Wow!!! I'm finally finished with this series. It took me a while to write this because I didn't exactly know how to end it. I still don't even know how to end it properly... but I figured this was good enough. This part is much longer than part one, so I hope you all will bear with me and how much I have written for this finale.
Thanks for keeping up with me on this journey! Hopefully I'll find my inspiration to finish up my other stories.
If you want to keep up with me or just chat, you can catch me on Twitter here: https://twitter.com/horribledrive . I don't usually go on AFF unless I have a chapter to post or have time to edit the remaining chapters.
Sooyoung was right when she mentioned that attending Seungwan’s wedding would give Joohyun the closure of feelings she was most likely looking for.
Just knowing and seeing someone else loving another was enough. It was more than enough witnessing it in-person. The thing that she was most appreciative about, however, was not dwelling over it anymore. She was finally able to convince her mind that Seungwan was her first love and would remain that first love.
Joohyun began to feel much better about herself ever since the movie outing with Seulgi. Co-workers thought she found a man to love because they commented about a healthy and lovingly glow that was apparent on her face every time she stepped into Hermes. Even when she was struggling with the most difficult customers was the glow still slightly there. She didn’t think too much about it, diminishing the glow to a thought of her finally getting over Seungwan and Minho all together.
“So, who’s the guuuyyyy?” Jongdae asked in a sing-song tone.
They were currently on their lunch break in the small break room behind Hermes. Jongdae was standing around, stuffing forks of drenched salad into his mouth. Joohyun was anxious seeing the dripping ranch dressing sauce sliding down his fork, threatening to splash down onto anywhere and create an impact that might stain Jongdae’s sleek, black suit.
And here she was, stabbing her own fork into a neat, dressing-free bento box she bought on the way to work.
“What are you talking about?” she asked.
Why do they keep thinking that I’m dating someone?
Jongdae rolled his eyes. “Hello? It’s so obvious you’re seeing someone, Joohyun. Even ditzy Park Sunyoung has her own suspicions.” He munched onto the second to last bite of his lunch. “So? Who is it?”
Joohyun laughed. “There’s no one. I don’t know why you all think that I’m dating someone right now. I was a wreck about a week ago, how can I find someone that fast?”
“Who knows, maybe you found someone who loves you as a wreck and loves you as whatever façade you’ve been putting up.”
Joohyun reached over to smack Jongdae for implying her fake personality, to which the latter laughed loudly about and scooted away from her hand.
“Seriously, I don’t have anyone,” confirmed Joohyun. “I don’t even think I’d want to date anyone right now.”
Jongdae finished up his lunch and rinsed off his Tupperware in the sink. He wiped his mouth and hands clean and turned around, leaning back onto his hands curling over the edge of the counter. Joohyun barely made a dent into her lunch at this point. There was about fifteen minutes left anyway.
“That’s unfortunate,” said Jongdae, and he shrugged his shoulders. “I know plenty of people who would want to date you in a heartbeat.”
Joohyun breathed out of her nose as some sort of almost laughter. Her fork was tossing and turning a piece of baked salmon on top of a bed of rice.
“Do me a favor and tell them I’m off the market, please.”
Jongdae didn’t pressure any longer with teasing remarks about Joohyun finding a man to see on her free time, although the latter knew he still believed it somehow. He left so that Joohyun could finish her lunch in peace, and because he was needed back onto the floor again. Jung Sooyeon mentioned something about a persistent customer who she, for once, wasn’t able to charm with her words. But Jongdae was a close second in the charming department, and maybe he knew a few tricks up his sleeves that Sooyeon didn’t know about.
Joohyun turned back to her lunch after that whole spiel, the whirring noise of the refrigerator sounding blaringly loud in her ears after she was left alone to wonder if she truly did look like someone who was in the first stages of seeing someone she truly liked.
That may be true, but honestly, Joohyun thought she was just able to be fully happy once again.
With or without a relationship.
Joohyun was on one of her rare free days from work. She needed time to practice self-care after Sooyoung dumped a bunch of articles telling her to do this and do that to her face or to her body. She tried doing yoga once, and as much as her flexible body loved distorting in all sorts of positions, time didn’t. So, she opted to spending a good fifteen minutes before sleeping to lay in her bed with a face mask.
“Shopping therapy” was one of the things on Sooyoung’s list. Joohyun wasn’t one to go around and shop for things that she wanted. She was more of a practical person, shopping only for things that she needed. For someone who worked in the fashion industry for handbags, she never really kept up with the latest trends. She didn’t even have the top line of the bag from Hermes either! But Sooyoung concluded that shopping for her didn’t have to deal with retail. She could be relieving the stress by scents of detergents, for all that Sooyoung cared.
Which was why Joohyun was strolling about in the mall, checking out the shops that opened up recently on the north or east wing or anywhere she never gotten the chance to walk through because she usually ended up in the parking lot fifteen minutes before her shift. She was pushing through rich patrons and big bags in the south wing, her feet automatically directing her to the most aesthetically pleasing shops. The mall’s carousel was right around the corner, if memory served her right, so that meant Morning Glory should be somewhere around...
Said girl jolted up at the voice, her eyes zipping to the direction. Seulgi was poking her head out from the entrance of Morning Glory, a smile apparent on her beautiful face. Almost immediately did Joohyun rush over to the shop, causing Seulgi to tread all the way back inside and lead the former to what she was doing earlier, which was restocking a shelf filled with Ryan dolls.
“Did you get off of work already?” Seulgi asked, reaching high to place the biggest Ryan doll they owned.
Joohyun observed as the slightly taller girl stood on her tippy toes, her sweater riding up against her body and showing a glimpse of fair and smooth skin. Seulgi patted and adjusted the doll a few times before glancing back down at Joohyun, waiting for a response.
“Oh, uh, no. I didn’t work today,” Joohyun finally responded. Her gaze was elsewhere now, finally scanning the surroundings of Morning Glory. “This place is cute.”
“Thanks! I suggested some of the interior décor to my parents,” said Seulgi.
Joohyun nodded and mumbled, “Ah, that explains it.”
But Seulgi was rummaging through the plastics. “Sorry, what did you say?”
Joohyun nervously laughed and shook her head. “Oh, uh, nothing.”
She continued to look around the shop and spotted who she thought was Seulgi’s mother sitting behind the counter, a pair of reading glasses resting on her nose bridge and a newspaper in her hand. Business here seemed to be pretty moderate. Probably just like any other gift shop, the traffic into Morning Glory was just a stop-and-go kind of traffic. Patrons would admire whatever they had to offer before checking out the prices and scooting back out to the mall. The stuffed animals here were definitely adorable in their own right, but Joohyun didn’t think she’d go out of her way to buy one.
It’d probably just sit down somewhere in her apartment for Joohyun and Sooyoung to look at every now and then.
“So, what are you doing here, unnie? Are you buying something?” asked Seulgi.
“I haven’t really figured out what I wanted to buy before coming to the mall,” confessed Joohyun. “I’m just strolling around, basically.”
“Ah. Anything else planned for the rest of the day?”
Joohyun pouted and shook her head. “No. Not really, actually.”
Suddenly a smile graces Seulgi’s face. “I get off in ten minutes. Do you want to do something together?” She must have seen the shock that spread across Joohyun’s face for a split second, for she lightly giggled behind her hand. “And it won’t be a scary movie this time.”
“How are you so sure that I’d trust you this time around?” Joohyun playfully narrowed her eyes at Seulgi, lips still pouting. “You might tell me that we’re going to the beach, but take me bungee jumping instead.”
Seulgi’s face lit up. “You know what, bungee jumping does sound fun right now!”
“Yah, Seulgi!” Joohyun lightly slapped Seulgi on her arm and watched as she laughed away while placing the last of the Ryan doll onto the shelf. “Have fun going by yourself, then.”
“I was just kidding, unnie,” Seulgi said. “I was thinking that we could go ice skating. There’s a pretty good deal going on.”
Joohyun silently followed her around the shop, watching as Seulgi tidied up the dolls here and there and making note of which shelves needed to be restocked soon. The last time she remembered going ice skating was when her parents decided to do a family outing one weekend in December. It was just her, her little sister, and her parents being carefree like how any other ideal family would be.
Long story short, she never learned how to ice skate.
Her family was already on the rink when she was idly standing by the entrance in her skate shoes, dad showing off his skating skills, mom laughing, and little sister wobbling every now and then. She was hanging onto the rail for dear life the whole duration of their stay, and eventually her dad came to the rescue, pulling onto her hands and guiding the way around.
Joohyun didn’t go back since then and she never really learned how to skate, much to her dismay. Dad would say, “We’ll teach you properly next time!” Next time never came around when he got too busy with work on the other side of the country and mom couldn’t just take her out on her own. Time passed by and she became too engrossed in her studies to even think about maintaining a social life—that was aside from the friendships and the relationships that didn’t end up staying with her. Joohyun didn’t think too much about it then, but when she thought about it now, it was a shame how she didn’t try to push for more family time. Now she was working her off while living in an apartment with someone who was still going to college, her sister was pushing through her last year of high school, and her parents were getting old with their hairs graying out.
“I don’t know how to skate,” she muttered.
Seulgi turned around with a raised eyebrow, and another one of her smiles warmed Joohyun’s chest once again.
“I can teach you,” she said. “It’s really not that hard.”
“Last time my dad told me that I ended up holding the rails until we left.”
“Well,” Seulgi started. She grabbed one of the pillow bunnies next to her. It was the very same pillow bunny that Joohyun saw the first time the shop opened up. “I can really teach you.”
Joohyun sighed, but ended up smiling. “Okay. I guess if you really insist.”
The ice rink was no horror movie, but why was it that whenever Seulgi wanted to take her out on a friendly outing, Joohyun ended up being scared out of her wits?
“Unnie, it’s okay. Just let go of the rail.”
“Unnie… I promise I’ll be by you so that you won’t fall.”
“How can I trust you? I walked into this rink just like how I walked into the movie theaters the other time!”
“To be fair, unnie, I didn’t force you into the rink….”
Joohyun paid for her ticket and the skates and entered this rink all on her own accord. But she was beyond scared of what would happen if she released her hands from the rail. Because of the buy one get one 50% off deal the ice skating rink was having today, it was populated with children and lovey dovey couples who were experienced in skating. Well, there was a couple where the girl didn’t know how to skate, but at least she wasn’t a scaredy cat and kept holding onto the rail.
Seulgi was standing in front of her, trying to coax the older girl into trusting her.
“I swear to God, if I fall….” Joohyun muttered under her breath to herself more than anyone.
She gradually let go of the rail, but because her mind was practically screaming and warning her that she was going to fall, she trusted her instincts and let out a squeal, arms flailing about before a pair of hands caught her by her wrists.
“Oh, my God!!”
The racing against her chest never calmed down because she expected to land flat on her . But Seulgi was still in front of her with hands firmly holding her wrists.
“Okay, just… breathe… and don’t let go of me, okay?” Seulgi calmly said.
“Yeah, I don’t plan to let go, Seulgi!” Joohyun squeaked out. She whimpered when Seulgi steadily started skating backwards, and automatically tightened the grip around her hands.
Seulgi laughed a bit. “See? Not that much scarier now, right?”
They circled around the rink a few times just like that, Seulgi skating backwards and Joohyun holding on by her hands. By the fifth time they went around the rink, Joohyun was composed again. Her gaze was fixed onto their conjoined hands and she hadn’t realized how warm they were in Seulgi’s.
“I’m going to let go of one hand now, okay?”
Joohyun slightly panicked again, not ready to gradually lose support. Better yet, she didn’t really want to lose the warmth in one of her hands right now. This skating position was all too comfortable. If she could continue on with the rest of their day like this with Seulgi holding onto her hands and them facing each other, then you bet that she would. However, Seulgi made it her mission today to teach her unnie how to skate once and for all.
“I’ll still be holding onto you, unnie,” reassured Seulgi. “Just going to let go of my left hand.”
Joohyun heaved a heavy sigh and solemnly nodded, granting Seulgi the permission to gradually let her hand fall back down to her side. She wavered a little bit when that happened, but still managed to hold onto Seulgi, even if it meant tightening her grip just a tiny bit more with her left hand.
Joohyun hastily glanced up, cheeks flushed, and gasped when she saw Seulgi holding her phone in front of her.
“Yah, are you recording me!?”
Her hand quickly flew up to hide her face. This was way too embarrassing. She was in her early twenties and she didn’t even know how to ice skate. She swore that if Seulgi posted this up somewhere and someone she knew were to see it she’d punch Seulgi in her amazing, toned stomach.
“C’mon, unnie! Just say hi to the camera~” Seulgi cooed. In the shot right now was Joohyun covering her eyes with her free hand and their conjoined hands barely showing at the bottom. But anyone would have guessed what Joohyun’s outstretched arm was holding onto. “Joohyun unnie is shy.”
“Seulgi, stop recording me,” Joohyun whined.
“What were you even recording me on?”
Seulgi grinned. “Just for my own personal keepsake.”
Joohyun could feel herself heat up from the chest. Seulgi seemed so harmless and innocent that she didn’t realize how many times Joohyun’s face turned near crimson red today.
“Are you ready to let go now?”
“No,” Joohyun immediately responded.
Seulgi laughed. “You’re going to have to let go of me eventually.”
“I don’t really want to… not right now.”
“Okay, fine. Just a few more rounds and then I’m going to let go.”
Joohyun pouted and held onto Seulgi tighter. “Can you just not let go at all? I’m completely fine with not knowing how to ice skate. I don’t even go ice skating that much anyway!”
“But you’re almost there, unnie! You went from skating with two hands and now you’re at one hand. Who knows, maybe you’ll become an expert at ice skating.”
“Yeah, like I would pursue a career in ice skating…”
“As cool as that sounds, I’m really going to let go when we circle this one more time.”
Joohyun became flustered yet again and didn’t even realize Seulgi made a lame pun. “One!? You said a few!”
“The more you try to avoid it, the more I’m going to let go.” Joohyun was mum, and they reached full circle. “Ready?”
Joohyun hesitated and felt as reluctant as ever to let go of her only safety net. Her whole body was slightly shaking, and it wasn’t from how cold the ice rink was.
“I’m not going to let you fall.”
Joohyun looked up at Seulgi’s face and saw how determined the younger girl was. The corners of Seulgi’s mouth tugged up a little bit, a small smile to not only reassure her but to also give her that very moment where all she saw and felt was her.
“I’m always going to be right here right by your side.”
And Joohyun let go.
Much to her surprise, Joohyun was getting the hang of it. She was balancing well and she was skating steadily, but her arms were still stretched out for Seulgi to grasp onto her just in case.
“Hey… I’m actually doing it!” she exclaimed, and she laughed out of disbelief.
This wasn’t as bad as she thought. All this time her mind was playing tricks on her, making her fear the idea of losing balance and falling. She was calm, cool, and collected at this point, and Seulgi was right in front of her, all smiles and laughter.
“See, unnie! You’re doing so well!”
But no one told her that the easiest part of skating was obviously going straight. She was nearing the curve of the rink and she was eventually going to have to turn her skates, but she panicked once again and suddenly lost all thought on how to properly turn.
“Okay, slowly turn this way now, unnie.”
Easier said than done, Seulgi!
“Wait, wait, wait—“
The feeling was like her trying to swim all over again. This was like her having the pool float ripped right out of her grip and trying to stay afloat on the water and fearing for her life of sinking into the pool deeper than she could imagine. She wasn’t even in the deep end, first of all.
Oh, my God, oh, my God, oh, my God, I’m going to fall! I’m going to fall, I’m going to fall, I’m going to fall! Curse you, Seulgi! How dare you make me let go of my hands, I knew I was going to fall, oh, my God, the curve is so sharp right now, I’m going to hit the wall!
Joohyun squealed immediately upon the impact, but it wasn’t from her hitting the wall—it was way too soft to be. Her panicked state caused her mind to go haywire and slightly lose her sense of surroundings, until her tracks were stopped and she was steady and she looked up and oh, my God, was Seulgi holding her?
All Joohyun heard was her own rushed breathing, but all she felt was Seulgi close against her.
“Sorry, you were panicking a lot and you weren’t turning, so I thought I would…” Seulgi stammered, but she still held on. “…you know….”
Joohyun’s breathing was still hitched, her hands gripping tightly onto the back of Seulgi’s shirt and her head resting against the crook of Seulgi’s neck.
“Are you okay?” Seulgi caressed Joohyun’s hair. “Was that too much?”
Joohyun closed her eyes and shook her head. This felt nice, even if all the events leading up to it weren’t as nice for Joohyun’s rapidly beating heart. She was at ease with Seulgi her head down to her shoulder, and a strong arm tightly wrapped around her waist.
“I’m okay now…” she breathed out. “Thank you….”
They remained in that position for a few moments longer until Joohyun decided she was stable enough to stand on her own—well, while holding onto Seulgi’s hand, of course.
“You should’ve seen the look on your face when you thought you were going to hit the wall,” Seulgi blurted out, and she started laughing when Joohyun became ashamed and smack her on the arm.
“You’re the worst!”
The sun was setting by the time Joohyun drove back to the mall to drop Seulgi off at her car. Joohyun would have stayed out longer with Seulgi if she had the choice to, but the latter had errands to do before night finally hung over them. It wasn’t like they went on a date anyway; at least that was what Joohyun thought. Seulgi just asked to hang out after getting off of work, just like any other normal friends would do for each other.
But her mind started flipping and playing tricks with her once again when Seulgi reached behind to the back seat of Joohyun’s car, grappling onto the pillow bunny that she brought with her when her shift ended. Joohyun didn’t really question why Seulgi brought it with her in the first place. She thought it might have been a problem with the manufacturing company or it was a gift for someone, which was why Seulgi brought it with her and left it in Joohyun’s car since she didn’t stop by hers first.
“Look,” Seulgi merely said. She was shaking the pillow bunny a little bit. Judging by its material and how deep Seulgi’s hands went in, it might have been really soft and fluffy. “This bunny reminds me of you.”
Joohyun looked alarmed. They were in the parking garage with her hazards on, idly sitting in front of Seulgi’s car. She half expected Seulgi to get out right away with an embrace and a “see you later, unnie!” and half expected Seulgi to act out of the ordinary and give her palpitations once again.
It was nearing towards the second half of expectancy at this point.
“How so?” Joohyun asked.
Seulgi giggled and held the stuffed white bunny out to her. “I don’t know, I kind of think you look like one. It’s really cute.”
Joohyun gulped and looked at Seulgi. How could she say that with such effortlessness?
“Here,” Seulgi gently handed the bunny for Joohyun to grab, “for you.”
“Wait, you’re giving this to me?” Joohyun hesitantly reached out to hold onto the bunny, and indeed, it was as soft as she imagined. If she knew what clouds felt like, then this might be close to it. “Didn’t you just take it from the shop? Wouldn’t your parents freak?”
Seulgi shrugged. “They don’t mind. If anything, I’ll just tell them to take it out of my pay.” She reached out and played around with the bunny’s big ears. “This is a set with another bunny, which is pink. This one’s named Yuki.”
“What’s the pink bunny’s name?”
“Toki.” Seulgi settled back down onto her seat. “It’s a nice cuddle buddy if you ever need one.”
Joohyun almost wanted to say that she didn’t really cuddle with stuffed animals anymore, considering how she grew out of them. Most of them stayed back at home and the newer ones just sat in the corner of her room. But she decided against it and pressed Yuki against her chest with a smile.
“I’ll take good care of it.”
“I’d hope so.” Seulgi brightly grinned. “Anyway, thanks for driving, unnie! Today was fun, even if you were screaming a good half for it.”
Joohyun narrowed her eyes at her, fingers digging deep into the white bunny. “Hey, maybe don’t choose an activity where I’d scream next time.”
Seulgi unbuckled her seatbelt and leaned in closer to Joohyun. “So, we’ve decided that there’s a next time?”
Joohyun’s breathing hitched at how close Seulgi moved against her, instinctively inching away. “I-I mean…”
“Just teasing, unnie.” Seulgi laughed that adorable laugh of hers once again. Joohyun figured the reason why she leaned in closer in the first place was to give her a hug, which explained why she was currently melting in Seulgi’s arms. “I’d love to have plenty of more next times with you.”
Seulgi backed away before finally climbing out of the car. After shutting the door close, she leaned down and waved at Joohyun with those adorable eyes forming crescent shapes and a set of nice, white teeth accompanying it. Joohyun felt tingles lingering on her fingertips when she finally shifted her car into drive as soon as Seulgi slipped into her own, the former slowly driving away and turning into the wide streets.
It wasn’t until Joohyun settled into her parking spot at the apartment complex did she finally feel at ease. So many thoughts ran by her head today, most of them were solely about Kang Seulgi’s ridiculously gorgeous self. Tingles remained on her fingertips almost as if she would be forever reminded of Seulgi’s touch and how she gently held her at the rink. She didn’t want to believe it, but this girl, who was at least three years younger than her, who she happened to come across during holiday season, was making her feel random bursts of emotions at times where she least expected it.
Yuki was sitting on her passenger seat when she gently held him to her chest before leaving to hike up the stairs to her apartment. Sooyoung was on the couch again, watching an episode of a TV drama with a bowl of popcorn in her lap, which she claimed was the last bag of buttered popcorn—finally. She was amused at the sight of a white bunny practically covering Joohyun’s entire torso, but shrugged.
“If that’s your way of therapeutic shopping, then so be it.”
Joohyun only smiled at her when she walked past to get to her bedroom. “Glad that you’re on the last bag of popcorn.”
Sooyoung half-heartedly said something about wanting to share it, but Joohyun was already in her room with the door shut. She flicked on the lights and looked straight at one of the corners of her room where a pile of stuffed animals sat on a leather one-seat. All of these plushies popped up one by one—or a few at a time—during her college life. Some of them came from Minho when they went to carnivals, some of them she got on her own with Sooyoung at a local Japanese arcade, and some of them were pleasing and comforting to look at. None of them sat on her bed with her, however, now that she realized it. Her bed was plain, just good ole lavender sheets and covers.
But as much as she convinced herself that she was too grown up for toys, Yuki ended up in her arms as she slept.
She remembered falling asleep while thinking of the one who gave it to her.
Hanging out with Seulgi wasn’t a once every few weeks type of thing anymore. It became more frequent, increasing to meeting once every week, or if a situation calls for it, even two to three times a week. Most of the time it was difficult meeting up with Seulgi since their schedules often clashed with one another, but when they figured out a loophole, which was basically late night outings, they decided to bear with the fact that they were going to head to work or school a bit groggier now.
It was hard. Joohyun loved her sleep and always cherished any time given that she would be able to lie in bed with her eyes closed. But for some reason, even when her body called for it, sleep didn’t come right away. Her fingers flew over her phone instead with the screen brightly flashing against her face, lights an orange dim in her room. Sometimes she would stay up until two in the morning texting Seulgi, sharing cute GIFs of adorable animals or funny situations, playing games of billiards or cup pong, or revealing snippets of their past.
Jongdae, who still believed that she was secretly seeing a man, thought that she gotten into “fights” with this mysterious “man” of hers. Dark circles were under her eyes and her makeup was a little bit more obvious to others. Though, a smile, a genuine one, was still on her face. And there was no use to getting into Jongdae’s head and removing the implanted idea that she was seeing someone. He was one for learning about others and delving into people’s relationships, so Joohyun was no exception to that.
Seulgi didn’t look that much different whenever they went out together after closing time. They looked much healthier back then without the clear cut visuals that screamed, “I’m losing so much sleep, but I’m still here, barely breathing!” But even when Joohyun claimed that they should sleep earlier instead of goofing around until the wee hours of the morning, Seulgi had to remind her that it was midterm season and she needed to stay up anyway to study. It made sense for Seulgi to continue staying up, but Joohyun decided to as well, masking behind the reason, which was keeping her company.
Texting gradually became ten second voice messages with visual manipulations, and voice messages became phone calls. On the last day of studying for a midterm, Seulgi decided to call Joohyun because she didn’t want to have to deal with constantly picking up her phone every now and then when she was busy shuffling papers and books around on her desk. Joohyun didn’t mind, it saved her not-so-fast thumbs from tapping on the screen. She became much more engrossed into the conversation when she could hear Seulgi’s voice. There were comfortable silences here and there when Seulgi was trying to read some passage off of her textbook to understand more of the topic she was having the exam on the next day. Ever since then, phone calls every night became the norm, and it was especially longer if they didn’t see each other for that particular day. There were times where Seulgi would accidentally fall asleep on her, her cute little snores sounding through the phone every now and then, but Joohyun would smile it off and end the call, texting her good night before falling into a slumber as well.
Sorry for falling asleep on you unnie :’( Seulgi would text the next day, and they would briefly continue last night’s conversation from there on.
Constantly messaging and calling Seulgi wasn’t exactly the issue here—well, maybe for losing sleep—but when it became something dire and almost to the point where Joohyun couldn’t exactly sleep well without hearing Seulgi’s voice before she dreamt, it was problematic. Joohyun allowed herself to figuratively fall to the point where she needed to know what Seulgi was up to every night before she was able to comfortably sleep, even if they had hung out for a brief hour or two that very same day.
Sooyoung noticed her weary state when it first started and made no comment about it, but when Joohyun progressively looked worse than she did before, Sooyoung had to wonder if she was thinking about her previous relationships again.
“I’m fine,” Joohyun would say whenever Sooyoung asked about her well-being. “I’m just a little tired.”
“You’ve been ‘a little tired’ for about a week now, unnie. Are you sure you’re okay?” asked Sooyoung. It was nighttime and Joohyun had just gotten off of work. She wanted to pass through the living room to her bedroom so that she could call Seulgi with Yuki close to her chest, but Sooyoung managed to catch her before she did her routine. “You’re not thinking about them… are you?”
Joohyun was alarmed. Seungwan and Minho have not once crossed her mind during this whole ordeal with Seulgi. When they did, though, they didn’t manifest negative emotions like they used to. But it was hard to imagine, at least for her, that Sooyoung thought she would easily fall back into that pit of depression and heartache when it had been a good few months already.
“No, of course not.”
“Then, why do you look like you’ve been losing sleep?” Sooyoung asked. “What have you been doing?”
Joohyun sighed. She didn’t think about telling Sooyoung anything because she didn’t think there was anything to tell in the first place. But she decided to trudge on over to where Sooyoung was posted at in the kitchen to ease her worries. The other girl was such a worrywart it was troublesome sometimes, but at the same time she did help Joohyun out a lot with her inner turmoil.
Joohyun sat down onto the stool behind the kitchen island. Sooyoung was on the other side preparing her lunch for tomorrow. A ham and tuna sandwich with kiwi and salad on the side, it seemed.
“Do you remember Seulgi? The girl we sat with at Seungwan’s wedding?”
Sooyoung nodded as she spread the mayonnaise tuna onto one slice of a white bread. “Yeah, I remember her. She’s very cute.”
Joohyun subconsciously smiled. “Ever since then, we started to hang more. She’s been asking me to watch movies with her or do some things that don’t usually come as the first thing in my mind, like ice skating or going to the zoo.” She cupped her cheeks. “Long story short, I’ve been talking to her every night for the past three weeks now.”
Sooyoung’s eyes looked like they were going to pop out of their sockets. “You’ve been talking to her every night? Like texting or calling?”
“Both… More so calling now.”
Sooyoung dropped everything that she was doing, her lunch way in the back of her mind now. “Oh, my gosh, unnie.”
Joohyun raised an eyebrow. “What? I’ve just been talking to her.”
“And… how long is each of your phone calls?”
Joohyun tapped a finger against her cheek. “Hm, it depends. The shortest it ever was was an hour, and the longest was probably… three hours?”
“Unnie…” Sooyoung leaned her weight onto one side of her body, her hands palming the edge of the kitchen counter. “How do you feel when you talk to her?”
Joohyun chuckled. “Why are you asking me that?”
“Because I think you’re in love with her,” Sooyoung blurted out.
No warning whatsoever.
Now Joohyun looked like the one with her eyes threatening to pop out of its sockets.
“Have you been listening to yourself? You’ve been like this for three weeks, texting and calling a girl you met a few months ago and only started to get to know better because of your ex’s wedding. You said it happened every night and the shortest was an hour. You don’t talk to her for like, thirty seconds or like, five minutes. You talk to her for hours, unnie.” Sooyoung paused momentarily to observe as Joohyun dropped her hands onto the counter, seemingly looking like she had a revelation. “You’ve been losing sleep because of her, and it doesn’t seem like you’ve been doing anything about it.”
“Are you saying… that I should do something about it…?”
“No!” Sooyoung exasperatingly dropped her hands from the counter. “Well, yeah, but no! I’m saying that you have feelings for Seulgi and you don’t even know it. And if you want to do something about it, especially because you’ve been going to work and coming back home looking like a zombie, then be my guest.”
She didn’t say anymore, just continued to stare at Joohyun and watch for her reactions. Joohyun didn’t want to believe it, didn’t want to say that Sooyoung was right (probably for the nth time now), but when she heard it from someone else, it became more believable. Sooyoung’s words were able to string together all of her thoughts and her feelings into one place where she could see the bigger picture.
Sooyoung was right.
But Joohyun didn’t want to believe it.
Her relationship with Seulgi was gradual, but it was also unexpected.
This was like the ride up to a rollercoaster and then came the sudden first drop unexpected, or like picking up something and losing feeling in your hand unexpected.
Like getting over an ex and slowly falling in love with someone else unexpected.
Joohyun didn’t want to believe it.
But it would explain why warmth would course out from her chest and through her veins whenever she saw Seulgi smile at her; why her heart would beat rapidly against her chest, almost like it was threatening to leap out of her body to love Seulgi who it was beating for, whenever Seulgi would embrace her; why her stomach would flip and turn at the mere sight of Seulgi—and no, it wasn’t the bad flipping or turning of her stomach.
There were times where she wanted to stare at Seulgi forever if she could, especially during times when the latter would be sitting behind the counter in Morning Glory, pencil in hand and resting on her cheek, her other hand flipping through the textbook she was reading, or when she was laughing and hopping up and down with her arms flailing like a little kid, screaming out of happiness because she won a toy from a crane machine. Her smile was so big and beautiful and Joohyun wanted to gaze at her all day, but she would look away whenever warm eyes settled onto her, afraid of what might occur or what might have been said if she were to get caught.
Joohyun looked up from the kitchen counter up to Sooyoung, who resumed the preparations of putting her lunch together.
“You realize what I’m saying now?” said Sooyoung.
Joohyun’s eyes were down casted again.
She was in love with her.
Joohyun didn’t all of a sudden stop contacting Seulgi just because she realized her feelings. She still had her usual call with her that very same night, but when she was more aware of how she spoke and what she felt, she became more conscious about everything. She was more conscious of her actions and how she responded to whatever Seulgi asked of her because she didn’t want to give herself away—didn’t want to make herself too obvious that, yes, she did like Seulgi.
It was the weekend when Joohyun decided that she should do something about this. There was an annual festival for the spring season at one of their local community parks, booths and vendors of all kinds lined up on the grass to sell merchandise, clothes, or food. Joohyun asked Seulgi if she wanted to go tonight, considering how the latter was talking about wanting to try out the different foods from different cultures for a while now. It was Sunday, the last day of the festival, and the last chance to attend before having to wait another year.
Seulgi didn’t hesitate to accept their invitation, thus they were strolling along the park with the starry night sky hanging over them, listening to the boisterous laughter and screams of children and adults alike. Since it was the last day of the festival and Sundays are practically family days, Joohyun stayed close to Seulgi, afraid of losing her in the sea of families and couples. She subconsciously looped her arm around Seulgi’s and noticed how quickly the latter stiffened up, causing her to retract almost immediately.
“Sorry… it’s a habit of mine….” Joohyun mumbled.
Seulgi nervously laughed and shook her head. “N-No, it’s okay. I’m just… I’m not used to that.” Joohyun saw how Seulgi looked at her and the way she gulped. The younger girl offered her arm. “Here.”
Joohyun continued to gaze at Seulgi for any further reactions, but the longer she stuck her arm out, the more a blush crept up on Joohyun’s face. She eventually looped her arm back around Seulgi’s and shyly smiled.
“Oh, look!” Seulgi pointed at a food vendor with her free hand. “There’s Thai food here.”
“Did you want to get some?”
The minute they got here, Seulgi was practically at every single food vendor at the entrance of the festival, munching on free samples or getting the cheapest item at the vendors she liked. Joohyun’s stomach felt like it was going to explode from the amount of food the festivals gave, noodles spilling over containers or drinks dripping from the brim. The fact that Seulgi was pointing at more vendors this time around made her want to wallow in tears and throw up—how could this girl stomach more food at this instance, or even think about consuming some more?
Seulgi tilted her head and pouted at the thought. “No. I think I’m full now. I was just surprised to see a Thai food vendor here!”
Joohyun sighed in relief. “Thank goodness. I’m about to burst.”
Seulgi looked at her and laughed. “Sorry. I’m sure you know by now that I have a pretty big appetite.”
“Yet you remain so skinny!” Joohyun commented, her free hand instinctively reaching out to pat Seulgi on the stomach. They ate so much yet Seulgi’s stomach was as hard as a rock. Joohyun cleared , “Girls would kill to have your body, you know?”
“You don’t look so bad yourself.” Seulgi winked.
Joohyun died just a little bit inside. With the hand that was still resting on Seulgi’s stomach, she formed a fist and dug it deep, causing the younger girl to flinch and laughed out loud.
“Do you want to sit down and watch the performance?” asked Seulgi.
Joohyun nodded, making their way to the back of the festival where performers of all types were showcasing their talents. Right now there was a classical musician beautifully strumming a violin. Most of the patrons of the festival were roaming around, so there were barely any of them sitting down at the foldable chairs situated in front of the stage. Joohyun and Seulgi sat towards the back where there was virtually no one.
“How did you do on your midterms?” Joohyun asked after a moment of comfortable silence.
“Hmm, I haven’t gotten my scores back yet for one of them, but for the other two I did better than I thought,” said Seulgi. She smiled and looked at Joohyun. “Thanks for keeping me company while I studied. If I wasn’t on the phone with you for some of those nights, I probably would have fallen asleep.”
“Anytime…” Joohyun returned the smile.
They have been at the festival for quite some time now with about an hour left to spare before the coordinators had to tear down and clean up for the night. With the amount of food sitting around in her stomach waiting to digest and while listening to the calming violinist, Joohyun was close to falling asleep. She looked over to Seulgi who was swaying a tiny little bit to the strings.
“Do you mind if I… lean on your shoulder?” asked Joohyun.
“Oh, no. Of course not.” Seulgi even went as far as to pat her left shoulder with a grin.
Joohyun giggled at the gesture and leaned her head. “You’re so silly.”
They sat in silence and continued to listen to the violinist, who was probably on the of the song she was playing. Despite it being very soft and different compared to the loud noises coming from clanging of pots and pans at the back of food vendors, little children running around on the grass, and adults laughing noisily after consuming a fair amount of soju, Joohyun was content being next to the one who she grew to like very much. She closed her eyes and shivered from the small, chilly breeze, pulling her thin jacket closer to her body and crossing her arms afterwards.
Seulgi shifted against her and Joohyun felt her head move towards the crook of her neck, a warm arm wrapped around her shoulder. She opened her eyes at the thoughtful gesture and gazed up to see Seulgi returning the same exact look.
“It’s a little bit chilly now,” Seulgi said. She brought her free hand around to meet with the other, practically locking Joohyun in encirclement. “Are you okay, unnie? Do you want to head back?”
Joohyun shook her head.
Seulgi didn’t say any more.
The violinist finished her performance and bowed to the audience seated at the very front. The next performer came up on stage and stood in front of the microphone, awaiting the background track to play across the field before he started singing a well-known ballad.
“Seulgi…” Joohyun’s voice was soft and almost inaudible.
Joohyun felt the pace of her heartbeat increasing while thinking of the words she was about to spew out. “I have something to tell you…”
“What is it?”
With much reluctance, Joohyun removed herself from the source of warmth. She leaned away from Seulgi and averted her gaze to the ground below them, teeth sinking into her lower lip as she continued to think about what she wanted to say.
She was going to tell her.
She was going to tell Seulgi how she started to have feelings for her, how she grew to think about her every night, how she couldn’t exactly focus on some days because of her.
Seulgi shifted in her seat and sat up properly, most likely because she was starting to notice that whatever Joohyun was going to say from here on out was too much for her to hold in her mind.
“I…” Joohyun started, but her voice started to falter. She shook her head and chuckled at herself. “I don’t know why this is so hard to say right now…”
“Unnie… it’s okay,” Seulgi reassured her. “You don’t really have to say it right now if you’re not ready.”
Joohyun rigorously shook her head. “No, I have to. If not now, then I don’t know if I could in the future.”
Seulgi’s brows began to furrow. She gripped onto the edge of her seat and slightly leaned in closer when Joohyun lowered her gaze. “Is everything okay, unnie?”
Joohyun swallowed a harsh lump in . She gradually lifted her head and looked straight at Seulgi, who had her brows still furrowed and her bottom lip tucked in between her upper lip and her teeth.
“I-I think it’s been awhile now?” Joohyun questioned herself. “I really don’t know when this started, but I—it’s… these feelings are just so unexpected. Like, it’s not inconvenient or anything like that, b-but I just… I-I don’t know. I don’t know. I just don’t really know how they came about.
“It might have been because I’ve been spending a lot of time with you? I… I love spending time with you… even if what we do most of the time scares the crap out of me… but I…”
Joohyun huffed and looked up to the sky, as if she was pleading for someone to help her form her thoughts properly and get on with what she was trying to say. Seulgi continued to patiently sit and listen to her, but her face looked less concerned.
Just get on with it, Joohyun!
Just say it out loud!
Stop beating around the bush, you’re not making any sense!
Joohyun breathed in slowly, but it was shaky and it hitched. She thought that Seulgi probably believed she was going to cry any time soon. And she might, honestly. Given what the younger girl’s reaction might be.
“It’s—it’s so unexpected to me, but I… I like you. A lot. More than someone I know –w-who works at the same mall as me, more than a friend… I…” Joohyun closed her eyes and told herself to breathe in. And out. “I like you.”
There you go, Joohyun.
You did it.
You finally did it.
But she couldn’t exactly relax just yet. Not when Seulgi hadn’t said a word.
Joohyun opened her eyes to see Seulgi’s reaction, and she felt slightly horrified to know that it wasn’t anything like she expected. Seulgi leaned back and slumped in her chair, her hands palming the sides of her head.
“Oh, my God, unnie…”
Joohyun’s breathing was shallow once again. “You don’t have to return my feelings. You don’t have to feel obligated in doing so!”
“No! No, I….” Seulgi immediately interjected. “Would you believe that… that I was thinking about confessing to you as well?”
Joohyun was still. “You… You what?”
Seulgi released her head and stared at Joohyun with warm eyes. “I’ve been feeling the same way. Although it wasn’t as unexpected. I knew… ever since we watched Annabelle together.”
Joohyun managed to stand up despite shaky legs. “You’re telling me that you’ve had feelings for me all this while…?” Seulgi nodded. “And… and… you made me go through all of that just to tell you!?”
Seulgi gasped and stood up as well. “I didn’t know you were going to confess! I thought something serious happened to you or, like, a loved one in your life!”
Joohyun heaved a sigh. Her shoulders slumped, but she surprisingly felt so much more at ease now. It was like a wave of relief rushed over her body, releasing the tension in her neck and shoulders, calming down her breathing to a slow, steady pace. Her heartbeat was still beating faster than usual and her hands and legs were shaking, but to know that the one she liked felt the same exact way gave her more reasons to feel quivers and look like a tomato. At least she didn’t have to constantly ask herself why or ignore these feelings anymore.
“I’m sorry… I was just so scared. I didn’t know how you’d react at all…”
Seulgi softly smiled and gently held Joohyun by the waist. “No… Thank you for being the one to do it.”
Joohyun slipped more into her embrace, burrowing her face into her chest, relieving pleasant sighs. She dragged her hands across Seulgi’s back to tighten her hold.
“Unnie,” Seulgi softly called.
Joohyun looked up expectantly, seeing how Seulgi gazed at her so tenderly and lovingly. It felt like years when their eyes were fixed onto each other, like the world around them stopped. Joohyun couldn’t hear anything but the pulses in her mind and she couldn’t see anything but Seulgi staring at her, as if everything around her was a blank background.
Seulgi was leaning in closer with eyes closed, soft lips barely touching Joohyun’s. It was soft… tender, as if Joohyun was being kissed for the first time ever. She closed her eyes and firmly pressed her lips against Seulgi’s, putting all the affection and want that she had felt all this time.
Joohyun felt like this love will last a long time.
Maybe even forever.
The kiss was short and sweet when Seulgi broke it off, but she remained close by, forehead leaning on Joohyun’s.
Joohyun could hear Seulgi release a small laugh. “My chest feels so warm.”
She smiled. “I feel that way every time I’m with you.”
Seulgi hugged Joohyun a little bit tighter. She didn’t seem like she wanted to let go.
“We should head home soon. The festival is closing,” said Seulgi, albeit quite reluctantly.
Joohyun felt unwilling as well. They just came to terms with their feelings, but have to part so quickly. However, they walked off toward the exit with their hands intertwined, beautiful smiles plastered on their faces and chests filled with so much warmth. Joohyun thought that if Jongdae was here, he would have immediately commented on the glow on her face at this very moment, even when it was nighttime.
They arrived to the festival separately, so they parted ways with another long embrace and a chaste kiss. Joohyun returned home that night with a grin so big that Sooyoung was staring at her incredulously. She didn’t tell her what happened that night, only went inside her room and plopped down onto her bed, finally letting out a delighted squeal. She felt like a teenager in love again.
Joohyun grabbed onto Yuki and hugged the bunny tightly against her chest. Her face was starting to hurt from smiling too much, but she couldn’t help it. She hadn’t felt this happy before in a long time.
A buzz from her phone momentarily interrupted her ecstatic mood, and she shifted onto her stomach, reaching over to see who messaged her late.
Hope you got home safely~ <3
I did! Did you get home safely too?
No your poor Seulgi is hurting rn
Wth, what happened?
My mom hit me from making too much noise HAHAHA
Tf Seulgi! ._.
I was rolling around on my bed hugging Toki and screaming and my mom came in. I think I woke her up lol
The pink bunny! Remember I gave you Yuki?
Oh omg I was about to hit you too!!!!
Joohyun texted Seulgi for a few more minutes until the latter decided to call her, making them both enter the stage of another sleepless night. But honestly, Joohyun never minded losing sleep because of her. If Seulgi were to call her at three in the morning, she’d pick up in a heartbeat—given that she would have to groggily wake up first from her incessant ringing.
Seulgi had an important class tomorrow morning that she couldn’t afford to oversleep, so she ended the call with a “muah!” for the first time ever, causing Joohyun to blush and giggle. She retracted the phone away from her ear, mindlessly gazing at the lit screen that showed the background.
Joohyun fell asleep that night with Yuki close to her chest again, but even closer this time after knowing that Seulgi had Yuki’s partner with her as well. It was as if Joohyun had this ridiculous idea that Yuki and Toki were connected as one, so that the closer Yuki was to her chest, the closer Seulgi was to her as well, given that she was hugging Toki to sleep.
Upon meeting Seulgi for the first time outside Morning Glory, if someone were to tell Joohyun that she was going to end up falling for her, she might have thought that person to be thinking weird thoughts. She wasn’t completely out of heartbreak yet, but she was still capable of falling in love. She just didn’t expect it to be with Seulgi and she didn’t expect the process to be so gradual to the point where she couldn’t even recognize the obvious telltale signs of falling in love.
Gradual or not, Joohyun was glad it was Seulgi.
This adorable, goofy girl who had so much love to give, who could probably brighten up the world with her smile if given the power to.
She was so different, so charming, yet so fitting for Joohyun.
It was wonderful.
And Joohyun wanted it to last forever.
Three will always be Kang Seulgi.