Toujours Belle XIII

“Taeyeon, Taeyeon!”

Tiffany gasped for air as she leaned against the wall. Taeyeon stared at her with an amused smile.

“I heard… your shop…” Tiffany wheezed, her hands flailing wildly.

“Breathe, Tiffany.”

“You got your shop back?”

“Yeah,” Taeyeon said with a smile, “I did.”

“Oh my god,” Tiffany exclaimed in relief and threw her arms around the surprised brunette. Taeyeon froze at the contact and cautiously placed a few awkward pats on Tiffany’s back.

“I’m sorry,” Tiffany whispered in a quavering voice, her arms tightening around Taeyeon’s shoulders, “I’m so so sorry.”

“It’s alright, Fany,” Taeyeon’s expression softened. “It was my fault too. I don’t blame you anymore.”

That morning standstill- Taeyeon stood in Tiffany’s arms; the latter crying into her hair, the breeze sending goosebumps up her arms and her legs were numbed but Taeyeon realized she didn’t really mind.

“I’m sorry,” Tiffany sniffed for the umpteen time that day as she sat meekly on the chair in Taeyeon’s bookstore. Taeyeon carefully took Tiffany’s hand and wrapped her fingers around a cup of warm coffee.

“Thank you,” Tiffany hiccuped.

“You are a mess,” Taeyeon whispered and brushed a few strands of hair away from Tiffany’s face. Taeyeon thought Tiffany was the most stunning human despite the smudged mascara, tear-stained cheeks and rosy cheeks.

“I’m sorry,” Tiffany apologized when Taeyeon gently ran her thumb across Tiffany’s cheek.

“Can you say something else besides sorry?” Taeyeon managed a small smile, gazing into Tiffany’s brown orbs.

“I like you.” Tiffany said genuinely with a blush.

Taeyeon chuckled. Where did that Kim Taeyeon who didn’t believe in love went, she wondered, When did Kim Taeyeon became so vulnerable in the face of love?

She didn’t know when but she began seeing the light in people again. She realized that there must be dark times when hope shine through and people change.

“Sorry that it took me so long,” Taeyeon smiled.

“Me too. I like you too.”

//////////

“I read that issue by the way,” Taeyeon shifted to properly hold Tiffany’s hand. “The Itaewon tattoo artist. You did a great job.”

“It was not bad,” Tiffany said, with a guilty expression and Taeyeon shook her head.

“It’s alright, Fany,” she reassured, gently squeezing the hand in her hold. “It’s already behind us. I thought we have already decided on that yesterday?”

“Sorry, I just feel bad whenever I think about it.” 

“Apology accepted. Let’s move on from that okay?” Taeyeon gently drew circles on Tiffany’s hand with her thumb. Tiffany flashed a guilty smile.

“It’s late,” Taeyeon glanced at the clock. “Ain’t you going home?”

“I should,” Tiffany sighed and Taeyeon laughed at the puppy eyes.

“Fany, it has only been two days,” Taeyeon teased. “Why are you so attached already?”

“Can’t I be attached to the person I like?” Tiffany retorted, a faint hue of red spreading across her cheeks as untangled herself from Taeyeon. 

Taeyeon dramatically shook her head and clicked her tongue. Tiffany puffed her cheeks in mock anger and picked up her belongings lying on the chair.

“Can I see you tomorrow too?” Tiffany asked.

“Yes,” Taeyeon said and Tiffany thought the smile on her face was mournful, “I’m yours this week.”

//////////

“Oppa.”

“Taeyeon?” Jiwoong stared at her in disbelief. “Kim Taeyeon? Yah, hyung slap me.”

Taeyeon bursted into chortles when a loud sound echoed in the office and Jiwoong’s groaning timely followed.

“How did you know I will be here?” He asked, cracking his jaw as his clenched his sore cheek. Taeyeon selected a bottle of banana milk and threw it towards Jiwoong. Catching it aptly, he thanked her and nursed his redden cheek.

“You looked pretty cool,” Taeyeon teased.

“Gee, Taeyeon, thanks for your flattery,” Jiwoong said with sarcasm dripping from his voice. Taeyeon rolled her eyes.

“I have heard. Sorry that I couldn’t be of any help.”

“Blabbermouth Fany, huh?”

“Yeah,” Jiwoong smiled, “I heard about that too. Congrats.”

Taeyeon grinned and sipped on the milk in her hand.

“Hope just comes suddenly when everything seems impossible.”

Jiwoong gave Taeyeon a pat. “Maybe not just hope, Taeyeon. Look around you.”

Taeyeon saw the fatigue in her brother’s face, how his eyes twinkled and realized his features were very much like hers.

“There are people who care, who loves, who wants to know about you too.”

“Thank you, oppa.” She wrapped her arms around his broad shoulders.

“No, thank you,” Jiwoong replied, “Thank you for being my sister and teaching me how to live.”

Taeyeon sat there with her brother that evening, sharing stories about each other for a few hours before bidding each other goodbye. 

“I’ll see you when I see you.” He waved with a sad smile. 

//////////

“Hyoyeon-ah,” Juhyun greeted the superintendent with a hug.

“What is this?” Hyoyeon gaped at her, “Did you sell me out to some underground gang?”

Juhyun retaliated with a whine and slapped her arm. Hyoyeon laughed. 

“Don’t thank me,” she said, “I didn’t do much.”

“It wasn’t you?”

“No,” Hyoyeon said in all honesty. “I didn’t even do much.”

“Then who helped her?”

“Let’s just say Taeyeon have her own guardian angels watching over her.” Hyoyeon said mysteriously and Juhyun stared at her with a puzzled expression.

“My friend,” Hyoyeon simply stated, “My best friend and her mother has been protecting her for a long time. It’s time she learn to live a life out of that little space.”

//////////

“Omma, are you home yet?”

“Here!” the blonde followed the sound of the voice, “In the kitchen!”

“Aigoo,” she laughed to see her mother crouched over the stove. Her mother turned to whack her on the arm with the spatula.

“Ow!”

“You ungrateful kid, quit laughing. Lay the table!”

She continue laughing at her mother, avoiding the spatula chasing after her and collected the utensils from the cabinet.

“Thank you for the meal.” The blonde thanked her mother who grunted in reply.

“Tteokbokki again?” She picked up a piece with her chopstick, “Mmmm, so good.”

“Come back home more often for dinner,” the ahjumma simply said and piled her plate with vegetables.

“I’m sorry for not spending time with you.”

“I’m busy selling tteokbokki,” her mother brushed it off and demanded her daughter to eat more.

“Thank you,” the blonde smiled. “Thank you for helping Taeyeon.”

“A kind child, the poor soul. She is like my daughter too.”

“Should I be jealous, omma?”
“You silly girl, you’re my daughter too.”

“I know,” the blonde grinned, unceremoniously scooping a spoonful of rice into her mouth. Her mother looked at her in disgust. 

“Act more lady-like!”

Her mother muttered about how she is embarrassed about her daughter’s actions under her breath. The blonde laughed heartily.

“Thank you friend too,” her mother said, “For telling us about Taeyeon so we can help her in time.”

“I will. I hope Taeyeon knows that she is blessed and finally live her life beyond that shop.”

“She will, Yoona-ah, she will.”

Yoona smiled.

“I hope she will so that I can finally stop looking for excuses to get inked.”

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