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habits with hangovers

Seungwan is late.
 

Seungwan is really late.
 

She parks her car in a hurry and rushes out of her seat, almost forgetting to remove the keys from the ignition. Luckily, the elevator is already idle at her floor of the basement, and in a few minutes, she’s making her way discreetly inside the hotel’s ball-turned-conference room. This venue is familiar to her, as the surgical society has been using the place to hold their biannual conferences for years.
 

Her eyes immediately land on the next speaker setting up her presentation, and Seungwan internally corrects herself— she is perfectly on time.
 

She notes a few familiar faces settled on their seats near the middle, but she prioritizes the generous display of drinks and snacks at the side of the room. After gratefully taking a steaming cup of coffee from the server, Seungwan hunches her shoulders and makes her way to the friends she spotted earlier.
 

They all greet each other quietly, mindful of how the speaker is about to begin her presentation.
 

“Perfect timing,” Sooyoung whispers beside her, smirk plastered on her face knowingly. Seungwan rolls her eyes but doesn’t try to deny it. “What happened to you?”
 

“My alarm didn’t wake me up,” Seungwan explains, “I had back-to-back surgeries yesterday.”
 

Sooyoung nods, patting her shoulder in sympathy before they both turn their focus on the person beginning to speak.
 

Seungwan gives herself time to appreciate the doctor on the stage: world-class trauma surgeon Bae Joohyun. A woman three years her senior, duly respected by doctors and patients alike. The credentials she flashes on the screen speak for themselves, but Seungwan’s appreciation for her runs deeper than that.
 

Somehow, as Joohyun starts off with the introduction to her new study, their eyes meet. Seungwan plays it off, lifting the cup of coffee to her lips and taking a hurried sip, burning her tongue in the process. She had planned for a wink or a smirk to grace her face, but she sends out a grimace instead. And just like that, Joohyun’s eyes trail off towards the sides of the room, casual indifference adorning her face throughout the speech.
 

It’s difficult to ignore Sooyoung’s shoulders shaking with silent laughter at the bland exchange. “Does she even remember you?” she teases.
 

“Shut up.” Seungwan clenches her fist and her teeth, her ego more burnt than her tongue. Even though she knows Joohyun remembers her; remembers her enough to say her name like a prayer more times than she can count.
 

It’s fine.
 

Her presentation has a lot of typos anyway.


 

She says as much once Joohyun sneaks into her hotel room that night, the bitterness coming back in full force when she feels Joohyun’s tongue brush against her still-very-much-burnt one when she’s pinned against the wall.
 

Joohyun pulls back at her admittedly tactless statement, eyebrows furrowed even if lust still swirls in the brown of her eyes. “…Seriously?”
 

Seungwan kind of regrets it, immediately missing the feel of the hot mouth on her own. “Y-yeah but it’s fine. It’s—”
 

“I couldn’t catch a break the past few days, okay?” Joohyun huffs, but thankfully does not pull away from her completely. “I didn’t really get to proofread my presentation even though I scheduled to do it—”
 

“Sunbae, it’s okay,” Seungwan interrupts the harried speech, her fingers tracing gentle patterns at the sliver of skin between Joohyun’s shirt and jeans. “I’m sorry, I just… I was sure you saw me during your presentation, but you… , I don’t know. That was stupid and tactless of me. Your study was great. Is great. As they usually are.”
 

Joohyun hums, something noncommittal that prevents Seungwan from gauging if she has already ruined the night for them. Nevertheless, she braces herself for rejection.
 

“I did see you,” Joohyun admits. “You were late to the whole thing too, but just in time for mine. Which I was…somehow really happy about. But it also made me nervous.” She laughs softly at this. “I don’t know why. Maybe I wanted to impress you.” Joohyun looks up at Seungwan beneath her lashes, and something heavy lodges in .
 

“And I stupidly insulted you for your typos.” Seungwan sighs in defeat. “I’m really sorry.”
 

“Did you throw a wink at me?” Joohyun asks, trying not to smile. “It looked like it hurt to do it.”
 

Seungwan groans. “No, I…I burned my tongue on my coffee. Because I didn’t know if I should wink or not.”
 

Joohyun laughs loudly at the admission, and Seungwan’s heart turns to putty at the sound. “Cute,” Joohyun murmurs, leaning in to close the distance between them again.

 

***

 

Seungwan nods during the appropriate moments, a resident endorsing a complicated case to her as they wait for the elevator that will take them up to the neuro ward. Her mind turns in different directions after each statement, ruling in and out possible causes for the neurologic deficits of the patient. The sorting sinks in like muscle memory, honed by years of practice; of trials and errors.
 

What isn’t muscle memory is how her brain stops working when she sees Bae Joohyun walking into the lobby with a few colleagues. Colleagues of both Joohyun and Seungwan, given how they are trauma surgeons working in the same hospital as Seungwan, but not Joohyun. So why was Joohyun here?
 

She lifts a hand to signal the resident to stop talking, just so she can process this, right as Joohyun seems to hone in on her presence, turning her head, and their eyes meet from across the lobby. And Seungwan doesn’t know why she doesn’t expect it when Joohyun flashes her a small smile, giving a little wave in greeting. Her own hand, with its intentions now construed in two ways by two different people, remains frozen in midair.
 

And then the moment is over, with Joohyun turning back to one of the doctors beside her to continue their conversation as they walk towards the other end of the lobby, probably heading to the emergency room.
 

She waved at me, plays over and over again in Seungwan’s head, and she flushes in embarrassment at how weird she always gets where Joohyun is concerned. It’s disconcerting, and perhaps a bit unprofessional, but she’s helpless against it. And honestly, that’s what makes it exciting.
 

Seungwan finally lowers her hand, clearing as she faces the curious resident. “Sorry, can you repeat the results of his blood test?”

 

***

 

The thought of Joohyun being nearby floats around Seungwan’s mind throughout the day. It’s not all that distracting, but it’s an afterthought that leaves her smiling a little wider at patients; makes her a little friendlier with the residents and professors.
 

Except Park Sooyoung, who ribs her about it in her usual Park Sooyoung way. News travels fast around the hospital, like they don’t already have other world-class physicians under their wing.
 

(“Did sunbae come for you?” Sooyoung tries to ask with a straight face. She erupts into peals of laughter a split-second later, and Seungwan almost begins to feel the onset of a migraine one of her patients had just described to her an hour ago.)
 

Of course she knows Joohyun did not come for her—at least, not pertaining to this. But the possible reasons intrigue her, and she really wants to ask straight from the source herself, but the lack of a ‘Bae Joohyun’ on her contact list leaves her feeling a bit regretful.
 

They never had any reason to exchange numbers, seeing as how they’re studying different fields of surgery, so some day-to-day intellectual discourse is not a given. The hospitals they work for surprisingly never overlap, so they only really get to meet during conferences. And bang during said conferences. Without fail.
 

It’s an arrangement they’re both seemingly comfortable with, and neither of them ever tried to change it. But right now, Seungwan just badly wants to send her a little text of ‘fancy meeting you here’ like a 20th century cheesy sap. Which she is not.
 

She’s just not sure of what to do, with meeting Joohyun in places she’s not used to.
 

It’s now approaching eight o’clock in the evening, and Seungwan’s stomach protests any more work that will delay food intake. Seungwan rubs her eyes behind her glasses in exhaustion, agreeing with her body. She’s about to start packing up her things in the office when someone knocks on her door. She and her stomach both grumble in protest, but she calls out a “Come in,” anyway.
 

Joohyun quietly enters her office, and said stomach drops to the floor. She has a doctor coat over her white blouse and signature jeans, and Seungwan internally fawns over how beautiful she looks.
 

“Hi,” Joohyun greets her with a small smile.
 

“Hi,” she responds a little breathlessly.
 

“…Are you busy?”
 

“Oh. No, I’m not on duty tonight, so I’ll be off soon,” she says, a bit unsure. If Joohyun is staying the night, she may just delay her homeward plans.
 

“Oh. Okay. That’s um…good.”
 

“It…is?”
 

Joohyun fiddles with her coat, her eyes shifting around nervously. “Would you like to um, have dinner…with me?”
 

Seungwan tries very hard not smile too brightly; it’s a sickness of hers to be overly excited about even the littlest of things, but she (and her growling stomach) thinks this is a big deal. At least for her.
 

“I’d love to,” she tells Joohyun sincerely, her brain already mentally ruling in or out why Joohyun looks so nervous. It abruptly gives up, concluding with an ‘I don’t really care because she looks really cute.’

 

***

 

Dinner is nice.
 

Seungwan takes Joohyun to one of the good local restaurants near the area when she learns that the latter has been craving tteokbokki all day.
 

Dinner is friendly more than anything, really. They talk about mundane doctor things and mundane human interest things, and if Seungwan wanted to kiss Joohyun when some tteokbokki sauce landed on the corner of her lips, then that’s a secret she will take to her more-than-friendly grave.
 

At the end of the night, Seungwan drives them both back to the hospital to get Joohyun’s car, as they both used hers so that they could ride to the restaurant together. She walks Joohyun to her sedan, mentally preparing herself to finally ask for her number.
 

She’s rehearsing her speech for the third time when she gets pushed up against Joohyun’s car, the older girl pulling her in for a heated kiss that feels like it’s been pent up for hours. Joohyun tastes like cherries and spice, and Seungwan loses her mind, switching their positions so that she can lavish some affection on Joohyun’s neck—her favorite part of her.
 

“What were you muttering to yourself?” Joohyun breathes out, the question cutting off into a small moan when Seungwan scrapes her teeth on her collarbone.
 

“I’ll tell you later,” Seungwan promises, a little preoccupied at the moment.
 

She belatedly realizes Joohyun’s opened the door to the backseat of her car, until she’s already pushed inside the vehicle, Joohyun looming over her with dark, hooded eyes that speak of unmasked desire.
 

 

At the end of the night, Seungwan is left with rumpled clothes, a new number on her contact list, and the aftertaste of cherries and spice on her tongue.

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