iu/t-ara, jiyeon/jieun. 2,804 words.
Jiyeon was born to tear the world down, where Jieun was just trying to survive.
Note(s): This was writen for parodicals for the ambitiousgirls challenge.
“What are you wearing?” Jieun looks down at her orange dress and white hosiery, and raises an eyebrow. Jiyeon, who looks like someone who walked right out of a fashion magazine with her perfect makeup and black, low cut dress, crosses the room in three quick click, click clicks of her stilettos on the floor, and grabs her hand. Jieun flinches at the sound.
“Sorry? What’s wrong with it?” She pulls her hand back. She’d tried hard, picked out the dress herself after much deliberation and way too many dresses that made her head spin.
“Do you really think anyone at the bars are going to want to listen to someone who looks like a china doll?” Jiyeon smiles, primly, reaching out and squeezing her hand. “And by anyone, I mean me. Now, where are your dresses?” She asks, turning on her heels like a whirlwind. Her hair nearly smacks Jieun in the face, but she sits down on her bed before it can and slumps forward, head in her hands and elbows on her knees as she sulks and watches Jiyeon tear through her closet, whipping through her clothes.
“I thought that was the point.” Her hands muffle her voice and her shoulders fall as Jiyeon pulls out a black dress.
“This is perfect.” Jiyeon pulls to her feet and spins her around with a warm hand. “Come on,” she whispers, pressing against her back and pulling out her hair tie as she does. “Lets get you dressed up.”
Lee Jieun is in love with a beautiful girl, who holds her close in public, but not too close, and takes her out on the town. She dresses her up and holds her by the hand and kisses her with one foot down a step on the stairwell and one hand against the back of her neck, warm and soft and everything she ever wanted. Jiyeon looks at her with hypnotising kohl dark eyes at night and a beaming smile in the morning. Jieun’s in love with a beautiful girl who can’t cook to save her life but knows how to break brick with her fist. Tonight, Jiyeon takes her by the hand with twilight in her hair and the moon kissing her lips with a promise in her smile.
Jiyeon is a girl who hides her scars with eye makeup and a smile, but she’s a warrior, through and through, and she’ll take what she can get. Park Jiyeon is a girl with the knife in her hand ready to spring on the backs of many powerful people, with her cat claws raised and ready to scratch like Catwoman with too much to lose and everything to gain. She tore down the walls of social class at a bar once in a happy accident, and met and slept her way up the social ladder until she could afford to pay for anything and everything. And if she has to get it the way she gets it, then that’s okay, because its only a tiny kink in what she could do. She exists to tear down the walls because she was born to do it. This was how she finds Lee Jieun, and subsequently, its how she falls in love the only way she knows how. Passionately, with smiles and wiles and soft words whispered in her hair during a slow dance in the floor of a stranger’s penthouse.
“I think he likes you.” Jiyeon has her legs tucked under her chair, and she’s tapping her nails against the surface of the table. Jieun looks up as she’s looking through the ice cream menu after a minute, distracted from trying to decide on the banana split and the hot fudge sundae. She’s a traditionalist at the heart, and smiles at the waiter from where he at the register. He runs his hand through his hair and glances over at Jiyeon. When their eyes meet he freezes, and it takes him a moment to smile again.
“I think its you he likes,” Jieun says, tapping her menu against Jiyeon’s.
Jiyeon’s cheeks go red in a heartbeat, and she folds her arms around her belly, squeezing it and shrugging her shoulders awkwardly. There’s such a contrast between this girl that Jieun knows and the one she knows that exists in the middle of the night that she can’t help but stare for a moment, either. This girl doesn’t have nearly as much eyeliner on, or even make up. Her hair is tied back with a headband and thrown over her shoulder like a wave. She has a white sweater with the sleeves pushed up to her elbows and her jeans are hardly fashionable.
“I don’t think so,” she laughs, toying with her hair. “You’re the only one that likes me.” Her eyes are razor sharp when they meet hers and Jieun knows they were playing but thinks that there was truth in that. It makes her feel a little hollow inside. She opens her mouth to argue but Jiyeon raises her hand. “We’re ready to order,” she calls, and the boy shuffles over.
Neither he nor Jiyeon make eye contact, so when he does with Jieun, baring right through to her soul like he’s judging her with his dark eyes and his icy smile, she wonders what he’s doing in a friendly ice cream shop. “I’ll have the hot fudge sundae,” she says, staring right back at him, and feels a strange sense of accomplishment when he nods and walks away.
“I’m a traditionalist.” She whispers across the table with a wink, but Jiyeon doesn’t laugh again until their ice cream arrives.
Jieun isn’t a fool and she knows, just knows, that she’s not Jiyeon’s only person. When Jiyeon is off taking the world by storm, she folds clothes and cleans and waits. When she’s done cleaning, she watches television. When she doesn’t want to watch tv she composes songs with her guitar, softly, so she doesn’t disturb the neighbors. She’s never been obtrusive in her life, and she doesn’t mind being quietly in her place. Its the way she is and the way her Grandmother raised her, and she has a goal and she’s sticking to it. She’s a good person, and that means not backing away when things get tough, always being there for others even when they’re not there for her.
When Jiyeon comes back, whirling and dizzy with drink and someone else’s cologne on her skin, Jieun suppressed the deep, horrible wish to scrape it off with a knife and smiles into her kiss and slides into her embrace. People have been dancing like she has for centuries, and she’s okay with that. Jiyeon is the anti-hero of her own story and she likes it that way, and Jieun knows it, when she’s pressed down into the cushions and loved, that Jiyeon’s not always going to be hers.
They’re young when they meet. She’s at a party with a friend from high school, and once they might have been more than friends, but he found someone else and she found Jiyeon, but at the time they’d both been lonely and cynical and at the end of their ropes. They’re both fighters, but Yoseob’s small and friendless and miserable, and she’s not friendless but she’s still lonely.
Yoseob has a penthouse and he has a voice, and that was enough for people to come. It was enough for Jiyeon to come, in a fur coat and a beautiful dress that glittered like stars and a red smile that shone through her heart like the reflection of the light in her eyes. She sidled up to her where she was watching people make small talk, with her hands behind her back and stumbling a little in her heels.
“You’re watching people.” She made herself laugh and she leaned against the wall next to Jiyeon, who put aside her glass with a gracious smile.
“I like to watch.” She giggles a little herself, tapping the wall with her nails in a faintly familiar beat. “You’re not like the other people here, are you?”
“How do you mean?”
“You don’t seem very full of yourself,” Jiyeon replies with a shrug. Its the first graceless thing Jieun saw her do all evening. She seems to remember after a moment herself, and lifts her shoulders up. She loops an arm through hers and smiles. “Come on, lets go chit chat with the high class folks.” And she does a little skip that nearly knocks Jieun off her heels.
She’s lying in the dark, on her back, her eyes open and unseeing, when she hears the front door open and click closed. She hears stilettos click across the floor and waits while Jiyeon showers off the night. She grips the sheet in her hands and twists it around and around. She twists onto her side when she hears the shower door open, but she stars at the red numbers on the alarm clock until all she can see is the color.
When Jiyeon enters the room, bare feet shuffling against the floor, she fights to keep from stiffening as Jiyeon’s arm wraps around her middle, as her breath teases her hair as she rests her head on the back of her neck.
There’s silence for a long moment, while Jieun rolls words around in her tongue, opening and closing her mouth, until she can finally speak. “Why do you do it?” The words slur together, sounding like one long blur. She tries again. “Why do you do it?” She enunciates carefully, swallowing hard as Jiyeon stiffens against her.
“It’s just what I do,” she whispers, finally. “Did you think you were the only one?”
Jieun swallows, hard, against the lump appearing in her throat. No, she wants to say. Of course not. “Do you love them?” She asks instead, gripping the sheet so hard that her hands start to shake. Jiyeon sits up on her elbow, and pushes her to face her. She can see her above her, the glow from the alarm clock in her eyes and on her nose and cheek. She feels a finger stroking her cheek and flinches.
Jiyeon draws back, and a moment later the lamp on the bedside table clicks on the faintest setting. Jiyeon’s on her knees in the middle of the bed and her thigh rubs against her own. She leans over her, fiddles with the hem of her shirt. “Of course I don’t.” Her eyes are burning holes through her head.
“Don’t you get tired of it?” Jieun asks, voice hardly above a whisper. She feels very childish very suddenly, and very weary.
“Of course,” Jiyeon says, and then she gives a little nervous laugh. “Don’t you get tired of sitting at home, doing nothing?” Jieun sits up slowly, shying away from her on the bed and curling her feet up slowly.
“I haven’t done anything wrong.” She dropped her knees and squared her shoulders and looked Jiyeon in the eye.
“No, and you haven’t become a star yet, either.” She reaches forward to take her hand but Jieun doesn’t move. She’s mad but tired, and she didn’t want to fight. They’re still talking quietly but tension is twisting in her gut.
“What does that have to do with all of this?” She asks, gesturing wildly around the room and at Jiyeon.
“But people know who I am,” Jiyeon breathes, and her eyes gleam. “They know who I am and they know what I can do to them. I can tear them all down, and if its you and me against the world, then thats okay.”
“This won’t work.”
“But it will,” Jiyeon says, and she inches forward on her knees, long hair tangled behind her and her eyes shining with ambition, shoulders shaking with it. “This is how I’ll take the world. And when I have it, it’ll be yours.”
“Why me?” Jieun asks, letting Jiyeon take her hand because regardless, she’s curious. There’s a light in Jiyeon’s eyes that she’s seen before but never towards her. There’s a fire growing in her gut that she thought she’d never have. Jiyeon was light and fire and chaos and she was caught in the web, spinning.
“Because I love you.” Jiyeon smiles. “And I think you should be on the top of the world.”
Jieun finds herself laughing until she’s crying, and she’s not sure if she’s happy or sad when she takes her hands and pulls her close. She doesn’t think it’ll actually happen. She’s sure that Jiyeon will burn out, like a comet or a meteor. She’s sure that she will fall, and that no one will be there when it happens. “That’s alright, then.”
Lee Jieun’s in love with a beautiful girl. Half the world seems to be in love with her and her sharp eye smile and her charming smile that teeters a little on the edge of crazy. Jiyeon whips a fire in her stomach and whispers chaos in her ears. She leaves her orange dress at home when they go out, and she’s dressed like a different kind of doll when she holds her hand and pulls her into the club. In retrospect, she should have known. But then, she’s sure another part of her did. Park Jiyeon flirts her way through life, lets herself be pushed against walls and kissed senseless, plays her smile like a wildcard. She’s debonair, she’s sweet, but she always turns around in the crowd to pull her close.
Park Jiyeon pushes her into the spotlight and isn’t afraid when she herself falls because of it. She gives her a smile and a diamond necklace that must have cost a fortune, and all for a chance to let Jieun’s voice be heard. And Jieun sings, and sings, and never stops, until she feels like her throat is bleeding. She doesn’t fold towels alone again, doesn’t have time now. She sings and dances and twirls and smiles like that’s all there is.
There’s disbelief at the top of the world, and loneliness. Snide comments from other stars who don’t know where she came from, or how she got there, or who she loved or who she knew. And the truth was she knew none of them, and had done none of it, but it didn’t take long for her to realise that thats all there was up there.
She finds Jiyeon at the river like a scene from a cliche drama. One of the ones she used to watch before, when she wasn’t a star and she only had to worry about a looming conversation with her girlfriend. Jiyeon’s at the riverbank, on a bench with an old sweater and jeans from her brother. She doesn’t look like the girl she met at Yoseob’s party, but she doesn’t need to, either.
Jieun sits down, dressed in her little black dress with white cuffs, and smooths out the ruffles absently. She stares at her hands and clasps them together, licking her lips as she looks for the right words to say.
“You look like a china doll.” Jiyeon comments, sitting back on the bench. There’s a stalwart grin on her face when Jieun looks up. And there’s a heavy realization when she realises that Jiyeon’s not a hero. She’s all muscle and pent up bitterness. She has a thick accent sometimes when she gets really mad and it doesn’t take much to make her upset. But she has an easy smile and a gleam in her eye when she reaches over and wraps her arm around her shoulders. She’s warm, and smells like herself.
“Really?” Jieun huddles closer to her, unable to look towards the sunset because she can’t pull away from Jiyeon’s smile. “I’ve always hated those.” She rests her head against her shoulder and wraps an arm around her waist. “Can we go home? I think I have a pair of sweatpants at home with my name on them.” She smiles against the curve of Jiyeon’s neck and kisses her cheek of her hero, her warrior.
Lee Jieun is in love with a girl who’s as radiant, and smart, and witty. She’s funny and nice, and maybe a little too strong. But she’s fought tooth and nail all of her life and tore down the system just to get her in, and she’ll never forget it. Lee Jieun was alone all of her life until Jiyeon came along, and that’s all she ever wanted.
“Oh yeah, you have this appointment, with a friend of mine.” She smiles, sliding their hands together and watching the sun cast gold over the water. “Park Hyomin, ever hear of her? She’s making a group, but needs more people. I thought you might be interested.”