Eyes flickered from the passing scenery outside the window to the girl seated next to her in the moving van. Her eyebrow raised as she took in how the girl was looking from the window, to her phone, to the window, fidgeted a bit with her fingers, bit her lip, looked at the phone again, and it all repeated itself again.
Jessica knew this wasn’t the normal way her younger sister acted. Krystal Jung rarely showed nervousness or anxiousness. So this behavior picked on Jessica’s interest, and a bit on Jessica’s protective side. What made her sister so anxious?
“Soojung-ah.” Jessica called the younger girl, and the way Krystal snapped her head towards her made her wonder if Krystal neck got hurt from how fast she moved her head. She refrained from asking and instead took her time eyeing her panicked sister’s eyes.
“Is something wrong?” Jessica asked and followed Krystal’s gaze down to the younger girl’s phone. “You’re all…fidgety.” Jessica said.
“Ah…” Krystal looked up from her phone and met Jessica’s concerned expression. She smiled apologetic at the older girl and leaned back in her seat. “It’s nothing…it’s just…my stomach is a bit upset.” Krystal admitted.
Jessica’s eyebrows rose in surprise. She blinked and continued to stare at her sister as her mind went through the day’s events, going through every little thing her sister had eaten and drunk to see what it was that could have caused her sister this discomfort.
A tap to her knee stopped her thoughts and she blinked and saw Krystal was trying to get her attention. She realized she must have spaced out, like always, and so she looked quizzically at her, waiting for the girl to say what she wanted.
“It’s okay, unnie. I’ll deal with it once we get to the studio. I’m sure there’s some medication lying around there. Otherwise I’ll just get manager oppa to buy it for me.” Krystal assured the older girl.
Jessica had to refrain herself from telling her manager who was driving to turn around and drive to the nearest pharmacy instead. But looking at Krystal’s assuring eyes it calmed her a bit and she leaned back in her seat and made a mental note that the first thing they would do was to find some medicine for her sister.
A sigh escaped her lips, she returned the smile her sister smiled at her before she turned back to the window, continuing watching the passing scenery. Her mind wandered again, back to medicine and upset stomachs, and she began to wonder about another person who usually suffered from an upset stomach.
Thinking about that person made her think about another person, which led her to think of a third person, and now Jessica was wondering how all these eight people were doing and…why haven’t they contacted her yet?
Her eyebrows furrowed and she looked down on her phone, unlocking the screen and opening the text messages. The last one she had sent had been to her fellow American-Korean friend, the reply she had gotten back had assured her that everything was fine with the girl despite everything that had happened and had been revealed of her personal life.
Jessica frowned at the memory. How could the girl be fine when all she had wanted was to keep that small part of her life a secret? Jessica had gotten angry when she had read about the news. Angrier than anyone. She remembered how the girl had assured her it was okay, it was her own fault for not being careful, and she would be fine. She would be able to get through this.
Heck, the girl got through any obstacles in her life. And Jessica wished she could be more of a support for the girl, but the girl was damn stubborn.
Like another girl. A girl Jessica also cared a lot about. Maybe they had influenced each other when they had been roommates? Jessica made a mental note to use that as an argument next time she argues with the two girls.
The van came to a halt and the engine got turned off. Jessica blinked and looked around her, a bit confused as she hadn’t realized they had reached their destination. Her mind remembered the thing she had to do now, and all thoughts about eight girls who she hadn’t seen for a while vanished and she turned to her sister.
Upset stomach. Medicine. Right. Priorities. This was a problem right now and could be solved easily.
She gathered her things and quickly got out of the van after her sister. Right when they got out she hooked her arm with the other girl and began dragging her with her.
Priorities. Her sister was feeling sick and she could actually do something about it, and so she would.
If she was allowed to beat up paparazzies, that was another thing she would do, but she couldn’t, and so that problem had to be put aside. To be dealt with another time. A time when Jessica didn’t have a sister who was acting out of normal.
It’s funny how she had been back for a few hours. She had already managed to scold a manager, and she had also managed to get a headache, and she hadn’t even entered the dance studio yet!
She was annoyed, and tired. And she knew it was a bad combination. And the fact that she had to go through hours of practicing choreographies, loud music and people who are going to point out if she does a wrong step made her feel physically drained.
The time she had taken caring about people had gotten her exhausted and a small part of her regretted that now, but what could she do? She cared about the ones she love, no matter how much she tried not to.
A squeeze to her hand made her turn towards the girl beside her. Gentle brown orbs looked at her, a small smile was on the girl’s lips. It had Jessica smiling and she squeezed the hand back, thinking back to how Krystal had pulled her away from the manager when she found out there was no medicine for Krystal in the building.
The girl had assured her it was okay. But how the heck could she be okay? She had been all fidgety and acted out of normal in the van. Jessica knew the girl wasn’t okay, and she wasn’t going to let her sister go through discomfort because some idiot didn’t keep medicine in the building for the people who actually make the money to run the place.
The thought of it made her blood boil, and she was relieved to see the door to the practice room. She could use it to blow off some steam. Maybe she should call one of the girls and complain about the company? She knew one of them would gladly listen.
Her hand reached out towards the doorknob, a tired sigh escaped her lips and she entered the room. A ‘pang’ and Jessica almost fell down to the floor buy how started she had gotten buy the sound. The light was turned on, the previous silent room was filled with song, and she was staring at a bunch of people she hadn’t expected to see now.
“Happy birthday Jessica!”
Her members. Park Minyoung. Back up dancers. Manger oppas and unnies. The sight of all of them greeting her with a smile brought tears to her eyes. She turned to her sister, a sheepish smile was on Krystal’s lips and then she realized it.
Krystal had never been sick. The upset stomach had been a cover up for this to happen. Jessica inwardly sighed. She should have figured it out. But she had completely forgotten about her birthday with everything that had happened.
“Hey, why is the birthday girl crying?” Two pair of arms enveloped her in a hug. And soon she felt eight familiar bodies surrounding her. Some patted her head, some wiped the tears that was running down her cheeks. A kiss landed on her temple. It was just so overwhelming. She had been so annoyed and angry before, and now this happens. It was just a bunch of mixed emotions.
“Yah, blow out the candles, I’m getting tired of holding the cake!” Jessica blinked away some tears from her eyes when she turned to Park Minyonug. Her favorite unnie. She smiled apologetically at the older girl and finally blew out the candles.
“Yay! Let’s eat some cake!” Hyoyeon cheered cheerfully and Jessica felt a small tug at her heart when she remembered what the girl had had to go through in the beginning of this month. She began to wonder how the girl managed to stay so positive.
“What’s with the gloomy look, huh?” She heard someone ask beside her, a small poke to her shoulder made her turn towards the person, and she got met with a pair of concerned brown orbs. She felt her eyes fill with tears again, and she saw the concern got mixed with panic.
“I’m just…I’ve been so worried about you guys.” Jessica sniffled.
The room grew silent, and Jessica felt a wave of nostalgia as this brought her back to the times she had said something and the room had grew cold. The birth of the sica-effect. She looked around, had she done that again?
She saw her members exchanging looks with each other. It gnawed at her. Had she said something wrong? Couldn’t she voice her worries? She sniffled again and wiped her tears. A arm was placed around her shoulders, it made her look up at the person who had initiated the contact, and soon she was enveloped in a hug.
“Why are you worrying about us?” Tiffany whispered into her ear. Jessica felt more tears stream down her cheeks, gosh, why was she crying so much? Was it because she was tired?
Jessica gulped and sniffled before she clutched to Tiffany’s shirt.
“It’s just…so many things are happening to you guys. And I don’t like seeing you hurt.” Jessica cried. She felt Tiffany hug her tighter, and someone came up behind her and wrapped their arms around her waist. She sniffled again, and she stood there, being hugged by two of her members, on her birthday.
Tiffany pulled away from the hug. Jessica felt the girl wiped her tears, someone beside her handed Tiffany a napkin and the girl started wiping her tear stained face with that instead.
“What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger. I think that saying goes good with us.” Tiffany said and beamed a smile her way. Jessica blinked. She sniffled and felt her nose had gotten clogged.
“Here, blow your nose.” Tiffany looked amused as she handed her a napkin, and Jessica couldn’t help it, she rolled her eyes and took the napkin from the girl.
She blew her nose, in a very unlady like manner. A manner she would most probably had gotten scolded for if she had done it in public. But the adoring looks she got from the people around her when she wiped her nose made her think that they all liked this side of her.
She managed to muster up a smile and she turned to Tiffany again, her smile began to widen and he reached her hand out towards the girl, with the used napkin in hand. Tiffany grimaced and shook her head.
“It might be your birthday but I’m not going to throw away your boogers.” Tiffany said.
The people around them began to laugh, Jessica pouted at the younger girl. The atmosphere had lightened up, and she didn’t feel so heavy hearted any more. She was feeling happy, and light, and she was up for…
Her eyes scanned the room. Her eyes landing on Sunny, Krystal, Yoona, Sooyoung, Hyoyeon, Taeyeon, Yuri, Tiffany and finally her eyes landed on what she had been looking for. Her lips curved upwards and she happily skipped over to the maknae of Girls’ Generation.
“Cake!” Jessica cheered, startling the younger girl who was now holding the cake.
She got a smile in return from the younger girl and she held out the cake for her. It looked delicious, and they had actually spelled her name right this year. A sheepish smile appeared on her lips and she glanced to her left when she felt someone approaching. The cake maker of last year was by her side, and it gave her a good opportunity to point it out.
“Did you learn how to spell my name now?” Jessica asked.
Taeyeon smiled back at her. “I had to teach the baker how to spell your name this year.” Taeyeon said.
“Oooh.” Jessica faked amazement.
She saw Taeyeon smile and the older girl handed her something to slice the cake with.
“Let’s eat the cake now.” Taeyeon said.
Jessica grinned and took the cake slicer from the girl and turned to the cake Seohyun was holding. She met the younger girl’s gaze, seeing her smiling at her and Jessica broke out into a wider smile.
“Who wants the first piece?” Jessica asked and turned to the people surrounding them.
Hands flew up into the air followed by chorus of ‘me’. She grinned by the reaction and turned back to the cake.
“Okay, the first piece is for me.” She said.
“Why would you ask if you were going to give yourself the first piece?”
“Unnie I’m hungry!”
Jessica continued to grin when the people around her began to complain. This felt a lot like home to her, and she wouldn’t spend her birthday in any other way than this.
- A lot like home