she looks so mature.
the thought takes him by surprise. he knew her when she was nineteen, far cuter than alluring. now she's here at his door, eyelashes dark and hair light, her dark lipstick matching the shade of her top. it's not anything, but…he knew her when she was sixteen. the thought is something that he doesn't know what to do with, and so jihyun takes another quiet sip from his glass. she's grown up well, if that means anything. he knows that.
they talked to each other in the hallways, brief snippets of conversation that were just as long as his nonexistent conversations with minyoung and byeol. they were short. they had interacted some, worked together in relative silence, and greeted each other at social events and functions. he remembers that much. he remembers clapping for olive once they won awards, smoothing out the creases in his jacket as he smiled-wholeheartedly smiled-for them, leaning on another member's shoulder to whisper in their ear about how pretty minnie looked in that dress, how byeol looked stunning, how kakyuu's voice had been particularly beautiful that evening, how bayani looked like he was glowing. he talked a lot, those days. he was quieter, now. more reserved.
they didn't talk. kakyuu was sweet. he sent her chocolates after bayani's death. candies. expensive things, things that he made himself, a mix of the two, a handwritten note in his careful penmanship that distinctly and clearly had her name, address, and nothing else. he didn't know how to cope with death then. he still doesn't.
loss is something that no one should ever learn how to deal with. loss and love are two of the most changing, transformative things in the world, and they should stay as untouchable, inevitable forces.
she had sent letters back. he didn't read them at first. he didn't think he was allowed to, and so instead he set them aside in a small box for when, if ever, the situation ever arose when he could. he bumped into them when he was cleaning out her things, half a year from now and so long from bayani's death. he had taken a bottle of wine, poured it, and began to read through her korean characters. she had said a lot of things. she had thanked him, had written words upon words of his praise. he had smiled, folded it back up, and stored it in the pocket of his coat. he still has the letters, locked in a wooden box in his room. she must have been exaggerating. no one could think that highly of himself. there was nothing to admire, after all. monster is simply himself. she must be a rather odd person if she thinks otherwise, but he's been meeting a few odd people lately.
he hadn't responded. it would seem odd to do so, years later, completely out of place for him to do so. he began to write something, once, and then gave up when he hadn't been able to get much more than a dot on a piece of lined paper to draft out his thoughts. the dot had eventually turned into the elegant shape of a piano note, and then another, and then another. he had forgotten about the original purpose of the letter when he had drawn crooked lines for it to become a makeshift music sheet. he had redone it, later, on more proper materials, smoothing out the imperfections, and it had become a song. not a song on any of their albums, but a song, nonetheless. he's played it, sometimes, in their dorm with an old keyboard across his lap in vlives. it's not one of his favorite.
family. he hasn't toyed with the thought of family for a while, but it's the same with him. undeniably, they are his family. he would do anything for them, and he hopes that they know that-that they are comforted by the fact that their leader would do anything for them. they've…they are close. they've spent so much time together that jihyun can rattle off a list of injustices against him caused by his group members in alphabetical order. "i'm glad you have that family," he tells her instead. "truly."
she talks about a death.
jihyun drops his cup.
it's mostly empty, by now. the impact on the ground is almost obscene: loud, shattering, and immediately breaking the tentative amount of peace that had accumulated in the apartment. he stares at her with wide eyes, never once breaking eye contact. the water seeps across tile, and the pieces of it remain stationary after tinkling across the kitchen floor. she knows. "leave it," he says immediately, sharper than he intended it to be. and then, softer, more pleadingly, "leave it."
he's not talking about the cup anymore. he's not sure what he's talking about.
before this, not a lot of people could say that they heard monster beg. he was just impeccably in control of his own devices, a serious-then-silly figure. he wishes he brought something stronger than water. there had to be something in their dorms, right? men in their thirties, and not a single thing to drink. ridiculous. nowadays, all monster seems to do is beg. he almost stands up and leaves the conversation, but then he realizes that would be rude. that all kakyuu wants to do is help. at least, that's what he tells himself is the reason. he just…doesn't want her to see how much of a wreck he's become. that all he relies on nowadays is alcohol and something much, much weaker, more self-destructive. he stays there at the table, glancing at kakyuu warily. the tension in the room builds, a weak link. the thunder strikes again, a few beats behind the lightning. his friendliness is gone, replaced with a politeness that he doesn't know what to do with. he sounds calmer than he is. his heartbeat thuds against the cage of his ribs, asking to come out and explode. "what do you know?"
do anything for you. do anything for him? jihyun almost scoffs. instead, he keeps a straight face. he sighs.
"kyungja," he says. there are no formalities, no honorifics, no masks, no respect, no boundaries, no wishes, no words for this that fit perfectly. they are here. they exist. there is nothing else. he looks her straight in the eye. plink. plink. plink. it's too quiet, too dark, too reminiscent of when he was blind. he's not blind anymore. not blind in love, not blind in anything else. "kyungja. there is nothing that you can do. there is nothing that there is to do."
a pause. his eyes look weighted. he wants to tell her that there's nothing to do for a broken heart. that's a lie, of course. she stands before him, looking relatively happy and healthy. he's happy for her. he really is, in his own, terrified way, in the way that he feels scared to love another person now because they all seem to leave him in the end. he watches her breathe, disconnected from the world at hand, and says, "i'm sorry. she meant a lot to me." a short, bitter laugh. he drags his hand down his face. "who am i kidding? she still means a lot to me. she always will."
she looks so mature.
he knew her when she was nineteen.
she's twenty-six, now. she's not nineteen. they're not two separate lines. they've met. they're collided. this is the crux of it.