The Playlist

The Bunny and The Bear
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It all started when Seulgi said she bought a studio near the dorm. Joohyun thought it was a good idea, considering the lanky woman had been fussing about needing more space to store her art stuff.   And then that random announcement on their way home from a schedule one day.   “I’m thinking about moving some stuff to my studio.”   “Stuff? Like what?” Yerim enquired on behalf of the other girls.   “Like some of my clothes and whatnot. Just to free up some space.”   Well, obviously she would need a change of clothes. Joohyun had seen firsthand how messy Seulgi could be when she’s art experimenting. It was fine and she said nothing. No reason to get it into her head, until…   “I’ve gotten the permission to move out of the dorm.”   Now that made Joohyun froze. Hopefully, it wasn’t too obvious since both Sooyoung and Yerim immediately had their eyes on Seulgi when she announced during dinner.   “I told them it won’t be official until I got the permission from all of you,” Seulgi added, sensing a sudden tension in the air.   Sooyoung was the one who responded first. “Well, Seungwan-unnie has been living with her parents while she’s recovering, and Yerim and I stay in our family house when we have no schedules anyway. I don’t see why you can’t have a place of your own.”   Yerim, however, neither agree nor disagree as she carefully glanced at Joohyun, who quietly resumed eating.   “I’m still going to stay here when we have group schedules. It’s more convenient that way, I think.”
“I agree. What do you think, Unnie?”   It’s apparent that Sooyoung was completely oblivious and threw that question so carelessly at the oldest. For once, Yerim was not sitting next to her, lest she would nudge her or step on her toes to read the room or divert the topic.   “I don’t see any reason not to,” Joohyun finally said after swallowing her food. And the lump in .   Of course, there was no reason to disagree. Seulgi’s room was too small for her creative, artistic mind in the first place. Seulgi needed this. It’s going to be fine.   At least that’s what Joohyun kept saying to herself.   #   Now, Joohyun was absolutely not the clingy type. It was the reason why she didn’t say anything when Seulgi started packing her stuff and gradually moving them to the studio nearby, like what she said. She even jeered on Sooyoung when the latter teared up at the sight of Seulgi carrying the last moving box, ready to start living independently.   “Seriously, Sooyoung-ah, this is not something to cry about,” Seulgi chuckled awkwardly, patting on the taller dongsaeng’s back as the latter draped her larger body on Seulgi. “My studio is just five minutes away on foot, I’ll still pester you guys about food.”   “She’s right, living by herself doesn’t mean Unnie automatically can cook for her life,” Yerim commented on the side, to which Joohyun snorted.   “Yah, I’ll make you eat your words when you like what I cook!” Seulgi retaliated, pulling the youngest in a brief hug.   “Sure, let me know when you’re finally confident with your skills.”   “You little rascal,” Seulgi chuckled, before facing the oldest. “Unnie.”   “Just go,” Joohyun said indifferently. “You’ll be here tomorrow for dinner anyway.”   “I probably will,” the second-youngest concurred with a tight-lipped smile, stepping back to wear her mask and lift the moving box off the floor. “I’m going.”   “Bye Unnie!” “Let us know when you need help, Unnie.”   “Sure, thanks. Bye for now!”   Joohyun watched as the two youngest walked Seulgi out, even offering to hold the lift for her. Walking away from the front porch, she went to the smallest room on the back to check if Seulgi left anything. Passing by the hallway to the room, she noticed that there were some clothes left there, mostly comfy ones. Opening the door, she was greeted with Seulgi’s perfume and empty room.   Well, not really empty, since Seulgi left some of her makeup on the vanity table. But everything else that made this room Seulgi's had been moved – the vinyl records, the sketches on the wire wall grid, the soft wool blanket.   Certain that Seulgi only left everything essential for now, Joohyun stepped out and made her way to her room where an unfinished movie was waiting for her return.   Past the living room, she found Sooyoung and Yerim there. One was still sniffling lightly and the other staring at her. It was obvious which one was which.   “I’m gonna be in my room,” Joohyun told them, suddenly feeling the need to announce it.   “Unnie.”   Joohyun stopped in her track. It was Yerim. “What?”   “Are you gonna cook dinner?”   Scowling at the question, Joohyun harrumphed and went to her room, leaving Yerim cackling at her response.   She didn’t feel like cooking that night.   #   Seulgi meant it when she said she’d come by often to have meals. Oftentimes, she’d come by with groceries, telling Joohyun that she found a recipe online and that it looked easy and that’s what they should eat. Joohyun was the one who cooked the meal, with help from Seulgi who prepared the ingredients and read the instructions out loud.   Joohyun didn’t mind, the recipes were indeed simple to make. They didn’t talk much while cooking since Joohyun was fully concentrating on making the food right and Seulgi not wanting to be playful for once. At least there was music playing to fill the silence.   Oh right, the playlist. It seemed to be a new habit of theirs, adding music in their cooking and mealtime. Seulgi kept adding more songs to this particular playlist, animatedly telling Joohyun why she thought the songs were good and how popular they were in the chart. It became one of their conversation topics while Seulgi was visiting.   After finishing their meal, washing the plates, and lounging in the living room eating half a pint of ice cream, Seulgi usually took her leave – with her tummy full and no stories left to share with Joohyun.   And Joohyun?   She was adjusting to these new dynamics.   #   “Hey, Unnie,” Seulgi said when Joohyun trudged to the dining room one morning.   Seulgi really meant it when she said she’ll come by often.   “You’re here,” Joohyun flatly commented, still too sleepy to react otherwise. After grabbing one of the water bottles and one banana, she sat on one of the dining chairs. Slowly eating her banana, she quietly observed Seulgi eating what looked like hangover soup, cheeks properly red from how the soup was warming her from the inside. Faintly, she could hear a slow R&B song playing from the phone face down on the table.   “Do you want some, Unnie? I ordered two more, you just need to heat it,” Seulgi pointed to the plastic takeout bag Joohyun missed on the counter.   “It’s okay,” the older woman politely declined. “Did you drink last night?”   “Yeah, with the egg yolk crew,” Seulgi chuckled lightly, still amused by the name. “Byulyi-unnie wanted to blow off some steam and it’s been a while since we all meet up.”   “Is she okay?”   “Yeah, just having a little spat with Yongsun-unnie over something trivial.”   Joohyun nodded, completely understanding what that meant even though she wasn’t sure if Seulgi understood it too. Even when she’s closer to Byulyi than herself, there were things Joohyun noticed quite quickly about the rapper. Maybe time would tell, or Seulgi would finally notice it herself, whichever comes first.   “Did you drink a lot? You don’t usually eat haejang-guk after a night of drinking.”   “Just kinda feel like eating. And eating this by myself is kinda boring, so I brought it here.”   Amused at the logic, Joohyun stood to throw away the banana peel, deciding that she’d have half a portion after seeing Seulgi ate it deliciously.   While heating the soup, Seulgi peeked at the pot on her way to getting a water bottle. “Are you only eating half of it?”   “Yeah. One portion is too much for me.”   Seulgi tilted her head, confused. “Really? You usually eat the soup well.”   “I had a banana already, okay? I’ll finish the rest later.”   Putting her hands up in surrender, Seulgi returned to her soup, humming the melody of the song currently playing.   When Joohyun finished heating the soup, Seulgi was already on her final bites of her own.   And they returned to the usual setting – having a meal with a song playing in the background.   The soup was pleasantly warming her insides, despite the lack of alcohol the night before. The company – Seulgi – recounted some of the fun stories about the night prior. The accompanying music was not too stimulating, just enough to fill in the silence when Seulgi was finishing her meal. It was quite nice if Joohyun had to be honest.   Halfway through her soup, Joohyun suddenly remembered. “Do you have anything you want for your birthday?”   Having been blissfully full and ready for a nap, Seulgi didn’t expect to get that question. “That came out of nowhere, Unnie.”   “I’m asking just in case I need time to buy it,” Joohyun reasoned, smiling in reflex when Seulgi beamed.   “I haven’t thought about it, to be honest,” the younger of the two pondered, leaning her head on her hand.   “Good, then I can give you anything and you can’t turn it down.”   “Oh, come on, I never turn down any of your presents. I don’t mind even if you give me a letter as usual.”   “Yah, those letters come with a gift too!” Joohyun retorted with her fist up, feeling her cheeks heating up from embarrassment.   “I know, I’m just saying,” Seulgi chortled, readying herself to dodge any incoming shove or slaps.   “At least tell me if you have your eyes on something.”   “I will don’t worry.”   Joohyun watched as Seulgi finished the rest of her water, frowning in suspicion when the younger woman was still sporting her usual playful look. “Any plan of having a party?”   “I’m not sure,” Seulgi answered honestly this time, from how serious her tone was. “With the pandemic and stuff, I don’t know if it would be wise to invite my friends like last year.”   Ah yes, last year’s birthday party, when Seulgi invited some of her closest friends and Joohyun for dinner. It was a spur-of-the-moment thing since their schedules were lined up from preparing for their sub-unit together and it seemed like a good idea to invite Joohyun too.   It was nice of Seulgi to include her but Joohyun didn’t think she’d have the confidence to have a repeat of last year. Although Seulgi’s friends weren’t too deterred with her presence as they included her in their bubble as much as possible, she was not completely comfortable. She didn’t want to intrude in another make-shift reunion or laughing too hard on their inside jokes, no matter how funny they were.   And yet, at the same time, she and Seulgi had been spending their birthdays together since their trainee years. Setting aside some time on February 10th and March 29th had become a tough habit to break. And they had this little unspoken agreement between them to let the birthday girl do whatever she wishes, even though most of the time Seulgi was the one who exploited it. For Joohyun, just having Seulgi there with her was enough, because it was familiar.   Maybe the pandemic could finally change that.   #   The answer came one afternoon when Joohyun was mindlessly checking her upcoming schedules. The premiere of her debut movie would be on Seulgi’s birthday. That very same day, she had a list of things for movie promotion purposes, making her unavailable the entire day.   Joohyun exhaled heavily, unknowingly holding her breath as she read the long to-do list for the day. Closing the app, she had half a mind of telling Seulgi that she wouldn’t be there for her birthday. Maybe then they could work something out and still be able to celebrate it together. The other half insisted that she kept it away from Seulgi, working it out herself while making sure that she could finish earlier and spend the rest celebrating.   That evening, when Joohyun was still pondering about what to do over dinner, a call came in. It was Seulgi.   Joohyun stared at the screen, quickly dismissing the option of ignoring her phone with a quick swipe at the screen. “Hey.”   “Hi, Unnie. I saw your schedule on the 10th.”   She just went right to the point, huh. “Yeah…” Joohyun deflated. “I don’t know if I’ll be able to celebrate with you. I’m sorry…”   “Huh? What are you sorry for?”   “Well…”   “It’s no biggie, Unnie! You should be excited, finally having schedules after a while.”   It didn’t ease her mind even when she heard Seulgi chuckling. “I suppose.”   “Don’t mind it, okay? Just do what you need to do.”   “By the way,” Joohyun deflected, not wanting Seulgi to hear her voice breaking just by hearing her consolation, “already have any idea on what gift you want?”   “I haven’t. At this point, you just need to prepare a letter and you’ll be set, Unnie.”   “Don’t be silly. Let me know as soon as possible, okay?”   “I will, I will. Unnie, I gotta go, my friends are here.”   “Be careful. Avoid crowds as much as you can.”   “Yes, ma’am. Talk to you soon, Unnie!”   The call ended her dilemma but for some reason, Joohyun was still not at ease.   #   The morning of the 10th started with the beauty salon to do her hair and makeup. At that point, there was nothing she could do but finish her schedules to the best of her ability. It was still her obligation and she’d never forgiven herself if she was half-assing them because of personal reasons. Alas, Joohyun strived ahead, as usual, exchanging stories and joked around with the staff.   In the middle of having her hair extension done, her phone light up. Curious about what it was about, her fingers tapped on the notification.   Reading the group chat, she chuckled in amusement.   Of course, Seulgi would make up her mind in the most Seulgi-way possible.   It only took her a minute to make the purchase and communicate with one of her managers to deliver the item by the afternoon.   When she leaned back on the beauty shop’s cushion, she knew she at least got rid of one burden for the day.   #   It was a day full of firsts for Joohyun. Her first public appearance, first movie premiere, a first day watching herself on the big screen, and first of (probably) not celebrating Seulgi’s birthday. Setting her mind to concentrate on what’s currently going on, she gave a curt smile on the flashing cameras, as ins
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harlembeatfreak
Some of you early readers are lucky bcs I forgot to lock the update 😅
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