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Sometimes, Shuhua feels lost, almost as if she's a black and white image in a world full of color, almost like she's an ugly weed in a field of beautiful flowers. She sees herself as a heavy anchor (both metaphorically and physically) that drags down the boat that was (g)idle. These feelings of uncertainty and instability were quite frequent; it was hard to ignore it when her members excelled around her in all aspects, singing, dancing, variety, everything, you name it.

 

She watched them rise up, as she stayed in the burning, torturous confinements of her own mind, those hate comments sure had a point. Why would they lie about such a thing, anyway? Not when it was true. 

 

Even throughout her own pressing internal dilemma, she still felt loved. Even at her lowest point, she still felt loved, as there was one person who showed her love, who cherished her, and who had her back through thick and thin. That person was Seo Soojin. 

 

Soojin was a phenomenon, or so Shuhua thought, as she watched the girl bloom as a main dancer, taking on the hardships of what being an idol is like without a single doubt in her passionate mind. Shuhua always wished that she could feel that way, that she had the mental drive and capacity to push herself to do better, to be better, but she couldn't, not when everything in her life was spinning out of control, and she no longer had control over her confidence, over the way people thought.

 

Despite all of these problems, Soojin has always had her back, up until he arrived. Up until she didn't.

 

Shuhua could only watch, as the love of her life, the one thing that kept her going, started to drift away in the sea, so far away, that she was out of Shuhua's grasp. She witnessed it all, as Soojin left her in a jail cell, waiting to rot, waiting to die. 

 

 

"Jin Jin! Can we watch a movie?"  

 

The other girls were going out to dinner, so it was just Soojin and Shuhua who resided in their home that night. 

 

"What? No, Shuhua." Soojin answered roughly, pushing Shuhua's feigning hand away, as the youngest girl felt a pang in her heart, shards of glass slowly stabbing her. 

 

"Why not?" Shuhua tried one last time: there seemed to be no use anymore. 

 

"Hui is taking me out to dinner tonight." Soojin answered, as she tried to stand up, Shuhua clinging to her like her life depended on it. 

 

"Again? Are you serious?" Shuhua commented harshly, quite a large reflection on how she was feeling; transparency probably wasn't the best method here.

 

Soojin had been attending dinners with Hui almost every single night, and Shuhua was sick of it, quite frankly. What happened to their little movie dates? What happened to their tradition of making brownies every Friday night, since brownies were Shuhua's favorite, and Soojin couldn't deny her? What happened to the bond they had, the one that was now practically nonexistent?

 

"What are you talking about? Stop annoying me, Shuhua!" Soojin turned to yelling now, as Shuhua scoffed, Soojin's ignorance was the tip of the iceberg, and Shuhua was so close to plunging into the dark, freezing water. 

 

"You know what, forget it. Have fun, Soojin." Shuhua said bitterly, the salty aftertaste of the venom burning on her tongue. She walked away, leaving Soojin alone. 

 

 

Her hand hovered over the paper, shaking, as light tear drops rained on the page, marking it up with physical representations of her repeated pain and sorrow. The pen shook in her hand, as she continued to write the letter. 

 

It was Christmas Eve, as the girls all gathered around the fire, smiling contently as they snuggled in their blankets. Shuhua turned to her left, smiling softly as she looked at Miyeon's head resting on Minnie's shoulder. She wanted nothing more than for them to be happy. 

 

She turned to her right, where Soyeon and Yuqi were bickering, yet laughing with each other, and Shuhua could only yearn for a relationship like that, something so pure and comfortable. 

 

Shuhua looked down at her hands, because the space next to her was empty. Soojin had been out with Hui all day, and she probably wouldn't be coming back home anytime soon. 

 

She couldn't take it anymore, as she stood up quietly, leaving the room in a heartbeat, looking behind her to see if anyone followed her; that's right, no one ever notices her, do they? 

 

In just a set of pajamas, she sat on the cold pavement, watching the snow fall down as the clock ticked in the streets, the lights setting the mood to a bright orange. 

 

"I wonder if I deserve this, if this is just my reality?" Shuhua asked herself, as she wallowed in her loneliness, in her despair, as her friends all reveled in happiness, something she would have killed to experience. 

 

She could hear faint footsteps, the sound of snow crunching along boots, and hot, heavy breath. 

 

There she was, Shuhua's one and only.

 

This time, she was kissing another person. What a harsh reality. 

 

Shuhua could only watch, as the love of her life spent her happiness with someone else, something that Shuhua could not offer her. 

 

 

"I don't belong here, and even they know that." Shuhua mumbled to herself, her hands shaking slightly after she finished writing the letter. 

 

In a flash of light, Shuhua grabbed her things, shoving everything she possibly could into a backpack, something untraceable. 

 

"I guess this is goodbye, isn't it." Shuhua whispered, as she ran out of the dorm, for the last time. 

 

No trace of her could be seen. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Soojin and the other members arrived home, as they put their things down. 

 

They had finally been able to go to the movies as a group, minus Shuhua, who said she had something important to do that day. 

 

"Shu! We're home!" Soyeon called out, as the girls waited for a loud voice and some harsh steps.

 

Nothing. No sound was heard.

 

"Maybe she didn't hear you?" Miyeon asked, as Soyeon had already run upstairs to see if the girl was in her room. 

 

"Shuhua! Where are you?" Yuqi yelled, her voice echoing with absolutely no response.

 

"She isn't here, guys." Soyeon said, now in a panicked state, as Soojin's alarm bells went off in her brain.

 

"Is she alright? Is she hurt?" Soojin thought, worrying taking over her. 

 

"You guys might want to see this." Minnie stood there with wide eyes, grasping a note that laid delicately on the dining room table. 

 

Dear unnies,

 

Do you ever feel as if you're drowning? As if you're clawing at the surface, but it's impossible to breath, as you yearn for survival, for a chance to live. Hope isn't ideal, or so I've learned.

 

Miyeon unnie, thank you for always being there for me, for always accompanying me in my foolish endeavors, as we both revel in idiotic fun. Thank you for being a great friend to me.

 

Minnie unnie, thank you for all of the great advice, and for always reminding me of my roots, of the person I aspire to be like. You've been nothing but nice to me.

 

Soyeon unnie, thank you for showing me how to be a good person, for helping to engrain great morals inside of me that I will always remember, even if we never meet again.

 

Yuqi, thank you for being my best friend, for helping me with my Korean, and for always supporting me in every journey of mine. I truly hope you keep your wonderful smile and jealous attitude for the rest of your life.

 

Lastly, Soojin unnie. Thank you for being the light of my life, for being the one thing that kept me going for so long. I hope you keep your shyness, or all of your flaws, matter of fact, because that's what makes you so beautiful to me. I've always loved you, Jin, and I always will love you.

 

Things around here are truly better off without me, with the minuscule "talent" I may have. 

 

I wish nothing but happiness and great health for all you all to come.

 

Love, your maknae Shu 

Chapter Text

June 15th

 

Shuhua looked at her phone calendar, stilling along with the breeze outside of her small condo. She watched the kids walk by, playing in their ideas of minuscule fun. Shuhua wishes she had kept her innocence, that she had kept the things that made her the happiest. 

 

She lost that all when she lost her rock, the calm in her storm, the one thing that always grounded her. The one girl named Seo Soojin.

 

It had been one year, exactly today, that she packed up her bags and left, that she stripped them of her many problems and insecurities, and even if she spends some nights crying alone in the dark, clutching the blanket that still smelled particularly like her, as the thunder boomed, it was worth it, for allowing Soojin to be happy was the best decision she had ever made.

 

She had always made sure to keep up with her friends, even from afar. 

 

 

She always streamed their music, watched their variety appearances, and often commented nice things about them using an anonymous account on their live streams. Today was no exception, as she sat down on her balcony, her previous home in Taiwan, as she connected her headphones to her computer, tuning into their (now) 5 member live. 

 

"Hey everyone!"  Yuqi shouted, making Shuhua smile. She sure did miss that rascal, despite Yuqi's numerous attempts at annoying the living daylights out of her. 

 

"How are you guys?" Minnie asked, as Soyeon and Miyeon sat by her side, watching as Yuqi's face bombarded the screen, trying to read the fast paced comments. 

 

Shuhua's attention turned to Soojin, as she sat next to Soyeon. The girl of her dreams kept glancing over to her right, where no one resided. Shuhua was beginning to think that it may have been habitual for Soojin to make sure she was there, this time, there was no need. 

 

She had been gone for a year already. 

 

"Do you guys miss Shuhua? When is she coming back?" A comment asked, as Yuqi's eyes softened, her expression now slightly solemn, as she tried to put on her best face for the many fans watching. 

 

"Yuqi? Are you alright?" Soyeon asked her, her eyes swirling in concern as Yuqi gazed into them lovingly. 

 

"A comment asked if we missed Shuhua." Yuqi reiterated, as Shuhua watched in curiosity, not failing to notice how Soojin's eyes teared up a little. 

 

"Of course, we're not the same without our maknae." Soyeon answered on everyone's behalf, as Minnie hurriedly started to look for other questions to answer, to shift the focus off of something that clearly bothered them.

 

Shuhua shut her computer, taking a breath as salty tears started to fall down her face, her hands shaking as she tried to wipe them, to no avail, of course. She missed them so much, but the bad outweighed the good. 

 

She caused them too much stress and trouble, and she wouldn't let her stupid feelings get in the way of that. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One year, one damn year, and Soojin still couldn't get over the absence of her once best friend, of the girl who's smile always made her happy, of the one young member of their group that Soojin knew she always had a soft spot for, that she loved.

 

 

It was always too late for her. Maybe in another lifetime, perhaps. 

 

The live stream only made things worse, in her opinion. Dealing with internally was one thing, but having to hear it repeated all over again? That was just rubbing salt in the bleeding wound. 

 

"I wish I knew how you were feeling beforehand, Shuhua. I would have reminded you that you're so beautiful and ethereal to me, that you were and still are the reason I get up every morning. I wish that I could have the opportunity to say this to you, to show you how much we need you, how much I still and always will need you." Soojin looked up at the skies, tracing the pattern of the constellations. A bright star whizzed by in the sky, and Soojin thought, maybe, just maybe, there was a chance for them again. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Coming back to Korea certainly wasn't on Shuhua's 'To-Do list' for the week. 

 

Her longtime friend Tzuyu, had told her that she wanted her to meet her girlfriend, some Japanese girl named Sana, or so Shuhua thought. Her Japanese was pretty poor in itself.

 

Who was Shuhua to say no? Not especially when Tzuyu was the one she ran to when she left the group, ignoring all of the articles, letters, and notifications, as Tzuyu helped her gain confidence, slowly but surely. She owed it all to the girl for helping create a person that Shuhua could now be proud of. 

 

"You're telling me that I have to walk there? You've got to be kidding me."  Shuhua thought, scoffing as she grabbed her black umbrella, starting her walk to her old favorite cafe, the place where she met Tzuyu in the first place. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Soojin woke up in their dorm, a now two person dorm, due to Shuhua's absence. They had gotten two puppies, a short time after their maknae left, in honor of Shuhua, who had always wanted a dog, but the company hadn't allowed it at that time. 

 

After feeding Mata and Haku, she wrote a note to Miyeon, as she grabbed her favorite black umbrella, pushing the door open as she walked towards her favorite cafe.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

"So how did you two meet?" Shuhua asked, as she sat in a booth, facing Tzuyu and her friendly girlfriend.

 

"I was shopping in the mall with my friends, as she tripped right in front of me, and the rest was history." Tzuyu laughed as she recited the moment, one that changed her life for the better.

 

"I personally think it was unique. Now I'm certain that she won't ever forget me." Sana smirked, as Shuhua joined into the laughter, feeling relatively calm and welcome in her favorite cafe, a place she missed so much.

 

She remembers how she used to take Soojin here, how Soojin would almost always order an iced coffee, one that opposed her piping hot chocolate. 

 

The two girls would talk about anything and everything, you name it,they talked about it. Nothing was ever awkward, an aura of comfortableness always exuded around them, as they created memories in this cafe, in the exact seat where Shuhua was currently sitting. 

 

All she could ever hope was that Soojin was always happy. Knowing that would put an end to all of Shuhua's worries. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The meeting at the cafe wrapped up, as Sana had gotten an emergency text from her boss, meaning she had to leave, and Tzuyu was her ride in the first place. 

 

"Thanks for coming, Shu. You look so much happier than the last time I saw you, I'm really glad you're doing better." Tzuyu told her with a soft smile.

 

"I owe it all to you. You were right, time really does heal all wounds." Shuhua smiled back, as Tzuyu bid her goodbye, driving off in the rain, as Shuhua looked up at the gray skies. 

 

"Guess it's time to walk."  Shuhua thought, as she opened the door of the cafe, stepping out, when her umbrella flew out of her hands, blowing away in the wind before she could stop it. 

 

"My luck is horrible, wow." Shuhua muttered to herself, as she began to walk home in the pouring rain, the walk was at least 20 minutes, give or take. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Soojin noticed a girl with raven hair, and a solemn complexion, and somehow knew that she had to go over there and share her umbrella, for the girl was soaked and probably freezing. 

 

"Would you like to share my umbrella with me?" Soojin asked softly, and Shuhua knew that soft, familiar voice from anywhere.

 

"My pleasure." Shuhua responded, smiling softly when she locked eyes with Soojin, the latter embracing her tightly. 

 

The two girls stood there, under the umbrella, watching the rain drops fall by in slow motion; rather Shuhua's heart was beating so loudly, giving her an altered version of reality, perhaps. 

 

"I knew I would find you." Soojin said, her eyes moving up in crescents, as Shuhua sighed contently, her arm already linked with the taller girl besides her. 

 

"I never really left, did I?"

 

 

 

Shuhua had finally found her home, her rock, her lifeline. 

 

She felt like she could breathe again.

 

She was no longer drowning.