"Kang, slacking on the job, are we?"
The voice startled Seulgi and she jumped in her swivel chair as she cleared her browser, numerous tabs of online stores, with urgency. She could only hope that their team manager hadn't been there for too long. The thought made her cheeks burn. Not that the things she'd been looking through were embarrassing, but it wasn't information she'd want to disclose to the whole world either.
After all that was left on her monitor was her desktop background, a photo she'd taken of Joohyun during one of their random coffee dates ("Seul, take me to those cafés that are popular with the kids these days, hm?"), Seulgi hurriedly turned her chair and faced the other woman, stammering, "No, ma'am! I swear I wasn't! I was just-"
"I was just playing with you, Seulgi. Everyone here knows how hardworking you are," the team manager chuckled, leaning on the divider of Seulgi's workspace.
Seulgi let out a sigh of relief. She rose from her chair and bowed slightly in appreciation. "Ah, thank you, Miss Hwang. I'm flattered," she said.
The woman hummed a positive, as her eyes flitted towards Seulgi's computer screen, and cleared . "I didn't know that you were…" she started, gesturing her hands in the general direction of her abdomen.
Seulgi caught onto the implication and quickly denied with a wave of her hands. "Oh no, not me," she glanced at the photo of Joohyun, "Neither is my partner. Uh, nobody is. Not yet, at least. But we've been trying."
"I see…" Miss Hwang nodded, looking as if she was thinking about. "Anyways, I presume that the campaign reports are finished?"
Seulgi relaxed in her seat, another wave of relief coming over her as the topic was changed, unaware of how tense her shoulders had become. "Yes, ma'am. I've sent the soft copy to your email, and the hard copy is on your desk."
Miss Hwang grinned. "Fantastic. Just as I've expected from you. I'll look into them right away," she said. Seulgi gave a timid smile and bowed her head at the praise.
"Why don't you head home early tonight?" Miss Hwang patted her on the back kindly. "Great job today, Kang."
Seulgi smiled, then uttered her thanks as the team manager began to walk away. She turned back to her desk, and stared at Joohyun's face on her screen. Joohyun would probably kill me if she knew she were my wallpaper.
"Oh, and Kang?"
The woman immediately faced about. "Ma'am?"
"You and Engineer Bae would make terrific parents."
Seulgi walked down the hallway, a plastic bag of Joohyun's favorite spicy rice cakes in-hand. She'd decided against texting her partner that she'd be coming home early, and thought it'd be nice to surprise her with her favorite takeout - something Seulgi hadn't been able to do for Joohyun in a long while thanks to work.
She punched in their apartment's passcode, pushed the door open as soon as it sounded, then looked down in instinct. Seulgi quirked an eyebrow when neither of her cats had greeted her at the door, but stepped right inside their home. As quietly as possible, she shut the door behind her.
It was dim inside, with only a single light bulb from the kitchen illuminating the expanse of the apartment. Judging by the faint glow of what had to be their night lamp coming from their bedroom, Seulgi guessed that Joohyun must've taken a little siesta, and brought their two cats with her.
That wasn't the case, Seulgi learned, when Joohyun's soft voice broke the silence. The words were incomprehensible, but Seulgi could tell that she was speaking to Lulu and Lala, whom she imagined would both be sitting obediently as they listened to Joohyun. Everything about this so far gave her an odd impression of déjà vu.
Seulgi placed the plastic bag in her hand on the counter as she passed by the kitchen, and slowly peeked through the tiny crack of their bedroom door. Joohyun was sitting on the bed with her back facing Seulgi, while all she could see of Lulu and Lala in front of her, were their tails. They were surrounded by paraphernalia of Joohyun's crocheting kit, and Seulgi felt the eerie sense of déjà vu engulf her once again.
She saw Joohyun hold up a pair of small, orange mittens in each of her hands. Seulgi thought that they looked lovely, even under the minimal light inside the room, but couldn't help but notice how small they seemed for Lulu and Lala's paws...
"I think I did pretty well for my first time," Joohyun said to the cats, who rubbed their heads against her forearms in return. Joohyun dropped her arms, then slumped forward as she heaved a deep sigh. "I'm so nervous and excited at the same time, guys. I don't even know what to do with myself."
She set the mittens aside and pulled Lulu and Lala into her lap, the two cats showing no resistance at all as she did. "I know that we didn't start off on the right foot back then, but I love you two so, so much...And Seulgi…I love her with my entire being. I can't imagine spending my life with anyone else by my side."
A part of Seulgi wanted to knock on the wall, clear , step inside the room, anything to make her presence known. She felt as if she was intruding into something she wasn't supposed to, something personal, but her limbs remained frozen in place.
"Sometimes, I forget how we came to taking you guys home with us. How it all started with one of Appa's jokes," Joohyun chuckled at the memory. "A family with Kang Seulgi was all I ever wanted. And now everything's coming together after so long…"
Seulgi's heart raced in her chest.
Joohyun picked up the pair of orange mittens again. "So what do you guys think?" she asked, holding up one mitten high as she said, "Should I hand her the tests, or," holding up the other, "should I just flat out tell her I'm pregnant?"
Seulgi wasn't sure what had fallen to the ground first when those words reached her ears, her heart through her stomach, or her shaking knees.
Joohyun snapped her head towards the loud thud, and found Seulgi sat on her knees, astounded. "Seulgi?! Oh my god!"
She sprang up from the bed and knelt beside the woman. "Hey, you alright?” When the latter gave her a weak nod, Joohyun lightly punched her shoulder. “You weren't supposed to be home until a few more hours, you know. And you didn't even tell me you were coming already," she said in an accusatory tone.
Seulgi ignored her complaining, holding Joohyun's arms with an intense look in her eyes. "Did I hear you right? Are you really…" Seulgi muttered, glance going down to Joohyun's stomach.
Joohyun smiled sweetly, slowly nodding her head. "Yeah."
"Ohh…" Seulgi broke down into tears as she buried her face into her hands, leaning back to lie on the ground.
Joohyun giggled as she watched her partner sink to the ground, although she fought back her own tears. "Of course I can count on you to cry like a baby seconds after I tell you we're having one."
“I just...This is...Let me process this…” Seulgi mumbled in her hands.
“Take your time, dear,” Joohyun mused, combing her fingers through Seulgi’s dark tresses. So much for surprises.
Seulgi removed her hands from her face, as she stared up into the ceiling above them. “Like...I'm going to be a mom? We're going to be moms?” she asked, still in disbelief.
“Mmhmm. We are.”
“I, I can't believe it.” Seulgi rose on her knees, cupped Joohyun’s face, and tilted it up to hers. “I'm not dreaming, am I? Please tell me I'm not dreaming.”
"Well, I sure hope not, Seul," Joohyun laughed, but stopped the moment she took notice of Seulgi’s glassy eyes, taking her hands reassuringly. "Sweetheart, this is real, okay? As real as it gets."
Joohyun watched on as Seulgi’s whole demeanor changed right in front of her eyes, her hands finding their way back onto her cheeks. “Hyun, we're going to be parents! I mean, we already have been-” she exclaimed, bending down to give Lulu and Lala each a pat on their heads, “You two will always be our precious little babies-” then took Joohyun’s hands. “But Hyun, this is actually happening! We're going to have a kid!”
“I'm glad we're finally on the same page,” Joohyun said, pressing their foreheads together.
“I love you,” Seulgi kissed her forehead before picking her up, Joohyun squealing as Seulgi placed her onto their bed. She rolled up Joohyun’s shirt just past her still-flat stomach and leaned down to kiss her there. “And I love you, too.”
Joohyun’s eyes welled up, heart overwhelmed with a feeling of euphoria that she could only identify as…
The beat of her heart, the distant scamper of tiny footsteps, her soft sighs as Seulgi peppered her with kisses all over, Seulgi’s whispered declarations of love…
The sound of true love.