Unpleasant but necessary. This was the last place Taeyeon wanted to be in and being here brought back memories that she’d much rather lose than carry around. But Taeyeon sat with her back straight and face calm as she waited. Fortunately, the wait wasn’t too long and the person she had come here for was escorted into the room.
Neither woman said anything until the warden left the room and closed the door. Taeyeon broke the silence first.
“I’m not gonna say I’m sorry.”
The woman who had been such a big part of her life in the past scoffed. “Fuck you, Taeyeon. Your apology is trash anyway.”
“Of course it is. To you it will be.”
“You fucking promised. You fucking—fuck.”
“I promised not to run.” Taeyeon kept her eyes on the fiery ones across the table. “I didn’t run.”
“You didn’t run. But you called the fucking police. You’re a fucking liar. I should have shot you when I had the chance.”
Despite feeling the heat of the woman’s anger radiating through the air around them, Taeyeon didn’t flinch. She had learnt, through the years, that anger usually came from a vulnerable place and one of the best ways of deflecting it was to address the sore spot. In this case, she had one last card left in her hand and this was the best time to use it.
“We’re even now, Cassie.”
“What the fuck are you talking about.”
“I’m sorry I couldn’t help you to take the drug charge at that time, but I’ve made up for it by saving you from a murder charge this time.”
“Murder? You lost your shit fucker. There wasn’t no murder, idiot.”
“You’re a smart girl, Cassie. You know you were gonna end up killing someone. Either me or her.”
“You’re full of bullshit.”
“I heard you talking on the phone. I heard you saying you had to cut Tiffany up. You said it wasn’t part of the deal, right? They were gonna make you do it anyway. But they weren’t gonna stop there. First, it’s a finger. Then more. Another finger. Or the face. It was gonna get worse and worse until Tiffany’s father gave in to them.” Taeyeon paused to see if Cassie had anything to say to that. Nothing. The woman remained silent. “You know that I wouldn’t have let you do it, right? I would’ve shot whoever came near Tiffany. Then you would’ve shot me.”
Taeyeon looked around the bare room. “I’m sorry. You’re like ten years too late and this place really kills the mood,” she joked, hoping to lighten the mood.
“Go fuck yourself.”
Okay, so jokes weren’t such a good idea. “Cassie, I’ll be straight here. You tried to pin the drug charge on me back then. I know you did. And I was very angry for a very long time. But also very devastated.” Taeyeon dug her fingers through her hair and took a deep breath to calm herself. “Do you know what it’s like to have your first and only girlfriend betray you like that? I’ll betcha don’t. So lemme tell ya. It hurts. Okay? It hurt like a fucking bitch shoving a fucking stick up my ass right through my heart. And I was just a fucking teenager. Okay? And I was fucking terrified and fucking suicidal almost. Did you know that? Did you know the shit I had to fight through to come out in one piece? You don’t, right? But ya know what? I don’t blame you. I don’t blame you anymore. Cos I know why you tried to do it. And I’m okay with it now. But you owe me this one and now I’m claiming it. I called the police so now we’re even. We’re even, okay? I don’t want to hate you and I don’t want you to hate me. I don’t want to end up enemies with my first love.”
As much as she tried to stay calm and collected, Taeyeon’s blood was still racing around like a hound dog after a prize. All the memories that flooded her mind as she fired her words at Cassie simply took over and made it hard to breathe. But it felt good to unload everything on Cassie. She had kept everything to herself for too long.
“Fuck,” was all Cassie said after a moment and Taeyeon grew exasperated.
“Is that all you know how to say? Is that the only word you know how to use?”
Cassie bent backwards, arching over the back of her chair, head hanging back. “Fuck,” she said again. “Fuck.” She brought her head back up and their eyes met again. “Taeyeon. You like that fucking rich bitch?”
Taeyeon levelled her gaze at Cassie. “Yes.”
“Okay.” Cassie nodded. “Okay.” She closed her eyes. Then opened them again. “I was right. She’s your girl.” Another nod. “I can handle that. At least you didn’t betray me because you’re a slave to some rich old dude. It was fucking obvious anyway. Fucking disgusting you two fuckers.”
Taeyeon shrugged. “I’m not gonna say I’m sorry.”
This time, Cassie did laugh. A short bark of a laugh. Then it was all business again. “We’re even. I won’t hate you. You were too good a fuck to hate.”
“If I was a good fuck, it was only because you were a fucking good fuck teacher.”
Cassie’s smile signalled the end of the storm. “The fucking rich bitch’s got me to thank.”
Taeyeon returned a smile and that was it. They were well and truly even.
It was Tiffany’s second session with Dr Kim Hee Chul and this time, Taeyeon was careful not to end up standing too close to the receptionist when Tiffany came out. It was the smart thing to do because Tiffany was still quite sensitive and easily upset when she came out from the office.
“We’re making good progress,” said Dr Kim to Taeyeon, answering her unasked question.
“Thanks, Dr Kim. We’ll be back next week.”
He smiled and nodded. “See you. And you too, Tiffany.”
Tiffany didn’t appear too thrilled by the prospect of returning but she didn’t make a fuss about it as they left the building. To Taeyeon, this was a huge battle won and she was all smiles as they headed for her car.
“Was it better this time?” Taeyeon asked as Tiffany’s hand slipped into hers.
“A little bit.”
“That’s good. Improvement is good.” Taeyeon squeezed Tiffany’s hand and smiled. “What about last night? Did you still have nightmares?”
“They’ll all go away. Give it some more time.”
“I still think my nightmares will go away if you stay with me and hold my hand while I sleep.”
“I would do that but I need to work.”
Tiffany pouted. “Why can’t you take the day shift?”
“Because work likes to be difficult and inconvenient for people like you.”
“What do you mean by ‘people like you’? I’m not just people. I’m your girlfriend, damn it.”
Taeyeon was about to reach for the car door when she froze and turned to Tiffany. “You’re my girlfriend?”
“Of course I am.”
“I thought we were staying as friends until we clear things up.”
“You thought we’re friends?” Tiffany’s voice was rising. “Is it your habit to call your friends every night to say goodnight? And every morning to say good morning? And text all day? Huh? And hold your friend’s hand like this?” Tiffany raised their hands, interlocked fingers and all. “Does it even make any sense? Are you fucking kidding me?”
“I thought we agreed to wait till things are cleared up.”
“Fuck that. I don’t wanna wait.”
“You’re very impatient. Can’t you just wait a little longer?”
“Why should I wait?”
This line was so typical of spoilt brat Tiffany that Taeyeon couldn’t help smiling. Never in her life had she ever expected to find herself condoning this kind of behaviour but Tiffany was defying all sorts of odds in her book.
“We’re already doing things that girlfriends do anyway,” Tiffany added with a touch of finality.
Making up her mind right there and then, Taeyeon put a foot forward to cage Tiffany against her car. “You’re wrong. There’s one girlfriend thing we haven’t done yet.”
With surprise clearly written in Tiffany’s wide open chocolate brown eyes, she stepped back and asked, “What?”
Another foot forward had Taeyeon leaning into Tiffany, the length of her torso pressed up against the woman’s. “This.” Her slanted smirk vanished as her lips parted to welcome the other set of lips. And although her eyes were closed, her lips didn’t miss their mark, fitting right over Tiffany’s like a piece of jigsaw gone home.
Soft. Tender. Soft. So, so soft. She leaned in some more, applying more pressure before letting up. Then, she open her eyes and smiled. “Now, you can say we’re girlfriends.”