It had been a week since Heejin touched her sketchbook, or even thought about her story whatsoever. It had too many sketches of Hyunjin, and of the character she had inspired.
It had been a week since she screwed everything up and last saw Hyunjin. She skipped classes all week, and Heejin didn’t even have the courage to text her, let alone show up. Even Ryujin was starting to get worried.
But she still couldn’t understand why. Why did Hyunjin leave without a word, why was she isolating herself. She just had to tell Heejin she didn’t feel the same way, so Heejin could move on from the stupid crush she should never had allowed to grow so much and they could go back to being friends.
“Aren’t you gonna go home?” Chaewon asked.
She sighed, resting a hand on her shoulder. “Just talk to her.”
“I don’t wanna.”
“Yes, you do. You told me you preferred having her just as a friend than not having her at all. So, even if she rejects you, what are you going to lose?”
“If?” Heejin scoffed. “Didn’t she reject me already?”
Chaewon sighed again, longer this time, retreating her supportive hand. “Fine, you do you. I already told you what I think.”
Heejin looked at her. “Are you mad?”
“I’m not mad, I’m worried and tired of seeing you like this.”
“You don’t have to apologize to me, you should apologize to yourself.”
Heejin gave her a small smile. “Thank you for worrying. Let’s go home?”
Heejin knew Chaewon was right. Deep down, she was afraid that Hyunjin didn’t even want to be friends anymore. Now that was the last thing Heejin wanted, so she still preferred not even trying. And that would probably stay like that.
As she reached the intersection where Hyunjin’s house was the opposite way, she stopped. But before her mind could start wondering if she should go, she turned towards her own house, shaking her head. And as she crossed the street, she heard voices.
Heejin had no idea if it was destiny that sent her on her way home to find Hyunjin there, standing between a smaller boy and a couple guys. It felt like déjà vu, how empowered Hyunjin stood with her fists balled. She glanced back at the boy and said something, then the boy nodded and took off in a run, and Heejin finally understood what was happening when one of the guys pushed her.
No one messes with her.
That was why Hyunjin sunk her fist on his face the same second he dared to touch her. And even though Heejin believed that, she couldn’t stand the sight of Hyunjin getting hurt, so when the other guy managed to punch her face, Heejin’s legs moved on their own. But Hyunjin regained her posture a mere second later, punching him, then blocking a blow from the first one and punching him as well, and Heejin froze again.
“Asking a little kid for money? You should be ashamed of yourselves,” Hyunjin spat as they stood up, and as one of them tried to hit her again, she was faster and grabbed him by the collar of his shirt. “Get the out before I send you both to the hospital.”
The other guy, looking terrified, took a step back and mumbled something, pointing back. Hyunjin let go of him and they darted away. “We’ll find you!” he still shouted.
“Great, can’t wait to kick your asses again,” Hyunjin shouted back.
Heejin stood, still glued to the floor a few meters from her, and their eyes met as Hyunjin turned. Heejin walked towards the stunned Hyunjin and looked at her bleeding lip. “I told you not to get hurt.”
“They were harassing a kid. They deserved it.”
“I know. But you didn’t.”
“I don’t care.”
There was no way Heejin could tell what Hyunjin was feeling.
“Let’s get that clean,” Heejin said.
And maybe she expected Hyunjin to turn around and leave again, or to reject it, or at least fight it, saying she didn’t need. But she didn’t expect Hyunjin to nod and lead the way to the garage.
The way was too quiet. In fact, they didn’t share a word. Not even when they sat on Hyunjin’s bed and while Heejin cleaned the blood from her lip.
“Why do you always get so worked up and step to defend others, even knowing you can get hurt?” Heejin asked after she was done. Her lip had stopped bleeding and was now just a bit bloated.
“I told you already, I can’t stand seeing people getting bullied. Especially when it comes to little kids. What are they supposed to do if two or more scary grownups come to them? It ing .”
“I know, but why? Did... a friend of yours suffer that and you got used to defend them?”
Hyunjin stared at her in silence, then dropped her head. “I did.”
“I was the one suffering from bullying.”
Heejin stopped breathing. Hyunjin saw herself in that kid, and probably many others she had protected like that. Was that why she was so strong now?
“Remember when I told you I don’t have a mother?” Hyunjin asked before Heejin could even know what to say.
“Y-Yes, but it’s okay, you don’t have to tell me anything if you don’t want to.”
“What if I do?”
“Don’t you like me?” Hyunjin asked, staring into her eyes again, her look so intense Heejin stopped breathing again. “Don’t you want to listen? To be here for me? To know more about me? You said you don’t understand this, but I don’t understand it myself.”
Heejin forced some air into her lungs. “This... what?”
“You wanted my number that night, but then you were flirting with Jungeun. You seemed flattered with me, but then you never texted me after that night and until we met again. Then why? Did you actually want my number, or it was just a stupid prank Ryujin decided to pull on you?”
“No! I mean, I had no idea Ryujin was going to do that, but she only did it because I kept saying how cool and beautiful you were. You are right, I was flattered with you since the moment I saw you stepping on that stage. And Jungeun was just... she was flirting with me, and she’s pretty, but that’s all.”
“Then why? Did you just give up? You seemed so different from those girls who claim to be my fans, they don’t care about my interests, they don’t talk about my music, they just want to jump on me. But you told me how much you liked the show and especially Loonatic, and asked me about my tattoos and what they meant, and seemed so excited about everything I said. For the first time I felt like I had met someone... special.”
Special. Those were too many things for Heejin’s brain to process at the same time.
But it didn’t make sense.
“Hyunjin, I... I didn’t give up. I just didn’t know what to say, or if I could just text you out of nowhere. I only got your number because of Ryujin after all. But you got mine as well, and you also never said anything after that night, or showed up at school, knowing you could find me so easily. Why then?”
“Because I’m dumb.” Hyunjin sighed. “I... I didn’t want to be the one to take the first step. I was waiting and hoping you would do it.”
“Because if you did, it would mean you had felt something, right? And that I wasn’t seeing things.”
“Well, I was the one thinking I had seen things.”
“Neither of us were seeing things, were we?” Heejin asked.
Hyunjin’s throat contracted. “Y-You tell me.”
“I did tell you. When you left, on your birthday. I’m sorry I ruined it, but I was telling the truth. I like you, Hyunjin,” Heejin said, looking her dead in the eye. “I just don’t understand if... you feel the same. But even if you don’t, I want you to tell me, because I missed you, and I don’t want to lose you even as a fr-”
Heejin blinked. “You do?”
“I like you too, Heejin.”
Her heart thumped so hard it blinded her for a second.
“I was just and still am afraid,” Hyunjin said.
“Afraid of what?”
“Of this feeling, of what could be of us, of... a relationship. Afraid to get hurt like my father did.”
Heejin gulped, waiting for her to continue.
“I do have a mother, or at least I think I do, but I don’t care. She cheated on my father, ruined the marriage and ran away with the other man, who was my father’s co-pilot and best friend.”
Now that was something Heejin had never even seen happening in a webtoon.
“I was only two when that happened, so I didn’t understand very well at the time, where had she gone and why. My grandma raised me, and only later I came to know the truth, and when I did, word went loose, and suddenly I was the school’s punching bag,” Hyunjin explained, and since Heejin didn’t know what to say, she held her hand and let her continue. “Kids are really mean, you know. They already made fun of me even before that because I was the quiet kid who liked nerdy things, the one that preferred to read during breaks. I was really weak and afraid, I never fought back, so Jinsol used to protect me at school, and my brothers as well. But that changed, when...” she paused, and Heejin could swear her eyes were shining. “When my grandma passed away.”
Heejin launched herself and pulled Hyunjin at the same time, their bodies colliding into the tightest hug Heejin remembered giving. She closed her eyes, and her heart eased when Hyunjin’s big, strong arms circled around her body.
“I’m so sorry, Hyunjin.”
She didn’t answer, but didn’t pull away either. Instead, she buried her face in Heejin’s neck and there she stayed until she needed, letting a quiet sob interrupt the silent.
“Sorry.” Hyunjin pulled away, sniffing and cleaning her eyes. “I don’t normally break like this.”
“Don’t be sorry, and don’t feel bad for feeling things. It’s only me here, you can open up to me and say and feel whatever you want.”
Hyunjin sniffed and nodded. “My grandma was everything to me. She raised me, gave me love, taught me so many things. I love the moon and the stars because she loved them. Every night, she sat on the swing we had on the backyard and stared at the sky, admiring the stars and the moon when it was visible. Then I joined her, and she would tell me stories about big, powerful, mighty gods and their adventures.”
There was this hint of pride and longing in Hyunjin’s eyes that made Heejin’s heart warm but sad at the same time, and she actually had to hold some tears.
“They thought they could also make jokes about my grandma, calling her a witch, and all that, but when the first poor soul that tried to open their mouth and say a thing about her, I lost it. I still remember how I jumped on him and they had to drag me out or else I wouldn’t stop punching him. Since that day it changed. I started working out, and fought back when they still tried, but it eventually stopped because I was not the weak, easy target I used to be. And after I lost her, my stepmother had to move in because my father is always away and I was still a kid, and I just... hated it so much. My brothers were always out with their busy lives, all I had was my guitar, and whenever she heard me playing, she would come running, telling me to stop and to go study. Bull...” Hyunjin scoffed, shaking her head, and Heejin only squeezed her hands one more time. “I’m sorry, I rambled a lot.”
“N-No! I am sorry, I’m a good listener, but I don’t exactly know what to say.”
“You don’t have to say anything. Listening is enough. But all of this to say that... after knowing what happened with my parents, I was always afraid of relationships. That’s why I ran away when you... said that back at the bar,” Hyunjin said, looking down at their hands. “Also because you had been drinking, so I thought it could just be some drunk nonsense, and I honestly hate it. My brother used to drink a lot with his band mates and even got himself in problems sometimes. I don’t get why people do that to themselves.”
“I-I had no idea, I’m sorry, Hyunjin. I wasn’t really that drunk, I’m not even one to drink frequently. I just did because Jiwoo bought drinks for us. And I knew what I was saying. I meant everything.”
“I know that now. But I couldn’t face you that night. It was not because I don’t like you back. I never allowed myself to like someone before, but this feeling I have for you... I couldn’t stop it from growing.”
It wasn’t a rejection, after all.
“Hyunjin,” she called, so soft it ended up drawing her attention back to her eyes. “I really, really like you. We don’t have to jump right away to a relationship if you’re not comfortable. We can... start slow. Do what we already do. Hang out, talk about things, be here and support each other. But knowing about our real feelings.”
There was silence. Heejin tried her hardest to keep her breathing as stable as she could, an attempt to hide how nervous she actually was. She had never done that. She didn’t even know if what she had just said was valid or she had just said the weirdest, most nonsensical thing of her life.
“Does...” Hyunjin started, and Heejin didn’t feel so bad knowing she was nervous as well. “Does that mean... I mean, we don’t have to go fast b-but... Still, does that mean that I-”
Heejin giggled. She never imagined Hyunjin, the big, tough girl that no one messed with, to stumble so much on her own words when it came to this.
“That I can kiss you?” Hyunjin completed.
Maybe she had all the right to be nervous, after all, because not even Heejin was expecting that question. She gulped as she found Hyunjin’s eyes down on her lips, and it all became so much more tense.
But she wouldn’t be beating around the bush, or running away.
“I’d love that,” Heejin mumbled, an unknown gravity force pulling her body towards Hyunjin without her own will playing in, but she was more than glad that it did.
If you asked Heejin if she would ever expect that she would be kissing Hyunjin anytime soon, she would laugh in your face.
But there she was, closing her eyes to Hyunjin’s gentle touch on her face, her heart throbbing on her ears so loud until Hyunjin’s lips finally touched hers, and all the butterflies knotting on her stomach released, leaving a trail of electricity and raised hairs all over Heejin’s body.
Hyunjin pulled away, but rested her forehead on Heejin’s, still cupping her cheeks. The contrast of her rough fingertips with how tender she held her sent shivers running down Heejin’s skin, and she was sure it always would.
“I’m sorry I was a coward,” Hyunjin muttered.
“You’re not a coward. You’re just fighting battles, but that’s okay. Now I’m here, and I wanna fight them with you, if you’ll let me.”
Hyunjin smiled at her, so pure and adorable Heejin had once again to hold tears. She kissed Heejin’s forehead and hugged her again.
“And I never hugged you because it made me nervous, not because I didn’t want to. But I was afraid I could show how I nervous I felt with you. But now I promise I’ll compensate you for all the hugs you deserve.”
Heejin pushed Hyunjin away and smirked at her, then let her body drop to the bed and opened her arms. “Alright, you can start.”
Hyunjin giggled and laid on her embrace, snuggling on her neck. Heejin closed her eyes and took a deep breath, taking in the moment.
“Thank you, Heejin.”
“Not judging me even after knowing about my past, for all the support you give me. For not giving up on me.”
“Why would I? I admire you. You’re brave, you have a strong personality, you’re kind, you’re talented. What’s not to love? You seriously have no idea how I felt right from that night. I looked at you and I...”
“Love at first sight?” Hyunjin chuckled.
“I wouldn’t say I believe that, but maybe I do now. At first sight, at first listen, at first touch.”
Hyunjin raised her head from the warmth of Heejin’s neck and stared at her with a small, lingering smile. “You really are special.”
“And you’re amazing. Now, keep paying back the hugs you owe me.”
Hyunjin laughed and rested her head on Heejin’s shoulder, snuggling closer again.
“Did you, by any chance... write Uncover while thinking about me?” Heejin asked, suddenly remembering the lyrics.
“If I say yes, you’ll admit that your character is basically me?”
Heejin chuckled. “Is it that easy to see?”
“Yes, it is.”
“Then, yes, I wrote the song thinking about you.”
Heejin kissed the top of Hyunjin’s head. “It’s beautiful. Like, truly beautiful.”
“Actually, I never tried to write a song about love. But after meeting and getting to know you, I just... it flowed to easily.”
“Really?” Heejin asked, and Hyunjin nodded. “I... I’m glad then, that I could help with your creativity.”
Hyunjin looked up again. “What kind of answer is that?”
“I don’t know what else I can answer that, I’m embarrassed!” Heejin admitted, avoiding Hyunjin’s teasing giggled.
“Do you want me to play Uncover for you?”
“Yes, but not now. We’re still on hug debt time.”
Heejin smiled, and only then she noticed the drawing she gave her for her birthday on top of her drawer. She still put it on display despite everything that happened.
A/N: so many of you scared about the outcome ahahaha well this story doesn't have heavy angst so, it was quickly solved!!! And in a very cute way, I hope you all liked it!
Yes, Hyunjin's story is a bit sad, but she's a tough girl, and she has Heejin now ♥️