Apologies for taking so long to update. I’m not gonna lie, I got lazy :(
Anyways, happy wenrene day to us all! Hopefully, this long chapter is enough to make up for the long months of waiting.
Wendy usually waits around for Seulgi during her breaks, but on the rare occasion that Seulgi goes to her club activities or when the girl would have to meet up with professors after classes, Wendy would find herself in the school’s food court, sitting alone. But lately, upon reconnecting with Joy and Chanyeol, she no longer finds herself head down in shame as she picks at her own food, hoping that no one would notice how everyone seem to be in small groups, except her.
“What do you think of the new girl?”
Joy’s question pulls Wendy out from her reverie, eyebrows scrunching up in confusion. What were they talking about again?
Seeing the lost look on Wendy’s face, Joy rephrases her question, hoping to provide a little more clarity to the girl in front of her. “Irene-ssi.” Joy stabs her fork through a piece of carrot before continuing, “you work with her a lot, don’t you? My shifts never really align with hers, so I haven’t had much of a chance to properly meet her.”
“Oh,” Wendy responds dumbly. She ponders the question for a moment before speaking again. “She’s great.”
Six years of primary school, six years of high school and three years of college and all her vocabulary could muster was the word ‘great’. Dumb is an understatement, but she doesn’t really know how else to describe her new friend.
Joy looks at her expectantly, clearly waiting for her to elaborate.
“Uhm, she’s older than us, but you won’t really notice with the way she acts. She could be childish at times, pulling all these small pranks on me but when the work calls for it, she’s really hardworking. She would scrunch up her eyebrows in deep concentration and then almost pout—” Wendy can’t help but giggle at her own musings, “as if she’s really mad at the cups.” Wendy pauses, clutching her water bottle with both hands, gently tapping a simple rhythm.
“She’s really great,” Wendy finishes with crescent eyes and a satisfied smile.
Joy smirks knowingly, “all I asked was a simple what do you think of her, not a recollection of all the stuff you found cute about her.”
The smile on Joy’s face grows wider at how Wendy is stumbling over her own words. The last recollection of Wendy acting this way was back in their last year of high school when a new transferee took a liking to Wendy. She remembers how the girl came up to Wendy to compliment the girl’s new hair colour. “You were already pretty before, but the blonde hair makes you look even prettier.”
“I don’t find her cute…” Wendy grumbles almost inaudibly.
“Hey, hey—Irene’s very pretty and she seems like a great person from how you described her. It’s fine if you find her cute. I find Irene cute too—and my judgements on women are clearly valid considering I’m dating one.” Joy feels bad for teasing the shorter girl but not enough that she was going to stop. “It’s okay if you have a small crush on her.”
The gears on Wendy’s head start turning and her eyes widen ever so slightly before her face morphs into one of contemplation.
Joy thinks that the silence meant that maybe she’s offended Wendy, so she tries to extinguish the situation. “It’s okay to have girl crushes, you know. A lot of my straight friends have girl crushes.”
Wendy was simply thinking, she’s never thought of her unnie that way—mostly seeing her as the cool older sister that she never had. But what Joy says, sends cold shivers up her spine. Right. Joy doesn’t know.
Joy doesn’t know how Wendy was far from straight, Joy doesn’t know how Wendy had the fattest crush on her during high school and Joy certainly doesn’t know how Wendy fell hard, leading to the rift in their friendship.
“I know it’s okay. I uh…” Wendy searches for her phone on the table and proceeds to scroll through her notifications as if looking for one that might extricate her from the awkward situation, she’s found herself in.
Her friendship with Joy might be mending day by day, but she’s not ready to reveal too much of herself again. And she thinks that day might never come—at least not with the fear of falling for the taller girl lingering in the back of her mind.
“I have to go to my next class,” Wendy says hurriedly, quickly packing her notebook and pens back to her backpack.
“I thought you still had an hour before your next one.”
Wendy feels like Joy can see right through her, so next best thing she can do for herself is to leave. Besides, she has her own thinking to do.
“I do, but I forgot that I have to meet with one of my unit coordinators about an assignment.”
“Did you want me to walk you? I pretty much have the rest of the day free.” Joy begins to pack her own things as well.
“No, it’s okay, I wouldn’t want to bother you like that.”
“It won’t be a bother. I have the time,” Joy adds, dismissing Wendy’s excuses.
“It’s a really far walk, don’t worry about me.” Wendy finally zips her bag up and slings it over her shoulder. “Thanks for having lunch with me, I’ll see you tomorrow.”
Wendy walks away as fast as her short legs could go, leaving a confused Joy to ponder at what just happened.
I think I said something wrong and Wendy’s mad at me.
Can you talk to her for me?
Idk find out if she’s mad?
What did you do?
I didn’t do anything you bonehead!
Please find out for me?
I don’t really want to meddle
It’s really none of my business…
I’ll buy you boba for the rest of the week
As soon as she walked into their shared apartment, Seulgi was welcomed with the scent of citrus and freshly baked muffins. To most people, this would be a welcoming scent, but knowing her best friend, Wendy only bakes when she’s stressed or when she needs to think.
“Seungwan-ah?” Seulgi yells across the hall, confused why her best friend wasn’t running to the door greeting her with her contagious smiles and why the smell of baking is wafting through their apartment.
Seulgi walks to the kitchen, drawn to the smell of baked goods. She sees an army of muffins resting on the marble countertop and proceeds to put one in . A stressed Wendy also means a well-fed Seulgi. Halfway through devouring the orange muffin, she realises that Wendy isn’t in the kitchen either.
She walks towards Wendy’s bedroom, her half-eaten muffin still in one hand while her other reaches for the doorknob. She attempts to open the door, not bothering to knock—years of friendship have exempted her from knocking. Besides, if Wendy doesn’t want her to go inside, she would’ve locked the door.
She turns the doorknob and about halfway through the turn, she realises that the door is indeed locked.
Seulgi thought that Joy’s worries were probably harmless, but a locked door? Maybe Joy is going to hear an earful from her after all. She stuffs the last of the muffin before folding the wrapper in a neat triangle and stuffing it in her back pocket.
“Wendy-ah?” Knowing her best friend all too well, Seulgi asks a simple question. “Space or distraction?”
Seulgi waits for a response, but after hearing none, she adds in the most gentle tone she can muster, “I’ll assume you want space, but can you at least knock on the door once so I know you’re safe?”
The gentle padding on the floor lets Seulgi know that her best friend at least heard her and a few seconds later she hears two soft knocks. Seulgi can’t help but exhale a sigh of relief, before a smile creeps on her face. Wendy locking herself in her room is far from a good thing, but if Wendy was willing to meet her halfway, then the situation must not be bad at all. Perhaps, her friend really just needed the space to think or maybe she was socially drained. She can remember the times when Wendy wouldn’t even bother with a simple ‘hi’ and then appear two weeks later as if she didn’t disappear at all.
Wendy’s knocks were a relief, and she smiles because a few years ago Wendy would not have bothered at all. She sees Wendy’s growth and those quick knocks are a reminder of just how far they’ve come—because in the past she most likely would’ve been met with just more silence.
Seulgi knocks at the Son’s residence after her 15 missed calls and 24 text messages remained unanswered and unseen.
A confused and bleary-eyes Mrs. Son opens the door but still welcomes Seulgi in their home, used to the young girl’s frequent visits.
“She’s just in her room. Are you supposed to have a sleepover today?” Mrs. Son eyes Seulgi, clad in a long sleeved collared top and its matching pyjama bottom. “Aish, I need to remind that kid again make sure to keep us informed. Sorry Seulgi, but we have no food prepared, but you’re welcome to the pantry. You know where Wendy’s snack stashes are.”
“Thank you, Mrs. Son.”
Seulgi probably should’ve said that she wasn’t planning on sleeping over, nor was she supposed to be here, but she was worried about Wendy. So, maybe a sleepover was in the cards. She’ll just have to brave her own mother’s scolding tomorrow for not returning home after promising that she would be back in thirty minutes.
Mrs. Son walks away and disappears into the bedroom, leaving Seulgi to navigate her way to Wendy’s bedroom. She knocks three times before hearing Wendy’s voice.
It doesn’t sound like Wendy at all. This Wendy sounded weak, tired, and broken. It makes Seulgi want to kick herself for not coming sooner. She should’ve known that two weeks was a suspiciously long time—even for someone like Wendy.
“I told you, I’m full. I don’t want dinner.”
“Wendy-ah, it’s Seulgi.”
There was a long pause, and Seulgi feels awkward standing in front of the door, so she settles by sitting against it. “I’m sorry to come by unannounced, but I started to get worried.”
Not knowing what to do, she continues to talk, hoping her words reach Wendy through the barrier. “Your mom thought I came for a sleepover,” she chuckles at the thought. “I came here in just my pyjamas. You know the yellow one, with the bears?”
Seulgi’s at a loss. She knows Wendy is at the other side of that door. She also knows that Wendy refuses to let her—in more ways than one. So, she pretends that everything is normal. She pretends that Wendy is in front of her.
“Ms. Kim wasn’t in today. I think she was sick, so naturally, we had a replacement teacher to supervise the dance team. I don’t even remember her name, but I can tell you she was a grumpy old hag. I’m not trying to be mean either, she was mean first. She was so mean to Joy during practice, and she kept telling us that we were slacking off, but she doesn’t even know anything about dance. Who was she to judge if we were slacking off? We were practicing for an hour and a half with no breaks! If Ms. Kim isn’t in tomorrow I’m going to make her dance for an hour with no breaks and we’ll see if she’s still standing by the end of— oof!”
The door she’s been leaning on finally opens and she finds her back on the familiar beige carpet of Wendy’s room. She comes face to face with an apologetic Wendy.
“I’m sorry,” Wendy reaches out her hand with the intention of helping Seulgi up, but the taller girl got up as fast as she can before engulfing Wendy in the warmest hug.
Wendy repeats, “I’m sorry.” She wants to add, ‘for not replying, for not answering, for being distant’.
“It’s okay, the carpet is soft anyways.” Seulgi hopes Wendy understands the underlying reassurance, but just in case she doesn’t, Seulgi tightens the hug even more.
Finally letting go of the shorter girl, she shuts the bedroom door before making herself comfortable on Wendy’s bed. She notices Wendy’s dishevelled state and her red-rimmed eyes. She reaches out to Wendy’s arm, urging the other girl to sit down with her, only to be met with a quiet hiss.
“Ï’m sorry, did I grip it too hard?” Seulgi turns Wendy’s arms over out of reflex, rolling the sleeve up to make sure that she didn’t hurt her enough to leave a red imprint, only to be met with deep angry marks covering half of the arm.
The shorter girl bows her head in shame and quickly unrolls her sleeve, covering as much of her body as she can.
Seulgi sees the shamed look on Wendy’s face. When Wendy is ready, she would tell her, right? For now, all she can do is be there for her. Be a distraction, be a friend. So, she gives the girl the option. She pats the space beside her again, this time conscious of her friend’s arm. She reaches to her sweater instead, and tugs it down. “Come on, I need to tell you more about that old hag.”
Seulgi and Wendy catch up, with Seulgi doing most of the talking, and Wendy replying with a nod of understanding or a gasp of surprise at stories that seemed so unbelievable. Seulgi thinks that somewhere around her fifth story, Wendy starts to regain some colour on her cheeks and the fogginess in Wendy’s eyes have slowly started to dissipate.
A handful more tales of high school mishaps later, Wendy lets out an audible yawn. Seulgi simply looks at her with an apologetic look, before getting up to turn the bedroom lights on but leaving the bedside lamp on a dim setting.
Seulgi settles beside Wendy, both looking at the ceiling waiting for sleep to claim them. Seulgi probably shouldn’t, but she speaks anyways. “I know you’re not ready to talk about it yet, but I want you to know that I will never judge you for anything. I’ll still be your best friend, Ddeulgi, and when you need me, I won’t think twice to walk to your house in whatever embarrassing pyjama I’m wearing that day.”
Silence envelop them and Seulgi thinks that maybe the girl beside her was already asleep, too tired to hear her words, but then she hears the rustling of blankets.
Wendy turns to the wall, still unable to face Seulgi, but she gives in a little bit. With a shaky breath, “thank you.”
Seulgi turns to the other side, facing the opposite side, and with a hum of understanding, she smiles. Wendy hasn’t fully let her in, but she’s opened the door—they’re halfway there.
“So, are you going to tell me, or are you going to tell me?”
The next day, Seulgi wakes up a little early, preparing breakfast, hoping to catch Wendy leaving her room.
Wendy looks at her like a kid caught red-handed, clearly not expecting her housemate to be up this early. Wendy cautiously waddles her way to the kitchen, both hands clasped together tightly.
“Son Seungwan, I know you can hear me.” Seulgi scolds, both hands on her hips. Wendy winces at the intimidation, reserved for the rare times that Seulgi acts more like her mother than her best friend.
Wendy sighs in exasperation, knowing that there was no point arguing with the other girl. “It’s nothing, it’s stupid.”
Seulgi continues to glare daggers at her, clearly unimpressed by the vague explanation.
“I panicked okay?” Wendy takes the silence as an invitation to continue. “Joy just said something.”
Seulgi scoffs and Wendy diffuses the situation before her best friend gets the idea of starting an unnecessary argument. “It’s nothing bad.” Her shoulders deflate, disappointment laced in her voice. “I know it’s completely irrational to feel the way I did but I just felt so exposed. Joy said something about me possibly having a crush on unnie— Joohyun-unnie. I don’t care that she thought I had a thing for unnie but I did care the she insinuated that I liked girls. Momentarily, I forgot. I forgot that she didn’t know, and at that moment all my fears came back.” Wendy says in a shameful whisper, “I don’t want anyone to know…”
“Seungwan-ah…” Seulgi says sympathetically. She can never understand how Wendy was feeling but she sure as hell was not going to let her best friend think that what she was, was something to be ashamed of—something to hide. Seulgi’s known Wendy for most of her life and she thinks that she hasn’t met a person as kind or as caring as Wendy. Liking girls should not be a measurement of her as a person. Wendy is a wonderful person, regardless of whom she likes. “You’re an amazing person Seungwan-ah, always have been. Besides, if Joy knew, she wouldn’t judge you, you know?” Seulgi notices Wendy’s eyes widen just a bit, “but that doesn’t mean you should tell her of course, but if what you’re scared of is not being accepted, then just know you won’t have to worry about Joy with that.”
“I know, I know… I told you it was stupid and irrational. I just needed time to recuperate and feel comfortable again. I think I was just in shock and needed the time to process. It’s really not a big dea—”
Seulgi interrupts, “I told you before that whatever you feel, whether you think of it to be insignificant, will always be valid, okay? It doesn’t matter what it is. Everything is valid.”
That was all the reassurance Wendy needed to feel a little more comfortable in her own skin again. She makes a mental note of buying Seulgi her favourite bento box set for lunch, to show her overwhelming appreciation for her best friend.
Now that they have talked about it, she suddenly feels a weight lifted off her chest. She was sure that she could work out the storm of emotions raging in her chest, but that would’ve taken days. She nudges Seulgi with her shoulder, “don’t think I didn’t notice the missing muffin on the tray.” Wendy goes back to her teasing, but not forgetting to give Seulgi a grateful smile. “Did you like it?”
“For a stress-induced bake product, I’d rate it a ten out of ten.”
“Well, it would be quite audacious of you to give it any lower than that considering that you devoured it and—”
Suddenly, their conversation is interrupted by the cute trill of Wendy’s phone notification.
Wendy quickly runs to her phone and Seulgi notices her eyes turn into crescent moon smiles, storm clouds fully dissipated from the stress of yesterday.
Seulgi smirks at Wendy knowingly, privy to information that she’s sure Wendy will have a meltdown and a half on. But that’s a problem for much, much later. She reminds herself to stock up on some mint chocolate ice cream and cans of their favourite Pringles flavours. She was sure that soon enough, Wendy will come to her for another long talk—and those talks are always more bearable with a multitude of tooth-rotting snacks to accompany them.
Joohyun doesn’t know when it became a routine.
She doesn’t know how texting Seungwan before going to sleep became the new norm. But just because it was a weird change, doesn’t mean it wasn’t welcomed. She absolutely loves talking to the younger girl – hearing about her day, hearing about the most mundane stories. She likes the warm feeling of contentment. She hasn’t felt that in a while.
Sorry, it’s a little late but I was washing dishes.
I lost a game against Seulgi-ya :(