When You're Little
** "She may want something, she may feel hurt, she may need answers, but she never spoke what was supposed to be known by us." **
"Waah, I'm so full!" Seulgi exclaimed. Wendy sighed as she wiped the ketchup on her chin with tissue.
"Seulgi, you're an adult now. Stop relying to people for doing this for you." Wendy scolded.
Seulgi just grinned at her, but it was diminished soon as their maknae, Yeri spoke.
"She's a bear, unnie. Bears don't know how to act like humans."
Seulgi scoffed and crossed her arms. The rest just laughed at her, with Wendy patting her friend's head.
"You're like a mother, Wendy-unnie." Joy commented.
Wendy shook her head, waving her hand. "No. If there's someone we should call a mother, it's her." She pointed at Irene who's busy talking to someone on phone.
All the four of them watched Irene series of sighs until she frustratedly hang up the call. She approached their table and immediately noticed the stares her friends were giving her.
The four shook their heads in unison.
"If you guys are done, you should go home."
Joy held her hand, eyes in curiosity. "How about you? You're not going home with us?"
Irene looked at her sternly before replying. "I am needed at the company. Don't wait for me." She looked at Seulgi and Wendy. "Wendy, make sure that Seulgi won't be able to sneak outside to buy Pringles again." Seulgi groaned from the statement. Irene then looked at Yeri. "And you little brat, don't play videogames overnight. You should take care of your eyes."
"But I wasn't—" Irene glared at her, so she stopped her supposed-defense.
Irene then looked back at Joy with a worried-look on her face. She squeezed the latter's cheek, smiling in reassurance that she would be okay before saying her goodbye to all of them.
"She really is a mother and she has favoritism issue." Yeri said, her face resting on their table. "It's good to be Joy and Wendy, no?"
"I agree with you, Yeri. Irene-unnie are not scolding them." Seulgi said. She raised her hand attempting for high-five with the Yeri, but the latter ignored her.
"It's natural because we're not doing anything bad." Wendy replied at them. "Like why would she be angry at nothing? That would be unreasonable."
"You should learn your lessons especially you, Yeri. Stop being a troublemaker to Irene-unnie." Joy told the maknae.
"Wow, someone's acting goody two shoes."
Joy automatically glared at Yeri, almost throwing her empty plate if not with Wendy calming her.
The four of them stood up from their seats ready to go home. The four of them plus Irene were friends since middle school. They were members of the same school club, so despite the differences in section and grade level, they were able to develop a strong bond that have grown strong until their adult age. Yeri was still in her college though. In addition, they were all living together in an expensive apartment.
On their way home, they stumbled with a kid playing a toy catcher. One could easily tell that the kid was on his umpteen tries of getting his target because of the puckered expression. His mother was with him smiling at her son.
"Let's just go home, sweetie. Let's just buy a toy similar to that."
"But it would be different. I want this toy here, mom!"
"It's getting late and mommy needs to prepare dinner for daddy."
"It's not even late. Just one more time mom!"
"Okay, this is the last. If you don't get it, let's just come back another time, okay?"
The kid tried it for the last time. In the end, they left the toy catcher without the target toy.
"I know the feeling." Yeri said.
"We all know the feeling." Wendy replied. "I was always scolded by my parents because of this toy catcher. This game was quite addicting and challenging."
"I was rarely scolded when I was a kid." Seulgi said.
"That's because you're a teddy bear back then." Yeri commented.
"What's that supposed to mean?!" Seulgi hissed. "How about you? I bet you were always scolded when you're a kid. You're a troublemaker."
Yeri showed her a smug smile. "My parents were actually scared of me. I punched the toy catcher glass when they were trying to drag me home."
Seulgi gasped in surprise. "Wow, you're so cool!"
"That's right. I'm cool."
Wendy pinched Yeri's cheek and looked at Seulgi. "Dummy, stop believing this brat. She's fooling you!"
Joy suddenly giggled making the three looked at her.
"Why are you laughing?"
"Well, Seulgi-unnie was considered genius by her co-employees, but too clueless and innocent with some things. It's no wonder that she was kidnap when she's a kid." Joy explained.
"Ya, I wasn't! I was just taken away since the old man thought I was lost."
Then all the three bursted out laughing.
"How about you, Joy? Were you always scolded when you're a kid?" Wendy asked her.
Joy was a bit taken aback from the question, but she answered immediately. "They were working overseas, so I've never experienced being scolded. I'm actually the one scolding my younger sisters since I was the eldest of the family."
"Likewise!" Yeri raised her hand. "I'm also the eldest, so I usually considered my responsibilites to look after my sisters. I'm a good daughter."
Seulgi scoffed as Yeri mocked her through sticking her tongue out at her.
"Oh right, what do you guys think of Irene-unnie?" Wendy asked.
"I think she's perfect and she wasn't scolded at all during her childhood." Seulgi answered.
"Yeah, I bet she's too perfect that even her parents would not care for her." Yeri answered, which made the three look at her in disbelief.
"Ya that's harsh!" Joy told the maknae.
"It's just my opinion. Why are you being offended? Are you her girlfriend?" Yeri snapped back.
Joy blushed from the reply. Wendy patted her shoulder and she responded for her. "I agree with Joy. That comment was harsh."
Yeri pouted. "Alright, I'm sorry. But it's just an speculation. It's not like it's true."
"What if it's true?"
All of them tensed from hearing the voice. They all turned around and saw Irene standing with her arms crossed. Her sweat was dripping from her temple indicating that she ran after them. They were too focused to notice her presence.
Yeri suddenly bowed. "Unnie, I'm so sorry!"
Irene raised her eyebrow then sighed. She walked closer to her and patted her head. "Don't be. Let's just go home. I'm tired."
Everyone was already inside their own rooms. They were all asleep except for Joy who was still thinking what their eldest responded to Yeri. Among them, she's the overthinker. It was just a single sentence, but it stimulated Joy's mind to produce many unnecessary thoughts and ideas. She was tired, but her mind was still running.
Irene never talked about her background. She never mentioned about her family ever since they met each other. It's regretful and guilt-killing that their Irene-unnie may had a bad childhood memories. Why are they so insensitive? They have taken Irene's motherly attitude towards them for granted. Why did they realize it late?
Irritated by this, she headed to the kitchen to get some milk. She was just startled when she saw Irene on the living area reading some book.
"Why aren't you sleeping, Joy?"
Joy felt a chill down her spine when she was called. She was planning not to disturb the older woman, but the latter purposedly disturb her own peace.
"I can't sleep, unnie." she honestly replied.
She went towards the refrigerator and opened it. She pulled a carton of milk and poured a volume into a glass.
She drank on her glass of milk and as she turned she almost choked to death seeing Irene standing in front of her.
She wiped the spilled milk on the floor and washed the used glass afterwards.
"Sorry," Irene apologized chuckling as she pulled Joy to the living area to sit on the couch.
"What's keeping you awake?" Irene suddenly asked.
"Ah no, nothing unnie. Don't worry about it." Joy said, trying her best to smile to shift the topic. She doesn't want to open the topic—
"Is it about what happened a while back?"
Joy mentally punched her face. Nevertheless, she remained silent as if it's the best decision she could make.
"I'll take that as 'yes'." Irene said. "Do you want to know the truth?"
Joy's eyes widened. "N-No, it's okay. You don't have to tell me—" Joy stopped upon seeing Irene smirking at her. She sighed in defeat. "Yes, unnie. I want to know. It just that, you've been so nice to us and having to know that your parents— something like that is kind of unfair." She looked down fidgeting her fingers.
"It's actually true."
"What?" Joy's eyes was once again on the older woman's face.
Irene nodded. "But in a such that I literally don't have them."
"Huh? Unnie, what do you mean?"
Irene smiled and patted the younger woman's head. "You're smart, Joy. You should probably know what I mean. You just don't want to accept it." Her hand travelled down on the younger's hand. "It's fine. I'm used to it and it doesn't hurt me at all."
Irene tilted her head to see Joy's reaction and regretted it since the latter had tears on her eyes.
"Ya, why are you crying?"
"Because it hurts, u-unnie..."
Irene sighed. "I was just about to tell you the story, but seeing you in this state..." She sighed again. "You really are an angel, Joy. You're crying for someone who didn't cry on her parents' funeral." She squeezed Joy's hand. "Stop crying. You're so big yet your heart is so fragile. You should be strong."
"All my life I thought that I had the worst childhood, but having to know your background... is..."
"Joy, it's fine. After all, it became a challenge for me. I was able to become strong and independent. I became the person I am today."
Joy wiped her tears. She reached for the older woman's head and pulled her in an embrace.
"I'm so proud of you, unnie. I'm sure they are proud of you too."
Irene let herself be embraced by the younger one. "You're making my walls collapse. Now, you're making me longed for parental love."
"I want to make you feel that. Unnie, I wish you're still little, so that I can take care of you like how I took care of my younger siblings."
Irene chuckled. "Just do that to your soon-to-be-daughter, Joy. I'm old enough to take care of myself."
Joy separated herself. She extended her hand and patted her unnie's head. "But you're still so small, unnie. I wanna take care of you."
The next day, Joy stumbled with a little girl when she exited the bus after work. Joy with her affection to kids greeted the girl with a smile and talked to her in a bit before telling her goodbye.
Joy started heading towards their apartment building when she noticed the little girl following her.
Maybe her house was on the same direction with mine. She thought, but then she realized that maybe the girl was lost. She paused then approached the little girl. She crouched down and talked to the little girl.
"Where's your parents, baby? Are you perhaps lost? Do you want me to help you find them?"
The girl remained silent and just stared at her. Joy with the close proximity, she was able to observed the girl's features clearly. Doe eyes, small thin lips, slim nose, ebony hair— she looks like a doll and certainly resembles Irene.
"What's your name, baby girl?" Joy asked. It would be a too much coincidence if the little would reply that her name is Irene. Joy mentally laughed at the thought, but then the little girl spoke, which made her almost lost her breath.
"Irene, Irene Bae..."
The door opened and Joy ran to pull her friends in rush to the living room.
"What's wrong with you?"
"Joy, did you somehow break Irene-unnie's favorite mug? I'm outta there."
"Ya unnie, speak!"
Joy then left them lined in front of the television. Joy returned with a little girl, her Irene-unnie who turned to a girl, in her arms who was throwing tantrums. Joy let go of the little girl who stood beside her as Seulgi, Yeri, and Wendy gaped with the scene.
"Joy, are you nuts?! Why did you kidnap a kid?!" Wendy bursted out, her eyes widening.
"I swear, I'm going to migrate overseas if that's true, unnie." Yeri said crossing her arms.
"Guys, can't you see? It's her child! Can't you see the resemblance?"
Wendy and Yeri rolled their eyes.
"You need glasses!"
Joy sighed deeply as she felt her shirt being tugged. The little girl's face was darker than ever. Her Irene-unnie is annoyed.
Joy cleared to stop the bickerings. Gladly, she got her friends' attention.
"Don't you think she looks like Irene-unnie?" she asked anticipating for her friends to get the hint that their eldest turned into a kid.
The three girls observed the little girl who remained her pokerface expression. Silence was maintained until their eyes widened thinking the same thing.
"Irene-unnie has a daughter?!"
"What the heck, who's the father?!"
"Where's Irene-unnie?! I need to talk to her."
Joy literally slapped her forehead from the reaction. She thought her plan would be a success. She was about to tell the truth when the little girl spoke.
And the bickering stopped.
"H-hey, did we just stop?"
"She also got Irene-unnie's aura!"
"Omo, how cute!"
Little Irene bit her lower lip and glared at the three girls who took it as a cute gesture.
"Ya, stop! Listen to me!" she yelled. Instead of scaring them, she looks more cute.
Yeri smiled and crouched down to match the little girl's height. She pointed her two fingers on the little girl's forehead and poked it.
Joy, Wendy, and Seulgi were bewildered to witnessed it. Wendy and Seulgi immediately scolded Yeri as Joy hurriedly comforted little Irene-unnie, embracing her while glaring at Yeri.
"Ya, why did you do that?!"
"For once, I wanted to hit Irene-unnie. It felt so great."
Joy scoffed in disbelief, but then she recognized what the maknae had told her. "Wait, what did you say?"
She felt a tap on her chest, so she let go of the little Irene. The little girl seemed unfazed as she approached Yeri. She looked at her innocently and suddenly punched the maknae in the face.
Joy, Wendy, and Seulgi was too surprised as they do not know if they would laugh or pity their maknae who was already groaning in pain.
"Argh what the heck, unnie?! How could your small fist be so strong?" Yeri whined, still holding her cheek.
The little girl held the collar of Yeri's shirt. Joy, Wendy, and Seulgi were just watching the scene, amazed how cute it was.
"I just turned into a kid. Remember that I'm still older than you. Behave or I will destroy all the gifts I gave you."
Little Irene let go of the maknae and faced the three girls who were smiling at her.
"Find a ways on how to turn me back to my original body!"
"Don't worry unnie, you'll return to your original body. For now, let's buy something for your small body." Wendy told their little unnie who was hand in hand with Joy and Yeri.
All of them decided to do some shopping for their eldest kid's body.
They all believed the strange phenomenon immediately soon as Joy explained to them what little Irene had told her first.
Irene turned into a child soon as she was about to go home. Apart from her four closest friends, her Secretary, Jisoo witnessed the transformation as to as she helped her little boss to get home.
"Wendy, I'm kind of offended by your statement." Little Irene replied with her small soft voice. And again, instead of being scared, Wendy felt her smile grew wider. "And why am I being held captive by the two maknaedeul? Ya, I could walk on my own."
"But you're so small, unnie." Joy replied.
"Yeah, you might get lost." Yeri added.
Irene just sighed in defeat. She's been using her authority as the eldest, but it was tiresome for her to repeat what she wanted much more to argue with the maknaedeul.
Aside from her body getting small, despite her consciousness as the adult Irene remained, she can feel that her mood was being affected by the child's body. She gets irritated frequently and she gets tired easily. And so she stopped, gulping her pride, and tugging Joy's shirt.
"Carry me..." she whispered.
Joy smiled from this and immediately carried her. Little Irene clung her small arm to Joy's neck. She admitted that she felt satisfied. She didn't expect that being carried by someone feels great.
"That looks childish. I don't like it." Little Irene commented soon as she saw the rabbit onesie Wendy was holding.
"But it looks good on you, unnie." Wendy said.
"Besides unnie, you're a child right now." Yeri joined in while holding different fruit costumes with an evil smile.
"How about this?" Seulgi showed a darth vader costume. She's also holding a lighsaber.
Little Irene puffed her cheeks in annoyance as she hid her face to Joy's neck. "Joy, tell them I don't want those stupid clothes." she grunted.
Sadly on her part, Joy didn't try her best (she also wanted the little Irene to wear those) to stop the three girls who just bought her those silly costumes. Joy just chose some 'normal' pajamas and normal daily wear for little Irene's liking.
"Ya, why are you buying so many junk foods?" Little Irene complained at Seulgi who was dumping the Pringles and different kind of chips in the shopping cart where little Irene was also settled. Yeri and Joy were pushing the cart.
"Kids love junk foods."
"I'm not a kid!" Little Irene said just making Seulgi smiled at her and continued getting foods she wanted.
Wendy approached them and dumped many fruits and vegetables.
"Are you turning us into vegetarian?" Yeri questioned.
"It's good for unnie's health."
Little Irene grimaced from the reasoning. She then again looked at Joy. "I want meat."
Joy chuckled as she looked at Yeri. "Go and get what our Baeby wants."
"Alright, grow foods for unnie to grow!" Yeri exclaimed making her little unnie to almost threw a can of Pringles to her.
Little Irene was sulking in a corner with Joy overwatching her. The rest of the girls went to buy something and Joy was having a hard time controlling herself from pinching her little unnie's puffy cheeks.
"Unnie," Joy called wanting to lift her little unnie's mood.
"What?" She's cutie mad.
"Do you want to play arcade games?"
"It's childish." she mumbled.
"But atleast it's better than doing nothing while waiting for the three, right?" Joy then lifted her little unnie off the ground, bringing her into her arms. The little unnie groaned and complained, but she made no move of pushing Joy away. "Come on, unnie. Let's go."
"I'm just going to watch. I won't play."
And little Irene played. Her competitiveness was on its peak playing every machines she's interested with. Joy was the one watching her and mentally facepalmed from the denial of her little unnie a while back.
She got her phone and texted Yeri their location. She then felt little Irene tugging her shirt. She looked down and saw her cute eyes staring at her.
"I wanna play that thing." She pointed a toy catcher.
Little Irene's face was puckered, her puffed cheeks flushing, and she's making annoyed sounds as if she's having a debate with the toy catcher.
"How many tries?" Yeri asked Joy upon arriving at their location.
"She's cute though." Wendy said as Seulgi was taking pictures of their little unnie with her own phone.
Yeri laughed at the scene when little Irene almost destroyed the controllers as Wendy and Joy stopped her.
"That machine is a cheater! I'm gonna destroy it!" she exclaimed attempting to attack it again, but Wendy was able to carry her stopping her from doing so.
Little Irene calmed down when she smelt something familiar. "What's that?" She glanced at Yeri who was holding something.
Yeri presented her bowl of Tteokbokki. "You want it?"
Little Irene nodded.
"I don't want to share." Yeri stuck her tongue out making little Irene sent her cute glares. Yeri also took a bite and intentionally make their little unnie envious.
"Wendy, make sure to remind me that I won't be buying her anything soon as—"
"Ya unnie, just kidding! Joy-unnie is holding yours." Yeri said in panic.
Little Irene's face suddenly glowed up. Joy approached her and momentarily feeding their little unnie as Seulgi and Yeri started playing some arcade games.
"Unnie, are you fine sleeping alone?" Wendy asked her.
Little Irene nodded. "I'm used to being alone since I was a kid. Don't worry."
"We can sleep in your room, unnie." Seulgi suggested.
Little Irene shook her head. "I can take care of myself. Besides, I'm just going sleep."
"Unnie, since you're a kid right now I think the monster under your bed can now eat you." Yeri said grinning.
"Shut up!" Little Irene responded. "I'm just gonna take a shower."
"Unnie, do you need some help?" Wendy asked in concern.
"I can take care of myself!" And she's gone.
The four friends who were left sighed, then giggled together.
"I never see Irene-unnie's baby pictures, but I feel satisfied witnessing her being a little kid." Wendy said.
"Teasing her with her form at the moment is great." Yeri laughed in devilish way.
"She's like a doll. Hey, can we make her do cosplay?" Seulgi suggested.
"Let's just wait for her mood to settle. I haven't see her smile since she became a kid." Joy said. "Anyway, do you guys have any idea how did she become so little?"
"Maybe she ate some scientist's formula?" Yeri guessed.
"Maybe a witch cursed her?" Seulgi guessed.
"I shall thank that witch." Wendy said giggling. She then stopped and thought of something. "Isn't it maybe because of yesterday?"
Joy and Seulgi turned to look at Yeri.
"Are you accusing me?"
"We just looked at you because you're so pretty." Joy answered showing her a sweet smile.
Yeri smiled too. "Yes. I'm pretty— You giant you're obviously blaming me!" She glared at Joy.
"Ya, why's only me?! Seulgi-unnie also accused you!"
"Hey, hey, hey, don't drag me with you Joy." Seulgi responded.
Joy scoffed from the betrayal, but an idea popped inside her head. She's just assuming it, but she has a strong feeling that it was because of that why their eldest became a child.
"I think it's because I've wished for her to be little."
The three girls looked at her in confusion.
Then Joy told them what happened between her with Irene yesterday night.
"Why did you wish something like that?!" Wendly yelled at her. The latter raised her hands in surrender.
"Because I wanted to make her feel the parental love she didn't experience." Joy replied.
"It's strange though. I've wished for Irene-unnie to become a child many times to have my revenge, but it didn't happen." Yeri said. She received a disappointed sighs from her unniedeul.
"But do you guys have any idea why Joy's wish was granted?" Seulgi asked.
They all shook their head.
"Guess, we're going to take care of her kid form until we find ways on how to turn her back to normal." Joy said.
All the the attention went to her all of a sudden.
"Since you're the one who wished that, Irene-unnie will be your responsibility." Wendy told her.
"I wanna help you Joy, but I'll be busy starting tomorrow." Seulgi replied.
Joy turned to look at Yeri.
"I'm a uni student. Babysitting isn't my job."
Joy sighed in disappointment. It's true that she wanted to give the parental love for the little Irene, but her work is getting— Oh right. This is how parents take care of their sons and daughters. And I've been taking care of my younger siblings back then, so what's the difference?
"Alright, alright! I'm gonna be her guardian until she turned back to normal."
She attacked Yeri.
Irene usually cooks for them, but since she became little, the responsibility went to Wendy temporarily.
Their breakfast was already prepared when Wendy called for the other girls' attention.
"Yeri, call Irene-unnie."
"What? Haven't you called her already?" Yeri questioned her, obviously pissed from the command.
"Call her again."
"Okay, okay, fine~"
Then Yeri came back carrying little Irene. She settled little Irene on her usual seat as Joy put the foods she usually eats on her plate.
"By the way, Irene-unnie, since you're in that form, what's going to happen to your position in the company?" Wendy asked her.
"I'm relying on Jisoo to do the works. I'm just gonna guide her since I can't go there with my form." she answered.
Each of the members have themselves ready to go to their respective places. Wendy and Seulgi were the first to go. Then next was Yeri who made fun of little Irene before running away because the latter chased her with the displayed Tanto.
"Unnie, I'm going now—" Joy was startled to see little Irene holding the Tanto while huffing. She immediately approached the little unnie and got the weapon away from the latter.
"Yeri is so irritating." she complained while crossing her arms.
Joy chuckled from the sight. "I know, but don't use real weapons to chase after her. That's cute— I mean scary." She kneeled down and kissed the little unnie's forehead. "I'm going now. Just call any of us if there's any problem, okay?"
Then Joy left leaving a dumbfounded little Irene who was holding her forehead, confused from the feeling she got from the sudden affection of one of her maknaedeul. She never received it from someone. Nevertheless, it made her a bit satisfied and excited for the four girls to go home.
"I'm sorry I cannot help with the finding-on-how-to-turn-back-Irene-unnie-to-normal mission because the head of our department chose me and Wendy to accompany her in a week seminar in Japan." Seulgi said.
"What a coincidence! We're having a 3-days field trip too somewhere in a villa owned by the founder of school." Yeri said.
"Happy trip," Joy simply said and sipped on her coffee.
"Is that all? You're not going to stop us?" Yeri asked.
"Do you expect me to argue with you when in the end I'll just let you guys go?"
"Well, that would be more exciting."
Joy snorted from the reply of the maknae. It's almost Day 7 and Irene isn't turning back to her normal body. The little unnie was getting impatient and Joy's three friends are somewhat 'useless' (Joy called them). Joy tried to wish for Irene to turn back to normal, but it wasn't granted at all. She also spoke this to her little unnie and the latter did the same, but the expectation they were hoping wasn't reached.
Then night came. Everyone was on their rooms, but Joy cannot sleep. Her mind has been running about their little unnie. Getting off from her bed, she stood up and went out her bed. She needs milk.
She headed to the kitchen, but stopped on the living area soon as she saw an opened laptop on the table and a little Irene sleeping on the couch. She deeply sighed and approached her little unnie.
Her little body shouldn't be exhausted like this. It's too much for her.
She closed the computer before putting her attention to the innocent child sleeping on the couch. She stood up and went to Irene's bedroom to open it and returned. She sighed once again before carefully carrying her little unnie into her arms. She carefully delivered the little unnie to her bed and gently pulled the covers on top of her little body. Leaning her head, she put a soft kiss on top of the little girl's forehead before leaving.
It's weekend and Joy was thankful that her working schedule for the week was done. Nevertheless, she woke up early to say her goodbye to her three friends who's going on a trip.
"Don't forget to bring home souvenirs." Joy told them. Little Irene was beside her.
Wendy and Seulgi approached their little unnie and crouched down.
"What?" Little Irene asked in confusion.
"Give us a kiss on the cheek, unnie." Wendy replied while smiling.
"Or we can give you a kiss on the cheek instead?" Seulgi suggested.
Little Irene hissed from them, but agreed on Seulgi's suggestion since she wanted it fast. Soon as Seulgi and Wendy was about to kiss her on her cheeks, little Irene stepped back making the WenSeul kissed each other on the lips. Both of them covered their faces while complaining to little Irene.
Yeri on the other hand was laughing. "She learned from me." she proudly said as she approached the little unnie and messed her hair.
Then the three girls finally drove away.
"Let's go back, unnie." Joy told her little unnie.
"When will they come back?"
"Oh, you miss them already?"
"No," she grumpily answered and went in to the building.
Joy just chuckled. Little Irene is in denial. Mature Irene is more honest.
"Unnie, would you mind if I clean your room?"
"Yes. Just don't misplace anything."
Joy decided to clean their apartment as little Irene just continued to guide and monitor Jisoo on phone. Soon as Joy finished the cleaning, she decided to do the laundry.
"Unnie, I'm gonna laundry yours too."
Little Irene was already resting when Joy told her. The little unnie get off the couch and approached Joy.
"Let me help." she said shyly.
Joy smiled and nodded.
"Wow, I can fit in here."
Joy turned her head and surprised to see little Irene inside the machine.
"Unnie, you're so small and cute." Joy wasn't able to hide her giggle. She got her phone and took a picture of little Irene, immediately sending it to their group chat.
"Ya, why did you take a picture?" Little Irene then decided to go out, but then cannot. She was terrified and then she glanced at Joy in pleading look. "Help me."
"You're really cute, unnie."
Joy made their lunch. She also washed the dishes. And when she settled, she saw little Irene on the living area watching something. Joy approached her little unnie and was fascinated to see her watching an anime.
"Wow, unnie. Thought you hated them?" Irene really hates them in the extent that she had a big argument with Yeri before.
"I'm was just curious! It's curiosity!" Little Irene replied in embarassment looking away.
"Do you like it?"
Little Irene remained silent. Joy just smiled at the denial act of her little unnie. She carried her little unnie and made her sit on her lap. The little unnie didn't protest, which made Joy happy.
It's already dark and raining hard, perfect to sleep, but not so-perfect for Joy for she knew that her unnie was afraid of the loud roar of thunders. Her little unnie swallowed her pride and knocked on Joy's door. The big dongsaeng opened the door for her and now she's giving her best to calm her crying little unnie.
The mature Irene told them honestly before that she tends to get scared of the phenomenon, but usually she's calm and collected. She won't show the fear on her face. However, due to her child body, her fear tolerance was lowered, thus, making her released the emotions uncontrollably.
"I'm here, unnie. I'm here... I won't leave you." she cooed while continued on caressing her little unnie's hair.
She was already sitting on her bed with her back rested on the headboard. Little unnie was sitting on her lap hugging her tightly with her face buried on Joy's neck.
"They're not gonna hurt you. I will protect you. I'm here... Joy is here..."
Her soft actions and comforts to the scared child continued until she finally calmed down.
Joy separated herself from her little unnie and wiped her tears. She cupped her little unnie's cheeks and squeezed it gently. "Let's sleep. Tomorrow, we will play." She smiled then kissed her little unnie's forehead.
Joy lied down on the bed with little Irene in her arms. She hummed a melody, caressing the child's hair, until both of them finally fell asleep.
Little Irene woke up in Joy's arms. She blushed from embarrassment remembering what she had done at yesterday night. Carefully sitting up, she saw Joy's face. But she admitted that it was the best sleep she had so far. She's fascinated of how did Joy was able to make her dream beautiful. In standard days, she would dream about her working hard and sometimes she experiences nightmares, which became normal for her. She felt so comfortable around Joy's arms. She felt secured and the experience was nothing compared to her childhood past where she endured everything on her own. She felt thankful for Joy for being with her, for reassuring her that she would be okay.
Little Irene found herself touching Joy's cheek. Fascinated how soft and fluffy it was, she squeezed it making Joy woke up. She suddenly felt scared that Joy maybe angry with her, so she subconsciously embraced the girl. To her surprised, Joy chuckled and embraced her back, lifting herself together with little Irene.
"Ya put me down!"
Joy prepared for their breakfast as little Irene was just watching her fascinated again from the way the big girl chopped the ingredients and the way she set it aside on a tiny bowl. Little Irene just found herself beside Joy and following her wherever she goes.
"What is it, unnie?"
Little Irene shook her head. Joy just smiled at her and continued on cooking.
"What are you cooking?"
Little Irene just nodded.
"When will that be finished?"
"In a while,"
Little Irene once again nodded.
"Is it not finished yet?"
"Not yet, unnie."
Little Irene nodded, but her cheeks were puffed.
"Why's it taking so long?"
"Because foods need time to be processed. You're so cute when you're being impatient, unnie." Joy chuckled.
"I'm not!" Little Irene protested and just went to the dining table.
Joy finally finished it. She settled the dish on the table and little Irene just stared at it.
"Aren't you gonna eat? You were rushing it a while back?"
Little Irene puffed her cheeks and mumbled something while looking away.
"What's that? I'm sorry, I didn't hear it."
"They usually put a ketchup... with... words..."
"Words?" Joy was confused for a second then it hit her. "Oh, I get it. Wait for me." She went back to the kitchen and returned with a ketchup container.
She wrote Irene's name, but then little Irene wasn't fascinated.
"Draw a heart too..." she mumbled.
Joy controlled herself from giggling as she followed her little unnie's wants.
Joy was just smiling while eating her breakfast. 80% of her attention was on little Irene who may not be smiling, but looks satisfied. It's fulfilling to see a kid liking the foods she made, but it's even more fulfilling to know that it was her Irene-unnie.
"Unnie, let's go." Joy called her little unnie.
"Do we really need to go? Can't we just spend the rest of the day here?" Little Irene suggested while crossing her arms.
"Come on, unnie~ It's been a while since we had our bonding together. I want to spend my time with you in your child form."
"But it's exhausting walking around with this tiny body." Little Irene protested, but what Joy answered her made her agree immediately.
She just want to be carried. Joy mentally facepalmed.
Both of them strolled on Yeouido Hangang Park. Joy was satisfied that her little unnie was enjoying it. There were too many "That's childish!" responses, but eventually little Irene would be agreeing.
Then a group of children riding a bicycle went passed them. Joy didn't miss how her little unnie's eyes followed them.
"Do you want to ride a bike?"
Little Irene looked away. "No. It's childish."
Joy sighed then crouched down. "You're a kid right now, so there's no need to be shy, unnie. After all, I believe that your child body can't deny your wants and needs." She smiled.
"It's not the issue here."
"I can't ride it." she mumbled. "My parents weren't able to teach me how to ride it."
Joy felt saddened by the statement. There's a short silence between them until Joy decided to just make her little unnie experience it.
Joy lifted her little unnie and carried her, heading to the bicycle rental stand.
"I'll teach you."
"You don't have to. You're just going to waste your time."
"No. I won't. Spending my time with you was never a waste of time. It's worth my time actually. I get to see your cute sides."
Little Irene pouted. "You're enjoying it, don't you? Seeing my vulnerable sides."
Joy shook her head. "No. I'm actually impressed by you, unnie. You're so brave and strong. Knowing all these things about you are admirable, unnie."
Little Irene just hid her face on Joy's shoulder.
"Argh Joy! Will you stop taking pictures already!"
"Just a little more. You're so cute wearing that little helmet."
Little Irene rolled her eyes. "Is it your first time seeing a kid wearing helmet? Unbelievable!"
"Alright, alright! You're that impatient to ride the bike, aren't you?" Joy chuckled as she approached her little unnie.
"Whatever you say, unnie."
Joy helped her little unnie get on the bike. "Look straight ahead, unnie. Don't look down. Just look straight like how you reach your goals in one direction." She said while holding the bike seat to steady her little unnie. "Start pedalling, okay?" Joy almost nosebleed seeing her little unnie's feet. It was too cute for her to handle. She calmed herself. "I will be guiding you. I won't let you fall. I will stay with you until I am sure that you can ride it without me."
Joy helped little Irene to move the bike, then she ran alongside with little Irene. After many tries and not giving up, little Irene finally balanced it and was moving at good pace.
Then finally, Joy saw the smile she waited for so long. Little Irene was finally smiling, chuckling, and enjoying her first bicycle ride as Joy continued on watching her like a proud mother. Of course, she took a clip of her little unnie and secretly sent it as personal message to Seulgi, Wendy and Yeri telling them to keep it as a secret.
"Joy, carrry me. I'm tired." Little Irene opened her arms as Joy swept her off the ground, bringing the little unnie to her arms. Little Irene just clung her arms to Joy's neck as she rested her head on the latter's shoulder.
"Do you want to eat?"
"Yes. I want street foods."
"Alright then, let's go."
They both settled on a bench where they can view the Han River after they bought foods on their likings.
"Is that delicious?" Joy asked.
Little Irene nodded. "Taste it," She offered some to Joy, which the latter accepted it wholeheartedly.
"Can we wait for the sunset before we go home?"
Joy smiled and nodded. "Sure. Do you also want to wait for the fireworks display?"
"Are there fireworks today?"
"Yes. Didn't you notice the number of people here today?"
"Then can we wait until we witness it?"
"Of course, unnie."
Both of them went under the Han River Bridge and settled there with little Irene resting on Joy's lap. The little unnie was sleeping.
Joy smiled at the sight. She wanted to take pictures of her again, but realizing that she took many pictures a while back made her stop.
I wish I could have a daughter like her someday.
She softly caressed her little unnie's hair as she hummed a melody.
The sun's already setting and little Irene was already awake. Her eyes were full of admiration as if she crafted stars in her eyes. They're definitely twinkling while staring at the sun slowly hiding its body.
"It's so pretty."
"You're prettier, unnie." Joy commented.
Joy patted her little unnie's head before taking a picture of the sunset. Her little unnie requested it.
Then they waited again until the sky started to darken. It was becoming cold and Joy had her little unnie sitting on her lap while hugging her small body keeping the both of them warm while waiting for the fireworks display. Their location was also slowly being filled with other people. Then after the hours of waiting, bright lights coloured the sky.
Joy stood up while carrying Irene in her arms giving the little unnie a better view of the fireworks display.
"Joy, it's so cool! It's been too long since I watched it."
"I know." Joy smiled.
"Yeri, you know that Irene-unnie is on her child form right now!"
"So, what are you trying to say?"
"It means that she's prone to infections! Her immune system hasn't developed fully yet!"
Yeri rolled her eyes stomping her feet away from Joy.
"Where are you going?! If Irene-unnie catch a cold, you're going to take the responsibility!"
"Yeah, yeah, yeah, geez! You sound like a mother! I'm sorry, okay?"
Joy just sighed as the maknae went inside her bathroom to take a bath.
Yeri came home from their field trip after three days. Since Joy have to work, she let Yeri took care of their little unnie. She didn't expect that Yeri encouraged her little unnie to play under the rain. The two had fun, but Joy was concerned on their little unnie's health.
And just like Joy's assumption, little Irene caught a cold.
"I'm fine." little Irene replied to Joy.
"No. You're not fine. You can't work. I'm gonna tell Jisoo-unnie."
"I'm not gonna work. I'm just going to tell Jisoo what should be done." She attempted to sit up, but was stopped by Joy.
"You won't. Just stay here and rest." Joy told her. "I'm just going to cook porridge for you."
Little Irene remained silent. She wanted to protest, but seeing Joy's worried expression made her stop. Little Irene heaved a sigh and closed her eyes. Her eyes felt hot and felt very dry.
Joy returned holding a tray of porridge, medicine, and water. Yeri who was behind her helped little Irene to sit up.
"I'm sorry, unnie. It's my fault that you caught a cold." Yeri apologized.
"It's alright. I enjoyed it anyway." Little Irene smiled.
"Let me feed you then." Yeri said as Joy handed her a bowl of porridge. Little Irene didn't object.
The room was filled with silence as little Irene finished her meal. She took her medicine as Joy checked at her body temperature, no changes and Joy and Yeri were disappointed.
Joy and Yeri let their little unnie rested.
An hour after, Joy heard soft whimpers. She didn't have someone to confirm her hearing since Yeri already went to the university as she on the other hand took an absence from work. She searched for the sound until she realized it's coming from Irene's room.
Little Irene's room door suddenly opened bringing Joy full of worries on her face. Joy walked towards her, sitting beside her, embracing the little figure who was shivering and crying.
"It's alright. I'm here, I'm here..."
"I feel hurt... It's so cold..."
Joy tightened the embrace just enough to stop her little unnie from shaking. She sighed. It took a while before little Irene calmed down and stopped crying. Joy was still embracing her, caressing her head gently while humming a song. It was then Joy felt that little Irene was not moving anymore and her weight was being transferred to her body. She slowly laid little Irene on the bed who was already sleeping. Joy gently wiped the tear marks on little Irene's face before kissing her forehead.
She stood up ready to leave again, but the little unnie muttered some words making her stopped.
"I miss you mommy... daddy..."
Joy sat leaning her body on the headboard while little Irene was laying beside her.
"Get well soon, unnie. We're going to an amusement park with the others."
"Unnie, we're back!"
Wendy and Seulgi went running towards their little unnie and embraced her, also kissing her cheeks in which little Irene angrily shouted at them.
She was now hugging Joy who carried her, frustratedly groaning from the actions of Wendy and Seulgi.
"Unnie, it's just a kiss. Besides we missed you so much." Wendy said.
"I hate being kissed!
"Unnie, we hate it too and you made me kiss Wendy, so I presumed it's a revenge kiss." Seulgi said.
"You hate being kissed, but do you remember how many times you let Joy-unnie to kiss you?" Yeri intervened wearing a haori with fire design brought by Seulgi and Wendy. "See? Even in her child form she has favoritism issue." Yeri chuckled.
"I just love Joy." Little Irene reasoned out.
"What do you mean by that, unnie? You don't love us?" Wendy dramatically asked.
"I love all of you."
"Then why are you so hostile towards us when we're kissing you?"
"I don't know."
"Yes. I don't know." Little Irene replied. Her next move surprised every one. She kissed Joy's cheek.
"Unnie, I'm the maknae. Kissed my cheek too." Yeri said and approached them. Little Irene bent down and gave her a kiss on the cheek. "I'm one of Irene-unnie's favorite. Ha, losers!" Yeri grinned in victory.
"Hurry up! Why are you guys so slow?!" Little Irene shouted at Joy, Seulgi, and Wendy. Yeri was beside her holding her little hand.
"Irene-unnie is a patient person. Her child form is very impatient." Wendy said.
"She almost destroyed my game controllers when she wasn't able to beat my score." Seulgi said.
"Let's just be patient for her if she can't. Let's just savor it since we can't have a little Irene forever. She may grow old sooner or later." Joy responded at them smiling with both joy and sadness.
"You sound like a mother." Seulgi commented.
"You guys made me a mother for her." Joy replied rolling her eyes.
The five of them made the best of their days in the amusement park, spoiling their little unnie in exchange for laughs and smiles.
"Do you want cotton candy?"
"That's too sweet, but lemme have it."
They went on rides their little unnie can ride. They also played games their little unnie wanted, winning some prize and losing with disappointed sighs.
"We got so many prize." Yeri said carrying stuff toys with her.
"It's still small. I didn't win those other games. They are cheaters." Little Irene replied. Seulgi was giving her a piggy back ride while Wendy was monitoring her from behind, worried that she might get fall.
They were supposed to go home when they stumbled with a toy catcher and little Irene wanted to play it.
"Unnie, it's your 43rd try. Let's just go home already." Yeri said.
"No! I'm gonna beat this stupid machine." Little Irene protested. She inserted another coin and tried again, but failed again. She groaned in frustration. "This machine is really a cheater!"
"Yeah that machine is a cheater and we can't do anything about it, so let's just go home." Yeri replied.
"No. I wanna go again!"
"Unnie, you've won many prize already. You already got a bear, hamster, turtle and unicorn. What else do you want to get?" Wendy told her.
"Let's just buy you some cooler toys." Seulgi suggested.
"It would be different. I want that chick!" Little Irene pointed at the chick yellow stuff toy. And she inserted another coin and failed again.
That was the last coin she had.
Joy crouched down and handed her a coin.
"Joy-unnie, don't encourage her!" Yeri yelled at her, but Joy just ignored her.
"Unnie, if you're not going win this, we're going home. Okay?"
Little Irene huffed. "Hmph, fine!"
Then little Irene inserted the coin. It's her last chance. She held the controller and directed the claw to her targed. She pressed the button and it slowly went down.
All the five of them were anticipating for her to win. Maybe it's because of the repeated tries and prayers that she was able to win it. Among the five of them, she was the happiest.
Little Irene made her dongsaengdeul sit on the couch. The toys she won from the amusement park were on the table. She grabbed the teddy bear and gave it to Seulgi. She grabbed the hamster stuff toy and gave it to Wendy. She grabbed the turtle and unicorn stuff toys to Yeri. And she gave the chick stuff toy to Joy.
"You guys are loaded anyway, so I won those for you." Little Irene told them. "And thank you for taking care of me. I may have not experience various things with my parents, but you made me feel like I have five mothers fighting over me. So, thank you. You made me feel so special and loved." she honestly told them while her little back was facing them. She was just surprised when her dongsaengdeul embraced her. Wendy and Seulgi were already crying at that time. "Yeah, yeah, you guys are welcome."
"Guess I'm the new favorite. I got two from Irene-unnie." Yeri smirked.
And the bickerings started and just ended when they decided to go to their own rooms to have a rest from their exhausting exciting and fun day.
Joy was getting ready to sleep when she heard a knock from her door. She walked towards it and opened the door. She looked down and saw her little unnie.
"Can I sleep here?"
Joy's lips smiled and let her little unnie.
Joy lied on her bed with little Irene beside her.
"What is it, unnie?" Joy asked when she noticed that the little Irene was troubled with something.
"I want cuddles..." she mumbled.
Joy chuckled and pulled her little unnie closer to her. "I like it when you're telling me what you want."
"Why is that?"
"I won't have to bother deciphering your body language."
"Is my original body making you overthink?"
"Maybe," She started caressing her little unnie's hair. "But regardless of any traits you have, even if you're child or adult the next time, I love every aspect of you."
"Thank you, Joy. Honestly, I would want you to be my mother."
"I just became your mother for the past days, unnie." She chuckled once again. "Let's sleep now. Good night and grow fast."
Joy woke up with someone caressing her hair. Feeling bothered by it, she opened her eyes and saw Irene's face being too close to her. She was too surprised that she almost fell from the bed. Irene caught her, but it made her more surprise as ever as she realized that Irene was back to normal and... ...
"Are you okay?" Irene asked her. She's obviously pinning Joy on the bed who already had her face in scarlet colour. She didn't know where to land her eyes as her peripheral vision can still see the adult Irene's body.
"By the way, Joy,"
"Yes?" Joy nervously replied who just decided to look at Irene's beautiful face.
"I forgot to tell you this."
"You will make a great mother someday." She smiled and then kissed Joy's forehead.
Joy got a nosebleed attack for real and Irene was left clueless and worried.
It's been weeks and everything turned to normal. Everyone was happy that their Irene-unnie was already back to normal, but they wouldn't deny that they misses the little kid Irene. They were just forced to watch her video, stared at her pictures, talked to the toys she won for them as a comfort.
"So, this is why mothers want their children to slow down from growing old." Joy sighed, her face was on their table while staring at Irene who was busy talking to someone on her phone.
"Waah, I'm so full!" Seulgi exclaimed. Wendy sighed as she wiped the ketchup on her chin with tissue.
"Seulgi, stop reminding me of our little unnie." Wendy scolded.
"Just how fast the night changes~" Yeri sang a part of a song staring at Irene too.
All the four of them watched Irene series of sighs until she frustratedly hang up the phone call. She approached their table and immediately noticed the stares her friends were giving her.
The four shook their heads in unison.
"If you guys are done, you should go home."
Joy held her hand, eyes in curiosity. "How about you? You're not going home with us?"
Irene looked at her sternly before replying. "I am needed at the company. Don't wait for me." She looked at Seulgi and Wendy. "Wendy, make sure that Seulgi won't be able to sneak outside to buy Pringles again." Irene then looked at Yeri. "And you little brat, don't play videogames overnight. You should take care of your eyes."
"I've already changed—" Irene glared at her. "Aha ha ha ha, I don't. I won't."
Irene then looked back at Joy with a worried-look on her face. She squeezed the latter's cheek, leaning down and kissed her cheek.
The other three gasped as Joy blushed from the action.
"Why did you kiss her, unnie?!" Yeri asked.
"Kiss us too!" Wendy complained.
"Yeah, give us the kiss to be fair!" Seulgi also complained at her.
Irene sighed. "Stop being childish." And there she went, leaving her dongsaengdeul.
"She really has favoritism issue." Yeri said.
The four of them stood up from their seats ready to go home. They stumbled with the toy catcher machine.
"Ah I'm missing little Irene again." Yeri said.
They were about to move again when Joy stopped from walking.
"What is it Joy?"
"You guys can go home without me. I forgot to buy something."
"Okay, take care! Be careful and don't get hurt." Wendy told her.
As the three left, Joy directed her way to the toy catcher machine. Her eyes were fixated on the bunny stuff toy.
"It's been a while since I last played..." she muttered under her breath. She inserted a coin and focused on the pink bunny. She hit the button, waited, and smiled in victory. It was her first try.
"Wow, you're good."
"Yes, I am— ahhhhh!" She threw the stuff toy in surprised, but the person behind her caught it.
Irene chuckled. "Is this the new way of giving someone a gift?"
"Wait, how did you know that I'm getting that for you?" Joy asked, her face was still in red.
"My representative animal you guys have set for me was bunny, so I assumed that it was for me." Irene answered.
Joy smiled sheepishly. "It is really for you, unnie. I hope you like it."
"I like it." Irene walked closer to Joy. "And Joy,"
"Yes, unnie?" Joy asked.
"I know I'm not a kid right now, but I would want to be spoiled by you. I have something I want." Irene said looking at her and scratching her cheek, indicating that she's kind of shy saying it.
Joy smiled at the gesture. She held her unnie's hand and squeezed it gently. "You can tell me, unnie. I'm going to get it for you."
Joy nodded in confidence. "If it's for Irene-unnie then I would do anything for you."
Irene then pulled Joy closer to her with only a foot distance.
"I want you to be my girlfriend."
I miss Irene. I miss Wendy. I miss Yeri. I miss Joy. I miss Seulgi. I miss OT5 together.
Let's all suffer together.