Shin Yeh is not stupid, he knew exactly what he was getting into when he found out his father and older brothers died. It's an unfortunate accident, they said. But one look at their slimy smiles, he knew they tampered with the car. Later on of course he found out that his father and older brothers were working on getting rid of the old money stench, you know, all the corruption and mafias. He was the youngest, the most gullible, the one who was out of touch of their family business after getting away from that life to chase his dreams. He was successful in doing so just because he got two older brothers who would shoulder the family legacy.
He lost half of his world when his wife died, but he was moving on as he got a daughter to take care of. Life was enough for the two of them. But that perfect morning was ruined when a police officer came by to deliver the unfortunate news. His world was crashing down into a bottomless pit. He moved back to his old, sad, and empty childhood house. Life was suddenly too big and moved too fast for the two of them. The distance between him and his daughter was minuscule at first, then the more she grew the farther they were.
Not long after he continued his family legacy, the interested parties suddenly flocked around him like flies around biological waste. Fortunately, also not long after that, an agent from national security bureau visited him, the one who had been working with his father and brothers prior. They had been building the case patiently and meticulously to bring those vicious people in.
He always tried his best to send his daughter away for school (and work later on) out of the country as often as possible. He was not blind to his daughter's activities overseas, aware of her separate saving accounts (he knew the presidents of the banks personally duh) and her start-up companies (because damn, she owned five companies worldwide, two of them were based in South Korea). He was proud of her, didn't mind what her actions implied. He expected Shuhua to get far far away from this pitiful life anyway. He didn't know why she stayed this long with him, he suspected that she must be aware of the situation as well, albeit not extensively.
Finally, after years (almost three decades, mind you, because people kept mysteriously missing or dying) of chasing and collecting all the evidences, one by one the mafia was brought to justice. It had been the headline news for weeks. But one night he woke up to a familiar man pointing a gun to his head. He struggled of course, but the night still went off with a bang.
Shuhua sits on the sofa by the bed where her father is currently laying, still in a coma after a long surgery (we can only hope, the doctor said). She's heard it all from the the bureau agent, all of it. She thought she was prepared but oh how wrong she was. She just signed the papers handed by the family attorney, basically saying that due to her father absence, she now has the executive power to the Yeh Financial Holding. She buries her face on her hands, the corners of her eyes sting with prickle of tears. For the first time in...she can't even remember, she cries. The tears feel hot against her cheeks, but she embraces them as she's too numb to feel anything else. Right now is the loneliest she has ever felt all her life.
Few days later find Shuhua sitting on the same spot in the hospital room. She has kept herself busy with monitoring the news, not surprised to find the biggest companies in Taiwan, Yeh included, are currently decreasing in value after the mafia scandal. Maybe I should sell the company. But it feels wrong somehow, even though she hates it, it is still her family legacy of which she can still rebuild.
A faint whisper of her name makes her jump out of her seat and runs to the bedside to press the button, calling the nurse. "Father?" She places her hand on her father's that looks frail and wrinkled. Her heart clenches, when was the last time she touched her father? Her father squeezes her hand softly. She looks up to her father, vision blurry by the tears in her eyes, to find a relief look on his face. Before she could say anything, the nurse and doctor rush in to fuss on her father.
Shin Yeh has been alive for more than fifty years and had a brush off with death, but for the first time since a long time, he feels alive. He spends the whole week laying in the hospital bed after waking up talking with his daughter about nothing and everything.
("I'm sorry. I'm sorry for being the worst father to you."
Shuhua was quiet for a long minute, he braced himself to see his daughter walking out of his life once again. But Shuhua looked at him with a peaceful look on her face, "I'm sorry, too."
The distance between him and Shuhua is still a planet away, but it is slowly getting smaller and smaller. The way the corner of her lips turns up reminds him a lot of Mel.
("You really look a lot like your mom, you know."
"Really? What was she like?")
Soojin sits nervously in front of her best friend, her hands are fidgeting with the strap of her handbag to calm herself. Soyeon, sitting across from her, eyes her suspiciously, but keeps eating her cake nonetheless. Soojin inhales gruffly then says, "I'm in love with someone" quickly.
Soyeon raises her eyebrow, nonchalant, "Good for you. Hui has started being annoying asking about you time and time again."
"You're not surpsised?" Even Soojin is surprised by how well Soyeon is taking the news.
"No, duh. He's been chasing you ever since you two broke up. I didn't think you guys would get back together tho."
"No, Soyeon. I'm done with him. Wait, what makes you think I'm in love with him in the first place?"
Soyeon looks at her like she's grown another limb, "Honestly Soojin, the only man whom you tolerate is him. But if it's not him, then who else?"
"Shuhua," Soojin answers softly.
Soyeon looks at her like she's a full grown extra-terrestrial creature at this point, "Yeh Shuhua? Yuqi's friend? The wealthy heir? The hot -"
"Yes, yes that Shuhua. Is there another Shuhua that we know?" Soojin cuts her off because Soyeon's voice keeps getting louder.
"Shit!" Soyeon runs her hand through her hair, probably raking her brain and thinking hard on when it all changed. "Since when? You barely know the girl."
"Well...not exactly," Soojin is flushed by the memories flooding her brain, trying to glance around to avoid Soyeon's piercing gaze. The sound of spoon cluttering on the plate in front of her makes her wince.
Shuhua stands in front of her apartment front door back in Seoul. It's been two months since she stepped her foot in this city she has come to love. Her dad convinced her that he's as healthy as a horse and he wanted her to stop fussing over him (she suspected it's because she kept telling him to eat a lot and healthily). He saw her off at the airport and the two shared a long hug at the terminal. Her dad insisted for her to use the private jet (it's better to use it than leave it unused on the hangar, he said).
("I love you. I'm proud of you." He whispered in her ear.
"I love you, too Dad," she could feel his breath hitched at the nickname and his laugh tickling her hair.
He put his hand on her shoulders and really looked at his daughter, his eyes shiny with tears, "I'll visit you soon."
She rolled her eyes, "Admit it, Dad, you're curious to see my companies."
"That and I wanna meet the girl you've been seeing."
"Oh my God!" she looks exasperatedly to the familiar bodyguards standing awkwardly behind her dad.
"Hey, don't be mad at them."
"Yeah yeah. Don't forget to eat and go to your therapy sessions. And take it easy at work. I'll check up with your nurse regularly.")
She feels the memories that she's left behind coming back to her. She has momentarily compartmentalized those memories during her stay in Taipei, too emotional and preoccupied with her family to think. She opens the door to find the now fully furnished apartment dark and empty, but something smells different in the air. The hair behind her neck stands then-
She blinks at the sudden bright lights and familiar yells of her friends.
"Geez, she didn't even scream," someone that sounds a lot like Minnie say.
She blinks again only to find herself hugged tightly by Yuqi, "Welcome back, Shu." She can only laugh and hold her best friend as tight.
Shuhua sits among her five friends in her huge dining area. She hardly focuses on anything else besides the girl sitting across from her. Something is different with Soojin, she looks so comfortable and her eyes, God her beautiful eyes, barely leaves Shuhua tonight. Her hair is much shorter now, the way it falls just above her shoulder is tantalizing Shuhua to just reach and touch it. The atmosphere is jolly and chipper, which she's thankful for, but she just can't concentrate tonight. Their stares don't feel stolen and secret anymore, if the knowing snickers from Yuqi and Soyeon are any indication. Yuqi has hit her few times just to get her attention, and Minnie has done the same to Soojin.
Soojin pushes a plate of cronuts in front of her, "Here, your first cronuts back in Seoul."
Shuhua barely hears a word Soojin says, her eyes are busy fixating on Soojin's right hand, her smallest finger precisely. The blooming heat in her chest blossoms, spreading all over her torso and knocking her out of breath. She looks Soojin in the eyes to find the latter flushed and smiling softly. Shuhua picks up the cronut and puts it quickly in her mouth with a muffled, "Thank you".
She's leaning against the counter holding a glass of water when Soyeon finds her, "So.. you're the girl my best friend has been involved with."
She's glad she's not drinking (she would have choked otherwise), "Uhhh.."
"Relax. Soojin told me."
"She did?" Shuhua is astonished by the revelation.
"Why are you hiding here?"
She frowns, "I'm not?"
"Please, you guys are dancing around each other all night. Even I can feel the tension from all the eyefu-" Soyeon stops herself and winks, "from all the respectful looking that needs to be resolved behind closed door."
Yuqi comes in then, seemingly aware of the conversation but regards her in a less brash manner, "I think the two of you would make a beautiful couple. You guys compliment each other." Soyeon hums in agreement.
Shuhua grins at Soyeon, "Does that mean you approve me being with your best friend?"
"I mean, you're my girlfriend's best friend, that already says a lot." Yuqi beams happily and kisses Soyeon's cheek then, which is a cue for Shuhua to leave the kitchen.
Late into the night, the atmosphere has died down, traces of fun can be found in the occasional murmur of discussion from the people strewn all over the living room watching something on the huge tv. Shuhua stands up, feeling a restless by the anticipation of the shifting eyes she has shared all night with Soojin. She looks at Soojin, hoping her eyes can whisper the invitation to finally talk, then proceeds to open the door leading to the balcony. She sits on the wooden outdoor chair, looking up at the magical starry night sky. Not long after, the door is opened revealing Soojin with two drinks in her hands. Seeing her this close (finally) is doing something to her stomach, so she looks down to her feet instead.
Soojin's smell invades her like how a fresh brewed coffee does to the kitchen, and it's making her dizzy. She can feel the heat of Soojin's body to her left, their shoulders just a mere centimetre apart. Soojin raises her hand to offer her a bottle of Soju. Shuhua takes the bottle with her right hand and takes Soojin's hand with the other. She rubs the pad of her thumb softly on Soojin's pinky finger, right below the knuckle. The tattoo is new and simple, but significant in meaning. Shuhua can remember drawing it once upon a time on the exact same spot.
"Shu," Soojin whispers and Shuhua can hear the shake in her voice.
Shuhua looks up to face her. They are close, close enough for Shuhua to see the reflection of fairy outdoor lights in Soojin's eyes, making them more sparkling. It's late at night or some may say early in the morning. Maybe it's the magic of honest hour when the world is the quietest and it feels like when you talk, no one's listening, making every word feels like a secret that only the night sky hears. Maybe it's the way Soojin is looking at her with the most vulnerable look on her face. Or maybe it's the combination of all the things between them leading up to this moment that has Shuhua says, "I love you." Soojin's hand holds hers tighter as Soojin's eyes widens. "I'm so in love with you, Jin."
Soojin's eyes flutter at the confession and the emotions in those eyes makes the reflection of the lights go wild. "I am in love with you too, Shu," Soojin's voice makes her stomach somersault. And she swears when Soojin closes the distance to finally kiss her, she sees fireworks behind her closed eyes.