Night seeping through the blinds and even in the total darkness created from blocking any source of light (a result that can only be achieved by turning all the lamps inside the house off), Joohyun still finds herself tossing and turning on her bed.
Turning to the left is what she makes out to be shadows of piled porcelains she had been working on last week in a day class. She hasn't got a solid plan on who she should be sending it to. Of course her group members each deserve one, when they heavily requested for it to be tailored based on their color preferences. Albeit with grumbles and groans, Joohyun still made sure to get the job done, as requested.
To the right is literally nothing so she squinted her eyes to make out what's supposed to be on that desk if the light is on. Her laptop was set with a mouse and mini printer, a vase with flowers made of lego, a set of postcards with sights from places in the world she didn't bother to find out, her phone…
A curse escaped her lips in the form of a whisper. She's supposed to sleep, and getting to the phone will make it worse. She chose to lay on her back and scrunched her eyes, a fervent hope to make this drowsiness last just a little bit longer.
She has to pack those porcelain bowls first thing in the morning.
The silence tore through a loud groan when she peel herself off the bed. This isn't working and there's no choice but to do what she has been doing for the past two weeks. Slipping into a more decent white shirt and a windbreaker, her fingers' already reaching into the car keys in the bowl near the door until she recalls the conversation from yesterday.
"This is my fault."
Seungwan, the ever so tiny and oh-so-perceptive member of the group, the same member that managed to corner her in the dressing room, picking the horrifyingly perfect time; right after the remaining three members have bid their goodbyes after a long day of work and just after Joohyun is done with her cleansing ritual.
The same member that looked into her eyes as if Joohyun should know by herself what she had done wrong.
"I should have disguised myself before you can see me."
Late nights when Joohyun is mortifyingly awake, she often kills time by getting inside her car and going for late-night drives, making a stop in a resting area or wherever that is kind enough to offer shelter for those who're still around at this ungodly hour. Joohyun happened to be there, pushing a cup of warm drink that soon soothes her sore throat, nibbling a piece of tteokbokki on sticks, deciding to sit so casually on the pavement in front of the store, sitting next to her car for no particular reason.
It's the devil timing of Seungwan and their manager's van passing by. Joohyun remembered she had a late schedule because they just texted each other about it. But the timing couldn't be worse, and based on the tiny woman's widened eyes as the van drove away, Joohyun got the gist that she wouldn't be hearing the end of it tomorrow.
After several bargains that took more time than it was supposed to be (simply because none of them would relent), they came into an agreement that if Joohyun, in any circumstances, was about to go for a late-night drive, Seungwan would have to be there, seated in the passengers' seat.
Such a ridiculous agreement that Joohyun is running out of her usual sarcastic jabs.
Joohyun takes out her phone and pulls out a contact of a certain hamster, taps on a dial button and pulls the screen closer to her ear. One. Two. Let's hope that she won't be answering the call with the third ring and… there you go.
Sounds groggy considering it's 1AM, and the rustle and heavy breathing tells Joohyun that she put too close to the phone.
An I know echoed from the other side. "Now… 1AM. Hm."
"You're obviously asleep, Wan-ah." She doesn't see the point of this call besides fulfilling her (reluctantly made) promise yesterday. "You need rest so I will end this call--"
At the resolute reply Joohyun sighed.
Getting out of the cab in the middle of the night, Joohyun pulled herself out in a full set of mask, shades and a cap. The windbreaker helps with blocking the chilly air, but if she's spending any more seconds in front of Seungwan's parents' house, the cold will turn her into an ice block the next morning.
So she takes out her phone and makes a call, with her eyes fixated on the window on the second floor, half-hoping that it will never be lit.
Of course her prayer wouldn't be answered this time as well.
The light can faintly be seen behind the curtain, and it doesn't take much longer for it to be turned off and the main door clicked open, startling Joohyun for a second.
Okay, so the leader might be pushing it to call her tiny when she herself is of a similar stature, but Seungwan's choice of clothing today… The coat and several layers that must have gone under it made her even much smaller than she already was compared to daytime when they work according to their scheduled events.
"What?" Seungwan ripped a huge yawn.
"You really look like a munchkin--" Seungwan throws a car key and Joohyun scrambles before finding the object hanging precariously between her dainty fingers. "I already got permission from my parents. You're lucky they love you."
Joohyun raised an eyebrow. "This idea is not even mine in the first place---"
Seungwan's already seated in the passenger's seat, tilted her head to Joohyun impatiently to just open the gate and hurry up.
"The gate is too heavy."
"Yeah, that's why I asked you to push it."
Irene threw her a glare when Seungwan tsk-ed. "Eyes on the road, unnie." The older woman scoffed. "This is what I get for picking you up in the middle of the night, I am just fine driving my own car alone."
"Nope." She yawned again, pulling a long one that she covered with her hand. "You can't drive alone, unnie. At this hour, it's not safe."
At this Joohyun just didn't know what to say because if there's one quality that should be applauded from Seungwan, it's how she will always find a way to take care of the members, even her, the leader. It should be the opposite, but with Seungwan's nonchalant attitude to the whole situation, maybe she just didn't find the need for it to be acknowledged.
It's a little frustrating that at times like this Seungwan is often the one who holds her by the rein, but she can't explain how it happened, or when it started: the fuzzy thing running inside her as if it grew legs every time she get the underlying meaning in Seungwan's attempts to 'annoy' the hell out of her.
She has time to think about it later, or maybe not think about it at all. Only at times when she can't exactly sleep like this, her thoughts come for her neck like a plague.
"Where are we going?" asked Seungwan as Joohyun the radio.
"That's…" The GPS blinks through the screen as Wendy checks on it mindlessly. "Forty minutes from now… What are you going to do there?"
A frown etched her features. Joohyun fell in her thoughts. Clearly that part she hasn't thought through. "Making a lap, buying snacks on the way home, whatever." She spun the steering wheel as she stopped near the intersection. "Why do you ask?"
Her question is not compensated with any answer but with Seungwan pulling out her layers and draping it around her from shoulders, Joohyun can draw her own conclusion at the makeshift blanket.
"You're sleeping?" The older woman scoffed. "You're the one who keeps asking me to take you here, and you have the audacity to–" A soft snore is already filling the air and Joohyun frowns, deciding not to continue any further. A reminder of the intensity of her schedule these days and how she can barely hang out with other members after their event is done for the day, since she was plucked off the scene to catch up for other ones just as quickly.
Is that why Seungwan was so adamant on going to this drive with her? No one will ever know. Well, Joohyun is sure she will tell her if asked, but she has no intention to do that anytime soon.
What she knows so far is that it has been two weeks since this late-night habit ever started. As she tapped the E-card and steering into the toll, rows of lamps went in constant motion, their white lights dropping and creating patterns on the front of the car and on the side of Seungwan's cheek. The constant soft bumping against the rail put along the road to keep drivers to speed beyond the designated limit emits a tempo leading to a rhythm in her mind, transforming into a sense of control that Joohyun drank every time this routine came into light.
It's not something that she could explain so easily when someone asked her why this became her habit after some time. As much as she didn't know why she had one of her members dozing off next to her instead of sleeping peacefully in her own slumber. Seungwan will be so tired tomorrow and it will affect her performance for the day, and no amount of convincing will change her mind.
I will go with you and you won't be able to say no.
It's highly frustrating how true that sentence is. Again, Joohyun is soft when it comes to her members. Again, the hardest one to be refused to, without a doubt, is The Canadian.
In order to get rid of the antsiness in her mind, she reached to the player as her forefinger tapped a button upwards. A song filling out the entire space of the car, setting a tinge of solemnity.
Why is your car going to the airport
Without you knowing how I feel?
Joohyun keeps her gaze fixated on the road. "Just sleep. I will wake you up once we reach the airport."
"Are you going somewhere, unnie?"
"Yes. The airport." She deadpanned, responding properly to the sleepy rambling that she has a pleasure of getting acquainted with since her first call tonight or maybe, the years they have been together since they were trainees.
"No, I mean… Are you going somewhere?"
Joohyun's about to answer her with the obvious but choosing to inhale a breath. "No, Wan-ah. Just the airport."
What will we do when we even get tired of those empty words?
About me asking you to contact me when you arrive?
The silence ensues until they both snickered at the lyrics that passed through, for some reason they don't know. Nothing's funny in an expression of being left behind, but they laughed anyway.
"I forgot what emotion went through me when I sang it…" Seungwan hummed with the song, her tone trailing off in the distance. "If I at least experienced what I sang in these songs, does that mean we will understand a little what it means to love?"
"Expression of love can be of many forms." Joohyun spun to the right as the car entered the tunnel. "Heartbreak isn't worth anything."
It gets another hum from Seungwan, and Joohyun wonders if she took her words to heart or if it's the opposite. There's no underlying meaning behind anything, just she and Seungwan in this car going to the airport as she coaxes her to sleep some more.
The car is riding smoothly into the premises of Incheon International Airport, and Joohyun has no other intention besides making laps and checking if there's a convenience store where she can stop for a short respite.
The wide steel beams flashed fast in the car's window and Joohyun committed the sight in her memory as she tried to empty her mind and possibly reduce whatever prevented her from sleeping properly. Her eyes dangerously unable to stay away from the rows of beams until another snoring brought her back to reality, making her look to the side.
Seungwan's half-awake now. "Have we arrived?"
The rhetorical question was met in silence. There's nothing but ramps, the pedestal across the departure terminal that was devoid of people and Joohyun doesn't know why she's listing this in her own head. Like a desperation to get her mind off something.
But who is she kidding.
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