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The air is buzzing with nerves and anxiety— Jennie has been through this already but it’s different now, she never thought it could get this bad.

She’s published countless singles, five albums and yet she has never been this nervous about a release.

She locks eyes with Joohyun on the other side of the room and her manager nods slightly.

This is the right thing to do, Jennie knows that.

This could also possibly destroy her career, Jennie knows that too.

It’s a bold move, but Jennie feels it was one she had to make. Everything’s been set up, the music video premiere will start soon and Jennie starts to shake.

Her phone, resting on her thigh, lights up.

The text is simple.

“Thank you. I love you.”

But it’s everything that Jennie needs and some more.

Now, she can truly be brave.

With a new look in her eyes, Jennie focuses on the countdown on the screen in front of her. The chat exploding with comments.

Jennie takes a deep breath and the Black Label logo is in front of her eyes.

It’s now or never.

“Hello this is Yeji!”

“And I’m Ryujin!”

The two girls chuckle and wave at the camera.

“Welcome back to our channel,” Yeji smiles, her poster-filled room behind her, “as you all know, we’ve been fans of Jennie and her music since her debut in 2016. Today, we will bring you our analysis of her new music video for the song ‘Banks’, which she released a few months ago. I’ll link our reaction to that in the pinned comment!”

“To be honest,” Ryujin takes over, “since it wasn’t actually a single but just something she wanted to release, I never expected this song to have its own music video— but I’m glad it does now because I personally think it’s one of her best songs and her most meaningful music video.”

“Agreed,” Yeji nods, “before starting, I would like to give some context to newer fans or people who just happened to find this video who haven’t followed her career like we have. Usually when Jennie releases songs like this, it means they’re more personal. Not to say her title tracks or B-sides aren’t, but it’s usually just a form of release for her to process what she’s going through right at this moment.”

“We don’t want to speculate,” Ryujin clarifies, “we’ve just found so many interesting things in the video and we wanted to show you our analysis as I’m a Digital Media major and Yeji a Literature one. There is a lot of symbolism in this video.”

“Yeah, so much,” Yeji nods, “to try and understand better what she’s trying to tell us, I feel like I need to say that recently there have been some allegations about Jennie’s sexuality and through a song, Only, she revealed that she’s into women. Speculations have been there for her whole career, but these past few years they’re all mentioning Kim Jisoo, who, in case you didn’t know, is the leader and lead singer of Cherry— the most popular group under YGE and one of the most popular girl groups ever. You’ve also might have seen her acting in various dramas and movies.”

“Jennie’s always had a close relationship with the three members: Jisoo, Lisa and Rosé,” Ryujin adds, “but Jisoo especially since they have trained together for a long time before Jennie switched labels.”

“With all the lore out of the way,” Yeji smiles, “we’ll now begin the analysis. Go go!”

The logo of The Black Label plays and both girls are seen anticipating.

“Okay so,” Ryujin takes over, “before the music starts, we already have this opening scene to talk about.”

“Right,” Yeji nods, “it’s so important and it’ll make sense later. For now we can only see a figure turned around. The closer we get, the more details we get. She’s wearing a blue dress— remember this!”

“Yeah,” Ryujin agrees, “the clothing and colours are important. Also the state of the dress: it’s torn and stained. We can see that the woman is barefoot and she’s on a cliff, staring down. She has stripes of black paint all over her. Once she jumps down in the water, we can see the paint being removed.”

“We won’t analyse this part for now but we’ll get back to it after a few scenes, so keep this all in mind,” Yeji smiles, “now the music finally starts.”

“Right,” Ryujin lets the next scene play, “we finally have a beginning of the story. The protagonist, whose face we can now see, is wearing the same dress, but it’s not ruined and it’s white. White is used to represent light and innocence. It’s dawn, which is the part of the day related to hope, and the pinkish hues in the sky again give us innocent, feminine vibes.”

Yeji zooms in on some details, “There are roses, which represent a youthful romance. We can see a white dove flying around, a symbol of peace and purity. Our protagonist is staring outside a window and we can see that the small house has a number, which is zero, that represents nothing.”

“So,” Ryujin smiles, “what does all of this mean? Well, Jennie is trying to tell us a story and this is the beginning. This all means that she was younger when this happened and she still was innocent and naive, I would say.”

“I agree,” Yeji nods, “everything seems perfect right now. To tie it back to Jennie’s career, this could easily be her trainee days. We know that she speaks fondly about that period of her life, that’s why it makes sense to use all this lovely and positive symbolism. Also the number zero tells us that this was before anything really started.”

“Now, our theory is that this video is a response to the rumours,” Ryujin grins, “we’d hate to assume sexuality or stuff like that, but obviously the protagonist of the video is Cherry’s Jisoo and we think that it means something. We don’t think it’s just because she and Jennie are close and she’s an amazing actress.”

“Right,” Yeji nods, “this is the start of everything and we think it’s both her career and her relationship with Jisoo— those two are often intertwined since Jisoo started training at YG only one year after Jennie started. I think she’s trying to tell us that they were both innocent and in love at the beginning.”

“The looking out of the window scene is interesting,” Ryujin adds, “because it means that our protagonist is either going to go out to seek freedom or remain trapped. This could mean so many things, we’ve interpreted that something did happen during their trainee days but it was not the start of their relationship. And they couldn’t reveal anything back then and had to keep it a secret.”

Yeji hums, “Let’s keep watching.”

I wanna be there when the voices in your head
are loud enough to make you lose your mind
Just the same when you're dominating the day
I wanna be the one who's by your side

Jennie was a sweaty mess, the first time she met her.

Lisa, her best friend among the trainees, called it quits about an hour ago— and she is the most hardworking trainee the agency has had in a long time.

Jennie sighs and tries to look at herself in the fogged up mirror in the dance studio. Ever since she started training she had developed in ways she never planned to— she lost some weight, she looks taller and everything about her screams confidence that she doesn’t have.

She notices how the other trainees look at her in awe, she notices the quickly-hidden smiles of their teachers. She knows she is doing well. And that shows in her face, in her newfound poise and grace.

She used to be quite clumsy. Now she looks like someone who can actually debut under one of the biggest idol companies and also make it in the industry.

The door opening wakes her up and she turns around, swiftly bowing at Ms. Ahn, one of the many employees who take care of the female trainees.

“Jennie,” she smiles, “it’s almost midnight, you should get some sleep, dear.”

Jennie shrugs, “I’ll go soon.”

“But actually it’s good that you’re here,” she sighs and turns towards the door, “let me introduce you to our newest addition.”

Jennie’s brow furrow as a girl comes closer and awkwardly bows her head.

“This is Jisoo,” Mrs Ahn continues, “there was traffic downtown so she could only arrive at this hour— I’ve been showing her around the company, but you can bring her back to the dorm.”

“She’ll be living in 11-A?” Jennie asks.

Mrs Ahn nods, “11-C’s full and you guys have a spot since Yena left.”

“Since Yena was sent home,” Jennie corrects her.

“Right,” Mrs Ahn shrugs, “wrap it up and go back home. Don’t stop for snacks,” she turns around, “Jisoo, this is Jennie, she’ll show you around and help you understand your new schedule.”

Jisoo just nods.

“So I’m a babysitter now?” Jennie huffs.

Mrs Ahn rolls her eyes, “No, you’re just the most experienced trainee here and you’ve done a great job with the Thai girl. Also, Jisoo’s older than you.”

“Great,” Jennie tries to smile

“I’ll be on my way,” Mrs Ahn starts going back, “go home.”

“Yes.”

Once she leaves the room, Jennie walks over to the sound system and starts the music again, completely forgetting about the other girl in the room.

She goes over the choreography and tries to work on her expressions, now that she has the moves down.

“I don’t think you should be smiling in the post-chorus part.”

Jennie stops and turns around, fake-smile plastered on her face, “Okay, let me explain to you what’s going on here. You might be older but I’m your senior here, and you need to respect me as such.”

“I didn’t know giving advice would be disrespectful,” Jisoo rolls her eyes.

“And I don’t think you should be giving advice to someone who’s been training for more than a year now,” Jennie shrugs.

The song ends.

“Your facial expressions are misplaced,” Jisoo insists, “if I don’t tell you that, then the trainers will.”

“So?” Jennie starts gathering her things, “what experience do you have? Were you in a dance program? Art academy?”

Jisoo smiles, “None of that. I’m studying acting.”

“And you think you can give me feedback on my dancing?”

Jisoo rolls her eyes, following Jennie outside the studio, “I gave feedback on your acting, not your dance moves.”

“Jisoo-ssi,” Jennie huffs, “next time you can keep it to yourself.”

“Got it,” Jisoo struggles not to laugh.

“Something funny?”

“Just your ego.”

Jennie rolls her eyes, “I’m gonna go shower.”

“Mmh.”

Jennie heads into the shower and tries to relax. She’s not even sure why she’s treating the new trainee like this, but something about her baseless superiority complex ticks her off.

Also, older trainees usually think they can do whatever they want just because of their age, instead of listening to their leaders. Jennie’s been through that already.

She rinses off and quickly gets dressed, makes her bag and then heads out.

“Great, you’re still there.”

Jisoo stands up, “I don’t know the way to the dorm.”

Jennie sighs, “I do, let’s go.”

They walk in silence through the streets until Jennie notices an ice cream shop that’s still open. She tries to convince herself not do anything and to think of her diet, but she’s tempted to just go in.

“We can go if you want,” Jisoo seems to read her mind, “I won’t tell if you won’t.”

Jennie snorts, taken by surprise and turns to enter the shop, “You seemed like you were a stickler to the rules.”

“I’ve said a total of five words to you, why would you think that?” Jisoo laughs.

Jennie shrugs, “I don’t know, also people would do anything to get other trainees in trouble.”

“Is that what you’re doing?”

Jennie shakes her head, “I don’t need to get other trainees pushed out. I have confidence in my skills.”

“Seems great.”

They both order and go sit at a table outside.

“So?” Jennie asks after a while, “why did you audition for YGE when there’s YG K+ for actors?”

Jisoo shrugs, “I like music more than acting.”

“Do you have.. a music-related background?”

Jisoo shakes her head.

“And you got in?”

Jisoo nods.

“Wow,” Jennie shrugs, “then you must be one of those who are naturally talented.”

“Not really,” Jisoo snorts, “I don’t even know how I passed the audition. They said something about visuals, but I wasn’t really listening.”

Jennie takes her time to look at her and now she thinks she gets it. Jisoo’s extremely beautiful, even though she still has to grow into her features. She has that traditionally Korean beauty— big eyes, small face, tall nose bridge and good body proportions.

“This is getting creepy,” Jisoo confesses.

“Sorry,” Jennie shrugs, “I was trying to see what they saw. I get it, it makes sense, you’re pretty.”

Jisoo chuckles, “Thanks? That’s not why I’m here, though. I can’t have a career relying on genetics. I want to work hard.”

Jennie genuinely smiles, “You work with that attitude and you might just make it. No one really thinks like you when it comes to that.. the chosen visuals slack off all the time.”

“You work hard, though.”

Jennie’s confused, “Huh?”

“Aren’t you part of the visual lot?” Jisoo asks, “you’re gorgeous.”

Jennie can’t stop her cheeks from turning red, “Shut it, why did you have to make it awkward?”

Jisoo frowns, “How is this awkward? You gave me a compliment, I gave you one.”

“Fair enough,” Jennie sighs, “but, piece of advice, don’t be nice to everyone. I know it sounds selfish, but it’s everyone against everyone here. You have to think of yourself only and try to survive.”

“I understand that it’s competitive,” Jisoo shrugs, “but I don’t think there’s anything wrong with being nice to people who are mentally and physically exhausted.”

“I’m not saying that it’s wrong,” Jennie explains, “but it doesn’t get you anywhere. These people won’t think twice before throwing you to the wolves for their own gain. Be nice, but don’t trust anyone. And don’t let anyone discover your weaknesses.”

Jisoo rolls her eyes, “Look, I'm doing this thing and I’m gonna be friendly and nice— because that’s who I am.”

“Then I guess we have one month to spend together before you go back home,” Jennie shrugs.

Jisoo ignores that, “Why are you even telling me this if you will be trying to kick me out?”

“Because no matter what happens, no one will be able to kick me out,” Jennie shrugs, “and I’m trying to give you advice.“

“Great,” Jisoo throws away her napkin, “you know, if you articulated your words in another way, you wouldn’t sound so rude.”

Jennie stands up and ends up laughing, “Yeah, I’ve been told that a few times.”

 

Jennie doesn’t run into Jisoo again for about a week. They live in the same housing unit but everyone’s got their own hours, plus the end of the month is near and Jennie hasn’t finished writing her rap for the evaluation.

She’s sitting in the small garden they have at home, looking at the sky, pen and paper in her hand, as she tries to write something.

“The rain.. no,” she mutters, “the pouring rain? Mmh..”

“Stuck?”

Jennie looks up and can’t help fighting a smile, “Yeah.”

“Can I help?” Jisoo sits down next to her.

“How much do you know about rap lyrics?”

“Oh, absolutely nothing.”

“Great,” Jennie snorts.

“But I was just helping Lisa with that..” Jisoo shrugs, “I mean, I was mostly helping her with Korean words but still..”

Jennie nods, “That's nice.”

Jisoo shrugs, “I told you I would be.”

“You did,” Jennie acknowledges, “you’re not gonna be part of the examination, right?”

“Nope, I haven’t been here long enough.”

“I figured,” Jennie nods, “..I’ve heard that you’re quite popular with the other trainees.”

“I guess people like being encouraged,” Jisoo shrugs, “and they’re all amazing, it’s not like I’m lying to them.”

“Be careful not to make friends.”

Jisoo frowns, “What? Why?”

“Because you’ll have to see them suffering, mistreated and kicked out at some point,” Jennie shrugs.

“Oh,” Jisoo nods, “is that why you’re like this?”

“Like what?”

“You help people but you’re cold,” Jisoo looks down at her shoes, “they put you in charge but you’re not good at being a leader.”

“Excuse me?”

“A leader makes sacrifices, a leader puts their own things aside to help the team,” Jisoo explains, “you seem too selfish to do that.”

Jennie rolls her eyes and stands up, “This isn’t summer camp, Kim. We’re in the most competitive industry, this is every man for himself. I have not worked so hard this whole time to throw my future away because other people struggle with some basic dance steps.”

“If that works for you,” Jisoo rolls her eyes.

“It does!” Jennie grabs her pen and paper and heads back inside, “god, who the fuck does she think she is?”

 

“And it’s confusing!” Jennie huffs, “I don’t understand her.”

“Mmh,” Lisa nods.

“Sometimes she’s nice and we laugh and all,” Jennie continues, “then she suddenly makes some comment and starts criticizing me! As if she knows anything about me!”

“She’s very observant,” Lisa shrugs, “also really nice. I’ve never heard her arguing with anyone.”

“Great, so it’s reserved just for me,” Jennie snorts, “an honour, really.”

Lisa chuckles, “Look, is her criticism baseless or does it bother you because she actually has a point?”

“Betrayal!” Jennie takes another sip of her coke, “you’re on her side!”

“I’m not,” Lisa hits her arm, “I just know you and I know you wouldn’t spend two hours complaining about someone else if all they did was say false shit.”

“She does get under my skin..” Jennie admits, “but it’s just that.. she’s too naive. She thinks that we can afford to be nice to each other, that I can stop practicing for my evaluation just to help someone else. She doesn’t get how this works.”

Lisa chuckles.

“What?”

“I don’t know if you realise it,” Lisa smiles, “but that’s exactly what you did with me.”

“That’s because I’m confident you and I will debut,” Jennie shrugs, “I’m not threatened by you but I don’t have to worry about you being cut.”

“I feel like that’s a thing.. for you,” Lisa tries, “It must have been difficult, when Doyeon was sent back home.”

“She’s been here for a long time,” Jennie mutters.

“Mmh,” Lisa nods, “but you and I are here to celebrate us passing with flying colours so.. cheers!”

Jennie puts on a smile and grabs her own glass, “Cheers.”

 

That night, Jennie finds herself in the garden again.

She sneaked a beer while with Lisa, but she’s only slightly affected.

“You’re everywhere, huh?”

Jisoo turns off her phone and looks at her, “It’s a gorgeous night. Being inside would be a waste.”

“I get it,” Jennie nods and sits on the bench next to her, “so.. how was it?”

Jisoo sighs and looks around, “The exam?”

“Yeah.”

Jisoo bites her lip, trying desperately not to share her actual thoughts, “Fun to watch.. I know it won’t be as fun next month since I’ll be part of it.”

“Do you get what I told you now?” Jennie tries.

Jisoo shrugs and can’t help but smile, “I do.. but that doesn’t mean I agree.”

“So you’re just gonna continue attacking me every chance you get?”

“Is that how you perceive it?” Jisoo frowns, “I apologise if that’s the case. I am not your enemy, Jennie, I just don’t think it’s necessary to be so closed off.”

“You don’t get—”

“I don’t,” Jisoo interrupts her, “I have no idea what it’s like.. being friends with someone, helping them.. and then having to watch as they cry on the bathroom floor because they’ve been denied the chance to try and live their dream. I don’t get it. But I get why you’re like this.”

Jennie doesn’t say anything— trying her best not to burst out crying, especially since alcohol enhances her feelings.

But if there’s one thing Jennie is not going to do, it’s crying in front of Jisoo.

“I heard you crying after Doyeon left.”

Well, shit.

“I know you go through this every month,” Jisoo continues, “but I’m pretty sure if you think back of your friendship with Doyeon in a few weeks, you will mostly remember all the good times you had and not this bad day.”

“Stop,” Jennie warns her.

“Tell me it’s not true.”

“Stop talking,” Jennie feels the first tear running down her face.

Jisoo turns to look at her, a gentleness in her wide eyes that Jennie has never seen before, “I didn’t mean to make you cry.”

“You didn't,” Jennie sniffles, “go away.”

“Your body wants to cry right now,” Jisoo shrugs, “let it happen. Nothing good happens from keeping everything bottled up.”

“Right,” Jennie chuckles while standing up, “does that come from experience? Because sure, Jisoo, you’re nice. Nicest person in the world, whatever. But you haven’t shown a single real emotion ever since you’ve been here!”

“You don’t know me!” Jisoo stands up, “you’re not in my position so you have no right to say shit like that!”

“Please,” Jennie laughs, “you give me all this advice but you don’t practice what you preach. Sure, you help others but you would never let anyone even notice that you need help. You’re exactly like me, yet you think your perfect image won’t make anyone realise. But I do, I see you!”

“You have no idea what you’re saying!” Jisoo raises her voice, “just because you’re emotionally stunted doesn’t mean I am too! You don’t know me!”

“I don’t know you,” Jennie nods, “but no one does, because you don’t give anyone the chance to! You’re even more closed off than me but at least I have my reasons! And I don’t go around thinking I’m better than someone else or lecturing them like you do, when you act exactly like I do!”

“What makes you think that I don’t have my reasons, as well?” Jisoo rebuts, “I’m new here and I don’t really know anyone and I’m just doing my best to help others and I don’t need this shit from you! I don’t fake being nice, you idiot, I just keep some shit to myself because it’s no one else’s business!”

“This whole discussion makes no sense!” Jennie exclaims, “and I’m tired of you and your criticism and your fake friendly attitude. Just leave me alone.”

“You were the one who came here!”

“Oh, sorry, Your Majesty,” Jennie snorts, “didn’t know the garden of the apartment I live in was off-limits!”

“What’s going on?” Lisa gets in between them, “why the fuck are you yelling? Jisoo, are you okay?”

“Why are you not asking me if I’m okay?” Jennie immediately asks.

“Because you were yelling at her?” Lisa tries.

“She was, too!” Jennie feels her eyes watering, “you know what, whatever. Fuck this. You’re even stealing my friends now, Jisoo, hope you’re happy.”

“Jennie, that’s not—” Lisa tries.

But Jennie is already gone.

 

Three days later, Lisa shows up at her door with junk food she somehow managed to get. They share a room, so it’s been difficult for Jennie to keep avoiding her.

Lisa sits down on Jennie’s bed, “Look. I’m sorry, I don’t know how else to say this. I didn’t take Jisoo’s side, I don’t even know what you guys were arguing about. I just heard you yelling so I asked her. I’m sorry.”

Jennie sighs, “It’s fine. I.. I honestly couldn’t tell you what we fought about, it didn’t even make sense. She just does shit that pisses me off.”

“Mmh,” Lisa grabs a french fry, “you can be irritating, too.”

“I know,” Jennie rolls her eyes, “I feel like we’re kind of similar but we act in different ways.. maybe that’s the problem. Doesn’t matter anyway, since she’ll be sent home at some point.”

“I don’t know,” Lisa hums, “the teachers like her. She’s been here two weeks and they’ve never seen anyone pick things up this fast.”

“Great,” Jennie rolls her eyes.

“You know,” Lisa shrugs, “I think you should give each other a chance, it could be helpful for both.”

“How?” Jennie snorts.

“She talks to everyone but she’s a very private person,” Lisa explains, “from the way I see it, she only shows her true emotions with you.. maybe you could help her that way.”

“I’m not her shrink,” Jennie huffs.

“I know,” Lisa sighs, “but I also know what it’s like to be in a new place, with a new lifestyle and so many people ready to watch you fail. It can’t be easy for her.. it wasn’t for me.”

“But now you fit in perfectly,” Jennie shrugs.

“Yeah,” Lisa smiles, “because you helped me. Maybe you could do the same to her— just something to think about.”

“Mmh.”

 

“If you don’t bend your knees, you’re never gonna get that right.”

Jisoo looks at her through the mirror.

“Let me show you,” Jennie puts down her bag and shows Jisoo the step she’s stuck on.

Jisoo furrows her brows and tries again, “Like this?”

“Try to make it look more.. fluid, natural,” Jennie shows her again.

“I don’t know how,” Jisoo sits down, “dancing is.. something.”

Jennie smiles and sits down too, “You can say that it’s difficult.”

“And have you use that against me?” Jisoo snorts, “no thanks.”

“I won’t,” Jennie chuckles, “I come in peace today.”

“Right,” Jisoo rolls her eyes.

Jennie hands her an energy drink she picked out for her, “Drink some of this, then we’ll go through the second verse again. That seems like the part you struggle with the most.”

“And what do you gain from this?” Jisoo asks, taking a sip.

“Nothing,” Jennie shrugs, “except maybe.. forgiveness? I shouldn’t have yelled at you.”

“Yeah, me neither,” Jisoo looks down at the bottle in her hands.

“Peace offering?” Jennie tries.

Jisoo tries but loses to fight her smile, “Sure.”

Jennie stands up and holds out her hand. Jisoo grabs it and stands up as well.

“Okay,” Jennie presses play on the speaker, “from the beginning!”

 

“I’m proud of the way you’ve been taking care of Jisoo,” Mrs Ahn smiles.

Jennie looks up at her, confused.

“What?” Mrs Ahn laughs, “you two have been attached at the hip this past week and her dancing has improved so much.”

“She’s a fast learner,” Jennie shrugs, “she just needed to practice it and gain more confidence.”

“Still,” Mrs Ahn shrugs, “I have no doubt you’ll be the leader once you’ll debut. You take care of people well. Yena, Doyeon, Lisa and now Jisoo.. they all speak highly of you.”

“But two of them have already been kicked out,” Jennie sighs.

“That happens,” Mrs Ahn sighs, “but that has nothing to do with you. You helped them the best you can.”

“But it wasn’t enough..”

“Some people are just not cut out for this,” Mrs Ahn sports a sad smile, “but you are. And you know Lisa is. And if you keep helping Jisoo, she might be too.”

“She’s very resilient,” Jennie comments.

“And you’re a great leader,” Mrs Ahn smiles, “now get out of my office, you have the day off.”

“Wow, whole day and then weekend?” Jennie chuckles, “that’s the longest break I’ve had since Chuseok last year.”

“Go before I change my mind!”

Jennie laughs and gets ready to go home.

On her way, she thinks about what Mrs Ahn said. Her debut seems more certain now and Jennie feels much lighter.

Her and Lisa booked a trip to a spa for the weekend, but Lisa recently injured her ankle and now she has to rest at home.

Jennie doesn’t want to cancel the trip, but she also doesn’t know who to go with.

She could ask Jisoo, especially now that they’re actually closer. Mrs Ahn wasn’t exaggerating when she said they’ve been attached at the hip. Starting from helping Jisoo with dance, Jennie did her best to give her advice on everything else, sharing some secrets that she usually doesn’t tell other trainees.

Jisoo has been showing new sides of herself. She’s goofy like Lisa sometimes and Jennie never imagined she had it in her, but she’s also a gem when it comes to other things. She’s insanely smart and observant and she’s been able to give Jennie pointers on many things. She also thinks outside the box and comes up with genius creative solutions to Jennie’s problems.

Somehow they make each other better— and they haven’t even known each other for long. Amongst the trainees, Jennie thinks she would pick Jisoo to debut with, along with Lisa. They just get along on another level and in just one week it’s incredible how much they’ve helped each other.

“Jisoo,” Jennie sing-songs while walking into her dorm room.

“Hey,” Jisoo’s writing something in her journal, “wanna practice the song later?”

“Nope,” Jennie closes her notebook, “I have a proposition.”

Jisoo hums, “I’m listening.”

“You and me,” Jennie smiles, “at a spa, the whole weekend.”

“I have to admit, it does sound like heaven but.. can we?” Jisoo asks.

Jennie nods, “Since we’re both of age they don’t need our parents permission to let us do whatever we want on the weekends and I’ve already booked the place.”

“I would love to,” Jisoo sighs, “but I should practice.. the monthly evaluation is close and I.. I don’t wanna go home.”

“Jisoo,” Jennie looks straight into her eyes, “I’ve seen you break your back practicing these past weeks. You know that taking breaks is important, right? Look at Lisa and her ankle. Plus, we’ll go back to practice feeling rested and pampered for once, so we’ll perform better.”

“You.. do have a point,” Jisoo concedes.

“Great, then let’s go, pack your bag!” Jennie claps her hands, “we’ll have breakfast at the hotel!”

Jisoo finally smiles, “Okay, okay.. what do I bring?”

 

Just looking at the hotel makes something in Jennie feel like breathing again.

It’s not particularly luxurious, but after sweating her days away in a stuffy practice room, it’s exactly what Jennie needs.

“The place looks nice,” Jisoo comments.

Jennie takes a look at her as she gets her bag from the taxi. Jisoo usually wears oversized clothes and sweats for practice— but today she seems like she wants to enjoy the summer day. The rips of her jeans are more holes than anything and the small, white top leaves most of her stomach exposed.

“Dressed to impress?”

“It’s hot,” Jisoo shrugs, “are we going in?”

Jennie nods, taking one not-so-discreet look at her. She looks good. She always does, but today is different.

They make their way inside and they’re given the keys to their rooms, which are adjacent and connected through an inside door.

They walk upstairs and they leave their luggage in one of the rooms.

“I like this,” Jisoo concludes, opening up the door that leads to her room.

The rooms are identical if not for the colours, Jennie’s in shades of pink and Jisoo’s orange. They’re not spacious but they don’t need to be. A bed, dresser and bathroom is really all they need.

“There’s a pool?“ Jisoo asks from the other room.

“Yeah,” Jennie replies, “wanna go?”

“Maybe after breakfast,” Jisoo returns to Jennie’s room, “let’s order something, I’m starving.”

Jennie hands her the menu and Jisoo says some french words during the call— Jennie assumes it’s food, but it’s fascinating to see her like this.

Last time Lisa came with her, she didn’t even know that room service was a thing.

“So what’s your deal?” Jennie asks, “you seem to know your way around hotels.”

Jisoo turns to look outside the window, “I guess we traveled around for dad’s job quite often.”

“What does he do?”

Jisoo’s conflict is evident in her face, “He works in the Hanjin Group.. it’s a conglomerate corporation.. I don’t really know all the details.”

“Yeah, I know what that is,” Jennie’s shocked, “so your family is rich?”

“We’re.. comfortable,” Jisoo shrugs, “whatever, I don’t want to be associated with my parents’ jobs. It wouldn’t help my career if people just thought I could do anything because my dad’s rich.”

“Sure,” Jennie nods, “is that why you never talk about your family?”

“I guess?” Jisoo shrugs, “it’s not like there’s more to tell.”

“Do you have siblings?”

Jisoo nods, “Two, older than me.”

“Are you close?”

“I guess? With my sister?” Jisoo shrugs, “not as much with my brother.”

Jennie sighs, “I’ve always wanted siblings.”

“Only child?”

Jennie nods.

“Explains a lot,” Jisoo snorts.

Jennie rolls her eyes and throws a pillow her way, “Shut up.”

Jisoo just giggles and goes to open the door.

They settle in the small balcony for eating and Jennie feels at peace, finally. No tests, no pressure. It’s great.

“So, what’s the plan?” Jisoo asks.

Jennie just raises her brows in response.

“We can go to the pool,” Jisoo starts, “then have lunch, digest, sauna, baths and massage?”

“Sure,” Jennie chuckles, “you’re very organised.”

“I like to plan things ahead,” Jisoo explains, “I’ve never been a spontaneous person.”

“That fits you,” Jennie nods.

Jisoo just rolls her eyes.

 

“This is what I imagine hell looks like.”

Jennie snorts and turns towards Jisoo, “So you’re not into naked old men sweating?”

“Lower your voice,” Jisoo hits her arm, “should we just wait for them to be done?”

“I’m sure the next one is free to use,” Jennie grabs her wrist and guides her to the third and last sauna room.

The first one had a couple in there, so they refused, but thankfully the last one is empty.

They both walk in with their robes held tight and sit down while they start to feel the heat.

“I can’t stand this.”

Jennie laughs, “Come on, after this we can go in the baths.”

“Which are also warm,” Jisoo huffs, “why did we come here during the hottest summer this country’s ever had?”

“You’re so dramatic,” Jennie shakes her head, “you agreed to come with me.”

“I know,” Jisoo sighs, “once again I’m my own worst enemy.”

Jennie just laughs and launches on a story of when she was here with Lisa.

“You guys are really close, huh?”

“Not.. really?” Jennie tries, “she’s my best friend here but it’s been mostly just us helping each other improve, she doesn’t really talk about her past so I actually don’t know a lot about her.”

“Because you, instead, are so in touch with your feelings,” Jisoo smirks.

Jennie pushes her, “Shut up.”

She tries not to linger on the thought of Jisoo’s warm skin under her hand. Jennie doesn’t know why she’s been focusing more on these useless details lately.

“Okay, time’s up,” Jisoo drags her outside, “baths!”

They quickly wash off the sweat in the showers, then head to the pools outside. Jisoo makes them settle for a smaller one, in the corner.

Jennie is just about to go in when a movement catches her eyes.

Jennie looks up as Jisoo takes off her robe, “What?”

Jennie shakes her head, “Nothing.”

Is she supposed to go in naked, too? Obviously with sharing a dorm there have been instances of Jennie seeing other trainees without clothes on.

But this is different because now Jennie has an image in her brain that she doesn’t think will disappear soon. Jisoo’s gorgeous. Slightly tanned skin, thin but with curves. Jennie feels like going crazy.

Thankfully Jisoo immediately gets in the disturbed water that blurs out her body.

Jennie feels weak in the knees.

Jisoo’s gorgeous and all her instincts are telling her to touch. Just touch. Leave a permanent mark on her skin.

Jennie tries to calm down and she quickly takes off her own robe, before getting in the tub.

“This is nice,” Jisoo comments, unaware of the crisis inside Jennie’s brain.

“Yeah.”

“Do you get to do this a lot?”

Jennie snorts, “What do you think?”

Jisoo shrugs, “Still, it’s a great break from practice. I feel like my bones feel whole again.”

“I get that,” Jennie nods.

“My first evaluation is coming up..”

Jennie looks up at her and she doesn’t think she’s ever seen Jisoo this vulnerable, “Hey, don’t worry about it. They know you’re new, they’re going to evaluate you with that in mind. They never kick out the new trainees because they know they should give you the chance to try, first.”

Jisoo nods, still looking dejected, “I just.. maybe I acted irrationally? Deciding to be an idol on a whim.. I could have had a secure life.”

“That just means you’re brave,” Jennie tries, “and you’ve improved so much.. that only happens so fast when you’re doing something you actually love.”

Jisoo looks up at her, “Thank you.”

Jennie just smiles.

“What about you?”

“I’m.. not too worried,” Jennie shrugs, “they’ve talked to me about debuting too many times to kick me out.”

Jisoo nods, “You always rank first.”

“I’ve been working for a long time.”

“You’re so impressive,” Jisoo’s cheeks turn red, “I was intimidated by you at first.”

“But you were always picking fights with me!”

Jisoo chuckles, “I was trying to read you.”

“And?”

“And then I realised you weren’t scary at all, just determined and hurt,” Jisoo shrugs.

Jennie ponders that for a bit, “I guess it could be true. Who would have thought that we’d end up here, uh?”

“Right,” Jisoo snorts, “it was so weird when everyone told me you weren’t the type to get mad.”

“I guess you’re just so annoying that you bring out that side of me,” Jennie shrugs.

“You’re a menace,” Jisoo rolls her eyes.

“That’s already been established,” Jennie smirks.

“Typical only child behaviour.”

Jennie shrugs, “I guess? But it makes sense. Like, you’re the youngest in your family but one of the oldest here— and it just shows.”

“Well, they all feel like younger sisters.”

“They?”

“The trainees,” Jisoo explains.

“Am I not included in that?”

“Not really,” Jisoo looks down at the water, “when I help them I feel like an older sibling.. with you it’s different. We usually help each other so it just feels like.. like we’re friends? Like we can both rely on each other? With the others it’s more like I take care of them, but with you it’s like we both do that.”

Jennie mulls it over, “I guess it makes sense. I think that since we both have authority over each other, it just canceled it all out and made us equal.”

“Yeah,” Jisoo finally smiles, “equals.”

 

Jennie would remember their days at the spa for years to come.

In the cage-like situation she was in, that was the most freedom and fun she’s ever had.

Jisoo matches her in energy and sense of humor and the two spend the remaining day with a permanent smile on their faces.

They do everything together: Jennie waits for Jisoo to wake up, they have breakfast, they get pampered the whole day and chat on their balcony bathing in the moonlight.

Jennie thinks that if this will be their life after debuting, she would never complain. Jisoo still struggles with singing and dancing and Jennie never wants to bet on a sinking ship— but there’s something about Jisoo that calms her down, that makes her believe they can both go forward.

Maybe it’s hope, maybe it’s wishful thinking.. but Jennie would love to debut with Jisoo.

Once they step into the cab to go back to the dorms, they both know this is a memory they will look back on fondly.

Jennie tries not to seem so sad while the spa quickly disappears in the rear view mirror.

 

The end of August has arrived, which means all trainees are exhausted and overworked, yet extremely nervous.

Jennie looks at the first group choreography from her seat next to Lisa and Jisoo.

She spots a synchronization mistake and one look at their choreographer makes her realize that he saw that. The chairman doesn’t look happy and Teddy has his usual poker face.

Jennie takes a deep breath and feels something warm over her hands. She looks down and Jisoo’s hands cover hers, squeezing a little.

Jennie doesn’t know if it’s for her own good or Jisoo’s, but she still flashes her a little smile to thank her.

Lisa’s already into killer mode and Jennie had wished to be cold and detached like her before something so nerve wracking.

But instead, she squeezes Jisoo’s hands and feels her nervousness pick up. She feels comforted but at the same time something’s going on in her stomach and she can’t explain that, it’s different from her usual pre-examination jitters.

“Group B.”

Jennie lets Jisoo pull her up and, along with Lisa, they move to the centre of the room.

As the leader of their little group, Jennie briefly introduces them and the song they’re going to dance to.

The music starts and they get into position, with their backs turned to everyone else.

Lisa’s in the center, a little more forward than them. Jennie looks up slightly and her eyes immediately meet Jisoo’s. She winks at her and Jennie just smiles.

She’s ready now.

 

“To the most improved trainee ever!” Lisa yells.

Jisoo bursts out laughing, “Is that even a title?”

“It is,” Lisa nods, sipping her cocktail, “holy shit, your singing has improved so much? Wow.”

Jisoo slightly blushes, “It’s just thanks to you two.”

“Shut up,” Jennie rolls her eyes, “brag, for once.”

Jisoo kicks her under the table, “Fine. I’m the best thing that ever happened to this company. Happy now?”

Jennie and Lisa start cackling.

“Better!” Jennie nods.

“You two are ridiculous.”

“That we are,” Lisa nods, “I’m gonna go ask for more chips.”

Jennie watches her leave, then looks up at Jisoo, “So.. why are you down?”

“Mmh?” Jisoo tries a smile, “I’m not.”

“That might work on everyone else, but not on me.”

Jisoo rolls her eyes, “Sometimes I really feel like I hate you.”

Jennie chuckles, “Come on, don’t tell me you still won’t open up? With me?”

“Because it’s you..”

“They didn’t have chips,” Lisa huffs, back on her seat, “I say we boycott this place from now on.”

Jisoo chuckles, her fake happy mood back, “Let’s leave negative reviews.”

“Yes!”

“Kids,” Jennie shakes her head, “come on, we have to be back in half an hour. Order something now or we’re not getting more.”

“Yes mom,” Jisoo snorts.

Lisa chokes on her drink, “Okay mommy.”

Jennie rests her forehead on the table, “I hate you both. So much.”

Jisoo giggles, “Guess we’re orphans now.”

Lisa’s drink comes out of her nose.

Jennie just shakes her head and fails to hide her smile.

 

To no one’s surprise, Jennie and Jisoo meet in the gardens.

Jennie, already waiting for her, turns to look at her walking. Not really shameful, more resigned. As if it was obvious down to her bones that she was going to go to talk with Jennie. As if she tried to fight against that nature and came out beaten and bruised.

“Don’t,” Jisoo softly says, sitting down.

“Bask in the fact that I was right?” Jennie snorts, “who do you think I am?”

“I should have stayed in my room,” Jisoo sighs.

“But you didn’t,” Jennie smiles.

“But I didn’t,” Jisoo nods.

They stay in silence for a bit more but it’s not a problem. They both know they’re eventually going to start talking about whatever’s going on with Jisoo.

The silence is comforting.

“It never really hit me until now,” Jisoo confesses, gaze stuck to the ground.

“The evaluations make everything more real,” Jennie agrees.

“It’s not just that,” Jisoo sighs, “I thought I had my future spelled out for me. My dad is the CEO of a company, my mother works in an NGO.. both my brother and sisters are married and she’s also expecting. That.. that was supposed to be my life.”

Jennie listens carefully, hand automatically reaching out to grab Jisoo’s thigh.

“And I just..” Jisoo sighs, “I had to fight to get acting lessons and I was so sure that I would ever be that or just working with my family. It was like having my future written down.”

Jennie nods, “And everything here is so unsure that it throws you off.”

“Eun was such a good dancer,” Jisoo comments, “her vocal skills had to be polished but she had the star factor.”

“Mmh..” Jennie nods.

“And me!” Jisoo exclaims, “what am I doing here? Am I just wasting my time? Should I start packing my bags for next month? Every single girl I’ve seen thrown out was head and shoulders above me when it comes to talent. Is this hopeless?”

Jennie took a big sigh, “Eun was a great dancer, but she went unnoticed if she danced with others. Her vocals were weak considering how long she’d been training. And she did not have.. the potential, the it factor. Those of us who stay.. it’s because we get attention, it’s not about skills as much as it is about potential. Skillswise you are behind Eun, for sure, but there’s something in you that the trainers have seen. A great dancer is just that. A potential idol is so much more. They have to see us grow and improve— and that’s all you’ve been doing since you got here. And that matters more to them than not making any mistake during a choreo.”

Jisoo looks up, wild eyes open wide, “Don’t sugarcoat things for me.”

Jennie can’t hide a smile, “I’m not. Look, I know how it works by now. Talented people get thrown out all the time. Hard workers who improve every month get to stay.”

“Seriously,” Jisoo turns to her, “do you actually see me in the debut group?”

Jennie looks up at the moon, “I do.”

“I guess..” Jisoo sighs, “I’ve been doubting myself a lot lately and getting good results.. it’s not something I can easily comprehend.”

Jennie tries not to smile, “You had a narrative in your head that wasn’t true, that’s all there is to it. Thinking you’d be thrown out and instead passing and getting compliments doesn’t match in your brain. But what if you step outside of your own mind for a second and focus on what’s tangible and real?”

“Mmh..” Jisoo hums, “I’ve been trying so hard to prove myself my whole life. I’ve always been told I was privileged because of my parents’ jobs and money. Because of how I look. And I know I am. Once I got out of a speeding ticket by slightly flirting with the police officer. I just.. none of my actions have had consequences and at some point I realised I couldn’t keep living like that, in my family’s shadow. That’s why coming here and hearing unbiased opinions threw me off. Because I grew up convinced that I would be nothing on my own— but that’s been proven false. And now I don’t know what to do.”

“You proved yourself that you could do something on your own,” Jennie nods, “now as your next goal? Prove it to the trainers, prove it to the public.”

Jisoo stays silent for a few minutes, then chuckles, “Why are we talking like it’s obvious that I’ll debut with you? That’s ridiculous.”

Jennie frowns, “Why would that be ridiculous?”

“Because you’re, well, you,” Jisoo shrugs.

Jennie rolls her eyes and puts her arm around Jisoo’s shoulders, “Maybe stop comparing yourself to people who have more experience than you. I’ve been practising for so much longer than you, it’s not fair for you to compare yourself to me.”

Jisoo hums, head resting on Jennie’s shoulder, feeling content in her arms, so close to her.

They look up at the sky for a while, before Jennie can hear Jisoo yawn.

“It’s been a long day,” Jennie stands up and offers her hand, “let’s go to sleep, come on.”

Jisoo just takes her hand and trusts her.

Jisoo has felt like a spy in the enemy lines for her whole life. No one could get too close, not letting anyone figure her out.

But Jennie’s voice is honey when she reassures her. Jennie has nothing to gain from helping her.

And yet Jennie’s here, dragging her inside the dorm by her hand and chatting about some insane thing that happened the other morning in the kitchen.

And Jisoo trusts her.

She smiles.

 

Between school, practices and evaluations time seems to fly.

Jennie wakes up every morning and has to fight for her body to get out of bed. Then comes back in the early hours of the morning and finally collapses back into it.

She used to always run straight to back after her shower, but now there’s a new routine in her life.

Every single night she meets up with Jisoo to talk. Sometimes in either of their rooms, sometimes at convenience stores, but mostly in the gardens of their housing unit.

They talk about their days, about their lives before joining the company. They’re both dog people, Jisoo’s never been to New Zeleand while Jennie’s never been to the US, Jennie helps Jisoo with her english and Jisoo helps Jennie with her acting.

They still fight at times, but the original fire has been put out. Now it’s only about helping each other. Frustrated because they can’t make the other see what they see in her.

But mostly, they laugh.

Jennie tells her about her years abroad and Jisoo has the most hilarious high school stories.

Physical contact has also gone up. It would be unusual now if they were spotted not standing extremely close to each other, cuddling, holding hands.

Lisa has started to ask if they’re sure they’re just friends. Jennie lets Jisoo answer the questions.

Because Jisoo’s resolute ‘no’ tells her everything she needs to know, it’s the reason why she won’t ever talk about it— about the feelings that are growing within her, about her red cheeks and daydreams. Because her voice would surely tremble if she had to lie and deny everything.

Jisoo can keep doing it for both of them. Jennie’s sure she doesn’t have the same problems.

But apart from the hopeless crush, she values her time with Jisoo like gold. It’s not unusual for the two of them to stay in the practice room way after practice ended.

They practice everything, they write lyrics and try their best to invent choreos together. They both laugh at the fogged mirror and Jisoo always lets Jennie rest her head on her stomach when they lay down to catch their breath.

They’ve been so close that Jennie sometimes finds it uncomfortable when she doesn’t know where Jisoo is. As if Jisoo was an extension of her that got swept out by the current and Jennie’s been left all alone in the ocean.

“Last time I saw her,” Lisa stops to think about it, “I think she was called to help the new trainee? I think.”

Jennie’s brows furrow, “New trainee?”

Lisa nods, going through the pages of her Korean grammar book, “She’s from Australia, she was the only one who passed that audition.”

Jennie nods, “And Jisoo’s giving her the tour?”

“I think?” Lisa shrugs, “I don’t know. I guess they knew you were busy.”

Jennie hums.

“Are you upset that they haven’t asked you?” Lisa tries.

Jennie shakes her head, “No, it’s fine. Jisoo’s been here for a year already, she can do that.”

“Mmh..” Lisa goes back to her book, “hey, can you explain this particle to me real quick?”

Jennie nods and joins her on the bed.

 

Jennie hasn’t even met the new trainee yet, but she knows every single detail about her because Jisoo can’t stop gushing over her.

“She’s so cool! She plays guitar! Her accent is so cute! Her voice puts us all to shame!”

Jennie knows that the instant dislike she has for the girl is solely because Jisoo is so taken by her. She knows she’s being irrational every time she rolls her eyes at the mention of her name— but she can’t help it.

It took her weeks to get Jisoo to like her and this girl with a pretty accent is stealing her away.

Jennie huffs, looking at the lyrics she’s written so far. Nothing that she can perform at the evaluation, that much is obvious.

The lyrics are so obviously about Jisoo she might as well have written her name.

For some reason, Lisa finds her agony amusing. But Lisa always looks at her like she knows all of her secrets, she’s wise beyond her years, and Jennie wouldn’t be surprised if she figured it out.

Jennie can’t even admit it to herself yet. She just knows that if she hears Jisoo mention Park Chaeyoung again, she’ll actually have a mental breakdown.

Jennie hasn’t even met the girl yet. For a very brief second Jennie tries to think badly of her— but that’s not who she is, so she catches herself immediately.

God, these feelings are driving her crazy.

Jennie’s never liked jealousy. Even when she was younger and she would see other children with both of their parents— she didn’t mind. Her mother was enough.

And honestly Jennie is sure of what she has with Jisoo. It’s so much more than a friendship, it’s a bond that Jennie doesn’t even know how to describe. When Jisoo is close, Jennie is so caught up that sometimes she forgets to listen, every little touch sets her skin aflame.

And Jisoo has no idea that when she’s smiling brightly in the moonlight at some convenience store, Jennie’s writing poetry in her head about that mouth.

She has never felt like this. Not even for that guy she dated for almost a year before she became a trainee.

What she has with Jisoo transcends romantic or platonic love. It’s being bound by some force or law of nature. It’s inherently inside of her.

Twin flames.

Jennie sighs and gets to writing.

 

“Your rap was awesome,” Lisa comments.

Jennie smiles at her, “Thank you.”

“No, you don’t get it,” Lisa chuckles, “the lyrics were the most poetic thing I’ve ever heard or read.”

“Shut up,” Jennie rolls her eyes, “you exaggerate so much.”

“She’s right,” Jisoo jumps in, eyes not meeting Jennie’s, “I think Teddy was about to give you a standing ovation.”

Jennie snorts, “Sure.”

“So.. what movie did you take inspiration from?” Lisa asks, taking a sip of her juice.

Jennie briefly glances at Jisoo, who’s looking down at her phone, “..a bunch of them.”

Lisa chuckles, “I’m scared for when you’ll start pulling from real life.”

“Yeah..” Jennie comments absentmindedly. Were her lyrics too obvious? Is that why Jisoo’s pretending to do something else on her phone?

“Chaeyoung asked if she can tag along,” Jisoo looks up at them.

Oh. That’s what she was focusing on.

“Hell yes,” Lisa nods, “tell her to buy us chips.”

Jisoo chuckles and turns to look at her, “Jen?”

“Mmh?”

“You’re fine with Chae joining us?”

“Of course,” Jennie smiles.

Jisoo grins and goes back to her phone.

“We stayed up playing her guitar the whole night,” Lisa tells her, “she’s so good and she knew literally every song.”

Jennie tries a smile, “Can’t wait to finally meet her.”

“Also she’s been so helpful with my English..” Lisa continues.

That feels like a stab. Blade still inside Jennie’s back. She was Lisa’s tutor. They had fun.

Did this girl just come here to steal everyone away from her?

Jennie can’t help but get more angry.

“Chip delivery for three pretty girls?”

Lisa and Jisoo laugh, while Jennie just turns in her seat to get a good look at her.

Her smile is bright and her eyes shine. She’s tall and thin. Her voice sounds sweet.

“I can’t believe I’m finally meeting you!” Chaeyoung exclaims, “I’m Chaeyoung.”

Jennie can’t pretend like her enthusiasm isn’t cute, “Same thing, I’ve heard so much about you.”

Chaeyoung sits down next to Lisa and starts munching on the chips she brought, “So is this what you do after every evaluation?”

Lisa nods, “It’s routine.”

“You must all have been so stressed,” Chaeyoung comments.

“Having Jennie as a supervisor is always stressful,” Jisoo chuckles.

Jennie rolls her eyes, “Dealing with immature brats is, too.”

Jisoo sticks out her tongue and everyone laughs. Jennie feels more relaxed as the night goes on.

“..and that’s when my family decided to ban surfing forever,” Chaeyoung finishes her story, many hours later.

Jennie chuckles, “It reminds me so much of when I was in New Zealand!”

Chaeyoung turns to her, “I’m so glad I have someone to speak english with now. I’m still struggling a bit with korean.”

“Just ask Jennie to help you,” Lisa smiles fondly, “she’s been amazing with me.”

Jennie feels affection flow in her veins, “Shut up, sap.”

Lisa laughs.

“It’s true, though,” Jisoo continues, “she’s been amazing with my english. She’s really patient.”

Jennie smiles some more.

“Also, your rap today was insane,” Chaeyoung exclaims, “I had goosebumps.”

Jennie shakes her head, “Your voice is amazing. While you played I felt like I was in a Disney movie.”

Chaeyoung chuckles, “I’m so glad Jisoo took me under her wing because I feel like there’s something special here, with the four of us.”

Jennie’s genuine when she smiles, “I agree.”

Lisa and Jisoo exchange a glance and both smirk.

 

Time either flies or is paralysed— there’s no in between.

Every day is a constant song on repeat: wake up, wash up, school, vocal lesson, dance lesson, rap lesson, dinner, free practice, sleep.

More girls get thrown out, Jisoo always stays. The four of them always stay.

Jennie never imagined she would end up seriously befriending other trainees, when her whole attitude until that point had been to never get too close to avoid hurting.

But hanging out at night in the studio or practice room with Jisoo, Lisa and Chaeyoung is as homely as the smell of her mother’s kimchi stew.

Chaeyoung is a fine addition to the group, the missing link they didn’t know they needed. Somehow it’s always the four of them practicing together, hanging out and laughing about just anything.

Jennie doesn’t think she’s ever felt happier.

Monthly evaluations come and go, so do the trainees.

Jennie notices those badly-hidden smiles whenever the four of them do the evaluation together. She’s not stupid, that’s why she’s not surprise when they get called to meet the chairman.

“It’s either we royally fucked up and they’re kicking us out or they’re giving us a vacation, no in between,” Chaeyoung comments in the elevator.

Jennie chuckles, “Are those the two ends of the spectrum?”

“Basically, yeah,” Chaeyoung shrugs.

Jennie didn’t know how someone else could fit so seamlessly in her friendship group, but she still laughs when she thinks of her original feelings about Chaeyoung.

She’s insanely talented, picks things up fast, she’s sweet with everyone and Jennie has found in her a source of comfort. Having both spent so many years outside of Korea makes them relate to each other.

Jennie can’t contain her excitement as they make their way into the room.

The CEO tells them to sit down and ask about their progress.

The others are looking at her, so Jennie hides a smile and starts talking about what each of them has done in the past few months, the kind of feedback they received and how they adjusted to that. She also mentions their close relationship.

While she’s talking, Teddy and other company higher ups get into the room.

Jennie stops talking and catches her breath. Only for it to be stolen again when Jisoo starts running her hand up and down Jennie’s back.

“That’s great,” the CEO finally comments, “I’ve spoken to all the trainers here, separately, and they all listed the four of you in the list of a possible debut group. There are three other members. We still have to decide about the number but.. congrats, you’ve made it into the debut team!”

 

There are still tears flowing slowly down Chaeyoung’s cheeks. Lisa’s mouth keeps falling open until she catches herself. Jisoo hasn’t said a word yet.

Jennie doesn’t know what she’s feeling.

This is it, this is what she has dedicated so many of her years towards. And now it’s almost reachable, tangent.

She threw away and sacrificed and cried her eyes out. And now she’s here. Part of the debut team with the three girls she would follow until the ends of Earth.

“I’m gonna call my mom,” Chaeyoung whimpers, moving away from their usual table while grabbing her phone.

Lisa hums to herself, “I can’t believe we have the weekend off.”

Jennie nods, “I guess they wanted to reward us in some way.”

“By the way,” Lisa takes a sip of her drink, “there’s no way in the world I’m debuting without the two of you so we’ll have dance practice every morning.”

“Yes, ma’am,” Jisoo snorts.

Lisa rolls her eyes, “I’m serious. You still look like a scarecrow when you’re resting and Jennie forgets moves too often. I can’t risk losing you two, so hurry up and get on my level.”

“I would be so offended if I didn’t know you’re only saying this because you love us,” Jisoo smiles.

“I never said the word love,” Lisa tries to hide a grin.

“Sure,” Jisoo shrugs.

“Seriously though,” Lisa sighs, “I came here five years ago. I’ve known Jennie for that long, you for almost four and Chaeyoung for three. You guys are the only family I have here and I’m not debuting if you won’t stand next to me on that stage.”

While Jisoo teases Lisa, Jennie goes back through her memories. The fights with her mom, her audition, all the friends she made and lost. The practice rooms, sweat, body aching.

A new girl who can’t speak Korean, but has the most expressive eyes she’s ever seen and dances like it’s the last time she ever will.

That night when her individual practice was interrupted because Jisoo turned up, the fights, the slow process of her heart being ripped out as she came to question everything about herself. The way Jisoo always looks at her with reassurance and teaches her how to be vulnerable and brave.

Another new trainee with a funny accent, bright and charismatic, making it impossible for Jennie to dislike her as she wanted to.

All the days gossiping in the cafeteria, Lisa’s choreographies, Chaeyoung’s guitar and Jisoo’s now stable head voice.

They’ve been through so much and now they’re finally seeing the daylight.

And it’s so close, just a step away. And Jennie realizes Lisa is right: they are a family, they take care of each other and Jennie doesn’t think she would be able to debut and achieve her goals without them on the stage with her.

 

“I’ve always wanted a tattoo,” Jisoo casually comments, while scrolling through her phone.

Jennie turns to look at her own bed, “Yeah?”

Jisoo hums, “I don’t know why but these days it’s all I’ve been thinking about.”

“I’ve always wanted one, too,” Jennie admits, “but it’s against the rules.”

Jisoo chuckles, “Since when do you care about the rules?”

“Point taken,” Jennie nods, spinning slowly with her chair.

“What would you get?”

Jennie stops to think about it, “Maybe something to do with my career? I don’t know.”

“Makes sense,” Jisoo nods, “I probably would, too.”

Jennie lights up, “Okay but what if.. we get matching tattoos. To remember this trainee period forever.”

Jisoo snorts, “It sounds good, but what would we even get? The YGE logo?”

Jennie chuckles, “More personal? Like, I don’t know, we’ve both struggled with dance, maybe something related to that? Because we overcame that?”

Jisoo stands up from Jennie’s bed, still on her phone, “Right, that would be cool.”

“I don’t know why but when I think of dancing I can only hear the eight counts with Lisa’s voice,” Jennie laughs.

“What if we get really small, barely visible, 5, 6, 7, 8?”

Jennie nods, “We should!”

“I could get like, the odd numbers and leave a space where the others are supposed to be, but they’ll be on you,” Jisoo’s eyes light up.

“Should we actually do this?” Jennie sighs, “I want to, but I don’t wanna get kicked out of the agency for this.”

“We’ll just have to be extra careful,” Jisoo shrugs.

“Who would have thought that between us you would be the impulsive one?” Jennie laughs, “so we’re doing this?”

“We are doing this tomorrow,” Jisoo smiles, lowering her phone, “my brother’s wife works in a tattoo studio. She says we can stop by tomorrow.”

“Oh, wow,” Jennie comments, “you’re fast.”

Jisoo shrugs.

 

Jennie is more nervous about meeting Jisoo’s sister-in-law than getting her first tattoo.

She doesn’t know why and she’s aware that Jisoo isn’t really that close with her brother, yet Jennie wants to make a good impression.

She looks at herself in the mirror and focuses on her ribs. Where the tattoo is going to be—pretty and easy to hide.

The skin is a blank canvas now. It won’t be in three hours.

“Jennie, the car’s downstairs!”

Jennie puts her shirt back down and turns to look at Jisoo, “Let’s go, then.”

They quickly make their way downstairs where a company car is waiting for them.

They get in.

“I know we said we weren’t gonna tell anyone,” Jisoo starts, “but I caved in and told Lisa and she loves the idea.”

“Of course you told her,” Jennie rolls her eyes, fondly.

“She’s younger and cute,” Jisoo explains herself, “and her eyes are huge. I cannot resist her charms.”

“You can’t resist anyone’s charm,” Jennie chuckles, “remember when you told Chaeyoung about her surprise birthday party last year?”

“She just has that wonderstruck look in her eyes at all times,” Jisoo explains, “it’s impossible to say no to her.”

“So I’m the only one who doesn’t get special treatment?” Jennie snorts.

“Shut up,” Jisoo hits her arm, “you know I’m your biggest fan. And you know I hate to say it.”

Jennie finally smiles, “It’s okay, I’m your biggest fan, too.”

Jisoo looks elsewhere, “No, you’re just a menace.”

“You’ve been saying that to me for the past three years.”

“It’s always true,” Jisoo shrugs.

The car stops and they make their way through the narrow streets that lead to the tattoo shop. Once they’re in front of the door they take a minute to collect themselves.

“So.. we’re really doing this, huh?” Jennie finally feels nervous.

Jisoo just grabs her hand and squeezes three times, flashes her brightest smile and nods, “We are, let’s go.”

Jennie follows her, like put in a trance. Jisoo is the most beautiful person she’s ever seen and she takes care of her and makes her feel brave.

She can’t help but smile.

Sometimes it all feels like a dream. Like she’s going to wake up in her room back in Anyang and her mother is still talking about moving to America. There’s no pressure, no singing and dancing. There’s no Lisa and Chaeyoung, there’s no Jisoo.

It actually feels more like a nightmare.

“Jisoo, honey,” a woman walks towards them.

“Hi,” Jisoo smiles, “this is Jennie, my friend.”

“Nice to meet you,” she smiles, “I’m Yunjin.”

Jennie bows her head, “Nice to meet you.”

“Is it your first tattoo?”

Jennie nods.

“Okay,” Yunjin nods, “let’s go, you’ll have to compile a few forms.”

Jennie and Jisoo follow her and sit on one of the couches while they write all the information needed.

“Who wants to go first?” Yunjin smiles.

Jennie looks at Jisoo, who’s smiling warmly.

“I will,” Jisoo stands up, “can she come in and watch?”

Yunjin shrugs, “Sure.”

They enter a room where they are introduced to Sungho, the tattoo artist. They explain what they want and where and compare different fonts.

Once they finally decide, Jennie sits on a chair nearby and Jisoo lays down, her shirt pushed up to reveal her ribs.

Jennie observes, fascinated, as Jisoo tries not to squirm while the numbers 5 and 7 appear on her skin, a bit distanced because Jennie’s 6 will look like it will fit in the middle.

Jisoo’s engaged in small talk, probably not to think about the tattoo, but she also doesn’t look like she’s in pain. She sees Sungho spread some cream on the spot he’s supposed to tattoo next— which makes Jennie assume that it’s some kind of anesthetic cream.

Jisoo is all done after almost an hour since they arrived and Jennie takes her place.

She realises that she was scared for no reason, because it doesn’t really hurt, it just brothers a bit. But Jisoo is standing next to her, telling her some random story about her family dog and Jennie doesn’t even realise when she’s done.

They both listen to the instructions and buy the cream to apply on it directly from the shop they have. They talk a bit more with Yunjin, then they head back to the dorm by taking the bus.

They’re both buzzing on adrenaline, eagerly telling each other how it went even if the other was right there when it happened.

They giggle all the way to the dorm.

 

In the months that follow, the four of them practice until they can barely stand up and breathe.

They used to joke around, wasting time, but now they all know they can’t afford that. There are three other trainees in the debut lineup and P!NK, the newly announced group, will only have four members.

They stay up even later than usual, rest for a few hours and then back to practice. And it shows. They just filmed a dance cover and the trainers praised Jisoo so much that she had to hide her reddening face behind Jennie.

They’ve all improved, they’re polished now and they have the confidence that they know is crucial.

Any mistake at a time like this will cost them the chance to debut together. They can’t risk that.

Jennie finds herself in the gardens with Chaeyoung, who’s absentmindedly playing her guitar.

“The song is great,” Jennie says out of nowhere.

Chaeyoung smiles, “Thank you.”

“Kind of painful, too.”

“Yeah,” Chaeyoung chuckles, “I went and got my heart broken and I can only express that well through music.”

Jennie nods, “So it’s a real story.”

Chaeyoung nods, “Yeah.. I dated this guy from my high school for about two years..”

“That’s a long time,” Jennie nods, “I think my longest relationship has been, like, a few months.”

“I always felt like that’s not enough time to fall in love with someone,” Chaeyoung comments.

Jennie hums, “I wasn’t in love.”

“So you’ve never been in love?”

Jennie tries not to think of the messy feelings she has for Jisoo, “Not really.. I think.”

Chaeyoung nods, “Well, we have all the time in the world.”

“Right,” Jennie agrees, “honestly for me it’s always been guys at school confessing and me going for it because I just wanted to date someone. I didn’t even like them.”

Chaeyoung laughs, “Yeah, I get that.”

“Now I think I would only date someone if I like them, too.”

“It’ll be difficult if we really debut,” Chaeyoung sighs.

“Depends,” Jennie shrugs.

“Well, unless you fall for a staff member,” Chaeyoung shrugs.

“Or another idol..” Jennie tries.

“Yeah but you won’t be able to spend that much time together, especially with how busy we’ll be these first few years,” Chaeyoung explains, “so I guess you’d only have a real relationship if you date someone from your group.”

Jennie feels paralysed but still laughs it off, “Are you confessing to me, Park Chaeyoung?”

“Please, if any of us is confessing anything to you, that would be Jisoo.”

Jennie’s eyes widen, “What?”

“You guys are just that close,” Chaeyoung shrugs.

“Shut up,” Jennie hits her arm.

Chaeyoung laughs, “I was only joking.”

“I know, but still..” Jennie huffs.

“Still what?” Chaeyoung furrows her brows, “you’d have a problem with a girl crushing on you?”

Jennie almost laughs at the irony, “Of course not, you idiot. It’s just ridiculous to think of Jisoo like that.”

“Why? She’s pretty.”

“She’s gorgeous,” Jennie agrees.

“I guess it all comes down to if you want to kiss her,” Chaeyoung shrugs.

Just the thought makes Jennie’s heart beat faster, she becomes quite flustered, “I don’t, shut up.”

Chaeyoung just chuckles but the damage is done. Now Jennie can’t stop thinking about kissing Jisoo.

 

Jennie pretends everything’s okay for the next few days, but everyone notices that she’s spending significantly less time with Jisoo.

She’s able to pull it off because they have a test in a week, all the debut team does, where they believe the trainers will pick who’ll debut.

Everyone’s holed up in some practise room, recording booth. Even their house becomes a place for practice.

Everything’s moving so fast and Jennie misses Jisoo’s comforting words. But she can’t get distracted now, her future, her dream is on the line. And that will always come before anything else.

On the day of the test, Jennie practises every single detail and she’s surprised to see that she doesn’t feel that scared.

She’s confident in her abilities.

Some other trainee goes first. Jennie pays her no mind.

Lisa and Chaeyoung’s turns come and go, but Jennie is too much into her head to really pay attention.

“Kim Jennie.”

She stands up and just goes through the motions— years later she won’t even remember which songs she chose or how it went.

She goes back once she’s done and she hears Jisoo being called up.

She looks like she’s close to a mental breakdown and Jennie breaks her no-other-people rule and wraps her arm around her shoulder, “You can do it.”

Jisoo stops shaking and stands up.

Then proceeds to blow anyone away.

 

“I knew I’d find you here.”

Jennie looks up as Jisoo walks into the practice room she’s in.

“Don’t tell me you’re practicing,” Jisoo sits down on the floor.

“No, just thinking.”

Jisoo hums, “I’ve missed you this week.”

Jennie lowers her eyes, “I missed you too. But I wanted to focus on training.”

“Makes sense,” Jisoo nods, but she looks sad.

“I'm sorry,” Jennie sighs, “I was selfish again.”

“Hey, no!” Jisoo steps in, “this is your dream and you’ve worked so hard for this.”

“Yeah..” Jennie huffs.

“We can spend time together when we debut!”

Jennie chuckles, “Right.”

“And we will,” Jisoo says, completely sure of what she’s saying.

“How can you be so sure?”

“Because no one has worked harder than the four of us,” Jisoo shrugs, “remember what you told me when I had just joined? That talent gets sent home but hard workers stay?”

“Right,” Jennie smiles.

“We’ll debut together and we’ll have the time of our lives.”

“Sounds good,” Jennie nods.

Jisoo offers her a hand, “Let’s go to sleep now, come on, it’s been a long day.”

Jennie lets Jisoo help her up, then she stands still. Jisoo is so close. Her eyes are sparkling, her skin is glowing and Jennie wants nothing more than to disappear into her.

“What’s wrong?” she asks like she doesn’t know what she’s doing to Jennie.

“Nothing,” Jennie manages to whisper.

She’s so close, Jennie could count her eyelashes but her pink mouth keeps demanding focus.

And Jennie acts on impulse.

She turns off her brain and moves Jisoo’s face closer until their lips meet.

Jisoo’s surprisingly still.

Jennie tries in every way to make Jisoo kiss her back and eventually she does. It’s like every nerve in her body was in alert mode, but as soon as she felt Jennie wrap her arms around her, she finally let go.

The kiss is sweet, innocent, slow paced.

This. This is what Jennie’s been wanting for years. She doesn’t know why Jisoo’s kissing her back, but she is.

Jennie’s hands wander in a desperate manner, like if she’s asking if this is real, if what she feels in her palms really is Jisoo’s flesh and not some daydream she’s having.

They break the kiss.

Jennie can’t even lift her face.

“You taste like cherry,” Jisoo finally breaks the silence.

The empty, confused look in Jisoo’s eyes makes Jennie want to run.

So she does.

 

The week after Jennie refuses to get out of bed until everyone has left the building. She avoids everyone.

She can’t face Jisoo. Or Lisa and Chaeyoung.

She fucked up. She doesn’t even know if Jisoo wanted to kiss her.

She tried to blame Chaeyoung for the conversation they had the other night that made her focus on Jisoo’s mouth but, inevitably, she knows she’s the only one to blame.

She’s so confused and frustrated, she has no idea how Jisoo will act around her now. And they’re even supposed to debut together. How?

She’s on her way to practice when she’s asked to stop by on the third floor of the building. She’s actually never been here, since the training rooms are on the second floor.

She makes her way through the corridors and the assistant leaves her in front on Teddy’s studio.

Jennie takes a deep breath and walks inside.

Teddy asks her about her week, but Jennie’s freaking out on the inside. Why is she here? Alone?

“I guess you just want me to get straight to the point,” Teddy sighs, “Jennie, I’ve seen you grow for the past five years. There’s never been a doubt in my, or anyone else’s, mind that you would debut.”

Jennie nods.

“But there’s an issue..” Teddy sighs, “I shouldn’t be supposed to tell you this, but we’ve come up with the official line up: it’s you, Lisa, Park Chaeyoung and Kim Jisoo.”

Jennie wants to smile so bad but from the way Teddy’s presenting it, there must be something bad coming.

“Jennie..” Teddy sighs, “you’re aware that our building has CCTV, right?”

Jennie’s breath gets stuck in her throat.

The kiss.

They know.

“Judging from your expression you know what I’m going to ask you,” Teddy nods, “are you and Jisoo in a relationship?”

Jennie shakes her head, “No.”

“..do you have feelings for her?”

Jennie wants to cry, “Why would it matter?”

“Do you?”

Jennie should lie, she knows it, and yet, “Yes.”

“The company can’t afford that in a group,” Teddy lowers his face, “like I said, I shouldn’t be telling you any of this.. but they have decided to cut Jisoo from the original line-up.”

Jennie stands up, “What?”

“I’m so sorry,” Teddy looks distressed, “like I said, there can’t be anything romantic between the members and between you and Jisoo, well, they want to keep you.”

“That can’t happen!” Jennie doesn’t care that she’s screaming, “she has trained so hard! For so long! You can’t do that to her, it was my mistake, mine! Punish me, not her!”

“Jennie, calm down,” Teddy tries, “I can understand what you feel and that’s why I called you in here and gave you this information.”

“Huh?” Jennie feels tears running down her cheeks.

“I might have a plan to make you both debut,” Teddy says.

Jennie nods, “I’m listening.”

 

 

“Okay so,” Yeji stops the MV and says into the mic, “we have a complete change of scenery here.”

“Yes,” Ryujin nods, “the protagonist gets out of the window, which, like we said, meant that she had to make a choice and that was to leave. Her dress is now red, which is so important because the colour red can mean so many things: it can be about romance or about danger. Or both. In this case, we’ve come to the conclusion that’s it’s all. It’s love, but also fighting, danger.. it’s intense emotions, both negative and positive.”

“Exactly,” Yeji takes over, “we can clearly see the protagonist entering a forest, that’s a symbol for mystery— so she’s getting into something new, that she’ll have to explore. We can see from the trees that it’s autumn, a period of both decline and growth— which takes us back to the colour red, that symbolises these negative and positive feelings happening at the same time.”

“Also all the fog stands for confusion and isolation,” Ryujin says, “which may be how Jennie felt? Like we said, she was supposed to be a member of Cherry, so it makes sense for her to be confused about this new path that she’s taking.”

“She’s holding a candle, which is easily a reminder or something like.. hope, so a light in the dark?” Yeji says, “like, even if it was a bad and confusing period of her life, she still had something to hold on to.”

“While she’s walking, she accidentally drops the candle,” Ryujin explains, “that starts a fire in the forest. Meaning destruction.”

“Again,” Yeji says, “this must have been around when she switched labels and debuted. Cherry debuted one year after her. When we saw them interact for the first time, we could see Jennie being closer to Lisa and Rosè. Now we know the truth, but it’s possible that since they were supposed to debut together, Jennie and Jisoo must have likely argued a lot about Jennie leaving.”

“Yeah,” Ryujin agrees, “Jennie’s debut and Cherry’s were both filled with tension and for me it makes perfect sense that Jennie saw that period in a juxtaposed way. She was happy about realising her dream but she was destroyed because she was doing it without her friends and she had probably fought with them.”

“Now, let’s keep watching..”

You know my love is not the jealous type,
it doesn't matter if we win or lose.
Oh, I could stay or I could come no matter where you're coming from,
I can be the one to let you choose.
I wanna hold you close but never hold you back,
just like the banks to the river.

 

“What the fuck, Jennie?”

Jennie looks up from her suitcase, to find Lisa and Chaeyoung. Lisa’s screaming and her make up is now down her cheeks, while Chaeyoung tries to restrain her, hurt evident in her eyes.

“I’m sorry..” Jennie tries.

“No, you’re not!” Lisa yells, “you! How could you do this to us? To me?”

“I’m really sorry.”

“I don’t give a shit!” Lisa’s crying, too, “tell me it isn’t true. Please.”

“..it’s true.”

“Why?” Lisa’s choking on her sobs, “why? I don’t understand.. I..”

Jennie says nothing.

Lisa curls into herself, almost collapses, “You promised! You said you’d debut with me for five fucking years! And now you do this?”

“Lisa..”

“Fuck you! I can’t believe I trusted you,” Lisa’s never looked so broken, “you went behind our backs like this? I don’t get it.. I don’t.”

Jennie doesn’t respond.

“Let’s go,” Chaeyoung holds Lisa closer, glaring at Jennie, “I’ll try to make her calm down,” she gently brings her away.

Jennie bursts out crying and runs to the garden. It’s raining.

But the storm just keeps going.

“I can’t fucking believe you.”

Jennie looks up and the last person she wants to see is in front of her, “Jisoo.”

“No, fuck that,” Jisoo shakes her head, “why the fuck would you make that decision?”

Jennie shrugs, her heart breaking, going over the lines she’s rehearsed, “I just want to debut faster, I’ve been training for a really long time.”

“So have I!” Jisoo yells, “but we’re finally so close and you just decide to run away? You know we made the final cut for P!NK, you know all we’ve ever wanted was to debut together and a few days before the lineup is announced you quit?”

“I’m not quitting,” the tremble in her voice gives her away, “I’m switching labels.”

“Why?”

“I just told you why.”

“I don’t believe that,” Jisoo shakes her head, “that’s not you.”

“It is me,” every word is a dagger into her heart, “I’ve trained for so long, I deserve to debut.”

“Please, you’re talking like a robot!” Jisoo shakes her head, “I thought you trusted me! Why can’t you tell me what’s really going on?”

Because I know you. Because you would do anything to make me debut, even quit. And you don’t deserve that. I kissed you, I made that mistake. You would want to pay for my sins, but I won’t let you.

“I told you!” Jennie feels terrible but she knows how to stop this, “you were right, all those years ago. I am selfish. I want to debut and I don’t care if I’ll do that solo or with you. But I’m tired of waiting for other people!”

“It’s so insulting that you think I’d believe you when I’ve been the person closest to you for years!” Jisoo rebuts, “but sure, go back to the start! Go back to hiding and not letting people in.. you’re taking so many steps back.”

“What the fuck do you even want from me?” Jennie starts sobbing, “am I not allowed to realize my dream?”

“Your dream was to debut with the three of us!”

“My dream was to debut! I’ve never cared about anyone else.”

“You’re a terrible liar!”

“I'm not lying,” Jennie feels waves of hurt in every part of her body, “I would have to wait for so long until I could debut with you. The Black Label has offered me this deal and I’m taking it! And I don’t care what you think of it!”

“So you’re moving out?”

“Yes.”

“And you’ll debut.. alone?”

“Yes.”

“Please tell me what’s really going on.”

Jennie looks away, “Nothing’s going on.”

“Right,” Jisoo looks bitter, “whatever. Do whatever the fuck you want, we’re all collateral damage for you. You don’t give a shit about us— about me! Go enjoy your debut stage. But don’t you dare look for me in the crowd.”

Jisoo leaves and Jennie collapses to the floor. Sobbing.

She has never felt hurt like this.

She couldn’t even tell them the truth.

All she ever wanted was to debut with her friends.

From tomorrow she’ll start practicing her debut song. All alone.

There will be no Chaeyoung hitting whistle notes just for fun in the background, Lisa’s english rhymes or Jisoo’s warm, low voice and lovely harmonies.

She’s going to debut alone.

The more she thinks about it, the more she cries.

But at least Jisoo, Lisa and Chaeyoung will debut together.

She had to sacrifice her dream for that, but there will never be a world where Jisoo wouldn’t get to debut because of Jennie’s careless actions.

It’s for the best, she tries to convince herself.

She feels like a broken branch that’s been repeatedly stepped on.

 

The Black Label is under YGE, so Jennie is relieved that at least she knows the people she’s working with.

Obviously Teddy’s here, letting her listen to some samples to get her opinion.

Jennie’s too focused on literally anything else to actually listen.

“Jennie..” he sighs, “I know you’re hurting right now, but we have to focus on this, come on.”

“How can I?” Jennie sighs, “I lost my friends..”

“You made a brave, selfless decision to let Jisoo debut,” Teddy shrugs, “she’ll understand once you tell her the truth.”

“I’m never telling her the truth,” Jennie confesses.

Teddy just sighs, “Okay, what do you think of this for the intro?”

He plays something else.

Jennie nods, soulless.

 

The next month she feels like she’s just being guided by her bones, dance moves ingrained in her body that she’s able to execute them perfectly, but her mind’s not there.

She’s constantly down and confused— why does she need so many backup dancers? The four of them used to command the stage on their own. Why’s there only her voice in the songs? Why is she always looking around, just searching for people that she knows aren’t there?

Everything feels empty. There’s no one to keep her company after practice. No long chats around beer glasses in the summer nights. Well, it’s autumn now and all the leaves are falling.

Other people at the label have tried to win her over, but Jennie can’t risk getting attached again and then having something ruining it.

The only one to text her has been Chaeyoung, but Jennie was able to make even her infinite patience wear off. Jennie had never seen her swear before.

And now here she is, the night before her debut day, sitting alone in a slightly bigger room than the one she’s used to.

She excused herself from the congratulatory dinner and went upstairs, thinking of how fun it could have been to finally eat good food with Jisoo and Lisa bickering in the background and Chaeyoung laughing.

She holds her head between her hands, a headache incoming. She has never felt more lonely and isolated. This is the day before she’s supposed to start taking over the world. She doesn’t feel strength in any of her bones.

She lies down on the bed, her phone in her hands. She tries not to look at the groupchat that’s been silent for a month, on the low end of her recent chats.

She clicks on Jisoo’s contact, just because she feels like twisting the knife.

Their last texts were filled with ‘good luck’ and dumb emojis, it was the day before the test. They were both in vocal booths and it was late at night and they were just giggling at anything that the other would send.

Jennie doesn’t know how to look back fondly at her trainee times when every time the pain starts ringing in her ears. Jisoo— a phantom pain all over her, a heaviness where air is supposed to be.

She’s online.

Jennie doesn’t dare text her, but she also doesn’t close the app.

A few minutes later, she’s still online.

Jennie thinks it’s unlikely, but maybe she is staring at that chat, too, gathering the courage to say something.

Jennie shakes her head and, not long after, falls asleep.

Her phone buzzes but she’s long gone.

 

The morning goes by so quick, Jennie has no idea of what’s going on most of the time.

They’re holding the press conference for her debut and she’s just standing there, a smile painted on her face, heels shaking.

She speaks into the microphone things that she’s memorised, introducing herself and her debut song.

There’s nothing familiar to hold on to.

Pictures are taken, she briefly shows the point choreo, she thanks everyone who allowed her to reach this point.

Articles are going up, her team is telling her that she’s creating buzz online. After all, the public already knew her as a trainee for YGE and she’s the first female soloist in the company’s history.

She’s in the practice room when they bring her a laptop and set a camera in front of her.

She watches her music video just before it goes live, reacts and gives some anecdotes about shooting it. Content filmed today that will keep her fans happy for the next month.

After that, she posts online for the first time. She reads some comments on the MV, she finally finds herself smiling a bit.

She’s rushed to her apartment where she showers and gets ready for her debut stage. The car picks her up and brings her to Music Bank.

She rehearses at least five times before she’s finally in her little blue dress and sent back out to the interview room.

They shoot the performance another three times, trying to get the best cuts.

But at least there’s people for her in the audience. So many groups are going to be singing after her or even before, but some people in the audience are there just for her and that makes it possible for her to deliver a nearly perfect performance.

She’s back home at 3am and she knows tomorrow she’ll be picked up at 6 to go star in a show. Her schedule is packed for the next two months. It’s crazy, going from not knowing every day if she’ll ever make it for five years to knowing in detail what she’ll be doing a month from now.

After showering she picks up her phone and looks around, her eyelids slowly falling shut.

She briefly talks to her family and some of her friends.

There’s a message from Jisoo, from the night before.

Jennie doesn’t know how she missed it.

Jennie opens the chat.

“I’m still furious at you and you know how deep you hurt me, but good luck on your debut. I can’t not say that, I feel like I’d regret it for the rest of my life. Don’t doubt yourself. Teddy let us hear the track and it’s great. You’re amazing and you’re destined for great things, you’ve worked so hard and I hope your own thoughts don’t try to sabotage you.

Please don’t reply to this, I just had to get it out.”

Jennie ends up not falling asleep for those two hours.

The morning after, her make up team coos at her, thinking that her red-rimmed eyes are a result of her successful debut. They aren’t.

 

The first time Jennie runs into one of them, it’s almost a year later.

Jennie’s gone and established her name already, with only five songs. People love her and her audience grows quickly.

She’s promoted on music shows for two months, had her first win already, held fansigns, been on variety shows and performed at university festivals.

Whenever she catches sight of herself in the mirror, she almost doesn’t recognise herself. She’s worked herself to the bone. She has done nothing but bury herself in her work— but when she has no schedule, that’s when she starts thinking, so maybe it’s good that she hasn’t had time to breathe.

She officially wrapped up all her promotions, went to visit her mother for a weekend and she’s now headed to YGE to work on her first comeback.

Her label is switching buildings, so they temporarily sent her to her old agency to use the studios.

She has so many ideas in her notebook and she’s feeling eager to finally get to work on her own music— something she didn’t get to do for her debut since it was fast-tracked.

She’s so lost in her thoughts that she doesn’t even notice that she went to the second floor instead of the third— but after five years it's a habit.

She quickly steps back into the elevator when she realises, but doesn’t have time to push the button because a person comes rushing in.

Jennie looks up and everything seems to stop. She knows those eyes.

Lisa seems equally as shocked.

“Sunbaenim,” Lisa bows.

It all feels so wrong.

“Lisa..”

Lisa turns her eyes to the ceiling and ignores her as they both wait, then exit the elevator on the third floor.

“You’re going to a studio?”

Jennie knows she has no business asking Lisa questions, but she’s honestly missed her so much that she doesn’t even care right now.

“We’re recording our b-side,” Lisa replies.

Jennie stops walking, she genuinely wasn’t expecting an answer, “Really?”

Lisa nods, “Please watch over us well, sunbaenim.”

Jennie sighs. She deserves the cold treatment, she knows that.

“I hope I can see you guys live,” Jennie comments.

Lisa stops walking and turns towards her, “Your comeback will be around the same time, it should overlap.”

Jennie hesitates, “So.. how are you doing?”

“Great.”

Jennie nods, not sure of what to do. There’s very little stopping her from falling on her knees and begging for forgiveness.

Lisa starts walking again, but Jennie grabs her arm, “Lisa..”

“What do you want?”

“I want to talk..” Jennie admits.

“I’m sure you could find another stranger who’ll listen to you.”

Stranger.

Jennie feels like crying, “You’re so much more than a stranger to me.”

“Really?” Lisa scoffs, “I thought you made that clear before you walked out on us.”

“Please,” Jennie begs, “can we just meet up later and talk?”

“No.”

“Lisa please,” Jennie tries, “just hear me out.”

Lisa’s eyes narrow, “Why should I? You were my best friend for five years and then you just lied and disappeared. For no reason. You broke all your promises and I.. why the fuck should I forgive you?”

“You don’t have to,” Jennie sighs, “you don’t have to forgive me I just.. it wasn’t right, the way it all went down. I know that. I— I’m so alone and it’s all so scary and.. you’re familiar to me..”

Lisa doesn’t reply, just shakes her head and starts heading towards the studio.

“Please..” Jennie would easily get on her knees.

When she only hears silence, Jennie nods to herself, tries to collect herself and starts heading towards the studio.

“Only if you tell me the truth.”

Jennie stills in the middle of the corridor. Her first thought is that she can’t. But she wants to reconnect with them so badly.

Jennie turns around, she owes at least this to Lisa— the first person she ever called a friend.

“Only if you won’t tell anyone.”

Lisa nods, “You have my number.”

Jennie hints a smile and watches her enter a studio.

For the first time in over a year, Jennie feels like she can finally breathe.

 

Meeting up with Lisa turns out to be more difficult than they expected.

But, since they’re both working and are about to release music, they knew it would be.

Still, since they started texting it took only a few days to find themselves easily falling back into old banter and failing to hide their enthusiasm.

They finally meet after two weeks of trying to make it work. Jennie and her manager, Joohyun, have actually grown pretty close and Jennie only explained the situation a bit before Joohyun decided to help her out.

Joohyun stays in the car while Jennie texts Lisa that she’s downstairs. Their dorm seems nice, at least on the outside. It’s bigger than she imagined and there seems to be a little garden inside that Jennie can’t stop staring at.

Lisa finally comes out, dressed in all black, with a cap.

“Hey,” Jennie smiles.

Lisa walks towards her, “Come with me.”

They start walking in silence, but luckily the convenience store Lisa stops at is not too far from the apartment complex.

They sit at one of the tables outside.

“I’m surprised there’s no one around,” Jennie comments.

Lisa shrugs, “Mostly celebrities live in this neighbourhood, so it’s almost always like this.”

Jennie nods, “Your dorm seems nice.”

“It’s.. definitely spacious,” Lisa lowers her gaze, “since it was supposed to be four people instead of three.”

Jennie’s eyes widen, “You guys are debuting as a trio?”

Lisa nods, “We tried some recordings with the other trainees on the debut team, but nothing felt right so they just decided it’ll be me, Rosie and Jisoo.”

Jennie hums, “Are you guys.. happy?”

Lisa smiles, “We’re okay. I actually prefer it this way, a fourth person that wasn’t you just didn’t work.”

“I guess you want to know what happened..”

“Tell me about the past year.. so we can at least be happy for a few minutes.”

“The past year.. has not been so happy for me,” Jennie murmurs, “don’t get me wrong, performing in front of people is awesome and I have a good team behind me.. but it does get lonely.”

“Makes sense,” Lisa nods, “so.. do you regret not waiting around to debut with us?”

Jennie’s eyes fill up with tears, “I regret that every day.. but if I had to do it again, I would.”

Lisa frowns, “What do you mean?”

“Lisa..” Jennie sighs, “I know that you know it, but just to make everything clear, I wanted to debut with you guys. I would have waited five more years, it really wouldn’t have mattered. I just wanted to be on stage with you.”

Lisa’s starting to get emotional as well, “Then why..?”

Jennie takes a deep breath, “You know that the four of us were close, probably more than normal groups of friends.”

Lisa nods.

“And you.. thinking back I’m sure that you knew..” Jennie lowers her head, “about my feelings for Jisoo.”

“Yeah..”

“I.. did a shitty thing,” Jennie confesses, “I don’t know what I was thinking.. I probably wasn’t thinking at all.. but I kissed Jisoo. Just once. And then I got so scared that I ran away.”

“What?”

“Yeah,” Jennie chuckles, eyes full of tears, “I imagined she wouldn’t tell you.”

“So.. that’s why you left?”

Jennie shakes her head, “I got called into a meeting. Teddy told me that it was caught on security cameras. The staff for the debut team couldn’t allow that to happen.. they said they weren’t going to debut Jisoo.”

Lisa is silent for a bit, “I think I see where this is going.”

Jennie nods, “He offered me a contract with the Black Label.. it was the only way to make sure that we all debuted, even if not together.”

“And you took it,” Lisa says, “because you knew that if you told us what happened, then Jisoo would have quit because there’s no way she would get in the way of you debuting. But you wanted us to debut together and just the three of us was the only way that could happen.”

“Exactly,” Jennie nods.

Lisa hides her face in her hands, “This is awful.. I mean, I kept thinking that you must have had some real reason for betraying us that way, it just wasn’t like you to act like that and I don’t know what I expected but it wasn’t this.”

Jennie smiles, sadly, “I’m sorry.. for what I put you through. But I couldn’t tell the truth.”

Lisa starts crying, too, “What you did was really brave and selfless, you know that right? I can’t even imagine being in that situation. You did what you thought was right and honestly in your place I would have done the same.. I can’t believe I tried to hate you all this time.”

“It’s okay,” Jennie chuckles, “I knew you guys were gonna react like you did, it made sense. I’m just sorry I caused all this hurt.”

“Yeah, but that wasn’t your intention,” Lisa quickly replies, “I’m sorry, Jennie. I really am.”

“Shut up,” Jennie sniffles, “I’m just happy you gave me the chance to explain.”

“Of course,” Lisa nods, “I’m guessing I’m not allowed to tell anyone.”

“Yeah..”

“It’s fine,” Lisa tries a smile, “I can keep your secret.”

“Thank you,” Jennie smiles, “I really hope our promotions overlap so we can spend some time together.”

“Right,” Lisa nods, “and I get why you won’t tell Jisoo what happened, but I think Chae would totally understand.”

“You think so?”

Lisa smiles, “Of course. Oh god, we have so much catching up to do.”

“Right,” Jennie says, “let’s make up for all the lost time.”

They toast with their glasses of water and laugh. Lisa tells her about how hard they’ve been training to prepare for their debut, she says that they’re only going with two songs now, they already memorised the choreo and other funny things that happened.

Jennie can finally say that she’s happy, even though her heart hurts when Lisa talks about her group.

“Wait..” Jennie stops mid-sentence, “did the name change?”

Lisa nods, “To be honest I’m not sure why, but we all hated P!NK so we were asked to come up with some names. Jisoo said cherry would be cute and we just went with it.”

“You taste like cherry.”

“Jisoo chose it?”

Lisa nods, “When we asked her if it had a meaning but she just said she thought it was cute. The agency is still trying to come up with a proper reasoning for it.”

Jennie finds herself smiling, “It is cute.”

“You taste like cherry.”

There’s no way it has to do with that.

 

Jennie thinks she’s beginning to get how fans feel.

In the midst of her comeback preparations, she’s tried her best to keep up with YGE.

She waited patiently until midnight, when they released a dance practice. Jennie couldn’t stop smiling when she saw all the positive comments they were getting, Lisa especially.

Then a few days later the members were introduced. Lisa was the first one and Jennie saw the world fall for her immediately, then Chaeyoung captured the hearts of the viewers and lastly Jisoo.

There was so much talk around the new YG girl group and Jennie thinks that people are now satisfied since all the girls seem talented and pretty.

Yesterday the first MV teaser was released and now Jennie is on her bed, patiently waiting for the two music videos to drop.

She’s buzzing with excitement while watching the premiere and once the first video finally starts, Jennie doesn’t even have it in her to feel sad about not being there.

They’ve all improved even more, Jennie notices. The first song is more dance-based and they look like they’re having so much fun in the video. The second song is more experimental, but Jennie thinks she likes that more and Lisa’s rapping and Chaeyoung and Jisoo’s singing is highlighted more.

Her chest starts hurting only when it’s Jisoo’s solo scenes. Since meeting Lisa, she has also managed to have the conversation with Chaeyoung and luckily it went well. Now the three of them talk more, but no one ever mentions Jisoo.

And Jennie feels guilty for putting Lisa and Chaeyoung in that situation, especially since she knows that Jisoo is not aware that they’re friends again. But, feeling selfish for a moment, she just wants her friends back.

Sighing, she goes to sleep, ready to watch whatever music show’s on the next day, to finally see them perform in front of a crowd for the first time.

Their performance obviously is perfect on every level, everyone online is praising the girls and Jennie is just happy to see the fire in their eyes. They come off strong, fearless.. and it’s a good look on them.

Jennie goes back to her own music, but she still checks social media every day to see what people are saying about Cherry. They’ve got their first win already and became the fastest group to do that and Jennie nearly cries when she sees them getting emotional while giving their speeches.

“We owe this all to you guys and everyone who helped us get here,” Jisoo is saying, “all the staff members, all the friends who cheered for us and supported us all these years. This is easily the best day of my life, I’ve never been happier. Thank you so much and look forward to more performances. And thank you to our members, Lisa and Rosie, for keeping me sane all this time. You are the best people I could have debuted with. Thank you.”

Jennie wipes a stray tear away.

Everything’s fine.

 

Everything is not fine.

“We just think it makes sense,” manager Yuno is telling her.

“My performance is one of the last ones and theirs is in the middle of the show,” Jennie points out.

“Still, people want to see you guys do the interview together since you’re basically from the same company,” Yuno shrugs, “also it’s not gonna be long before people figure out you guys trained together. You’ve been training since before your agency even existed.”

“Right,” Jennie nods.

“I’m sorry, Jen,” Joohyun sighs, “we tried, but ultimately we have no choice in this. The interview only lasts a few minutes anyway and I’ve reviewed the questions.”

“Mmh?”

“Yeah,” Joohyun nods, “it’s not that bad and you are friends with at least two of them so we’re only making you interact with them.”

“Okay,” Jennie bites her lip before her makeup team scolds her.

 

“Hello, I am Nayeon!”

“and I’m Eunwoo!”

“Welcome to Inkigayo!”

Jennie feels like throwing up. She hasn’t even looked at Cherry yet, even though they’re standing next to her.

They’ve run into each other earlier, during rehearsals. Jennie didn’t know exactly how to feel. They’re on a music show, the four of them. But they’re not together. It’s their dream— just another version. And Jennie’s not sure that she likes it.

“We have some very special guests today!” Nayeon exclaims, “it’s a label mates special!”

“It is,” Eunwoo smiles, “after one of the most successful debuts in history, we finally have new music from Jennie!”

Jennie smiles at the cameras and waves, “Hello, I’m Jennie!”

“And along with her,” Nayeon continues, “the new girl group that’s already taking over the world, Cherry!”

“Sweet like..” Jisoo starts.

“Cherry!” they all exclaim, “hello, we’re Cherry.”

“Nice to have you here,” Nayeon smiles, “so, tell us what we can expect from your performances.”

Jennie follows the script and replies to all the questions without even turning to look at the trio. They’re also very energetic, Lisa and Chaeyoung bouncing off each other's jokes while Jisoo answers the more serious questions.

Just hearing Jisoo speak, Jennie can hear the smile on her voice. She must be so happy to finally debut, Jennie hates that she’s the one negative thing that’s ruining this experience for Jisoo.

Because no matter how long they’ve gone without talking, they still have been attached at the hip for four years. And Jennie’s feelings might be dormant but they’re not gone.

“Before we let you go,” Nayeon grins, “show us the point choreography.”

Jennie starts singing her part, but she can’t help but laugh when Lisa gets in the center and dances the part for her.

“Now it’s only fair if you do the same,” Lisa winks.

Jisoo and Chaeyoung start singing their killing part and Jennie does follow Lisa and show the dance moves.

She catches Lisa’s eyes and smiles.

The interview wraps up quickly after that.

 

A performance, trophy ceremony and shower later, Jennie is ready to go home.

It’s later than usual but she was too tired to try and hurry up.

“Let’s go sleepyhead,” Joohyun smiles, guiding her through the hallway.

Jennie isn’t really paying attention to her surroundings, until she hears voices she’s too familiar with.

“You should have told me!”

“You know that it would have made you furious!”

“Maybe but it’s better than to find out you went behind my back.”

“We’re adults, we don’t need your permission to make friends!”

Joohyun tugs on Jennie’s arm, “Come on, let’s go.”

Jennie nods and keeps walking forward.

 

They’re at Music Bank today and Jennie slipped into Cherry’s room because Chaeyoung invited her.

Jennie’s heart is beating frantically, not sure if she’s ready to come face to face with all these people she’s worked with, people who have seen her grow.

When she enters the room she’s immediately greeted by Hyejin, the choreographer. Then everyone else stops by her to ask her questions.

When they all eventually leave, Jennie goes straight to Lisa and Chaeyoung.

“Where..?”

“Jisoo’s a guest MC today,” Chaeyoung explains, “she’s rehearsing right now.”

Jennie nods, “So, how are promotions?”

“Tiring,” Lisa smiles, “but fun!”

“Yeah,” Jennie nods, “you’re killing it, by the way.”

“Oh, shut up,” Chaeyoung giggles, “don’t get all mushy on us.”

“That’s what she always goes,” Lisa shrugs, “it’s so funny when I read articles about her being cold and distant.”

“People don’t know shit,” Jennie says.

“Yeah,” Chaeyoung nods, “I saw the comments on our Inkigayo interview and everyone was speculating on why we seem so close, as if it isn’t obvious that we trained together.”

Jennie chuckles.

“Why is she here?”

The atmosphere changes drastically and the three of them turn toward the door.

Jisoo’s arms are crossed and she’s looking everywhere but at them.

The manager is saying something to her but Jennie can’t make out what it is. Jisoo rolls her eyes, then joins them in the hair and makeup corner.

“So..” Lisa can’t look at her, “how did it go?”

“It was fun,” Jisoo shrugs.

Jennie’s heart aches. They’re so close right now, she can see every little detail of Jisoo’s face. She seems relaxed as she explains what she just did, but the tightness in her jaw is a clear indicator of anger.

Jennie’s not sure if she’s supposed to stay or not. She really has no idea where she stands.

Luckily, Chaeyoung notices her discomfort and starts talking to her while Lisa and Jisoo have their own conversation.

Both Lisa and Chaeyoung are called to try on the outfits and Jennie stays there. Still.

“You can leave now.”

Jennie meets Jisoo’s gaze through the mirror, “I was waiting until you guys were done.”

“No need,” Jisoo shrugs, “I know Lisa and Chae would love to have you here but I don’t.”

Jennie nods, but still doesn’t move.

“I don’t know how you lied your way into being forgiven,” Jisoo continues, “but that’s not gonna happen with me.”

“I didn’t lie.”

“Sure,” Jisoo scoffs, “well, whatever, you got your friends back. Must be nice, since all they talk about is you.”

“I didn’t ask them to keep it a secret,” Jennie frowns, “they just know it’s better not to tell.”

“That you’re a selfish liar?”

“Sure,” Jennie shrugs, “you’re so into your head that nothing I can do or say will make you change your mind.”

“Right, it won’t,” Jisoo nods, “not only you betrayed my trust, now you’re turning my friends against me. Hope you’re happy.”

“That’s not what’s happening and you know it!” Jennie raises her voice.

“Isn’t it? Because—”

“What’s going on here?”

Both Jennie and Jisoo turn to look at Cherry’s manager.

“Nothing,” Jennie bows her head, “I was just leaving.”

 

Jennie didn’t think things could get more awkward than the first interview, but she was wrong.

Because now that they’re promoting together, she sees Lisa, Chaeyoung and Jisoo often and, after the fight Jennie heard and the one she was in, it’s clear that Lisa and Chaeyoung are doing their best to still be her friends without making Jisoo mad.

It’s a tough line to walk on.

And Jennie hates that she was the one who put them in this position.

It’s been a month and Cherry’s music show promotions are over, Jennie’s will end in two weeks.

The month has been simultaneously the happiest and saddest of Jennie’s life. She has no idea how to feel because on one hand she’s doing everything she’s always dreamed of with the people she loves, on the other she’s causing problems for Jisoo, who spent all month glaring at her and making comments left and right.

After articles speculating why Jennie is only close with Lisa and Chaeyoung, people coming up with theories on why Jisoo dislikes Jennie and bad encounters backstage, Jennie decides.

She’s going to talk to Jisoo. Just to make her understand that Lisa and Chaeyoung did not betray her.

She’s shaking with nerves just at the thought. But she’s standing there, outside their apartment complex. Lisa gave her the code and told her that she and Chaeyoung would be away for a while.

Jennie, a few minutes later, finally stops exploring every possible ending for the situation and rings on the doorbell.

“Did you forget your wallet again..” Jisoo is stunned, “you?”

Jennie nods, “Lisa let me in.”

Jisoo sighs, “I’m gonna need wine if we’re doing this.”

Jennie can’t blame her. She follows her to the kitchen and asks for a glass of wine of her own.

Now that they’re standing in the same room, Jennie realises she hasn’t really thought of what to say. She can’t reveal the whole truth, because she knows it would just make Jisoo feel bad even though everything was her own fault.

“So?”

Jennie looks up at her. Even with no makeup on, she’s still gorgeous, big eyes, lips stained red.

“I just wanted to come forward and tell you what’s going on with Lisa and Chaeyoung.”

Jisoo raises a brow, “Okay?”

“I was the one who reached out to them, they resisted a lot,” Jennie explains, “then I told them what happened and they seemed to be okay with it and we got close again.”

Jisoo nods, “So.. what happened?”

Jennie sighs, “I didn’t mean any of the shit I said that day. My biggest dream was to perform with you.. and you knew that.”

“I did.”

“They told me I wouldn’t be able to debut with you guys,” Jennie lies, “and they offered me a deal so that I could still debut. So I took it.”

Jisoo frowns, “Why would they tell you that?”

Jennie shrugs, “They never gave me a real answer..”

“Mmh,” Jisoo takes a sip of her drink.

Jennie stays silent, just waiting for Jisoo to say something. That she forgives her, maybe. That she can understand, at least.

“Why can’t you just tell me the truth?”

Jennie looks up, “Huh?”

“You’re a really bad liar and your story doesn’t make much sense,” Jisoo shrugs, “I don’t think Chae and Lisa would fall for it, so tell me, what’s the real reason?”

Jennie takes a deep breath. There’s no bullshit with Jisoo, she’s always known that. That’s why she doesn’t try to keep up the facade.

“Staff knew I kissed you,” Jennie can’t look at her, “they were going to cut you from the lineup so I left. That’s all.”

Jisoo’s body betrays her for a minute, because she can be calm and composed most of the time but Jennie saw the expression of shock all throughout her body.

“You.. did it for me?”

Jennie nods.

“But that was your dream!”

“It was yours, too,” Jennie shrugs.

“..why wouldn’t you tell me?”

“What do you think would have happened if I did?” Jennie’s smile is sad.

“I would have quit,” Jisoo sighs, “..okay, I get it.”

“I’m sorry but I couldn’t tell you the truth at first and then it was too late,” Jennie explains, “I told Lisa and Chae and they both said they understood.. I wasn’t trying to take them away from you, I just.. it’s been so lonely..”

Jisoo seems to think it over, her eyes becoming glossy as time goes on, “I get why you didn’t, but I wish you would have told me sooner. I’ve been so mean to you and.. and all you did was help me.”

“There’s no need to feel bad,” Jennie reassures her, “I knew there wasn’t another possibility and I was aware that by not telling you, your reaction couldn’t have been positive.”

“But still,” Jisoo is starting to cry, “you could have been with us this whole time.”

“Let’s not dwell on that,” Jennie sniffles, “I’m happy that you guys have debuted and my career is fun even if I’m doing it alone. We’re basically under the same agency and we live close. We can.. be friends again.”

“Oh, baby,” Jisoo sighs, gently playing with her hair, “I debuted thanks to you. You’re lonely because you sacrificed your dream to let me live mine. I will forever be grateful to you for that. Of course we can be friends.”

“No big deal,” Jennie sniffles, “but it makes me happy to see you on stage.”

“You too,” Jisoo chuckles, “all Lisa, Chae and I have been doing this month is dance to Lucid Dream.”

Jennie laughs, “I waited until midnight to see your MV.”

They both chat for hours on end, laughing about just anything and catching up.

And Jennie feels like a part of herself has been restored. Her wound has been patched up. She can breathe easily now, the paralysing pain finally healed.

 

Once Jennie has successfully wrapped up her promotions, she convinces Joohyun to let her celebrate.

Jisoo, Lisa and Chaeyoung are still appearing in variety shows— but Jennie knows they’re not as busy as they used to be.

So Jennie picks the perfect day and asks them to hang out. They all say yes immediately.

Jennie has been texting a lot with the three of them, they even made a group chat and it’s always filled with new texts.

Getting back their friendship isn’t that easy, but they’re all committed to making it work. Jisoo especially. Ever since their conversation she has turned more like the Jisoo that Jennie used to know: cheeky, kind, funny.

And Jennie is over the moon. Her bones might be destroyed each day and all of her muscles hurt— but she has her friends back and this time she’s not letting them go.

They meet in the gardens outside Cherry’s dorm and they all sit at the picnic table.

They’re all dolled up and they each have a beer. Jennie can’t help but feel transported to their trainee days and the gardens of their housing unit when her and Jisoo would always go.

They haven’t had a chance to see each other in the past few days, so they all have so many things to share.

Lisa is telling Jennie about Chaeyoung and the flies in their dorm and they all can’t stop laughing.

This is it. This is how it was supposed to be.

They keep chatting until the sun goes down, beer cans empty.

Lisa is resting her head on Chaeyoung’s shoulder.

“Baby needs sleep,” she explains.

Lisa rolls her eyes, “I’m so hungry.”

“Let’s go find something,” Chaeyoung helps her stand up, “do you guys want anything?”

“Chips?” Jennie asks.

“We’ll be back soon.”

Jennie watches them leave. Ever since that day at the dorm, she hasn’t been able to spend time with Jisoo one on one.

“Why are you so awkward around me?”

Jennie shakes her head, “I’m not.”

“Please, I know everything about you.”

“Fair enough,” Jennie nods.

“Are you working on new music yet?”

“Yeah,” Jennie nods, “I’ve been working on a song but I don’t want it to be an official track.. if that makes sense.”

Jisoo hums, “You made it yourself?”

“With help, of course,” Jennie smiles, “the lyrics are all mine but producing is still pretty new to me.”

“You co-produced four tracks out of five in your debut EP,” Jisoo points out.

Jennie shrugs, “I tried my best.”

“They’re great songs,” Jisoo smiles, “why don’t you want the new one officially out?”

Jennie shrugs, “The lyrics are extremely personal and I don’t really want to put it out there where anyone can listen to it. It can be just between me and my fans.”

Jisoo hums, “What about.. soundcloud? You could release it there so it’s obvious that it’s not a title track and it won’t be streamed or in the charts.”

“That’s.. that’s a good idea,” Jennie nods, “I’ll bring it up at the next meeting.”

“Once again, Jisoo saves the day.”

“Shut up,” Jennie snorts, “are you guys working on new stuff, too?”

Jisoo nods, “We’re starting to learn the choreo for our new title track.”

“But you just finished promotions.”

“Yeah..” Jisoo looks down, “we don’t have as much freedom as we thought. They won’t let us contribute to the music and you know Chaeyoung can write a mean ballad.”

“That’s.. I hope that with time they’ll allow you to share your own stories.”

“Me too.”

Jennie smiles and, when Jisoo notices, she smiles back.

And there’s so much affection in her gaze that Jennie feels overwhelmed. She went from the darkest moment in her life to the brightest. A year ago she was scared all the time and lonely. Now she’s more confident and she has a strong support group.

Chaeyoung and Lisa come back with cup noodles and chips.

Yes, Jennie wouldn’t trade this for anything.

 

“What are you doing here?”

Joohyun sighs, “Damage control.”

Jennie frowns and puts down her bowl of cereal, “What happened?”

“So,” Joohyun sits down on Jennie’s sofa, “you know how people on the internet like to think they’re the fbi?”

“Sure,” Jennie nods.

“Someone found Chaeyoung’s old instagram,” Joohyun explains, “it has pictures of the four of you in it.”

Jennie nods, “Is it that bad? I think people would have figured sooner or later that we trained together.”

“I wish that was all,” Joohyun sighs, “there’s nothing scandal-worthy about people training together, but it is in your case because of a story someone posted online.”

“I’m listening.”

“So, this person posted on a forum, saying that they used to be a trainee at YG,” Joohyun explains, “this was when the four of you were about to debut. The person said that they left after witnessing something because it made them mad. They said that there was a.. there was a love story between two trainees, so one was forced to leave right before debut and go to another company. They allegedly had a big fight. The person said this made them upset that they switched agencies.”

“How do we even know they’re not lying?”

“Unfortunately the person has posted a lot of proof that they were indeed a trainee at that time,” Joohyun sighs, “people are either straight up believing them or giving them the benefit of the doubt.”

“Still..” Jennie huffs, “how can people track it back to me?”

“Well, the timeline makes sense,” Joohyun shrugs, “people now know you trained with Cherry and that you were close. Then right before debut you left, just like the person said.”

“Do we know who this person is?”

Joohyun shakes her head, “No. And before you ask, we can’t technically sue them because they never mentioned you by name.”

“Still, I don’t think people reading that would think the so-called love story would be between two girls,” Jennie reasons.

“You’d be surprised,” Joohyun sighs, “a lot of people are speculating about you and Jisoo since they’ve witnessed your rocky relationship, so the other person being mad and creating a big fight can’t be Lisa or Chaeyoung.”

“I think it’s possible that other people at YG knew what was going on,” Jennie admits, “but I hope people won’t believe this person. It took me so long to be friends with Jisoo again.. and I know talking about a potential love story would make her feel uncomfortable..”

“Some news outlets have picked the story up but not everyone is focusing on you and Jisoo, so I’d say we’re safe,” Joohyun sighs, “still, from now on your interactions will be heavily scrutinised.”

“I can’t believe this is happening,” Jennie shudders, “why can’t people just mind their own business?”

“Well, I think the person was going against the agency, I don’t think they meant to out anything or they would have specified that it was between two girls,” Joohyun shrugs, “unfortunately the bad news don’t end here.”

“They don’t?”

“You know that YG is debuting a boygroup, right?”

Jennie nods.

“To take the attention away from this.. rumour and towards the new group..” Joohyun rolls her eyes, “you have to be seen in public a few times with one of the members.”

“What?”

“Just a few times so people can think you’re dating and then the company, after all the attention, can confirm that you aren’t.”

“Do I have a say in this?”

Joohyun purses her lips, “I’m not sure you do.”

“Great.”

 

So Jennie does just that.

Kang Taeho is not that bad and sometimes Jennie’s laugh doesn’t have to be fake. They met once in a cafe and the pictures set social media on fire, then at a cinema and lastly just walking around Hongdae.

Nothing romantic happened, yet everyone started talking about them dating. Jennie is glad that it’s working so that it can stop soon, but she’s so tired of having to justify it to her friends.

“I’m just saying, you could have told me you were seeing someone,” Jisoo huffs.

“I’m not,” Jennie rolls her eyes and grabs coke from the fridge.

“Right.”

“Why are you so insistent?”

“Yeah,” Lisa smirks, “why?”

“You, shut up!” Jisoo points her chopsticks at her.

“Jealousy truly is a disease,” Chaeyoung sighs and Lisa chokes on her food.

“I just think that we should talk to each other about our private life,” Jisoo pouts.

“You didn’t give two shits when I told you I had a crush on that actor you did the commercial with,” Lisa points out.

“Well,” Jisoo sticks her gaze to her plate, “it’s different.”

“How?” Chaeyoung smirks.

“Leave her alone,” Jennie steps in, “it’s okay, I should have told you guys.”

“I mean, it’s not that important to me,” Lisa shrugs.

“Same.”

“You don’t care that Jennie’s dating someone?” Jisoo asks.

“I don’t care as much as you do,” Lisa replies, “and I’m not blinded like you, I can see it’s clearly a PR stunt.”

“It is?”

Jennie nods, “Of course it is. We won’t see each other again after today, I thought I told you.”

“So all of this was because of a fake relationship?” Jisoo finally looks up.

“Fake friendship but yes, that,” Jennie nods.

“That just makes Jisoo’s reaction even more hilarious,” Chaeyoung snickers, “all that jealousy.”

Lisa laughs and Jennie’s face burns red.

“I wasn’t jealous,” Jisoo pouts, “I just think she should have told us.. because we are friends.”

“I’m sorry, I thought I did,” Jennie smiles at her.

“I can’t do this anymore,” Chaeyoung whispers.

“It’s disgusting,” Lisa agrees.

“The food?” Jennie asks, eyes wide.

“Yes,” Lisa tries not to laugh, “exactly that.”

Jennie’s confused but it doesn’t matter, because Jisoo is smiling at her so warmly that she feels it come back. At full force.

Her feelings are making themselves known again.

 

“Okay, so,” Yeji giggles, stopping the MV, “sorry for pausing so much but there’s a lot to talk about.”

“Agreed,” Ryujin nods, “so our protagonist is running away from the fire that she caused herself, that’s when it starts raining. But instead of rain, there’s black paint staining her and the dress.”

“Yes,” Yeji agrees, pointing at the screen, “we can see that the seasons change again and it’s now winter in the forest. All of this is symbolic. So, the situation should be better since the rain put out the forest fire, but black in literature represents evil, so it’s like our protagonist’s sins and bad actions are falling and sticking to her.”

“Winter also usually means death or just a stagnant period,” Ryujin adds, “we can see animals in the forest like the foxes, that are associated with being sly and clever and also a hawk, known for the sharp eyesight.”

“We’ll connect it to Jennie in a minute,” Yeji smiles, “but first let’s get through the whole scene. To hide, our protagonist enters a cabin and picks up an axe to break it down instead of just opening the lock. Finally, Jisoo is now in a desert.”

“And on the side, if you pay close attention, you can see a special type of hourglass that has three.. compartments? Instead of two.”

“Now for the meaning,” Yeji says, “the door being there means that there is an opportunity to escape all of this. She chooses to break it down with the axe, which gives us battle or war imagery. So, it was a struggle. Deserts represent isolation and loneliness. Hourglass obviously represents time and the three parts of it likely are there for the past, present and future.”

“Okay, so, how is this about Jennie?” Ryujin rubs her hands together, “this period of her career from the outside was definitely calmer than the ones before, but not less difficult as represented by the season in the MV. She had three successful comebacks, she had her first world tour and she became the face of many brands. Unfortunately, all this new fame also brought negative things. I think the animals in the forest are meant to represent this: the fox would be Jennie, trying carefully to keep her private life private, while the media and the public would be the hawks, just prying into her personal life and judging her every move.”

“Exactly,” Yeji says, “one thing that was focused on a lot was her relationship with Jisoo. Now people knew that they used to be close and that they had come together again around Cherry’s debut. Some of these things were revealed recently, but even if they tried to hide we knew they spent a lot of time together. Jennie was seen on Jisoo’s first drama set, they were close at award shows, Jisoo visited Jennie while she was on tour, they were spotted at Pride, they travelled together, we found out about their matching tattoos.. you get it.”

Ryujin laughs, “Yeah, Jensoo shippers were thriving. But unfortunately, Jennie is telling us that she was not. Around this time there was that ex-trainee implying that Jennie and Jisoo dated pre-debut. And after they were spotted together all the time, they started to hide. This was also around the time that Jisoo had her first dating scandal with Park Hyunwoo, who was the male lead in Jisoo’s drama.”

“So, if our timeline makes sense, and I want to stress that this is just our theory,” Yeji continues, “Jennie had feelings for Jisoo. She was obviously struggling with that and with her sexuality— and probably also with Jisoo’s dating scandal. That’s what we got from this part of the video— a false sense of calm and a lot of hurt underneath.”

“But then,” Ryujin says, “when the protagonist breaks down the door, it makes us think that maybe she got over the struggle with her sexuality. Lastly, the hourglass is filled at the part representing the past, halfway full at the present part and empty at the bottom, the part representing the future. This just means that she’s now done questioning herself and caring so much about what people think, and go into her future with a different attitude.”

Yeji nods, “Yeah, with more courage. She also announced she was dropping a song on Soundcloud.”

Ryujin chuckles, “We’ll get to that later, let’s continue now.”

And if you ever feel like you are not enough
I'm gonna break all your mirrors.
I wanna be there when the darkness closes in
to make the truth a little clearer
I wanna hold you close but never hold you back
I'll be the banks for your river

Jennie adored the little studio she created inside her new apartment.. for the first two weeks or so. Now she hates it.

Every single time she walks by it she can’t help but get the reminder that her comeback is in the works and she has been struggling to write songs lately.

She has four now, which is not enough for her upcoming EP and the company gave her feedback to write more romantic songs.

Jennie rolled her eyes and she tried.

She couldn’t write anything.

The other four songs came easily to her. One was about just herself and how lonely she was just the year before, another was clearly about friendship, one she wrote criticising the industry and the fourth one was about being held accountable for her mistakes.

She argued that the last one could easily be interpreted in a romantic relationship way— yet context clues made it obvious that it was about her restored friendship with Jisoo, Lisa and Chaeyoung.

Jennie sighs. She used to have song ideas left and right back when she was a trainee, now she almost laughs at her attempts to write something romantic. Truth is, she had never felt love the way she does for Jisoo. No matter if she has dated and has also gone on a few dates lately, she just doesn’t develop feelings for these guys.

She could write about Jisoo but she doesn’t want to taint her feelings with fake words about men she doesn’t even know.

Jennie has always been aware she was attracted to women. But she also believed she could end up with a dude.

Now she’s struggling to recall if she even found any of her ex-boyfriends attractive. Maybe it was her being young and just wanting to be wanted— no matter how she felt towards them.

The more she thinks about it, the more it makes sense. And she desperately tries to cling onto something, she looks at male idols and begs herself to develop a crush on one of them.

It doesn’t happen.

She can see that they’re attractive, she just is not attracted to them.

Frustrated, she tugs at her hair. Her eyes on her notebook where she’s been writing since she debuted.

She even looked up what someone would be attracted to when seeing a man and tried to write it into a song. It came out terrible.

Broad shoulders, defined abs, carved jawlines.. Jennie can’t understand why she’s not into that at all.

Only thing is: every time she looks it up, it appears that there’s only one answer to her dilemma. She’s a woman who is solely into women. She’s a lesbian.

Deep inside, she knows it’s true. But she will not go down without a fight. She lives in a majorly homophobic country. She knows for sure that her Catholic family would never accept her. She’s an idol, she’s supposed to play the role of the perfect woman with a perfect heterosexual relationship, a pregnancy and a diamond ring down the line.

She has never hated herself more.

She’s an atheist but she has prayed to whatever god to please, please let her wake up one morning and be attracted to a man. So far, it hasn’t worked.

She can’t talk about it to anyone. She doubts that her friends wouldn’t accept her, but she hasn’t fully come to terms with it and she’s still trying to convince herself that it’s not true. So she keeps on smiling. Writes songs about Jisoo and then changes anything that could indicate her being a woman.

It doesn’t help that her new apartment is extremely close to Jisoo, Lisa and Chaeyoung’s. They are literally down the road which means that they manage to see each other often. She is actually going over later for some movie that Lisa wanted to watch.

She sees Jisoo nearly everyday and somehow she looks even more gorgeous each time. She has grown quite a bit since Jennie first met her. She now stands taller, her face more defined, her lips always red and inviting.

Jennie feels so guilty every time she catches herself staring at Jisoo, her face usually, or the rest of her body on those occasions when she isn’t wearing much.

She looks soft and warm and Jennie just wants to touch.

She feels like crying after she inevitably breaks down, her body betraying herself as she quickly touches herself to the thought of her best friend.

She feels disgusting.

She also often thinks of that brief kiss back when they were trainees. They never really talked about it and Jennie is too scared to bring it up and ask why Jisoo returned it, when Jennie didn’t even ask for her permission before stealing it.

She constantly feels like she’s taking advantage of Jisoo and while sometimes she can recognise that it’s not the truth— it makes her feel so guilty that sometimes she pushes Jisoo away. It’s for her own sake, but she knows she’s being an asshole.

Her phone distracts her and she reads Lisa’s text. She’s supposed to go over to their place in one hour.

She needs to calm the fuck down.

She quickly has a shower, picks some warm clothes and heads to their apartment. She can just go by foot, it’s that close.

She enters the code and is greeted by Chaeyoung, smiling while sitting on the dining table, softly playing an acoustic guitar.

“Jennie’s here,” she yells.

“Always so loud,” Jennie stops by her for a quick hug.

Chaeyoung puts away the guitar and drags Jennie to the living room.

“Lisa’s in the shower,” Chaeyoung says before she can ask, “Jisoo’s held back at the company.”

“What for?”

“No idea,” Chaeyoung shrugs.

“Lisa told me you’re going to Melbourne after New Years.”

“Yeah,” Chaeyoung’s eyes light up, “after the concert we have a week off and I haven’t seen my family in forever.”

“Tell them I said hi,” Jennie smiles.

“Of course,” Chaeyoung chuckles, “they’re so proud of you, you know? They always send me videos when you’re mentioned on TV.”

Jennie clutches her hands to her chest, “I love them.”

Chaeyoung nods, “Lisa’s coming with me, there’s room for you if you want to come.”

“I’m sorry,” Jennie pouts, “but my comeback is soon and I don’t have a break this year.”

“That’s a bummer.”

“You could keep Jisoo some company,” Lisa comes down the stairs, “she’s staying here at the dorm.”

“She’s not visiting family?”

“Her parents are going on vacation from Christmas to mid-January,” Chaeyoung explains.

“I’ll see what I can do,” Jennie smiles.

“What you can do is cook for us,” Lisa smirks.

“Right,” Jennie rolls her eyes, “I forgot you only like me for my food.”

“Is there anything else to like?”

“Nice to see you too, Jisoo.”

Jisoo chuckles and skips to where Jennie is, hugging her from behind, “I’m kidding, you’re delightful.”

Jennie tries to avoid making eye contact with the other two because she is positive that her face reveals exactly how she’s feeling. On fire.

Jisoo leaves a quick kiss to the side of her head, then finally sits down on the couch.

“So.. what did they want?” Jennie asks, “at the company?”

Jisoo smiles, “So.. remember when we first met and you told me not to help you because I was studying acting?”

Jennie rolls her eyes, “Why would you bring that up?”

Jisoo chuckles, “They’re sending me to audition for a drama.”

“Jisoo!” Lisa exclaims, “that’s amazing.”

“I know!” Jisoo can’t stop grinning, “it felt so surreal.. also a full circle moment.”

“Do you know anything about the drama or your role right now?” Chaeyoung asks.

“Not a lot,” Jisoo shrugs, “I only have the script for the scenes I’ll have to do at the audition. The role is.. a main one.”

“Wow,” Jennie nods, “you really did that. Idol and actress.”

“I don’t even know if I have the part yet,” Jisoo huffs.

“When will you know?” Lisa asks.

“Sometimes in January.”

“That’s so close!” Chaeyoung exclaims.

“I know,” Jisoo sighs, “the audition is right after Christmas. If I pass, I’ll have to get through the second one but you guys won’t be here to help me.”

Jennie bites her tongue.

“Jennie could,” Lisa immediately says, “she doesn’t have a break.”

Jisoo turns to look at her, doe eyed, “Really?”

“Of course,” Jennie smiles. As if she could say anything but that when Jisoo’s looking at her this way.

“You’re the best,” Jisoo stands up and hugs her tight, “I fucking love you.”

Jennie nervously laughs it off, “Man, you’re clingy.”

It feels like her entire body is electric.

 

On the first day of the year, Jennie feels like she should be either sleeping off the previous night or being still out of it from celebrating.

She’s neither.

She met up with some friends and they had a few drinks, but she was back home at around 1am and now she’s awake early.

The snow outside is falling, pretty and delicate, and Jennie tightens her scarf before exiting her apartment.

Turns out Jisoo got extremely stressed out about the timing issue, but now that she’s on break she solely wants to focus on the scenes she’s auditioning with.

And she’s memorised her lines already, but it was always with Lisa playing the main lead and they would often joke around. Now Jisoo wants to take it more seriously.

Jennie is let in by security and she takes the elevator to their apartment.

It’s messy, as it often is.

“Has anyone seen my cactus headband?”

“Your what?”

“My headband!”

“You have a cactus?”

Jennie chuckles and joins Jisoo at the breakfast table, “Is it always like this?”

“Pretty much,” Jisoo nods, “they’re two of the least organised people I know.”

“Oh yeah, I remember.”

Jisoo laughs, “It also doesn't help that Lisa steals Chae’s things on purpose, just to make her freak out whenever they’re packing.”

“That.. makes sense, she’s a rascal.”

“I’ll drink to that,” Jisoo downs her coffee as if it was a shot.

“Looking forward to having the house all to yourself?”

“So much, you have no idea,” Jisoo sighs, “I love them to death but being woken up at 5am because they’re doing karaoke in the living room is.. a formative experience.”

Jennie laughs.

“I’ll see what it’s like to be you.. by living alone.”

“I guess,” Jennie shrugs, “I would pay to have people live with me. It can get boring.”

“Makes sense,” Jisoo nods, “coffee?”

Jennie nods.

Both Lisa and Chaeyoung have stopped yelling at each other and they come downstairs, each with their own luggage.

“Jennie’s here!”

“That I am,” Jennie smiles, “have fun in Australia, say hi to a kangaroo for me.”

Chaeyoung rolls her eyes while Lisa snorts, “Will do!”

“Have fun being here,” Chaeyoung retorts, “say bye to your patience before dealing with Miss Actress here.”

“What am I getting into, exactly?” Jennie inquiries.

“Last time we had to do a scene at least fourteen times because she thought she had an accent,” Chaeyoung shakes her head, “she’s from Seoul, she does not have an accent.”

“If you had a project you were passionate about—” Jisoo tries.

“You got the punchline wrong,” Lisa comments, entertained.

“Whatever,” Jisoo hands Jennie a mug of coffee, “why aren’t you leaving?”

“Fine, we’ll go,” Lisa grabs Chaeyoung’s arm and drags her to the door, “bye old ladies.”

“Rascals,” Jisoo comments once they’re out of the door.

“Your diction only reinforces their point, hag,” Jennie laughs.

“You shut up and drink your coffee!”

“Yes ma’am,” Jennie bows.

Jisoo just rolls her eyes, “So, what did you do last night?”

“I had a drink with some friends,” Jennie explains, “you guys were performing?”

Jisoo nods, “Yeah.. it didn’t even feel like New Years.”

“Is it safe to assume that this morning is going better?” Jennie tries.

Jisoo stops washing the dishes and gives her the sweetest smile, “Yes. Definitely.”

Jennie tries to calm down whatever mess is going on in her stomach.

 

“I feel like I should audition for the elderly lady’s role,” Jennie comments, “I’ve fed you her lines so much that I’ve kinda started to see myself in her.”

“In my character’s creepy grandma?” Jisoo snorts.

“Yeah,” Jennie is upside down on the sofa, “I want to believe she’s innocent.”

“Guess we’ll find out when we get the script,” Jisoo shrugs.

“You said ‘when’” Jennie exclaims, “not ‘if’ like you always do.”

“Freudian slip.”

“I’m not sure that’s how that works.”

“Still, whatever,” Jisoo goes through the other stack of papers, “we have to start rehearsing the other scene.”

“Is the grandma in there?”

“I’m afraid she’s not.”

“Bummer,” Jennie sits up straight, “who am I playing?”

“Detective Han,” Jisoo hands her photocopies of the script, “the man who’s investigating the case.”

“Main or second lead?”

“Main.”

“Wow..” Jennie comments, quickly going through the pages, “there’s no kiss scene?”

“There is, just not in this scene,” Jisoo explains.

Jennie hums, stopping herself from saying anything. She’s not jealous, she understands that she’s not in a relationship with Jisoo. She also understands how acting works.

But the thought of some random man getting to kiss Jisoo does make her wish she never asked that question.

“I don’t know this scene as well as the other,” Jisoo is telling her, “so we should go with the script first.”

Jennie nods and starts reading the context at the beginning of the page.

The whole afternoon, Jennie gets always more impressed by Jisoo’s skills. This is her first time auditioning for a role, but if she didn’t know that she would think it was something she did every other day.

Jisoo’s quick at memorising and once that’s out of the way, she goes into her cadence, emphasising certain words, putting the right emotions in it. Even putting Jennie’s bias aside— Jisoo is one hell of an actress and the directors would have to be dumb to not see it.

Jisoo’s skills have a downside to them, unfortunately. Since she gets so into her character, Jennie feels momentarily confused by the lines she’s delivering.

The scene isn’t too long and, unlike the other one, Jisoo has less lines and more non-verbal clues.

After Detective Han reaches Namjoo’s house, or Jisoo’s character’s house, he starts by interrogating her quite heavily. Once he notices how vulnerable she is, he becomes softer and helps her calm down.

It’s a sweet scene.

But the slight flirting to establish their future relationship is there and Jennie can’t take it anymore— because, again, Jisoo’s a skilled actress and her flirting feels too real.

Jennie got so flustered that she suggested taking a break.

“It’s going well, right?” Jisoo asks.

“Yeah,” Jennie nods.

“We haven’t even gotten to the acting yet.”

“Right.”

That is true, they’ve only been reading the lines. There’s some physical contact and intimate touches that Jennie wants to avoid as much as possible.

Jennie has never felt like this and a part of her hates it. She has to remind herself to stop staring at Jisoo, no matter how beautiful she thinks she is. She finds herself trying not to say too much and it’s hard.

Jisoo goes through life with a certainty in who she is and what she wants.. and Jennie’s not like that. Jennie mulls things over, second guesses herself all the time.

The only time she’s ever been direct was when she kissed Jisoo and she lived through the repercussions of it.

Jisoo smiles and the sun decides to shine, Jisoo picks something and it becomes the best thing ever. It’s like the world is attuned to her, like she’s life’s main character and everyone else is just looking up at her.

Maybe Jennie should stop putting her on a pedestal, but her rose coloured glasses are glued to her face.

“So..” Jisoo looks around the kitchen, “wanna bake something?”

Jennie smiles and joins her, “Of course.”

 

Jennie’s comeback is close and she hasn’t had a chance to rest all month.

Since the tracks were perfected quite quickly and it took her less than usual to memorise the choreos, she’s been allowed to have one day for herself, before she’s thrown in press conferences and comeback stages.

She managed to fill out the EP nicely. She had to heterosexual-proof her new songs but she’s happy with how they turned out. Desperate pining and cynical brain versus heart debate seemed to be what the company wanted in love songs.

She has known about the day off for a week now and, after talking it out with Joohyun and Lisa, it was decided that Jennie could go visit Jisoo on set and that it would be appreciated. She’s already sent a food truck for the cast— the media reported that heavily. Which didn’t make much sense to Jennie since Cherry members and other friends also did that and it didn’t get as much attention.

Joohyun is with her when they drive to the site. Jennie’s allowed in since her company already alerted and got permission from the director.

She’s shown around the set by staff members, before she’s brought to the scene that’s being filmed.

Jennie was over the moon when Jisoo called her to tell her she got the part. A bit less enthusiastic when Jisoo kept going on and on about her co-star.

Rationally, Jennie gets it. Kwang Hyunwoo is an A-list celebrity. He’s been in so many of Jennie’s favourite series. Of course Jisoo would be excited to work with someone with that level of talent and experience.

When the ugly, jealous feeling came back, Jennie pushed it away. At the end of the day, Jisoo is free to do whatever she wants. Yes, Jennie wants her. But she would never try to hold her back just because of that.

“Coffee?”

Jennie accepts the cup from Joohyun.

The set is built like a bedroom and it seems to be an emotional scene. Jisoo’s character is sitting on the floor, her back resting on some drawers, crying her eyes out.

Jennie’s heart constricts in her chest, a painful few seconds before her head seems to remember that it’s just acting.

For some reason Kwang Hyunwoo is shirtless, pacing back and forth, voice raised as he seems to be scolding Jisoo.

She stops to look at her and his whole body changes, becoming softer as he kneels down in front of Jisoo and dries her tears, talking softly to her.

The dialogue ends and the two are left staring into each other’s eyes.

“Cut!”

Jennie observes as Jisoo relaxes her face and chuckles as she dries her tears. Hyunwoo puts his shirt back on and helps Jisoo stand, whispering something to her that makes her laugh for quite some time.

The cast has been let go for lunch and Jennie finally walks towards Jisoo.

“You!” Jisoo points at her before quickly walking to her, “how long have you been here?”

Jennie smiles, “Not long.”

“This is embarrassing,” Jisoo huffs, leading her to the lunch area.

“I’ll watch the series when it comes out, how is it embarrassing?”

Jisoo shrugs, “It’s different. I’m hoping you got here after the making out scene.”

“There’s a making out scene?” Jennie’s eyebrows raise.

“You missed it, thank god,” Jisoo chuckles, grabbing a plate and picking what she wants to eat.

“Yeah, that’d be disgusting.”

“Hey!” Jisoo slaps her arm.

Jennie shrugs, “Sorry if I don’t want to watch you and Mr Abs exchange saliva.”

“He’s actually really nice..” Jisoo confesses, a slight pink tint on her cheeks.

“Looks like it,” Jennie nods.

“We’re going out to dinner tonight.”

Jennie’s world stops for a second, “Huh?”

“We’re getting dinner,” Jisoo repeats, “some cast members and some staff.”

Jennie nods, immediately feeling better.

They sit down and start eating, when Jisoo checks her phone and chuckles, “There’s already articles about you being here.”

Jennie rolls her eyes, “Of course there are.”

“Let’s take a selfie,” Jisoo clicks around on her phone, “give the people what they want.”

“Sure,” Jennie smiles for the photo.

“This lighter shade really suits you.”

Jennie looks down at her hair, “It’s my first time not getting a darker colour. Company says it’ll soften my image for the comeback since the songs are more chill.”

“I can’t believe Chaeyoung got to listen to most of them and I didn’t,” Jisoo exaggerates a pout.

“It’s just because she helped me with some melodies,” Jennie explains, “she didn’t even hear the final product.”

“Still, she told us about the love songs,” Jisoo smirks, “who’s the mystery hunk who stole your heart?”

Jennie weighs the pros and cons of stabbing herself with the plastic fork in her hand.

“No one,” she rolls her eyes, “they wanted love songs so I binge watched some TV series and stole their plot.”

Jisoo laughs, “That’s genius.”

Jennie shrugs.

“So.. really, there’s no one you’re interested in?” Jisoo asks, her voice becoming softer for some reason.

Jennie shakes her head, “No, I haven’t had a crush in a long time.”

“Yeah,” Jisoo nods, “I can’t remember if you’ve ever talked to me about your love life.”

Jennie chuckles awkwardly, “There’s no love life.”

Jisoo lowers her gaze, “So.. really, there’s no one? Not even in a crush way, just.. someone who caught your eye? That.. hypothetically you could be into or see yourself being into..?”

“Why are you stuttering so much?” Jennie chuckles, “no, I’m not interested in anyone. Just.. I’m really just focusing on work. I’ve been on a few dates but nothing was ever born out of that.”

“You mean your PR dates with that guy?”

“No, like, actual real dates,” Jennie finishes her coffee, “I just never got interested in them so there was never a second date.”

“Why didn’t you tell me that?” Jisoo asks.

Jennie shrugs, “I thought I had told you.”

“You didn’t.”

Jennie doesn’t think she’s ever had a more confusing interaction, “Are you upset that I didn’t tell you? I’m sorry, I really thought I did.”

“I’m not upset,” Jisoo stands up, “I gotta go back to work, thanks for coming!”

Jennie frowns, “Lunch time isn’t over.”

“I have.. things to rehearse, sorry!”

Jennie states into space for a while. What the fuck?

She’s about to stand up and go find Joohyun when someone stops in front of her.

“Jennie Kim? It’s so nice to see you here, I’m a big fan!”

Jennie tries a smile, “Thanks, Hyunwoo-ssi! I loved ‘Stories from Outer Space’. Please take care of Jisoo well.”

“I will,” he smiles, “she’s incredible.”

Jennie nods, “She is.”

“Well, I’ll let you go,” Hyunwoo smiles, “it was nice to meet you.”

“You too,” Jennie bows her head and heads to find Joohyun.

 

They all work themselves to the bone for the following months.

Jisoo nicely wrapped up the shooting, then she threw herself into Cherry’s comeback. Her press tour for the drama, Can’t You See Me?, which followed her group promotions, was also successful.

Cherry was already an established group, but Jisoo’s role in the drama attracted many new fans.

Jennie still hasn’t seen it— partially because she hasn’t had a second to breathe between promotions and tour rehearsals, but also because she doesn’t know if she’s ready to see the woman she’s in love with be with someone else, even if it’s pretend.

Still, she has a sold-out arena world tour to go on, so she uses that as an excuse when she’s asked about the drama.

She doesn’t think she’s ever practiced this much, not even for her debut. It’s her first world tour and she’s as excited as she’s exhausted. Multiple songs with choreography one after another are way harder than she imagined, but she’s been preparing for months and a part of her can’t wait to leave.

Jisoo, Lisa and Chaeyoung have encouraged her a lot, even with their own busy schedules in the way. They stopped by her apartment to bring her food, Lisa even helped her memorise choreos, while Jisoo and Chaeyoung gave her tips on public speaking.

They’ve grown even closer and when Jennie performs on stage she does feel like there’s three other people with her. They’ve become an extension of her. Jennie didn’t think it was possible to know people like this thoroughly, in and out.

Her feelings for Jisoo are still there and Jennie’s beginning to think that they will never leave. But she’s made peace with it— nothing will ever happen so she isn’t even going to try to pursue a relationship.

She’s fine with their friendship. It hurts when Jisoo talks about dates or gushes over co-workers, but Jennie is aware that it’s her own fault that Jisoo doesn’t consider her as an option. She’s never done or said anything to let Jisoo know about her feelings.

It does drive her crazy though, when Jisoo speaks about the details of her dates and Jennie has to bite her tongue to avoid going on a rant on how she shouldn’t have to settle for the bare minimum that these men do.

Jennie shakes her head and focuses on closing her last bag.

She’s leaving for the tour in a few hours, a car will come soon to collect her and bring her to the airport.

She looks at her texts with Jisoo and smiles at the conversation. Jisoo encouraged her to no end and even sent her cute selfies to cheer her up.

Jennie loves her.

 

Jennie nearly collapses as soon as she is backstage. Today’s encore took more energy out of her than usual— but she has a smile on her face.

She’s loving the tour. She did Asia first, Australia and she’s now in Europe.

She begged Joohyun to give her a few days break before going to Spain. She’s in Paris now and she has two whole days to explore before she packs up and leaves.

She didn’t really get a chance to do sightseeing and be a tourist. She had a few days off between tour dates but they were mostly taken by travelling.

She did stay a little longer in Tokyo because she had two nights there, she managed to get a day off in Bangkok where Lisa’s sister showed her around and she also wandered around in Auckland and Melbourne, sending a lot of pictures of both cities to Chaeyoung.

While in Europe she only had some time to spend in London, but that was for a photoshoot— that’s why she asked to schedule some free days in Paris. She’s always been fascinated by the city, the culture and the fashion and she had never been there before.

“Another successful night!” Joohyun helps her stand up, “how’s your ankle?”

“Ankle’s fine,” Jennie nods.

“So you’re gonna walk around tomorrow?”

“Of course,” Jennie chuckles.

“Your personal vendetta against resting will bite you in the ass one day.”

“How can I rest?” Jennie huffs, “I’m in so many cool cities but I never get to see anything apart from the hotel and the venue. If I wasn’t half dead right now I’d go wander into the city.”

“Menace,” Joohyun shakes her head, “come on, let’s get you back to your hotel.”

Jennie nods and they quickly make their way to the back exit where the van is waiting for them.

They can see the fans leaving the venue and hear them sing Jennie’s songs. If it was up to her, she would go talk to all of them to thank them, but she is exhausted and she knows it’s dangerous.

She waves from the car and the screams follow her until the car is away from the arena.

“I’m so happy,” Jennie chuckles.

Joohyun smiles at her, “You need to sleep before you get all sappy on me.”

Jennie rolls her eyes, “You never let me have anything.”

“You’re right,” Joohyun confirms, “now take a selfie and thank your French fans.”

“I was already gonna do that,” Jennie huffs, quickly snapping a few photographs, adding the ones of the crowd or her on stage that were sent to her and publishes the posts on twitter and instagram.

Once she’s back in her hotel room, Jennie does some calming stretches, then heads straight to the shower where she can finally relax. Tours are somehow even more taxing than she expected. Every night she lays in whatever hotel’s bed and feels her bones weighing her down.

But the memories are what keep her going. There’s nothing more fulfilling to Jennie than seeing thousands of strangers in different parts of the world that scream her Korean lyrics back at her, that hype her up and give her the energy to go on. Knowing that she’s made an impact on people’s lives makes her content with herself. Her stories have been heard, people can relate to them, people have their own meanings latched onto Jennie’s words.

Every time she’s on stage she feels like the luckiest person alive.

Every time she’s back in a hotel bed, completely alone, those good feelings fade away.

It’s strange— she’s surrounded by more people than she’s ever seen in her entire life, but the top is lonely. And she’s trying her hardest not to be swallowed by it.

 

She wakes up when she hears knocking on her door. She yawns and tells Joohyun to just come in.

The door opens and closes and Jennie’s still laying in bed.

“Breakfast delivery for Mademoiselle Jennie Kim?”

Jennie’s eyes open wide and she turns towards the door, “What the fuck are you doing here?”

“Wow,” Jisoo rolls her eyes, “I was expecting a more enthusiastic greeting.”

“Shut up,” Jennie can’t stop smiling as she gets out of bed, “seriously, how are you here?”

Jisoo puts down the breakfast tray, “Plane. A great invention made by mankind. You should try it sometimes.”

Jennie hits her arm lightly, “Seriously.”

“Fine,” Jisoo tries to hide her smile as she walks towards Jennie’s bed and collapses on it, “promotions for the comeback and the drama ended, Lisa’s gone to China for a variety show and she’ll be there a few weeks, Chae’s left for Law of the Jungle so management asked me what I wanted to do. Turns out I have to go to Milan for some fashion show so I thought why not get to Europe earlier and catch up with my bestie.”

“I hate everything about that last sentence,” Jennie smiles.

“Shut up,” Jisoo huffs, “we haven’t spent much time together and I wanted to visit Paris, okay?”

“Mmh,” Jennie smirks.

“And I may or may not wanted to see you in concert.”

“Go on.”

“I’ve been here since yesterday, I enjoyed the concert and..” Jisoo takes a deep breath, “and I wanted to see you.”

“Because..?”

“Because I missed you, okay?” Jisoo hides her face under a pillow, “god, you’re irritating.”

Jennie just laughs, “You’re cute when you’re flustered.”

Jisoo emerges from under the pillow and sits up straight, “I’m not cute nor flustered, eat your fucking croissant and leave me alone.”

Jennie keeps giggling, “Come on, let’s eat on the balcony.”

Jisoo, more composed now, follows her outside, “The view is stunning.”

“But not as stunning as me?” Jennie teases.

“I knew I should have gone straight to Milan,” Jisoo shakes her head.

“Whatever, did you put sugar in my coffee?”

“I would never,” Jisoo gasps, “how dare you insinuate that?”

“Thanks, you’re hired by the way.”

“As your breakfast slave?”

“In a few years and you could be promoted to lunch slave too.”

Jisoo bites into her croissant and ignores her. Jennie’s the happiest she’s been in months.

 

“You know,” Jennie comments, “I was expecting Paris to be crowded but not like this. This is like the Shibuya crossing of my nightmares.”

“Well,” Jisoo shrugs, “considering what today is, I’d be surprised if there wasn’t anyone on the streets.”

Jennie frowns, “Is today some French national holiday?”

Jisoo chuckles, “Look around.”

Jennie does and at first she’s confused, then she notices what most people in the street are doing, “Oh, I forgot it was June.”

Jennie’s eyes almost well up with tears in seeing all these people with rainbow outfits, flags and makeup. People dressed in flamboyant outfits, singing and dancing in high heels.

People being free. People having fun even when they know there’s others who hate them just because of who they are.

People who may have struggled like Jennie is right now and then accepted it. And then lived their lives and went out during Pride month and had fun.

She wonders if that would ever be her.

“Powerful, right?”

Jennie turns to look at Jisoo, whose eyes are stuck on the crowd.

“Y-yeah,” Jennie croaks out, “it’s amazing to see.”

Jisoo smiles, “Do you think a lot of people would recognise us here?”

Jennie shrugs, “Maybe not a lot.”

“Should we.. follow them?”

Jennie doesn’t even have to think about it, “Sure.”

Jennie and Jisoo get in the crowd and keep walking, both starry eyed as they look around.

A girl with the bisexual flag painted on her cheek approaches them with two little rainbow flags, “Do you want?”

Jennie and Jisoo exchange a glance, the fact that they’ve been mistaken for a couple not lost on them, “Sure!”

The girl smiles and gives it to them, “For free, don’t worry.”

Jisoo smiles, “Thank you.”

“Ohh, I can see the Eiffel tower!” Jennie exclaims.

The french girl smiles at them, “Do you want a picture with it?”

Jennie and Jisoo look at each other, before Jisoo nods, “Sure.”

Jennie hands her camera to the girl, then her and Jisoo pose with their little flags. They thank the girl and she leaves, before wishing them good luck with their relationship.

“People are so nice,” Jennie comments, looking at the pictures.

“We really look like a couple,” Jisoo comments.

Jennie forces herself to chuckle, “Right.”

“I’m not sure you can post that.”

“Of course I can’t,” Jennie sighs, “we’re both holding rainbow flags and we’re extremely close, anyone would think that we’re dating.”

“Is that so bad?” Jisoo asks.

“For our job? Yes.”

“Right,” Jisoo nods, “we’ll keep today as a secret between us.”

“Yeah, now let’s go have more fun.”

 

It’s only after dinner that they go back to the hotel.

They’re still laughing because they tried to dance in the middle of a square but they couldn’t stop giggling, while everyone around said that they were an adorable couple.

Jennie’s in the shower and she can’t believe how much she wished today to be real. She can imagine it, a world where she’s free to be herself and Jisoo’s not straight. They’re happy and in love and they walk down the street proud of themselves, celebrating who they are.

The dream is shut down when she comes out of the shower and finds Joohyun with an apprehensive look in her eyes.

“Hey?”

She looks up, “Jennie, honey.”

“What’s going on?”

Joohyun just turns her laptop towards Jennie, where there's a myriad of online magazines, mostly Korean, with pictures of her and Jisoo holding hands while walking along the Pride parade.

“Is it.. that bad?”

“Not at all,” Joohyun shrugs, “Jennie, you know there’s always allegations. We just.. as a company we have to release a statement..”

“Jisoo and I aren’t dating,” Jennie quickly says.

“I know that,” Joohyun sighs, “the rumours are also about your sexuality..”

“Shouldn’t that be private?” Jennie tries.

“It is,” Joohyun reassures her, “we just don’t know what to write since we can’t say you’re straight since you’re.. not.”

Jennie’s eyes widen and she quickly looks around. Thankfully Jisoo is still in the other bathroom taking a shower.

“What do you know?”

“The.. incident, pre-debut,” Joohyun confesses, “as your manager they had to tell me that.”

“It.. it didn’t mean anything!” Jennie exclaims, “I’m.. I’m definitely not straight but there’s nothing romantic going on with Jisoo.”

Joohyun nods, “Okay.. well, in the statement we can just write that you’re an ally. Makes it seem like you’re straight but isn’t completely untrue.”

“Okay,” Jennie nods, still a bit shaken.

“I’ll go work on that,” Joohyun stands up, “so, if Jisoo’s company calls, I can confirm that there’s nothing going on between you two?”

“Nothing’s going on between Jisoo and I,” Jennie repeats.

“Okay, I trust you,” Joohyun briefly hugs her, “goodnight, Jennie.”

“Night,” Jennie echoes.

She immediately grabs her phone and looks online. There’s a lot of speculation, many articles and pictures and homophobic comments or comments that are sure that there’s a relationship.

Jennie takes a deep breath. It’s not the end of the world. Idol groups do fan service all the time. And sure, that’s not what she and Jisoo were doing, but that’s an explanation that doesn’t require Jennie coming out.

She’s not ready.

Even when reading positive and encouraging messages, Jennie feels like drowning. She doesn’t want people to know. Her parents will call. Other relatives, too. Friends.. everyone.

If this is the price she has to pay for being herself for a few hours.. Jennie doesn’t think she’ll ever let this happen again.

She starts cooking dinner when Jisoo enters the kitchen, “I’ve got to say, Jensoo sounds cute.”

“What’s that?”

“Our relationship name.”

“Shut up,” Jennie does not want to have this conversation, “don’t encourage people.”

“Why?” Jisoo’s tone is more serious, “what’s wrong with people thinking we’re dating?”

“We’re not dating,” Jennie says, “we’re not gonna make fun of them by pretending to be in a lesbian relationship when you’re—we’re not.. lesbians.”

“So?” Jisoo shrugs, “I’m not saying to go around claiming that we’re dating, god, why are you in such a bad mood?”

“How can you be so happy about this?” Jennie finally turns away from the stove, “it’s just a rumour but some people will believe it. My parents will find out about this. The whole world will!”

“What’s so wrong with people thinking we’re a couple?” Jisoo rebuts, “you didn’t have any problems when you went on pretend-dates with Kang Taeho!”

“That has nothing to do with it!”

“Doesn’t it?” Jisoo’s voice is getting higher, “so it’s better for people to believe you’re in a fake relationship with some random dude than for them to think that you’re in a gay relationship with your best friend?”

“Both of them aren’t true!”

“Yeah but you’re okay with one of them and not with the other,” Jisoo huffs, “what the fuck, Jennie? Since when are you homophobic?”

“What the fuck are you saying?” Jennie feels like crying, “I’m not homophobic, I’m just saying that if we’re not dating why should we let people believe that we are?”

“I told you!” Jisoo insists, “that wasn’t a problem for you when the other person was a guy!”

“That’s not true! I hated doing that!”

“Okay but people thinking that we’re together, even if they know it’s not true, is helping them with their own sexualities, so I don’t think there’s anything wrong with people believing that!”

“But that’s a lie!” Jennie fights back, “you’re straight and I.. I— oh, whatever.”

“I’m not straight, I’m bisexual!” Jisoo yells.

Silence reigns for a few seconds.

“What?” Jennie’s voice comes out feeble.

Jisoo takes a deep breath, “I’m bisexual, I’ve known it for a very long time, I’ve never dated a girl but I had.. flings. And today was the first time I could openly act like myself and you just had to ruin it because god forbid someone thinks you’re not straight.”

“Jisoo, that’s not..” Jennie tries, “I didn’t mean it like that. I wouldn’t find it offensive if someone thinks we’re dating, I’m just saying that it isn’t true.”

Jisoo thinks it over, “Yeah.. it makes sense. I’m sorry. I’ve never really told this to anyone that I care about so.. I was a bit on edge.”

“I’m sorry that I made you think I had something against that,” Jennie walks closer to her, “I don’t. You’re.. you. And you’re my best friend and I— I love you. And nothing will change that.”

Jisoo sniffles, “Okay, sap.”

Jennie chuckles and hugs her tight, “Thank you for telling me.”

“It was difficult,” Jisoo explains.

“You’re so brave,” Jennie caresses her hair, “so, so brave.”

“Shut up,” Jisoo wipes away the tears, “what are we eating for dinner?”

Jennie lets her go and kisses her forehead, “Let’s order, I don’t feel like cooking.”

They take some time to order and to choose a movie to watch. They sit on the couch and Jisoo lets Jennie’s head rest on her shoulder.

“So you’re really.. okay with it?” Jisoo asks, voice small.

Jennie reaches down to take her hand, “Of course. Nothing has changed. I’m proud of you.”

Jisoo intertwines their fingers and yawns, “I love you, too.”

Jennie’s heart is beating so fast she’s scared Jisoo might hear it.

Not for the first time, she wishes Jisoo’s bravery would cover her cowardice too.

 

After Jennie successfully wrapped up her tour, she had just enough time to go to New York on vacation with her mother, before coming back to Seoul and working on her new EP.

Things with her mom went surprisingly well. They have a good relationship and Jennie was worried that the continuous sexuality rumours would strain that, since her mother is deeply homophobic. But she never mentioned anything and Jennie felt grateful.

Ever since Jisoo came out to her, Jennie couldn’t stop thinking about how easy it has become for Jisoo to now talk about girls.

Eventually she told Lisa and Chaeyoung as well and Jennie didn’t really understand why they both didn’t seem as surprised as she was. Maybe living in the dorm with Jisoo made them more aware? Jennie has no idea.

Cherry just had their own comeback, so Jennie hasn’t seen her friends a lot lately. But it’s fine, it’s giving her time to think.

She has started writing gender-neutral lyrics. People might not agree, but she sees it as a big step for herself. In fear she had always made sure that it was spelled out that she was writing about men— now she feels like she’s choosing the loophole by not making anything gender specific.

Most of her producers haven’t even realised the change, so Jennie feels good about it.

She realizes that she has deep internalised homophobia. She’s completely aware of that. So she’s started researching, reading books, watching people talking.. she’s slowly trying to make herself accept it.

She’s still far from acceptance and pride, but she feels like the first stones are being put.

It’s the end of October when the first award show of the season takes place, MAMA in Hong Kong, then in Seoul. She’s only going to the second one and so is Cherry.

Talking with her managers, they agreed to let her sit next to her friends. The space for solo artists isn’t that bad, but since they’re basically label mates nobody had anything against Jennie sitting with Chaeyoung, Lisa and Jisoo.

After a whole day of rehearsals, Jennie is finally in the car headed to the event.

She smiles and waves once she arrives, making the fans only scream louder.

She’s led to the red carpet where she’s asked the usual questions: her recent comeback, spoilers about her performance, good luck wishes for her nominations— the usual ones.

She’s then brought backstage when she does dry rehearsals once again before a quick makeup fix— then she’s sent outside.

The others are already at their table and Jennie smiles. They look immaculate: perfect hair, smiley faces and luxurious outfits.

“Jennie!” Lisa exclaims, standing up to hug her, “I haven’t seen you in so long!”

“Right,” Jennie chuckles, before sitting down.

“Hey,” Jisoo elbows her.

“Hello,” Jennie rolls her eyes, “maybe don’t kill me before the performance?”

“You’re so exaggerated,” Jisoo huffs.

Jennie gets more comfortable on her seat, “If I have a broken rib I’ll send you to jail.”

Jisoo just chuckles, “You’re an idiot.”

“Mmh,” Jennie nods, “I’m the idiot, sure.”

“Man, can these two shut up?”

Both Jennie and Jisoo push Chaeyoung and she falls and rests on Lisa’s lap.

“This is so boring,” Lisa comments.

“Right,” Jisoo nods, “let’s do something else.”

“Is this about your trip, still?” Chaeyoung rolls her eyes.

“What trip?” Jennie asks.

“She wants to go to Jeju,” Lisa explains, “Chae and I tried to tell her that it’s not a winter vacation spot but she won’t listen to us.”

“I think Jeju would be nice in winter,” Jennie shrugs.

“Of course you would say that,” Lisa rolls her eyes and Chaeyoung giggles.

“What..?”

“Ignore them, I have no idea what on earth they’re talking about half of the time,” Jisoo shrugs, “so.. wanna come to Jeju in the freezing cold?”

“Sure,” Jennie shrugs.

“I knew I could count on you,” Jisoo puts her arm around Jennie’s shoulders. And leaves it there.

It’s warm and that’s how Jennie feels right there in that moment.

And the morning after there will be pictures of her and Jisoo being all over each other, whispering and laughing— but Jennie doesn’t care right now.

Because Jisoo is warm and Jisoo is home.

Because Jisoo makes her happy and, for once, Jennie puts her own happiness above people’s ignorant comments.

 

“Where the fuck..?” Jennie murmurs to herself as she gets lost in the maze of corridors backstage.

She wants to call Joohyun but her phone is in the waiting room. After wandering a bit she sees a bathroom and goes in, hoping to find someone to ask directions to.

“Jennie!” Chaeyoung is washing her hands, “lost?”

Jennie chuckles, “Yeah.”

“Do you have a schedule tomorrow?” Chaeyoung asks.

Jennie shakes her head.

“Then.. wanna come get a drink with me?” Chaeyoung asks, “we haven’t talked alone in so long.”

“Right,” Jennie smiles.

“Sometimes I have to make sure you don’t still hate me,” Chaeyoung giggles.

Jennie covers her face with her hands, “Will you ever let that go? And I didn’t hate you!”

“I know, but you’re fun to tease.”

Jennie rolls her eyes.

Her and Chaeyoung go tell their managers about their plans and they’re taken to a bar not too far from their houses. They’re in a private room in the VIP section, so they can talk about whatever without fearing that people can hear.

Chaeyoung opens the first soju of the night and they toast before downing a shot.

They drink and talk about what’s been going on lately, Chaeyoung tells her about her experience on Law of the Jungle, of helping some new trainees and just their life in the dorm. Some of these things, Jennie already knew through Jisoo.

They talk a bit about the night they just had, then Jennie tells her about her new EP and her recent tour.

“Right,” Chaeyoung nods, “Jisoo visited you in Paris.”

Jennie nods, movements slowed down by the alcohol, “Yeah, I was not expecting that.”

“She was really excited about it,” Chaeyoung smiles, “she would tell just anyone that she couldn’t wait to see you.”

Jennie can’t help but smile.

“And that was when she told you.. right?”

Jennie nods, “Yeah, after we went to pride.”

“She said you were very surprised,” Chaeyoung comments.

“I was,” Jennie confirms, “up until that point I was convinced she was straight.”

“How?” Chaeyoung snorts, “I never want to assume other people’s sexuality but.. with her it was kinda obvious.”

Jennie frowns, “Based on what?”

“Are you serious?” Chaeyoung asks, “do you really.. not notice..?”

“What?”

“Forget it,” Chaeyoung shakes her head, “I thought you knew but it’s not my place to say anything.”

“I’m so confused.”

“It’s nothing,” Chaeyoung repeats, “just.. Lisa and I had our.. thoughts. We assumed you did too.”

Jennie shakes her head.

“Then what about you?”

“Huh?”

“You’re straight, right?”

Jennie feels a lump in her throat, “Y-yeah?”

“Are you asking me?” Chaeyoung shrugs.

“No, I am. Straight,” Jennie nods, “yes, totally.”

Chaeyoung doesn’t look too convinced, “So.. were you experimenting when you kissed Jisoo?”

Jennie’s movement still. Everything is silent but loud at the same time.

They never talk about it— it’s always been an unspoken rule.

“Why did you do it?” Chaeyoung insists.

Jennie huffs, “I was not experimenting. I just— I wanted to do it. So I did it.”

“Okay but you never questioned why you wanted to do it?” Chaeyoung tries.

Jennie pours herself a drink, “Stop talking in circles, what are you trying to get at? I’m straight. I kissed Jisoo because I was confused. I’m straight.”

“Say it one more time and maybe you’ll believe it too,” Chaeyoung rolls her eyes, “look, it’s just me. You can tell me to mind my business and I will do it. But don’t lie to me.”

Jennie feels like crying, “Fine. I’m.. not. I’m not straight. I— this is the first time that I say out loud and now it seems more true.”

“Oh honey,” Chaeyoung moves around the booth and takes Jennie in her arms, “it’s fine, I’m sorry I pushed you.. I didn’t know you.. felt bad about it.”

“No, it’s okay, it’s time I stop lying to myself,” Jennie can feel her cheeks getting wet, “I’ve never had feelings for a man, nor have I find myself sexually attracted to one. I— I like women. I only like women.”

“Hey, look at me,” Chaeyoung kisses her forehead, “it’s fine, Jennie, it’s okay. There’s nothing with that.”

“Are you sure?” Jennie whimpers.

“Of course I’m sure,” Chaeyoung pets her head, “we’re too drunk for this.”

Jennie chuckles, “You’re right about the other thing, too.”

Chaeyoung sighs, “It’s always been a bit.. obvious.”

Jennie gasps, “Does she know?”

“No,” Chaeyoung assures her, “Jisoo’s smart but she’s dumb. She has no idea.”

“Okay,” Jennie nods, “so you and Lisa.. knew?”

“We.. had our suspicions,” Chaeyoung shrugs, “we’re all close but there’s always been something special between you and Jisoo. We just assumed that you both knew..”

“But you won’t tell her?”

“Jennie,” Chaeyoung sighs, “of course I won’t tell her. I won’t even tell Lisa. This is our secret.”

Jennie shrugs, “You can tell Lisa, that’s fine.”

“I think it would be better if you did that,” Chaeyoung suggests.

Jennie nods, “Fine but you’ll be there and hold my hand.”

Chaeyoung laughs, “Okay, I will.”

They stay in silence for a few minutes, both digesting what just happened.

Jennie doesn’t feel scared, she trusts Chaeyoung and she feels.. lighter. Liberated. Like it’s suddenly easier to breathe.

Someone knows. Someone knows and doesn’t hate her. Someone knows and she’s still holding Jennie in her arms.

Things can turn out fine.

“So..” Chaeyoung tries once they’re outside her apartment, “I’m guessing you won’t tell her?”

“Why would I?” Jennie huffs, “even if she’s bi doesn’t mean she has feelings for me. I just.. don’t want to ruin our friendship, I care about her too much for that.”

Chaeyoung sighs, “Do whatever feels best, obviously.. it’s just.. if you never tell her you will never know if she feels the same way or not..”

“It’s not a risk I’m willing to take,” Jennie shrugs, “plus, she seems really taken by her co-star. I saw them talking tonight backstage..”

“And how would it make you feel if they dated?”

“I like to think that ultimately I would be able to be happy for them,” Jennie says, “at the end of the day, if she’s happy then everything’s okay.”

“But wouldn’t it be better if she was happy with you?” Chaeyoung smiles.

“Of course,” Jennie shrugs, “but.. you know, he will probably ask her out and she could say yes. I already lose because I could never ask her out.”

“Why not?” Chaeyoung puts in the code for the apartment, “of course she’s not going to consider you as an option if you don’t present yourself as one. I’m not saying this to pressure you or anything like that, I just think that you two would work together and from what I’ve seen, it doesn’t seem like your feelings are unrequited.. and even if they are.. wouldn’t you feel better at least knowing that you tried and didn’t succeed instead of not trying and forever wondering if it could have worked?”

Jennie is stunned.

“I don’t know, just something to think about,” Chaeyoung shrugs and enters her building, “goodnight Jennie.”

“Night,” Jennie sighs.

 

It’s been exactly two days and all Jennie can think about is the conversation she had with Chaeyoung.

She doesn’t know if it’s her slowly building confidence in herself or if it was finally admitting it to someone— but she has reached a conclusion.

Because it’s true, she will most likely end up with someone she doesn’t even love that much and will forever think that maybe it could have worked with Jisoo. The what-if will most likely hunt her for the rest of her life.

And she doesn’t want that to happen.

She believes that her friendship with Jisoo is strong enough to not be affected by a rejection.

She has no idea of how Jisoo feels about it. The only things that keep her hoping are the way Jisoo returned her kiss. The possible connection between the cherry-flavoured lipstick she wore that day and Jisoo choosing the name Cherry.

And she knows it’s not a lot, she knows it’s nothing. But also Jisoo sounded so vulnerable when she was asking Jennie if she had feelings for someone, all those months back when they were on set.

Jennie doesn’t have a lot of hopes, but she wants this weight off her. She’s carried these secrets for so long and it wouldn’t even be fair to Jisoo, not knowing that her best friend secretly dreams about kissing her again.

Jennie is on a mission.

She’s going to confess and tell Jisoo how she feels. And if it goes horribly and Jisoo decides to cut her out of her life.. at least Jennie will know.

She texted Chaeyoung earlier to ask if they were home, without saying anything. She said that she was out but that Jisoo was surely home. She wished her good luck— definitely knowing Jennie’s intentions.

Jennie can’t risk second-guessing herself so she walks quickly to the apartment complex, inserts the code and tries to form a coherent speech while on the elevator.

She lets herself in and sees Jisoo’s shoes at the door. She takes a deep breath. Negative or not, everything is about to change.

Jennie walks into the kitchen, where she finds Lisa eating pancakes, “Hey.”

Lisa looks at her, “Hey, Chae said you’d stop by.”

Jennie nods, “Where’s Jisoo?”

Lisa’s expression darkens a bit, “Upstairs?”

“Okay, I have something to tell her..”

“Jennie,” Lisa stops her, “..are you sure?”

At that moment, Jennie knows that Lisa knows.

Jennie’s too far into her head to catch Lisa’s apprehension, “Yes.”

Lisa nods and her smile is sad.

Jennie goes upstairs where she knows Jisoo’s room is. She knocks on the door.

Jisoo opens it and a smile blooms on her face, “Hi there, what are you doing here?”

“I— there’s something I wanted to tell you,” Jennie says all in one breath.

“Why are you so nervous?” Jisoo chuckles.

“It’s important,” Jennie tries not to stutter.

“Okay?” Jisoo goes back in front of her vanity mirror, “will it take long?”

“Why..?”

“It’s just,” Jisoo turns to smile at her and that’s when Jennie notices.

She has full makeup on her face, she’s wearing a nice dress and she’s picking and trying on jewellery.

“Do you have somewhere to be?”

Jisoo grins, “Hyunwoo asked me out on a date!”

Time stops for Jennie. She’s pretty sure her mouth is slightly open. Bitterness, all she tastes. Jisoo is making herself even prettier to go out with Hyunwoo. Hyunwoo who is an attractive, talented and established man. Hyunwoo who didn’t have to think it over for years before asking Jisoo out.

Hyunwoo wants her and is trying to get her.

Jennie took too much time, waited too long.

“I’m..” Jennie tries a smile, “that’s amazing!”

“Yeah..” Jisoo murmurs, “so.. what’s the important thing you had to tell me?”

And if Jennie was in a better state of mind, she would have caught the pleading tone, she would have seen the signs.

But Jennie’s never been so crushed and all she can think about is trying not to cry. The smile on her face hurts.

“Nothing,” Jennie clears her throat, “it was.. a work thing, help for a song but we— we can talk about it when you’re free.”

Anyone else would have caught the disappointment in Jisoo’s tone, “Oh.. okay.”

“Okay,” Jennie starts retreating, “have a good date!”

She goes fast down the stairs and Lisa is waiting for her there.

“Come on,” Lisa gently leads her to her own room, “there’s a lot you need to tell me.”

Jennie waits until the door is closed, then she breaks down.

 

Same day, Jennie has another mission.

After spilling her heart out to Lisa and running out of tears, she changed tactics.

She saw the pictures on social media. Hyunwoo and Jisoo walking around, laughing, having lunch.

She’s had enough. She’s going to get wasted and she’s going to sleep with a man.

This is just a phase, she convinces herself. Every step forward she has taken towards self-acceptance, she will ruin.

She goes to a club, one of those rich people only, super secretive clubs.

The music is loud and she’s suddenly remembered why she hates this environment but she pushes on. Orders four shots and puts them away in a minute.

“Easy there.”

Jennie turns with her best smile. The guy is cute or at least not completely horrible.

He will do.

Jennie spends the rest of the night chatting with him and drinking more, she doesn’t even remember his name.

When he suggests to go to the bathroom, Jennie drinks some more to get the courage and follows him.

He presses her up against the bathroom door, one hand on her waist, the other on the back of her neck, trying to get closer.

But his cologne smells bad, his thin beard is bothering her, his hair is too short and when he presses his lips against Jennie’s, they just taste like alcohol. No flavoured chapstick.

Jennie feels sick to her stomach.

He tries to deepen the kiss but Jennie pushes him away.

“What..?”

“I— I can’t do this,” Jennie starts heading out, “sorry!”

She quickly gets out of the club and calls Joohyun in tears. She tastes him in her mouth. She barely manages to hold in the contents of her stomach.

 

Jennie locks herself in her room for four days, before her schedule comes running after her. Apart from Joohyun, no one in her circle really knows what’s going on with her.

She sleeps a lot but she’s always tired, she has no energy for anything, she never jokes around, she seems out of it most of the time and she barely speaks and eats.

She met with Chaeyoung and Lisa once and she told them, that’s when they reminded her of her Jeju trip with Jisoo.

Now Jennie is moving through her last schedules of the year, before she starts packing.

She films some performances and works on some music, but it’s evident that she’s going through something.

Jisoo also noticed it, but apart from some concerned questions, Jennie managed to make her drop it.

They head together to the airport and Jennie blames everything on being early morning. Jisoo doesn’t press further.

She responds to emails during the short flight and she’s also silent while they’re in the cab to their hotel.

Their rooms are connected and even have a dining room area in between them. Jennie unpacks.. and then realises she can’t run away forever.

“Finally,” Jisoo smiles, “I thought you were gonna be a zombie for the rest of the trip.”

Jennie rolls her eyes, “Shut up. What did you plan for today?”

“Easy stuff,” Jisoo explains, “we’re going down to the spa, lunch and then we chill in the indoor pool for the rest of the day.”

Jennie nods, “Sounds good.”

They head down to the SPA area of the hotel, where they book full-body massages for both of them.

They’re laying down and Jisoo reaches out to touch her arm, “Hey, remember when we did this as trainees?”

Jennie can’t help but chuckle, “Yeah, it was fun.”

“I feel like we were always fighting before that.”

“Yeah,” Jennie snorts, “most of the time I had no idea what the fight was even about.”

“Me too,” Jisoo laughs, “still, without all that we would not be standing here today.”

“Laying down.”

“That wasn’t even a joke.”

“You’re not even a joke.”

“You’re an idiot,” Jisoo laughs.

Hearing that, Jennie feels more relaxed than she did for the rest of the massage.

They spend their morning being pampered left and right and Jennie reluctantly admits that she’s grateful for this trip.

They have a quick lunch and go to rest for a bit in their room, both trying hard not to fall asleep, before they change into swimwear and go into the pool.

“There’s just something about being dressed for summer while it’s almost snowing outside that.. satisfies me.”

“That,” Jennie snorts, “that has to be the weirdest kink I’ve ever heard.”

“Oh shut up,” Jisoo splashes her face, “why are you always so sexual?”

“How?” Jennie laughs.

“You have X-rated lyrics.”

Jennie can’t stop laughing, “Sure.”

“You do,” Jisoo whines.

“Sure,” Jennie repeats.

“Whatever,” Jisoo huffs, “I was just saying that it’s relaxing to be in a pool right now.”

“I’ll give you that,” Jennie admits, “it is. So, what’s in the itinerary for the next few days?”

“I’m glad you asked,” Jisoo smiles, “so tomorrow we’re visiting the local market and then going horse riding.”

“I shouldn’t have asked.”

“Shut up,” Jisoo laughs, “the day after we’re going on a hike until lunch, then we’re gonna go out and get a drink. Last day we go to our private hot tub and then make our bags.”

“Sounds good,” Jennie nods, “you’re so organised.”

“Thank you, I am indeed,” Jisoo bows her head, “I’m proud of you for finally admitting it.”

Jennie just splashes her.

 

Turns out, this trip was what Jennie needed to get out of her bad mood. Fun activities with her best friend, knowing that sure, things didn’t work out as she wanted them to, but she’s still here with Jisoo and she’s okay with being her best friend.

They end up doing exactly everything that Jisoo had decided. The local market is fun, even though they barely understand the deep dialect of the older market sellers and can’t exactly eat too much. But they have fun, they buy matching bracelets and little gifts for Chaeyoung and Lisa.

Horse riding is better than Jennie could have imagined since she has already done it and is pretty good at it, while Jisoo ends up with a big horse and she’s scared and cursing the whole time. Jennie took a video of her and sent it to their group and they received an audio that was just Lisa and Chaeyoung laughing.

They make it home exhausted and barely manage to eat before they collapse.

The next day Jisoo wakes them up early to go on the hike. It’s organised so there are other people with them, some who recognise them. Jisoo is still scared of heights, which just makes the whole situation funny and somehow endearing for Jennie.

Once again they have lunch then stop at the hotel to rest.

“I can’t feel my legs,” Jennie complains, laying on Jisoo’s queen sized bed.

“Want me to give you a massage?” Jisoo asks, next to her.

“No, I don’t trust you with that.”

“What? I give amazing massages!”

“Thanks but no thanks.”

Jisoo chuckles, “You ready to go get drinks?”

Jennie groans.

A few hours later they’re on the terrace of the hotel where there is a bar area. The tables are distanced from each other and the music isn’t too loud.

“Can you stop taking pictures of everything?” Jisoo huffs, slowly sipping away her gin lemon.

Jennie chuckles, “Fine, but the view is so pretty!”

Jisoo looks at it, “Yeah, you’re right.”

“But you know who’s prettier?” Jennie smirks.

“If you say yourself I will throw you down the building,” Jisoo threatens.

“I was gonna say Chaeyoung,” Jennie shrugs.

“That’s even worse,” Jisoo exclaims, “it should have been me.”

“Sorry, the heart wants what it wants,” Jennie sighs.

“Okay, Selena Gomez,” Jisoo rolls her eyes, “but you and Chae would make a cute couple.”

“Thank you,” Jennie nods, “I think so, too.”

Jisoo chuckles.

“What’s so funny?” Jennie frowns.

“Nothing, it’s just..” Jisoo’s cheek turn pink, “out of the four of us I’ve always thought you and I would be the cute couple.”

Jennie chokes on her drink.

“Not like that!” Jisoo quickly clarifies, “just.. as a bromance kind of thing.”

“Did you just bro-zone me?” Jennie chuckles, “you’re making it worse.”

“Come on, you know what I mean..” Jisoo pouts.

“I genuinely don’t,” Jennie admits.

“We just.. we have this.. thing about us..” Jisoo has never seemed so shy.

“..what thing?”

“You know..” Jisoo shrugs, “it doesn’t even matter.”

“Okay..” Jennie nods, “speaking of couples.. how is it going with Hyunwoo?”

“Oh,” Jisoo turns serious, “turns out I’m not as into him as I thought I was.. I told him and we never went on a second date.”

“Oh..” Jennie is stunned for a minute, because she was sure that they were still seeing each other, “I’m.. sorry?”

“Don’t be,” Jisoo smiles, “we just weren’t the right people.”

“And..” Jennie takes a deep breath, “do you think you will find the right.. person?”

Jisoo stands up and looks at the view, “I.. sometimes I think that I might have already found.. them.”

Jennie stands up and goes next to her, “Like.. romantically speaking?”

Jisoo turns to look at Jennie, “Does it have to be romantic? If.. if I have a person who, you know, is like my person, I’m just happy to have her in my life, even if it will never be romantic.”

Jisoo tries to convey everything she can without making it too obvious. She’s looking at Jennie and her eyes are telling her ‘how do you not see it?’

She’s been careful in the past because she knew Jennie wasn’t too sure of herself, but lately she thought that Jennie might have caught onto something. She was ready to give up because she never saw signs from Jennie, but Chaeyoung and Lisa convinced her to keep trying.

And now they’re on a nice hotel terrace, they have an amazing view and they’re slightly tipsy and Jisoo is wetting her lips and looking at the woman she loves, telling her to make a move.

But she won’t because she’s too oblivious.

So she doesn’t and Jisoo swallows down the disappointment.

 

Jennie’s wallowing in her own self-pity, as she reads comments from netizens. Yes. She didn’t know she could reach this kind of low.

Since her vacation with Jisoo some pictures were leaked, especially of them in their swim suits where their matching rib tattoos could be clearly seen.

Everyone at this point is pretty much convinced that they’re a couple.

Jennie doesn’t feel like she has to defend herself now.

She’s been confused and negative for so long and she just doesn’t have it in her to keep going like that.

Her vacation with Jisoo was heaven on earth and ever since she’s been back she’s happier in every thing she does.

Because, just like Jisoo said, her person, her soulmate doesn’t have to be romantic. She’s just happy to have Jisoo in her life. And somehow, that’s enough.

And sure, she’s dying to kiss her and taste her again, but she’s made peace with the fact that it might never happen again.

“What are you all wistful about?” Lisa snorts.

Jennie turns to look at her, “shut up, just help me with this.”

Lisa laughs, “Sure, Miss Whipped Cream.”

“I hate being your friend.”

“I know you wish we would be more,” Lisa sighs.

Jennie just hits her arm, “Come on, help me with the lyrics.”

“Are you sure you want to release this?” Lisa turns serious, “I know your soundcloud tracks are the really personal ones but.. isn’t this too obvious?”

Jennie shrugs, “There are no gender related pronouns.”

“I know but.. perfume, rosy cheeks,” Lisa lists, “that’s more stereotypically about a woman.”

“I know but.. it’s how I feel,” Jennie concludes, “and I’m tired of being vague or lying about details in my songs. This is my life I’m writing down and I’m a lesbian and I’m in love with a woman. This is who I am and this is the story I want to tell.”

Lisa smiles and hugs her, “I’m so proud of you.”

 

“Okay so,” Yeji stops the video, “I don’t think I’m being biased when I say this is the best part of the video, there’s just so much!”

Ryujin laughs, “There’s a lot!”

“So, we left off that our protagonist arrived in the desert,” Yeji explains, “she’s walking with purpose now instead of running and in the background we can see lions, obviously a metaphor of strength and power and there's lightning but no rain— which can also represent that. The absence of rain makes it more powerful and less sad.”

“Yes,” Ryujin nods, “so then Jisoo reaches what seems to be a way out of a desert, a door. Like we already talked about, opening a door and going through it can very easily mean taking a new path, making a choice. After Jisoo walks through the door we go back to the first scene of the MV, the one we didn’t analyse earlier.”

“Just to remind you, this scene showed Jisoo’s back and now the state of her dress and the black paint make sense,” Yeji takes over, “she went through all those trials and that’s how they left her: scarred, hurt, but finally going towards healing. She jumps into the water from the cliff and underwater we can see the black paint being washed away, if we want to take it in a kind of religious way, we can say that she’s being washed off her sins. Or, in a simpler way, all her past mistakes and things that impacted her in a negative way are now gone. She is finally at peace.”

“Exactly,” Ryujin agrees, “she gets out of the water and we’re in a green garden, we see a lot of gold and spring symbols. Her destroyed blue dress is also meaningful, when she was in the first garden in the beginning it was perfect, now it’s.. lived. Blue still represents peace and serenity. The garden and all the flowers that indicate that it’s finally spring just mean hope, a new life, rebirth. As for the gold, that’s something rich and sacred and in this shot.. wait, let me find it, here we can see she suddenly has a golden ring. My mind immediately went to engagement or wedding when I first saw it, but I think it’s more of a symbol of commitment.”

“I completely agree,” Yeji says, “another interesting thing that I saw was the weeds surrounding the garden— that’s not a very positive image. Weeds would be like.. being an outcast, far from society and as soon as we get into the meaning we’ll explain why it’s so important that they’re here.”

“Yeah,” Ryujin nods, “before we go to the meaning we have given, I just quickly wanted to point out that it’s morning and that’s not only a new day and beginning but also purity. There are evergreen trees that literally mean immortality, which I relate to the golden ring.”

“Now,” Yeji smiles, “Jennie released a song on her soundcloud, ONLY, which is.. I guess we can say it’s a confession song. It never has language that indicates the gender of the person but things like perfume, red lips and such would make anyone think that the person is a woman. And in this song, Jennie is telling us all the things she couldn’t say all this time, which is asking this woman to be her one and only.”

“We cried in our reaction to it,” Ryujin chuckles, “now, her label didn’t issue a statement clarifying Jennie’s sexuality, but she wrote and meant the song which means she is into women. Maybe she’s also into men, maybe not, but she’s telling us that she’s not straight. And there were a lot of people trying to argue that maybe she wrote it from someone else’s point of view.. we don’t agree, it feels like she wanted to come out but not explicitly.”

“Yeah,” Yeji nods, “the aftermath of her kind of coming out was not only positive, but she was so sure of herself and what she felt that it didn’t matter and that I think lines up perfectly with the MV.”

“So all the symbols she used make sense if you think of a context where she finds out that the other person returns her feelings,” Ryujin explains, “and all the positive things and the commitment imagery point to a relationship. Now, this was not confirmed at the time, but this is when we believe that Jennie and Jisoo started dating.”

“Agreed,” Yeji says, “they definitely had history but this we think is when either of them finally confessed and they secretly started to date.”

“Now, onto the last scene!”

You know my love is not the jealous type
and it don't matter if we win or lose
Oh, I could push or I could pull
no matter what you're trying to do
as long as I can flow along with you
I wanna hold you close but never hold you back
just like the banks to the river

Jennie has been shaking the whole day.

Her and Lisa worked hard on Only and it was finally released. The song got so much attention, Jennie felt like going crazy.

She had a lengthy conversation with her label and they agreed to let her be. After all, they had always told her to write about her own life and even considering the downsides to it, they couldn’t stop her from using a song to come out.

Lisa and Chaeyoung are aware of it, Jisoo isn’t. Jennie isn’t completely sure why she hasn’t told her, but now that she feels like herself she has decided to confess once and for all. It’s the right thing to do, she’s tired of lying to Jisoo, she deserves to know the truth about how she feels, how sometimes she pushed her away because of it, why she ever kissed her in the first place.

She starts waiting for a sign from Jisoo, but it doesn’t happen.

When her phone rings, she’s almost disappointed in reading Joohyun’s name.

“Hey.”

“Hi Jennie,” Joohyun says, “I know you must be busy.. but I just wanted to warn you in time. Hera has terminated your contract.”

“Oh..”

“I know it seems like a defeat, but it isn’t,” Joohyun says, “I bet you’ll attract more brands who aren’t homophobic at the core and this is not the end of your career, seriously. I’ve been monitoring the socials and even people who aren’t your fans are supporting you. Don’t doubt yourself, you made a very brave choice.”

“Thank you,” Jennie smiles, “and thank you for having been by my side all this time, especially at the beginning, I’m not sure I could’ve done it without you.”

“Don’t get sappy on me,” Joohyun chuckles, “and get some rest!”

“Yes ma’am.”

Joohyun hangs up.

A brand dropped her.

It’s fine, it’s fine.

She’s okay and she’s happy and that’s all that matters.

She tries to convince herself of that and she starts thinking so much that at one point she just lies down in her bed and accidentally falls asleep.

She wakes up in the middle of the night and she checks her phone. The lack of response from someone is throwing her off, then she notices the missed calls from Jisoo. The last one was three minutes ago. Jennie calls her back.

“Hey!”

“Hey, sleepyhead,” Jisoo laughs, “wanna hang in the garden and drink?”

“Give me five minutes.”

Jennie quickly gets dressed, takes a deep breath and reminds herself that the song isn’t explicitly about Jisoo, then tries not to run to Jisoo’s place.

She’s waiting for her in the gardens, like she promised.

“I heard your song.”

Jennie tries a smile, “You did?”

Jisoo nods and stands up, enveloping her in a hug, “You did so good, I’m so proud of you.”

Jennie feels like crying, “Thank you.”

“What you did was really brave, you know that?” Jisoo asks.

Jennie opens a can of beer and takes a sip, “I don’t know.. I feel like I could have done it better..”

“It was perfect,” Jisoo scolds her, “have you.. why.. sorry.”

Jennie sighs, “I’m sorry that you found out like this.. I told Chae and Lisa and.. we’ve been so busy lately..”

“It’s okay,” Jisoo reassures her, “you are more the type to say something through song rather than just saying it.”

“Right,” Jennie chuckles.

“So.. you’re bi?”

“Lesbian,” Jennie states, “wow, it’s getting easier to say.”

Jisoo pats her head, “Give it some time..”

“You know how my mom calls me after every release?”

Jisoo nods.

“She hasn’t called me.”

“Maybe she’s busy?” Jisoo tries but it’s obvious that she doesn’t believe that either.

Jennie shakes her head, “I thought.. I thought saying it like this would make her understand it better but I don’t think it worked.”

“Hey, on the bright side,” Jisoo wraps her arm around her, “I saw so many comments of closeted kids.. and you’re only going to inspire more people going forward. There will be shitty people but this is a win!”

“Right,” Jennie nods, “it’s just hard when Joohyun called me earlier to tell me that a brand has terminated their contract with me.”

“I guess it will suck a bit for a while,” Jisoo shrugs, “but eventually people will get used to it and it will become easier to deal with it.”

“I hope so,” Jennie sighs.

“I can’t believe your company let you do that,” Jisoo chuckles.

“Well.. my team kind of knew from.. the trainee days, so..” Jennie trails off.

“Oh,” Jisoo removes her arm, “right.”

“Do.. do you think you’ll ever come out?” Jennie asks.

“I don’t know..” Jisoo sighs, “I don’t want to inconvenience Lisa and Chaeyoung like that.. and they don’t even let us write our songs anyway so..”

“You know, I don’t think I could have done it if you hadn’t come out to me,” Jennie smiles, “you just.. gave me so much courage and that inspired me to tell my truth. You say that I’m doing the same to people who have listened to the song, but it all started with you. So.. even if it takes you longer to say it to the world, I can’t thank you enough for trusting me like that.”

“Well,” Jisoo shrugs, “if I didn’t trust you, who would I ever trust? You know I’m not close with my family and I feel like I have to protect Chae and Lisa. With you.. when we were trainees we decided that seniority and age didn’t matter and we decided to be equals. That’s why I will never get close to someone the way I did with you. And sure, we argued a lot, we had tons of misunderstandings but.. you’re my family, Jennie, you’re all I have.”

Jennie sniffles, “Every time I’m going through something I always tend to shut people out and I’ve done it a lot with you and I’m sorry. Because you never deserved it. Even when we were trainees and you were snarky, you only ever tried to help me. Most of my best memories are with you and.. and when we were in Jeju and we talked, about your person or whatever, that’s you for me, Jisoo. It could never have been anyone else.”

“You idiot,” Jisoo wipes away a tear, “who on earth do you think I was talking about?”

Jennie goes still, “..me?”

“Of course you,” Jisoo huffs, “you never.. you never really realised the way I see you. I’ve always looked up to you, I never wanted to leave you alone, I.. I’ve always loved you. It’s possible that I’ll always will.”

Jennie smiles while she’s sobbing, “Ugh, why are we so cheesy today?”

Jisoo smiles back, “We always have been, have you not noticed how much Lisa and Chae tease us?”

Jennie laughs, “Right.”

Jisoo stays silent for a few minutes, “So.. the song.. did you pull from real life or was it another TV series?”

Jennie can’t help but burst out laughing, “Lisa wasn’t kidding when she told me you were smart but dumb.”

“Hey!”

“I’ve pulled from real life so many times and it was so obvious,” Jennie chuckles, “I’ve loved you for a very long time, you know? And I’m not even a jealous person but you were all over Chaeyoung at first that I felt so jealous! Then again with Hyunwoo. I know I’m not that good at expressing my feelings but.. when I kissed you those years ago it wasn’t an impulse decision, I wasn’t confused. I knew I wanted you. I just got scared after it because you weren’t saying anything.”

“But I kissed you back!” Jisoo argues, “and I told you that you tasted like cherry and fuck, this is really embarrassing but this is how we got the name. I couldn’t stop thinking about our kiss even when I was pissed at you, so when they asked for names for the group that was the first thing that went through my head. And then.. after everything we’ve gone through I always felt like I gave you many signs but you were so oblivious to it all I didn’t understand if you were playing dumb to reject me or if you really didn’t see it.”

“I’m the dumbest,” Jennie admits.

Jisoo laughs, “That’s okay, so am I.”

“I love how we’re still circling around it,” Jennie says.

“Do you want me to get on one knee or something?” Jisoo huffs.

“I don’t know.. maybe I’d be into that.”

“Disgusting.”

Jennie just laughs.

Jisoo grabs some snow on the bench and throws it at Jennie, “Refresh yourself.”

Jennie stands up, “Oh, it’s on.”

They’re more laughing than throwing snow, but they don’t really care. Jennie slips on the floor and she can’t get back up because she’s laughing so much.

She doesn’t think she’s ever been happier in her whole life, her biggest achievements have nothing on this moment. Because she’s with Jisoo and they love each other and they’re playing with snow while giggling like little kids and this is what happiness feels like.

Jisoo throws herself on the ground next to her and Jennie turns to look at her, “You come here often?”

Jisoo laughs, “It’s funny that you say that because why the fuck are we always in some apartment’s gardens?”

“It’s our place,” Jennie shrugs.

“If you’re always gonna be this cheesy I’m returning you to sender,” Jisoo huffs.

“Says the one who confessed while we were on a terrace staring at the sea,” Jennie rolls her eyes.

“Does it count as a confession if you’re dumb and you didn’t get it?” Jisoo smirks.

Jennie just quickly grabs some snow and throws it at her, “Fuck, my hands are freezing.”

“Oh, poor baby,” Jisoo snorts, “maybe if you stopped picking up snow without gloves.”

“Maybe I’m just trying to get you to hold my hand,” Jennie shrugs.

Jisoo looks away as she slowly grabs Jennie’s hand, “Happy now?”

“Who would have thought that you’d be the tsundere type?” Jennie laughs.

“Shut up.”

Jennie only laughs harder.

They stay there on the ground, clothes dripping wet, but still holding hands and talking about the dumbest things for hours.

The sun is rising when they finally get up.

“Why did we stay down all that time?” Jennie complains, “damn, Chae and Lisa have a point, calling us dumb all this time.”

“They will never find out,” Jisoo extends her hand and Jennie shakes it, “partner.”

“Partner,” Jennie nods.

They look at each other and burst out laughing again.

“So..” Jisoo looks at her watch, “I have a schedule in three hours.”

“What?” Jennie’s eyes widen, “go to sleep, you moron.”

Jisoo smiles fondly, “Okay, let’s go sleep for a few minutes.”

She grabs Jennie’s hand and pulls.

“Oh, I’m coming with you?”

“You also need to sleep,” Jisoo shrugs, pretending to be nonchalant.

They try to enter the apartment silently but Lisa is already at the breakfast bar.

“Hi,” Jisoo just smiles, leading Jennie upstairs, “we stayed up all night to have a snowball fight, now we’re wet and cold and going to sleep. Goodnight.”

Lisa just stares at them.

“Don’t say that we’re wet!” Jennie objects before getting into Jisoo’s room.

“What the fuck..” Lisa murmurs, “..are they my sleep paralysis demons?”

 

When Jennie wakes up, the sun is shining bright and bothering her a lot.

She notices immediately that she’s in Jisoo’s room. She yawns and notices that she’s wearing her clothes. She can’t help but smile.

Looking around she finds a note from Jisoo, saying that they’re gone for their schedule but they’ll be back for lunch and to wait for them. There’s also a rose with a note, which says that Chaeyoung’s doing it because Jisoo is ‘too much of a pussy’ to. There’s also something written by Lisa that mentions the words ‘pussy’ but it’s been scratched out.

Jennie chuckles. She loves them so much.

She stays in bed a while longer before deciding to make lunch for everyone since she slept so much that it’s almost time.

She thinks of a life where she and Jisoo live together and Jisoo’s out grocery shopping while she’s at home chopping vegetables for their lunch. She’s lucky no one is around to see her blush. She’s also lucky that it’s not that unrealistic.

It’s too soon now, but one day Jennie thinks she would be happy if people knew about their relationship. She knows Jisoo isn’t ready yet, though, so she never really mentioned it.

“We’re back!” Lisa exclaims, slamming the door open.

“Food’s almost ready,” Jennie tells them.

Jisoo walks to her then stops once she’s close, she turns to Lisa and Chaeyoung, “Can’t you go do something?”

“No, this is better entertainment,” Chaeyoung laughs.

Jisoo rolls her eyes and Jennie takes the initiative and leaves a quick kiss on her cheek, before turning around to hide her face.

Lisa and Chaeyoung are giggling and Jisoo is frozen in place.

“Just go!” Jennie whines.

Lisa and Chaeyoung go upstairs to their rooms, chuckling extremely loudly.

“So..” Jisoo starts.

“Whatever,” Jennie huffs, “lunch is almost ready.”

“I can see that,” Jisoo nods.

“Why are we so awkward?” Jennie complains.

Jisoo wraps her arms around her, “We just have to get used to it.”

“How romantic,” Jennie rolls her eyes, but she melts into the hug.

They chat about Jisoo’s schedule until lunch is ready and they call Chaeyoung and Lisa.

They all sit down and start eating.

“Can you cook for us always?” Chaeyoung pouts, “this is delicious.”

“It’s perfect,” Lisa agrees.

Jennie giggles, “Shut up.”

“So emotionally stunted..” Lisa shakes her head.

“It’s okay, so is her girlfriend,” Chaeyoung shrugs.

“Hey now!”

“Let them be,” Jisoo shrugs, “this is really good though.. babe.”

Lisa screeches and Chaeyoung bursts out laughing.

Jennie hides her face in her hands, “I hate you all.”

“No you don’t.”

“No you don’t.”

“No you don’t, babe.”

Lisa screeches again.

Jennie sighs. It’s going to be a long road.

After lunch and endless teasing are over, Chaeyoung and Lisa disappear upstairs.

“The food was really good, I wasn’t kidding,” Jisoo says.

“I know, I’m a Masterchef.”

“And you ruined it immediately,” Jisoo sighs.

Jennie looks up at her, her makeup is still done from her photoshoot, “You look.. good.”

“Thank you,” Jisoo snorts, “care for a walk in the gardens, my lady?”

“That’s basically our house at this point,” Jennie takes her hand and they go outside. They settle in the most private area.

“So.. there’s something I’ve been wanting to do since we were trainees,” Jisoo starts.

“Water sports?” Jennie nods, “me too.”

“What? Like peeing during sex?” Jisoo grimaces.

“Ew no!” Jennie gags, “what the fuck? I meant like.. waterskiing and shit.”

“Why would I take you here to tell you that?” Jisoo groans.

“Well, why did you bring up peeing during sex?” Jennie rebuts.

“I didn’t!”

Jennie bursts out laughing, “I hate us.”

“I hate us too, babe,” Jisoo smirks.

“Can you stop that?” Jennie puts her hand on her face and moves her away.

“But I like how red your face gets!”

“I’m kink-shaming you!”

“Why can’t we have a normal conversation?” Jisoo sighs.

“About your kinks?”

“No!” Jisoo yells, “about.. you know..”

“About how you’ve wanted to kiss me for years and you’re wasting time talking about peeing?” Jennie raises a brow, “kiss me, coward.”

Jisoo takes a deep breath, “You’re on, chicken.”

“Jisoo, we’re not playing gay chicken right now.”

“Fine.“

“So..” Jennie looks at her phone, “Lisa just texted me.”

“What did she say?” Jisoo rolls her eyes.

“They’re betting on who’s gonna give in first,” Jennie snorts, “wow, no one believes in me when I’m the only one in this group who has kissed someone else.”

“Then.. let’s make them lose money?” Jisoo tries.

Jennie looks at her and smiles. And sure, it’s not a perfectly romantic moment, but they were bickering and their friends were teasing them and that’s so.. them.

Jennie finally moves closer and closes her eyes as her lips touch Jisoo’s.

Jisoo immediately angles her head better, turning her body slightly to hold Jennie in her arms.

Jennie quickly pecks her lips twice, before Jisoo takes control and stops her from pulling away, taking control of the kiss.

Jisoo smells like pretty flowers, she’s warm and soft in all the right places and Jennie has never been so happy kissing someone.

Even when Jisoo slips her tongue in and they both cling to each other, desperate hands and minds spinning, it’s intoxicating but it feels like coming home.

Years of pining, looking from afar and making mistakes and now they’re in a garden like they started and Jisoo is finally kissing her.

They move away to breathe and both chuckle softly, foreheads resting on each other’s, eyes still closed.

“You still taste like cherry.”

Jennie just giggles and kisses her again.

Chaeyoung, somewhere a few meters higher, happily takes the money from Lisa.

 

“So, now for the most I think.. telling scene?” Yeji says, “this is very easy but it means so much. So we left with Jisoo in the garden, where everything was perfect.”

“Right,” Ryujin nods, “Jisoo keeps walking in the garden and stops and it’s revealed that in front of her is Jennie. Jennie is inside a glass box, playing guitar and singing the song. When she sees Jisoo, she just keeps singing while looking at her in the eyes.”

“So cute,” Yeji gushes, “Jennie sings the part before the last chorus to her, then, together, they remove the glass and Jennie finds her way out. She leaves the guitar and she takes Jisoo’s hand, and together they wander around the garden, still holding hands while the outro plays.”

“There’s really not much to analyse here,” Ryujin smiles, “it’s just a very sweet moment. We can see that Jennie is also wearing a blue dress that’s been stained and clawed at, which means that she also went through a lot before she found Jisoo. Jennie being in a glass box while singing definitely is a nod to her being one of the most famous singers that ever existed and she knows that people want to see her perform, but she gets out of whatever box society is trying to put her into and she walks off with Jisoo. Do we even need to explain that?”

“Right,” Yeji laughs, “I think it tells us everything we need to know. If we consider Only her coming out song, then Banks and the music video are a confirmation that they’re dating.”

“I agree,” Ryujin nods, “the video came out only this morning so the agencies haven’t said anything, but considering that after Only was released we’ve been seeing Jennie and Jisoo out on dates and there have been people claiming that they’ll expose their relationship, I think this was Jennie’s way to take the narrative into her own hands.”

“I agree,” Yeji smiles, “she didn’t want to give someone the power to out her relationship, so she did it herself. There’s just so much in this video that connects to the two of them and.. yes, it just makes me so happy to see them in love and thriving.”

“Me too,” Ryujin says, “so.. this was a long video! Thank you so much for watching and we’ll post soon since Cherry’s comeback is close. Bye!”

“Bye!” Yeji ends the video, “remember to hit the like button and subscribe!”

Baby, I ain't saying that you need my help
but you don't have to do it all by yourself
So baby when the current gets strong
and you need somewhere to rest your bones
I wanna be there for you
I wanna be strong for you
I wanna hold you close but never hold you back
just like the banks to the river.

Their relationship blooms with spring.

Making music comes easier, they’re always smiling and only their close friends know that every night Jisoo goes to Jennie’s apartment to hold her while they sleep.

During the holidays they didn’t have many schedules, they’re both household names by now, they’ve had successful albums and tours, they’ve been to places they didn’t even know existed and they are allowed to take longer breaks.

They spend all that time learning about each other through these new lenses. Their relationship is the same as it has always been, they joke around a lot, sometimes they fight over the dumbest things, but they like it. Everything has changed, but at the same time nothing has.

They spend a lot of time in the gardens, walking around and holding hands away from wandering eyes. They spend a lot of time in bed, getting to know each other in more intimate ways. They also go out a lot— they have to practice a lot of self restraint on those occasions, not realising that their love is so pure that it’s obvious to anyone who sees them.

Jennie’s mom still hasn’t fully come around but she’s contacted her and they’ve had lunch with Jisoo’s brother and his wife— she told them she suspected something when they came to get the matching tattoos all those years before.

And overall, they’re happy and it shows in everything they do. Jisoo’s the main character in a big movie now, but Jennie still brings her homemade lunch on set. Now she openly talks with Jisoo’s movie love interest and he comments that he should take notes from Jennie to better act like he’s in love with Jisoo.

Jisoo’s presence is all over Jennie’s new album and in every track, finally giving her songs the truthful feel she’s always wanted. And even some of Cherry’s tracks finally have their names in the credits.

They go to Tokyo together and they plan many other trips— Jisoo wants to see Australia and New Zealand and the places of Jennie’s childhood, Jennie’s learning French for their upcoming trip to Europe.

Lisa tells Jennie that she once cried because she has never seen her so happy.

Chaeyoung tries to convince everyone that she was the one who orchestrated everything to make them end up together.

Jisoo just laughs at them and Jennie writes another song about her.

 

Things get bad once.

They’ve been dating for more than a year and there have been countless rumors, but no one ever had real evidence.

This time it’s different, it’s not like that YG trainee who only had partial proof and didn’t mention them. Someone saw them the previous night when they had a picnic on a rooftop in Itaewon. Jisoo kissed Jennie at some point and there’s someone online who has gained a lot of attention, who claims to have pictures of them kissing.

Jennie tried to calm Jisoo all day before they decided to go talk to Joohyun.

Of course, Jennie is also angry, that their privacy had been violated, that her lover is now in distress. Jennie’s basically already out and apart from some lost deals at the start, nothing really happened apart from some comments that her company didn’t hesitate to pursue legally.

While Jisoo is usually the more confident one, Jennie has seen her freaking out the whole day. Probably because she was the one who kissed Jennie. Also because Jisoo isn’t out and she’s part of a group. Jennie thinks she’s more worried about the repercussions on Chaeyoung and Lisa, more than on herself.

“Hi Jennie, Jisoo,” Joohyun smiles, “how are you doing?”

“Not.. well,” Jennie huffs, “there’s.. we had a date last night in Itaewon.. someone online is saying that they have pictures of us that confirm our relationship.”

Joohyun bites her lip and types on her computer, “Did you kiss in public?”

“My fault,” Jisoo steps in, “I wasn’t thinking, I’m sorry.”

“It’s okay,” Joohyun tells her, “don’t worry about it. Do you want the team to contact this individual?”

“I don’t know,” Jisoo huffs, “what if they’re bluffing and we fall into their trap by contacting them?”

“Well..” Joohyun looks at them, “you’ve been dating for over a year now, I think it’s normal that some people found out. Jisoo, I know you’re not out but.. what do you think about that?”

“No,” Jennie steps in, “no.”

“Baby, it’s okay,” Jisoo shakes her head, “I have.. thought about it. The company actually gave me the okay..”

“They did?” Jennie’s brows rise.

“Yeah.. it just happened,” Jisoo says, “I.. I want to come out and I want to go out on the streets holding Jennie’s hand, I’m just.. so scared.”

Jennie hates seeing her so distressed, she tries her best to gently touch her back, “It’s fine, we don’t have to come out.”

“Jisoo.. what are you scared of?” Joohyun tries.

“I..” Jisoo sighs, “I don’t know. I mean, I’ve seen with Jennie that she hasn’t lost anything but.. I’m in a group, it’s not just on me, I have to think of the others.. what kind of leader only thinks of themselves..”

“Would Lisa and Chaeyoung be against you coming out?”

“No.. they say that they want the best for me..” Jisoo admits.

“Why don’t I go make you girls some tea?” Joohyun leaves the room, “so you can talk about this.”

Jennie sighs, “Hey, Jisoo look at me.”

“I..”

“I was scared, too,” Jennie smiles, “I had no idea how it was gonna go, I was panicking but.. I felt so much better once I started talking about it and it only got easier from there. Even my mom talks to me again now.. I feel like everything feels like the end at the beginning, but I ended up gaining so much more.”

“Like me.”

“Like you,” Jennie dries her tears, “I don’t want to pressure you into anything, love, but one of the reasons that I fell in love with you was how.. sure you’ve always been of yourself. Even when we were trainees and you were determined to do things your way. You’ve achieved a lot and also you’ve overcome a lot and you’ve never lost who you are. You’re the strongest person I know and it’s only thanks to you that I am now brave. I love you and if you want to tell the world, I’ll be on stage holding your hand. If you don’t, we’ll sue whoever is trying to out us and I’ll hold your hand regardless. Okay?”

Jisoo manages to stop crying, “I love you. I feel like.. I feel like I will only lose everything if I lose you, Lisa and Chae. You’re right. I’ve always fought for what I believe in and I’ve always told people to be themselves.. I don’t wanna lie anymore. You say I helped you but you helped so many people just by being yourself and.. you always inspire me to be better anyway, so..”

“So?”

“Let’s do it,” Jisoo smiles, “I trust you, let’s tell the world.”

Jennie just hugs her.

“Here’s your tea,” Joohyun smiles, walking back into her office.

“Thanks,” Jisoo takes her cup, “we want to come out.”

Joohyun smiles, “Great! Should we come up with a statement?”

“That’s boring,” Jennie rolls her eyes, “..what if we do a video?”

“You want to come out on Youtube?” Jisoo frowns.

“No..” Jennie smiles, “okay listen, I just released a song that was about Jisoo anyway.”

“Banks,” Joohyun nods.

“Let’s have her in the music video!” Jennie exclaims, “we could create a whole metaphoric world that illustrates our hardships, I’ve been learning about literary devices and all that. We could come out without having to be explicit about it. Just making it really obvious and taking away the power of whoever would want to out our relationship for attention.”

“I.. like the idea,” Jisoo smiles, “what would even happen in the video, though?”

“Well, it would be your journey starting from something that could represent the trainee days until now,” Jennie shrugs, “going through all these years of uncertainty, our debuts, the struggles to accept ourselves..”

“And how would it end?” Jisoo asks, eyes wide.

“With you finding your way home to me,” Jennie smiles, “and me singing you a song, of course.”

“Of course,” Jisoo smiles back.

 

The air is buzzing with nerves and anxiety— Jennie has been through this already but it’s different now, she never thought it could get this bad.

She’s published countless singles, five albums and yet she has never been this nervous about a release. Not even for her own coming out.

She locks eyes with Joohyun on the other side of the room and her manager nods slightly. She’s been through so much with her already and Jennie knows how proud she is.

This is the right thing to do, Jennie knows that.

This could also possibly destroy her career, Jennie knows that too. Her relationship with Jisoo is strong— she knows that and that calms her down.

It’s a bold move, but Jennie feels it was one she had to make. This time she was the one who had to. Everything’s been set up, the music video premiere will start soon and Jennie starts to shake.

Her phone, resting on her thigh, lights up.

The text is simple.

“Thank you. I love you.”

But it’s everything that Jennie needs and some more.

Now, she can truly be brave. Together with Jisoo, the love of her life. This is the start of their future.

With a new look in her eyes, Jennie focuses on the countdown on the screen in front of her. The chat exploding with comments.

Jennie takes a deep breath and the Black Label logo is in front of her eyes.

It’s now or never.

The video is up and everyone cheers.

“Jennie,” one of her managers calls her, “we’re going out for drinks, you in?”

“Sorry,” Jennie smiles, picking her bag up, “there’s somewhere else I have to be.”

Joohyun smiles at her, “The cab is downstairs already.”

Jennie hurries to her apartment, leaves her things, then almost runs to the gardens of Jisoo’s apartment complex.

She’s there, of course. She’s home.

“You found your way back to me,” Jisoo smiles.

Jennie kisses her, “You know I always will.”

“I know,” Jisoo holds her tight, “I love you so much.”

Jennie chuckles, takes one look at the gardens, the balcony where Lisa and Chaeyoung probably are spying on them. She takes a look at Jisoo and the strength and comfort and love that’s in her eyes.

Jennie used to think that kissing Jisoo was her worst mistake and she was paying the consequences. But she’s never been happier, going back she would’ve done the same and it doesn’t matter if there’s extra space on stage because at least her bed is always warm with Jisoo’s presence at night.

Yeah, there’s really nothing Jennie would change.

“I love you more, you sap,” she smiles. And kisses Jisoo once more.

 

You are beautiful and wild at every turn,
who am I to take control of that?
But everybody needs a voice they can follow
when the water and the winds get bad
I wanna hold you close but never hold you back
I'll be the banks for your river.