"so, how's joohyun?"
seulgi eyes junmyeon, who's sitting on her sofa. she puts the can of beer in front of him. "she's... okay. you've seen each other just the other day, right? when you attended the school activity where yerim performed?"
junmyeon reaches out for his beer and nods. "yeah. i mean i want to know how she's doing. is she still feeling guilty? she's been really careful when she talks to me."
"she still feels sad sometimes whenever she thinks of you and yerim. but she's doing okay. seeing you start to move on helps her too. and she says you look more handsome after growing some stubble."
junmyeon laughs. "i'm glad she's doing well. i hope you're making her happy as you have promised."
"i'm trying my best." seulgi sits down and opens her beer. "how about you? how are you doing?"
junmyeon took a deep breath in. "better. getting better." he eyes the beer in his hand. "it's been four months. it would be a lie to say i'm a hundred per cent okay now. but i'm getting there. crying days are finally over. and joohyun's proven to me how great of a friend she can be despite what happened to us. somehow it makes me feel we're better off as friends."
"mmm-mmm. anything or anyone keeping you occupied lately?"
"i have been going out with my mates lately to have some fun." junmyeon pauses and thinks. "and then there's this fellow doctor, two years younger than i am, a divorcee, who's been my confidant after this whole ordeal blew up."
seulgi nods. "are you guys going out now?"
"well..." junmyeon shrugs. "misery loves company, you know. we haven't talked about our relationship yet, but i bet she would agree that we're filling in a void in each other's lives."
"and it helps during nighttimes, right?" seulgi smirks.
junmyeon lets out a loud laugh. "i ain't answering that." he waves his finger in the air. "but a man has his needs. a woman has her needs too."
"by the way, how's you and joohyun after the winter school break started?"
"it's hard to see each other lately. joohyun doesn't want yerim to have suspicions."
"about me and her mom seeing each other."
"what?" junmyeon chuckles. "she knows, man!"
"yeah. what makes you think she doesn't know? she told me she knows whenever her mom goes out to see you cos joohyun always comes home looking happy."
seulgi looks away. "then what was the hiding all for?"
"i don't know." junmyeon shrugs. "if i were you, i'd talk to her. it's been what, four months now? i think she's starting to accept things. she even stopped trying to get her mom and me back together a few weeks back. that's a good sign."
seulgi doesn't know what to say. junmyeon's right. if yerim knows about them then what's the point of still hiding and making everything complicated for her and joohyun?
"i know you truly care for my daughter, seulgi. and i know my daughter loves you back. that's the reason she felt betrayed because she trusts you that much," says junmyeon. "but can you please try to reach out to her and fix this issue between the two of you? i know you and joohyun were waiting for things to cool down, but i seriously think now is the right time. you can't hide from yerim forever, you know."
seulgi inhales. "you're right. i'll talk to joohyun about this. and thanks for trusting me with your kid."
"only a fool wouldn't trust you even after you put your life in danger twice to save his kid."
seulgi smiles. "still, thanks."
"i know it's still rough right now, but it'll be okay for everyone soon. i can feel it in my bones," says junmyeon, clenching his fist and jaw. "but i seriously hope we can be friends this time around--like real friends. we're on the same team, anyway. we want what's best for joohyun and yerim."
"yeah. of course. would love that." seulgi raises her beer in the air. "for joohyun and yerim?"
junmyeon smiles and toasts their beers together. "for joohyun and yerim."
she tells joohyun about her talk with junmyeon and the former agreed that maybe it's about time that they talk to yerim.
they initially plan to go out altogether, the three of them. but before joohyun can even tell yerim about it, seulgi was called for an urgent matter in yeosan. she and sooyoung flew there immediately and was forced to stay for a few days to fix some papers with the municipality.
she tells joohyun it may take her a week as she wants to make sure everything is settled before she flies back. they both agreed to do the talking with yerim once she's back.
it was their fifth day in yeosan. seulgi and sooyoung were in the sanitation office when the former's phone rings. she checks it and sees joohyun's name flashing on the screen.
"aren't you going to answer it?" asks sooyoung, seeing seulgi staring at her phone.
"it's weird. she said she's already at the hospital two hours ago. she rarely calls when she's at work. hope this isn't an emergency." seulgi puts the phone against her hear. "honey, everything all right?"
"who's honey? my mom's name is joohyun," the person on the other line said.
seulgi's eyes widen. "y-yerim?"
sooyoung looks at seulgi.
"where are you?" asks the kid.
"i-i'm in yeosan..." seulgi jabs sooyoung, who's silently teasing her for stuttering. "where's your mom?"
"what!" seulgi stands up. "what happened?"
"dad brought her back home from work. he gave her medicines and told her to rest. he says mom suffers from gasturaytuss."
"i think she meant gastritis," sooyoung whispers.
"ahh." seulgi nods. "so, how's your mom now?"
"she's asleep. dad says i should call you to inform you."
"oh. well, thank you, yerim."
"when are you coming over here?"
"uh..." seulgi walks around. "the thing is..."
"my mom needs you," says yerim, indifferent. "she's been calling your name whenever she wakes up a bit."
"tonight!" says seulgi, startling sooyoung. "i'll be there tonight."
"okay. i'll tell mom when she wakes up. bye." yerim ends the call quickly.
seulgi stares at her phone, couldn't believe what just happened.
yerim and her grandma greets her at the front door.
the kid has her poker face on. seulgi's laughing inside how yerim really resembles her mom.
"she's already feeling discomfort in her stomach this morning, but she still chooses to work," says joohyun's mom, who's leading them inside. "have you had your dinner yet?"
"i'm all good, ma'am." seulgi gestures to her tummy. "i had a meal on the plane."
"oh. good." the older woman looks at her granddaughter. "yerim, sweetie, why don't you bring seulgi to your mom first then help me create porridge after?"
yerim nods at her grandma and looks at seulgi. "follow me."
the older woman smiles at seulgi, urging her to follow the kid. seulgi smiles back.
joohyun is curled up on the bed when seulgi came into the room.
"she has eaten nothing since this morning," says yerim, reaching out to touch her mom's forehead, awakening joohyun.
"yerim..." joohyun blinks and looks up, getting surprised after. "seulgi?"
"i'll help grandma prepare the porridge for you, mom." yerim leans down to kiss her mom's cheek.
"thank you, baby."
"i'll be back." yerim walks out of the room and closes the door after.
"hey." seulgi sits on the bed beside joohyun.
"hey you." joohyun smiles weakly. "i didn't expect to see you here tonight."
"your daughter called me earlier. i booked a ticket right away."
joohyun reaches out to wrap her arms around seulgi's waist and rest her head on the latter's shoulder. "but what about your work in yeosan?"
"it's almost done. sooyoung will handle the rest tomorrow and will fly back here right after."
joohyun hums and nuzzles her face into seulgi's neck. "i missed you..."
"i missed you too. how are you feeling?"
"better. i still feel weak but the pain already subsided. and i feel much better now that you're here."
"we should thank junmyeon. he told yerim to call me. i wouldn't have known."
"i'll keep that in mind."
seulgi intertwines their fingers. "do you think this means yerim's okay with us now?"
joohyun shrugs. "i really hope so. have you talked to her yet?"
"haven't. i don't want to rush things. i don't want to scare her."
joohyun tilts her head and kisses seulgi's neck. "thank you. and i love you."
seulgi looks down and plants a soft kiss on joohyun's mouth. "i love you too."
yerim brings the porridge later. she insists on feeding her mom even joohyun says she can eat on her own. seulgi sits on the side, watching them silently.
joohyun goes back to resting after she cleans up herself and brushes her teeth. seulgi stays beside her, hugging her to sleep.
ever since she and joohyun got back together, seulgi's sleep had been peaceful. the voices in her head aren't there anymore.
maybe this is what those voices are telling her before, that joohyun is what she really needs in her life.
seulgi's glad she listened to those voices.
seulgi wakes up due to the movement inside the room. it's silent, but she feels a presence on her side.
when she opens her eyes, she sees yerim's retreating figure, walking out and closing the door after. wondering what the kid was up to before she wakes up, seulgi looks on the bedside table. her heart softens at what she sees.
it's a red heart origami with a handwritten "seulgi" at the centre.
seulgi carefully untangles herself from joohyun, getting up to follow yerim outside. she sees the kid and calls her.
the kid stops but didn't turn.
seulgi takes this as a good sign and hugs the kid from behind.
"thank you, yerim... thank you..." she nuzzles her cheek on the side of yerim's head. "and i'm sorry for hurting you. i am really sorry."
yerim doesn't speak but her shoulders are now shaking.
seulgi hugs the kid tighter. "i promise i'll take care of you and your mom. i promise i'll make it up to you..."
"seulgi..." is all the kid could say before she turns around to hug seulgi around her neck. "i'm sorry too..."
"it's okay, baby..." seulgi rubs the kid's back. "i understand why you said those words before... just tell me what you want, i'll do it for you..."
"i want banana roti..."
seulgi laughs. "sure. i'll get you that tomorrow. will that be all right?"
yerim nods and pulls back, wiping her tears with her hands. "please don't make my mom sad... she's... she's sad if you aren't around... she always cries before whenever she and dad fight. i don't want to see her cry again..."
"i won't. i promise i won't." seulgi tidies the kid's hair and face. "would you like to sleep with me and your mom tonight?"
there was one last sniff before yerim nods.
seulgi carries yerim back to joohyun's room. they lay down together, with joohyun and yerim hugging seulgi from both sides.
beautiful dreams fill her head that night.