focus: gen!hi suhyun
word count: 3.2k
a/n: so when I was supposed to be filling prompts or writing crossover fic, I did this. yeah. not proud. but i have reasons ;A; because of interviews and interviews and cute pic. also possibly kpopstar because I'm doomed to write fic for all kpopstar yg babies cries
Where Hayi is bite, Soohyun is bark.
Hayi broods. Soohyun vocalises. Hayi insists. Soohyun compromises.
Hayi slices through the heart of the world with the steel of her determination, and Soohyun patches it up neatly with her arsenal of cartoon Care Bear band aids.
Except for Soohyun, bark often comes in the form of candy floss and mittens and pastel post its, pleas to visit the amusement park together, mushy cuddle sessions under soft comforters on the studio couch waiting for producers’ feedback.
Hayi can’t complain, if she’s to be honest. And she’s always honest.
“Unnie,” Hayi swears the studio brightens up just being graced by the sound of Soohyun’s voice. It’s kind of annoying. “Do you want some water?”
Hayi accepts the bottle she’s holding out without looking at it, and takes a sip. She can feel the eager press of Soohyun’s expectant gaze against the side of her head, and feels oddly obliged to say a word of thanks. It’s odd. She hasn’t felt obliged to do anything in a long time. To the point that she would actually do it, anyway.
“Thanks,” she says, and Soohyun almost explodes into a party popper of rainbows and unicorns. Or at least, that’s what it looks like, by the way her smile widens just as her eyes disappear, and the way her slight frame swells in satisfied pride.
Hayi feels assuredly gratified as Soohyun skips off, peach-coloured knitted sleeves flapping, over to the couple of weary producers and their manager, standing over the Mac and listening to the raw recording of their subunit’s debut song, to offer bottles of water as well. She continues watching lazily as they accept the small act of kindness gratefully, and Soohyun beams, once more raising the general happy fuzziness of the room to unacceptable standards. Unacceptable at almost one in the morning, Hayi clarifies. She wouldn’t want to sound like a total spoilsport.
Spreading this much happiness apparently is exhausting, too, (maybe even as exhausting as lazing on the couch and watching the peasants of this world go about their insignificant lives), because 2am finds Soohyun curled up on the couch beside Hayi, a few minutes after their (hopefully) last recording for the night, eyes lidded and blanket pulled up to her nose. Hayi sits close by, not too close, because the last time that happened, she’d learned how excellent a sleepy baby koala Soohyun might make in her next life, but just close enough to let Soohyun know she’s there.
By the time the head producer, half-dead on his feet with fatigue, turns around to wearily dismiss them for the night, and Hayi attempts to coordinate her arms and legs to get her off the couch, Soohyun’s already sunken snugly under the covers, fast asleep.
Hayi almost doesn’t have it in her to wake her up.
“We should go out.”
Hayi presses her lips together, swaying idly around on the swivel chair in the studio, pretending to study a mini box of sugar-free, high-bran cereal she’d gotten on her last trip to the supermarket. It looks (and probably tastes) like cardboard in her opinion, but her trainers had recommended it. It’s not like Hayi can choose when it comes to things like these, anyway.
“Unnie~. Let’s goooo, it’s so stuffy being in here all the time.”
“We’ve got recordings,” Hayi says finally, as an excuse. She looks up to see Soohyun in the reflection of the glass pane looking into the recording booth, sprawled out upside down on the couch, pouting spectacularly.
“But we’ve been working all day,” Soohyun wails, rolling over, long, straight hair tumbling in smooth waves over the edge of the couch. Her next words are muffled through a faceful of cushion. “I’m so tireddd~.”
Hayi hates it when Soohyun talks to her like that. It makes her all gooey around the edges, makes her feel like an unnie and held in respect and awfully nice. It’s terrible.
“Tomorrow!” Soohyun suddenly shoots up from the cushion, making Hayi jump. “Producer-nim said if we did well, he’ll let us off early! We can go tomorrow!”
“And if I want to do other things?” Hayi purses her lips. (Not that she actually has anything to do- she’d spent most of her days locked away in the YG dungeon repeating vocal practices, exercising, staring at the ceiling, exercising, singing, etcetera. But Soohyun doesn’t need to know that.)
Soohyun grins delightedly from her perch on the couch, as the sound of the producers returning from their lunch break filter into the tiny room, distracting Hayi momentarily. “I’ll persuade you!”
“I doubt that,” Hayi chuckles dismissively, not giving the notion much further thought.
The next day, however, by some means of witchcraft (because nothing else can change her mind), finds a very disgruntled Hayi on the bus beside an exuberant fifteen-year-old girl, on the way to the amusement park.
They’re all tucked into parkas and hoodies and sunglasses, makeup minimal and wearing shoes without six inch heels for once in what’s probably been a year, and Hayi feels strangely undressed, being out in public like this. She fumbles with the concept- like trying to ride a bicycle for the first time in ages, clumsily regaining her memory of the controls and techniques.
Soohyun, on the other hand, seems completely natural, relaxed against the hardback seat of the bus and gazing out the window, but of course, she’s only been here for just over a year, and given mostly free rein of her life by the CEO, in fact. Hayi, on the other hand, is off-limits, strictly guarded, constricted and guided. It’s both suffocating and a little flattering. But mostly suffocating.
The younger girl swings their hands between them as they approach the ticketing booth, passing, thankfully, unrecognised by the smiling staff, who helps them stick on paper wristbands for their entry after they pay.
Hayi can almost feel Soohyun vibrating with anticipation as they walk aimlessly into the wide space past the entrance of the park, decorated with flowerpots and cheery signs promoting different rides. On a weekday, and in the early afternoon, the park’s nicely empty- just grandparents with toddlers and the odd group of young adults taking the day off to have fun. Hayi and Soohyun blend in nicely.
“What do you wanna ride first?”
Hayi wants to say that she was most unwillingly dragged here without her consent and has no interest whatsoever in what you wanna ride first, but her lips end up stringing together the vague syllables “rollercoaster?” and Soohyun beams again, and Hayi literally sees flowers grow and birds take flight singing at the sight.
“Rollercoaster” is, however, apparently the worst idea Hayi’s had in a while, even worse than the time Jimin called her up and tricked (Jimin insists that she’d merely suggested and possibly encouraged the idea- tricking was absolutely wrong use of terminology) her into coming over for a girl’s day out baking session with Ahyeon, which ended up with Hayi almost burning down the kitchen, the JYP dorm building and the entire of South Korea, because cooking and Hayi will never go together, not even on the pain of death, and Jimin had known that, that annoying-…
Hayi sees that part of her life flash before her eyes just as said rollercoaster hits the peak, and perches there for the few agonising seconds. She barely has time to think wistfully about what she would’ve wanted to be included in her epitaph before the rollercoaster edges over, and plummets in a freaking vertical death streak that should most definitely be illegal in every theme park on this Earth.
Soohyun’s clinging on tight to the metal handrail, but she’s screaming delightedly in a way that would probably make their vocal trainer promptly file for resignation for the things it might do to the younger girl’s throat. Hayi would scream too- if her oesophagus hadn’t neatly knotted itself up and if she still remembered how to breathe. Those would probably come in handy for screaming. Just her luck.
Hayi’s stumbling on flat ground when they get off the rollercoaster later, knees wobbly, wondering if it’s possible to invent a time machine just to go back to the life of the person who’d invented this accursed ride, and possibly change his mind to invent some peaceful Venetian rowboat style attraction instead. Soohyun claps and twirls, eyes alight, her next words making Hayi almost collapse on the floor right then and there.
“Who’s up for round 2?!”
After much refusal and even some convincing (yes, Hayi had been that desperate), they’re parked in a ferris wheel cab, peering out the window, already marked and blurry with handprints and graffiti. Soohyun points out rides and food stalls, and Hayi only half pays attention, more interested in making a full recovery right now than anything else.
So it’s no surprise that the older girl’s startled when Soohyun springs over the tiny space between them, squeezing beside Hayi and adhering to the other girl like a particularly happy starfish.
“Thanks for coming out today with me, unnie. We should do this again sometime!”
Hayi lets out a throaty chuckle, shifting awkwardly beside Soohyun. It’s odd, coming out of the safe prison of the company building and doing regular teenage girl things with an (almost) regular teenage girl, but they’re different (the irony isn’t lost on her) and Hayi thinks she might begin to appreciate that now.
Because sometimes Hayi feels that Soohyun makes being different out to be not so bad of something at all. Hayi had thought her music was a rebellion in the pop industry until she’d heard AKMU, heard the confidence behind soothing vintage blends of electronic and folk, and like the rest of the world she’d fallen in love with the sound of it under the guise of calm speculation.
Hayi is different in ways that are bold, controversial, daring and sending ripples in the oceans of people she comes in contact with that make them stiffen with respect and awe. But Soohyun’s shown that being different can make them relax too- it can make them smile, can make them dance.
They start the fires of revolution in their own ways, Hayi in the eyes of her followers, and Soohyun in their hearts. Maybe that’s what YG had in mind when he’d thrown them together- something Hayi’s still figuring out to this day.
“Thanks,” Hayi says suddenly, when they’re walking together towards the exit after trying out almost every ride in the park and buying cute coordinated cat and rabbit ears to commemorate this day at the gift store. Soohyun’s holding a cone of pink candy floss in her left hand, absent-mindedly nibbling on a string of the sugary treat, when Hayi says it, and Hayi can feel her look over in surprise, before smiling widely.
“I’m glad you liked it, unnie,” Soohyun bounces a little on the balls of her feet, looking extremely satisfied with herself. Hayi smiles and rolls her eyes.
(Hayi even accepts the pinch of candy floss Soohyun offers later, with tremulous eyes and a hopeful smile. She’s pretty sure candy floss isn’t sugar free and high bran, but whatever, you know?)
“This pink or that one?”
It’s rare that they hang out in Soohyun’s dorm- Hayi’s is typically more available, her being the ice queen on the North Mountain doomed to be free but alone for the rest of her life and all, but today, 48 hours before the release of the official song, she’d just so happened to wander over and be dragged mercilessly in for a girl bonding session of nail painting and gossip.
Hayi surveys the Tahiti Pearl and Princess Bubblegum colours critically.
“The princess one,” she says eventually, and Soohyun sets the other one down, looking satisfied with her unnie’s choice.
“So do you think Seunghoon oppa really meant it that day when he said he got a tattoo?” Soohyun slips seamlessly into the gossip aura as she carefully unscrews the cap of the tiny bottle, and Hayi scoffs, riffling through Soohyun’s generous selection of cat nail stickers.
“Yeah, sure, just like he got that navel piercing the other time, and went out and won some underground dance battle,” Hayi rolls her eyes. “He’s just trying to act cool in front of the girl trainees- he’s a dance genius, yeah, but his stupidity otherwise kind of amazes me.”
Soohyun claps a hand over her mouth, giggling, eyes flicking nervously to the door, as if expecting someone to come in and hear that. Hayi doesn’t care though- she’s exchanged enough insults with her fellow Kpop Star 1 dropout for something like that to be considered pretty mild.
“Will you get one?” Soohyun asks, just as Hayi’s settled on a cute black cat sticker and is searching Soohyun’s box of polish for a pair of forceps. “A tattoo?”
Hayi makes a noncommittal sound, extricating the tweezers from underneath a sheet of nail stickers.
“Dunno,” she mutters, more focused on attempting to peel off the cat sticker without letting the ears fold in than actually answering the question. “Depends, if YG-sangjanim doesn’t dictate what I put on my skin too.”
“But if he lets you?” Soohyun persists, and Hayi sighs, setting the stickers down.
“Maybe?” Hayi says vaguely. She honestly isn’t all too hot about the idea. Yet, anyway. “Getting a tattoo’s a big thing, like, you have to think really hard about what you’re going to put on your skin, right? Maybe if I find something that means that much to me, I’ll get one.”
Soohyun’s quiet for a little while as Hayi successfully peels off her cat sticker and sets it carefully on a baby blue fingernail. The older girl only finds it odd when she realises Soohyun isn’t moving her hands either, and looks over, blinking.
“Why?” she asks bluntly, and Soohyun seems to shake out of it, dipping the brush back into the bottle of polish.
“Oppa’s a little…apprehensive, about the culture here,” Soohyun mumbles. Hayi blinks, remembering the statement the Chanhyuk had jokingly made in passing one morning when he’d come by with Soohyun before their initial recordings for I’m Different.
I’m not letting you touch any of my songs.
Hayi had brushed it off as a joke, as one of the eccentric remarks from Chanhyuk’s ample store of said eccentric remarks, but the more she thinks about it, the more she sees the threatened tint to the boy’s eyes, his pursed lips, concealed behind light laughter and designer hipster glasses.
In retrospect, in many ways, Hayi’s just like Chanhyuk. Same-aged pioneers of a new generation of music, creating waves in the industry in ways only they know how, and fiercely defensive of the culture and genre they propagate. It’s obvious that I’m Different was a song tailored to Hayi’s vocals- no wonder Chanhyuk would be apprehensive, if not a little insulted, that Soohyun was the one expected to change and adapt to their subunit’s style.
“I don’t blame him,” Hayi chooses to say, and Soohyun looks up at her, in partial surprise, partial appreciation. It’s inexplicably gratifying. “It’s difficult, guarding the integrity of your music.”
“Yeah, that’s what he said!” Soohyun seems relieved that someone thinks the same way. “I hope-…you weren’t, uhm, put off, by what he said that day?”
“About not letting me sing any of his songs?” Hayi chuckles. “Nah, he knows what he’s doing, I’d be pretty annoyed if one of my songs got pushed to another artist to promote- especially for someone with a style like yours? It’d be an insult- like you weren’t good enough to promote it yourself.”
Soohyun nods thoughtfully, nail polish forgotten. “It makes more sense when you put it like that,” she laughs. “Oppa just tells me not to hang out with the rest of the artists too much or take what they say to heart, he never explains anything.”
“He’s looking out for you,” Hayi says absently, applying a layer of top coat over her sticker. “Promoting music so different can’t be easy- it’s probably difficult enough making sure his own style doesn’t waver, let alone the style of two people. He’s worrying about you too.”
“Well, he shouldn’t,” Soohyun pouts, looking miffed. “Or he should at least explain some things before telling me what to do, sheesh.”
Hayi blinks- she wonders if she would’ve explained all this to Soohyun if she knew they were in the same unit permanently. Now, she sees Soohyun as a mentee, a little sister, not a group mate, and she wonders if the way she speaks would change otherwise.
“Don’t, though,” she says eventually, and Soohyun looks over, confused. “Don’t feel like you have to change your style because it might make you more appealing, or whatever. No one knows your style of music better than you do.”
Soohyun brightens, smiling. “Yeah, I learned that in Kpop Star, after trying to cover One of A Kind and it not really working out, heh,” she’s looking at Hayi with something that can only be described as an odd cross between admiration and affection, and it makes Hayi proud. It feels nice. “You’re so wise, unnie.”
“I try,” Hayi sighs, flicking a lock of hair over her shoulder with the hand that isn’t currently drying, and Soohyun bursts into giggles, laughter that Hayi soon follows.
They carry on, talking about meaningless things and critically choosing polish colours and having a heated debate over which cats would look cuter on Soohyun’s nails, until Chanhyuk comes back with dinner, and wrinkles his nose at the mess on the coffee table.
Soohyun ends up threatening to paint Chanhyuk’s nails if he doesn’t help with all the manual labour they can’t do because of their drying nails, and they have a haphazard dinner of room temperature kimchi stew and steamed chicken in front of the television, food surrounded by nail polish bottles.
And as Hayi eats silently, carefully manoeuvring her nails around the spoon and chopsticks, listening to the squall of some sobstory drama over the buzz of the siblings bickering over who gets to eat the last of the homemade cookies that their mom had sent over a week back, and who has to do laundry this time, she supposes she might just be able to get used to this.
(A few impulsive challenges and text messages later, Seunghoon stumbles into the dorm brandishing a bag of snacks that are most definitely not permitted on any of their diet lists, followed nervously by Bang Yedam and Lee Chaeyoung, for an impromptu underage Kpop Star party. Hayi mouths idly at the edge of her cup of fizzy peach juice, watching as Seunghoon makes everyone laugh by dancing to all the girl group songs that come on MCountdown on television, wondering if she should stay here or go back to her dorm and watch that new movie she’s been hoarding in her collection for a few days now.
But she ends up spending the night rolling around with the rest of them and making fun of survival program judges until Winner’s manager comes over to shoo them all back to their respective dorms, and to be honest, it isn’t all that bad after all.)