Chapter 1: Chapter 1
Jinsoul pushed through the crowd, long blonde hair dyed different colours by the flashing lights overhead. The music pumping through the room from the leather-jacketed young men on stage was so not her style, but she wasn't here for the concert.
She pushed past a fan waving a sign that read rip Hojoon. A bit of a morbid thing to bring to a performance, Jinsoul thought, needlessly reminding the group members of their loss. This was their comeback tour after the untimely death of their lead singer.
Jinsoul didn’t have much time. The next song on the set was well known as Hojoon's favourite. Her phone vibrated in her hand, so she pressed it to her ear as she walked.
"We've got eyes on the concert," Kim Lip said, her voice muffled. She was clearly eating ramen as she worked. "He's at the side of the stage. Right side."
It didn't take long for Jinsoul to find him. The young man was standing eerily still among the fans, still wearing the blood-stained leather jacket he'd died in. Jinsoul touched his arm. He wasn't breathing.
Hojoon looked at her with the empty eyes of a dead man. "Excuse me. I need to get on the stage." His voice was wispy, as if it might fade entirely at any minute.
"You've already been on the stage, remember? Last night. You scared all your band members."
Hojoon shook his head. It went slightly further around then a human head should have been able to. "I need to perform this song. They'll never do it without me."
Jinsoul braced herself, letting one hand drift near her bulging pocket. "They will, Hojoon. They have to. You're dead now, remember? You have to move on."
"No! Not without me! They can't be without me!" The idol singer's mouth fell open, jaw reaching his chest. Jinsoul cringed.
"I'm sorry." She reached into her pocket and found the equipment she'd brought. It was a simple taser, which she jabbed into his side. She held him up when he collapsed into her arms.
She forced him to look at the stage. "Look at them. They're performing just fine. They're moving on. Can you do the same, Hojoon? You just have to accept that you are dead. Just say the words for me, Hojoon. For them."
Hojoon was starting to fall apart. Jinsoul looked around nervously but everyone's eyes were trained to the stage.
"I want to listen to the song," Hojoon whispered and Jinsoul knew she had won.
Ghosts remain on this world for a very specific purpose. Usually it's to do something that they feel they haven't achieved in life or to continue For Hojoon, he wanted to continue to perform his favourite song with his beloved group. Jinsoul had been born with the ability to see these spirits, who were normally only visible to people they wanted to see them. Her job was to convince them to accept the fact that they no longer could fulfil their purpose.
Many people thought working with ghosts would be scary. Jinsoul just found it sad.
After Hojoon had left, just fading away the way ghosts did, Jinsoul found Choerry waiting outside.
"Didn't see you helping out," she huffed, wrapping her thin jacket around herself to stave off the cold night air.
"Oh, I'm sorry unnie!" Choerry was wearing black skinny jeans and the band's official t-shirt. She showed no sign of being cold. "I just really like this group."
"I'm aware. You've been talking about this job for weeks." Jinsoul rolled her eyes.
One of the band members found them after the show, jumping out of his car to meet them in an alleyway next to the stage.
"Hey, thanks so much," he said. "The others thought I was being a bit ridiculous, but I'm sure I saw him on stage at our last couple of shows. It'll help me rest easier knowing he's gone."
Next to Jinsoul, Choerry was openly trying not to lose her mind. "No problem at all!" she squeaked. "Anything for you! Happy to help! Will you sign my photocard?"
"You didn't even do anything," Jinsoul hissed.
A bit bemused, the idol signed it and paid Jinsoul before racing back to the van before any fans spotted him. Choerry clutched her photocard to her chest happily.
"Are you proud of yourself?" Jinsoul asked as they walked back to the van.
"Yep!" Choerry chirped. "It was so cool to actually meet him. Even though I'm sorry Hojoon is dead obviously."
Jinsoul sighed as she watched her friend spinning around with her album, her breath misting out in a cloud of white.
Putting death as an afterthought wasn't uncommon for Choerry. Jinsoul's young charge was just sixteen, but she already had a mysterious past. Jinsoul and Kim Lip had met her online when she responded to their job advertisement, a skinny thing with an uncanny ability for spotting ghosts that they couldn't bear to turn away. She never spoke about her family and Jinsoul suspected she had been kicked out at some point, possibly because of her abilities. It wasn't an uncommon tale for people like them.
Even more then Jinsoul and Kim Lip, Choerry had an indifferent attitude towards death. She was relentlessly positive, to the point where negative realities of life seemed to just bounce off her. She didn’t find working with ghosts sad. She just thought it was normal.
The van the trio lived in was an old minivan currently parked on a street corner. It had the words Odd Eye Circle spray-painted on the side. To anyone passing by, it would have looked like it belonged to some hippies or a band. The Odd Eye Circle passed themselves off as a band quite a lot, but they definitely weren't that.
Kim Lip opened the door when Jinsoul knocked, the van briefly emitting a burst of warm air and ramen smell.
"Come in quickly. You're letting the cold in."
Jinsoul slipped her coat off as she entered. Kim Lip was the only one among them who could not see ghosts, so she used electronics to help the team. Her empty chair sat in front of a wall of screens, sensors and other ghost-detecting equipment. Hacked security camera footage from the concert showing cleaners lazily chatting after the fans had left.
Other then Lip's man-cave the van was crowded with food, bedding, beanbags and the bright hippie rugs Jinsoul couldn't resist buying. Choerry placed her album carefully on the edge a shelf, where it would inevitably fall off as soon as they started driving, and slumped into a beanbag.
"How did the job go?" Kim Lip asked.
"It was fine," Jinsoul answered. "I felt bad about it. Do we have any new jobs lined up?"
"Let me check."
While Lip got their website up on one of the screens Jinsoul stuffed the cash the group had given them into a jar on Lip's desk. They got paid in cash quite a lot. People generally didn't want to have to explain to anyone why they had hired exorcists.
Their website had a spinning Odd Eye Circle logo in the background and played the ghostbusters theme when opened, a little touch added by Lip that Jinsoul thought was in bad taste. They had a new message, which Lip opened.
My name is Jo Haseul and I need your help. I work at a school which I believe is haunted. Last year a student who saw the ghost passed away and I need your help to ensure it doesn't happen again. My little sister attends the school and I am so scared for her. Please contact me asap if you are willing to take my case.'
Choerry had sat up and was reading the post with interest. "The ghost killed someone?"
"No, she must be wrong," Jinsoul frowned. "Ghosts can't do that."
"Still, do you want to check it out?" Lip's fingers hovered over the reply button.
"Sure, why not? Let's at least talk to her. It's not like we've got other cases."
After a bit of back-and-forth with Haseul it was arranged that they would meet her tomorrow at a remote town about three hours away. She said that the school was old but had been re-opened by a young principal five years ago. Since then the students had been talking about ghost sightings, so she thought that the ghost might be from the last time the school was open in the 50s.
That would make the ghost very old, since most ghosts realised that they couldn't fulfil their purpose much earlier then that. It would have to be the oldest ghost Jinsoul had ever seen. As ghosts grew older they generally got harder to see but more powerful in their effects, so the idea that this ghost had killed someone was in the realm of possibility. Jinsoul was eager to get started.
They met Haseul in a cheap diner around five, after school had finished. She was a petite woman with pretty, red-ish hair. She also wasn't alone.
"Hi, I'm Vivi," the other woman said with a light accent, holding out her hand.
"Kim Lip." As the leader, Lip took responsibility for introducing them to clients. "We're the Odd Eye Circle. Do you want to talk about your ghost problem?"
Haseul said that their explanation was going to take a while, so they ordered food since nobody except Choerry had eaten lunch. Choerry still ordered a massive stack of pancakes, which looked too good for Jinsoul not to order them as well. The other three ate more rationally.
"Here's the deal," Haseul said, side-eyeing Jinsoul's pancakes. "The school, Loona Academy, is an all-girls boarding school about an hour away from here and from any other type of civilisation. My sister and I came here last year, me as a teacher and her as a student. Vivi's been teaching since it re-opened five years ago."
Vivi nodded. "The ghost's been around since then. From my first year here the kids were saying they saw it."
"Have you yourself ever seen it? There's a long tradition of making up scary stories at boarding school," Jinsoul pointed out.
"No, not me personally," Vivi said. "But I noticed something strange. The students that claimed to have seen a ghost often get sick soon afterwards. They could be talkative before but after the sighting they'll grow silent and constantly tired. Many don't come back to school the next year. We believe that this is the curse of the ghost."
Haseul continued the story. "We ignored it until last year. That's when one of the girls who said they had seen the ghost got very sick. She was taken to the infirmary for a few weeks before she was rushed to hospital, where she tragically died."
"You blame the ghost," Kim Lip clarified.
"Yes. Her parents are sad, obviously, but there's a history of heart conditions in Yujin's family and they think it was that. But here's the thing," Haseul sat forwards conspiratorially, "the conditions of her death don't match how she supposedly died at all. Here, look at these."
She produced a number of polaroids, which she flung on the table. "They wouldn't let anyone into quarantine so I had to sneak in at night."
The Odd Eye Circle studied the images. They showed a young, once pretty girl lying in a bed. She was awake, or at least her eyes were open, but she stared at the camera with the unblinking, empty gaze of someone nearly dead. Her face was blanched paper-white, hollow cheeks sinking into her flesh.
"Did she talk?" Choerry asked.
"Not when I saw her." Haseul replied, looking a little sick.
"This is horrible," Kim Lip said. She glanced at Jinsoul. "Why would a ghost kill someone?"
Jinsoul shrugged. "Possibly company? Maybe her goal is to have a friend or something. She must have been lonely, especially if the school was abandoned."
It wasn't necessarily true that a ghost was tied to a place. For Hojoon, for instance, he had been tied to his group and had been capable of following them around. But it was most common and it was a safe bet that this ghost was tied to the school.
"What you really should be asking," she continued, "is how a ghost killed someone. I've never heard of that happening."
"I'm the ghost researcher, so I'll look into it," Lip promised.
"Right, Choerry and I will go to the school and try to find her."
Haseul twisted her hands together on the tabletop. "The thing is, our school principal doesn't believe in ghosts. When Vivi suggested hiring an exorcist she said we'd both be fired if we tried. We can get you in as students, but you'll have to operate under the radar."
"As students?" Choerry looked like she was ready to throw hands. "Are you serious?"
"We'll pay double your usual rates," Vivi said quickly.
"Done!" Kim Lip said quickly, hushing Choerry's protests. Jinsoul couldn't help but laugh.
"Do you have any requests or things you need to do it?" Haseul asked.
"Well, I won't go obviously, so I'll need a place to stay. We aren't paying the school fees and we also won't have them subtracted from our wages. If at any time we think Jinsoul or Choerry are in danger we're pulling out. We expect half up front, but we'll return it if we fail to exorcise the ghost as long as it takes less then two weeks. We must be easily able to enrol in and get out of the school. Do you agree?"
Haseul swallowed. "Yes."
As always, Jinsoul was impressed at all the things Lip remembered to include in her contracts. She produced a written one from her bag. "Sign here, please."
After the five girls had all added their signature to the document it was squirrelled away back into Lip's bag. She stood up. "Let's go, then."
Their base of operations would be in Vivi's apartment, a small thing she went to on weekends and during the holidays. Kim Lip was going to stay there and do research. Their applications had already been approved, so after a night on Vivi's couch they started the next day.
Vivi gave them school uniforms the next morning. Jinsoul looked at herself in the mirror doubtfully.
"I look like an arse. I'm nearly twenty-one, this is ridiculous."
"You'd never know," Lip said from the couch, where she was eating food and trying not to laugh.
"Seriously, you look fine," Vivi said. "You'll only have to do this for as long as you want, anyway."
Choerry walked in with a sour look on her face. She had put her hair in pigtails. Lip instantly tackled her in a bear hug.
"My little Choerry! You look just adorable."
"Shut up," Choerry whined, pushing the older girl off her.
Jinsoul grabbed the bags they'd packed, filled with more copies of this horrible uniform and other things they'd need for their time away. Kim Lip pretended to be a mother seeing her kids off for school as they left, fake-crying into a handkerchief.
It took an hour to get to the school from the apartment. Choerry spent the time peering through the window of Vivi's green hatchback for ghosts. In the front, Jinsoul slumped in her seat. She felt like the sulky teenager she had been again.
The school looked modern, to Jinsoul's surprise. She trailed behind the others as they walked in.
"Vivi, there you are," a tall, strict-looking woman said. "Thank you for bringing our new students. I'm Principal Yves. Vivi will be giving you the tour."
Jinsoul and Choerry bowed dutifully to her.
"Do you sense anything?" Vivi asked anxiously as when Yves had left.
"That's not really how it works," Jinsoul had to tell her. "I'll let you know when we get any sightings."
"Alright. Do you actually want the tour? You're supposed to start after lunch."
"No, I think we'll figure it out."
Vivi left Jinsoul and Choerry at their shared room. The room was sparse- two beds, two wardrobes, two large desks and a ludicrous poster stuck on the wall saying welcome to Loona Academy! The picture was of the school with a gigantic moon, the school's logo, in the background.
Jinsoul sat down on one of the beds, crinkling the immaculate sheet. Choerry had yanked her hair out of the pigtails and was re-doing them in the bathroom. When she came out, she picked up the timetable from her desk, glancing over it idly.
"I'm in the same class as Haseul's sister," she said, fingers trailing down her class list.
Jinsoul had flopped back on her bed. "Did Haseul say she'd seen the ghost?"
"No, she was worried that she might." Choerry gave the room a dismissive scan. "Jesus, I hate high school. We'd better finish this soon."
"Shouldn't you be in high school in real life?"
"There's a reason why I'm not," Choerry pointed out. "It's a soul-sucking institution."
Jinsoul stifled a giggle at her sullen words. Rolling over, she dug out the burner phone she'd secured in her suitcase before they left. Lip's number was the only one on it.
"Why are you calling me already? Do you miss me that much?" Lip's voice filtered down the line, comfortably familiar.
"Why would I miss you? We're nothing more then work colleagues. I just want to know whether you've managed to hack the cameras at this school."
"There's not much to hack. Whoever runs this place, they're light on security. I've got access to a couple outside and one in the hall, but that's it. I don't think I'm very likely to see the ghost."
"Great!" Jinsoul exclaimed. "You can come here and join us then!"
Lip laughed. "Not in a million years. Anyway, you have to go. Your timetable says class starts in five minutes."
She hung up without saying goodbye. Jinsoul was left staring at the phone. "How did she know what my timetable is?" she muttered.
Choerry shrugged. "Don't underestimate Lip's powers. I swear she knows everything."
Vivi knocked on the door to take them to class a second later. Choerry was deposited in year 10 while Jinsoul went all the way up to year 12. The class was small, full of neat girls sitting in tidy rows talking among themselves. A hush slowly spread across the room when Jinsoul walked in.
Jinsoul was the only person in the room with blonde hair. She tucked a strand of it behind her ear, suddenly self-conscious.
"Girls!" Vivi clapped her hands together even though all the attention was already on her. "This is our new student, Jun Jinsoul. Please make her feel welcome."
The students just stared at her. Jinsoul make a beeline for the chair that Vivi gestured at, right in front of two girls who started whispering to each other the moment she sat down.
When the lesson started, one of them leaned towards her. "Hey, Jun Jinsoul."
Jinsoul had been bullied for all of high school, so she was automatically on guard. "What's up?" she asked.
The girl tugged at a strand of her own hair, black spilling over her fingers. "I like your hair. Wish mine was like that."
"Your hair is pretty," Jinsoul said. The girl blushed and sat back down, leaning into her friend.
At the end of class Jinsoul looked hopelessly at her timetable. She wanted to ask Vivi for help, but the pink-haired woman had already disappeared.
"Do you need help?" The girl sitting behind her asked.
"Yeah, where's my next class?" She offered the timetable for them to see.
The girl's friend looked over it. "Hey, we're taking modern history too! Come with us."
Jinsoul hadn't known she was taking modern history. "Alright."
"I'm Heejin, by the way," the first girl said.
"And I'm Hyunjin," Hyunjin casually looped her arm through Heejin's. "Welcome to Loona Academy. Where are you sleeping?"
"Room 203," Jinsoul told them as they set off down the corridors.
"Huh? That's where year 10s sleep!" Hyunjin exclaimed.
"Oh, I'm rooming with a year 10. They couldn't find another place for me."
Heejin shrugged. "That sucks. You'll have to come up to our floor sometimes."
"Do you guys room together?"
"Not officially, but our roommates share sometimes so that we can. Rose and Lisa. You'll meet them later, probably."
"Hey, I heard rumours about this school before I came here. Have you guys ever seen a ghost or anything like that?" She could have been more subtle, but Jinsoul was all about efficiency.
The two youngers girls glanced at each other. "Yeah, we saw her," Heejin said. She sounded conspiratorial but excited, like this was a secret she wanted to tell. "She was in the old music room."
"We can take you there after school if you want," Hyunjin said. Heejin shot her an alarmed look but didn't disagree.
Jinsoul smiled. "That would be perfect. Thanks, guys."
"Think nothing of it," Heejin said as she opened the door to their modern history classroom.
After school they had mandatory homework time in the hall. Jinsoul sat at one of the long tables that had been set up. The room was silent except for the scratching of pens and pencils. Computers were allowed, but there was no internet connection so many didn't bother bringing them.
Jinsoul glanced up from the maths homework she was bored enough to do to see Principle Yves enter the hall. She surveyed the students with an astute gaze, an almost possessive glint in her eyes.
Jinsoul shook her head, trying to get rid of the creepy feeling she got around Yves. There was definitely something off about that woman.
Choerry had skipped homework, which had gotten her a detention she didn't plan to be around for, and was back in the room when Jinsoul got there, lying on her bed fresh from the shower. She had stuck a boy group poster right over the one of Loona Academy.
Jinsoul stared at it. "Was that really necessary?"
"It looks better!" Choerry popped out one of her earbuds to answer.
"Fine," Jinsoul sighed, sitting down on the bed and tiredly pulling her shoes off. "How was your first day of school?"
"It was fine, I guess. Yeojin is nice, probably the nicest person in my class. We got on well."
"How nice. Any sign of the ghost?"
"Not yet. Why are you getting dressed?"
Jinsoul pulled a tattered movie t-shirt from her bag, one of Lip's. "I'm going out tonight. I think I have a lead on the ghost."
Choerry sat up. "Already? No way! Can I come too?"
"No. I've just made these friends and I don't want you to make me lose them."
Choerry chucked a towel at her. "You're the worst."
Jinsoul caught it, grinning. "I'm your legal guardian, so you can't do anything."
She and Lip often used this line on Choerry. They weren't really her guardians in any legal sense, since they'd never even filed any paperwork. Jinsoul didn't even know Choerry's real name, let alone who her real legal guardians were.
They played multiplayer tetris, the only game on their phones, until Heejin and Hyunjin arrived. The two girls were dressed simply in jeans and t-shirts. Heejin's shirt was bright pink, Hyunjin's orange. Heejin popped her head into the room, waving at Choerry.
"Are you ready to go?" she asked Jinsoul.
"Why can't I come?" Choerry whined.
"You just can't, so don’t ask again," Jinsoul responded.
Hyunjin smiled back at the door as they left. "She's kinda cute. I like the pigtails."
"Yeah, she's alright."
Hyunjin was wearing a scarf, which she pulled tight around her as they walked. "We have to keep quiet. We're not supposed to be out after dark."
The trio were silent until they reached a narrow spiral staircase. Heejin slipped her hand into Hyunjin's. "The music room is right up there."
Jinsoul trailed after them as they climbed the staircase. It looked visibly older then the rest of the school, with crumbling brick walls. Heejin glanced back at her.
"This is the old part of the school," she explained. "Nobody uses it anymore, so Yves didn't bother to get it renovated."
"Maybe she's scared of the ghost," Jinsoul suggested.
Hyunjin leaned into Heejin, laughing. "I don't think so. She's have to believe in it to be scared of it."
Jinsoul knew better then that. Those who so vehemently claimed to not believe it something were often the ones who were really the most scared of it.
The music room was hidden behind a half-rotted door that Hyunjin gingerly pushed open. It was abandoned, musically instruments littering the floor coated in dust. Jinsoul scuffed her shoe against the floor, kicking up a cloud that made Heejin cough.
"Don't do that," she spluttered.
Hyunjin swept her hand over the grand piano, ridding it of a thick blanket that had been tossed casually over it. Underneath it was still clean. Hyunjin sat at the stool and began playing, slightly disjointed notes floating through the air.
"It's a bit out of tune," she called.
"Still sounds good," Heejin replied, sitting down on a relatively clean love seat shoved in the corner. Jinsoul joined her.
"We saw the ghost when we were up here a few weeks ago. We come here sometimes to… uh…" she glanced nervously at Hyunjin.
"Make out," Hyunjin said.
Heejin turned a deep red colour. "Yeah. We can make more sound up here then in our room."
Jinsoul couldn't help but giggle a bit. That explained the couple's closeness, anyway.
Heejin coughed awkwardly. "Anyway, we were here and, after we'd finished, Hyunjin played this song on the piano. When she'd finished, the ghost was there!"
She dramatically pointed just as Hyunjin finished her piece. The spot she pointed at was right in the beam of moonlight sliding in through the small, high window. Even though there was nobody there, Jinsoul gasped.
Heejin stared in disappointment. "I guess she's not here today."
"That's alright. What did she look like?"
"She was wearing a white dress and had long black hair that went over her face like this," Heejin rearranged her hair so it covered her face. "She pointed right at Hyujin then disappeared. It was really freaky."
Jinsoul walked over to where the moonlight puddled on the floor. "Here?"
Her new friends nodded. Jisnoul pulled out the small device Lip had given her before they'd left and starting scanning the area. The screen on the thing lit up with signals. Jinsoul couldn't understand them, but she would send them to Lip later.
"What are you doing?" Hyunjin asked.
Jinsoul shot her a fake smile. "Oh, nothing. This is something a friend gave me when she told me Loona academy was haunted. She said it can pick up ghost signals. Whatever that means."
While she was scanning, Jinsoul glanced around the music room. If the ghost was here she'd be able to see it, since ghosts couldn't hide themselves from her. But there was nothing. She wondered what the spectre was tied to and why. Clearly not just this room, but she didn't think it would be the whole academy either. If she could go anywhere surely more people would have seen her.
She wouldn't know until she actually saw her, so Jinsoul put the machine away and turned around. "We'd better go before they notice we're gone."
"Our roommates will cover for us," Hyunjin said. "But ok."
"Hey," Jinsoul said as they walked back to the dorms, "do you know why this school was closed all those years ago?"
"Yeah. Rumour is someone committed suicide here," Heejin said.
Jinsoul paused, struck by the idea. If someone had died here at that time, it might be reasonable to think that they were still around. She shivered involuntarily, thinking of the age of the ghost, and of Yujin's withered, dead face.
Chuu stared nervously at the imposing entrance to Loona Academy. She clutched her suitcase in a white-knuckled grip. Her parents stood behind her, one of her dad's hands on her shoulder while the other held today's newspaper. 7 July, 1958. Mark that as the day Chuu's life turned to shit.
"Are you ready to go, Jiwoo?" Her mum asked.
Only Chuu's parents called her Jiwoo. Her bright and bubbly personality had earned her the name Chuu from about the age of five. Chuu didn't see it as a problem, but her parents thought that as a teenager she needed to be more mature. Boarding school was their answer. It certainly wasn't Chuu's.
She picked at the hem of her uncomfortable yellow skirt, part of the school uniform. "Yeah, I guess."
"Don't be so down about this," her dad said kindly. "You'll have a better time then you think."
"Thanks Dad." Chuu said in a monotone.
The entrance hall was grand, to put it mildly. Chuu gawked at the chandelier overlooking the grand marble staircase. They were greeted by a older woman wearing a pinstriped suit who bowed politely to Chuu's parents.
"Hello. I am Mrs Kim, I'm the principal here. Unfortunately Jiwoo's missed the orientation, but I'm sure she'll get up to speed in no time."
"Thank you. I'm sure you'll take good care of her."
"Don't worry about a thing. She'll be the perfect young lady in no time." Mrs Kim flashed Chuu a smile that said she knew exactly how much bullshit she was talking. Chuu liked her immediately.
After receiving cloying hugs from her parents, Chuu was left alone in the hall.
"Well, follow me," Mrs Kim said. "I'll show you to your room. I'm sure you'll like it here."
Chuu trailed behind her. The rest of the school was less impressive then the entrance hall, so Chuu supposed that was put there to impress parents. The other students travelled in little clumps, groups of girls with ribbons trailing behind them and perfect, polished smiles. Still, many of them smiled at Chuu as she passed, so she began warming up to the place.
Mrs Kim eventually got to the dorms and left Chuu in front of a wooden door with a rusted plaque reading room 203. She said that it was better if Chuu met her roommate on her own. Chuu took a deep breath, put on the biggest smile she could muster, and knocked.
The door was opened by a thin girl with blonde hair. The girl smiled quietly, putting out her hand. "Hello. I'm Go Won. It's very pleasant to meet you."
"Likewise," Chuu assured her. "My name's Jiwoo, but everyone calls me Chuu."
"Chuu? Like… kisses?"
Chuu nodded and blew Go Won a kiss. "Chu!"
The other girl turned red and giggled. Chuu decided that she was cute, and obviously they would be friends.
The room was small but functional, with two beds, two dressers and a wooden cross hanging on the wall. Chuu plopped her suitcase on the free bed. "Have you unpacked already?"
"Uh, no. I should have, I know."
"No, I'm glad you haven't! I'll help you! I love getting to know people and this seems like the perfect way!"
By the end of the day Chuu was feeling a lot better about Loona Academy. Go Won was quiet but was super cute and weird when she warmed up to you, which didn't take long. Chuu was sure they'd be best friends. The other girls were mostly really nice. Their main teacher, Lee Jieun, was ridiculously pretty and Chuu liked her a lot. Even the food was super good! Chuu had a positive nature, so she was certain things were going to be great here.
That was until after dinner. Chuu stared at Go Won in shock. "What do you mean, we have a night class?"
Go Won laughed maliciously at her pain. "I don't, it's just you. Look at your timetable properly, dummy. See? You have night classes in music."
Chuu groaned dramatically, leaning back in her seat. "Kill me now! What monster came up with that?"
"Didn't Jieun write the timetables?"
"All is forgiven, then! She's too pretty to be mad at."
Go Won laughed again. "You are incredibly fast to like someone," she said wonderingly. "You must have no boundaries at all."
"I try not to! I'll see you after class."
Chuu's music classroom was at the top of one of the towers. It was small and warm, with a magnificent view of the forest outside. Seats with desks attached were scattered around the classroom in between polished instruments, including an imposing grand piano. Chuu itched to get her fingers on the guitar she spotted in the corner. Sadly, her timetable said today would be theory.
Chuu found a seat as close to the window as she could get and settled there, preparing to try and not fall asleep. The class was taken by a tall woman who told them to call her Sunmi and with a deep voice that only made Chuu more tired.
Halfway through the class, Chuu felt something tap her shoulder. She turned around. The girl behind her was casually resting her head on one hand, long black hair flowing over her shoulders. She smirked at Chuu, an arrogant slant to her lips, and Chuu's heart missed a beat. She was the prettiest girl she had ever seen.
"Sorry. You looked like you were about to go to sleep." Even her voice was amazing, deep and sultry. Chuu also noticed that she had buck teeth, a strange contrast to her overall vibe.
"Uh, thank you!" She squeaked. Turning back around, she somehow managed to knock her pencils off the desk, spilling them across the floor. She hastily gathered them up and sat back, face burning. Could she be any more awkward?
At the end of class Chuu was wide awake, but she didn’t think she'd heard a thing Sunmi had said. The girl approached her before she could leave.
"Hi, I'm Yves. You're so cute, I wish we were roommates."
Chuu stood up politely, but that put Yves about an inch away from her. Yves didn't move, only smirking at her with that irritatingly amazing smile, so Chuu sat down. She was blushing again.
"Hi! I'm Chuu, it's so good to meet you! I hope we can be friends!"
"Chuu? It suits you. I'd like to be friends too."
"Oh, that's great!" Chuu racked her mind for a way to keep the conversation going.
"We'd better go if we want to get back before lights out. I'll walk you back?" Yves offered.
"Oh no! That's not necessary. I'm sure I won't get lost or anything." Chuu actually wasn't entirely confident about that with the way her head was spinning.
"That's not really why I wanted to, but alright. I'll see you on Thursday then. Or maybe- hopefully- before then."
Thursday? Oh, right, their next lesson. "That would be wonderful!" Chuu managed to say before she had to flee from the room.
Chuu went immediately back to her dorm, somehow not getting lost, buried her face in her pillow, and screamed.
"What’s up?" Go Won asked from her bed.
"God, don't ask. I met a girl."
"Sounds fun," Go Won rolled back over.
Chuu cringed into the pillow, replaying her conversation with Yves over and over. She'd made such a fool out of herself, she was sure. She didn't know why Yves's opinion mattered to her so much. She'd spoken to the girl for about a second! But there was just something about her that captivated Chuu.
Over the next month Chuu felt like she spent just as much time in music talking to Yves as she did learning. Yves could be kind of mean to other girls, but she was nothing but nice to Chuu and it made her feel special. To Chuu Yves was the most amazing girl in the world, and she lapped up every bit of attention paid to her. Next to Go Won, Yves was her closest friend. She saw Yves a bit outside of music too but she was pretty reclusive. Chuu tried to invite her to eat lunch with her a few times, but whenever Yves did join her she never ate more then a few bites. And although Chuu liked her lazer-focused attention when it was just the two of them, it was awkward in front of Go Won
One weekend Yves invited her over to her dorm during a break between enforced study times. Weekends at Loona Academy were spent studying with occasional breaks. Chuu still liked them more then weekdays because they didn't have to wear the school uniform. Yves had the best fashion sense and Chuu was forever borrowing her clothes.
Although they had been friends for a while, Yves's privacy meant that Chuu had never seen her room. It was exactly the same as Chuu's, but more clearly divided and much less messy. The cross had been removed from the wall and was propped up on one side, joined by a bunch of crucifixes and a small statue of Mary. Yves's roommate lounged on the bed on that side, wearing a black dress and a cross necklace. She was thumbing through a well-read novel.
"Hi, Olivia," Yves said bitterly.
The girl looked up. "Hello, Yves. Who's your friend?"
"This is Chuu."
Olivia got up and grasped Chuu's hand earnestly. "It's amazing to meet you, Chuu. You have such a pretty name!"
"You too. It's English, right?"
"Yes. My parents thought it would be different."
Yves rolled her eyes. "Don't you have some kind of stuck-up prick meeting to get to?"
Olivia glared at her. "It's a Bible study meeting, actually. And yes. Don't get too influenced by her, ok, Chuu?"
Olivia grabbed a Bible from a stack of books beside her bed and headed out. Yves closed the door behind her and the two friends sat on the bed on Yves's side. It contrasted greatly with Olivia's, being much plainer. Yves barely seemed to have anything other then clothes and a mass of tattered paperbacks.
"She seems nice," Chuu said.
"She won't be if she finds out you don't attend church every Sunday like a good little sheep. I don't really like her."
"You don't go to church?" Chuu asked, surprised.
Yves sat cross-legged on her bed. "No. No offence, but I really can't stand all this stuff," she gestured broadly to the crosses that Olivia had. "And she's obsessed with it."
"Don’t your parents go?"
Yves shifted uncomfortably. "My parents? I suppose they must, but I don't go with them. Anyway, I don't like talking about them."
Chuu smiled. "Wow, you're lucky. My parents would kill me if I ever said I didn't want to go to church."
Sure enough, next Sunday Chuu looked for Yves in the school's chapel and didn't see her. However, they did bump into Olivia after the service.
"Chuu! Go Won!" she shouted.
"You two know each other?" Chuu asked.
"We're in the same science class," Olivia explained.
"Yeah! Olivia's amazing at it! I don't get anything," Go Won moaned.
Olivia smiled happily. "Thank you. But I just wanted to apologise for how soon I had to rush off after we met before," she said to Chuu.
"It's no worries. You and Yves really don't like each other, huh?"
"It's a bit unfortunate." Olivia's fingers played absently with the cross hanging around her neck. "She's a strange girl. She feels… off, somehow. Be careful around her, ok?"
"Is it just the church thing?"
"No. She just has some unusual tendencies. I mean, she's your friend, so I don't want to say anything bad. But be careful."
She looked so serious that Chuu actually felt a bit scared. "Alright. I will be."
A few nights later, Chuu was finishing homework in their room when Go Won walked in. She collapsed on her bed.
"Ugh, I'm exhausted. I have been all day. I can't understand why, I got plenty of sleep last night. Don't you hate it when that happens?"
Chuu glanced over at her. "Were you busy?"
"Not really. I had lunch with Olivia. We've gotten closer." Go Won moved her head slightly, blonde hair falling to one side.
"Hey, what's that?" Chuu asked.
There was a red mark on Go Won's neck. She put her hand over it, fingers prodding experimentally.
"I don't know. It kind of hurts, though. Is it some kind of sore?"
Chuu studied it. "If it is it's weird. It's perfectly circular. I don't know how you did that to yourself."
Go Won went to get up and suddenly stumbled, lurching to one side. Chuu caught her before she hit the floor. As she helped her up, she noticed Go Won's heartbeat. It was racing, much faster then normal.
"Gosh! Are you alright?"
"I think so. I blacked out for a second."
"You'd better get back to bed. I'm sure all you need is a good night's sleep."
However, the next day Go Won still felt weak and off balance. The red mark also got bigger. After a few days she could no longer go to classes consistently and got permission to have a reduced timetable. Mrs Kim was trying to arrange for a doctor to come in and look at her, but it was hard to convince anyone to come all the way to Loona Academy. In the meantime she grew paler and quieter, and complained constantly of dizziness and fainting spells. Chuu was really worried about her.
Even Yves noticed. "You're not as chatty as normal lately. Is it because of your friend?"
"How did you know about her?"
"Olivia told me," Yves shrugged. "I wouldn't worry if I was you. I'm sure she's going to be fine. Maybe she has hysteria or something?"
"Hysteria! Don't be absurd. That's a silly disease made up in the Victorian times."
Yves raised an eyebrow. "Alright, if you say so. It's a mystery, then."
That was what Chuu was worried about. Nobody knew what was wrong with Go Won, so it could be anything.
Because she was so worried about Go Won she spent a lot more time with her and Olivia, who she had grown very fond of, and less with Yves. Olivia was so convinced that there was something wrong with Yves that Chuu started to wonder if maybe she was right. There was definitely something different about her.
One night, when Go Won was really bad and hadn't gotten out of bed all day, she was so distracted that she forgot her books in music class. Halfway to the dorms she had to turn around and head back.
She was about to go inside the classroom when she heard some strange noises. She didn't know why, but she decided to duck underneath the window and listen rather then go in. There were low, murmuring voice, then a moan that startled Chuu so much she nearly bumped her head on the windowsill.
Curiosity burning within her, she gathered her courage and peeked over the sill. To her shock, Yves was standing at the front of the classroom, very close to Sunmi. Sunmi's hand were braced on the desk behind her. As Chuu watched, Yves leaned forwards and kissed her full on the lips.
Chuu squeaked involuntarily and immediately ducked back beneath the window, pressing one hand to her mouth. She pressed herself against the brick, heart hammering against her ribs. When the blood had stopped roaring in her ears and she could hear again, she heard a muffled moan and knew that the others were busy with… whatever they were doing.
Heart still thumping double-time, she run into the night as fast as her legs could carry her.
When she got back to the dorms she took a minute, trying to compose herself. Yves must be a lesbian. Actually, that would explain a lot. It told Chuu why Yves didn't go to church, didn't have a good relationship with her parents, didn't like Olivia's Catholicism. Chuu had only heard about lesbians in disapproving terms, so the idea that one of her best friends might be one shocked her.
In a vain attempt to calm her racing heart and put the image of Yves kissing Sunmi out of her mind, she took several deep breaths before she opened the door to her room. Go Won was sitting upright in bed with Olivia in a chair beside her, squinting at a thick book.
"Hi!" Chuu said. "What are you up to?" Her voice came out high-pitched, betraying her current emotional turmoil, but neither girl reacted.
"Olivia's dream is to become a doctor, so she has this medical book. She's trying to look for things matching my condition," Go Won explained.
"And as I've told you a million times, wanting to be a doctor is very different from actually being one! There's nothing in this book that matches your symptoms. Nothing!" Olivia declared.
Go Won sighed. "Then what’s the closest?"
"That's a ridiculous thing to say! Even if something's close, the treatment can be completely different."
"Still, what is it?"
Olivia sighed. "Probably blood loss. But obviously that's ridiculous."
"Does that include the thing on my neck?"
"The thing on your neck is like nothing. I literally can't tell what it even is. Are you sure it's not just some kind of scratch?"
Go Won shook her head. "It keeps getting bigger, and every time it gets bigger my condition gets worst. It's got to be related."
"Well, I can’t tell you how."
Chuu leaned back on her bed and closed her eyes. Her heart still hadn't stopped racing, and she was feeling really tired. Still, it was comforting to let her friends' talking wash over her, distracting her.
Eventually, Olivia said she had to go to bed and headed off.
"Hey Chuu, is everything alright with you?" Go Won asked anxiously.
At that point Chuu remembered. "No! You'll never guess what. Yves is a lesbian!"
"That's what Olivia thought! But how do you know?"
"I saw her kissing our music teacher!"
Go Won blinked at her. "Your music teacher is a lesbian?"
Chuu threw a pillow at her. "Not the point! My friend is a lesbian! What do I do?"
"What do you mean? Do you have a problem with it?"
Intellectually, Chuu was a modern girl who didn't have an issue with homosexuality, but emotionally she felt that she very much did. "I think I must! I'm having a lot of feelings about it. And I can't get the picture of them kissing out of my mind."
"Why don't you stop being friends with her?" Go Won suggested.
"Then you'll have to talk to her about it. I mean, you don't know for sure that she's a lesbian. Your music teacher might have forced her into it or something."
Somehow Chuu couldn't see Yves being forced into anything, but she nodded anyway. They sat here in silence for a few moments, before Chuu turned back to Go Won. "Wait. Did you say that Olivia's strange feeling about Yves is that she's gay?"
"Well, that and other things. Yves apparently barely sleeps or eats, that sort of weird creepiness." Go Won now seemed distracted. "Uh, I don't want to worry you, but you should probably look in the mirror."
"The mirror? Why?"
Chuu approached the glass in their bathroom and leaned forwards. Her reflection stared back, paler then normal. Chuu's hand went up to part her auburn hair and she saw the bright red mark patterning her neck. Oh, shit.
Sorry about the random Yves/Sunmi, that was totally self-indulgent. I promise it won't get in the way of chuuves!
Also, PLEASE imagine yyxy in 60s outfits, wouldn't they look great? Yves especially would be very funny
Sorry for the wait, I graduated high school and went overseas so I've been a little busy. Anyway I'm really excited to be back with the OEC girls and I hope you enjoy as the mystery continues
"So how old actually is Yves?" Choerry asked, pen hovering over her unwritten essay.
Yeojin was always ready to be distracted, which Choerry was grateful for. Vivi had asked her to come to homework time, but Choerry had no intention of actually studying. "Nobody knows," she whispered. "She looks young though, right?"
"She could almost pass for a student." Choerry stared at the young principle.
Yeojin tapped her pen against the ancient wooden desk. The normally bright girl looked down today, staring into space. Choerry impatiently waved her hand in front of her face.
"Hello? You okay?"
"What? Oh yes, I'm fine. Just tired, I guess."
Choerry stared at her doubtfully. Yeojin usually had boundless energy. "Alright. Am I still good to sleep over?"
"Yeah, of course!"
Yeojin's roommate Dahyun was in the infirmary for an illness Yeojin suspected her of wildly exaggerating, so Choerry was coming over for a sleepover that night. She normally didn't like people her own age, but she found Yeojin to be a rare exception. It was kinda nice to hang with someone other then Odd Eye Circle and their adult friends.
Choerry swung by her own dorm to grab her stuff for Yeojin's. Jinsoul was very excited, since they had had the first ghost sighting last night, so when Choerry entered she was squinting at Kim Lip's messages on her phone, hunched over on her bed.
Actually, it had been Choerry and Yeojin who had seen the ghost. Yeojin had taken Choerry aside after dinner the night before.
"Are you doing anything tonight?" she said seriously.
"I guess not." Choerry had just been going to listen to music and ignore Lip's texts.
"Good. Every month the year 10s have a secret midnight feast. Do you want to come? You absolutely cannot tell the teachers."
Choerry shrugged. "Alright." It might be fun to embrace the opportunities of boarding school. It had been ages since she'd actually been to a school, after all.
She managed to slip out that night without waking up Jinsoul and met Yeojin outside her dorm. Yeojin wore a soft-looking green sweater and carried an oversized torch.
"You look like a scooby-doo character," Choerry said teasingly.
Yeojin glared. "Shut up. Follow me."
She led Choerry through the dull whitewashed halls of the school to a small storage cupboard. Choerry crinkled her nose at the sharp smell of spilled cleaning liquid but followed her into the cupboard anyway. It was a narrow fit with both of them plus the mops, cleaning supplies and cans of paint. Yeojin turned on her torch and groped at the far wall. Then, to Choerry's astonishment, the whole back wall swung open, revealing another school corridor.
"What is this?" she asked.
"It's the old school. Nobody will ever find us here." They stepped through and Yeojin swung the door closed behind them.
Choerry followed her. The corridor looked similar to their modern classrooms, but seemed more old fashioned. It was lit only by the dim glow of Yeojin's torch. The ground was littered with little flakes of plaster, fallen from the holes patterning the walls and roof. Most of the classrooms they passed were just empty rooms, but some had scattered or knocked-over desks. Spiderwebs lurked in the corners. It was a creepy place.
Choerry was looking through the foggy plastic window into a classroom when Yeojin gasped. She looked down the hallway to see a girl in a white dress standing there.
"Hello?" Choerry asked uncertainly, thinking it might a student. Yeojin was frozen, staring right at her. So she could see her, then.
The girl's hair covered her face. She slowly raised one hand and pointed straight at Yeojin. A long rasping noise emitted from her.
Yeojin was clutching Choerry's arm so hard Choerry thought she was going to break the skin. "It's a ghost! You can see it, right?"
"Yeah, I can," Choerry responded calmly.
The ghost suddenly lowered her arm and turned away. Yeojin collapsed against her side. "Oh, thank god it's gone!"
Choerry kept her eyes on the girl, who was now facing the wall. She must have made herself invisible to Yeojin "Sure. Stay here, ok?" She pried Yeojin off her and approached the ghost.
The ghost turned back around to face her. Choerry was surprised to notice wet trails staining her dress. The ghost was crying. Choerry went to lift the girl's hair off her face, but the ghost pulled away and rushed down the corridor into a classroom. Choerry was tempted to follow her, but Yeojin probably already thought she was insane.
"Yeojin! What are you in the hallway?" A voice came from the end of the corridor.
"Sorry, Somi! Boy, do we have a story for you, though. C'mon, Choerry." That must be the year 10s. Choerry stared after the ghost, frustrated, but eventually left it alone.
Jinsoul was furious. "Are you telling me that you saw the ghost and not only did you not get a reading, you did not take a photo and you left it so that Yeojin wouldn't think you were strange? Is Haseul paying you to become best friends with her sister? No she isn't! You have to take more responsibility."
Choerry squirmed, knowing that Kim Lip would be even harsher. If she was honest, a bit part of why she wanted to sleep over at Yeojin's was to avoid them. Although Choerry was the youngest, the other two expected her to pull her weight in the team. Her biggest fear was letting them down and showing them that she was not worthy of being treated like an equal. She hated listening to their lectures because she knew that they were right. Yeojin's opinion shouldn't be important to her.
But she was a teenager, so when criticised she doubled down. Jinsoul glanced up from her phone as Choerry dug into her wardrobe. She held a purple dress up to her body critically.
"What do you think you're doing?" Jinsoul asked.
"I'm going to Yeojin's tonight. Her roommate isn't there."
Jinsoul sighed. "Does that help with a case in any way?"
"No, but neither does sitting around here," Choerry said defensively.
"Sit down," Jinsoul nodded to the bed opposite.
"I have to tell you Lip's theories. I'm not going to get mad at you again."
Choerry perched awkwardly on the side of the bed.
"Alright. Obviously the really interesting things are the not talking and the crying. Lip says that crying is common in old ghosts, that they get so frustrated that they can't do whatever they want to that they do end up crying. She has no idea why she didn't just spit out whatever she had to say, though. She also thinks that the ghost is probably tied to just the old bits of the school, the parts that existed when she was alive. Any questions?"
"No. I'll try to find out from Yeojin if there are any more old parts of the school."
"Good idea. Ok, you can go then."
Choerry paused only to grab her stuff and put on the dress before rushing off to Yeojin's room. The dress was long, and it swirled around her ankles as she walked. She must have had a longer day then she thought- she was tired.
Yeojin took a moment to open the door. She looked super cute as usual, albeit a bit pale. She rested one hand on her head as she sat down.
"Are you okay?" Choerry asked.
"I think so. I'm not sure to be honest."
Choerry noticed something as she lowered her hand. "What’s that on your neck?"
"What?" Yeojin walked to the adjacent bathroom and squinted in the mirror. "I don't know. Some kind of sore?"
Choerry followed her. "It's weird. It's like a perfect circle."
"You have it too!" Yeojin exclaimed.
Choerry slapped her hand over her neck like she was swatting a bug, then winced. "Ouch, it hurts! What the fuck is this?"
Yeojin looked mildly scandalised at her swearing. "I don't know. I'll ask my sister tomorrow." For Yeojin, Haseul was the font of all knowledge.
"Sure, you do that."
They chatted a bit more, but both of them fell asleep really early. Choerry woke up in the middle of the night, awoken by her own thundering heartbeat. She moved a bit in the soft darkness, realising that she had fallen asleep in her dress. Rolling her neck, she saw that Yeojin was also awake.
"I heard something," Yeojin whispered.
Choerry pressed one finger to her lips. Now that Yeojin mentioned it, she also heard quiet noises outside the door. Yeojin hot on her heels, she slunk over to the door and opened it a crack.
The two girls pressed their eyes against the crack in time to see a shadowy figure in the corridor. As they watched the figure closed one of the dorm's doors. Right before she disappeared, she glanced down the hallway, looking right at them. Choerry instantly slammed the door and sunk to the floor bracing herself against it, heart racing.
Yeojin crouched down with her. "That was principal Yves. What is she doing here?"
Choerry could only nod, for some reason completely spent. Everything over the past 24 hours had become so strange. Why would a school principal being poking around in the student's rooms? What was she doing?
Yeojin stood up. "There's no way she's allowed to do that! I'm telling Haseul tomorrow."
"I don't know," Choerry whispered. "It's her school."
"Yeah, but that's a student's private space!"
There was nothing more to say, so Choerry said she'd report it in the morning and they went to bed. Choerry fell into an uncomfortable and restless sleep. By the time she woke up, she had almost forgotten about the mysterious figure in the night. What she did know is that she had absolutely no intention of telling a soul.
The next day they had a team meeting. Instead of going to their afternoon classes, Jinsoul and Choerry met Haseul and Vivi in Vivi's office. They sat on Vivi's plush leather chairs around a low table. The chairs were too small to be comfortable in and Choerry shifted awkwardly, feeling her legs stick to the seat. She hated institutional places like this.
They talked for a little bit about Heejin and Hyunjin's sighting of the ghost and how it compared to Choerry's sighting before Choerry brought up the thing on her neck.
"Let's see it?" Haseul said, immediately looking concerned.
As soon as Choerry showed it to her she grew pale and looked significantly at Vivi. Vivi poked the mark experimentally, which caused Choerry to shout.
"Yep, it's the same," she said.
"The same? The same as what?"
"This is what Yujin had in the early stages of her disease," Vivi explained. "I'm sorry."
"What?!" Jinsoul exploded. "Are you telling me Choerry's got the curse of the ghost?"
"It looks that way," Haseul said gravely. "Are you feeling any symptoms?"
Choerry sat there, shocked. She really didn't want to end up like Yujin. Finally, she kicked her brain into gear. "Um, I guess I've been really tired lately. And I have a really fast heartbeat."
"Is it the same?" Jinsoul asked.
"I think so," Haseul said. "It's hard to know for sure because Yujin didn't tell anyone for a while."
Jinsoul took several deep breaths, trying to calm herself down. Jinsoul was normally happy and silly, but when it came to her work she took it very seriously. She was always overprotective of Choerry.
"Yeojin has it as well," Choerry said, feeling like she should tell them.
For a moment she thought that Haseul was going to hit her, she looked so furious. She braced herself to defend her actions- Yeojin would have seen the ghost without her!- but it wasn't necessary. Vivi touched Haseul's arm gently and the older girl seemed to calm down.
"I just don't understand why you have it," she sighed in frustration. "I mean, Heejin and Hyunjin saw it ages ago and they don't have the curse!"
"That is weird," Choerry chimed in. "There must be a different in the interactions."
There was a moment of silence before Vivi spoke up. "I can think of one. Heejin and Hyunjin didn't tell anyone other then Jinsoul, right?"
"That's what they told me," Jinsoul said, seeming strangely indifferent.
"Choerry, did you tell anyone?"
"Yeah, Yeojin told a whole bunch of year 10s."
Haseul sat up straight, figuring it out. "So the difference is not with the actual ghost, but more in how many people know that you saw the ghost."
"Doesn't that imply that it's not the ghost causing the problem?" Vivi said. "The curse of the ghost is actually someone trying to kill anyone who has seen the ghost, and Heejin and Hyunjin weren't targeted because nobody knows that they saw it!"
There was another moment of silence. "Holy shit," Haseul whispered.
Jinsoul glanced at her watch. "This is very exciting, but Choerry and I need to go to homework time. We'll see you guys later."
Choerry looked at her in surprise. "Really? Ok…"
"You were pretty quiet in there," she said to Jinsoul when they were outside.
Jinsoul didn't answer until they were around the corner, then stopped. "Of course I was. We're going home."
"You remember the contract, right? As soon as either of us are in danger, we're out of here. You're in danger with that thing on your neck, so we are pulling out."
"No! I can take it! We can't just leave everyone here, not with what we just discovered!"
Jinsoul sighed. "Alright, maybe I can stay here alone. But you are going back to Kim Lip."
Choerry's vision tunnelled. This was her worst fear. "No way! Don't baby me, I want to stay! I'll be useless there!"
Jinsoul drew herself up. "Choerry. You know that I don't like to play the adult. We're friends, you and I. But ultimately, I am still the adult and you are still the child. That means that I get to make decisions and you do not. And hey, I am your legal guardian."
Embarrassingly, Choerry felt tears prickle her eyes. "Don't say that stupid joke!" Her voice cracked on the last word, and she turned and sprinted down the corridor. Jinsoul didn't follow her.
Maybe it was a combination of her racing heartbeat and dizziness, but as she raced down corridor after corridor Choerry didn't know if she was going to throw up or faint. She finally found Yeojin with a group of girls she didn't know and grabbed her arm.
"Choerry? Are you ok?"
"We need to talk," Choerry gasped.
Yeojin nodded instantly, face a picture of concern. "Yeah, let's find somewhere."
Choerry staggered around until she found a spot behind the school. The grass here was patchy with dirt, but she collapsed into it anyway. Nobody could see them, hidden behind a graffiti-covered brick wall as they were. Yeojin knelt next to her.
"Hey, what's up?"
Choerry felt tears welling again as soon as she had a moment to think. "I need your help. They're going to make me leave."
"Choerry? Please make sense, you're scaring me. Who's going to make you leave?"
"Jinsoul. I'm not really a student here."
Yeojin did a double take. "What on earth are you talking about?"
Choerry explained everything. By the time she finished, Yeojin was just sitting there in shock.
"But if you leave… I'm just stuck here! With this thing on me! You say it killed that girl?"
"Exactly! You're in danger! And- and I'm the useless one again!" Choerry angrily swiped her hand over her eyes. She didn't want to be typical Choerry. She could already picture what Jinsoul and Kim Lip would say- big talker, but ultimately the poor kid just couldn't hack it.
Yeojin put her hand awkwardly on Choerry's knee. "What do you mean?"
"There's two ways Jinsoul wants this to go. Either we leave, in which case we fail and lose the case because of me. Or I go and she stays, in which case I'm the useless one who didn’t contribute anything. I hate both choices. I don't want to be the baby."
"So what's your plan then? Can we really do anything? We are only kids."
"Of course we can! Haven't you read any YA books? Teenagers can do anything. Anyway, we know something they don't know."
That intrigued Yeojin. "What?"
"Principal Yves. Something's up with her and you know it. Principals do not sneak around their student's dorms in the middle of the night."
"Didn't you tell Haseul?"
"No way! We'll find out what's up with her ourselves. We don't need anybody's help."
"We should totally search her office! I've always wanted to go in there."
Now Choerry was smiling. Yeojin's excitement was infectious. "Yeah, totally! Jinsoul will let me stay at least one more night, I'm sure of it. I'll meet you tonight at your dorm."
"My only worry is how we'll actually do it. I seriously feel like I'm about to pass out every time I stand up."
Choerry frowned, remembering the curse of the ghost lingering over her. "Same. But we can push through it!"
Choerry slunk back to Jinsoul and acted apologetic. Jinsoul was still doing her best adult impression, which Choerry didn't care for. She kept her plan foremost in her mind, using it to temper the sting of agreeing to go home tomorrow. Tonight she would find out something really cool about Yves, and Jinsoul would see how valuable she was. She would be allowed to stay and Jinsoul and Lip would see that she was just as responsible as they were.
Adrenaline meant that Choerry barely felt the curse when she met Yeojin. She was lucky that Jinsoul slept like the dead, it was easy to slip past her.
Yeojin grinned when she saw her. "Cute pyjamas."
Choerry looked down at her teddy-bear pjs, flushing. "I couldn't get changed, Jinsoul might have woken up."
Yeojin, who was wearing jeans, shrugged. "I like them."
Yeojin had her torch again, so they found their way to Yves's office by its strong beam. This time they walked next to each, chatting quietly about nothing to ease their nerves.
Yves's office was behind a thick, polished wooden door. It was locked, but Choerry yanked a hairpin out of her pigtails and fixed that pretty quickly. Yeojin stared at her.
"How do you know how to do that?" she whispered.
Choerry shrugged and slipped inside. Her slippered feet sunk into the plush maroon carpet. The two girls stared in awe at the luxurious office that peered at them out of the darkness. Yeojin fully closed the door and flicked on the light. A small chandelier lit up, throwing patches of light around the room.
The main feature was an enormous mahogany desk with leather seats on either side. Choerry run her fingers over its face, feeling the solid wooden slide beneath her fingers. On either side of the desk was massive, packed to bursting bookshelves. On the other walls were portraits of various people, including one of Yves herself.
"She doesn't mind a bit of extravagance, does she?" Yeojin said.
"That's for sure. She must be absolutely loaded," Choerry replied.
They split up. Yeojin combed through the bookshelves while Choerry used her lockpicking skills to investigate the desk. Unfortunately she found nothing in there except for boring official documents and student records. She flipped through those idly, hoping to find someone she knew, when Yeojin called out to her.
"Look at this! A yearbook."
"I already know, all the ones from the last five years are here," Choerry nodded to a small stack of books on the desk.
"It's not from the past five years. I think it's from the year the school closed."
Choerry pushed the drawer closed and hurried over to where Yeojin knelt in the fluffy carpet. She peered over her shoulder as Yeojin flipped the massive tome open.
The first page looked like a letter from the principal. 'This was a great year for our school' blah blah blah. Clearly written before the closure. Yeojin turned the page.
The next page had no actual writing, just a photo stuck between the pages. Yeojin pulled it out. It was sepia toned, showing a thin girl in black clutching a Bible and a rosary to her chest. She wasn't smiling. Yeojin flipped the photo over. On the back was thin writing saying 'Olivia at Bible study. 1968.'
"Creepy," Yeojin muttered.
"They must have never finished making this yearbook. I wonder how Yves got it."
"Maybe she found it here when they were renovating."
"Keep going," Choerry urged, so Yeojin turned the page.
Many of the pages were blank, and those that had something in them were usually dull photos of girls being athletic or in the classroom. Finally, Yeojin turned to another blank page with a loose photo and extracted it.
It showed a girl with pale hair lying on a bed. Her face was turned to the side, showing her neck. It had what looked like a massive bruise on it. Choerry's hand went instinctually to her own neck.
"She's got what we have," she said. "Is she dead?"
Yeojin nodded in agreement. "I can't tell. She's much worse then us."
"You realise what this means? The ghost must have been around then, meaning it's much older then we thought."
Yeojin turned to her, grinning. "This is a significant discovery! You can tell Jinsoul."
"I will. But let's keep going."
Before she turned the page, Yeojin flipped the photo over. This time the writing was different and said 'Go Won getting what she deserves. Haha!'
Yeojin shuddered and put the photo in her pocket. The next section was devoted to class photos, row after row of sepia-coloured smiling girls. Yeojin turned the pages without much interest. The school had been bigger then.
Suddenly, she stopped.
"What's happened?" Choerry asked. Yeojin seemed to have stopped breathing.
With an outstretched, shaking finger, she pointed to a class photo. Choerry peered at it.
In the middle row of year 12, class of 1968, stood two girls. The shorter girl had had an ear-to-ear smile that made her eyes into cute semicircles. All the other girls were standing with their hands behind their backs, but she had broken rank to throw her arms around the girl next to her. She was snuggled into the girl's shoulder, squeezing her.
The taller girl next to her still had her hands behind her back, but she looking down at the other girl. Her face showed a mixture of surprise, affection and a certain exasperation, like this was just typical. She looked like she was in love. It wasn't a look Choerry had ever expected to see on the face that wore it.
Because it was Principal Yves. No doubt about it. Looking not a day older then she did right now.
Yeojin was staring at Choerry, waiting for answers. Shaking, Choerry lifted the yearbook away from her.
"Oh," she whispered in awe. "This is going to blow Jinsoul's freaking mind."
Please take note that this story now includes major character death. I mean, you all knew it was coming
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Sunmi glanced sceptically at the letter held in Chuu's outstretched hand.
"So you can't come to classes because you're sick?"
Chuu swallowed. "Um, yep! My roommate has the same thing, it must be contagious. Ms Jieun signed it right here, see?"
Sunmi nodded. "I see that. Is this meant to explain why you didn't come to the last two lessons?"
It had taken that long to persuade Ms Jieun to give Chuu the same class exemptions Go Won had. "Yes! I was too sick."
Sunmi shrugged, already looking away. "Ok, your call. But you still have to do the end-of-year exam."
"Of course!" Chuu raced out of the room as quick as she could, nearly bowling down a fellow student. She didn't stop until she back at her room. Mission accomplished. She hadn't seen Yves once.
Room 203 was basically a quarantine zone now. People technically could come in and out, but only Olivia bothered to do so. Everyone else seemed scared of catching their mysterious disease. Chuu slipped inside and collapsed on her bed, exhausted from the running.
Go Won stirred at her entrance. The blonde girl was much worse. These days she barely left her bed except to eat and occasionally stumble to class. She didn’t study much and was going to flunk her exams, but that was the least of their concerns.
The room stunk of incense that Olivia thought might help ward off the disease. She had placed crosses around the room and encouraged them to pray for recovery. So far, this did not seem to be working out.
Go Won opened her eyes slowly. "Did you see Yves?" Her voice came out a papery whisper.
"No." Chuu didn't meet her eyes, focusing on yanking off her uncomfortable shoes. "I'm still avoiding her."
"You can't do that forever," Go Won reasoned. "Talk to her, Chuu. While you still can."
Go Won often said creepy things like that. Chuu was pretty sure she thought they were both dying. It was an alarming thought.
Chuu stared at her hands, folded in her lap. "Maybe. But I don't know how I feel right now. Maybe I'll bring it up to Olivia."
The truth was that ever since that night, the things she had seen hadn't left Chuu's head. Her emotions around Yves were charged, vibrant and terrifying. In Chuu's opinion, the best thing to do would be to ignore them altogether. Talking to Olivia was slightly better, though she already knew what she would say. Yves's torment of Olivia had increased since Chuu got sick, as had Olivia's hatred for her roommate.
There was a knock on the door. Go Won glanced at it. "Speak of the devil."
Chuu went to open the door. "Olivia! Good, I need to talk to you-"
She stopped dead when she saw Yves outside the door. The taller girl's eyes were narrowed in rage.
"Chuu! What is going on? Sunmi told me that you're not coming to music anymore. This is because of me, isn't it?"
"What?! Of course not!" Chuu cringed, hearing the lie in her panicked voice.
Yves saw right through it too. She grabbed Chuu's hand. "Come with me. We'll talk about it in my room."
"Wait! I'm not wearing shoes!" Chuu protested weakly.
"I don't care."
Yves practically dragged Chuu behind her to her room. She seemed really angry at her. Chuu tripped along behind her, feet dragging on the splintery wooden floor. It might just be her disease, but her heart was thudding in her chest and she was lightheaded. She was incredibly nervous.
Olivia was home. She sprang to her feet when she saw Chuu.
"Yves, what are you doing with her?"
"None of your business, Olivia. Now go away."
Olivia's eyes widened and she backed out of the room obediantly. Chuu made desperate eye contact with her before Yves slammed the door, separating them.
She rounded on Chuu. "Why are you avoiding me? What did I do? Tell me!"
Chuu stumbled into Olivia's half of the room, as if all the crosses could protect her. "I know about you!"
"What do you know?"
"I saw you kissing Sunmi," Chuu blurted out, then immediately regretted it.
Yves's eyes went wide, then she closed them. When she spoke, her voice was suddenly calm. "Ah. That explains it. Look, Chuu, I'm really sorry about that. You have to know she means nothing to me. It's just that we were both bored, you know?"
Chuu had expected panic, even for Yves to ask her not to tell anyone. But instead, Yves seemed to be asked her to understand kissing Sunmi, of all people. "I don't care whether you like Sunmi!"
"Then what's the problem?"
"That you like girls!"
Yves looked confused. 'But isn't that a good thing?"
"A good thing?" Chuu literally didn't know how to respond to that.
Yves was cocky now, back in control of the situation. A small smile played over her lips. "I don't like Sunmi. Ask me who I like."
"What?" Chuu could not have been any more thrown by the direction this had taken.
"Ask me who I like." Yves was fully grinning now.
"Um… who do you like?"
Yves grabbed Chuu's wrist, pulling her back into her side of the room. Chuu was pressed against her, looking up into her eyes. She felt her heart flutter and should have pulled away, but didn't.
"I like you," Yves said, simply. "I've tried not to, but I just can't. And you like me back, right? That's why you've been avoiding me."
For the first time since she'd met her, Yves seemed vulnerable. Her expression was open, her eyes filled with love and even a hint of fear. It prompted Chuu to rise on her tip toes and press her lips lightly against Yves's.
Chuu had always dreamed of a big romance in her life. However, she'd never really loved the thought of kissing. When she pictured kissing boys she thought that it must be overrated. It would be like pressing any two body parts together, right? Just a physical sensation.
It was nothing like she'd pictured. Yves's lips were full and soft. Chuu could feel her smile as her hand snaked around to Chuu's lower back, keeping them together. Butterflies exploded in Chuu's stomach at the gesture. Yves was there, so solid and stable that it was making Chuu's heart melt.
Yves moved, sliding both hands around Chuu and pushing her backwards until she hit the wall. Chuu didn't know what to do with her hands. She put one of them on Yves's chest and brushed against her breast. She flushed, but then remembered that she was kissing the other girl anyway.
Yves started kissing her earnestly now. She grabbed Chuu's hands and pinned them to the wall either side of her head. She bit lightly at Chuu's bottom lip, teeth pressing against the sensitive skin in an ecstasy of sensation. Chuu couldn't help but moan when she broke away and pressed her mouth to Chuu's neck.
Chuu was breathing heavily, held up almost entirely by Yves's hands, when Yves pulled back to look at her. The taller girl's eyes were blown out, almost black. For a moment, Chuu didn't recognise her. The awareness of what she was doing rushed back to her and she gasped, struggling against Yves.
Yves released her. "What's up?"
How could she be so casual? Chuu doubled over, struggling to breathe. "I can't," she managed to gasp.
Yves moved over to her and a hand on her shoulder cautiously. "Are you alright? Did I do anything?"
"No… no, I think it's my, my condition," Chuu stammered. It might even have been partially the truth. Mostly, she was still trying to process what she had just done.
"Ok. Do you want to stay?"
"I need to think," Chuu said. She left the room feeling overwhelmed- but also still feeling like she was going to melt. A part of her- even a large part- wished that she had had the courage to take things further.
The next day at lunch, Chuu found Yves. She was sitting on the grass watching a basketball game with no sign of food present. She didn't react when one of the players scored, looking more into the space above the court then actually at the game. Chuu sat down next to her.
Yves looked at her, surprised. "Hello."
"Hi," Chuu smiled happily, albeit nervously. She had done a lot of thinking last night and had made up her mind.
"How are you feeling about last night?" Yves asked cautiously.
"I want to ask you a question."
Chuu's stomach was twisting in knots, but she forced the words out. "Yves, will you be my girlfriend?"
"Do you not want to?"
"No, it's just… that's not what I thought you'd say."
"Well it's what I want! I really enjoyed last night, so I'm probably a lesbian too. So will you date me? I really like you." She blushed, fiddling anxiously with a blade of grass.
Yves laughed lightly. "I love how you see the world. Yes, of course I'll be your girlfriend."
Chuu wasn't really sure what girlfriends did. She ended up snuggled up to Yves's side and Yves put her arm around her, which felt right. Actually, it felt amazing. Chuu put her head in the crook at Yves's neck. "I've really missed you."
Yves laughed. "Shouldn't have avoided me then, dumbo."
Chuu grinned. "Probably not."
She didn't see, being focused on the game, but Yves looked at her with the strangest expression. A combination of love, fear and hunger flitted across her features. Then she sighed, closed her eyes, and the two of them stayed in each other's arms as the afternoon sun shone peacefully down upon them.
The next few months passed in a happy blur. Chuu and Yves spent as much time as possible together. Yves was still hard to find, but she tried to see Chuu whenever she could. Chuu was ridiculously in love with her and Yves seemed to find her constant aegyo adorable. She was the perfect girlfriend.
There were only a few downsides. The first was, of course, Olivia. The pair didn't officially tell her that they were dating, but it was obvious. Chuu had to sit through a lot of well-meaning but irritating chats about how there was just something wrong with Yves and how Chuu should break it off with her. It all accumulated in one conversation after church.
"Well, have you ever seen her eat?" Olivia demanded. "Chuu, she DOESN'T EAT. Stop ignoring me!"
"I don't care! I don't care that she doesn't eat in front of people! That's her right and there are plenty of reasons why she could do that."
"You're not listening to me! Even if she was normal, which she isn't, she's a horrible person! She's awful to me! Why are you not listening to me?"
"Because you're just saying the same things over and over again! The real truth is you're uncomfortable with Yves's sexuality. You hate the idea of us being together because you hate the idea of any two girls being together. But your attempts to drive us apart will never work. Just leave us alone!"
Chuu stormed off. Yves later told her that Olivia had gone back to her room and cried. Yves said this as if it was a deeply amusing joke and laughed about it, so Chuu joined in. She felt a twinge of guilt but it was easily brushed away.
The other problem was the illness. For a while, Chuu's disease actually got better. She was able to attend full classes again, though she often passed out before homework time. This was not the case for Go Won, who if anything got worse more rapidly. Before long she could barely get out of bed. She started wearing white and doing a lot more prayers with Olivia, though upon Yves's insistence Chuu made them remove the crosses from room 203. Yves still said, with her usual mysterious calm, that Go Won was going to be fine, but Chuu knew Go Won thought she was dying. She had asked her more then once why she didn't just go home, but the blonde girl just said she didn't want to.
So Olivia and Go Won were kinda bumming her out, but fortunately Yves took all that away. Being with her felt like a wonderful dream. Chuu was intoxicated, infatuated with Yves. This was the perfect romance she had always fanaticised about.
It all came crashing down after about three months when Chuu got suddenly, rapidly sicker. She went from fine to unable to leave bed within a week. Yves spent every moment at Chuu's bedside, looking after her.
One day, Olivia came unexpectedly into Chuu's room. She had a stack of books balanced precariously in her arms, reaching up to her high collar. Chuu looked up from her own book and regarded her as she set the books down on Chuu's bed.
"Hi," she said coldly.
"Hi," Olivia returned. "I came to drop off some stuff for you."
"Yeah. It belongs to your girlfriend, I was hoping you could give it to her."
Chuu rifled through the books. She was astonished to see the titles. They were mostly dark books, gothic romances and thick tomes claiming to be capable of making the reader magical.
"Why are you giving these to me? Weren't they in her room?"
Olivia's hand went to her cross necklace, clutching it so hard it must have hurt. "I refuse to have these in my room anymore. I'm going to force Yves to move out, but I refuse to tolerate these for another second."
"Yves is moving out?"
"If God allows it. Right now it’s either she goes or I do. By the way, I'd recommend you read this book, I think you and Go Won will find it interesting." Olivia indicated one of the texts, a thin paperback called Carmilla. When she left the room she gave Chuu a curious look, almost pleading.
As soon as she had gone Chuu dropped the books to one side of the bed. Olivia had always been religious, but purging these books from her room was a puritanical move. Chuu didn't think it was like her, but maybe she didn't know Olivia very well after all.
Yves visited that afternoon.
"Aren't you suppose to be in music right now?" Chuu asked while they cuddled. A lot of people had refused to touch her since she got sick, but Yves was sure she wasn't contagious.
Yves wound her arms around Chuu, fingers idly playing with a strand of her hair. "I'd rather be here."
"Oh yeah? Sunmi's charm worn off for you?" Chuu teased. Yves laughed and hit her lightly.
Settling back into her girlfriend's arms, Chuu remembered what Olivia had said. "Olivia dropped off a bunch of books for you."
"Really? What for? She does realise we live in the same room, I assume."
"I don't know. She said she wanted you to move out."
Yves sounded amused. "Well, she's always wanted that."
"No, she was acting weird. She said that it was either you or her."
Yves stilled. "There's no way she could know-" she muttered under her breath.
"Know what?" Chuu twisted in her arms, worried.
Yves unwrapped her arms from around Chuu. "Chuu, I have to go."
"Yes. I have to talk to Olivia."
She leaned forwards and kissed Chuu lightly on the lips before she was gone. Chuu realised that she had forgotten to take her books. She thought about going after her with them but decided not to. She was tired, and they would be useless if Yves wasn't moved out yet.
Go Won had gone to classes that day and got back absolutely exhausted. She was wearing a strip of cloth tied around her neck to hide the bruise, which she pulled off with relief. Chuu was still lying in bed, so Go Won went and sat next to her, fixing the sheet which had managed to wrap itself around Chuu.
"How are you today?" She said brightly. "I'm ridiculously tired, but I'm so happy I managed to do nearly a whole day!"
Chuu groaned dramatically. "I may perish any second."
Go Won laughed a bit, then reached for something on the floor next to Chuu's bed. "What's this?"
Chuu looked. She was holding one of the books that Olivia had brought her, actually the same one that Olivia had recommended she read.
"They're Yves's books. But Olivia brought them."
"Oh, why?" As Go Won turned the book over to read the blurb a piece of paper fell out and fluttered to the floor.
Chuu propped herself up, looking at it, mystified. "I don't know. Maybe because of that."
Go Won picked it up, unfolding the page to reveal scribbled handwriting quite unlike Olivia's usual neat print. "Go Won," she read aloud, "I knew Chuu wouldn't read this and can't risk talking to you out loud in case she hears." She glanced guiltily at Chuu, who shrugged.
"Keep going," she said.
Go Won did. "I have irrefutable proof that Yves is causing your disease. You have to get out of Loona Academy if you want to survive. I can't say anything in public for fear of her finding out what I know. If you believe me then meet me in the courtyard at the back of the school at midnight tonight. I will leave Loona Academy forever tomorrow and will not talk to you again if you are not there. Olivia Hye."
Chuu shrugged. "It sounds like her usual conspiracy stuff. "
"Not really," Go Won argued. "She says she's leaving the school. She must be really serious about it this time."
"She said Yves was moving out of her room, but Yves didn't know anything about it," Chuu remembered.
"I'm going there tonight, even if it's only to say goodbye to her. I would hate to miss that chance."
Chuu nodded. "Then I'll come. Something weird's going on, and I want to get to the bottom of it." She glanced down. "Plus, Olivia used to be my friend. I hope I can mend some bridges before she leaves."
It was agreed. They knew they would have to save their energy and couldn't be there for very long, but neither of them would allow themselves to miss this chance. Chuu set her clunky bedside alarm clock to midnight and the two of them fell easily into sleep.
Chuu cracked her eyes open a couple hours later and groped tiredly for the alarm, slapping it until it shut up. It took a few moments of lying still before she remembered what they were doing.
Go Won was somehow still sleeping, so Chuu shook her awake. She moaned and rolled over, but finally sat up, fighting off her exhaustion as best she could.
The night was warm and neither of them bothered to change out of their nightdresses. They didn't even bother to put on shoes. They got out of the dorms easy enough, just walking quietly down the corridor and out the front door. Chuu shivered when the night air hit her, but soon adjusted.
They didn't have torches and navigated by the moonlight that spilled through the trees of the forest to puddle on the grassy floor. The courtyard where Olivia had asked to meet them was behind the main building of Loona Academy. It was rarely used.
In hopes of not being spotted by any teachers that might still be up, Chuu and Go Won took a long route through the forest. Chuu walked as quietly as she could but could still hear various leaves and branches crunching under her feet. When they were nearly there she noticed Go Won was falling behind, limping and struggling to walk. She put her arm around her, taking some of her friend's weight. Chuu had to help her walk the rest of the way.
"We're there," she whispered to Go Won as they approached the courtyard. Chuu pushed back the bush that obscured the courtyard from view. What she saw made her stop dead.
The courtyard was just an overgrown, grassy square, but it was a large enough uncovered place that it was drenched in moonlight, making the sight clearly visible. A single figure stood in the middle of the area. For a moment Chuu thought it was Olivia, but something about her seemed off.
That was when she realised it was Yves.
Go Won started forwards, but Chuu put out her hand to stop her. Something about Yves- maybe the smile on her face, not a pleasant smile but a cruel, distorted one- told her they would do better to stay away.
Yves had her hands on her hips and her eyes raised to the sky. She looked horrible, terrifying in a way Chuu had never seen. She looked spiteful. Her smile gave Chuu the impression of someone happy to see someone else suffer.
Chuu followed Yves's gaze to the roof of the school and realised what Yves was smiling about. Another girl stood on the edge of the roof. She seemed tiny, a million miles up. She was wearing the white school-issued nightdress, though Yves was dressed in the yellow school uniform. Despite how far away she was, it was clearly Olivia.
Olivia was bent double, her hand clamped over her mouth. Blood was spilling through her fingers, soaking the front of her dress. Her other hand was clutching her ever-present cross, now slippery with blood. As Chuu watched a thick strand dripped from the back of her hand off the roof and splattered on the ground in front of Yves, added to the small red puddle already there.
Yves cupped her hands around her mouth, amplifying her voice. She shouted at Olivia, "You're going to hell now! You know that, right?"
Chuu didn't understand what she meant, but she had a visible impact on Olivia. The girl stumbled back as if she'd been struck.
The hand on her cross suddenly wrenched it away from her body. The chain snapped and the cross fell to the floor. Next to Chuu, clinging to her, Go Won gasped.
At the same moment Olivia spun suddenly. Without a sound, she toppled off the roof.
The image would forever be burned into Chuu's brain. As Olivia fell, her hand dropped from her mouth. Blood freely streamed into the air behind her, creating a haunting trail that followed her down. Her dress billowed, covered her in a cloud of white and red. It was too dark for Chuu to see the expression on her face. That was a fact that would haunt her later on. She never knew, never even had a clue as what Olivia was thinking.
It seemed to take an age for Olivia to hit the ground, but the whole time Chuu didn't move a muscle. The impact came with a terrible crunch as all of Olivia's bones broke at once. She lay there distorted, body bent in ways it never should go.
That crunch freed Chuu to scream. Both her and Go Won screamed at the same time, wails that pierced the night sky. Yves looked right at them, her face changing from one of glee to one of fear and heart wrenching sadness. Before Chuu could reach her she was gone, running at a speed that Chuu would have usually thought just a little too fast to be humanly possible.
Not that Chuu was thinking anything at the time. She lumbered over to Olivia, crying helplessly, cursing herself. Her friend was just lying there, bloody beyond recognition, mutilated. Chuu collapsed over the body, hugging Olivia to her chest, sobbing as if her tears could bring Olivia back to life. Next to her, Go Won had sunk to her knees a little way from the body and was wailing, screwing her hands into her eyes to block out the awful sight.
That was how teachers found them. Chuu had to be physically dragged away from the body, fighting Sunmi's grip like blood soaked animal. It was only when she saw Jieun sliding Olivia's eyes closed that she lost her fight, twisting into Sunmi's embrace and sobbing into her chest.
Olivia had died and Chuu had done nothing to stop it.
A week later, Chuu stood in front of Loona Academy on a sunny afternoon holding her bag. Olivia's funeral would take a while to organise, but her and Go Won were both going. The blonde girl was next to her, looking almost wistfully at the academy. They were surrounded by a happy buzz as other students returned to their families
"So they're really going to shut it down for good?" she asked.
Chuu shrugged. "That's what I heard. The roof presents too much of a danger to student's safety to keep it open. Besides, would you really want to go back there?"
"Of course not. I can't even see it without thinking about- without remembering-" Go Won shuddered and was quiet.
Chuu reached for her hand. "I know."
Chuu and Go Won had both spent a lot of the last week with a therapist who had come in from the city. Neither of them felt the effects of the disease anymore and their bruises had faded to almost nothing.
Yves also hadn't been seen for a week, which Chuu figured was probably related to their being cured. She had never heard Olivia's evidence, but she believes her regardless. She still felt some of her old love for Yves, unfortunately. She covered it as best as she could with the hatred that overwhelmed her when she thought of Yves on that night. As far as she knew, nobody was looking for Yves. Nobody cared.
Chuu had been so stupid to ignore Olivia. How could she be so blind as to fall for a monster?
"Jiwoo!" Chuu turned to see her parents racing towards her. She fell happily into their hugs.
They covered her in kisses and apologies, all of which Chuu waved away. "You weren't to know what would happen."
Go Won watched them, a sad smile on her face. Chuu remembered her reluctance to leave the school during the worst of her illness and walked over to her.
"You don't have a family, do you?"
Go Won shook her head.
"How were you at Loona Academy?"
"I won a scholarship," Go Won admitted, letting out a teary laugh. "Pretty ironic considering I spent most of the year too sick to study."
"Do you want to come with me?" Chuu held out a hand to her.
Go Won's face lit up, the first expression of genuine happiness Chuu had seen on her in a long time. "Can I?"
"Of course," Chuu glanced at her parents to confirm and they nodded.
Go Won put her hand in Chuu's and the friends walked down the hill together, away from Loona Academy forever.
As they went, neither noticed the raven haired girl watching them from the darkness of the woods, hunger and pain flashing in her eyes. Neither did they spot the girl in the music room, fingers instinctively reaching for a cross that was no longer there.
I cried writing that section and had to edit it a lot
Jinsoul sat on the edge of her bed, reading through a long text from Kim Lip. Opposite her Choerry stared at Yves's yearbook, brow furrowed.
"What are you thinking about?" Jinsoul asked.
"Looking at this picture," Choerry held it up. It was the photo of the Catholic girl with the Bible. "She looks really familiar for some reason."
"Maybe she became famous or something." There were photos like that throughout the yearbook.
Choerry shrugged. "The yearbook was a good find, right?" she asked slightly anxiously.
"Yes, it was very good."
Jinsoul hadn't said a word about sending Choerry back to Kim Lip since she presented her with the book. She also hadn't mentioned the extremely dangerous things that Choerry must have done to get it. She knew how much Choerry wanted to be seen as useful. Still, she wasn't going to let her take such a risk again.
She turned back to the text. Kim Lip used really academic language sometimes, it was very annoying. When she was confident she knew what the other girl was talking about, she went and sat next to Choerry.
"I sent Lip the photo of the sick girl. She's got a more advanced version of your illness, obviously. So Lip was thinking that the curse of the ghost must have been around then and that means the ghost was there back then, too."
"But I thought we were thinking the curse of the ghost might not actually be caused by the ghost itself?"
Jinsoul nodded. "Right. There's three possibilities." She counted them off on her fingers as she talked. "Either the ghost is even older then we thought and we were wrong and it does the cause the curse, or the ghost is even older then we thought and so is the thing causing the curse." she paused. "Or the ghost is exactly as old as we thought and it's the thing causing the curse that is older."
"Let's assume that we were right and it's something else causing it. That would mean-" Choerry's finger hovered uncertainly over Yves's picture.
Jinsoul nodded. "Yeah, that's what I was thinking too. The common denominator, so to speak."
"What is she? Another ghost?"
"Could be. Lip was thinking- well, it's pretty stupid, but can you think of a creature that lives for a long time with no visible aging and causes disease-like symptoms that focus on the neck? Especially symptoms that best fit the conditions of blood loss?"
Choerry paused for a moment, then laughed. "Don't be silly! Vampires aren't real."
"I sure hope not."
The younger girl was quiet, staring at Yves in the photo. "What does Lip want us to do?"
"She says the most important thing is to talk to the ghost. Remember, no matter what Yves is, the ghost is our first priority."
"Okay. Let's go, then."
Jinsoul raised a warning hand. "Wait. I'll go, not you."
"Not again! Why?"
"Your disease! You need to rest."
Choerry rolled her eyes. "I've been resting all day!" She had skipped school today on assurance from Vivi that she would be marked present.
"I'm still worried about you."
"And I'm worried about you. There's no way you can go alone. I need to be there. Please don't ask why, I just do."
Jinsoul looked at the cute girl sitting next to her. Choerry could seem like a typical teenager a lot of the time, but at moments like this Jinsoul could see a curious maturity. She nodded and Choerry immediately transformed back, squealing with excitement and rushing to her wardrobe to pick out the best ghost-hunting outfit.
They snuck out after lights-out. Jinsoul took the yearbook with them, holding it nervously in front of her like a shield. She managed to find her way to the music room again and the pair went up the stairs with their hands over their mouths to protect them from the dust.
The music room was just as Jinsoul remembered it. It was perfectly positioned to be drenched in moonlight, illuminating the derelict instruments and eerily abandoned desks. Every step they took echoed back at them in the domed roof. The thick cover of dust gave everything a grey tint.
Choerry sat down at the piano and banged her hand against the keys, sending a discordant note vibrating through the room. Jinsoul shot her a look.
"As if this place isn't creepy enough already."
Choerry shrugged. "You work with ghosts for a living. Better get used to it."
Jinsoul went to the empty place right under the window, where the moonlight made a clear circle on the floor. She swept a patch clear of the dust and put the yearbook down, opening it to the class photo with Yves.
"Are you there?" she said to the room at large. "What do you know about this girl?"
She half-expected nothing to happen. When a girl stood up from behind the tuba, Jinsoul almost jumped. Coming to her senses, she studied the girl closely. It was her first time seeing the ghost.
She was just as Choerry described. Dark hair carefully positioned to hide every centimetre of her face, her only notable feature was the tear tracks running onto her dress. She raised one slim arm and pointed straight at Jinsoul.
Jinsoul had seen too many ghosts to bother with creepy nonsense. She marched over and grabbed the ghost's arm. The ghost wrenched back, but she was unable to free herself before Jinsoul had brought her into the light.
Once she was in the light she brushed down the front of her dress, seeming almost affronted at being manhandled.
"You're not used to that, right? We're not like the other people you've seen. Can you talk to us? We can hear you."
The ghost emitted a strangled rasp. Jinsoul glanced at Choerry in confusion.
"That's what it did before. I don't know what's wrong with it."
"Alright. Ghost, can I part your hair?"
The ghost didn't response, but didn't pull away when Jinsoul reached for her hair. It was straight and silky, slipping between Jinsoul's fingers. When she drew it back the ghost glanced at the floor. Jinsoul gently held her chin and forced her to look at her.
In life, she fancied the ghost would have been rather pretty. She had pretty eyes and smooth skin. Her eyes were open and quite clear, although water ran out her in a steady stream. Her mouth, however, was shockingly different. She had a jagged diagonal scar running across the entirety of her mouth. Her mouth had essentially been slashed in half, with no care or precision. The ghost let the remnants of her lips fall open, revealing that she had no tongue.
Jinsoul forced herself to put her emotions to the back of her mind and think about the facts. The skin on either side of the scar had not fused together. Rather, the wound was just hanging open, though not bleeding anymore. That meant that this wound had still been open when she died. Jinsoul's stomach twisted when she realised the ghost must have been tortured before her death.
Choerry walked over. "That's sick. Can she talk?"
The ghost rasped again, her scrap of tongue fluttering in her mouth. Jinsoul's stomach flipped over. Choerry must have seen the sick look on her face, because she put a comforting hand on her arm.
"Don't be so sad. This is a ghost, remember, not a real person. This damage was done fifty years ago at least."
Jinsoul knew that was true, but that didn't stop the ghost's injuries from being horrific.
"She can't talk," she said. "What do we do?"
Choerry sighed. "I was hoping she could," she muttered. "You'd better call Lip. She needs to hear this."
Jinsoul was confused, but did as she asked. Lip picked up on the first ring.
"Finally! You guys had better have spoken to the ghost by now." Her tinny voice bounced around the room.
The ghost looked at the phone disinterestedly, like it registered its existence but not what it was saying. Most ghosts didn't really care about anything other then their purpose.
"We're with the ghost right now," Jinsoul told Lip, not taking her eyes off the ghost. "But she can't talk."
"Are you serious?" Lip was pissed off.
"Her tongue was removed. Must have been right before she died."
"Fuck, someone had foresight. Alright, our next move-"
"No need," Choerry said.
Choerry was now standing next to the ghost, both of them in the patch of moonlight. It bleached her skin unnaturally pale, making her look like a ghost herself. She looked scared."
"Choerry?" Lip said.
Choerry ignored her, looking at Jinsoul "Don't let her do this for long, ok? No more then five minutes."
"I've set a timer. What are you doing?" Lip asked again.
Choerry reached for the ghost's hand. Their fingers intertwined, the ghost's white skin crisscrossing with Choerry's living shade. Choerry let out a breath and closed her eyes. For a moment Jinsoul thought that her eyes had gone out of focus, but then she realised that the air around the two girls had actually blurred. When Choerry opened her eyes again they were pure white. She opened her mouth blindly, making little ah noises.
The ghost stopped crying.
"I can speak," Choerry said, voice filled with awe. "The curse has been lifted from me!"
"Of course you can speak, Choerry," Lip said a little impatiently.
"It's not Choerry," Jinsoul replied.
"Indeed not," Choerry said, hand still gripping the ghost's. "My name is Olivia Hye."
"Olivia Hye. Were you a student here?" Kim Lip asked.
"What do you know about Yves?" Jinsoul chimed in.
Choerry blinked. "Yves killed me sixty years ago, when I was indeed a student here. She cut out my tongue, placing me under the curse of silence from which you have just freed me, and flung me to damnation. I had found what she is, you see."
"And what is that?" Jinsoul breathed.
"A demon. Straight from hell. Or, in layman's terms, a vampire."
"How do you figure that?"
"I am a student of medicine. She was causing blood loss in girls she was close to, even her own lover. Also, I read some of the books she kept in our room. She had many about vampires."
"What do you want to do?" Lip asked. It was the obvious question to ask a ghost.
"I have to warn you! Yves was sent by the devil to corrupt girls and bring them into hell. In my life, I tried to warn my best friend that she was being fed upon by the forces of evil. I falsely believed that there was still time for God to save her. But Yves made it clear that there wasn't. Not for either of us."
Choerry's hand reached for Olivia's hair and drew it from her neck, revealing the small bruise splattered against her skin. Jinsoul sucked in a breath.
"You were sick."
"I was doomed. When Yves placed me under this curse I knew that I would go to hell no matter what I did. My life lost its purpose and I flung myself into oblivion."
"You must have been pretty surprised to wake up here."
Choerry shrugged. "At first. But the solution is clear. Of course any world where demons exist is hell. We are all in hell, struggling to break free."
"You can still go to heaven, Olivia. You still have that chance," Jinsoul tried to reassure her.
Choerry looked at her linked hand. "I believe it."
"Time's up," Lip said quietly.
Olivia must know what that meant, because Choerry shook her head violently. Her hand tightened around Olivia's.
"No! No, don't make me go back to silence and death! I won't!"
"You have to," Jinsoul said, putting the phone on the floor and taking a step closer to the pair.
"No!" Choerry screamed, mouth stretching open to a degree that must have hurt.
Jinsoul lunged at their joined hands and grabbed Olivia's arm, ripping her away from Choerry. The ghost reached for Choerry, but Jinsoul held her apart with arms wrapped around her middle. She felt ghostly water drip on her hands when Olivia started to cry again.
Choerry collapsed to the floor. Jinsoul cautiously released Olivia, who just stood there again, and rushed to Choerry's side. The young girl moved slightly when Jinsoul gathered her in her arms. She managed to open her eyes.
"I'm fine," Choerry croaked.
"What's happening? What was that?" Lip asked, frustrated at her lack of visibility.
"We have a vampire on our hands," Jinsoul told her.
"Right. I am so coming. Don't do anything stupid. And by anything stupid I mean anything without me."
"Alright," Jinsoul smiled.
"Is Choerry alright?"
"I am," Choerry answered as loudly as she could, which was just over a whisper.
"See you soon." Kim Lip hung up.
Jinsoul stared at Choerry in astonishment. "What the hell was that?"
Choerry rubbed her eyes tiredly. "I learnt how to do it a couple years ago. I was living in some burnt out basement with a bunch other half-deads- that's people who can talk to ghosts- when my parents kicked me out and some of them could pull off that trick. It was used to allow the dead to move outside the areas that they were trapped in. Mostly to get their help in robbing stuff."
"It's dangerous," Jinsoul guessed.
Choerry nodded. "Bunch of people died doing it. Any more then a few minutes and the ghost gets attached. They'd drag you into dead before giving up their chance at life." Her hands clung weakly to Jinsoul's arms, suddenly seeming very fragile. "Now can we go to bed, please? I'm tired."
Jinsoul had to half-carry her back to bed, but they managed.
Jinsoul put Choerry to bed immediately, then sat up all night reading about vampires on her phone. She didn't even know that they existed and the internet wasn't very helpful. Her anxiety allowed her to get only a few hours of restless sleep. Throughout the night, she was woken up with the terrible fear that Yves was going to drink Choerry's blood tonight. The thought that that had happened to her right here, under Jinsoul's protection, was horrible to her.
Choerry was up early. Jinsoul woke to find her stumbling around the room, clutching her school uniform. She gently took the uniform away from her and sat her down on the bed.
"What do you think you're doing?"
"I'll go to school today and try and do something before Lip arrives," Choerry said. She swayed where she sat, too weak to even sit straight.
"You are absolutely not doing that. I will go to class to keep suspicion off us and tell Vivi that you're sick. Yves already knows you're sick because it's partly her fault, so there's no way she'll guess that anything's up. Then we'll figure out a plan when Lip gets here."
Choerry collapsed back onto her pillow. "Alright. I'll see you after class, then."
"See you then."
As Jinsoul was heading out, Choerry cleared her throat. Jinsoul glanced back at her.
"Um, about what I said last night. About my past. Could you just forget about that?" She stared at the blanket, her fingers twisting the sheets.
Jinsoul nodded, smiling to herself. "Of course. It never happened."
After all, everyone's entitled to their secrets.
School was extremely hard to focus on, so Jinsoul didn't even try. At lunch, she bumped into Haseul. Haseul had been pretty mad at them ever since Yeojin had been bitten, but she stopped when Jinsoul put a hand on her arm.
"Hey, we've made significant progress. The person responsible for the illness is Yves, not the ghost. Lip is coming today. Can you be in Vivi's office after class?"
Haseul agreed. "Do you want me to tell Vivi?"
"No, I've got her as a teacher next. She's substituting for modern history. I'll tell her."
Jinsoul always looked forwards to modern history. She hadn't seen Heejin and Hyunjin today, although she usually ate lunch with them. She was wondering where they were.
She sat down in her usual spot and turned around to say hi to them, only to find empty tables. Vivi hurried towards her, looking worried.
"Hey, where are Heejin and Hyunjin?" Jinsoul asked her.
"That's what I've come to tell you. Principal Yves asked them to come to her office. It's really weird, she never lets anyone into her office and never deals with discipline personally. It's probably nothing, but after our last meeting I've been on my guard."
Jinsoul felt like the floor had dropped out from under her. Yves would know that Heejin and Hyunjin were her friends, right? And even if it had nothing to do with her, she did not want them anywhere near that vampire.
"I've gotta go," she said, nearly pushing Vivi over in her haste to get out the door. Vivi stared after her, mystified and annoyed.
Jinsoul sprinted to Yves's office. The door was open. Heejin and Hyunjin were sitting on two chairs facing Yves's desk, while she stood opposite them. A silver locket she wore caught the sunlight, momentarily blinding Jinsoul. The stolen yearbook sat plainly on the desk. Jinsoul felt her blood run cold.
She looked up and smiled when she saw Jinsoul lingering at the door. It could have been Jinsoul's imagination, but her teeth seemed sharp. She shuddered.
"Welcome, Jinsoul," she said. "Please come in. And close the door after you."
Heejin and Hyunjin twisted around to look at her. Jinsoul reluctantly did as she was told.
"I know about you," she said, still standing close to the door.
"Same goes," Yves replied.
Heejin slammed her hands on the table. "Well, I don't know anything about anyone! I swear to God we didn't steal that book."
"She knows," Jinsoul said. "It was a trap to get me here."
"You stole it?" Heejin asked.
"My roommate did. Guys, this is going to sound crazy, but Yves is a vampire. She must have been in my room last night to drink Choerry's blood and found that. We all need to run right now."
Yves had moved to the other side of the desk and now walked to the door and locked it. "Nobody's going anywhere. I know that you're not a real student, Jinsoul. You were just sent here to investigate me, right?"
"What the fuck are either of you talking about?" Hyunjin cried out.
Jinsoul groped for the picture of Go Won. "You killed her, right?"
"No. She's still alive as far as I know."
"How could she have killed her?" Heejin asked. "Yves isn't that old."
"I'm about two hundred years old," Yves said calmly, advancing slowly on Jinsoul.
"Alright. Either you're crazy, or…"
"Or she's a vampire! Let's get out of the chairs, guys."
Heejin stood up, pulling Hyunjin with her. The couple joined Jinsoul in her backing away, holding hands tightly.
"You did write the thing on the back, though?"
"Of course. I hated that bitch. Her and Olivia were always trying to turn Chuu away from me." Yves's hand gripped the locket she wore protectively
"So you killed Olivia."
"No I didn't. She killed herself. I'm not a killer."
"What are you talking about? You killed Yujin."
Yves tossed her head in acknowledgement. The trio were now backed into a corner. "Ok, yeah, I did. But she was so delicious. She tasted just like Chuu, I couldn't help myself." Yves licked her lips. "Chuu was so delicious, I tried so hard to not drink from her but couldn't help it. I doubt any of you will be even half so good."
"Oh my god," Heejin whispered under her breath.
"And now that I've killed one person, why not add three more to my list? Let's start with you, Jinsoul."
With that, Yves dove for Jinsoul's neck. Jinsoul screamed and flailed about, managing to knock off about half of Yves's books from the shelf. But before Yves could touch her she was thrown to one side.
Hyunjin had taken a running leap right into Yves and slammed her into the bookcase. Jinsoul took the opportunity to run to another corner, trying to get away from Heejin, who she vaguely saw make a beeline for the desk.
Yves screamed in annoyance and easily lifted Hyunjin into the air. She flung her in the general direction of the door. Hyujin crunched against the wall and slumped to the floor, not moving. Jinsoul heard Heejin scream, but it was background noise compared to the rushing in her ears.
Then in a blur of movement Yves's hands were on Jinsoul, pinning her to the floor, and Yves's mouth was on Jinsoul's throat. Her front two teeth had sharpened and she plunged these into Jinsoul's flesh.
Jinsoul immediately understood how Yves had been able to do this to people in their sleep. Rather then feeling pain, she was overwhelmed with a deep tiredness. She suddenly felt like she was about to collapse. Blackness rushed towards her as her blood left her.
She was dimly aware of movement around her. Heejin had grabbed something from the desk and tossed it to Hyunjin, who opened the door. They were both shouting at Jinsoul. She also heard someone who sounded strangely like Lip speaking.
"She's in love with a human! It's her only weakness!"
Jinsoul couldn't care less about any of that, though. She just wanted to sleep.
Right when her eyes were about to close, she became aware of a second presence over her. She forced her eyes open and saw that Heejin was right over Yves. Heejin seized Yves's locket and flung it across the room.
As it hit the ground it sprung open and Jinsoul saw the picture inside. It was the same girl who was hugging Yves in the school picture but older, maybe in her late twenties.
Yves detached herself from Jinsoul and scrambled for the locket.
"C'mon!" Heejin screamed, pulling Jinsoul to her feet and towards the door.
Jinsoul followed her, clamping one hand to her neck to stem the flow of blood. Outside, Heejin slammed the door and locked it. Jinsoul collapsed in the nearest pair of arms that were ready to receive her, which turned out to belong to Kim Lip.
"I've missed you," she said, rubbing small circles on Jinsoul's back.
Jinsoul could have cried she was so happy to see her. "Me too."
Yves slammed against the door. "You think I don't have a spare key?" she shouted through the wood.
Haseul, who was also there, looked at Lip. "What are we going to do?"
"Not to worry." Lip guided Jinsoul to the floor and reached into a canvas bag she'd brought with her, withdrawing a strange looking gun.
"That had better be some advanced vampire-killing gun," Hyunjin said.
"Nope! It's a nail gun," Lip also took out a piece of wood.
"What are we supposed to do with that, build a shelf?" Hyunjin snapped.
"Sometimes the best solutions are the simplest. Watch and learn."
Lip placed the wood on the crack between the door and the wall and used the nail gun to secure it in place. She then did that four more times with different pieces.
Almost as soon as she was done, the door unlocked and Yves slammed against it again. She chuckled when it didn't move.
"How long do you think you can keep me in here? A couple of hours?"
"A couple of hours is long enough," Lip told her. Then she glanced at the rest of them. "It is, right?"
Jinsoul shrugged, exhausted. She had already stopped bleeding and just had a bruise on her neck, but she was still slumped against the wall.
It didn't take long to gather the whole gang in the corridor by the office. Vivi and Haseul secured the corridor and kept students out while the rest of them tried to decide what to do.
"Yves was seriously here when the school closed?" Hyunjin said. Heejin was pressing a wet cloth to the blood matting in her hair.
"Yes, I was," Yves said through the door. She was sitting on the other side, listening to them. She had stopped trying to break through and instead was being smarmy and annoying.
"What did you do when it closed?" Lip asked.
"I followed Chuu. I was in love with her, you know."
"I think that's pretty clear," Jinsoul muttered, thinking with relief of Yves chasing the locket.
"She lived an amazing life," Yves said wistfully. "She became a major advocate for gay rights. Never got married, but she lived with a girlfriend for twenty years."
"And all the while she was being stalked by a vampire," Choerry muttered, with Yeojin lying in her arms. "That's repulsive."
"Why did you come back here?"
"How?" Lip asked suspiciously.
"Cancer. What, you thought I killed her? I never drank her blood again."
"She probably locked her doors at night, that's why," Yeojin said to Choerry. Choerry snorted.
"What's the deal with Olivia?" Lip asked.
"What is this, an interrogation? Olivia knew what I was, she had to die. I cut out her tongue so she couldn't tell anyone even if she survived. I didn't think she'd let Chuu know, but she did. Both of us lost everything that night."
"She's tied to the old school, right?" Jinsoul asked Choerry, who nodded.
"We could get rid of her by destroying those parts of the school."
"Why did you even keep her around? Why not destroy those parts yourself?" Heejin asked the door.
"Didn't know that would work."
"I don't think so," Lip said slowly. "You kept her around because you hate her. You like seeing her tortured like she is now. That's why you're making everyone who she tries to talk to sick, so she can't even have small comforts of being acknowledged."
Yves was silent. Jinsoul felt a shiver run down her spine.
She stood up, leaning against the wall for balance. "Let's get out of here. I'm sick of her."
They left Yves trapped in her office. On the way out, Lip turned to Vivi. "By the way, you have about an hour to get all these students out of the school."
Vivi gaped at her, then run off with Haseul.
Two hours later Jinsoul was standing outside behind the school. All the other students were milling on the front lawn. Most were milling around in confusion. All parents had been called saying that the school was closing early this year due to an accident and some were already on their way. Jinsoul's throat still hurt from doing that job.
Heejin passed her a long stick, which Jinsoul twirled experimentally. "Are you sure about this?" she asked Lip.
"It's all I can think of," Lip shrugged. "Don't see why it wouldn't work. Ok, let's split up. And make sure none of the students see you."
Jinsoul followed Lip to the corner of the school, hiding in the bushes. Lip pulled a lighter out from her pocket and pressed the small flame to the tip of Jinsoul's stick. Jinsoul flinched away as fire gushed out of the end.
"Quick!" Lip urged, so Jinsoul threw the stick at the school.
Fortunately, the fire caught. Jinsoul looked on in awe as flames crept up the side of the building, quickly spreading in leaps and bounds. The students started to make a commotion.
Jinsoul looked at Lip, suddenly remembering something. "Lip! We don't want to cause a bushfire."
Lip's face was mischievous as she handed Jinsoul a fire extinguisher. "Ok. You'll put out everything on the trees. Have a fun time."
"Ugh, I just remembered that I hate you," Jinsoul moaned.
Hours later, the school was almost entirely gone, a burnt husk of its former self, and the students were also gone. Heejin and Hyunjin gave Jinsoul a final ashy hug before being collected by their respective parents.
Odd Eye Circle reunited on the front lawn. They were joined by the other, Haseul holding Yeojin's hand safely.
Haseul glanced at Lip awkwardly. "Um… how much do we owe you guys, anyway?"
"A lot." Lip said comfortably. "We'll work it out when we get home. Ready to go, guys?"
Jinsoul thought of their small and comfortable van and got hit with homesickness. "Yes, very."
The six girls headed back to two cars. Jinsoul climbed in the passenger seat and listened to the engine purring.
In the back seat, Choerry was texting.
"Are you talking to Yeojin already? It's been like a second." Lip said.
"Yeah, I am. So what?"
"Nothing! Just, what can you have to say to her already?"
"Hey, quit judging!"
Jinsoul watched out the window with a sense of satisfaction as she listened contentedly to their bickering. Finally, everything felt safe and comfortable.
And if she thought she saw a dark vampire-shaped figure in the woods, well, it was easy dismissed as just her paranoia.
I'm SORRY to end it like that, I just had to
I tried to minimise the exposition-y nature of this chapter, so if you still have questions hit me up in the comments
This is actually my first time writing a multi-chapter fic that I posted as I was writing it. It got a really good response, so thank you all so much!! Especially THANK YOU if you commented or left kudos, everything that I got meant so much to me