Kim Minji, being one of the best ballet dancers in the business, can afford to splash out on a personal dance studio in the apartment. She can also afford to be dressed in the most exquisite of brands, and hire the best hairstylists, makeup artists, chefs, and anyone she desires.
What she can’t get rid of, apparently is an incredibly loud neighbor.
It’s not like they are screaming all day but their ways of torture are more thought through.
Minji is not a prude when it comes to music, her playlist consists of a variety of genres but still. She prefers something more mellow on the daily, to help her be centered, focused on performance so she can deliver her best.
Heavy rock music is not exactly her forte. Not when it’s endless guitar riffs ringing in her head, not when they are occurring non-stop for hours and while Minji applauds the resilience, the growing migraine is getting to her.
She has an important performance by the end of the week, she has to step up her game. Instead, she has to wait until evening, until the neighbor seemingly leaves to wreak havoc elsewhere and that’s when Minji finally can breathe.
But enough is enough, she should make her demands be heard, so she…
Leaves the note at the door. It’s written very politely, Minji even supplied it with her favorite stickers with flowers. She prays for the next day to be peaceful, her mind finally at ease…
But instead, the noise is back, but this time with a note.
“If you are that bothered, you could’ve told me all this in person ;)”
Minji’s blood is suddenly boiling. So her neighbor is one of those people. Insufferable, making her do things. She would’ve stood her ground and never visited them but, unfortunately, she has to. It’s for the sake of art.
While the musical terrorist is still at large, Minji starts banging on their door. She doesn’t even know who to expect from this brief encounter but definitely someone who will keep getting on her nerves.
The music stops mid-solo with dramatic disarray of sound, and Minji’s heart is suddenly pounding, why is she nervous? No one ever makes her nervous, it’s usually the other way around. She’s used to charming people to get what she wants but what if it doesn’t work this time and–
The stream of thoughts is interrupted by the door swinging open and the sight before her is not exactly what Minji expected. It’s both better and worse. Better because it’s not a scary-looking man but worse for her heart. Because Minji is now staring.
She is met with a purple-haired girl that’s dressed in the most grunge way you can imagine. Her entire fashion screams danger while she on the contrary is smiling at Minji politely. It’s a confusing cognitive dissonance but Minji will take it. Adds to the charm.
The girl’s arm is covered in a sleeve tattoo. A kaleidoscope of butterflies starting at her wrist and clearly leading up to something on her arm. Shame it’s covered by the rolled-up sleeves of her white shirt. She wears a black crop top underneath and Minji has to quickly look up so the new acquaintance doesn’t register her staring at her stomach.
Her lower lip and left eyebrow seem to be pierced but might as well be fake piercings. Smoky eyes seem to deepen her gaze, and Minji can read so much emotion in her eyes she might as well go speechless.
Which she did. Until the neighbor broke the silence with a puzzled look on her face.
– Hi? Is something wrong?
Her deep voice is definitely not doing anything to Minji’s insides, nope. She gathers herself within a second and tries to look stern. She fails.
– I’m the one who left the note.
Realization dawns on her, as the neighbor suddenly smiles cheekily. This is not good, and Minji does not enjoy this.
– Ah, so you’re finally here. Took you long enough.
– Excuse me?
– My neighbors usually don’t last a day. You’re quite patient.
– I just hoped that one day you shut up on your own accord.
The girl lets out a low chuckle. At this point Minji really should stop drooling, she’s supposed to be annoyed.
– Well, now that you’re here, care for a drink?
– No thank you, I need to practice now.
– I’m a ballet dancer. I suppose you’re not familiar with those circles.
The girl is suddenly giving her a once-over, gaze roaming lazily. It sends shivers down Minji’s spine and she should get a grip, this is getting embarrassing.
– I see. You definitely look fit.
– Thank you?
– You’re welcome, – she slightly bows and Minji is not sure if she finds her annoying anymore. This is bad, – Anyways, if you ever wanna hang, I’m playing at the Playground this Friday. You can see the fruits of labor and your torture.
Minji huffs, amusing the girl even more.
– I’ll think about it, bye.
She’s ready to turn back, but the girl is suddenly grabbing her by the wrist. And then caressing it with her thumb as some sort of bonding exercise which Minji absolutely hates by the way!
– We haven’t even been properly introduced. I’m Yubin. Or Dami, if you ever wanna find me by my stage name.
– Kim Minji, and you really should’ve known who I am.
– Same goes to you about me, hun.
Minji winces at the endearment and frees herself from Yubin’s grip. She’s still amused by her. Minji is about to punch a wall.
– Right. Goodbye.
– See you, Kim Minji.
Later that day Minji is surprised to hear the melody of “Fly Me to the Moon”. She tries to convince herself that this Yubin is just practicing something new but all signs point to this being a message to her.
Minji despises the fact that her heart is already melting.
Minji does not understand why she is headed to the Playground when this bar is clearly not her scene but she’s already at the entrance and thankfully people here are barely in tune with the ballet world so it shouldn’t be a problem.
Irene’s laugh is echoing in her head as she states how her friend is clearly hopelessly whipped but Minji tries to shake off these thoughts. Today she will try to experience genuine fun.
It’s actually not as bad as she imagined. The bar is full of neon lights and the whole atmosphere seems to be very wholesome (probably due to the strictest face control at the doors).
Minji sits at the bar waiting for the main event. Some people seem to be too, mentions of different names including Dami scattered around the room in excitement. They must be pretty big. Minji should look them up more.
As she goes on to a deep dive into Instagram (as she tries not to linger on Dami’s profile too much), Minji now has the name of the band. Fickle Foes. Not the best but maybe they will make it work.
Suddenly she is greeted by a loud guitar riff, and Minji realizes that she dived into Instagram too deep, she hasn’t noticed that the band is already performing.
A cute short-haired bartender is lovingly crying out Yoohyeon’s name, the one on the keys, and that gains a finger heart sent her way. Adorable. Maybe this group is not the typical mess you can see sometimes.
When Minji’s eyes land on Yubin, she realizes that she’s starting to stare at her again, mouth agape. Today she’s in a black leather jacket with layers upon layers underneath. The makeup seems even heavier than before. Anytime someone screams out her name, she smiles bashfully and sends a playful wink that probably sends someone swooning. Minji might be in bigger trouble than she anticipated.
The music is pretty nice. Their vocalist is solid and doesn’t get noticeably breathless even after jumping on stage. Minji must admit that she faintly registers lyrics because she’s mesmerized by how focused Yubin is.
So lost in the music, somewhere in her own world as her fingers swiftly move across the frets. Those fingers by the way. Minji regrets inhaling a margarita because now liquor is sending her mind into sinful places and Minji would like to get out.
Then suddenly the main vocal is moving in Yubin’s direction as the guitar solo comes out as they suggestively move next to each other. The public eats it up. Siyeon (as multiple desperate screams indicated her name), is good at riling up the public with her actions.
Minji is not feeling jealous one bit.
This whole performance is pure torture for her.
Then the set is over, leaving Minji craving more music (and the glorious show itself), and then suddenly Yubin is moving towards her, clearly spotting her in the crowd (Minji didn’t wear pink sparkles for nothing), a warm smile adorning her lips.
Minji’s heart should stop skipping beats.
– Thank you for gracing us with your appearance, Kim Minji, – her eyes reflect so much kindness, Minji might as well drop to the floor right this instant.
– No problem. And who knew you can actually be good.
– Well, you’ve heard me play before, haven’t you?
– Still. In action, it’s different.
Yubin simply nods, still smiling. She’s reaching into her back pockets to retrieve a cigarette pack, and Minji shouldn’t find this simple move attractive. And yet. God, she’s hopeless.
– I’m going out to smoke, wanna join?
– Sure, – Why did she agree to this. She doesn’t even smoke.
Yubin is just as surprised as she is.
– Really? You smoke?
– No. Just wanna keep you company, I guess.
The cheeky smile is back, and Minji would like to wipe it off her face. With a kiss maybe. Wait, what?
– Very well, let’s go, – she didn’t have to take her by the hand to lead through the crowd but she does.
A fleeting thought passes through Minji’s mind that she’s not opposed to following Yubin anywhere she wants. She shoves that thought as deep as possible because she doesn’t need this right now.
She’s smoking cherry cigarettes and keeps a respectful distance so that the smoke won’t get on Minji that much.
Minji’s eyes are fixated on the delicate fingers holding the cigarette and she’s not even hiding it anymore. Not when Yubin enjoys the attention and keeps smiling at her in that special way that makes her eyes crinkle as her nose sometimes scrunches up in embarrassment.
She’s interestingly shy for a rockstar. But that makes Minji fall faster.
– Are you smoking to keep up the lifestyle of a reckless individual or..?
Yubin raises her eyebrows at the question. Gives it a thought for a minute.
– Not really. They just help me calm my nerves.
– You get nervous?
– More like pumped up on adrenaline. And honestly, if you’re not nervous during a performance, that means something is wrong with you.
They stand there in comfortable silence leaning on a brick wall that’s probably filthy and Minji can’t help but wonder if this all is going to move further. It doesn’t.
Instead, Yubin politely thanks her again for coming as their very energetic bassist Sua calls her for group photos. Yubin even offers to take a picture together but Minji equally politely declines.
It’s all sweet and nice until Minji is home and has to lean on her door after the whole experience. She’s hoping to see a whole lot of Yubin in the future. She can’t even deny it anymore.
Unfortunately for the both of them life steps in and Minji is suddenly super busy with the rehearsals of a new performance, and the only way she keeps in touch is through the walls. Yubin keeps playing for her.
She once played Misery by Maroon 5 jokingly. Made Minji giggle as she was preparing morning coffee, and it made her linger at the kitchen countertop doing nothing but listening. In return, she kept leaving small notes at the door.
“Keep it up but maybe something more lively this time? :)”
This time it was Somebody to Love by Queen. Minji bites her lip at the thought of a possible whirlwind romance and hates herself for acting like a shy schoolgirl but then Yubin suddenly sings and it stuns Minji. Her tone is unique and whenever she goes lower in register it makes her feel a lot. They could stop being idiots and finally talk but instead, the charade goes on.
Yubin variates from poppy hits to heavier songs, even sneaks in a couple of classical pieces to Minji’s amusement, and by the end of the week, she longs to see her. But rehearsals don’t have mercy on anyone.
At the end of a tiring Saturday, Minji throws caution to the wind and suddenly finds herself knocking on Yubin’s door.
She is greeted by Yubin in the most casual black sweater with teddy bears and pajama pants and is suddenly taken aback. Even the heavy makeup is gone. She suddenly looks much softer, all the edge gone, looking at her innocently. Minji is sleep-deprived, delirious, and very much unwell. Last part is mainly because of her silly crush.
– Something happened? – Yubin’s eyes are painted with genuine concern, and Minji talks before she even processes what to say.
– Yes. You.
That immediately sends Yubin into a playful mood and that might as well be the death of Minji. She’s overwhelmed with the urge to hug her and never let go. This is a catastrophy.
– And what exactly have I done?
– Exist near me and be insufferably sweet.
Yubin is smiling bashfully again, and Minji would like to see that smile more often.
– Well why won’t you come in, then?
It could sound like a sinful invitation if Yubin didn’t look like the cuddliest teddy bear right now.
They ended up watching some TV show Minji didn’t bother to get the plot of. What matters is that she’s resting her head on Yubin’s lap out of pure exhaustion and Yubin is threading her fingers through her hair. It feels nice. Soothing.
Minji is on the verge of falling asleep until Yubin breaks the silence.
– I got the tickets for your show, you know.
That makes Minji bolt up and almost hit Yubin’s head with hers. She immediately starts cooing and checking if Yubin is okay and she nods while stifling her giggles. Minji remembers that she has a question on her mind:
– Why would you do that?
– Because I want to? And Gahyeon too. Apparently, she knows you and been a fan for quite some time.
– Owner of Playground? Our good friend, Yoohyeon’s girlfriend, and all-around sweetheart. Yoohyeon is coming too by the way. And Handong already had tickets. She is cultured, apparently, unlike us.
Yubin chuckles fondly thinking about her friends, and Minji is still blinking taking in the information. It shouldn’t put pressure on her and yet it does.
Yubin notices that, and suddenly her hand is on Minji’s cheek bringing her back to reality.
– Hey, me being there won’t complicate things for you, right?
Minji looks into her eyes for the longest time, before dodging her touch and huffing.
– You overestimating the effect you have on me.
– Oh? So there is an effect?
– Ugh, shut up.
Minji is suddenly standing up, body still dazed both from sleepiness and the physical contact.
– I’m gonna go sleep, I’m exhausted.
– Sweet dreams, princess.
Minji hopes that the blush on her cheeks is not that noticeable (it is). Yubin’s fond smile at the door almost makes her stay. But the willpower of the performer is stronger today apparently, she needs to get her rest.
Irene is quite surprised how long it takes for Minji this time to go after what she wants. Minji is surprised too.
The day of the performance she can’t escape Irene’s teasing glances as she proves that telling her about Yubin attending the show was a grave mistake.
– Going to work extra hard today, huh? – and Minji almost shoves her into the pit.
The thing that Minji and Yubin have in common is that they are both extremely focused on work mode.
During the performance, there are no crushes, no complications, and no limitations. Only her, music, and the imaginary world she builds around herself. She allows herself to feel in waves, make herself one with the melody as the crowd looks at her in awe.
When the performance is done Yubin and her friends embarrass Minji by shouting her name and she barely holds off laughter. She finds Yubin in the first rows and flashes her a radiant smile. Yubin looks at her with the kind of tenderness that should make Minji scared. But for some reason, it doesn't.
Yubin presents her with pink roses at the end of the show. Her friends make up an excuse of needing to meet someone else as they look at each other in the cheesiest way possible. Minji feels like she’s in the middle of a romcom, and Yubin looking at her like she’s the most precious human being for her does not help.
– You wanna go somewhere?
– Where exactly you’re proposing, Yubin?
– You’ll see.
They end up driving all around the city under the guise of mystery. Minji feels relaxed and almost starts dosing off as they approach their destination. All that trouble for the view of the city at night.
– I like coming here when inspiration strikes and I have to write down a new song.
– You write?
– I wrote half of the Fickle Foes songs actually.
– Oh… Sorry I didn’t know.
– It’s okay, now you know. Actually, sometime soon I think I might have a song for you… You inspired me today. You’re so graceful with your movements and clearly appreciate music. I can feel that you’re letting it through your soul and–
Yubin gets cut off by Minji’s executive decision to finally kiss. She’s clearly taken by surprise, staring off into the distance this whole time but enthusiastically kisses her back. It doesn’t last long because Minji clearly knocked the breath out of Yubin’s lungs but they end up lingering there, foreheads touching with the sweetest smiles
– Took you long enough, – Yubin says as her smile turns to smug.
– Excuse me?
– I didn’t wanna push you in case you don’t want to–
– I bet you just chickened out.
– Shh, don’t ruin the moment.
They keep giggling until Minji decides to ask:
– So where do we go from here?
– Wherever you want to go, Kim Minji.
As cheesy as it is, Minji is satisfied with the answer. They just need to pick a destination.