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Summer Escapade

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“Jiho, you alright now?” Hyojung asks as Jiho tries to lift her gaze up. She’s sitting on a chair, as the staffs are gathered in this waiting room. Binnie is taking a nap on the couch, while using YooA’s shoulder as pillow. YooA’s arm are wrapped around the younger member, ensuring Binnie’s comfort.

For an obvious question, definitely Kim Jiho is not alright at all.

Jiho lowers her head, as she sighs with tears falling down. Arin watches her in concern. Seunghee keeps her composure or things will proceed to unnecessary drama. Jiho’s tears turn to continuous stream, as Seunghee cannot hide her frown anymore.

Arin becomes more worried, as she brushes Jiho’s back repeatedly. Out of frustration, Jiho uses the back of her left hand to wipe her tears away.

“I’m fine,” Jiho reassures, “I’m fine,”

Seunghee purses her lips, Jiho-ah, you’re a human, too...

Mimi cannot contain her frustration, not because of the unfinished rehearsal, but in all honesty — it is not only Jiho who is unwell here. YooA and Binnie, too — and that is three. Three members are not in complete shape to perform.

But why they are still here? It’s because they are professionals.

“We need to get you home. Have plenty of rest,” their manager says. For some reason, Jiho cannot stop her tears from falling down. She feels she has sabotaged the performance. She blames herself for this —

Arin never leaves Jiho from the embrace, as Hyojung can only pat Jiho’s shoulder. Hyojung taps Arin’s arm to let go, as a staff helps Jiho to stand up. It has been decided that Jiho will need to rest at home, while the rest of the members will keep performing.

The girls watch Jiho away as Hyojung tries to keep a neutral face.

Hyojung turns to YooA, “Wake Binnie up,”

----

Seoul as they have arrived in the dorm already at 4 am. Silent sighs of being tired. It is the way it is.

Seunghee slumps her whole body on the bed, muffling her face against the pillows. She’s not even bothered to change her clothes, as she rolls around and faces the ceiling. She turns to her roommate, as Arin is on her pajamas already. Seunghee spots the youngest being distress, as Arin humps to her bed with a sigh.

What has happened to Jiho is normal in idol industry — but in any work. Everyone is worried about Jiho, that’s for sure. But it is something out of their control and of course, no one likes about this.

Yet for sure, Seunghee knows they are also pressed to the limit. Their group is getting old, and the radical change in idol industry is not helping either. Probably if she is in Jiho’s situation, she will still force herself to perform despite feeling ill. Too bad Jiho cannot hold it any longer.

Seunghee stares at the ceiling with half-lit eyes. It has been 8 years. 8 years, and their gap to each other is wide.

Good thing you made it there, Tae and Chim. But in my case, my team needs to struggle more...

----

2 days later...

It’s 7 am in the morning, but Seunghee is already cleaning some mess in the dorm. It has been her habit when members are asleep, so when they have woken up, everything’s neat and tidy. Meanwhile, Hyojung also has risen up early, and she’s the one preparing the breakfast.

Throughout the years, Hyojung and Seunghee are always there to look for their members, and takes responsibility in a lot of things; even major decisions.

“Seunghee,” Hyojung calls as she arrives from kitchen, “Finish that, we’ll gonna eat,”

Seunghee nods, as Hyojung returns to the kitchen. Seunghee puts down the broom, and happily goes for breakfast.

Seunghee sits beside Hyojung, as they close their eyes for thanksgiving. Right after, Seunghee pours rice to her bowl. She’s about to relay on Hyojung, but she has noticed Hyojung’s bowl has food already.

They begin eating in silence.

“I wonder,” Hyojung starts, “Probably if we have taken notice of Hyejin’s condition sooner, probably she’s still part of our team. But I’m glad she’s not stressed that much anymore,”

Seunghee swallows first, “To think of it, she’s far the longest trainee than each of us. I do wonder what happened to those years when we are not yet here in WM,”

Hyojung nods, “Mhmm. I heard she was already doing that to herself before we even...met. It’s a pity. She’s a reliable one, and takes care of you a lot,”

Seunghee emits a melancholic smile. It’s true, their former member — JinE is such a caring person, and by far, she’s still part of the reason why Seunghee wants to keep their group together. Hyojung is far by the same. They share the same love for Oh My Girl.

It’s nearing two years.

“Maybe we can visit her sometime,” Seunghee suggests, “When we are free, of course,”

They resume eating in peace. Moments later, Hyojung glances at the wall clock.

“Oh, they need to wake up,”

----

It’s their 10th and last routine for the rehearsal. There’s still a Queendom competition, a major stage in Philippine Arena, and the concert they are waiting for.

With each sways, Seunghee acts it’s already their performance. Her blows for each note, as the song stops sooner.

On the other hand, Jiho isn’t there with them — and still recovering.

Mimi sits in one corner, silent all the time. She’s not a chatty person, and the person who always talk to her is missing in action. It’s not she’s not close to other members, but talking about comfort, it’s Jiho.

Seunghee is laughing with Hyojung and Arin, with their usual drama about the maknae being ashamed of Seunghee. As Seunghee turns to other side, she sees Mimi is dazed in nowhere.

“I feel sad for it Arin,” Seunghee dramatically pouts as she exits in crab walk. Once again, Hyojung and Arin makes a good laugh on it. But in truth, Seunghee just proceeds with Mimi, sitting beside her.

“Haaaay,” Seunghee sighs, “Arin-ah is making my heart ache,” she turns to Mimi (still staring in nowhere), “Yet Jiho-ah is not like that,”

Mimi (as expected) smirks, “Jiho,”

“She’ll be back in two days,” Seunghee informs. Mimi only smiles on herself, as Seunghee snorts a bit. Out of boredom and response, Seunghee stands up again, making a scene.

“Ah!” Binnie wails, as she walks away from Seunghee, who is now playing EDM.

“Who is now going back to dorms?” YooA asks, as Seunghee turns to her.

Seunghee raises her hand, “Me,”

YooA frowns, “I thought you’ll have a vocal training today?”

Seunghee shrugs, “Nope, it’s Hyo-unnie and Yoobinie. My sched is tomorrow, remember?”

YooA nods, “Ah right I forgot,” she looks at everyone, “We’ll be in dorms now,”

Hyojung nods, “Later! Oh Shiah, prepare rice okay!”

Seunghee takes her sports bag, as she feels something that vibrates. She knows it’s her phone, so she takes it out.

A message.

From: Kim Tae
Seunghee-ah, are you free tomorrow?

Seunghee raises a brow.

----

The next day...

“Lee-sshi is sick,” Binnie informs while everyone is gathered in the kitchen. Seunghee is preparing breakfast together with Hyojung, who is struggling with noodles.

“Unnie, it’s pretty easy, look,” Seunghee is absorbed with the cooking, totally ignoring Binnie’s presence. Binnie drinks water as she joins the other members in the table.

“Why Lee-seonsaengnim is sick?” YooA asks, as Binnie shrugs.

“He looks unwell since yesterday during the sessions. He doesn’t speak much well, so I guess, it’s because of the throat,” Binnie replies.

“Why the  ramyeon is taking so long...?” Mimi speaks in low tone.

“I think they are preparing pasta,” Arin slides in.

----

“Eh? Lee-seonsaengnim is sick?” Seunghee repeats before munching down her food. They are having their breakfast.

YooA nods as Binnie only hears a sarcastic chuckle from inside.

Meanwhile, Seunghee...

I can say yes to Tae.

----

“What time do you think she’ll arrive?” Jimin asks out of boredom. He’s looking on his phone from time to time, as the guy in front of him is busy playing on his phone. The two are wearing their respective disguise, and sitting and waiting in a specific area of mall where few people are around.

“By any minute,” Taehyung has managed to answer as he looks at Jimin, “What’s important it’s certain she’ll join us,”

Jimin purses his lips while watching his friend. After for how many years, this will be the first time they will hang out with Seunghee since debut.

“I dead,” Taehyung almost cusses, acting like throwing his phone towards the floor, as Jimin only laughs as remark.

“Sir, I need to clean that part,” someone says as Jimin alerts himself to stand up.

“Oh — sorry —” Jimin recognizes the voice and the person itself. Seunghee is on the verge of laughing.

Seunghee smiles at them and waves her hand, “Annyeong,”

Taehyung — even his face is covered with mask — is for certain, beaming with happiness, “Seunghee-ah!”

Seunghee grins, “Taehyung-ah!”

Jimin becomes alarmed, “Oy, let’s now go somewhere else!” he looks at Taehyung and Seunghee respectively, “Where?”

Taehyung shrugs, “The usual,”

----

If there’s an embodiment for the word chaos — Kim Taehyung, Park Jimin and Hyun Seunghee are the ones to personify it.

And that’s because (also) karaoke exists.

Seunghee belts her high note, as Taehyung keeps dancing beside her. Meanwhile, Jimin is clapping and even laughing with their antics on his seat.

“Whoa, whoa, whoa!” Seunghee exclaims after the song, “It’s gonna be Jimin’s turn! Jimin come on, stand up for love!”

Jimin scratches his head as he receives the mic from her, “Ehem, mic, mic test,”

Seunghee stands on the side, as Taehyung begins pinpointing Jimin.

“Oh darling, naego buttagae-isseo,” Jimin starts as the two are showing signs of laughter.

Jimin continues, as Seunghee cannot hold it anymore when Jimin sways his body. Taehyung is clapping as he walks towards Seunghee for a high five.

It’s just like when they are still in high school.

----

“Seunghee-ah, my friend Jimin will attend your class, please take care of him,”

The 16-year old Seunghee nods, “Of course yes for a friend,”

Young Taehyung smiles.

----

They have been in various places this day, however, since Seunghee cannot go too far that much (because of upcoming schedules), they only roam the unseen spots in Seoul. It’s nearing 4 pm, as they decide to rest and eat in a Subway store.

“...I actually want to see Jiho,” Seunghee says in mellow tone. Taehyung and Jimin is not used when their usual-hyperactive friend is like this, but it doesn’t mean they don’t understand her.

The boys stare at her while Seunghee is mindlessly stirring the straw on her drink, as she looks outside the window.

A sigh.

“You said, she just lives here in Seoul, right?” Taehyung asks, as Seunghee merely nods, “We can go to see her if you like,”

Seunghee moves her eyes towards Taehyung, who is now in tight lip, and staring at her firmly. Jimin also stares at Seunghee in serious manner, as Seunghee smiles a bit.

“Just make sure you won’t get caught, huh?”

----

Taehyung can’t contain his awe with the sky. It’s orange, with right amount of flare grazing the wide canvas. He smiles with the scenery, as he pulls his camera and captures the view.

Jimin watches his friend, as his eyes land on Seunghee who is leading the way.

“A reminder,” Seunghee starts, “A lot of high school kids are walking in this street. Three schools around this area is certainly not a good spot for idols, haha,”

Jimin tilts his head, “But normally their class ends by 5 pm, right?”

“It’s 5:30 already, mister,”

“Oh,” Jimin simply raises his face mask, “Tae, cover your face now,”

Taehyung lifts up his face mask, as he stares down from the sky to his friends, “Daebak, the sky looks awesome,”

Jimin takes a short glance skywards. Oh, indeed.

Not a while, some high school kids are walking on the streets. From time to time, the students can’t help but stare at them. They may be suspicious about them, but then, the three just keep on going.

“We’re here, bro’s,” Seunghee says as they stop in a humble house. They are in a small alley, as Seunghee presses the doorbell.

“Red,” Taehyung mutters as he keeps watching the night sky. He raises his camera again, as the gate opens.

“Oh, unnie,” Jiho says as Seunghee smiles cheekily.

“Annyeong,” Seunghee happily greets, as Jiho frowns a bit.

“Why are you here...unnie?” Jiho chuckles, but filled with uncertainty.

Seunghee pouts a bit, “Why, you don’t like it?”

Jiho shakes her head, “Of course not!” She lately notices the guys with Seunghee, as she lowers down her voice and head. Jimin, meanwhile, pretends not to mind it, but in truthful words, he finds Jiho cute.

Jiho is bewildered, wondering who are they.

“Uhm, are we gonna stand here until evening?” Jimin slides in simply, as Jiho realizes that she’s not inviting them inside.

“Oh,” Jiho clasps her hands together, “Uh, come in...”

Seunghee then remembers something, “Err, Jiho-ah, it’s Taehyung and Jimin, by the way. I hope you don’t mind...them here,”

Jiho stares at the two. Jimin waves his hand, as Taehyung just finishes his work with camera, and smiles at her, “Hello...”

“I hope, we are not disturbing you in any forms...” Jimin says. Jiho smiles awkwardly, as she invites them inside.

Seunghee quite wants to tease Jiho much. Meanwhile, the two are behind, following timidly. They also drop their face mask, enabling themselves to breathe properly.

Jimin recognizes the backyard is a bit familiar. It reminds him of his home back in Busan. Tall walls, and grassy garden.

“Uhm, my home is not that comfy so please bear with it...” Jiho states as Taehyung grins.

“It’s not a problem,”

Jiho opens the door, as Seunghee wraps her arm around the younger one. Jiho badly wants to know how Jimin and Taehyung are with Seunghee, moreover, has came to visit. And it’s a lie if she is not surprised — even the slightest.

“Oh unnie, Hyejin-unnie is also here,” Jiho informs, as Seunghee raises her brow.

“Jinjja?”

Jiho nods, “Hm. She’s been visiting me since yesterday,”

----

“Now I know why my son likes you a lot!” Jiho’s Mom says as she hands a dish towards Taehyung. Taehyung smiles shyly as he bows.

“Not at all, Ma’am...” Taehyung states. Jiho’s Mom invites them to a dinner, which the two boys are shy a bit, but then Taehyung accepts it. For some reason, Jiho’s Mom reminds a lot from his late grandmother. Taehyung points Jimin, “That my friend is more admirable than me,”

Jimin grimaces, lowering his head. Jiho’s Mom is indeed happy to see some of her daughter’s friends coming in.

Jiho is watching them. They all surround the table, as on the other end, her Dad is analyzing the boys. Her brother being silent all of the silent, and there, her Mom doting the two too much. Meanwhile, Seunghee and Hyejin (or JinE), are talking like there is no tomorrow.

Over a good hotpot dinner.

“So you’re idols, right?” Jiho’s Dad abruptly speaks up. Jimin and Taehyung nods affirmatively, “No wonder you two are good looking. I thought one of you is courting my daughter,”

“Appa!” Jiho can’t keep it anymore. She wants to be buried alive, coz it’s embarrassing on her end.

“Ayy, Abeonim,” Seunghee meddles in, “Both of these guys are too busy to have a love life,”

“Idols are busy always, Appa,” Jiho’s brother says, “That’s why noona only comes home whether she’s sick or on leave,”

That hits home to Taehyung.

It is.

Taehyung lets it slide, but then...

Seunghee has noticed the slight change.

----

“It’s cold out here. Come inside, sunbaenim,” Jiho says. Taehyung is sitting on the edge in a balcony, while watching the night sky.

Jiho feels comfortable later on with Taehyung and Jimin’s presence. Like what Seunghee is always telling them before, they are nice and friendly. Warm to be around, which Jiho has believed to be a fraud.

But then, it’s not totally like that.

“Ah, it’s okay,” Taehyung answers, as he returns watching the stars above, “It’s not really that cold. I never thought Seoul has nice spot to watch the sky aside from Han River,”

Jiho remains standing behind, trying to peek skywards.

She never thought a global-known idol will be welcoming and kind like this. Taehyung seems a nice guy to be around, a person you can be friends of.

But since they only has met this close today, Jiho doesn’t want to bug him that much. One, he’s older, and two, he’s still a sunbaenim.

They remain on their positions, respecting each other, in silence.

----

Towards the kitchen, Jimin is washing the dishes. Jiho’s parents do not want him to do that, however, Jimin has insisted. Seunghee comes to do it instead, but then, Jimin is still the winner in the end.

Hyejin arrives in the kitchen, to get some water, but she hesitates to continue seeing Jimin doing a basic chore. It surprises her a bit, especially he’s doing a voluntary work in a stranger’s house.

Jimin glances behind, seeing Hyejin, “Annyeong,” Then he continues drying the plates.

Hyejin bows a bit, “Annyeong,”

Hyejin plans to leave, when Jimin speaks suddenly;

“How are you?”

Hyejin ponders a bit, not sure if he’s asking her, as Jimin dries his hands first before facing her.

“I hope I am not hitting a sensitive issue,” Jimin starts, “But I heard the reason why you must leave your team,”

Hyejin shrugs it off, “Not at all. I’m recovering somehow...”

Hyejin will be lying if she’s not uncomfortable. It’s a private matter, but it’s something broadcasted years ago.

“Sorry,” Jimin says, “Seunghee just talks a lot about you, that’s why...I ask,”

Hyejin nods.

Hyejin stares once again at Jimin. It’s a fact he’s a member of BTS, and a lot are screaming their name. A renowned and famous one, and many is looking up to them. But then, here is Jimin, humble and polite, trying to make a conversation with her. They have no chance to talk each other in the past, even there are instances he (and Taehyung) is visiting the waiting room back then just to greet with Seunghee.

Hyejin is aware it doesn’t mean a friend of a friend will be your friend, yet that simple question has strummed a chord on her heart – and it’s reminding her not everyone is the same, unlike what their society has taught them.

There will still be warm and kind people – towards someone they barely has knowledge about.

“Seunghee-ah,” Hyejin begins, “...She’s worried in people around her, but it’s a surprise she’s talking about me to you,”

Jimin scratches his head, feeling shy, “It’s not exactly foreign when Seunghee talks about her friends. It’s cute in a way,”

Hyejin agrees.

“I developed a bad habit back then,” Hyejin says, “I starve myself too much when I felt my image is not enough. I know it’s not me doing this, but, I figured it out idol life is not simply for me. I’ve thought, I already experienced as one, and it’s time for me to stop,”

Jimin can relate.

Hyejin continues, “But, of course there will be times that I will think...what if I continue? My friends in my former team are doing well, and I’m glad I’m genuinely happy when they’ve won their first trophy,” she sighs, “There’s a remorse you see, but, it’s time for me to take action of my decision, not living my life with a mindset of wrong choices. Though, I still love singing and music. I miss the times to record my parts again in a song, but, well no buts, haha,”

Jimin wants to ask further questions, but it will be rude to dig in deeper as Jimin emits a smile. The tone of her voice seems longing over an unfinished dream, and it may be his tone if he also has given up on his dream. There are times he wants to quit, telling himself he’s not worthy or enough as an idol, however, music has a big portion on his heart — and he doesn’t want to let go of it — yet.

“It’s not the end,” Jimin pauses, turning his gaze on the ceiling then back at her, “What if a change happened? We can share music freely as ever,”

----

“Be safe,” Jiho states as Seunghee hugs Hyejin for the last time.

“You two,” Seunghee says as she waves her hand. Jiho bows towards Taehyung and Jimin.

“Thank you for letting us eat here,” Taehyung says.

Jiho smiles.

The three has left, as Hyejin remains staring at them.

“Unnie, let’s go back,” Jiho says, as Hyejin nods.

Hyejin recalls something from awhile ago, as she smiles that somehow...she’s still remembered...

“It’s not the end, who knows, what if a change happened? We can share music as freely as ever,”

I hope... Hyejin goes inside.

----

The three are waiting in a bus stop.

“See you next time?” Jimin asks Seunghee.

Seunghee chuckles, “Yah, don’t make it sound like it will take awhile again,”

“It’s 5 years though,” Taehyung remarks, “We can’t talk to you that much in person because of camera’s around,”

Seunghee looks down, “Well, sorry for that,”

Jimin chuckles, “But it’s quite funny how much we try a lot of methods because of it, haha,”

A bus arrives. Seunghee stands up.

“See you next time,”

----

Two months before the hangout...

“We won’t be able to see each other for a month bro,” Jimin states while scrolling to his phone. He sneaks inside Taehyung’s room, and as usual, the bonding of idiotic 95 liners like Namjoon usually refers to.

“And by the thought of it I’m gonna miss you already,” Taehyung jokes, while he is busy with his console. They manage to talk even they are not facing each other.

“I thought you are sick of my face,” Jimin smirks as he continues scrolling.

Taehyung bites his lower lip — on the verge of losing, “Why though?”

“7 years and counting,” Jimin answers, “And I realized something,”

Jimin lays on his back, as Taehyung is resolved on playing.

Jimin continues, “I’m turning 25 this year. And you know we missed a lot of things as teenagers,”

“Oh come on you have 9 girlfriends before we reached debut,” Taehyung’s fingers are moving faster, determined to win, “We finished high school like any normal kids. Ah crap, I dead,” Taehyung drops his phone.

“I’d like to go on a field trip,” Jimin blurts out.

Taehyung stares at him with a look of disbelief, “We have been in overseas dude. Not only once, twice — many times,”

“Certainly,” Jimin breathes in, “But how about our best friend?”

Taehyung raises a brow, hitting realization, “Yeah,”

“Ever since we debuted, we are not able to hang out with her. She helped me a lot during those days of uncertainty,” Jimin smiles at the thought, “I haven’t done anything to thank her enough,”

“Me too,” Taehyung seconds, “Seunghee-ah is such a nice person,”

Silence has accompanied them, as Jimin suddenly lays his arm on Taehyung’s lap.

“Say,” Jimin pauses a bit, “Let’s go somewhere,”

“I thought you’ll have a flight in Paris?” says Taehyung. Jimin huffs a bit.

“I can still plan,”

Taehyung shrugs, “As long as it won’t conflict to our individual schedules,”

“Don’t make it sound it’s for work,” Jimin smacks his face with pillow.

Taehyung also pulls a pillow and blocks Jimin’s, “It’s true though. They’ll be having a comeback anytime soon,”

Jimin struggles to fight against Taehyung, “I know. She told me,”

“She also told me that. I’m the first to know it,” Taehyung counters.

Jimin smirks, “Are you sure about that?”

Taehyung has swung his arms and has managed to hit his face.

Jimin yells, “Yaaaah!”

----

Days later...

Taehyung is sitting with his legs crossed on his bed. His back is slouched down, taking this affair to look at the photos. He laughs at some pictures, reminiscing their good times days ago. He feels like yesterday, and even smelling the scent of autumn breeze during their high school days. Then, he looks at one particular picture for long, as he smiles again. It was him, with Seunghee on the middle, as Jimin on the other side. The background is not fancy, and it’s taken on the backyard of Jiho’s house.

But it’s not bad. The mood is all that matters.

Taehyung stretches out to his drawer, grabbing a marker pen. He returns to his position, as he uncaps the marker with his teeth.

Taehyung writes something under the picture;

The Best Summer Escapade

Truly, it’s uneventful, but one meaningful adventure.