When Words Aren’t Enough

December 14, 2014 in moonrise31, oneshots by moonrise31

(or are maybe too much.)

It was almost unsettling how everything went back to normal after the end of that September.

“Normal” was relative, of course. A facade they all knew how to cultivate so well after so many years in the industry. It came with the job description, written big and bold, underlined several times for emphasis: never show too much, and pretend if you have to.

Still, it made Sunny uncomfortable how easily that mantra seeped into their lives even behind the scenes.

How after they revised “Into the New World” for their Tokyo Dome concert, maknae would bustle around the kitchen as usual, only humming the new bridge—just one phrase, Sunny knew, but it said so much—as she went. She would quickly transition to the regular chorus whenever someone came within earshot, but Sunny still heard the lyrics get stuck in poor Juhyun’s throat. Sunny choked up just as much whenever she thought of those powerful opening notes, accompanied by nine girls stepping on stage for the first time more than seven years ago.

How Yoona, perhaps the most thick-skinned of them all, seemed to have eyes that shined too brightly as of late. And when asked if she was alright, gave a crooked grin and a laugh that almost didn’t scream “half-hearted”, before hurrying off to her next schedule. Sunny wanted to hug Yoona and tell her that everything was going to be okay, but Sunny needed someone else to tell herself that first in order to be even somewhat convincing. And really, only one person could hug Yoona and actually make everything okay again.

Sooyoung, probably the most open emotions-wise, pretended to stay the same. She still yelled about silly things and teared up over whatever crazy drama she was currently into—her own included—but Sunny heard the extra hitch in Sooyoung’s voice as the younger girl cried (“that character deserves so much better,” Sooyoung would sniff, but all Sunny heard was, “how can we get her back?”). It seemed to be the only way to let out feelings that none of them could quite put into words.

Yuri was never very good at hiding what she thought, so she hid herself instead. The only evidence she was in the dorm at all lay in a suitcase in the corner of one of the bedrooms, still half-packed. The other half that had actually emerged from the suitcase’s depths consisted of her workout gear. Yuri left every morning before it was light enough for Sunny to even think of getting up, and regardless of whether they had choreography to go through that day (oh, how mournfully the practice room echoed), Yuri always came back much later, exhausted from running herself down to the bone. Sunny secretly wondered how many broken treadmills their company would be willing to pay for, but then felt bad for the thought and instead offered Yuri a glass of water and a clean towel to drape around weary shoulders—although it did little to make Yuri stand up as tall as she used to.

Hyoyeon, on the other hand, had always been the hardest to read. When Sunny first met her, she’d thought it was impossible for the other to ever know sadness. Hyoyeon faced disappointments with jokes (self-deprecation, Sunny now knew, was something Hyoyeon wasn’t afraid of, and that was a sadness Sunny was at a loss for how to handle), and she took down hardships with teasing grins. It was Hyoyeon who still managed to smile after they first saw that fateful Weibo post. But Sunny didn’t think you had to know Hyoyeon very well at all to see the cracks: ones that threatened to break through the stiffness and reveal the raw torment underneath.

Tiffany…Tiffany still confused Sunny a lot. Because Tiffany was a bundle of opposites, an oxymoron Sunny thought should never exist. Someone who could laugh while she cried, comfort even when it felt like knives were twisting in her own gut. Someone who knew just what to say to everyone, barring only herself. Except, Tiffany couldn’t quite succeed in this case, even though she had the best shot at doing so. Nevertheless, she did what she could, squeezing hands and rubbing backs, and Sunny felt grateful for the effort. But in the back of her mind a terror lay dormant, fearing that one day, Tiffany would suddenly be unable to balance her own worries with trying to assuage everyone else’s. Now, that day seemed much closer than it used to be.

(Sunny swallowed, skipping over the gaping hole in her mental list of members.)

And Taeyeon. Their leader who claimed not to be, who showed strength when the rest of them broke down, because someone had to. The one who turned away rather than let others see her cry just as hard. The one who would bear the brunt of the hate if those seeking blame chose to issue it, the one who had to be dragged out of her shell, practically kicking and screaming, even by the girls who had spent more than a decade with her and her darkest nightmares. Taeyeon said the most without saying anything at all. And so, Sunny thought that maybe Taeyeon was hurting the most.

They were all hurting.

Then, one fateful morning, the eight of them roused themselves for a somber day off, gathered in a dorm that many soundlessly regretted ever moving out of (“if we stay here more now, maybe we can pick up more of the pieces” was the unspoken thought, even though they knew they could never retrieve every one). The sudden ringing of the doorbell broke the silence. Sunny hoped against hope that the person they were waiting for was behind the door that maknae scrambled to answer.

If Jessica, tentatively smiling as she stood on the other side of threshold, was a dream, Sunny never wanted to wake up.


 
 
 
 

Rare-ish author’s note time, because I think this warrants one.

Lately, a lot of my oneshots examining OT9 (i.e. this one and like, one other) seem to center around Sunny. She’s incredibly capable 99% of the time, so often, I tend to forget how vulnerable she actually is—how vulnerable they all are. And then I watched their “Into the New World” performance at Tokyo Dome. What I saw has stuck with me for the better part of these past few days.

This is why it hurts. But maybe, it’ll be worth it in the end.