips in the mornings.

yoohyeon begs her to tell minji with the way she carefully helps catch any crimson-laden petals that happen to escape, with the way her hands always shake and her gaze can never linger on siyeon’s face.

yoobin begs her to do anything at all, obvious in the way she hugs siyeon a little more often, brings her water and tries to take care of her.

siyeon begs herself, sometimes, too. but the garden in her lungs has a mind of its own, and she thinks maybe it’s just overgrown the strength she has to cut it down.

~ * ~ * ~ * ~

they have a comeback, and the practice room is heavy with a tired energy, the kind born from little sleep but a lot of determination. it’s a comfortable energy, one that siyeon usually finds motivation in, the performer in her rising up to its full potential.

the managers disappear to...discuss something. siyeon isn’t sure. she isn’t paying attention, at least until minji speaks.

“we should run through the choreography and vocals at the same time while we wait. it doesn’t have to be perfect. we just need the practice.”

gahyeon groans, but it’s playful, “why do you have to be such a good leader? actually making us work to be our best. gross.”

minji laughs like music, and they all find their positions.

it goes well. it goes fine.

perfectly fine.

then they hit the chorus. siyeon opens her mouth to sing, and nothing but a raw exhalation comes out.

no.

no .

she can feel the vines around her throat, the petals filling her esophagus. the blooms curl against her larynx. nothing comes out but air, but air and the smell of lilies and blood she can taste on her tongue so familiar that she almost doesn’t notice it.

“no,” she murmurs, her voice choking and scared.

minji stops the music, wide-eyed and confused. handong is the closest, and she grips siyeon’s shoulder with a firm hand. it feels molten. siyeon doesn’t want to be touched, hates the concern in the other girl’s voice, “are you okay? what’s wrong?”

bora and yoobin and yoohyeon look horrifed. everyone looks scared.

siyeon feels scared.

she tries to hit another note, but nothing escapes but a cough.

NO! ” she cries out, and it’s strangled. “i can’t sing. i can’t sing anymore.”

everyone stares at her, and she realizes that they’re terrified for her. of her? she coughs more. she coughs and coughs and fills the practice room with bloody petals. they flutter around her feet and drift in the air and each one steals more and more of her voice.

“oh my god.” bora breathes.

siyeon coughs a full flower into her hands, feeling absolutely humiliated. the red pools against her fingers. but it’s just from the flowers. the color is running because they’re wet from her saliva. surely there’s not that much blood. no. no. there can’t be.

“i’ll get a manager.” yoobin says.

siyeon sinks to the floor into the mess of petals and cries.

~ * ~ * ~ * ~

siyeon curls up in her bed, captain america blanket pulled up to her chin.

“we’ll schedule the surgery for as soon as possible.” someone is saying. their room is filled with staff and doctors and her brain is too filled up with clouds for her thoughts to push through. she doesn’t really pay attention to any of their faces. in an hour she won’t be able to remember anyone who was in this room.

“i don’t want it,” siyeon murmurs, but they’ve long-since stopped listening to her protests. her chest is so tight and swollen with lilies that it’s started to force even her speaking voice out.

“we’ll be back in a couple of hours to let you know the date for the procedure,” it’s one of the doctors. he doesn’t even speak to siyeon. he’s talking to someone else who has just entered the room.

she almost flinches at the voice. “okay. thank you so much.”

everyone shuffles out, but there’s still a presence. just out of sight of the chrysalis of blankets and pillows siyeon has buried herself in. she can feel the weight of it, like a poltergeist. neither of them move. neither of them breathe (not that siyeon can do that very well anyway).

finally, minji crosses the room. she sits on the bed next to the jumble of siyeon’s knees.

her face is too sad to look at for long. “can you tell me who it is?”

siyeon shakes her head. she feels a lily shift in her throat.

“why not?” minji asks. her voice sounds like a bruise.

siyeon shrugs a shoulder, “it’s not that simple.” and maybe it would be, but now her entire life rests in minji’s hands. that’s too much. she can’t do that to her. she’s already distressing her enough.

minji kicks off her shoes and then climbs into the bed completely. siyeon lets her. a selfish part of her wants this, wants whatever love from minji she can get. so she curls against her and lets minji hold her, face buried into her neck, slicking her skin with tears. minji plays with her hair, “i can’t lose you, siyeon. i know giving up the love you have for someone must be so hard. i’m sure it feels awful . but i can’t lose you.”

“okay,” siyeon whispers.

there’s no easy way to tell minji she’s going to be losing her no matter what choice she makes.

~ * ~ * ~ * ~

the others take turns helping her clean up the petals in the mornings.

there are so many the bedroom floor disappears.

~ * ~ * ~ * ~

handong sits with her when she spends hours in the practice room and tries to sing. occasionally a sound will slip out, but it will rip leaves with it and soon enough siyeon is coughing again.

“i don’t know what i would do in your place.” handong admits, after siyeon spits sanguine into the trash can.

that’s all she says, but it’s nice to hear. it’s nice to hear that this isn’t simple for anyone else either.

siyeon doesn’t want to feel too much today, though. not after her breakdown yesterday. so she just cracks a smile, “maybe they’ll let you sing for once if i can’t.”

handong looks at her in horror, but siyeon starts to laugh (a choked, painful sound, but still a laugh), and the other girl laughs too, even though it’s probably a bit hysterical. “holy shit.”

“that was bad. sorry.” siyeon admits, sheepish.

handong sighs and steps in, squeezing siyeon’s fingers and resting her head on her shoulder, “i don’t care. as long as i get to hear you laugh for a long time, i don’t care what kind of awful jokes you make.”

they stay like that for a long time, until it’s time to go back to the dorms.

~ * ~ * ~ * ~

“if you don’t tell minji, i will.”

it’s gahyeon who confronts her.

she gathers herself to her full height and siyeon realizes that she doesn’t look like a little kid anymore. she’s not 17 years old and wide eyed and full of a frightened wonder. she’s an adult. she’s tired and older and there’s an entire world in her head that siyeon is both proud of and scared of.

“excuse me?” siyeon replies, stunned by all of it.

gahyeon looks her over. her eyes are sad, “you need to tell minji.”

“and you’re going to do it for me if i don’t? who gave you that right?” siyeon replies, and her voice isn’t as strong as she wishes it could be. it’s raw and strangled and her teeth are stained pink. she doesn’t sound angry like she wants to.

gahyeon stands firm. a couple of years ago, the concept of any of them being angry at her would have made her melt. there’s none of that now. “you did, when you decided you were willing to kill yourself over it.”

siyeon doesn’t have a response to that.

“she could fall in love with you. she could be in love with you.” gahyeon continues. “you only have two weeks before the surgery. isn’t it worth a try before you give it up forever?”

siyeon knows. she knows, and everyone has tried to tell her this already. but it’s so hard. it’s so hard to think and to make choices when she can’t even breathe without choking on the culmination of her own fear and guilt, disguised as something beautiful. but gahyeon is so steady and firm and they’ve always been close, she’s always taken care of gahyeon and soothed her when she was scared and helped her solve her problems.

it feels very strange to be on the other side of things.

“if you don’t tell her, i will. you’re being so stupid .” gahyeon says again.

the garden in her chest shifts and the vines grow a little bit tighter.

~ * ~ * ~ * ~

it happens sooner than siyeon expects.

that night, panic makes the growth happen faster. she sits on the kitchen floor and coughs, but her body is so fucking tired of coughing and she aches with every breath. she’s in her underwear and the petals smear across her legs and her hands. most of them don’t come up on their own now. they mostly come detached from the full flowers, the full plants she wheezes up from her ragged lungs.

she’s so busy spitting up stems that she doesn’t hear footsteps or notice a presence until minji is sliding to the floor to sit next to her, leaning against the cool surface of the refrigerator. her hand rubs siyeon’s back, patting gently, trying to help her dislodge whatever is stuck in her throat.

siyeon wipes blood from her lips. “sorry, did i wake you up?”

“i haven’t slept yet,” minji admits.

siyeon nods. “i’m sorry.” she knows it’s because of her.

there’s a pause, silent except for siyeon’s breathing that’s now constantly constrained. each inhale and exhales crackles slightly, overgrown. the quiet feels heavy. the refrigerator makes a whirring sound and it makes them both jump, because the space between them is so tense, so filled up with everything.

finally, minji speaks.

“lilies are my favorite flower.”

siyeon nods, and minji reaches for one of the full blooms. she isn’t afraid of the crimson that stains her fingers, or the slight, cloying smell like metal. “i used to like them a lot more,” siyeon admits, laughing drily. it draws another petal into her mouth and spits it into her hand, crushing it in her fist.

minji watches her and sighs deeply. it sounds like there might be a storm of tears brewing there. siyeon is too afraid to look at her face. “lilies are my favorite. and i started thinking, you know? how it has to be one of us. you’re never around anyone else.”

siyeon feels her stomach turn over. she opens her mouth to speak but there’s nothing to say and it’s so hard to breathe anyway. minji rips one of the flowers to pieces, “bora made sense. so did yoohyeon. even yoobin. but i’ve seen how desperately they’ve tried to fix it, and it hasn’t worked. so i watched you with the others the past few days. and it’s just...everyone is so willing to love you if that will fix it, but none of it is working, is it?”

there’s a small shake of siyeon’s head, but she thinks minji doesn’t really want an answer anyway. doesn’t need one.

“and then i realized that means there’s only one option left.”

a long pause. minji picks up a handful of petals and crushes them into a sticky dust. “it’s me, isn’t it?”

siyeon doesn’t know what to say. she has no idea how to reply, how to confirm that after so long. so she just breaks down, crying as hard as she can with no oxygen in her lungs. her tears fall pink, or maybe she’s just hallucinating from her lack of breath. whatever the case, they burn down her cheeks and she just...sobs.

“i can’t give you up. i’m so scared to give you up.” siyeon manages, but her voice is pitched high, almost wailing, pulled so thin and strained that she’s not sure minji can even hear it. “i’m sorry. i’m so sorry.”

minji pulls her in. her fingers slip past siyeon’s tear stained lips and help her free a bloom from where her teeth trap it. siyeon is forced to meet her eyes with her pink-stained vision and realizes that minji is crying too. the dark circles under her eyes are like deep space, parted only by the clear trails of tears. “you don’t have to give me up.”

“what?” siyeon chokes out.

“you don’t have to give me up. i can fall in love with you,” minji replies. it’s almost frantic.

siyeon shakes her head, “but i don’t want you to love me because you pity me.” and she does, she wants anything that she can get, but she also can’t accept it fully. she can’t accept the knowledge that minji is only with her because siyeon is pathetic and literally falling apart from the inside in the middle of the goddamn kitchen.

“it’s not out of pity!” minji says, harsher than either of them expect. she shakes her head, her face falling, pressing inwards as she tries not to cry too hard to speak, “it’s not out of pity. i’ve thought about it before, siyeon! i was just scared to be with you when i’m the leader of the group. i was scared of the conflict of interest. i was scared of what people would think. but god, you’re willing to fucking die because of this and i’m here being a coward.”

she cups siyeon’s face in her hands. they’re still stained red and it smears against siyeon’s skin. “i’m sorry for taking so long. i’m sorry for not realizing. but i can fall in love with you. i want to.”

“okay.” siyeon replies.

she coughs again but nothing comes up this time. she feels it in her throat, but it doesn’t actually escape. “please fall in love with me. please love me back.” it’s the most pathetic thing she’s ever said, but they’re both raw. they’re both pathetic and scared and carving themselves open.

but maybe that’s alright.

maybe all of this is alright.

minji kisses her and it tastes like blood and flowers and everything siyeon has ever wanted. she decides there’s some sort of fascinating irony in the fact something so good might be what kills the garden inside of her.

~ * ~ * ~ * ~

the next morning siyeon wakes up and the first thing she sees is red.

for an instant she assumes the petals have covered her eyes, but once wakefulness sets in she realizes that it’s minji’s hair. they’re curled up together in a mess of limbs and minji’s reddish-pink hair is an early morning hurricane.

siyeon shifts, so she can see. there are petals in the bed, but only a couple of them are clotted with blood. the rest are shades of pink, growing paler and paler.

minji greets her with a sleepy kiss, seemingly unbothered by the flavor of pollen on siyeon’s lips. she strokes the petals with her fingers and brushes them from siyeon’s hair.

“good morning,” minji breathes out.

“good morning.” siyeon replies.

“they’re pink again,” minji points out, lifting one between her fingers. it borders on baby pink, close to the color of minji’s sheets. this one looks more beautiful than the saturated red.

siyeon swallows thickly. it doesn’t go down easily, but it’s easier than before. “maybe they’ll stop completely soon. if they’re not ripping me open inside anymore.”

“if you go a few days without any we can cancel the surgery.” minji points out, and siyeon feels a wave of desperate freedom at that thought. surely she can get there. surely the way minji looks at her and presses a trail of kisses up her jaw is enough to heal the scar tissue in her lungs.

they meander into the kitchen together. only bora is awake, quietly preparing a simple breakfast. minji moves to help her, and siyeon settles at the table. she can feel bora’s worried eyes on her, taking her in, searching her as though the garden of lilies might burst through her skin.

siyeon starts to cough, and minji looks at her in startled concern as well.

two petals come up, only holding on to the faintest ghost of pink.

bora nearly knocks her out of the chair with the force of the hug she gives her, “i was so worried you were going to die in the most emo way possible, you fucking idiot.” she clings to siyeon and she can hear bora start to cry, but it’s good crying.

when siyeon sighs out a heavy breath, it doesn’t bring anything with it but contented relief.

~ * ~ * ~ * ~

“god, fuck you!” yoohyeon yells. she, siyeon, and handong are playing mario kart. the other members are jostled together on the other couch, trying to ignore all of yoohyeon’s frustrated yelling. “i can’t believe you green shelled me, dongie! i thought you could be trusted!”

“why would you think that? we’re playing mario kart !” handong retorts, rocketing yet another green shell at yoohyeon, spinning her off the track.

yoohyeon curses again, and siyeon just lets them bicker with each other. it’s funny to hear handong insult yoohyeon in multiple languages, and they’re both so distracted that they don’t even notice siyeon is winning until the race is over and she ends up in 1st place.

“ha! suck my dick.” siyeon says, grinning at both of them.

“i can’t believe you guys didn’t see her winning the entire time,” yoobin says, shaking her head. “this is what happens when you argue.”

“i’ll play how i want to play, loser.” yoohyeon retorts. gahyeon sits on the floor next to her, grabbing for her controller so she can have her turn.

they’re about to start bickering, too, but then siyeon’s laughter turns into a cough.

everyone freezes. yoohyeon and gahyeon fall quiet. handong goes rigid next to her. yoobin sets her book in her lap. bora and minji stop their conversation, laughter going cold in a split second.

a single petal escapes siyeon’s mouth.

pure white.

the relief is obvious in everyone. siyeon gently passes yoobin her controller and climbs on to the couch. minji pulls her in, pressing her lips to the crown of her head. “are you okay?” she asks. bora moves closer to the others, focusing on the game to give them a fragile moment of privacy.

“it didn’t even hurt.” siyeon admits.

minji takes the petal into her hands, running her fingertips over it. it looks delicate in her hands and siyeon doesn’t hate the sight of it, not like she did before.

white might even be her new favorite color.

~ * ~ * ~ * ~

siyeon doesn’t cough up even a fragment of a flower for a week.

they let her return to practice, but the night before everyone gathers together. she doesn’t want to crash and burn in front of the staff and producers tomorrow. she wants her family there if she still can’t sing, even with her lungs no longer blooming. so they all cluster together in the kitchen. the room is heavy with tension, and siyeon is reminded what it’s like to suffocate.

when minji squeezes her hand and she finds the courage, her voice is a little raw, feels just a little different. but the notes are there. she can feel it swell in her chest and it reverberates around the room. the shakiness can be fixed. all that matters is that she sings through the entire chorus and doesn’t even taste a little pollen on her tongue.

it’s gahyeon that hugs her first, barrelling into her like a tiny comet. then yoohyeon, then bora, and then all of the others, wrapping around her in a mess of tears and limbs. it feels a little strange to think about it deeply, to consider that they’re celebrating the death of the garden inside of her chest.

but minji kisses her and she tastes vanilla and not even a hint of lilies.

and siyeon decides that maybe, sometimes, it’s okay to be happy about things dying.