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Love Is A Parallax

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You don't believe in one divine
But can't you tell me you believe in mine?
'Cause you've been my god, my god
And when you're gone, I'm godless, I'm godless

"Are you ready? We've got to leave in forty."

   An old ache pulses somewhere beneath Joohyun's ribs as she looks back at Seulgi over her shoulder—she's stood at the door with an ease to her posture that only serves to agitate Joohyun. She'd have preferred it if Yerim had been sent to fetch her, doesn't think she can stand Seulgi look so goddamn complacent after what happened, in the shirt Joohyun had bought for her on their sixth month anniversary.

   "I'm not," she says, rather tartly—combing through her hair.

   Joohyun is ready, just a little on the offensive, words already formed barbed on her tongue. To inspire hurt and cowardice. She is ready—having worn clothes not yet associated with a fond memory, flaws hidden behind concealer she'd have otherwise proclaimed proudly by Seulgi's side, emotions masked behind an indifferent exterior—but she isn't really ready.

   "You look ready." Seulgi tilts her head to the side in infinite curiosity, it's quite adorable on certain days.

   "Well, I'm not. Go report that to whoever you want to, I don't give a fuck."

   Seulgi is supposed to understand, she's supposed to know the reason why since she's why Joohyun's particularly snippy before a fansign. She's supposed to understand. Seulgi had gained her trust and affection early on in their trainee days, made a place for herself in Joohyun's enclosed life. But she doesn't understand, came armed with studied gestures instead. "I don't have anyone else to tell that to besides you."

   "Is that right?" Joohyun turns to face her fully and notices Seulgi instantly stand straighter—shoulders pushed back and lips pinched, a mixture of unbalanced emotions.

   The ache in her ribs blooms into anger, her veins turn heavy—obstructed by an emotion she hasn't felt since so long.

   "Unnie, if you're—"

   "What d'you want?" She interrupts, as anger roils and rises to her throat, indecent in its approach—laying all to waste. "I'll meet up with you at the car, just leave me alone."

   An unflattering flush spreads across Seulgi's cheeks. "I'm sorry."

   "Sorry? You're sorry?" Joohyun snaps, hands itching to push Seulgi against the wall, to grip her wrists until there are indents left on skin as twisted reminders. A laugh lies strangled in her throat as her next words sound hollow. "There are a hundred reasons why you should be, but just one apology isn't going to make anything better."

   Seulgi doesn't look away, she steps forward—arms crossed and rather defiant—remains impassive, gestures painfully neutral. "If you're mad at me, that's okay—I can take it. But don't let that stop you from doing your job."

   "I am mad at you."

   "Okay," Seulgi says, tone punctuated by impatience, "I'm sorry, all right? Now, come on."

   Joohyun can hear the other girls move about in their rooms, in a rush to make themselves presentable—in the quiet that seeps and pools around them, seconds roll by in agony. She isn't ready to think of what their fight has entailed, isn't ready to scour through the wreckage. Afraid of what she might find.

   "What exactly are you sorry for? Are you sorry for calling me delusional and insecure? Or are you sorry for saying I'm not worth it anymore?"

   A calculated exchange—it stings, Joohyun mostly, after encapsulating last nights argument into a few petty blows. Anger burns in her blood at Seulgi's reaction, she almost looks ashamed. "I am—sorry for all that. I didn't mean any of it. I was mad."

   "Look at yourself. You don't mean any of this—you just want me to go to the fansign and act like I'm happy, like you didn't hurt me. But I'm not and you did." They haven't been out for blood before, hadn't used their artillery to maim and torture. But Joohyun is hurt, and she'd be damned if she doesn't return it with equal measure. "I have to do it, it's in our contract to meet hundreds of fans, shake their hands, smile—pose for pictures. I can't say no. I don't understand why that doesn't bother you."

   "We never had the chance to talk after last night."

   Joohyun sighs, suddenly tired. All fight now gone. "Okay."

   "I'm sorry."


   "Are you still mad at me?" Seulgi's voice has a strange affected quality to it, like she isn't really sure how to phrase her next sentence. "I said I'm sorry." She steps in closer, hesitant.

   Joohyun keeps her eyes resolutely off of Seulgi as she says, "Just tell me one thing—is she worth it?"

   She'd prefer to leave now, without Seulgi's affirmations and run into Sooyoung's arms, fumbling for a comfort she'd never find.

   "What? No."

   "She obviously likes you."

   "So? I don't care about her."

   Joohyun looks back at her, reins in her irritation at the unpleasant scowl on Seulgi's face—unable to offer anything more than the foul tempest that churns, untamed in her mind, "But she's your friend, so you must care about her. No, you do—you care about her enough to say I'm delusional for thinking she has a thing for you."

   "I can't do this right now," Seulgi says, an untouched and silent fury drenches every syllable as she's about to leave, but Joohyun reaches out to grasp her wrist—can't let the thoughts that run rampant remain unresolved, lest they lay waste to her sanity.

   "Why not?"

   "'Cause we have to go!" Seulgi shouts back and a sudden tension falls suspended in the air like particles of unseen dust, still there but not quite.

   There are no more sounds other than the private hum of silence, it seems like everyone in their vicinity has heard her. It's the irritation in her voice—that their choice of conversation is beneath her, that she'd prefer the company for their fans over Joohyun's—it's in the sting, the inaudible hiss that comes from impact.

   It's one thing to pry Joohyun's anger away with affectionate words and petal lips, it's another thing to extinguish it completely.

   Just a simple word offered in response—pointed and icy, "Fine." Joohyun wonders if it hurts, if Seulgi would replay this moment over and over again to pick apart her own insecurities until the memory is crinkled and faded at the edges.

   Seulgi falters and reaches out to grasp Joohyun's wrist as a desperate remedy for her behaviour, but the warmth from her palm is a little too needy, "Unnie—"

   "Go. I'll meet you in fifteen."

   "Joohyun-ah," Seulgi murmurs, soft—her thumb a delicate brush against skin, sincerity in her eyes. A ploy for forgiveness yet Joohyun can't will herself to look away from the way Seulgi's lips form an irresistible pout. Lips she's adored since an eternity.


   "Hyun-ah... Please, just listen to me."

   "I told you—"

   "Listen," she sighs, lifts her hands to cup Joohyun's cheeks in an attempt to soothe, "I don't care if she says she's in love with me. I want you to understand—I want you to know that she doesn't mean half of what you mean to me. I lost my temper last night but that's all. I'd never do anything to hurt you. I said all those things 'cause I thought you didn't trust me and that just..." Joohyun blinks at her, slow and deliberate to ease the persistent sting behind her eyelids—she's about to speak more but her bottom lip quivers ever so slightly, and Joohyun feels an odd sensation stretch taut under her navel, suddenly aches to catch Seulgi's lip between her teeth—but Seulgi continues, a slight tremble to her voice, "Fuck, I'm sorry. I realise what I said was uncalled for. I'm stupid, so stupid in fact that you don't deserve someone like me. But I'm also selfish 'cause I don't want to lose you. I don't want to lose this."

   Seulgi rests her forehead against Joohyun's, fingers slipping into her hair. Joohyun sinks deeper, deeper—until finally, "Neither do I."

   "I didn't want to think about our fight, I thought if I avoided it long enough... I'm sorry."


   "Are you—?"

   "Yeah," Joohyun interrupts, her hands reach out to grip Seulgi's shoulders—pushing her back to regain control, "I'm still mad at you."

   "Oh." She rolls her lips into her mouth, shoulders slumped—defeated, pitiable.

   Joohyun reaches out to hold her hand and gives it a tight squeeze for reassurance, offers a tight-lipped smile—slightly lopsided and aged with melancholy. "Let's go, don't want to be late."

   Seulgi focuses on their hands, fingers entwined and locked in an affectionate embrace. "Hyun-ah?" She doesn't continue until Joohyun looks back at her in curiosity, eyebrows raised. "You're worth it. I'm sorry I made you think otherwise."