Ten

“Tiffany…”

“Hmm?” Tiffany replied, her eyes still locked onto the screen as she rested her head on Yuri’s lap.

“Do you have something going on with Taeyeon?”

Tiffany flinched at the sudden question. She stared at her girlfriend, wide-eyed and speechless.

“E-Excuse me?” Tiffany stuttered.

Yuri’s heart ached upon observing her girlfriend’s reaction. Tiffany was clearly surprised with her sudden query. Yuri had a bad feeling creeping from her stomach. She took a deep breath before repeating her question.

“Do you have something going on with Taeyeon?” Yuri asked once more in a slower manner.

Tiffany’s brows furrowed, “What made you think that?”

Yuri ran a hand through her long dark locks as she tried to ease herself. “My friends told me that you have been hanging out with Taeyeon whenever I have something up at school.”

“Well,” Tiffany found herself at a loss for explanations. Her situation with Taeyeon was a complicated matter that Yuri might find incredulous. “She’s a good friend, Yul. Your housemate’s a good friend.”

“And you seem to be spending a lot of time with her whenever I’m not around…”

“Kwon Yuri, it seems that you’re jealous.”

“I’m not jealous, Tiffany.” Yuri said in a calm tone. Tiffany could see that Yuri was clearly serious about this matter. “I just want to know whether you still love me…”

“Yuri, Taeyeon’s just a friend.” Tiffany reasoned in a soft voice.

“But your actions tell me otherwise, Tiffany. You’re not looking at me when you answered. Tell me, do you still love me?” Yuri said, her eyes glassy as she looked at her girlfriend.

Tiffany looked to meet Yuri’s gaze. Her heart almost broke when she saw the hurt in her girlfriend’s eyes. She couldn’t bear to see Yuri like this. She wanted her bubbly and playful girlfriend back.

“Yuri…”

That night, Tiffany and Yuri spent the night in each other’s arms but it was evident that both of them were feeling bothered by the matter earlier on.

~*~*~*~

Taeyeon, eager to find out the real meaning behind her dream, appeared at Tiffany’s doorstep and rang her doorbell incessantly when the red head didn’t reply to her message or pick up her phone. Frustrated, she lifted her left hand and placed it against the door. Focusing her mind on the red thread on her finger, she attempted to pull the thread, hoping that Tiffany would wake up. A few minutes later, she felt the thread go slack and the next moment, a really grouchy-looking Tiffany in bright pink pyjamas and messy bed hair stood at the door.

“Whatever you’re going to say had better be good, else you’ll get hell from me,” Tiffany warned, glaring at Taeyeon.

Tiffany hadn’t been able to sleep a wink since Yuri left early that morning, giving the excuse that she had to prepare for track and field practice. She had been tossing and turning in bed for the past three hours. Her heart was in an emotional turmoil and she didn’t know what to do. It was the first time she felt so strongly for someone other than Taeyeon. In fact, the feeling she had for Yuri was different from Taeyeon. It was something stronger, something that made her desire Yuri more and more each time they spent time together.

Taeyeon made Tiffany sit on the couch, before she sat beside the grumpy girl and she immediately lapsed into telling the story of the dream she had in vivid details, not leaving a single bit of information out. She kept slapping Tiffany’s thigh to ensure that the red head was paying attention to her.

At one point in time, Tiffany squirmed a little. She didn’t feel good listening to the lovey-dovey moments of Taeyeon and Sooyeon waking up together and getting ready for work. Somehow, there was still a part of her that still had a soft spot for Taeyeon. That was part of the reason why she had offered to help Taeyeon complete her mission.

“Is that the truth? Is Sooyeon really Jessica here on earth? Was that why I feel so strongly for her? Was that why I wasn’t supposed to intervene with her punishment?”  Taeyeon huffed, shaking the half-asleep red head like a rag doll.

“Yes, yes, yes! That woman, Sooyoung, finally came to her senses and revealed the truth to you in your dream,” Tiffany scowled.

She stomped on Taeyeon’s foot, causing the latter to yelp and scoot backwards, thereby releasing Tiffany’s arms. Tiffany rubbed her reddened arms, giving Taeyeon dagger stares. Her lack of sleep, emotional turmoil, and now being interrogated by a shorty who was firing countless questions made her grouchier than ever.

Taeyeon got up from the couch and started pacing around.

“I can’t believe I’m actually an Angel. Jessica is my lover! It feels so surreal.” Taeyeon flapped her arms like a bird and skipped around. “So, can I fly?”

“Duh, you’re an Angel, not a bird,” Tiffany said flatly. She wasn’t the least amused by Taeyeon’s silly antics, not after seeing the red marks on her arms.

“Do you think Jessica had the same dream, too?”

“I’ve no idea. At least Sooyoung isn’t as heartless as I thought. Maybe, the goddess had wanted to motivate you to finish your mission so that you can be reunited with Sooyeon in Heaven,” Tiffany replied in a matter-of-fact tone.

Suddenly, Taeyeon grabbed Tiffany’s right arm and dragged her towards the toilet.

“Ouch! What in the world are you up to now?!” Tiffany exclaimed, as she was manhandled across the living room, stumbling as she tried catching up with Taeyeon.

“We need to start stringing more couples right now. I want to finish my mission as soon as possible in order to relieve Jessica of her suffering.” Taeyeon said firmly, her face now serious.

“Hey, I have legs and I can walk!” Tiffany yelled, wriggling her arm out of Taeyeon’s grasp.

~*~*~*~

Soft footsteps echoed in the quiet hallway of the Ministry of Love as the person made her way towards the Love Vault. After her access was granted, Sooyoung headed for the Hall of Divinities, where the threads that tied deities together were housed. She stopped in front of a small glass bottle which was moulded in the shape of an apple. Picking up the bottle carefully, she examined the two crimson threads that were residing inside it.

The two threads were coiled around each other tightly, bobbing freely in the clear liquid. There was a big knot that rested at the bottom of the bottle. It was bigger than most of the other knots on the same shelf. Sooyoung ran her thumb across the pink label that had the words ‘Kim Taeyeon & Jung Sooyeon’ printed on it. Memories of what she had seen through the portal for the past few days flooded her mind, causing her heart to ache a little.

“It looks like there’s nothing which could separate the both of you. You’re on Earth, yet your souls are still deeply entwined with each other in Heaven. A match made in Heaven indeed, one that can never be broken in any circumstances,” Sooyoung said aloud. She let out a long sigh before replacing the bottle onto the shelf.

“Maybe I should…” Sooyoung muttered to herself as she walked towards the exit.

~*~*~*~

The sun was just rising above the horizon, its orange rays spilling into the purple canvas, infecting the dark and calming hues left of the night with its jolly rays that spelled out the mark of dawn across the sky.

Taeyeon was waiting anxiously at the Dong Seoul Bus Terminal, glancing at her watch every now and then. The advertisement leaflet in her hand had been crumpled and shredded to tiny bits as she waited.

How Taeyeon ended up at the Bus Terminal was the result of Tiffany’s brilliant “plan.” Tiffany had managed to convince both Taeyeon and Jessica to go on a trip with her, saying that she had never been in an orchard before and had wanted to experience how it was like to harvest fruits in an orchard. Jessica had finally conceded after Tiffany’s persuasion, since she hardly had a chance to be away from Seoul and that Donghae happened to be out of town with his family that weekend.

In the end, Tiffany had called Taeyeon just ten minutes before the appointed time, saying that something cropped up at the last minute so both Yuri and her would not be able to join them for the trip to the orchard. She had told Taeyeon to go ahead with Jessica and to enjoy themselves since the bus tickets had already been bought.

Taeyeon’s breathing hitched for a moment when she spotted a familiar person approaching her from a distance. It was the person whom she was waiting for – Jessica.

“I’m sorry I’m late. I didn’t know how to get to this bus terminal,” Jessica apologized once she got closer. Her eyes searched around before her gaze met Taeyeon’s baby brown eyes looking right into her made Taeyeon’s legs grow weak. “Where are Tiffany and Yuri?”

“Tiffany called me a while ago, saying that something came up and the both of them would not be able to join us for today. Since we’ve bought the tickets, would you like to go with me?” Taeyeon replied after a moment’s delay.

Jessica nodded in understanding, flashing a sweet smile at the older girl. Taeyeon thought she had died and gone to Heaven at that moment. Taking a deep breath to compose herself, Taeyeon said, “Great! We’re still in time to catch the bus. Let’s go!”

It was a four hour journey to Cheongseong, a beautiful place among the mountains where it wasn’t affected by urbanization. Initially, Taeyeon did most of the talking but Jessica gradually warmed up to her as time went by and had started telling Taeyeon more about herself. Taeyeon was careful not to bring up the topic of Donghae or Siwon.

Upon arrival, both of them hopped onto a shuttle bus that brought them to their final destination. It was an apple orchard. Jessica was ecstatic when she found out that she would be picking her favourite fruit off the trees. Taeyeon’s heart was bursting with happiness when she saw how excited Jessica was.

Jessica was jumping up and down at the main entrance of the orchard and beckoned for Taeyeon to hurry in so that she could start picking the apples right away.

The trees were filled with rosy red apples which were ready to be harvested. Taeyeon and Jessica slipped on the cotton gloves and work jumpers and began to pluck the apples from the trees. Sounds of Jessica “ooh-ing” in amazement felt like music to Taeyeon’s ears. Taeyeon would hear the younger one’s giggles and squeals of delight every now and then as they went about the rows of trees.

Taeyeon stayed close to Jessica, helping her to place the apples, which Jessica had plucked, into the plastic sheet laid out on the ground, carefully. They worked very well as a pair and after an hour, the long strip of plastic sheet resembled a red river.

The orchard’s owner cooked a simple meal of local cuisines for all the visitors who were there to help harvest the apples. Taeyeon picked a few of the side dishes and placed them onto Jessica’s bowl. Jessica was very embarrassed by Taeyeon’s thoughtfulness as the Kim insisted on serving her.

It amused Taeyeon to see Jessica flustered, even her ears had reddened in embarrassment at Taeyeon’s sweet gesture.

Jessica deserves to be treated like a princess, not a slave. Taeyeon thought to herself as she scooped another serving of vegetables and carefully placed them into Jessica’s bowl.

After a filling lunch, they resumed work at the orchard. Taeyeon stood on her toes, trying to pick an apple from one of the higher branches. She even tried jumping but she still couldn’t reach that particular apple. She turned around when she heard someone giggling from behind. Jessica extended her arm and reached for that apple, plucking it carefully from the branch and handed it to Taeyeon.

“Call me if you need help with the higher ones,” Jessica smiled teasingly.

That was a smile that could melt anyone’s heart and Taeyeon almost turned into a puddle when she saw that dazzling smile. Taeyeon could feel the butterflies in her stomach stir at the sweet grin beamed at her.

I bet that idiotic guy hasn’t got a chance to see her sweet smile.

They took a rest under an apple tree for tea time. Taeyeon picked up an apple from a nearby basket and handed it to Jessica.

“Eat it while it’s fresh,” Taeyeon said, grinning.

Jessica burst out laughing. “You sound like you’re talking about sashimi!”

Taeyeon’s face turned as red as a tomato. She held up two apples and used them to hide her red face. Jessica playfully snatched one apple from Taeyeon’s hand, revealing half of Taeyeon’s face. She took the other apple and stuffed it into Taeyeon’s mouth.

Taeyeon mumbled something, but it wasn’t audible as she had an apple in her mouth. Jessica couldn’t help but laugh heartily at that hilarious sight. In the end, Jessica took the apple out of Taeyeon’s mouth and placed it into Taeyeon’s hands.

“Why do you like to eat apples?” Taeyeon asked.

“I’m not sure. Since young, I loved eating that fruit. I didn’t like any other fruits besides apples.”

Taeyeon smiled. It’s because you’re an Angel of Life, guarding the Orchard of the Living and making sure that the trees are growing healthily.

 

After working for almost a day at the orchard, they treated themselves to a nice dinner at a BBQ restaurant. Jessica was all smiles as she recalled the time they spent at the orchard. Once they were done eating, they went to a playground near the restaurant to relax while waiting to catch the last bus back to Seoul.

Jessica got onto a swing and Taeyeon was pushing her from behind. She asked Taeyeon to push her harder and faster so that she could go higher.

“I feel like I’m flying!” Jessica squealed as she soared through the air.

“Close your eyes and imagine you’re among the clouds. Feel the wind through your hair as you fly.”

Jessica did as she was told. She couldn’t remember the last time she felt so dizzy with happiness. It felt like a long time ago. Now with Taeyeon, she was able to relax and be her true self, without feeling frightened or threatened. Smiling came naturally to her.

Taeyeon was watching Jessica silently, savouring every single second she had with her. Her heart was filled with love but she knew she shouldn’t say or do anything that may jeopardize this friendship since Jessica didn’t know a thing about what had happened back in Heaven.

After Jessica got tired of swinging, both of them sat on the see-saw, facing each other. They didn’t say anything besides looking at each other with silly grins on their faces. They had a contest to see who could make the funniest face whenever the person was on the upside of the see-saw. If the person at the bottom laughed, then she would have lost the game and would need to treat the winner to ice cream.

Ultimately, Taeyeon lost as she just couldn’t contain her smile whenever she saw Jessica.

On the long journey home, both of them slept most of the time. Jessica rested her head on Taeyeon’s left shoulder while Taeyeon rested her head on Jessica’s. As Jessica mentioned that she was feeling a little cold, Taeyeon held both of Jessica’s hands in hers, warming it up occasionally by rubbing them whenever she awoke. She hoped time would stop forever at that moment, but knew that it was only wishful thinking.

As they neared the bus terminal, there was a nagging feeling that crept up Taeyeon’s stomach. Something was amiss as their bus halted to a stop.

I was with Jessica the whole day, but why didn’t something wrong happen throughout the time we spent together?

Taeyeon stared at the darkening horizon. Her eyes scanned the darkness that loomed closer as the dusk settled in, purples and blacks now painting the sky’s canvas with its gloomy hues. Worried eyes then cast a glance at the sleeping one.

It felt like the calm before the storm.

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