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Yves waits, watching Jinsol taunt the girl handcuffed to the chair in front of her. Jeon Heejin doesn’t appear at all alarmed, returning a cocky smirk instead.

 

She’s impressed. 

 

She’s poised on the shadowy walkways overhead, leaning over the metal railings so she can overlook the scene. The room’s too ornate in her opinion, walls inlaid with gold detailing. The metal chair Heejin’s been wrestled onto looks too industrial, out of place with what’s happening. She supposes it highlights how much Heejin doesn’t belong, but she also knows that Jinsol hates washing blood out of her good seat cushions.

 

She walks along the metal platform, silently going down stairs to a lower one. She’s rewarded with a better view of Jinsol’s face, and with the ability to hear the echoes of their conversation. 


“Did you miss me?” Heejin asks, tilting her face up to meet Jinsol’s stare. 

 

“Why would I?” Jinsol returns just as easily, as though she’s not twirling a gun with her fingers, clicking the safety on and off. It’s really just fidgeting, but Jinsol looks confident enough to make it intentional. A reminder about whose life she has in her hands. Above all though, Yves knows she’s nervous. 

 

Heejin’s eyes dart to the continual thumbing of the switch. She must know as well. 

 

“I missed you,” she utters casually. “I missed you a lot, Solie,”

 

Contrary to Yves’ expectations, the clicking of the gun gets slower. 

 

“But I’m allowed to miss you, aren’t I?” Heejin trails off idly, eyes wandering over all of the lavish splendor she sees. “I’m not the one who left.”

 

“Shut up,” Jinsol snarls, finally holding the gun properly, finger on the trigger. “You’re not the one in control here.”

 

“Of course not,” Heejin responds, and Yves knows that if her hands were free, she’d be waving her friend’s words off. 

 

Jinsol smiles then, sharp and unpleasant. “I wouldn’t be so unconcerned. Getting caught? That’s a mistake I thought I’d only see in your rookie years.”

 

She smiles back, but it’s kind, corners of her mouth naturally softening. “I wouldn’t have gotten caught if I hadn’t wanted to.”

 

Nothing registers on Jinsol’s face. 

 

“You know I could escape,” Heejin states, voice deepening as she grows more serious. “I could destroy this entire carnival. I could leave this room whenever I want to.”

 

The grip on the gun tightens, just for a few seconds. Almost like an involuntary spasm. 

 

“You know it’s true,” she adds on quietly. “I wanted to talk to you, Jinsol.”

 

She doesn’t know whether it’s anger or sadness that drives Jinsol to aim the gun for Heejin’s forehead, in the spot directly between her eyes. 

 

She doesn’t think she’s ever seen anyone as calm and unruffled as Heejin. She doesn’t even flinch, just leaning back in her chair more. Yves realizes she’s correcting Jinsol’s mistake. She’d aimed too high, and Heejin’s movement brings her right into the center of the most effective shot. 

 

“Go ahead,” she says. “Go ahead and shoot.”

 

The safety on the gun isn’t even off. 

 

Heejin smiles again, eyes crinkling at the corners. “You see? You missed me too. Were you really assigned to do this? I knew it was your work the first time I looked into a camera lens. Why did it take you so long to send someone to capture me?”

 

It doesn’t matter if Jinsol doesn’t respond; neither of them are expecting her to. 

 

“Sure, you’re in power here. Here, where all you have is rules. You can try and block the real world with obsidian and gold, Jinsol, but you can only run so far.”

 

“Are you sure?” Jinsol tries for another smirk, but it doesn’t quite fill her entire face. Her voice is shaky, raw. She drops all pretense of the interrogation persona with the next hopeful, anxious question. “Are you sure you don’t want to come with me?”

 

Heejin’s still smiling, but her eyes are so indescribably sad. They both know her answer. 

 

“You know I follow my heart.”

 

“Why did you run?” Jinsol asks, too used to the rejection to be disappointed. “If you’d asked one more time-”

 

“You run to escape,” Heejin interrupts. “I run to feel my heart beat out loud.”

 

Jinsol lowers her gaze, bowing her head for one, deep breath. 

 

“What happens when you succeed?”

 

“It’s a full moon soon,” Heejin says evenly, “I think it’ll be in three days.”

 

It’s not an answer. 

 

At least, not a direct one. 

 

Jinsol flinches. Yves ponders whether she wishes the words were incomprehensible. 

 

The understanding is all but splayed onto her face. She spins the gun to put in her holster, turning on her heel to flee. She doesn’t spare a glance back, exiting the room in long strides. Yves isn’t used to seeing Jinsol break her composure, but she knew it was bound to happen when she saw who their captive was. 

 

“Sooyoung!” Heejin calls as soon as the double doors close once again, lifting her head vaguely in her direction. “I know you’re up there. Stop skulking around and come down.”

 

Yves sighs, loud enough so that Heejin hears it. She goes down another flight of stairs, and then jumps over the railing to land lightly on her feet. She strolls over to Heejin, gazing at her skeptically. 

 

“It’s not just Jinsol I missed,” Heejin protests, offended. “How’re you?”

 

Yves’ eyes skirt to the right, as though she could avoid the topic this question forces her to reveal. 

 

“Jiwoo, she’s- she’s gone. She tried to defect three months ago, but she…”

 

“I know.” Heejin’s lips clench, looking down. They stay quiet for a minute, as she mourns the loss of a girl so bright they could almost pretend they had nothing to do with this mess. 

 

“I brought something for her,” Heejin breaks the silence, pained eyes meeting hers. “I thought… I know you don’t get a lot of stuff here, so I thought she’d like it.”

 

She nods at the pocket in her leather jacket. Yves crouches, and pulls out a small penguin plushie, plastic eyes gleaming and shiny. 

 

“I thought she would keep it in her room,” Heejin continues. “With the rest of her hoard. Bought it thinking it would help her sleep.”

 

There’s something in the superficial tone that compels her to study the face, fuzzy and unassuming. When she looks back at Heejin, her head is tilted back. Even so, they share a look and Heejin shifts her head back down. It’s enough for her to know Heejin’s nodding. 

 

“Three months ago, right?” Heejin questions, relaxed. “Just like three nights from now.”

 

Their eyes lock again, the sole point of contact in the dark. 

 

“The full moon,” Heejin reminds her. As if she needs to.

 

Her watch beeps. She lifts her wrist up silently, and Heejin flicks her head, gesturing with her chin to the door. 

 

“Go on, I know you’re busy,” Heejin laughs. This was just a light conversation with an old friend, nothing important to either of them at all. 

 

She stills just before she reaches the door, fingers grasped around the penguin’s wings, waiting. 

 

“She said you had to make your choice,” Heejin fills in, knowing exactly what she wants to hear. “I’m not supposed to tell you anything until you do.”

 

A bitter laugh ghosts out of her. Jiwoo the righteous, always pretending every decision she made was hers. 

 

“You know what I want,” she calls back. 

 

“Good,” Heejin says, her voice turning firm. “Then you know what to do.”

 

Her fingers grab the door handles as the last words bubble from Heejin’s lips. 

 

“She misses you – who you were. She wanted to see Sooyoung one last time, but she didn’t know if she could. She was- she meant to… she hoped to create a world where your love could be true.”

 

The door swings closed, the barricade between them once again. She knows Jinsol would have pulled strings so that the interrogation room wasn’t under surveillance, but her authority doesn’t extend to the hallways. 

 

So she pauses, in the blind spot before she reaches the cameras, finding the metal zipper concealed on the penguin’s back to reveal the prize hidden within. She allows herself five second to breathe down the blurriness in her vision and the twist in her heart. 

 

Sooyoung walks down the hall with a plush to add to the collection of Jiwoo’s penguins that she’s kept, and a golden key securely clenched between her teeth. 

 

Heejin would never have left without a souvenir.



She reaches her room and kneels by the bookshelf, lifting the lid to the cardboard box that holds the little reminders of Jiwoo’s presence. 

 

Her best friend. 

 

Maybe she would have been something more, if the rules weren’t there. But no – Yves clears those thoughts from her head, replacing the lid on the box. Treachery grows in the mind and the heart, but the face is the one that betrays it. Yves doesn’t intend to demonstrate that she’s rethinking her loyalties. 

 

Not until the right time. 

 

It takes several unsavory attempts to find a hiding place that works. She settles for hiding it within her packs of gum. 

 

Too obvious, in plain sight. 

 

Perfect. 



After attending a meeting about finances – they have enough money to buy every individual in Seoul, even the ridiculously wealthy, so she doesn’t know why they bother – Yves heads down the halls to the entrance of their underground facility. 

 

It’s been disguised as a carnival. Sometimes, in between gunshots, she can hear the happy screams of children as she practices murders beneath their feet. 

 

She takes an overly complicated route to get to the entrance hall, shaped like a keyhole. The fortune teller’s tent sits directly on the flight of stairs Heejin would have had to take to get to this red and white striped place. It’s dusty, flyaway stacks of crates sitting around so that if anybody gets past the security of the tent, they see an unsuspecting storage room. 

 

The door to the bathroom, hidden in the walls, is the true entrance. 

 

She steps from the elevator into said bathroom, opening out behind the stalls, heels clicking on the polished floor. When she presses on the edge of the wall in front of her, it flips outward, just avoiding the toilet in the stall she can then exit completely. 

 

“Vandalism? Isn’t that a bit elementary?” her voice echoes through the room. It’s annoying how the blond head by the mirror doesn’t get startled in the slightest. 

 

Where Heejin goes, Jungeun follows. 

 

She’s ignored until Jungeun snaps a good shot of the smiley face with X eyes drawing in red lipstick. She’s overdone the saturation on her phone camera – the gold of the mirror frame is too bright for her taste. Still, she doesn’t offer any unsolicited words of advice. Jungeun will finish faster then, and Yves knows first hand how painful it is to watch Jungeun slowly change the settings on her phone. 

 

She pulls away, satisfied. Pocketing her phone and the tube of lipstick, Jungeun hoists herself onto the space between the sinks. Yves narrows her eyes, turning off the tap that’s been left running. 

 

“I take it Heejin’s been captured?” Jungeun asks, raising a brow. She’s wearing a black corset thing that’s probably bullet proof, and Yves forces herself to pull her eyes away from it. She focuses on remembering that they can’t afford to waste time talking about trivial matters. 

 

Yet. 

 

She nods. “Jinsol’s been put in charge of her.”

 

“She’s in good hands.”

 

They lapse into silence, the bathroom quiet now that the faucet’s not on. Jungeun lazily points out some wall decor, a black, keyhole shaped plate with gold edges. In the centre is another golden figure, a joker holding a key. From where she is, she can see half of Jungeun’s face reflected in its shiny surface. Jungeun must be able to see her entire mirrored image. 

 

“Nice decorations,” she says off handedly, raising the hand to tuck her blonde hair behind her ears. “I like the colour scheme.”

 

Yves matches her tone, unhurried and uncaring. “It has its moments,” she hums, reaching in her pocket. “Gum?”

 

“Don’t mind if I do,” Jungeun tugs a piece out of the box, and Yves prays that it’s the right one. “What flavour? If it’s apple I’m going to throw it at you.”

 

“Strawberry,” Yves murmurs. 

 

“Ah,” Jungeun’s eyes flicker, the briefest hint of grief residing there. “That’s good then.”

 

Shielded by Jungeun’s body, Sooyoung feels Jungeun’s fingers lace around hers and squeeze, once. Twice. 

 

Then Jungeun lets go, and unwraps and pops the gum in her mouth in one smooth motion. She swallows, and Sooyoung knows it’s done. 

 

Jungeun twists to look in the sink mirror, and then yelps, losing her balance. Yves catches her instinctively, making sure she doesn’t hit the floor. 

 

Sweet whispers enter her ear, masked by the hair and Jungeun’s clever distraction. 

 

“We’ll have about thirty minutes to spend time at the carnival,” she murmurs. “I miss spending time with you a lot. I missed you more, Yves.” 

 

Then she rights herself, regaining her balance away from Yves’ arms. She throws a half smile over her shoulder as she walks out, maybe to leave through the tent. 

 

Jungeun thinks she’s being smooth, but Yves can see the hint of red colouring her ears. She nearly smiles, stepping into the elevator to come back the way she came.

 

She walks past Heejin three times on the walkway she descended from. Heejin doesn’t look away from the wall that she’s focusing on, but her breathing slows. 

 

Yves needs to find Jinsol. 



Jinsol’s up in the control room, staring at the screens as they replay Heejin’s path into the building. There’s a mug of something resting beside her, maybe tea. But Yves is focused on the mug itself, the mug covered in all those symbols and words that mean too much to Jinsol and nothing to anybody else. It’s her mug.

 

Heejin’s mug. 

 

“You’re kind of sad,” she remarks lightly. 

 

Jinsol whips around, blue hair nearly taking Yves’ eyes out. She glares at the other girl, and then kicks out a chair for her to sit in. 

 

She has to tread carefully. The control room’s not necessarily the most bugged, but it is the most watched. She can’t let Jinsol get too upset. 

 

Which is going to be particularly difficult, considering how stubborn Jinsol is. 

 

She briefly wonders if now is the time for blunt honesty and direct confrontation. 

 

Then she settles back and offers Jinsol a piece of gum. 

 

She never does that anymore. Jinsol doesn’t like gum, and Yves knows her too well to have forgotten. She watches the way she scans the package, trying to decode the message Yves is sharing with her. 

 

She helps her along. 

 

“Sorry,” she grabs a piece for herself. “I thought you might want to try this flavour. It’s new, I only just got to open it today.”

 

Jinsol’s not in charge of the security for no reason. 

 

The pieces click in place, and Yves has a front row seat to watch Jinsol’s brain make sense of them. The package is new, and there’s only one piece missing. 

 

Yves wasn’t chewing gum when she came in. 

 

Jinsol’s not stupid enough to think that she might have had another piece in between Heejin’s interrogation and now. Otherwise, why would she be showing the package?

 

She’s proven correct when Jinsol wordlessly removes any incriminating footage of the entrance, not even needing to switch screens as she does so. 

 

“We should go out for lunch,” she keeps up the conversation, sure that she has Jinsol’s attention. “They’re not serving anything good today. What do you want? It’s your choice.”

 

She internally cringes at that one, because it’s not as subtle as she’d like it to be. But she needs to add the next part, needs Jinsol to understand. 

 

“I’m good with anything,” she says, like it’s merely an afterthought. 

 

“Sure,” Jinsol replies distractedly. The slant of her eyebrows is grateful, even when she shrugs her shoulders next. “I’ll tell you what we’ll eat when we’re heading out.”

 

“Alright,” Yves stands up, exiting the room without a second thought. 

 

She owes Heejin a favour, after all. 



“So,” she starts, when they’re both in the car and cruising down the highway. “Where do you wanna eat?”

 

She’s just asking on principle. Jinsol’s probably been too busy thinking about her real question to spare any thought to food. 

 

She doesn’t bother waiting for a reply, instead already turning to the exit that leads them to their favourite restaurant. Jinsol rolls her eyes, but doesn’t protest. Soon enough, they’re both seated at a booth in the corner, sipping from glasses of water and holding an impromptu staring contest. 

 

“Why now?” Jinsol asks, twisting her glass in circles, a whirlpool forming in the center of the water. 

 

“The full moon is three days away,” Yves responds. 

 

“Stop being purposefully obscure,” Jinsol whines. “Why this full moon? And not- there were so many others.”

 

“It’s been three months since we lost Jiwoo,” she comments. 

 

Jinsol’s shoulders slump in defeat. She makes eye contact again reluctantly, flopping down across the table. 

 

“You know it’s not really a choice.” 

 

She snorts. “Of course I do. Do you really think Heejin would have set it up in a way that it was?”

 

“The little worm,” Jinsol mutters, rubbing her face with her hands. “She- You know I want the same, but I’m just…”

 

She doesn’t have to finish the sentence. 

 

For all their bravado, both of them are bound to where they are. 

 

They’re afraid

 

She wishes they’d left with Heejin all those years ago. She wishes none of them had been swept up in this business. She remembers evenings at the roller rink with Vivi and Haseul and her younger sister, Yeojin, so far removed from the reality that settles around her now. 

 

“How’re we going to do it?” 

 

“Two operations, beginning on the third night,” Yvesrejoins. “You and Heejin, me and Jungeun. How’s it feel to be back in our teams?”

 

“Heejin’s a better shot than you are,” Jinsol observes. “It’ll be nice working with someone who know what they’re doing.”

 

She huffs, pouting. “I was about to tell you something you’d want to know, but I’m not going to now .”

 

“What?” Jinsol leans forward in her seat, eyes glinting with mischief and curiosity. “What is it?”

 

Yves pauses. Jinsol’s going to find out about the time they’ll get at the carnival anyways, so she might as well tell her. 

 

“It’s a secret.”

 

Yves’ too petty to be that nice. 



They stop by a store to get something they need. 

 

Or, well.

 

Something Yves wants

 

“Are you serious?”

 

Jinsol, quite evidently, thinks she’s being ridiculous. 

 

She hefts her purchase into the backseat of her car, grinning as Jinsol slides into the passenger seat. She smooths down the bag covering it, and then opens the door to get behind the wheel. 

 

“She’s going to love it.”

 

“This is so stupid.”

 

“Maybe,” Yves allows, before smirking. “But can you imagine how it’s going to look?”

 

Jinsol opens her mouth to argue, and then slouches back in her seat with a sigh. 

 

“Fair point,” she concedes. “But you’re still too extra for your own good.”

 

“Whatever,” she starts the car, pulling out of the parking lot. “You haven’t even heard the whole thing yet.”

 

Jinsol whips her head around, staring at Yves dead in the eye. “You bought confe -”

 

If all it takes is going twenty over the speed limit to shut Jinsol up, Yves feels as though it’s her duty to pull through. 



Across the luxurious building unseen beneath the ground, night falls. Two girls find themselves asleep on their beds, blankets tucked around them to simulate more than friendship without breaching any rules. Another digs her shoulder blades and wrists in the metal caging her, refusing to rest when she’s vulnerable. The last one climbs to the third car off the ground on the Ferris wheel, overlooking the entire carnival and wondering whether fate is finally on their side. 



The sun rises. 

 

Two more days and one more night to prepare. 



Heejin had bags under her eyes yesterday. Yves had questioned her reasoning in not covering them up, but she now realizes that the shadows under her eyes were all the concealer that she would need. 

 

The purple eyeshadow hides whether they’re real or not. Heejin’s good enough to hide her fatigue. Any real proof of her exhaustion is locked away by the falsehoods painted on by her own, steady hand.

 

When she steps in to try for another interrogation, Heejin lets her body go loose. 

 

She loses the tension in her shoulders, exhaling a breath. Something warms in Yves’ heart when she sees that Heejin still trusts her this much, ungrudgingly shows her unguarded self believing that Yves won’t use it to hurt her. 

 

She’s right. 

 

“Hey.”

 

“Hi.”

 

“You should sleep,” she suggests. 

 

“Is it all-”

 

She nods. “Everything.”

 

She means every body . Heejin’s eyes light up, and half a small smile spreads onto her face before she’s back to a blank face. 

 

Jinsol waits until she’s fully asleep before descending from overhead. Deja vu, Yves thinks wryly. 

 

“Did I imagine that?” She sounds hopeful, oddly innocent and childish in her honest hope. “Did she- was there-”

 

“Always.” The words leave her mouth in a rush, trying to comfort the person who's stood by her for years. “She’s always yours.” 

 

She has to stop there. What she said could already be interpreted as treason. The expectations and standards of the world press upon her once again, wishing she could just tell Jinsol the truth. But it is forbidden. Justice and truth and peace have all been forbidden. 

 

She thought the same when Jiwoo was struck out of her life. 

 

There’s only one loophole. 

 

“You’re not friends ,” Sooyoung whispers gently. 

 

The way Jinsol smiles, soft and happy, makes all the risks worth it. 



They keep watch over Heejin for a few more hours, letting her doze off until they have to leave. Jinsol wakes her up with a tap to the shoulder, letting her hand linger for more than what’s strictly necessary. As Heejin pulls herself to consciousness, Jinsol whispers an apology to her. Yves pretends not to hear, waiting until they’re done before she slips an extra round of bullets in Heejin’s bra. It’s the safest place for her to keep them. The discomfort is necessary. 

 

Sooyoung spends time in the training room, shooting shot after shot after shot. She makes sure to practice enough that nobody will bother counting the magazines she uses, covering up the bread crumb trail that leads to one missing. 

 

Jinsol joins her for the last twenty minutes so she can get tips on her aim. They sneak out so Jinsol can meet Jungeun in her hiding place. 

 

They only have to spend about fifteen minutes before a blonde head pops in, scans the washrooms, and spots them. 

 

“I should have told you when to meet me,” Jungeun shakes her head, walking over to them and giving Jinsol a quick hug. “There has to be some way to contact me other than have me checking the bathroom every five minutes. We should have brought in ear-” 

 

“Heejin did,” Jinsol interjects, holding out the little devices. “I confiscated them from her when I searched her pockets. There’s four.”

 

“Does that mean I can talk to her?” Jungeun asks hopefully, although she should know that it’s too dangerous to compromise their mission. She deflates when Yves shakes her head. 

 

“I know, I know. Just had to ask,” she rubs her eyes, sighing. “Just make sure she’s safe, yeah? I told her I could have played as bait-”

 

“You get flustered too easily,” Yves deadpans, only half joking. Jungeun rolls her eyes, but the blush spreading across her cheeks proves her very point. 

 

“She just had them in her jacket pocket,” Jinsol says absentmindedly, rolling her head to stretch her neck. “She knew I’d find them.”

 

“Well, obviously,” Jungeun mutters. “She wasn’t going to hide something she wanted you to see.”

 

A strange look crosses over Jinsol’s face. “Heejin’s murdering the boss, right?”

 

Jungeun nods, affirming the plan. Jinsol furrows her brow, thinking. 

 

“We’ve got to tell Heejin to escape tonight,” she says suddenly. The concentration turns into a grin as she motions both of them closer. 

 

“I think,” she smiles, devilishly wicked. “Yves was onto something.”



That evening, in mysterious circumstances, captive Jeon Heejin escapes. 

 

Nobody chooses to note how she unlocks the handcuffs, and leaves them politely undamaged, dangling from the edge of the metal seat. 

 

If Yves wasn’t on her side, she’d think it was kind of terrifying. 

 

As it is, she’s still lowkey insulted. 



Yves is screwing up her sleep schedule for this, so she hopes it’s good. 

 

Heejin’s just lounging on the car, draped over the windshield. She might even be taking a nap, but then again, she did just break out of a heavily guarded facility with nothing  but a few hours of sleep and a handgun, so. 

 

She hates how she can’t bring herself to yell at her. 

 

Jinsol’s holding Jungeun’s spiked bat weapon thing. She doesn’t need to, but she’s always had a flair for dramatics. She seats herself on the glowing, neon throne they’d stolen from the carnival. 

 

“Kim Jungeun,” she proclaims magnanimously, “Come forward to do your duty .”

 

Jungeun scoffs, exasperated. “Call me Kim Lip. We are on a mission, after all,” she says, sliding on her motorcycle helmet. 

 

“Ruining my moment,” Jinsol grumbles, seating herself back onto her glorified rocking chair. “Go ahead, I’m ready.”

 

Yves can see Kim Lip nod, and then she’s speeding around Jinsol in a circle. She’s accelerating, even doing wheelies so she can achieve maximum speed. 

 

Good. 

 

Yves saunters over to Heejin, unsurprised to see her head roll over to face her, eyes open. She’d never actually sleep on a job. 

 

“I think,” Heejin pronounces, eyes sliding past her to look at Lip and Jinsol. “They’re having way too much fun.”

 

“Why shouldn’t they?” Yves asks, plopping herself down on the opposite side of the car's hood. “We’re only breaking through the connection to the other realms through brunt force and speed. It’s not like this is one of the most important parts of the mission that everything else depends on.”

 

Heejin glares at her, and then laughs despite herself. “Hey,” she begins, smiling wryly. “I can’t remember the last time anything’s been this non-lethal when it matters so much.”

 

Except for the fact that she’s going to have to go faster than her speedometer can track. 

 

Ah well. Semantics. 

 

“Might as well enjoy ourselves before our lives are at stake,” she adds on lightly. 

 

“Don’t delude yourself, Sooyoung,” Heejin repositions herself on the car as Yves slides off it herself. “We’ll be enjoying ourselves even when we’re at gunpoint.”

 

She’s not wrong. 

 

They’re kind of badass. 

 

Yves makes her way to her car, a bright yellow in comparison to Heejin’s blue one. She thinks hers is more eye-catching, but she’s not willing to pick a fight with Heejin on it. She’ll just know the truth in her mind. 

 

She starts driving, easing the car into tight little circles with Heejin anchored in the middle. She doesn’t think this is possible normally, but once she hits the rhythm the car seems to follow it, maintaining the pattern as though it were actually in orbit. Once the car does, Yves can speed up. 

 

Kim Lip’s motorcycle is a lot faster, of course. But it also doesn’t carry the same momentum as she does, not when she crosses the right speed. 

 

Yves bites her lip and accelerates the car. 

 

Overhead, the nearly full moon illuminates them as they tear almost entirely through the links and the loop. 



Yves is glad Kim Lip likes indestructible corsets, leather boots, and all black ensembles, because watching Jinsol carry Heejin to the bathroom entrance is reminding her what she’d need to do if her partner was the one wearing heels and floor length dress. 

 

It’s also making her wheeze, because she’d been the one to purchase said articles. 

 

The white shoes bring Heejin to the same height as Jinsol, with sturdy heels so she’s not balancing on ridiculous stiletto points. They’re overlapped by the dress, which is a sleeveless number with thin straps to hold up the sweetheart neckline. The bodice is form fitting, made of some kind of opaque white fabric with little holes to make patterns. It comes down to about mid thigh, where the dress flares out in a sheer, off-white, gauzy skirt. 

 

And the accessories

 

The dangly diamond earrings are already extravagant, trails of diamond strings sliding over Heejin’s shoulders. But the necklace is what brings the look together. It’s really some sort of harness, resting on Heejin’s rib cage and joining at a ring, which has a single chain leading up to the actual necklace itself. 

 

She looks every bit as elegant as Yves had hoped for.

 

Heejin refuses to get such nice clothes dirty. It won’t fit with her role, she insists, and so Jinsol has to heave her to where the floors are solid and not dusty. 

 

She thinks Jinsol would be complaining more if she wasn’t gay panicking at how hot Heejin looks in the dress. 

 

“Alright, thanks,” Heejin disengages herself from Jinsol’s grasp, smoothing down any wrinkles in the fabric. “I hope I don’t get blood on this. I like the colour.”

 

Lip shakes her head, but she’s smiling. “Your clothes will be at the bar,” she’s folding them up right now, tucking a black lap top within them. “Don’t take more than three minutes to celebrate. We have the rest of the mission to do.”

 

Heejin pouts, crossing her arms. “Only three? I think we could stretch it t-”

 

“Only three,” Yves cuts off Heejin before she gets any ideas. “You have about six hours of waiting time before you can go up. Do any of you have a watch?” 

 

Kim Lip displays the wristwatch she has, making sure it’s on the right time. “You need to give Heejin her in-ear,” she reminds Jinsol, who searches her pockets to find it. 

 

They’re standing side by side in the elevator, watching the floor numbers crawl down. 

 

“So we have six hours to do nothing?” Jinsol questions, leaning back against the railing protruding from the wall. 

 

“Not nothing ,” Yves corrects, smirking at Jinsol. 

 

What could be better than a six hour nap?



It really is uneventful for the next six hours. 

 

Jinsol had intruded into her room, taking up more than her fair share of bedspace. 

 

“You know, I’m contemplating whether we should have just waited and let Heejin murder people in plain clothes,” she mentions, gazing up at the ceiling. “I mean, I know we’re proving a point, but still.”

 

“You’re the one who thought of this.”

 

There’s silence, and then she feels a pillow smack her face. 

 

“Hey! What was that for?” She rubs her nose, wondering how Jinsol would react if she pretended to cry. 

 

Jinsol lets out a string of unintelligible noises, pressing her face into Yves’ waist. They stay like that, and Yves is just about to fall asleep again when Jinsol pokes her hip. 

 

“Do you have an outfit planned out?”

 

“‘Course,” she mumbles, rubbing her eyes. “Why? Do you?”

 

“I’m personally offended that you think I wouldn’t,” Jinsol retorts, sitting up. “I wanna see yours. Come on, put it on.”

 

“Or,” Yves drags Jinsol back down, using her legs to kick blankets over them. “We sleep.”

 

Jinsol squirms a little, before squishing herself into the mattress and relenting. 

 

“Fine. Thirty minutes.”

 

They fall asleep, pressed together, closer than intimate, friends bonded together. 

 

The irony isn’t lost on her.

 

The rhythm of her breathing slows, the last bars of a waltz. She lets the simmering anger and bitterness melt away with the flow of dreams and sleep. 



“Seriously?” Jinsol snorts, biting into the peach she has in her hand. “Cheetah print denim jacket and fishnets.”

 

Yves glances down at her perfectly respectable outfit. “You like?”

 

“You’ve lost your touch,” Jinsol shakes her head, mock sadly. 

 

“You’re one to talk,” Yves lets her eyes linger on Jinsol’s red jacket, which she might just have to steal some time. “Ms. thigh highs and graphic t-shirt. What are you, twelve?”

 

“I look like a kpop idol,” Jinsol informs her smugly. “This is an entire look that stylists would pay to use.”

 

“I’m sure.”

 

“At least I’m not copycatting Lip.”

 

“We’re coordinating,” Yves responds archly. “We’re boosting team spirit and presenting a united front.”

 

“Yeah, thanks to the floor length gown you suited Heejin with, we don’t get that luxury.” Jinsol gives her a flat, unimpressed look. “Hold on, let me just rent a tuxedo so we match.”

 

“Mhm, there’s good place down by-” 

 

It’s a good thing her nose is so sturdy, otherwise it’d be broken by now. 



“Do you want to go up to the control room?”

 

“You don’t even need to ask.”



“That’s kind of hot,” Jinsol comments as Heejin shoots a stray guard who had just started to pull himself up. She’s in the lobby, using the old fashioned phone on the receptionist’s desk to make a call. 

 

“It’s a good thing the phone matches with the colour scheme,” Yves notes blandly. 

 

They stare at each other for a moment before bursting into laughter. 

 

On screen, Heejin hangs up the phone and strides out of the lobby with a satisfied smile. 



“What do we do now?” Jinsol asks. Yves gives her a quizzical look. There’s no way Jinsol doesn’t remember – she’d been one of the people who’d planned it, all those years ago. 

 

“We wait.”

 

Jinsol sighs irritably. “You’d think this ploy would have a lot more action.”

 

“You weren’t complaining about the lack of action when Heejin was on screen.”

 

“I was monitoring,” Jinsol, always ready with an excuse, shoots back. “It’s an essential part of missions, and if nobody did it we would all end up d-”

 

Revenge would be sweet, but the seat cushions are attached to the chairs. She has to settle for throwing a pack of gum at Jinsol instead. 



Heejin reappears after another half hour. This time, it’s in the… dining room? It’s where the head of the facility meets all the important people, but the long table draped in a white tablecloth gives it the impression of being a banquet hall, not a modern meeting room. The boss is seated at the head of the table, surrounded by armed guards. They have long since accustomed to the wide stances they’re forced to adopt, the perfect picture of intimidation and fear. 

 

They match strangely well with the decor. There’s the ever present obsidian and gold; watch as the scene becomes a panorama, and she can make out the black clad figures blending in with the walls. 

 

She once found the luxury dripping off the walls and floors impressive, but now it seems unnecessary. The lighting from the chandelier overhead bathes the room in a gaudy glow, set to imitate the light of the sun in this oppressive room. Maybe if they were above ground, the interior decorating team would have had windows to work with.

 

In one smooth motion, Heejin steps up onto the table itself, pausing. 

 

Jinsol mutes all the other rooms, raising the volume so they can hear what she’s saying. 

 

“Jeon Heejin,” the man facing her lets out several slow, mocking claps. Yves wants to snicker – this is so cliche. 

 

“I see you’ve come back to us again.” Maybe the lengthy pauses are supposed to be scary and cool? Yves just thinks they’re sort of irritating. She wishes she could shake him to dispel all the words currently stuck in his arrogant throat. 

 

Heejin doesn’t respond, delicately walking forward, deliberate steps which are muffled by the cloth. There’s no footprints left behind, which is a shame. 

 

The boss gives the impression of sighing without actually doing so, and leans forward to rest his elbows on the table. 

 

“What’s the purpose of all of this?” he asks sadly, as though Heejin’s the one who has gone astray. “You’ve tried to do this once before, haven’t you? And look where that got you. It’s a good thing she doesn’t remember, or she would hate you, isn’t that right?”

 

Jinsol stills at this new information, finger poised on the keyboard. This is not on the script planned out for the night.

 

“Yes,” he leans back again, reaching into his pocket and pulling his gun out. He lays it on the table, innocently, willing to play the part of disarming himself. “You’ve tried before. I remember that night, when you tried to break the loop.”

 

Heejin raises an eyebrow, stepping even closer. 

 

“You almost did it. All by yourself, prepared with the secret of your loyalty and a few bullets. Do your friends know about that night? What exactly occurred?”

 

Jinsol reaches out to grip Yves’ hand, impossibly tight and desperate. This deviation of what they knew, what they thought were inarguable, invariable facts…

 

The anticipation of revelation is shredding Yves’ nerves, leaving her numb to everything else. 

 

“I have to hand it to you. You played it off so cleanly, pretending you were successful at defecting. You broke the loop enough to get yourself and one other person out, Kim Jungeun, I think it was. But you had to leave two of them behind, right?”

 

She knows the answer, even if Heejin never responds. 

 

“Yves and Jinsol,” he tastes the name, letting them linger on his tongue, before releasing them to cause the damage and chaos he loves. “Do they know that you killed me that night as well?” His voice turns quiet, as he enunciates every syllable of poison sliding from his mouth. “Do they know that you sentenced them back into the loop, that you – and only you, Heejin – were successful enough to create a hole, just not one that could fit all of you?”

 

His lips trace the sharp edge of a knife, not unwilling to see beads of his own blood drop in order to rip them apart.

 

“Do they know you abandoned them? That you chose Jungeun over both?”

 

The sword plummets, cleaving the night shadows protecting secrets unknown. 

 

Fracturing their trust in one, clean, motion. 



They’d thought Heejin had been granted permission to defect with Jungeun. It was supposed to have been official, their leaving. 

 

Three years ago, Heejin ripped through the connection, leaving only a few threads to keep it together. Those few threads were enough for everything to be stitched back together, to repeat everything in a loop, to reverse time and death itself. 

 

Jeon Heejin created the opportunity for two people to escape. 

 

She let the other two fall, back through the tear in the cosmos, back to where none of them wanted to be. 

 

She was not the one falling. 



Before she can do anything, Jinsol flies out of her seat, knocking it backwards and fleeing from the room. The hand she was holding flexes instinctively, like there’s still something to grab. 

 

But no. Jinsol has slid from her grasp. 

 

Always too emotional, Yves muses, switching into the formerly occupied seat right in front of the screens. Always acting on the first information she heard, never stopping to think, so vulnerable. She doesn’t wear her heart on her sleeve. Jinsol shares her heart with everybody, giving them a little piece to display on their sleeves instead. 

 

Betrayal is a wound too great for Jinsol to heal calmly. 

 

She won’t compromise the mission, Yves knows. That’s why she doesn’t bother running after her, taking her into her arms to calm down and vent. Right now, they have a plan, and they have to complete it. Yves, cold, calculating Yves, understands that perfectly. 

 

She must know they’re watching her. She must know that Jinsol’s sensitive mind is brewing hurt and hatred in this very moment. 

 

But Jeon Heejin takes three confident steps forward, and pulls a gun out to fire. 

 

The bodyguards spring forward, ready to take out the threat. The boss waves them back, telling them to settle, even though he’s at risk of grievous harm.

 

“See? You might be wearing a pretty dress this time, and have more people to help you, Heejin, but it doesn’t matter in the end. We could relive this moment a thousand times, but the consequences will never fall into place.

 

Heejin doesn’t say anything in return. She doesn’t have to. 

 

Three seconds before she shoots, Heejin lowers the gun from the boss’ head to his heart. 

 

Two bullets later, he slumps to the ground, dead. 



Heejin pulls the confetti, letting it rain upon the table. She’s running away from the horde of people trying to kill her, smiling, her hair getting tangled with the shiny paper strips flying in every direction. 

 

Nobody notices the tears dancing across her cheeks. 

 

Yves waits long enough to see Heejin change into her red dress and leather jacket, putting on headphones and hacking into the security systems as she shoots anybody who tries to approach. 

 

Then she leaves the control room, going down to the cafeteria to find Jinsol. 



She’s standing, leaning against the wall. Yves stands in front of her, waiting for Jinsol’s eyes to travel up from the ground and meet hers. 

 

“Change of plans.”

 

“What?”

 

“Go find her,” Yves instructs, hardening her voice so Jinsol knows that there’s no room for argument. “I’ll be in charge of your part.”

 

“No,” Jinsol denies, shaking her head. “This is what I- this is what we planned.” 

 

Her justification is weak, but Yves knows that it’s because Jinsol can’t quite formulate the millions of half formed disagreements that are swirling in her mind. She knows Jinsol won’t win an argument, not when she’s this hurt and this angry and this sad

 

She’d assumed that Jinsol would try and force the thoughts out, argue more, continue the flow that they’ve developed with each other. But instead, she nods, tired and defeated. Jinsol pushes herself off the wall, turning on her heel to leave. 

 

She throws a shiny red apple over her shoulder at the last moment. Yves catches it one handed.

 

Ah. 

 

So Heejin had already known. 



She considers getting a mug of tea, but she’s feeling indulgent. She still wants the vibes from the mug though, so she selects a bright yellow mug and coaster before filling it when cherry coke. 

 

She’s just about gotten settled when an entire pack of guards burst through the cafeteria door, sprinting to surround her and aiming at her with their rifles. 

 

Which, rude. She’s not going to go anywhere, no need for them to be so aggressive. 

 

Yves glances around at them in mock disdain, resting her chin on her hand. 

 

She takes a sip of her drink, deciding she’ll just ignore them. 

 

She leans back to take the first bite of the apple, but soon slumps forward once again. She’s highly disappointed at having to use this now, but she supposes if the alternative is being riddled with bullet holes, she’d prefer to be less flashy. 

 

On her twelfth bite, Yves stands, but nobody notices. 

 

She watches her surroundings blur as she goes back in time. 

 

She leaves from the entrance opposite to the one the guards will spill through shortly, twelve minutes from now. Yves departs from the room, leaving only one difference in this reality. 

 

A half eaten apple rests on the table, replacing where the new one had just been. 



Heejin’s voice flickers in her ear after Yves circles back to her room. 

 

“Kim Lip, your turn.”

 

“Alright,” Kim Lip returns, voice faint and slightly scratchy from the distance. “Yves, are you ready?”

 

“Mm,” she hums, noticing how neither of them contact Jinsol like the original plan calls for. “Heejin, go to the carnival.”

 

Heejin’s laughter bounces into her ear. “Always had a soft spot, didn’t you?”

 

Yves doesn’t even deign that with a response. 



Kim Lip’s busy infiltrating the lower corridors, engaging the remaining henchmen in her distraction. That is, the henchmen that aren’t dead – their numbers have been significantly reduced as of late. Yves has a walk in the park climbing up the spiral staircase to his office. She only has to kill a dozen or so before she’s faced with the door that will lead to the final hallway. 

 

There stands just one guard, unmasked. She’s too young to be handling a gun with such ease, even to be here. She can’t be more than twenty, Yves reflects distantly.

 

Her eyes flick up into Yves’.

 

They’re wide, trusting pools of brown, galaxies of stars sparkling in them. She gets the distinct notion that she knows who this girl is. 

 

They have met before. 

 

Not here, not now. What Yves is feeling is the pull, the compulsion to spare this girl who must be someone important in another undistinguished realm separate from this one. 

 

The grip on the gun loosens. She must feel it as well. 

 

The opening presents itself before Yves can look away. 

 

She’s never been known for her sympathy on a mission. 

 

The girl with the stars in her eyes is dead before she realizes it. 

 

The grief in her heart is too intense for the mourning of a stranger Yves had to kill. She ignores the guilt, and bends down to flip the name tag attached to the front pocket of the uniform. 

 

Choi Yerim. 



There is nobody left to guard the doorway of the stairs. 

 

She opens it, steps through, and finds his office at the end of the hall. 

 

The golden plaque at the top of the doorframe announces that she has arrived at Eden.

 

Paradise. 



“I unlocked it for you,” Jungeun’s voice filters through, clearer, now that she’s in one of the smaller control rooms for his personal use. “All of it, actually. This setup is shit.”

 

“Did you regurgitate the key?” Yves asks, maneuvering around a pile of dead bodies to turn the knob of the door. 

 

“You wish you could do the same,” Kim Lip tosses back. Yves can nearly see her smile. “It should be in your jacket pocket.”

 

“When did you put it there?” Yves asks languidly, killing two more guards. 

 

“Before we split up.” There’s the sound of a dull thunk. 

 

“Impressive.”

 

“There’s a reason they call me the joker.”

 

“Literally nobody calls you that. You need to leave this Harley Quinn phase behind, guns are a lot more efficient than bludgeoning someone to death with a bat.”

 

“Shut up.”

 

But there’s the sound of a gunshot, and Yves smiles smugly. 

 

She reaches the vault which contains what they need. It’s a shame the boss was so cocky. 

 

His office really could have used heavier defense. 



Aboveground, Jinsol walks through the carnival stalls. She steps into a game where people knock over cans with little balls. She’s blocking right where they’d have to aim to send the whole stack crashing down. 

 

She hears the click of the gun, spotting Heejin through the rails of one of the balconies in the fun house. She tilts her hand gun up to meet the barrel of Heejin’s rifle, smiling, resentful and cold. 

 

Heejin tilts her head, and then disappears a second later. She’s going down the plastic slide to the ground. 

 

Jinsol meets her at the bottom, gun aimed straight for her forehead. 



“So you heard,” Heejin says, rifle cushioned against her shoulder. The slide’s gone from a full tube to just half, leaving her unframed in the cool night air. The purple edge stops a few centimeters from Jinsol’s feet, the railing caging both of them in. 

 

“Of course I did.”

 

Heejin matches her glare with a sideways look, a smile slipping onto her face. Almost unconsciously, like she can’t help it. 

 

“What?” Jinsol snaps, frustrated. 

 

“Nothing,” Heejin shakes her head, but the smile doesn’t disappear. “You’re very pretty even when you’re threatening me with a gun. I’d forgotten what it was like to feel this way.”

 

Rage wells inside Jinsol, at the sheer audacity of the girl she thought she knew.   

 

“Aren’t you scared?”

 

She means for it to come out menacing, or at the very least suave. She hates the boss, but he is good at mastering his tone and words. 

 

Instead, Jinsol sounds petty . Childish, even.

 

A ghost of sadness curls around Heejin’s eyes. “You’ve never given me reason to be.”

 

Jinsol lowers the gun slightly, just enough so that she can see Heejin and not a target. “You tried to break the loop.”

 

“I did.”

 

“By yourself.”

 

Heejin nods, unashamed in her admittance. 

 

“Why didn’t you ask us for help?” Jinsol wants to know this the most, wants to be sure of what Heejin thought when she decided to do so. 

 

“I wanted to be sure it would work.”

 

“So you knew it wouldn’t.”

 

“I didn’t think it would.”

 

Their words chase after each other, every accusation and question and response running to catch the tail end of the newest sentence. As soon as Jinsol asks, Heejin answers.

 

“But it did work.”

 

Heejin shrugs. “Nearly.”

 

“You’re not bound to the loop, are you? It doesn’t matter how this turns out. It won’t affect you at all.”

 

She hates how collected Heejin is. It’s almost like Jinsol’s the one being unreasonable, like she’s attacking poor, innocent Heejin, pathetic , little Heejin who’s done nothing wrong. Every nonchalant response Heejin gives her makes her feel as though she’s being dismissed, as though…

 

Heejin doesn’t even care. 

 

The world is a place of jagged discontent. 

 

“Do I even matter to you?”

 

“Always.”

 

Does she mean the words she says? Maybe they’re both just pieces of a game. No, maybe Jinsol’s just a character in the play Heejin’s written. Always manipulated, always cared for, always betrayed, always seen.

 

Jinsol doesn’t want to play a part anymore. 

 

So she aims the gun again, because this is the thing that will give her power. Heejin might be stronger and smarter, Heejin might have created a world Jinsol can’t enter, Heejin might have done everything that Jinsol wishes she could do, but Jinsol’s the one who can kill her. 

 

The control she has thrums through her veins, liquid hot and addicting. Jinsol could carry this rush with her every day, and she’d be invincible

 

Heejin tilts her chin up.

 

“I was the one who left.”

 

The heat at the edges of her vision cools.

 

“It wasn’t your fault for not following me,” she says slowly. “I shouldn’t be allowed to miss you.”

 

But I do.

 

It hangs in the air, heavy with its implications.

 

Jinsol can’t breathe. 

 

“Why didn’t you choose me ?” 

 

Her whispers sound like broken shards of glass, tinkling to the ground. They reveal the truth with sharp clarity, because for all she pretends to be the one who decides, Jinsol is wrong. 

 

But so is Heejin. 

 

She just wants to be in Heejin’s heart. She wishes Heejin would have just told her, all those years ago, that she tried alone so that nobody else would have to fail. Heejin’s always been to willing to play bait, leap first, be the sacrifice they don’t need her to be. 

 

Jinsol wants to know why. 

 

“I thought you-”

 

The words stick in her throat, because of course, they still have to follow the rules of the universe. They are not allowed to be together, now allowed to live, not allowed to laugh. Nothing’s ever real, because time can erase and repeat itself in any way it wishes. Jinsol’s tried to be the best in these rules, tried to rise to the top in a system that scorns human nature, and she’s tired of it. So, so exhausted from the denial and frost that makes up her world right now. 

 

“Why did you leave me behind?”

 

Tears glimmer in Heejin’s eyes, only to be released after she’s said what needs to be said. 

 

“I was scared.”

 

“Of what?” She doubts Heejin’s scared of the rules.

 

“Of loving you.”

 

The words sting, yet another reminder that Heejin’s not tied down to the world the way the rest of them. She can say those words, has that superhuman ability, because she was selfish enough to take it for herself. 

 

But maybe it’s selfish to think she would give up that opportunity when she’s had it in her grasp. Heejin’s still human, after all. 

 

“You were scared of me.” She knows that’s not what Heejin means, but she’s indifferent to the details of her life. 

 

“Never.” Her tone is firm, eyes blazing. “God, I’d never be scared of you. I couldn’t be, not even if you decided you wanted the rules after all.”

 

“Then why were you scared?”

 

“Because,” the shadows of her face are highlighted by the moonlight, and Jinsol thinks that she’s never had such an obvious reminder of how beautiful Heejin is.  “I was scared that I would love it so much, that every day would be so perfect, I wouldn’t remember to come back and finish what I started.”

 

Jinsol’s world comes crashing down around her. No, that’s not right. She’s plunged underwater, headfirst, the universe slowly untangling all the assumptions she’s made. 

 

“And I was scared that if I stayed, I wouldn’t be able to stand it anymore.”

 

Her eyes stray to the gun point, and she smiles again, the smile Jinsol had become so familiar with. The one that used to greet her in the dark, or even in the day, when they were about to pull of some crazy murder and Heejin would stop to smile at a security camera because she knew Jinsol was watching. 

 

As usual, she’s never needed words to tell Jinsol what she means. 

 

Heejin eyes reach hers. 

 

She lifts her hands in surrender. 

 

And Jinsol has never been good at withholding forgiveness, not when the apology means so much to her. She shoves the gun in her holster, crashing into Heejin’s arms, burying her face in her neck and letting the tears fall. 

 

“Promise me,” her voice is trembling, entirely too unstable. “Promise me we’re not friends.”

 

“No,” says Heejin, pulling back so she can cradle Jinsol’s face in her hands. “No, Soul. We’re more than friends.”

 

She gets pulled back into the embrace, Heejin swinging herself into Jinsol’s heart, past the blue roses guarding it. Holding tighter, sharing her breaths with Heejin, she feels, for the first time, her heart beat for itself. 



The vault opens easily, revealing another small box. It’s inlaid with more black and yellow, always in line with the decor themes. 

 

It’s unassuming enough, except for the hums of energy and life that are contained inside it. When Yves picks it up, it’s warm to the touch. It’s not quite vibrating, but she can feel some sort of movement, and she’s distinctly aware that this has to be a living, breathing thing. 

 

She opens the latch and flips the lid. 

 

In the center of the box lies the mobius strip, crafted out of glass, sustaining their entire world. 

 

She lifts it out, tracing the endless path with a finger. There’s power in its possession. With the mobius, anything one commands has to be obeyed. The boss trapped their lives and their hearts in a box of rules and standards. There will be no love, no togetherness. 

 

Never

 

Every realm that’s attached to this little glass knot flashes inside of it, all conjoined. The mobius forces them to all remain linked. No reality is ever the truth. They cannot do as they wish, because maybe, in another time, another place, the exact opposite will occur. 

 

Their hands are tied. 

 

As she traces over them, the possibilities become endless to her. Choi Yerim, alive and well, diving through mirrors to enter the cosmos. A handful of cherries in purple light. She catches a glimpse of a dark haired girl, lips stained red, leaning over a balcony into the forest below as three figures run away from her. Their eyes meet for a second, and the anger there is cut through by shock and recognition. 

 

Vivi and Haseul and Heejin, with another girl that Yves doesn’t know, all running and laughing on a track field. Then there’s the three of them, without Vivi, celebrating Christmas in long coats with bright colours. That image is replaced by the same girl, the one with the dark hair and toothy smile, with another blonde girl. She views an exchange of letters and a cat, a vase knocked over, Jungeun’s face with one of her eyes glowing red, Jinsol in a white shirt and blue skirt reaching towards the sky. 

 

Tiny Yeojin getting lost in a forest, playing with her friends, Vivi unplugging herself from a backpack. Pineapples and blood plums, apples and strawberries. Yves can smell the crackle of magic as Jinsol and Jungeun and Yerim live and love. The blond girl is back, this time with black hair, draped in a lacy cloth of red. She sees flashes of a claw machine and golf clubs, a bowling alley and roller skating rink. 

 

And Jiwoo. 

 

Smiling, happy Jiwoo. There are entire worlds out there where the mobius didn’t destroy her, where her laugh remains untouched. There’s places where they’re together, and happy with each other. 

 

Yves is tempted, so, so tempted, to leave the mobius intact. All for the chance to keep the knowledge that Jiwoo is alive. Even if time rewinded, she’d still be able to see her in this life. 

 

But then. 

 

Revive her just to see her die all over again? 

 

There’s no point in letting the mobius continue. They need to break the loop. The future moves forward, not in reverse. 

 

The connections between the realms cannot stay. 

 

They will never truly be together then. 

 

All the same, Yves doesn’t want Jiwoo’s blood on her hands. She lets herself imagine what it would be to relive those few weeks again. The pressure of Jiwoo’s hand in hers, the laughs they shared, running around this building which could afford so little richness for all its luxury. 

 

Would she be a fool for letting her go when she’s right in her reach?

 

She doesn’t want those other worlds to disappear, not when she knows they’re able to do what she’s wanted to do for so long. 

 

The boss was right. Maybe none of their actions mattered, but the consequences didn’t either. They are untouchable. 

 

For a moment, Yves fantasizes with the idea of resting the mobius back in the box, putting it into the vault, locking it, and destroying the key. 

 

But that is not the objective of the mission. 

 

A tear lands on the curve of the strip. It slides down, barely leaving a trace in its wake. 

 

Jiwoo, clad in a yellow plaid school uniform, jerks her head up. A smile splits her face when she sees Yves, and she waves hello. 

 

Her breath catches in her throat. 

 

Jiwoo sends her a chuu-heart, the funny biting hand thing she’d invented herself. Then she waves again, but this time, Yves has a feeling that it’s a goodbye. 

 

As the image of her best friend fades away, Yves sets the mobius down on the closed lid of the box and aims. 

 

Looking away, she pulls the trigger. 

 

The boundaries of the universes solidify, the threads of connection snap, the rules against love shatter, and the mobius splinters into a thousand, irreparable pieces. 



Walking back down, Yves remembers the pale pink hair of her first love, Vivi. 

 

It darkens into the peach of Jiwoo’s blush, always spread on her cheeks with a light hand.

 

Finally, the orangey-pink changes once more, shifting into the bright red of Jungeun’s lipstick. Those lips pull back into a smile upon spotting Yves hovering in the doorway, their owner slouched back into a rolling chair. 

 

“Congratulations, Sooyoung. Welcome back to the real world.”



They find Heejin and Jinsol – who’s smiling, Sooyoung notices relieved – on the merry-go-round, whooping at the not very impressive speed the horses are moving at. 

 

“You’d think they weren’t seasoned killers,” Jungeun says out of the side of her mouth. 

 

She’s looking at Sooyoung, eyes bright and expectant, and Sooyoung thinks she knows what exactly Jungeun wants. And beyond that, what Jungeun feels.

 

It’s something that looks a little bit like hope and love. 

 

It’s too early for that though. She won’t pull Jungeun in when the death of Yerim still weighs heavily on her mind, when the memories of this mission echo through her soul. Sooyoung is going to wait, until her heart and her smile become all the more solid once again. She feels the stirring in her chest too, at every turn they’re together, but she only wants to promise herself when she isn't remembering the touches and words of a girl locked far, far away. She only wants to love Jungeun when she can give her the best of Sooyoung. The best of a girl who will learn to love herself too.

 

Until then, she can at least fulfill the other request hidden in the shy smile Jungeun turns her way. 

 

Sooyoung sighs, and takes her over to play the balloon dart game. 

 

For someone who can hit almost any target with a gun, Sooyoung’s surprisingly bad at it. 



Jinsol’s whistling a tune, making the atmosphere kind of melancholy in Sooyoung’s opinion. They’re seated on the two cars. Heejin’s changed back into the white dress, because she feels like it’s more aesthetic. 

 

“It’s just more cold,” Jungeun whispers into her ear, and she can’t help but agree. 

 

They’re waiting for midnight, staring up at the full moon. This is the sign that will confirm their mission is successful. 

 

Sooyoung counts the seconds down, tapping each interval with her fingers. 

 

At precisely twelve o’ clock, the moon flashes pink and blue before turning back to its regular white-gray. 

 

They sit in stunned silence, watching the display of colours fade away. 

 

And then Heejin laughs, relieved and giddy with excitement. She turns to Jinsol, and they come together in their very first kiss. 

 

“It worked, I take it?” Jungeun asks, trying not to smile and only slightly succeeding. 

 

Sooyoung doesn’t bother hiding her smile, leaning back on her hands to take it all in. She’s not trying to think too hard tonight, only falling in love with this new world that she finds in front of herself. 

 

“Yeah,” she answers, refusing to take her eyes away from the moon. “It did. It worked , Jungeun.”

 

“We don’t have to be not friends anymore,” she says into the night. 

 

A wolf howls in the distance, proclaiming their victory and their love.