drama, awkward!au (??) // pg13
There are names carved into the walls right above the lining, scratchy and hardly legible but a memory captured all the same. They scream out in pain, pleading for help. They sing hymns and lullabies loud and passionately, hoping the heavens can hear them. They wish on flickering light bulbs – their own shooting stars – for the heavens to hear them.
They don’t think the heavens exist anymore.
Because how can the heavens exist when the names on wall scream and wail? How can heaven exist when they have no freedom here? When they have been stolen away from the safety of their homes?
No. Such a sanctuary cannot exist.
Such a sanctuary cannot exist because they have walls that scream when their own throats do not emit sound. They have nothing but the ability to breathe and the ability to exist. Nothing but the ability to be owned by a force with no name or face or gender. A Shadow.
A girl runs her finger across an unfamiliar name, feeling the jagged wood edges catch on the folds of her skin. She wonders what their voice sounded like, what their face looked like, if their hair fell in messy pleats like hers. She runs her finger across the name and is greeted by harsh whispers retelling tales of unforgiving beatings and festering wounds, of lying on a padded quilt in agony, blood soaking through the fibers, spreading just as it would through the capillaries lying beneath her skin.
The girl flinches when a darkness falls over her, a tingle running up her side at the close proximity of whoever has walked up on her. The person standing over her crouched form coughs and she squares her shoulders, slowly turning to face the other. Her eyes trail up pale, thin legs and knobby knees; past hips covered in a beige towel, and a stomach stretched against a protruding ribcage to petite but perfectly full breasts. The other’s collarbones are prominent but her cheekbones are hidden beneath baby fat that hasn’t yet begun to recede.
“It’s the Bathing Hour, Krystal.” The half naked girl before her says, her nails scratching at her legs in a nervous tic. There are angry red lines from past whippings that mar her thighs and a carving at her hip reads her identification number, 72001, with a small lowercase ‘s’ beneath the one. Krystal’s own hip is carved with the number 34823 with a lowercase ‘k’. The letters signify the first letter of their names. Names that they were forced to throw away by the Shadows when captured but have kept to protect their identity.
The girls’ bodies look exactly the same yet they are not related. Hardly considered friends. There is no chance to make friends, no reason to create such strong bonds when it cannot be predicted when they’ll be broken.
Pushing herself up, the girl with the plaited black hair nods her head. Stripping herself of her dirtied garments, she takes the towel offered to her. She wraps it around her waist, tucking the excess over into the hem. The girl with the protruding collarbones tosses a small smile over her shoulder but Krystal side-steps it as she follows Number 72001 to the baths, having no interest in acknowledging the other’s polite manners.
The baths are pristine, a complete contrast to the state of their holding chamber. The baths have tiles of white linoleum, scrubbed everyday by the girls who were assigned cleaning duties; the walls are safe from carved out names and the residue left by tears, wishes, and unanswered prayers to be let free. Along the far wall are ten sparkling shower heads aligned in a row. The Bathing Hour is the only time of the day where Krystal can really allow herself to get lost in her thoughts. It’s only the warm spray of the water on her skin that can calm her and revert her back to the girl she once was. She never lets her thoughts get too out of hand, though, because then they become dreams and she will not allow herself to dream.
When she steps out of the shower, the Working Bell chimes loud and unforgiving in Krystal’s ears. Upon arrival to the chamber, she’s greeted with the sight of girls scrambling around like frazzled bees.
“I guess we’ll meet up after our duties?” Number 72001, the girl she entered the baths with, asks, hopeful.
“We’ll see, Sulli. Don’t count on it.”
And then Krystal nods for her goodbye and walks over to where the bed she shares with four other girls sits in the far left corner of the room. As she rummages through the sack containing her clean clothing, Krystal steals a glance at Sulli on the other side of the room getting dressed. She’s lucky. She only shares her bed with one other girl. But then Krystal thinks about why it’s only the two of them and she doesn’t feel as envious. Those two are the Wives of the room, the ones meant to spend time with the Husbands and bend to their will.
Krystal has never seen a man before in her life. She was brought up by her mother in a sheltered, all female countryside community to think men were a barbaric species before she was brought here. The men on the other side of the facility are in the same situation as the women – hostages taken from comfortable lives meant to be the beginning populace of a new utopia, a new world to save them from the current destruction happening outside the facility. But she cannot feel any sympathy for them. She will never admit it, but she fears them.
She cannot believe Sulli when the girl returns to their holding chamber after their duties and whispers with fervor about the Husband she was currently assigned to. She talks of how sweet he is, how his smile is warm still. If Krystal remembers correctly he is a young man who goes by the name of Taemin. Krystal wonders if they are going to receive new names once the Outside crumbles and their new civilization is put into order.
Knocking herself out of her thoughts is a warning shot in the air made by a Shadow standing in the middle of their chamber. It’s an innocent gunshot meant to inform them of the small amount of time they have left to get to report for their duties. Hastily pulling on her clothes, Krystal follows the stream of women rushing out of the chamber, and she runs in the direction of the kitchen. She’s losing it; she’s never gotten so lost in her musings before. Hopefully, after her kitchen duties she’ll return to normal.
“Let go of me!”
Krystal glances up, black sheets of hair falling in her face as she does so. A Shadow forces the thick oak door open. Behind him are two more Shadows, each with their hands clamped on the arms of an unknown person as some kind of failing restraint. The person – a woman, Krystal deduces from the sound of her voice – writhes, struggling to get away. Rolling her eyes, Krystal returns to her business of mincing the onions.
The new ones are always like that when they come in: defiant. When Krystal was brought in years ago she was the same. She kicked and screamed, but there was no point. The Shadows have always been stronger, always will be stronger.
Pushing the chopped onions to the far left of the cutting board, Krystal reaches for a carrot. Her knife cuts quick into the vegetable and the clap of the blade hitting the board harmonizes with the boom of a gunshot. This time she doesn’t look up; the pained wail tells her everything she needs to know.
It is at times like these that Krystal is grateful she isn’t a cleaning girl. The Shadows are known to be a little trigger-happy.
She’s cutting into a second carrot when a hand is placed on the back of her neck. She doesn’t jump despite the sudden touch, and she places the knife on the cutting board.
“Come calm the Newborn and chop the meat.”
Nodding, Krystal follows the Shadow. The Shadow leads her into the room where the meat preparation takes place. It’s a simple room – plain beige walls and concrete floor. Blood is splattered everywhere and the air smells metallic but Krystal is accustomed to the assault on her senses. In the middle of the room are two chairs and a table. One of them is occupied by the female who was just dragged in. The Newborn. She sits with a scowl on her face and the barrel of a gun pressed between her eyes.
The Shadow beside Krystal tells her to sit and leaves to retrieve the meat for Krystal to chop. As soon as her butt comes in contact with the wood of the chair, she turns her gaze to the Newborn. The stranger female has an oddly androgynous face and dusty brown hair that falls into her face.
“If you’d like to help me chop the meat you are welcome to,” she says, face blank and expressionless.
The Newborn snarls at her but it quickly dissolves into a whimper when the Shadow presses the gun harder against her forehead. Krystal is not offended, she expected such a reaction. She turns away from the Newborn when the other Shadow drags in the animal she is to prepare. As soon as the Shadow tosses the body onto the table, the gun of the other is pocketed and the two leave the room with no words or questionable glances.
Krystal stands from her seat and picks up the cleaver that lay on the table. She raises it above her head but before she has a chance to bring it down, the Newborn places a hand on the small of her back.
“Yes?” The girl turns around to look at the face of the newcomer, still not surprised by the look of shock and disgust present in the Newborn’s eyes.
“T-That’s a human body,” the Newborn points out. Krystal nods. “You’re going to cut that?”
“And use the meat, yes. Most likely for stew.”
“But that is immoral! You can’t eat another human!”
Krystal looks at her with pity. “The Shadows tell us what is and what is not immoral. We eat what can be eaten before it goes to waste. This person has probably died within the past few minutes. Why bury her body where it will slowly decompose when we can recycle her?” She does not wait for an answer and the Newborn does not appear to give her one. “What is your name, Newborn?”
“Amber. Amber Liu. Though those people with the black hoods kept referring to me as Number 94258.”
Nodding, Krystal returns her attention to her task and strikes down on the dead woman’s shoulder with her weapon. “Are you okay?” she questions, continuing to hack away at the limb until it breaks away from the body. “They shot at you, right?”
Amber nods and covers her upper right arm with her left hand. The blood from her wound has soaked through the thin fibers of her shirt but the pain has lessened.
“The bullet only grazed me so I’m okay.”
Absentmindedly humming, Krystal follows the hacking procedure until she has all four limbs in a line. She pushes the greater portion of the body towards the Newborn.
“Would you like to gouge out the intestines? It’s a very titillating experience, I’ll say.” Krystal looks at Amber, exchanging the cleaver for a skinning knife.
Amber shakes her head. “I’ll pass.”
The Newborn – her name is Amber, Krystal tries to remember – is placed in the bedding chamber down the hall from Krystal and Sulli’s own. She is also assigned to cleaning duties at first, but after the Shadows tire of her vomiting at the sight of blood, they saddle her with kitchen work. It is nice to have another person working in the kitchen – Chaerin is not much help and Jieun is often ill as of late. It is in the kitchen that the two have most of their conversations, talking about anything that comes to their minds. They talk of childhoods and music and politics and such. Krystal learns Amber is older than her by a couple of years and is of Chinese background. That surprises the long-haired female – the only other Chinese born member of this facility is Song Qian.
A month into Amber’s stay at the facility, the Shadows allow a few of them out into the central courtyard. They say that as time goes on the members of the facility must slowly reconnect themselves with the Outside world. No more reliance on artificial lighting and sun exposure through the windows. They must prepare themselves for when the people of the Outside surrender to their own self destruction.
The sunlight feels wonderful on Krystal’s skin and she breathes out in content. Footsteps behind her alert her of another presence and Krystal turns around to see the small face of Sulli. The slightly older female joins her in the grass, legs curled beneath the long swoop of her dress. Krystal picks at the grass scratching at her legs, waiting for Sulli to announce the reason for her company.
“You’ve changed,” Sulli says simply after the pass of a few minutes. Krystal pulls up a leaf of grass and curls it between her index finger and her thumb, offering no verbal response.
“I’m jealous, actually,” she continues with a short, sweet laugh. “I tried so hard to get you to talk to me, to befriend me, and you always ignored me with your ‘it’s better to not trust people in this society’ mentality. But then a random person is brought in off the street and all of a sudden you develop an interest in socializing. Chaerin complained to me about your conversations with the Newborn.” Sulli pauses. “You missed Jieun’s wake yesterday.”
The news is a surprise to Krystal and she looks up at Sulli in confusion. “Jieun passed?”
Sulli nods. “She died just before the Bathing Hour. The Shadows are clearing out her entire chamber. They say too many of them are ill and our medical supply is not furnished enough to care for them all.”
Turning her attention to the greenery in her hands, Krystal sighs. It isn’t that she’s changed. It’s just … she doesn’t know what it is actually.
They sit in the sunlight until the Shadows ring out gunshots, signaling for them to come in. As they shuffle back into the facility, filing in slowly, Krystal looks down the hall to see the men coming in their direction. Unknowingly, she presses herself into Sulli’s back. The older girl glances over her shoulder at her before following her gaze to the males. She laughs under her breath, reaching back to touch Krystal’s hand comfortingly. The touch does nothing to stop Krystal’s fear from growing, especially not when the men pass them and a lanky red haired man smiles in their direction, caressing Sulli’s upper arm as he passes by.
Krystal is seasoning beef when the Shadows gather up the women in Jieun’s chamber. At the ring of the first shot, she witnesses Amber jump in surprise from the corner of her eye. This is a normal occurrence at the facility and Krystal is not bothered by it, but she worries about the Newborn beside her. That is a problem because Krystal has never worried about another person in this place before. She didn’t even worry for Sulli when the girl was assigned to Taemin. All she ever worried about was acting in accordance to the desires of the Shadows and living to see the next sunrise through the windows.
“What’s going on?” Amber asks, tugging at the fabric of Krystal’s oversized shirt.
“The Shadows are doing maintenance”, she explains, “Jieun spread an illness throughout her chamber and they are fixing the problem.”
Krystal drops a chunk of the meat in the herb mixture. She wonders if the women of that chamber carved their names into the walls to preserve their memory for those who will inhabit the room later.
“By killing them?! You don’t have to kill innocent people just because of a little sickness!”
Turning the beef over in the mixture with a little more force than necessary, Krystal sighs. “We don’t have the resources for them and they were only weak links. We don’t have room for weak links here.”
Amber places down the knife in her hands and turns to Krystal with an incredulous expression. “Weren’t you friends with Jieun? She worked in the kitchen as well.”
Continuing to prepare the meat, Krystal pushes the seasoned chunk away to reach for another to rub in the herbs. “I don’t make friends,” she says, frowning.
“People you know are dying!” Amber yells.
“And what does it matter?” Krystal retorts, slamming her dirty hands on the counter. “People die every day. There are people dying on the Outside, being murdered carelessly just as they are here. My mother and my sister were killed for no reason. I can by killed tomorrow, you can be killed tomorrow, this place can collapse tomorrow. Anything can happen! Human life doesn’t have a value anymore so don’t lecture me as if it does.” Her breath shortens into a quick pant at the end of her tirade.
The two fall into a tense silence. Krystal finishes seasoning the beef for tomorrow night’s dinner by the time the boom of gunshots dies off. At the chime for the end of the Working Hour, she stores the meat, washes her hands, and stalks off to her chamber without so much as a glance in Amber’s direction.
In her chamber, she sits along the wall closest to her bed and runs her finger along the names carved into the wall. A small spider crawls over her hand and it creates a ticklish feeling on her skin. There, propped up against the wall, Krystal cries. The tears don’t fall for Jieun or the women who lost their lives today or Amber, but they fall for herself. She cries for all that she is, all that she isn’t, and all that she never will be. She cries because she can’t stand it here despite how she’s adapted to the lifestyle. She cries, head buried into the safety of her knees, to keep her sanity.
Everything begins to fall apart when Hyosung, one of the Wives of the chamber to the direct right of Krystal’s, announces her pregnancy. She’s at least seven weeks along and Krystal has never seen the woman smile so large. Sulli tells her that Taemin says Himchan, the father of the child and Hyosung’s Husband, is extremely happy as well. Krystal can’t imagine going to bed with a man and bearing a child.
The Shadows are not too happy about their conception of a child, but they take no action. While they do not desire the arrival of children when they have not requested or searched for them, they won’t sacrifice Hyosung, Himchan, or their fetus.
Krystal doesn’t personally know Hyosung but the knowledge of one of the women being pregnant sits heavy in her mind. She constantly looks to Sulli, checking for signs of a steadily growing stomach or any other indication of the older girl being in the same predicament as Hyosung. But Krystal does not worry – she has no reason to when she distances herself from others – and yet she finds herself questioning Sulli’s attachment to Taemin.
She is sitting out in the central courtyard on a day when the sky is overcast with darkening clouds. It’s going to rain but the Shadows have not told them to come in and Krystal does not want to leave the fresh air just yet. The small expanse of nature calms her and she sighs, tossing her head back to search for the sun in the clouds.
The sudden appearance of Amber’s face is a surprise but she does not flinch. Instead, she stares at the woman with empty eyes and is greeted with a smile. Her smile looks odd upside-down, Krystal thinks.
“Lovely weather, isn’t it?” Amber jokes and Krystal hums, facing an apple tree in front of her. Amber soon sits down in the grass to her right as well.
To be honest, Krystal feels uncomfortable around the other female for reasons unknown. She believes part of it to be their minor argument in the kitchen however many weeks ago it was. She scoots away from the other and plays with the grass between them.
Krystal doesn’t know what to do when Amber grabs her hand, twining their fingers in an act too intimate for Krystal’s taste. The black-haired girl is even more at a loss when fingers tease along the line of her jaw, forcibly turning her head, and dry lips press soft against her cheek. She doesn’t push the other away because the kiss doesn’t last long enough. When Amber smiles at her, Krystal blinks.
“I thought that would make you feel better. Like, if you know someone is there for you and cares,” the Chinese-born says.
Krystal frowns. “I don’t need someone to care.” Wiping her cheek, she gets up to leave but Amber grabs her ankle and forces her back down.
“Why are you so defensive? May be if you actually let people in you wouldn’t be so miserable.”
“I’m not miserable,” Krystal mutters under her breath, feeling anger spark within her. “And you don’t have the right so say that I am. I don’t understand how you can be so blind, so … stupid. The Shadows dragged you here against your will like they did with the rest of us. I watched you as you kicked and screamed and demanded to be let go. How are you suddenly so comfortable here and able to give me advice? I’ve lived here for years. I still remember the day the Shadows came after my sister and I. My mother wouldn’t let us go; not to some lunatics spouting off nonsense about some kind of new civilization they were starting and how they were taking healthy, young females and males to start. They shot her as if she was no more than a deer in hunting season. They killed my sister when she attacked a Shadow and raked her nails through their face. I had two of the people I cared about most taken away from me in less than a year. And then I was stupid enough to get to know this girl who slept on the other side of my chamber.
“She was a cheery thing named after the moon who always smiled but the Shadows hadn’t established Wives and Husbands yet, and a rumor floated around about how she was having secret conversation with a man named Donghae. They punished her and I watched her die. It was when they would torture us when we did something wrong, whip us until our bodies bled like waterfalls and let us suffer through the pain on crimson soaked quilts. It was before all of this you see here, when we carved names into the walls before we forgot them because the Shadows wouldn’t let us use them; when we slept on the floor and only showered twice a month; when all I heard was screaming and crying while I slept. You don’t know what it means to be miserable. You don’t understand what I’ve been through or how I feel and you can’t try to fix me with ignorant advice!” Krystal screams, her voice having risen as she continued on in her story.
A bullet whizzes past her head and gets lodged in the apple tree, pieces of bark flying from the trunk. Immediately, she calms and turns to bow at the Shadow who fired the shot.
She dusts off the dirt from her backside, having stood at some point. Casting the speechless Amber a sidelong glance, Krystal strides to the door leading inside.
“May I enter?” she asks the Shadow standing there. They nod and step aside, allowing her inside the facility.
Once the door closes with a short click, she runs back to her chamber. She rummages around the area by her bed, finding a gleaming silver hairpin around Dasom’s small pile of belongings. Settling on her stomach perpendicular to the wall, Krystal begins to scratch her name into the wooden lining, grateful most of the women of her chamber are out.
Jieun’s chamber is beginning to fill with the scared and confused faces of teenage girls and young women. More Newborns. Hyosung’s belly is starting to show as well, swelling beautiful and full of life. She’s still smiling, nineteen weeks along, and the Shadows have allowed Himchan to accompany her throughout the day. Krystal is envious of them actually despite having a fear of men and not being too fond of children. She wants what they have – that blinding happiness no one else seems to have. When Sulli comes back from her time spent with Taemin, Krystal listens attentively to her stories and takes note of the way Sulli’s eyes glitter and shine. The slightly older woman is not as full of joy as Hyosung, but she is a lot more so than the rest of them. And when Krystal looks at both Sulli and Hyosung, she’s overcome with guilt over her and Amber’s last argument.
Since then, the Shadows accepted Krystal’s request of changing jobs and now she tends to the sprouting flowers out in the courtyard. She tends to Hyosung as necessary.
She enjoys being able to go outside during the Working Hour, but she cannot help but think about Amber. Her hypocrisy is mildly amusing, but she is disturbed at the fact that the older female was somewhat right and Krystal does need someone to at least call a friend. Smoothing dirt around a tomato seed, Krystal sighs and looks up. Sulli waves at her from the window, Taemin standing beside her with his arm tossed around her shoulder. Krystal waves to the both of them in return.
When Sulli shakes her head and beckons her over, Krystal knits her brows together. Clapping her hands to shake off the dirt, she picks up the gardening shovel and enters the building, venturing over to the couple. Before Krystal can question what they want, Sulli raises her hand to silence her.
“They need you to calm her,” Taemin says and it’s the first time Krystal has heard his voice. It is probably the first time she’s heard a man’s voice and she is bothered by how his speaking to her doesn’t bother her. His voice surely isn’t as rough as her mother told her all men’s voices are.
Krystal’s brows knit together. “Calm who? Is Hyosung okay? Is the baby okay?” The amount of worry that rolls off her tongue is shocking as well.
Sulli glances in the direction of the women’s chambers.
“Hyosung is fine,” Sulli assures. “They need you to calm Amber.”
Stepping into the unfamiliar chamber, Krystal holds her tongue until the three Shadows hovering over Amber acknowledge her presence and exit the spacious room. At the slam of the door, she waits ten seconds before she rushes over to the girl lying on the bed on the opposite side of the room, holding back the urge to push her off and onto the floor.
“What the hell did you do?!” Her hushed yell is full of anger.
“You left me in the kitchen! They wanted me to dismember some random dead guy and I refused to do it!” Amber yells back, crossing her arms over her chest and facing away from Krystal. The younger female doesn’t miss the painful wince that distorts her face.
Sighing, Krystal wedges her hands between Amber’s back and the bed and flips the older woman over forcefully. Amber exclaims in discontent, but she is ignored. There is an oddly shaped discoloration on the back of Amber’s navy blue shirt and when Krystal swipes her finger over it she sees red on her skin. Without a warning, she lifts the hem of Amber’s shirt, revealing her back to the air.
She frowns. At least they pulled the bullet out.
Krystal strikes the bloodstained back of the older female with her palm and huffs. She knew Amber was stupid but she didn’t know she was stupid enough to get herself shot. Amber wails and tries to stand. Krystal pushes her back down.
Leaving Amber with an order to stay put, Krystal stomps out the door and down the hall to her own chamber. Beneath her clothes lies white, unused bandages and she snatches them from out of her clothing sack. When she steps into Amber’s chamber, she picks up the soft sighs of pain coming from the other. She rolls her eyes. As she approaches the bed, the Working Bell rings. Feeling a sense of urgency, mainly because it’ll be difficult to wrap her up when fifty or so women swarm into the room, Krystal rips the bandages out of their packaging and jumps onto the bed..
“Lift your hips,” she instructs, pushing Amber’s shirt further up her back.
The older woman whines but obeys nonetheless.
Wrapping the bandage around her lower waist and around the gaping wound, Krystal pulls a hairpin from her hair and slips the pin over the edge of the bandage to keep it in place.
She sits back on her heels just as Hyorin walks into the room. Hyorin pays them no attention.
“You are going to have to work with that until you can make it over to the infirmary,” she says, crossing her arms over her chest. “And the next time you want to disregard a Shadow’s order, don’t. I can do at least this much, but if they kill you, I can’t bring you back.”
Amber pushes herself into a seating position with care and looks at Krystal. The latter is surprised by the harsh glare.
Amber purses her lips. “Why are you saying that as if you care?”
Krystal blinks. Her hand shoots out to slap the other in the side of the head before she can stop it. And before Amber can yell and cause a scene, Krystal leans in and presses her own lips to Amber’s cheek.
“Maybe because I do care.”
She runs from the room and back to her own. She tells herself she is rushing because she doesn’t want to be caught out of her chamber by the Shadows and not because her face is flushed and warm with embarrassment.
Krystal sighs and raises her eyes from the blooming gardenias to stare at Sulli. “I’m sorry,” she repeats.
Sulli’s eyes are wide and confused and it is a little annoying to see such an expression on her face but Krystal empathizes with her.
“What do you have to be sorry about?” Sulli wonders, running her finger over wrinkled skin of a fallen apple.
Sighing once more, Krystal falls onto her back and watches the clouds pass by unnervingly slow. She doesn’t like this. She doesn’t like this at all, but she wants to do it. She even told Amber; everything that happened to her happened years ago. The Shadows are more lenient now, trying to appease the people in time for the collapse of the Outside. She doesn’t have to be so terrified anymore.
“You said you wanted to be friends and I kept pushing you away. I’m sorry.”
The clouds continue to pass and Sulli offers no response. Turning her head, her hair brushing through the dirt and grass, Krystal frowns.
“Are you going to say anything? I’m telling you I want to try and be friends.”
Sulli glances at her and shrugs. “There really isn’t anything to say…What brought this on?”
Pushing herself up, Krystal looks over her shoulder, only for something to hit her in the face between her eyebrows.
“I should have known,” Sulli mutters beside her.
Glaring at the person who called out her name, Krystal picks up her hairpin lying in the grass and turns to face the apple tree again. She ignores the feeling of lips against her cheek, the warmth of her face, and the ticklish feeling of Sulli’s eyes on her. Scooting closer to Sulli, Krystal takes the small, dead apple from the Wife’s finger and chucks it at Amber. It hits the eldest girl in the face.
“Hey!” Amber pouts. “I’m still in the middle of recovering.”
“Your back is the middle of recovering. Not your face,” Krystal pauses and takes in the image of Amber’s face. “And if anything, that apple could have made you attractive. But nope, still ugly.”
Amber splutters something incoherent and the corner of Krystal’s lips turn up.
“You’re smiling!” Amber and Sulli point out at the same time, though Amber sounds ecstatic and Sulli sounds horrified.
Krystal automatically pulls her lips into a straight line.
“Is it wrong of me to smile? It happens sometimes.”
She almost falls into Sulli when Amber throws herself at her and wraps her arms around Krystal’s torso. The eldest woman kisses her cheek again and Krystal uses all of her strength to push her off. Standing, she grabs Sulli’s forearm and drags the confused female off to another section of the courtyard.
“Let’s go be friends somewhere else, Sulli. I don’t want our new relationship to be tainted by certain people.”
And Sulli laughs, looping their arms together. It doesn’t take Amber very long to follow after them.
“What exactly do you mean by certain people, Krystal?”
“I think you know exactly what I mean.”