Minjeong stared at the familiar woman with wide eyes. Her body felt frozen, like it wasn’t hers to control anymore. Her brain felt like mush, and her heart drummed loudly in her ears.
“Minjeong,” the step that the woman took towards her seemed to snap her out of her trance.
“S-Sorry, ma’am.” Minjeong managed to say. She clenches her teeth so hard that it felt like her jaw could shatter into pieces. “I’m just on my way home.” She sidesteps, walking around the woman, steps hurried.
“Minjeong,” the woman’s firm tone stops her abruptly, “is that any way to greet your mother?”
Minjeong swallows the lump in , hands tightening into fists. She refuses to turn around. She couldn’t bear to look at the woman who abandoned her like a worthless piece of dirt.
“I don’t know. My mother has been dead to me for years now.”
There was a silent pause after her words.
“Your brother called me.”
“Then go find him.” Minjeong says coldly, “I have to go.”
Her feet were moving again. Minjeong didn’t know where her feet were leading her to, but her fight-or-flight mode was on and going a hundred miles per hour.
Minjeong wasn’t the type to have bursts of emotion very easily. She’s never had any source of comfort growing up, so she was forced to learn how to keep her emotions in, keeping everything to herself because that’s the only person she had. Herself. She’s always been alone.
But recently, she felt like she had someone. Her friendship with Ningning has grown, she was well acquainted with Aeri, although sometimes she doesn’t know where she stood with her. Mostly because Minjeong feels the tension between them, a lot of that tension coming from Aeri’s role of Jimin’s overprotective best friend.
And then there’s Yu Jimin. They were friends, yes, but Minjeong knows that the way she felt for Jimin was different from what she felt with Ningning and Aeri.
Next thing Minjeong knew, she stood in front of a familiar white door. The lights were still on, and she heard laughter coming from inside. Her chest rises and falls as she tries to even her breathing, given that she ran to get there, and her body was high on her fight-or-flight adrenaline.
“Just knock,” Minjeong mutters to herself, raising her closed fist, but only for it to fall short, having it dropped to her side once again.
Heaving a sigh, Minjeong shakes her head. “What am I even doing here?”
She shuts her eyes closed, running a hand over her face. Another sound of laughter reaches her ears faintly, and her heart clenches with jealousy. Minjeong turns around and slowly walks down the four cement steps that lead up to the front door.
Suddenly, she hears the doors opening, and Minjeong turns to see a woman with a brown bob. She leaned up against the wall, stomping her foot on the floor to get her right sneaker on.
“I love you, kiddo! Make sure to take your medication before bed or I’ll kill you myself!” The woman chuckled to herself, grabbing the door knob once she got her shoes on.
Closing the door, the woman finally notices Minjeong standing just a few feet away. When their eyes met, the woman looked surprised to see her, but it disappeared pretty quickly.
Minjeong’s eyebrows raised in her own form of surprise. She eyes the brunette, “y-yes?”
“Here to see Jimin?” The woman asks, reaching the bottom of the steps and welcoming her with a bright smile. “I’m Wendy,” a hand is extended towards Minjeong, “Jimin’s one and only aunt. Her favorite person in the whole world.”
Minjeong takes her hand, shaking it. “That’s quite an introduction.”
Wendy chuckles, “I was just about to leave, but Jimin is inside and—,”
Shaking her head, Minjeong’s eyes look up to see Jimin’s shadow walking across the window that saw through the living room. The curtains were down, blocking Jimin safely from the outside world at the hours of the night.
“I was also… just about to leave.” Minjeong says quietly.
Wendy eyes her, and although she didn’t have any children, she possessed maternal instincts that she developed from taking care of Jimin ever since she was little. She notices the way Minjeong’s shoulders were dejected, eyes looking conflicted and sad at the same time. They’ve never met before, but having a niece who talks about this girl like she was everything made it easier for Wendy to read Minjeong.
Taking a deep breath in, Wendy steps around Minjeong, so the younger woman is between her and the front door. “Did you know that Jimin sleeps with a night light?”
Minjeong blinks in surprise at her sudden words. “W-What?”
Wendy nods, “yeah, a night light. It’s a little dinosaur night light that sits right next to her door. It changes colors too.”
Clearing , Minjeong stuffs her hands in her jacket pockets. “I did not know that.”
“Well, now you do.” Wendy smiles at her, “since I told you, how about you do me a favor, Kim Minjeong?”
“Why does you telling me that, equal to me doing you a favor—?”
“Jimin’s mom works the night shift at the hospital today, and she won’t be home till morning.” Wendy cuts her off easily, “I would stay with Jimin, but she’s very adamant on being an adult who can be at home by herself… says she doesn’t need a babysitter.”
Minjeong waits for her to finish.
“But to me, she’s just a baby who’s still afraid of the dark.” Wendy smiles when she sees a subtle raise of the corner of Minjeong’s lips. “Stay with her for the night? I know how fond of you she is.”
Minjeong sighs, “I’m sorry, I—,”
“I don’t want her to be alone, Minjeong. Please?”
The look that Wendy was giving her was slowly starting to persuade Minjeong out of her denial.
“I know you came here for a reason, Minjeong.” Wendy walks back up the steps to the front door, her fist leaving three knocks against the door. “And what kind of aunt would I be if I let my niece’s crush walk away from her?”
Wendy flashes her a grin, making her way back down the steps and towards her car that was parked across the street. By the time she got into her car, Jimin had opened the door, already clad in her pajamas.
Jimin’s eyebrows furrow in concern. “It’s late, Minjeong. Did you walk here by yourself?”
Blinking, Minjeong shrugs.
Jimin’s eyes trailed over her features, and Minjeong has always thought that she was good at being unreadable, but it seems that Jimin knew how to read between Minjeong’s complicated lines just fine.
“What’s wrong, Minjeong?”
Minjeong looks at her, and she feels her facade start to crack the longer she stares into Jimin’s worried eyes. “C-Can I stay with you tonight?”
Jimin doesn’t hesitate to extend her hand, offering it to her to take. Minjeong releases a breath and takes her hand, allowing the older woman to lead her inside into her home. She’s only been here once or twice, but Jimin’s house felt more like home to Minjeong than any other place ever has. She felt safe and comfortable.
“You missed me, huh?” Jimin hadn’t let go of her hand yet, leading her into the living room. When Jimin turns around to face her, a cheeky and teasing smile greets Minjeong. “That’s why you’re here.”
Minjeong knows the older woman was just teasing her, but still, she responds honestly. “Yeah. That’s why I’m here.”
The smile from Jimin’s lips soon disappears slowly, and the concern hovers in Jimin’s eyes again. Minjeong then realizes that if it were any other day, she would have responded to Jimin’s wit with a sarcastic retort. Her serious tone, much less her confession, is probably what gives it away to Jimin that something was definitely wrong with Minjeong. And Minjeong absolutely hates how easily she’s allowed for someone to read through her like Jimin has been able to.
Minjeong expects Jimin to ask her questions, but instead, Jimin pulls on the hand that she was still holding, bringing their bodies closer until Jimin’s arms were wrapping around her for a hug.
Minjeong’s body is rigid in Jimin’s arms, her eyes glossing with unshed tears, and bottom lip trembling. Her arms remain at her side, hands curling to fists, nails digging into her palm.
“Do you wanna hear something funny?” Jimin whispers next to her ear, her hand rubbing soothing circles on her back.
Minjeong blinks, letting out a slow breath, before nodding her head subtly.
“I think Aeri has a tiny crush on Ningning.” Jimin chuckles, and Minjeong can feel the arms around her squeeze tighter around her.
It did make Minjeong laugh a little.
“Isn’t that funny?” Jimin says, “I think they would make a cute couple, don’t you think?”
Another small laugh leaves Minjeong’s lips, her chin dipping down to rest on Jimin’s shoulder. When a small sniffle comes from Minjeong, the older woman only brings them in closer, her other hand coming up to rest against the back of Minjeong’s head.
Minjeong’s arms remain at her side as she silently cries on Jimin’s shoulder. They both let the silence drag on, and Minjeong appreciates the lack of questions. It was hard enough trying to process and understand her own emotions that Minjeong thinks she’d rather not try to explain them to someone else.
“Was the idea of Aeri and Ningning together that bad?” Jimin said after Minjeong’s cries had died down.
Minjeong smiles to herself, turning her face to nuz