“So?” Taehyung asked, expectantly, and Seokjin exhaled, heavily.
Seokjin would have liked for this to not have been her life, but well. You couldn't always get what you wanted and so far, Seokjin's life had always been about the daily struggle of having your cake and eating it too. Honestly, it would be a trap, if anything was easy for her. Still, this had to be just about the worst thing that had ever happened to her since high school prom being crashed by the slime monsters of doom, ruining her pink ballgown.
"It's just a small change to the branding. Like we're magical girls, but that doesn't truly express how epic we are." Taehyung said, really seriously from where she'd made a very detailed presentation on why they should be called: Being Impossibly Thrilling Creates Happiness Especially when Solicited. There was glitter and google eyes and ribbons all over the tri-fold poster board, and Seokjin would be more impressed by just how bright it was, if it wasn’t leading to her impending doom.
"We're not changing our name to B.I.T.C.H.E.S." Seokjin said, flatly, tapping her red painted nails on her knee, "We're examples to young children everywhere, Taehyung, that would be a terrible idea." She shot a look over to Yoongi, who was playing on her phone, clearly ignoring everything going on, like she had gotten into the habit of lately. She glared at the bored girl darkly, and she looked up, clearly feeling Seokjin's wrath.
With a slow lazy blink, Yoongi fixed her eyes on the poster and turned back to Seokjin. "Becoming Incredibly Testy Causes Hypertension Eventually, Suckers." he said, darkly, making Taehyung cheer and go over to her and hi-five loudly.
Useless. She was entirely fucking useless. "The point is we don't keep the acronym. Why do we even need a name-change in the first place?" asked Seokjin, clacking her heels against the floor in annoyance.
"But it would be cooler. We've been in the business for like five years now, unnie! If we've grown up, the young girls have grown up with us! It's empowering and adapting to our target audience!" Taehyung insisted, rapping her large pointy stick against her heartshaped diagrams and pictures (mostly of her and Hoseok taking vaguely slutty selfies together). "We're older and more mature and cooler than the 'Springtime Girls'! We need a new image."
Jimin, who'd been braiding her hair neatly, stuck her hand up, and without waiting to be called on, launched right on. "For the record, I think we need a new name." Jimin announced, "We sound kinda wimpy, whenever we say our name, the aliens just kind of. Scoff. But not B.I.T.C.H.E.S. Seokjin-unnie's right, that's just asking for trouble. We already get enough trouble from the media."
It was nice to have a back-up in Jimin, who always made Seokjin feel happier through her encouraging words, and Seokjin shot her a slightly grateful smile, that was returned with a chubby-cheeked cute smile, that made Seokjin feel just a little warmer inside.
"Undeserving attention." Namjoon added, calmly typing their meeting minutes into her laptop (sometimes Seokjin wondered who the meeting minutes were for, considering they were a vigilante organization who didn’t need outside approval for notes, but Namjoon was Namjoon, and Seokjin was hardly going to fault organization). "They pick on the weirdest fucking things to fixate upon, like. Give me a break, we’re not pure innocent babies.”
Yoongi put down her phone at this, clearly incensed now and Seokjin exhaled, because getting Namjoon and Yoongi on feminism meant that they would never stop. "Fucking media bastards. They took an upskirt picture when we were vaporizing the huge lizard thing and called us slutty! We saved them without destroying a block of the city like a fucking marvel bastard! We deserve so much fucking better!"
"Right." Hoseok interjected, with the ease she had in always defusing them, tucking a strand of hair behind her ears, eyes tired and annoyed, "So we need new branding. No offence Seokjin-unnie, we need something new, I'm kind of tired of being walked all over because we're girls with such a cutesy name and image. There are all these old men that think we're hot shit, and I'm sort of scared."
Seokjin felt everybody turn towards her, eyes wide and imploring and demanding and Seokjin wondered, not for the first time, why this power had come to her? Why the bow had dropped into her hands, why her parents had decided that she’d needed to know how to archery as a young girl, why she’d picked it up and shot that first alien, a giant amorphic blob of doom terrorizing that poor old woman? Why she’d become everybody's leader, the eldest and most inspirational to all of them?
By any logic that didn’t rely on time, Namjoon probably deserved it most, with her intelligence and calm composure. Or maybe Yoongi, if it came down to sheer power and obstinance. But it was Seokjin, which meant here she was in, charge of curbing everybody’s desires and thwarting her own, in favour of pushing forward the greater good. “Fine.” Seokjin gritted her teeth. “But if we’re doing an entire image change, we’ve got to start from the bottom up. Name, image, complete with propaganda items and costume changes!”
“We can’t change our outfits!” Jimin said, immediately, eyes widening. “That’s like. Our trademark. People recognize us because of the white outfits with cherry blossoms everywhere!”
“But that’s the problem!” Taehyung protested, smacking her hand against her display poster, sending a cloud of glitter into the air, to settle along her school uniform and face (and over Hoseok who squawked, loudly in protest). “Cherry blossoms and all-white aren’t threatening, people think that we’re pushovers! We got to go...edgy. Streaks in our hair. Military outfits! Gothic lolita, not just plain lolita!”
Seokjin dropped her hands into her face. Scratch everything, the real question she had was: what had she done in a previous life to deserve this? “Buddha, save me now. I’ll be good forever. I’ll go all the way to Nirvana in this life itself. I’ll kill even the gross worm-like monsters when they show up.” she mumbled into her hands.
Around her, loud interjections had exploded, and any pretense of having a proper meeting evaporated. Seokjin exhaled, as Hoseok and Namjoon started having an enthusiastic debate, a Yoongi and Taehyung threw in interjections of despair. If this weren’t the fifth meeting that had devolved into petty bickering over stupid things, Seokjin would have let it go and jumped into the action herself: that had been what she’d done for the past four occasions, and had enjoyed a good old verbal spar with Taehyung and Hoseok (mostly because she’d won, but that was besides the point). But since it was the fifth meeting....
Seokjin pulled out her hairclip and flashed it, warningly, sending a blinding flash through all of their retinas, searing them and stopping everybody in their tracks, with surprised shrieks of discontent.
“T-these are the least productive meetings we’ve had in almost five years.” Seokjin stammered, struggling to blink the spots away from her own eyes She should have closed her own eyes first. “What the hell is going wrong?”
There was a low silence in the room, before Taehyung spoke up first, face looking forlorn. “We’re all stale, unnie, that’s what I’m trying to say. We’re all sick of each other. We’ve worked together for five years, doing the same old things and hiding our identity from the world, even as we’ve grown.” She looked aside, biting on her lip. “We’re not middle-schoolers anymore, unnie. You and Namjoon-unnie are in college, Yoongi-unnie and Hoseok-unnie are doing community college and part-time jobs, and Jiminie and I are almost done with highschool. We’re older. Something’s gotta give, or we’re going to kill each other instead of the lizards.”
There was a sort of slow pause between all of them, and Seokjin exhaled, heavily. “Okay.” she said, slowly. “So. Taehyung’s right. Something’s got to change. I just don’t think it’s our name. So. We should break up for now, and come back in a couple of days to make a decision, okay?”
There was a long, almost mutinous pause, before the slow reluctant nods filled the room. Slowly, everybody trickled out of Namjoon’s penthouse, grabbing their bags, and their items, saying quiet goodbyes to each other, that didn’t quite feel sincere. Seokjin was the last to leave, giving Namjoon a slightly significant look.
Namjoon just shrugged. Typical.
Shoving her hands into her pockets, Seokjin took the stairs down away from Namjoon’s apartment and felt the sting of the cold air over her face, a little sobering. Was she sick of her fellow members of Springtime Girls? Well. She was continuously annoyed with them, but that didn’t mean anything, did it? She’d spent a long time annoyed with them, from maybe the moment they’d burst into her life, lively and eccentric and entirely shameless, nothing much like the prim proper girls that Seokjin had grown up around.
But well. She both loved them and hated them for how strong and carefree and independent they were, it wasn’t a bad thing. She thought that Yoongi's rants about feminism and Namjoon's crazy levels of intelligence and Taehyung's uncanny ability for getting to the heart of the matter and Hoseok's loud vibrant personality and Jimin's unnatural aim and athleticism, all huge fuck yous to the rest of society, were perfect. And she still did, really, even as she found herself a little annoyed with all of them.
Maybe it wouldn’t be such a bad thing to take a break from them.
Seokjin reached the bottom of the stairs and stared at Jimin, who was still waiting around, scarf unevenly dangling from her shoulders, as she texted on her phone. Her ears were turning red in the cold, and Seokjin exhaled. Well. Maybe it wouldn’t be such a bad thing if some people understood the meaning of coming back later.
“You’re worse at following instructions than Yoongi is.” Seokjin grumbling, nudging her shoe into Jimin’s shin forcefully, leaning forward to properly adjust Jimin’s scarf around her neck. Her fingers brushed absently across Jimin’s soft neck (what moisturizer was she using??) as she did so, and Jimin looked up, a little startled. Her nose was just as red as her ears, but she looked sort of delighted to see Seokjin anyway, even as she moved away from Seokjin’s kicks.
“Nobody’s worse at following instructions than Yoongi-unnie, don’t exaggerate.” Jimin complained, leaning into Seokjin’s side, once she thought it was safe, rubbing her long black hair into Seokjin’s side. “Want to come eat tteokbokki with me? I sold some of the pictures of Yoongi and Hoseok-unnie training to a middleman, who sold it to a newspaper and got some easy cash. So it’ll be my treat.” She grinned, with a calculated cute grin.
Seokjin narrowed her eyes at Jimin. “Exploiting my weakpoint to get a loophole around what we just said ten minutes ago, is not cool, Park Jimin.” she chided, “What if I say no, huh?”
“Unnie.” Jimin whined, wrapping her arm around Seokjin’s, not even bothering to ask for permission. “Unnie, it’s free food, don’t say no.”
Seokjin just crossed her arms over her chest, with a face that clearly displayed her annoyance and haughtiness (which was threatening to break if she looked Jimin in the face, so she turned away altogether). “What if I’m sick of you and I don’t want to see you, huh?” she asked. “You still gonna hang around like this?”
There was a little too long of a pause, and Seokjin turned around, worried. Jimin’s eyes had gone wide, and she looked sort of ashen pale. “Unnie.” she said, softly, “Is it me you wanted a break from? You can be honest, you know. I won’t mind.” Her voice trailed off, and for a moment, in her school uniform, the huge scarf over her shoulders and her fringe falling into her eyes, she looked extremely small. Seokjin’s heart skipped a beat, before she reminded herself that it was emotional manipulation at its finest, Jimin wasn’t actually that disappointed, she was just taking the gag in another direction.
“No.” Seokjin said quietly, reaching forward to sling an arm over Jimin’s shoulders, tugging her closer. “It’s not any one person. I think it’s just. All of us together? We’ve come uneven, somewhere, Taehyungie’s right.”
Jimin relaxed noticeably, and Seokjin could feel it under her arms, as Jimin snuggled closer to her, and the thought made her stomach curdle, a little uncomfortable and a little exhilarated. “Okay.” Jimin said, quietly, “Tteokbokki then?”
“Yeah.” Seokjin said, quietly, as they walked through the streets, towards Mapo, tucked into each other’s sides. It was surprisingly comfortable, and Seokjin let her eyes shut for a moment, feeling Jimin’s warmth at her side. She had a paper to write sometimes soon, but she didn’t feel like she was anywhere near the mentality she would need for something that intensive. She just wanted to sit and eat and let her mind sort itself out normally. Jimin was good for that, it was why she was (unofficially) Seokjin’s favourite.
And just as Seokjin felt her spine start to relax a little, the unmistakable cracking, tearing, peeling sound filled her ears and the sky, the sound that Seokjin knew so deeply and intimately in her bones, the immediate sign to be afraid and to mobilize, and any time to contemplate over anything was lost. She and Jimin sprung away from each other and stared up towards the sky, where the world slowly unravelled itself, to let some monstrosity into their realm.
Of course, this time, it couldn’t just be one monster. No. It had to be what looked to be a large group of fly-cockroach-insect things, swarming out of the rent in the sky, before it slowly closed.
"Are you infested by insects? You should file a grieve ants." Seokjin's lips twitched up despite herself, and Jimin's high-pitched nervous giggle was worth the world, especially as her trembling fingers sought out Seokjin's arm.
"Unnie." Jimin coughed out, as they watched the monsters in horror, "Not the time."
“One day, we’re going to figure out how the fuck to shut that door in the sky, and we won’t ever have to do this again.” Seokjin said, absently, in mild horror, “Namjoonie ought to work on that.”
“Why is it always the gross monsters when it’s my turn?” Jimin said, wrinkling her nose, tugging at her keychain attached to her backpack, where a faded-pink plastic sword hung, inconspicuously.
Seokjin had other worries. “If we can tell what they are from here, that must mean they’re ridiculously huge.”
“Ah fuck.” Jimin said, pulling a face, before grabbing the sword properly and jumping up, in preparation. “Sharp Mochi, Transform!” There was a bright flash of light, and Seokjin vaguely saw the trailing white ribbons covering Jimin’s soft (really very wellformed) breasts, before Jimin was running up the walls of the nearest building, her flaming double swords in hand.
Seokjin exhaled and pulled out her own flowery hairpin, shaped vaguely like a bow. “Flower Princess, Change, Gleam and Glow!” she called, loudly, and let herself fall into her transformation. Yoongi liked to call it ridiculous, the way it felt like pure magic was shaping and forming them into magical warriors, but Seokjin personally enjoyed it. There was something incredibly uplifting about changing into herself, becoming someone different, someone cool and exciting and do-gooder. Plus, even if she did agree that their costumes were maybe a little dated, there was something about the all-white and pink flowery accents that she loved. Or maybe it was just the jeweled, almost obnoxiously flowery mask and watching Yoongi and Hoseok wince everytime they had to look at her in the sunlight.
With a sharp jump herself, Seokjin started to scale the walls, bow hefted in her arms as she aimed towards something coming dangerously close to the music records store that she liked. Luckily, it exploded from the force of her arrow, letting rose petals tumble down (from where there should have been gore and blood), before it could touch and wreck the building with its stinger, but Seokjin grimaced at its size. At almost double her height, it was terrifyingly large, and was going to cause a lot more civilian damage than they were used to, she could tell.
“Where’s Taehyung when you need her?” muttered Seokjin, looking around, casually shooting another thing in the distance, straight through the head. Usually Taehyung’s bright-orange bubble shield was able to protect innocent casualties, but without her here, she and Jimin were just going to have to be really fast.
Springing off the corner of another building, Seokjin destroyed another two with her bow, grinning a little as the white-hot pulse of energy obliterated them before their eyes. At least these weren’t intelligent insects. Those wouldn’t have split up into easily picked-off portions, so Seokjin could easily spring up and around, and stop them alone.
....nothing was fucking easy. Just as Seokjin managed to get three in a row, using just one arrow, the sky rent open once more, with the terrible cracking sound, and Seokjin stared in horror, as something that seemed almost triple the size of the other creatures drafted out of the sky.
“Mother hub!” yelled Jimin, from her side. “We gotta kill her quickly, she’s their brains--”
Jimin cut off as the large insecty things rose up into the air, forming one giant swarm of evil.
“Fuck.” Seokjin muttered. “I just. I can’t even think things without jinxing myself?”
“Well, on the brightside, if we had an explosion, we could pick them all off? Bazooka Wielding Magical Girls Save The Day?” suggested Jimin, eyes wide and amused.
“There aren’t any vowels in there or bazookas up here,” Seokjin reminded her absently, cocking her bow right towards the swarm. One, two, three shots. Great, two dead, but it wasn’t really decimating them in quite the way that could make a difference, not when they were able to dodge better now, and seemed to be rather much faster, with a purpose. “Leave the creative names to Taehyung.”
Jimin just hummed disappointedly, before she sprung off the building, running across the building tops with the speed and agility that came from years of gymnastic and fencing training, right towards the troops. Seokjin bit down her lips as she turned in the opposite direction, considerably slower. Right. Splitting up, that was good, it might mean that the swarm would divide into more manageable portions, but still.....
The problem was when they all came towards Seokjin, somehow seeing her as the superior threat. “Ah fuck.” Seokjin growled to herself, turning around and stopping her pointless fleeing, to instead try and pick off as many as she could as they got within distance of her, to shoot disgusting venom at her. She could feel her fingers trembling and her aim starting to become less precise as she just kept shooting without pause, dodging to avoid streams of rancid liquid from all ends and the blinding clouds of flower petals from her arrows, but she couldn’t stop just yet. She was acting as a perfect diversion from the rest of the city. No buildings on their way to being entirely destroyed (save the vaguely acidic, venomous rain), no people dying. It was perfect.
If it wasn’t for the small detail that she was probably going to die by giant insect unless something happened, and quickly.
Something had to be coming to save her, right? A deus ex machina or something, she just had to hold-off until then, until the rest of their girls stopped being lazy and got up into the sky, Jimin coming back with a stolen bazooka, something. Her life was pretty shitty, but it wasn’t evil.
Like someone who had a sadist kink in her favourite manhwa: cruel, but not evil.
And just as she thought this, the insects slowly started to dart away from her, clearly uninterested in her and Seokjin dodged a couple of last streams of venom, blinking mutely, as she watched the insects just fly around aimlessly, back like they had been when they’d first arrived. Dangerous, but not entirely so. And she looked towards the sky, and saw an empty space in the sky where the queen was supposed to have been, and something with opalescent beautiful wings, flapping around, high up.
Seokjin’s lips parted, in muted surprise. What? Wings? Who had wings? But she didn’t have much time to contemplate that, not yet. She raised her bow again, despite her aching, and sore fingers and started to shoot at the insects once more, blinking fiercely as they started to pop and explode, under the force of her light energy, leaving only flowers petals in their wake.
Her fingers failed her around the end, but as she flopped down on top of the roof surface, that was still scorching a little from the venom, Jimin seemed to be stabbing and taking care of the last of them, with a vicious joy, so Seokjin let herself collapse down for a few moments to breathe.
The she startled up again, panicked.
Wings. Pearly white wings, who’d killed the mother hive. With a low groan, Seokjin sprung up off the building, resolving to return and clean up the mess, as she darted towards the area where she’d seen the wings disappear to. She had no idea whether she’d be able to catch whoever it was, but Seokjin owed the mysterious rescuer a thank you, so she pushed her tired limbs across the city rooftops and walls.
And because life seemed to cutting her a small, miniscule break for having had to deal with venom (venom! That made rock simmer and char!), because Seokjin managed to catch a glimpse of pearly white as she darted around the backstreets. It was easy to jump down and drop in front of a very pretty high-school girl, who looked very startled to see Seokjin, as she tried to stuff her wings into her backpack, with difficulty.
“Uhhh...” the girl said, looking dumbstruck, and Seokjin grimaced. She didn’t look the best right now, she knew. Still, best to just go ahead with introductions.
“I’m Flower Princess, as you probably know. I just wanted to thank you very much for your help, we’d have had more problems if you hadn’t stepped in.” Seokjin said, gently, ‘What’s your name?”
The girl just stared at her dumbly, her plump lips dropping open into a stupidly stunned expression. A wing inopportunely popped out of the backpack and started to flutter rapidly, shedding feathers everywhere, which startled the girl into quickly stamping on her backpack and zipping it up with undue force. There was a rather grim expression on her face as she dusted her hands free of feathers. And okay. Seokjin already liked her a little.
She would like her more if she could get a name, though.... “You don’t have to tell me your real name. Just what your magical name is.” Seokjin prompted, leaning heavily down on her bow, to stay upright and still look cool, instead of collapsing into a pile of tired mush.
“I, uhhh, don’t have one.” The girl mumbled, looking away from Seokjin. “I just. I got the wings a couple of days ago. So like. I don’t have a name yet.” She looked up finally, to catch Seokjin’s gaze, with bright, glimmering doe eyes, “My actual name is Jeongguk though?”
Oh fuck. Seokjin was weak for shimmering, pretty eyes, on cute girls. “It’s lovely to meet you, Jeongguk.” she said, with a wide smile, tugging off her mask, to return Jeongguk’s trust in her. “I’m Seokjin.”
Jeongguk seemed a little dumbstruck as she took in Seokjin’s face. That was understandable, Seokjin was pretty hot, and it was a huge trust-fall for her to reveal her identity so easily. But, you did what you had to, to lure in cute girls with as-of-yet-unkown-magical-powers. “Yes, yes I know, I’m not who you’d expect to be Flower Princess, I know.” Seokjin said, with an amused laugh, “But I’m still pretty awesome, so.”
Jeongguk smiled back at her shyly, with her little bunny teeth peeking out between her closed lips, and fuck, that was even more cute. Seokjin just wanted to pinch her cheeks, what a cute friend. Hoseok would hate Seokjin if she didn’t introduce them.
And then it hit her. What better change to their stale dynamic as the Springtime Girls, than a new members? It would change the dynamic, make people more excited, and the youthful joy would be a pleasant presence around the team! A wonderful idea! Maybe Jeongguk could suggest less ridiculous namechanges too, if Taehyung still wanted one so badly!
Seokjin smiled and leant forward a little, licking her lips. “Say Jeongguk.” she said, gently, “As a thank you for helping out, what do you think about free tteokbokki?”
There was a soft floof from behind her, and Seokjin turned around, a little surprised, to see Jimin, swords ducked into her side sheaths, eyes sort of wide under her delicate, swirling mask. “Tteokbokki? Even now? After we just murdered a billion insects? Unnie, you’re obsessed with food.” she said, easily, coming up to Seokjin, winding her arm around Seokjin’s waist, not even seeming phazed by the mysterious spots on Seokjin’s costume, though her gaze seemed to linger on Seokjin’s loose mask.
“I was just asking Jeongguk here to join us.” Seokjin said, looping her arm around Jimin’s shoulders herself, “Jeongguk’s the one who killed the mother hive, and she’s new to this whole thing altogether? Who would we be as unnies, if we didn’t invite her in, introduce her to everybody and what the rules are, hmm?”
Jimin blinked, low and slow under her mask, clearly surprised, but Seokjin didn’t pause to let Jimin think, before carrying on. “Jeongguk-sshi, this is Sharp Mochi, one of my close associates. She’s paying for free food, you know.”
“I know you!” Jeongguk murmured, a little more excited, her face breaking out into a grin, as she slung her backpack of wing over her back. “You’re the one from Busan! The really cute one! Everybody in Busan knows you, you’re like an idol. But cooler, because you stab all the bad things instead of sing.”
Jimin was clearly still a little hesitant under Seokjin’s arms, by the tension in her biceps still, clinging tightly to Seokjin’s waist, but she preened a little, nevertheless at the praise. “What a cutie.” Jimin cooed, and carefully loosened her own mask, letting it fall free. “I’m Jimin, I’m your unnie, and I’ll take care of you. Show you all the ways, way better than Seokjin-unnie ever could. I’m way cooler, you see, so call me unnie.” She winked at Jeongguk, ignoring Seokjin’s little squawk of protest and tight squeeze around her waist.
Jeongguk's gaze darted between them, a little nervously, but when they both smiled in unison, she returned it. "Okay. It's nice to meet you, unnie. Will you really be paying for me too?"
Jimin made a sound of sheer delight from the back of her throat, softly, letting go of Seokjin to dart forward to tap Jeongguk's cheeks, gleefully. "Of course, sweetheart. I'm your unnie, it's my duty to do that, in return for everlasting minionship~" She slung her arms around Jeongguk, and grinned, sort of mischievously, at the fact that they were sort of the same height, though Jeongguk seemed to edge her out a little.
Seokjin just shook her head, low and maybe just a little amused at just how quickly Jimin could make friends. It was a good skill though, and deciding to let them get a little closer, she held out her bow firmly and shut her eyes. “Flower Princess, Revolve and Rest.” she said, peacefully, and after another stint through the healing, warming, calming light, she slowly returned to her trench coat and leather boots, left only with her archer hairclip, which she carefully tucked back into her long hair. Her legs and fingers ached, but she felt less disgusting anyway.
“Shall we?” she asked gently, before she noticed with horror, that Jimin was gleefully telling Jeongguk of the time that Seokjin had almost had a wardrobe malfunction and flashed the entire city of Seoul, and how costuming was the most important of being a superhero. Jeongguk was listening just a little bit too intently to Jimin's disturbingly detailed description of her boos, and wow. What had she been thinking? Why had she thought it was a good idea to add one more person to the coterie of magical girls who would be very interested in her embarassing and awkward moments?
“Buddha, I’m begging you.” Seokjin said, to the sky, “I killed a lot of really evil insects and returned them to the reincarnation cycle, man. You could just. Take me too. That would be cool.”
As ever, there was no response. Typical.