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Time To Love

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Joy first met Seulgi at a music festival.

It was the cliche three-day music festival where a whole bunch of good indie artists gathered and performed. The tickets were cheap and Joy thought there was no harm in going because apparently, artists like Zion T. and DEAN were performing and Joy was a big fan of both artists. She had dragged Yerim to accompany her and in return, Yerim had dragged her girlfriend, Saeron along for the ride.

“Yah! Can you stop making out in front of me?”

Yeri pulled away from Saeron, arms around her girlfriend’s waist with an unimpressed look on her face. “It’s really not our fault that you’re alone and lonely.”

“Alone and lonely?!” Joy shrieked. “I’m not alone and lonely!”

“Lying is a horrible trait.”

“I’m not lying, you brat!”

“Look, unnie,” Yeri sat up, grabbing Joy’s arm. “As much as I enjoy your discomfort at third-wheeling Saeron and I, you should get out there and mingle! Meet new people! You need more friends.”

“You two are my friends!”

Yeri ignored her. “Better yet, find someone to sleep with tonight.”

Before she could retort, Yeri had already threw Joy out of the tent they were staying in and zipped up the tent before a “Have fun!” slipped out of her mouth. The older girl could only mumble incoherent curses to Yeri before she straightened up and thought, ‘Well, I might as well.’

-+-

DEAN was performing on stage.

Joy didn’t know how she did it but she managed to squeeze through the massive crowd and ended up right in front of the stage. She could see Dean performing in his glorious physique singing a falsetto into his microphone.

Yeri did not know what she was missing.

Singing along to most of his songs, Joy didn’t realised she was dancing like a maniac in the crowd. It wasn’t until she accidentally elbowed someone in their stomach and heard a hurt “Ouch!” nearby that she finally realised her surroundings. She immediately looked to her right, an apology already on the tip of her tongue.

Oh wow.

The first thought that went through Joy’s mind was how pretty the girl in front of her was. The girl with monolid eyes. The girl with heart-shaped lips. The girl whom she accidentally hit — oh.

“I’m so sorry!”

Joy blurted out, immediately remembering that she elbowed the girl who was currently crouching down in pain. “I’m so so sorry.” Joy crouched down as well, rubbing the stranger’s stomach in attempts to smoothen out her blow. “I really wasn’t looking, I was too into the music and I should have been more careful and I-I’m just so sorry.”

The other girl grimaced. “No worries. Accidents happen, right?”

“They do but I feel bad about this one.”

“You’re already making me feel better.” The other girl gestured down to Joy’s hands that were now rubbing circles. “Don’t worry, the pain was minimal.”

“I’m so sorry again.”

“Don’t apologise, it’s a music festival. These things are bound to happen.”

Joy stood up from the ground and offered the girl her hand, pulling her up to stand. “I’m Joy.” She introduced herself, extending her hand out. “Park Joy.”

The other girl looked amused, shaking the hand. “I’m Seulgi. Kang Seulgi.”

“Having fun?”

“If you count being elbowed in the stomach as fun, hell yeah.”

“I’m sorry!”

Seulgi giggled, eyes turning into little crescents. “I’m just messing with you.”

“Not funny.” Joy pouted, still feeling a bit guilty. “What if I elbowed you too hard that you’d get appendicitis?”

“First off, that is insanely impossible and second of all, the appendix is on the right side. You elbowed my left side.” Seulgi looked amused with the whole conversation which made Joy blush at how dumb she sounded.

“Alright, Doctor Kang. Enough of the chit chat, wanna dance with me?”

“I’d love to.”

Feeling bold, Joy took Seulgi’s hand and both of them swayed together to the sound of Dean. They danced and danced until their legs felt like jelly. Seulgi could have gone on and on since she was really feeling the beat but Joy begged them to stop and take a breather at the bar behind the crowd.

Sipping a coke, Seulgi stared at Joy from the corner of her eyes.

The pink lights from the surroundings engulfed Joy in some sort of aura. Looking at Joy with her full heart-shaped lips and bright brown eyes, Seulgi felt a warmth in her. She felt as if Joy was the most beautiful girl alive. She felt as if Joy was the epitome of perfection.

Joy turned around, coincidentally making eye contact with Seulgi who was now openly staring at her.

A pause.

Seulgi didn’t know how but she was somehow staring into Joy’s eyes. It briefly crossed her mind on how beautiful Joy’s eyes were — shining, vibrant chocolate orbs were staring back at her. From the start, Seulgi knew she was immensely attracted to Joy and she has been told that her gay radar works wonders.

So it wasn’t really her fault when she decided to just fuck it.

Seulgi started leaning in, her lips were just a few inches from Joy’s lips. She was about to catch Joy’s lips into her own but she was immediately pushed back from a pair of strong hands. She stumbled a bit and fell back ungraciously onto the patch of grass of the field.

If this is how rejection feels like, Seulgi would rather be alone forever.

“Oh god! I didn’t mean to push you that hard, I really didn’t mean to.” Joy ranted on, pulling Seulgi up while plucking off the leaves that were stuck on her hair.

“Uhuh, sure you didn’t.” Seulgi complained, brushing down her head in attempt to tame it. “You could have just rejected me nicely instead of pushing me to the ground.”

“I panicked! I didn’t know you were gonna kiss me.”

Seulgi sighed, standing up. “Judging by how much we have been flirting the whole night, I really thought you were on the same page as me.”

“Seulgi…” Joy started, her face unreadable. “I’m straight. And also a minor.”

“What?!” The older girl didn’t know which one to be more shocked at. Joy’s sexuality came as a surprise to her because she assumed that from all the touches Joy had been giving her the whole night, it was more than just friendly touches but she thought wrong. As for Joy’s age, that came even more of a surprise to Seulgi because Joy did not look that young.

“Yup, you just tried to hit on a straight underage girl.” Joy shrugged. “That could be criminal offence.”

“You look way too mature for your age!” Seulgi frantically explained, hoping the younger girl would give her a break.

“You just tried to hit on a minor!”

“I didn’t know that!”

“I could call the cops!”

Seulgi panicked. “No, please don’t!” She had a whole speech in her mind to stop Joy and was about to profusely apologise yet again. “I swear I didn’t mean to! I was confused!”

Before she could go on with her rant, Seulgi got cut off by Joy giggling like a maniac, obviously amused by the spectacle they were having.

“How old are you, anyway?”

Joy smirked. “17.”

“What?!” Seulgi shrieked, unable to believe what she was hearing. “You’re seventeen?!”

“Yeah.” Joy looked offended. “Why? Do you have a problem with it?”

“N-no, absolutely not!”

“Good,” The taller girl smiled mischievously. “I’ve always liked older women, anyway.”

Seulgi was flustered. “It’s not that! I-it was how you acted like I was a pedophile trying to hit on you!”

“Well, you did try to hit on minor, miss.”

She couldn’t argue with that.

Seulgi must have looked like a deer caught in headlights because Joy promptly reassured her. “Don’t worry, I won’t call the cops on you. You’re too pretty to be stuck in jail for harassment.”

“U-uhhh, t-thank you?” The older girl nodded dumbly. “In the mean time, let’s enjoy the festival and forget everything that just happened in the span of fifteen minutes ago?”

“Let’s.”

The two girls agreed to just let, what probably is the most embarrassing moment for Seulgi, go and to just enjoy the concert together. Joy didn’t think of Yeri who was still probably making out with her girlfriend and Seulgi didn’t think of her responsibilities back home. They both just let their bodies’ loose to the music. In no time, the concert had ended its setlist for the day.

When they were ready to part, Seulgi said. “I’ll see you tomorrow, then?”

“Oh!” Joy looked almost sad, her lips out in a pout. “Today is my first and last day of the festival, sadly. I have schedules to attend tomorrow.”

“Oh.” Seulgi tried to not sound so disappointed but she failed immensely. Despite the awkward I-almost-kissed-a-straight-girl fiasco, she had to admit she had enjoyed Joy’s presence although it has only been a few hours since they last met.

“I guess I’ll see you around.” Joy took a step forward to hug Seulgi, tightening their hug for a split second.

Seulgi smiled sadly. She was sure their paths would never cross again but she still replied. “Yeah, I’ll see you around, Joy.”

(x)

Yet, it seemed that fate had other plans for them.

When a congratulatory email was received in her mailbox about a few months later, Seulgi could not believe her luck. She was really not expecting an internship at the fashion magazine company of her dreams. She had applied to be one of the sketch artists but sadly, that position was filled and so, they allocated her a job as an assistant stylist.

As long as she’ll get extra credit for working an internship, Seulgi didn’t mind.

Her first day there went relatively well, for any first days could go. She arrived at the company at exactly 8 am on the dot and was quickly given an introductory course and a tour by the HR manager, Taeyeon.

Taeyeon was polite and professional enough for Seulgi to get quickly used to the working environment but she didn’t struck Seulgi as someone friendly.

“Here’s your work space.” Taeyeon gestured to a small cubicle. “Don’t worry, you won’t be here as much. It’s just a place to put your stuff and when you need a break from the hectic environment. You’d probably be around the head stylist’s room a lot.”

Seulgi’s ears perked up. “Who’s the head stylist?”

“Jessica Jung.” The way Taeyeon muttered the name so forlornly made Seulgi raised her eyebrows. She suspected that this Jessica person was someone important to Taeyeon. “Head stylist of our company and your direct boss.”

“My boss?”

“She owns most of the shares of the company.” At Seulgi’s confused face, Taeyeon elaborated more. “She prefers to get her hands dirty by making sure all of the styling go through her first before on the models.”

“Right.”

Taeyeon crookedly smiled. “Right. Well, best of luck, Seulgi. You’ll need it to work for the ice princess.” She then waved and went straight to her office.

The ice princess, Seulgi realised it later, that Taeyeon was referring to was none other than Jessica Jung. The said person wasn’t that bad once you get used to her demands and coldness. Seulgi discovered that after you peel off the layers that exhibits her cold aura, you’d get a soft woman who just is passionate about her career, fashion and family.

It was when Seulgi was on break and she had just finished lunch. She decided that she wanted to do a quick doodle of the office environment. She was just finishing up the sketch of Taeyeon walking around in her heels with a phone to her ear when Jessica came up behind her.

“You’re a really talented artist.”

Startled, Seulgi looked up to see Jessica staring at her drawing. “Thank you.”

“You remind me of my sister.” Jessica smiled fondly. “Art has always been her thing.”

“Oh yeah? What’s your sister like?” Seulgi inquired, mostly out of politeness.

“Annoying.”

Seulgi choked back a laugh. “Any other traits?”

“She can draw. Probably as good as you, or even better.”

Whoa. Seulgi won’t lie, she did find people who could draw very attractive.

Jessica cleared her throat, gaining Seulgi’s attention immediately. “And she’s definitely your type.” She winked before sauntering back to her own office. She definitely missed the chance to see Seulgi blushing profusely.

It was that moment where Seulgi realised that Jessica wasn’t as bad as everyone made her to be.

Two weeks later into the job, Seulgi gained her own momentum. Her daily routine consisted of waking up early at 7am, grabbing a sandwich at the local deli across her apartment block, travelling on her bike to her office, seeing Jessica for a daily meeting before both of them going down to the photo studio to style the clothes on the models, go back after a light dinner at the company’s cafeteria before crashing into bed. And repeat.

It was normal for her to meet new models or ‘fresh meat’ as Jessica would usually call them. At first, she was starstruck because who wouldn’t be? They were all really really beautiful that Seulgi had hopes of drawing them one day. Now, she had gotten used to them running around in their underwear to change in other clothes.

Despite that, when Seulgi saw a tall brunette with wide eyes looming over everyone at the lobby of the company, she couldn’t help but feel a pit in her stomach. She knew that sparkly eyes anywhere, she knew that gummy smile anywhere.

Joy’s eyes went wide with recognition. “Seulgi unnie!”

Unnie? Seulgi decided she liked Joy calling her that then and there.

“Joy!” The older girl smiled in disbelief. As if she couldn’t believe that Joy was actually standing in front of her in the flesh. “What are you doing here?”

“I should be asking you that.”

Same old Joy, Seulgi thought. “I asked you first.”

Joy’s eyes sparkled. “I’m modelling.”

“You’re a model?”

“Yup, for the new summer collection.” Joy smiled.

“Oh.”

“So what are you doing here?”

Seulgi hesitated. “Well… I’m the assistant stylist.”

“Really?” Joy jumped on the spot, excitement bouncing off of her. “That means you’ll be styling me, right?”

“Technically?” It came out more of a question rather than an answer. “All decisions of styling go through the head stylist, Jessica unnie, first though.”

“You still are!” Joy then came closer, almost whispering to her. “That means you’ll be touching me, no?”

Gaping like a fish out of water, Seulgi was speechless. Joy was still the same old Joy who made Seulgi loss for words and a stuttering mess. Her mind quickly flashed to her touching Joy’s body, her hands running over smooth and milky skin, her lips leav—wait, wait, wait.

Stupid brain. Seulgi shook her head to get rid of the explicit thoughts, reprimanding herself for imagining such things because Joy was straight. No, Joy is straight.

“Hey Seulgi unnie,” Joy called out, a smirk playing on her lips. “Remember that one time you tried to hit on me?”

“Don’t make me hit you.”

Joy chortled, her laugh echoing through the whole room. “If it’s any consolation, I didn’t punch you when you tried to kiss me. Mind you, if you were a man, I would have.”

Seulgi didn’t know whether she was being complimented or insulted.

“Park Sooyoung!” A voice suddenly called out, almost in desperation. “Where are you?”

“While it has been fun teasing you and making you blush red, I need to go off to makeup.” Joy winked, sauntering away. “It’s not easy being a pretty face. I’ll see you at the shoot, Seulgi unnie.”

-+-

Joy was definitely born to be a model.

Her facial expressions and her body language were clear indicators that she knew what she was doing. She might be young, fresh and new to the modelling scene but she was naturally comfortable in front of a camera. She knew her own angles and she knew which poses made her look more elegant.

Joy modelling was an art itself.

Seulgi was staring too much at Joy that Jessica had to send her out for a ‘time out’. So now she was just chilling back at her cubicle with her legs propped up at the desk, a bit sad that she ruined her own chance at seeing Joy model more.

Before she knew it, Jessica had texted Seulgi saying that the photoshoot was over and she could go home early if she liked. It was quite early to end the day and Seulgi thought she could go over the next few designs for their upcoming spring collection just for the sake of it. She was contemplating on her two options when a feminine shadow loomed over her.

“Hi.”

Seulgi looked up. “Hey, Joy. How did you know I was here?”

“Jessica unnie told me where I could find you.”

“Makes sense. How was the shoot?”

“Oh, it went well since I was there.” Joy smirked, dressed in regular street clothes. It made her look almost human instead. Seulgi decided she liked this toned down version of Joy better.

“Definitely, the all mighty Joy, the super rookie model owning photoshoots again and again. What can’t she do?”

“I can’t get your number.”

Seulgi was dumfounded at the sudden change of topics. “Huh?”

An intelligent response, Seulgi.

“Can I get your number?” Joy prompted, scratching the back of her neck. “I’d like it if we stayed in touch.”

Touched, Seulgi reached out to take Joy’s phone and to dial herself. A loud ringing sound was heard before Seulgi looked up satisfied. “There you go. Now we both have each other’s numbers.”

“Thank you.” Joy grinned. “I can’t wait to bother you everyday!”

Seulgi only bellowed in laughter. The younger girl was just too cute sometimes. “Keep in touch, Joy.”

(x)

It wasn’t long till her semester break was over in a blink. She had gained numerous experiences and was exposed to so many new things at the fashion company that she knew was valuable to her course. She’d missed Taeyeon’s quirkiness and Jessica’s coldness. She didn’t realised how attached she was to her two mentors until she left the company.

She had three more days till college reopens. Until then, Seulgi had just been lying down, eating junk food which is taking a toll on her body and sketching random animals she sees on National Geographic.

Her daily routine of sketching random animals was abruptly interrupted by sound of her phone ringing. She was a bit confused on who was calling her because she knew all of her friends were still overseas on a holiday and would only be getting back tomorrow.

It came of as a surprise for her to see a phone call from Joy.

“Hey,” Joy greeted.

Seulgi answered back. “Hi.”

“How are you?”

“I’m good.” Seulgi replied, one hand still continuing to sketch. “What about you?”

“I… I’m great, fantastic actually. I got accepted into Seoul Institute of the Arts for applied music.” Joy sounded like she couldn’t believe the news herself.

Seulgi gasped in excitement. “Really?! That’s amazing news, Joy! I’m so proud of you! I guess I’ll be seeing you around more often now.”

“Yeah…” Joy stammered nervously. “That’s the thing. I need a favour to ask.”

“What is it?”

“You know how you go to SeoulArts too for visual arts and I really think that’s amazing because you’re so good at what you do, especially when you draw. I mean I haven’t seen you draw in front of me personally but I have seen the pictures that Jessica unnie show—”

“Joy.” Seulgi stopped her in the middle of her rant. “Breathe.”

“Right. I’m sorry.”

“As you were saying?”

Joy continued. “As I was saying, can I move in with you?”

At that request, Seulgi almost stopped breathing. Was it even a good idea to let Joy stay with her? It didn’t take much to know that Seulgi was immensely attracted to Joy, despite her sexuality. Joy was a beautiful young woman and Seulgi had learned to appreciate her beauty. It’s just… sometimes her appreciation can be intense.

On the other hand, it would be nice to have a roommate instead of the lonely white walls around her all the time. Joy’s company was more than welcomed and Seulgi thought that paying half of the rent wasn’t so bad. She could use the spare cash for more drawing utensils.

“What’s wrong with the dorms?”

There was silence on the other side of the phone call. Seulgi wondered if she was being too straightforward about the topic.

“I’d prefer to room with someone I know.”

“We only knew each other from work.”

“I still know you better than a random stranger.”

Seulgi knew she should have declined and rejecting to have Joy as her roommate because that just spelled danger in bold caps. She should have and yet, the first thing that came out of her mouth was agreement.

“I don’t mind you as my roommate.” Seulgi exclaimed, her mouth running faster than her mind. “I know how much it sucks to be in the dorms during your first year. I don’t recommend you going through that.”

She could hear Joy breathe out a long relieved sigh. “Thank you, thank you, thank you! God, I really owe you one! You’re already making my uni life more bearable than it was before.”

“No problem.” Seulgi couldn’t help the smile on her face. “Just make sure you pay half of the rent.”

“Yes, boss!”

“Alright. I’ll see you tomorrow then to help you with your packing.”

“Thanks so much, unnie.”

(x)

They worked well as roommates.

After Seulgi had helped Joy moved in and ushered her into the spare guest bedroom, their chemistry as roommates was almost unbelievable. They got into their own routine. Seulgi had morning classes so she was always up and running by the time the clock strikes 9AM. She’d purposely make extra breakfast and place it in the microwave so that Joy would wake up to breakfast. As for Joy who had afternoon classes and finished up late, she would come home to Seulgi’s cooking or just a takeout from the local diner. Joy had taken up the role of washing the dishes because she thought that was the least she could do for Seulgi.

They had their own dynamic together.

Since both of them had their own separate schedules, the only time they saw each other was at night, after their evening classes and tutorials. By then, both girls would be too exhausted to think about their studies and enjoy a chill night of watching romantic comedy movies just to get their mind off of things.

Seulgi realised that she liked rooming with Joy because Joy was respectful with her boundaries (despite the fact that she seemingly prefers really short shorts and thin tank tops to sleep with) and a delight to be around. Joy would crack up these hilarious jokes where Seulgi would unconsciously tear up because it was too damn funny.

She decided that rooming with Joy was the best decision she had made.

That is, until Seulgi accidentally walked into Joy making out with a boy on their couch.

The two of them were aggressively making out, lips were smacking against each other as if they were both in a rush and they couldn’t wait to take off each other’s clothes. Seulgi was almost entranced by how Joy straddled the boy snugly with both of their fronts pressed together and how Joy seemed to react to every touch the boy was giving to her.

It wasn’t until she spotted naughty hands travelling to unbuckle the boy’s belt that Seulgi had to clear her throat three times for them to finally break apart at the sudden noise.

“Um…”

Joy stood up from the couch while brushing her hair to look more presentable. She looked flushed, probably from the embarrassment at being caught so blatantly. “Unnie! I-I d-didn’t realise you’re home so early.”

“Um, yeah. Class got cancelled and I finished all of my assignments so I thought of just relaxing at home. U-um… who’s this?” Seulgi decided to just ask directly.

“I-I… this is my boyfriend, Dohwan oppa.” Joy gestured to the jet-black haired guy who just got up, gave a dazzling smile to Seulgi and shook her hand.

“I’m Dowhan.” He grinned charmingly. “It’s nice to meet you. I’m sorry for the whole…yeah…”

“I-it’s fine…” Seulgi smiled awkwardly. “I’m Seulgi, it’s nice to meet you too.”

“While this has been fun and all, I’m sure you girls could use a catching up session so I’m just gonna go. It’s been a pleasure meeting you, Seulgi. Although I would have preferred that we’d meet under better circumstances.” Dowhan took his bag, and headed towards the door.

“I’ll see you later, oppa.” Joy pecked his lips goodbye before turning around to Seulgi. “So, how was your day?”

Seulgi shrugged. “Same old, same old.”

“Right, that tends to happen. My day was alright, nothing out of the ordinary happened. Except for the fact that the water dispenser near the theatre gave out brown water and I almost drank it.” Joy went on, noticing that Seulgi wasn’t in the mood to talk.

“Mhm.”

Joy pouted at the lack of response. “Wanna have a movie night? You can choose the movie this time!”

“No, it’s alright. You go ahead. I’m exhausted, Joy.”

“Oh,” Joy looked disappointed, causing Seulgi to feel a bit guilty. “It’s okay then, some other time?”

“Yeah. Some other time.”

“Want some hot cocoa before you go to bed?”

“Don’t worry about it. Thanks for the offer though.”

“Oh okay.” Joy dejectedly replied. “Goodnight, Seulgi.”

“Night.”

Later on, Seulgi laid flat on her back, staring up at her ceiling. She was exhausted but her mind just couldn’t let her body win in the fight to go to sleep. Her mind kept conjuring images of Joy straddling her boyfriend… but instead of the boyfriend, it was now her. Seulgi shook her head, cursing herself for thinking of Joy that way.

Seulgi knew it was a lost cause but she couldn’t help but feel … betrayed? She didn’t know what she was feeling — perhaps she was feeling a lot simultaneously — but whatever it was, she knew that the pit in her stomach and the ache in her heart were not supposed to be there in the first place.

What am I feeling? I shouldn’t feel like this… it almost feels like jealousy.

Shaking her head, Seulgi thought that she should forget about this whole fiasco. She must have been so tired from everything today that she was overthinking. She had no problems with Joy being straight despite what her mind has been telling her. She had no problems.

She had no prob—yeah, she might as well just sleep her problems away.

(x)

A few years passed by and both of them were still roommates.

The university had offered Joy her own place at campus but Joy politely declined — Seulgi won’t admit it but she secretly jumped for joy (literally) — the offer. When Seulgi asked her about it, Joy just shrugged and told her that she was so used to the routine they both have as roommates that she’d prefer rooming together than staying alone.

Joy and Dowhan were still together although fortunately, there was no more impromptu makeout sessions. She had given up on her feelings towards Joy and had actually admitted to herself that what she felt for Joy was more than lust and sort of a crush. However, she was determined to not make her feelings get in between Joy and her friendship. That was the last thing she wanted.

Yet, there were times where Seulgi foolishly thought that Joy might return her feelings back.

Joy was a touchy person. She craved for affection and love that she needed to touch someone somewhere just to make herself feel satisfied. Be it a simple touch on the arm, a pat on the shoulder or a gentle hug, Joy loved it. Joy loved the feeling of being close to someone. And usually, the one who Joy would cling to is Seulgi herself.

Seulgi had to bear simple cheek kisses from Joy who often saw that as a reward or a sign of gratitude.

It just happened when Seulgi was tutoring Joy in one of the compulsory social studies class that you needed to pass in order to proceed on with your course.

“So you see, that’s basically the whole heliocentric theory. Which we all believe in it until now.”

All she received in response was a long babyish whine from Joy.

“Why do we have to learn all of this?!” Joy groaned, falling back onto her bed. “I don’t see the point of it.”

Seulgi chuckled, amused at Joy who seemed on set to complain. “It’s the rules. You gotta have some general knowledge in that big brain of yours.”

“I do have general knowledge!” Joy rebutted. “Just not for Copernicus and his belief of planets rotating around the sun!”

“Well, why don’t you try to tell the government to suck a dick for making you learn all of this?”

“I would but then I can’t become the singer adored by the nation as I want to be.” Joy pouted. “I guess I’ll just suck it up and pray for a pass in this class.”

“That’s the spirit!” Seulgi approved, hands reaching out for more papers. “Now, let’s get back to work.” She received a groan in response but no objections so Seulgi was content. They spent around 2 hours working on Joy’s understanding of social studies, which, mind you, was not a lot.

“Okay, okay, let’s stop.” Joy begged. “My brain can’t function anymore.”

Seulgi giggled. “Alright, you deserve a break. Let’s go grab lunch.”

“I don’t have money.”

“I’ll treat you.”

“YAYYYYYYY!” Joy exclaimed, bouncing up and down in excitement. “You’re the best, unnie! Have I ever told you that you’re my favourite unnie?”

“No, not really.”

“Well, congratulations, you are!” Joy exclaimed, bending down to give Seulgi a kiss on the cheek as a sign of gratitude. She then quickly took Seulgi’s hand in hers and dragged her to the their local diner.

Thankfully, Joy didn’t seem to notice the red blushing mess that warmed up to Seulgi’s cheeks.

The little things like simple touches would always lead to Seulgi overthinking her situation with Joy. She knew she shouldn’t because she was setting herself for heartbreak but she realised that you can’t really control your own feelings.

What am I going to do?

(x)

Seulgi couldn’t stop staring.

As an art student and a budding artist, it was only natural for her to draw. It didn’t matter what she had to draw, be it an inanimate object or a person, Seulgi was great at it. Her drawings would always get an extra credit that’s always needed for her semesters. Her blending and colouring techniques were exquisite, as her professor would always say.

It was safe to say Kang Seulgi was on top of her class.

So, why in seven hells was the same artistic charismatic Kang Seulgi also a blushing mess in front of this new student in her art class?

“Everyone, I have someone new I would like to introduce you to.” Her professor’s loud voice boomed over the class. “This is Krystal, a transfer student from America.”

A tall brunette with brownish hair just slightly above the shoulder gave a small smile and waved her hand. Her cold features just added more to her chic vibe she was radiating. “My name’s Krystal and it’s a pleasure meeting all of you.”

Seulgi couldn’t help but find the new girl, Krystal, familiar. It was almost as she had the same aura as someone she once knew. She tried putting her head into it but she just can’t seem to figure out who the new kid reminded her of.

She faintly heard her art teacher explaining to Krystal about the syllabus for the semester but her eyes were still stuck on the long figure of Krystal. Judging by her thin muscular arms and figure, Seulgi could tell that Krystal works out. And that was just a bonus to her attractiveness level.

“Do you like staring?”

Seulgi blushed red at being caught. “Uhh, not usually.”

“Then why are you staring at me?” It came out more of a curious question rather than an accusation.

“I… I-I… I’m sorry.” Seulgi profusely apologise, not wanting to offer any explanation. “I.. was… yeah.”

A small smile appeared on Krystal’s face. “Why are you staring?” She asked again in that curious tone of hers.

“I… I just think you’re really pretty.” Seulgi breathed out, looking away in embarrassment.

A moment of silence engulfed both of them. Seulgi looked up to see why was it silent when she caught a sight of Krystal blushing. Seeing that made a smile creep up on Seulgi’s face. At least she wasn’t the only one affected.

“T-thank you.” Krystal smiled back. “I didn’t catch your name. I’m Krystal.”

Seulgi shook the hand that was offered to her. “I’m Seulgi.”

“Nice to meet you, Seulgi.” Krystal put her stuff at the seat next to Seulgi, her body completely facing Seulgi. “And for the record, I think you’re really pretty too.”

(x)

It had been four months since Seulgi first met Krystal. Ever since their first meeting, Krystal had sat beside her from then on which Seulgi didn’t mind at all. Having a real life art (read: one of the prettiest girls alive) sitting next to you was both a dream and a nightmare at the same time.

A dream because Seulgi can stare at the said pretty girl all she wants and a nightmare because she can’t fully focus in her class anymore if she was too busy staring at the luscious locks Krystal had.

After class hours, they would usually go to a park near their university and just sit at one of the benches under the shade of the big oak tree. With their sketchbooks opened and a pencil in their hands, they both stayed silent sketching everything and anything they saw at the park. They did that almost every day for two months.

One day, Seulgi didn’t know what else to sketch since she had already sketched the ice cream man across them and the kids flying their kites. She was running out of inspirations and that extremely frustrated her until she found one.

It was Krystal herself.

Her hands rushed sketching the beauty that was Krystal Jung, not wanting to leave any details out. She wanted to make sure that the drawing of Krystal would come out as perfect as the real thing. It was there and then, when Seulgi was drawing the tip of Krystal’s nose, she realised that she actually liked Krystal. The feeling suddenly crept up to her, wrapping her heart within and trapping it forever.

Kang Seulgi liked Jung Krystal.

Seulgi was not really a big fan of feelings.

Usually, confrontations were not her forte. She was the type of person to stay behind the scenes and in the shadows, willing for her feelings to leave just so she wouldn’t have to make the first move.

She didn’t know where the courage to suddenly confess to Krystal came from.

It must have been the extra push she had gotten from Joy.

“I like someone.”

Joy’s ears perked up. “You do?”

“Yeah, I do.”

“Oh my god!” Joy exclaimed. “Who is it? Who is it? It is someone I know?”

Seulgi tried to calm her down. “No, you don’t know her. She’s a new transfer kid in my art class.”

“Oh… what do you like about her?”

“Just…” Seulgi pondered on for a bit. “Besides the fact that she also draws, she’s really gorgeous. Quiet but once you talk to her about something she’s passionate about, she’s another person. She’s so passionate about art, it’s amazing to see someone love art as much as I do. And… wow, she’s just… wow.

“After class, we’d go grab a cup of coffee and then just sit at the park bench next to each other with our sketchbooks out in the open. She said that inspiration comes best from random strangers and she was right. I drew more of strangers than I did of drawing what I knew. In a way, I was telling my own version of these random strangers’ lives through my sketches. Joy, she’s really… wow.”

Joy went quiet for a few moments. It looked like the younger girl didn’t know what to say. Seulgi almost asked her what was wrong when suddenly, Joy spoke up in an eerie tone. “Someone has it bad for her crush.”

“I… yeah, I do.”

Joy nodded, making up her mind about something. “You should confess to her.”

“What?! No!” Seulgi shrieked. “You know I can’t make the first move.”

“From what I heard, she sounds definitely like your type. And judging from the past stories you told me, it sounds like she may like you back.”

“May like me? That’s a big possibility, isn’t it?”

“Life is full of possibilities. It’s just up to you whether you want to take the chance to make those said possibilities possible.” Joy said in a serious tone.

Seulgi was impressed, cracking a smile. “Who are you and what did you do to Park Sooyoung?”

“She’s still here, idiot.” Joy rolled her eyes. “She can be inspirational at times.”

“Of course she can.”

“So, are you going to do it?”

“I think I might.” Seulgi stated determinedly. “You gave me the push I needed. I have nothing to lose, right?”

“Except maybe your dignity and friendship.”

“Well, gee, that made me feel so much better.”

Joy grinned cheekily. “You’re welcome! Now go get your girl!”

Seulgi nodded, grabbing her jacket at the door before leaving quickly to get to Krystal. She didn’t know why but she just had to reach Krystal right there and then. She felt an urgency to get to Krystal fast as if someone else might confess to Krystal first so she rushed to the library. The place where she knew Krystal would be at.

And she was right.

She caught a sight of long brown hair shimmering in the reflection of the sun and headed straight towards the girl studying beside the window. “Krystal.”

The other girl looked up, surprised that it was Seulgi who called her. “Seulgi… what are you doing here?”

“It’s the library. Anyone can be here.”

“Anyone but you, Miss I-Have-To-Finish-All-My-Paintings-After-Class.”

Seulgi chuckled, sitting down at the seat next to Krystal. “I know, but I wanted to see you.”

“Oh.” Krystal looked surprised. “Well, now you see me.”

“Yeah, yeah I do…” She trailed off, her confidence suddenly wavering off. She wasn’t sure if this was a good idea anymore. What if she got rejected? She wasn’t good with rejections, it’ll just decrease her self-esteem more and that’s already at a low level ever since Joy came into her life.

“Seulgi?” Krystal waved a hand in front of her face, causing Seulgi to blush profusely for being too caught up in her mind.

“I-I’m sorry,” Seulgi sheepishly smiled. “I was too busy thinking.”

“A penny for your thoughts?” Krystal poked Seulgi’s right cheek.

Seulgi decided that she was going to confess. Seulgi decided that it was now or never and that Krystal should know that Seulgi likes her.

“You like me?”

Confused, Seulgi broke out from her thoughts. “What?”

“You said you like me.”

“I-I did…? Oh god, did I say that out loud?” Seulgi was horrified, she thought she had everything under control but her disconnected mouth just had to ruin everything. “I-I’m so sorry, forget everything I said. It was an impromptu thing, I was just thinking how much I liked sushi and—”

Deciding she had had enough, Krystal took ahold of Seulgi’s wrist to pull her closer before she kissed Seulgi deeply on the lips. She added more pressure when she realised that Seulgi wasn’t responding. Shaking out of her reverie and shock, Seulgi finally responded by kissing back and waving her hands in Krystal’s hair, pulling her closer.

Krystal was the first one to break the kiss for air. Seulgi was still gasping for breath and she was still trying to comprehend that Krystal had actually just kissed her.

“I like you too, Seulgi.”

(x)

“Joy.” Seulgi spoke. “Meet my girlfriend, Krystal.”

Seulgi’s eyes formed into crescent, excitement evident in her steps. She was looking forward to introducing her girlfriend to her best friend as images of them three happily hanging out played in her head. She expected Joy to jump for joy (quite literally) for actually taking up her advice and getting the girl.

Yet, Joy gave her a complete opposite reaction.

The taller girl’s mouth gaped open with her eyes wide in disbelief. Her eyes seems to portray more than that actually, it showed Seulgi a mixture of something akin to betrayal and shock. As if she couldn’t believe this was happening.

Joy aggressively pulled her into a corner, away from Krystal’s questioning eyes.

“No.”

Seulgi thought she misheard. “What?”

“You could have anyone in this world, but why her?”

“You told me to go for her!”

“I thought it would be someone from your art class.”

“She is from my art class!”

“Yeah, well.” Joy rolled her eyes. “Anyone but Krystal Jung is fine.”

“Wait, why?” Seulgi was confused as to why Joy was acting this way. It was Joy who first told Seulgi to go for Krystal and she did, she took Joy’s advice and by some miracle, Krystal was now her girlfriend. “And how do you know her full name?”

“Are you dense?!” Joy huffed, crossing her arms. “She’s a Jung.”

“What does her surname have anything to do with this?”

“Krystal Jung. Sister to your ex-boss, Jessica Jung.”

Seulgi’s eyes widened in shock. It suddenly occurred to her why Krystal had seem so familiar at first glance. It was the way both sisters carried themselves in an aura of elegance and coldness. It was the way both sisters talk in their soothing tone. Everything made sense now.

“If whatever you’re saying is true, then why should it matter?” Seulgi quipped, not seeing the clear picture. “Jessica was my ex boss, it shouldn’t matter that I’m dating her sister.”

“I… I… well, she was still your boss back in the past. Would she even let you date her sister?” Joy stammered through, obviously flustered that Seulgi was answering back.

Seulgi was hurt. “Are you saying I’m not good enough to date Krystal?”

Joy looked alarmed, her question was misunderstood by the older girl. “No, no, no! T-that’s not what I meant. Of course you are good enough to date her. You’re probably even better. Who wouldn’t date you? Even I would! You’re—”

“Oh.”

“Oh?”

“You would date me?”

“W-what? Out of everything I said, that’s the first thing you focus on?” Joy looked incredulous at the older girl. “Yes, I would date you, you dumb bear. You’re exactly my type. Back to the point, you shouldn’t date Krystal.”

Seulgi did not know how to react to Joy saying that she was her type and that she would date her. A part of her felt relieved at knowing that Joy was affected by her just as much as Seulgi was affected by Joy. Yet, another part of her is blaring some warning alarms because 1) Joy was still straight and 2) Joy has a boyfriend of two years.

“Why shouldn’t I date her?”

“Because I say so.”

Seulgi scoffed in disbelief. “Who are you to tell me who to date or not to date?”

“I’m your best friend!”

“That’s not a valid reason.”

“She’s just not good enough for you. I don’t like her.”

Seulgi thought Joy was being unreasonable, saying that Krystal was not good enough for her to date when the taller girl herself told Seulgi to go for Krystal. Joy didn’t even give a proper reason as to why she disapprove of Krystal. It didn’t make sense and frankly, Seulgi had had enough.

“You know what, I’m done with this whole conversation. Krystal is still my girlfriend whether you like it or not. Goodbye, Sooyoung. Talk to me when you’ve rationalise yourself.”

With that, Seulgi left a dejected Joy behind.

(x)

Irene has always prided on herself for being patient.

It was one of her qualities that she took extreme care of. Being one of the longest models in the second generation, Irene had taught herself how to be patient especially in a rollercoaster industry that is modelling. There will always be rejection in this said industry and so, Irene channeled those rejections she once received into patience.

Patience was the reason why Irene managed to stay on top of the brand reputation index for five years straight.

As a sunbae, it was something she wanted to teach to her hoobaes especially to Joy. 18 year old Irene had met 13 year old Joy at a commercial audition for the latest (at that time) dollhouse set. Her mom had forced her to go to that audition although she insisted to her mom that she was too old to play dolls. It was somewhat a miracle when the casting director suddenly changed his mind and decided to cast both Irene and Joy in the commercial where Irene acted as the older sister of Joy who desperately needed a dollhouse.

Ever since then, Irene sort of took Joy under her wing.

Joy looked up to her as a respectable unnie, she knew that. Joy would always come to her whenever she has problems or when she needs advices for acting. Irene was always there for her through thick and thin.

Even until now.

Irene didn’t know but she was stuck facing a wild Joy talking a mile by the minute in their local coffee shop. It was secluded and private enough for people to not recognise them.

“—everything would be just fine if they weren’t so up in my face all the damn time. And Krystal’s just going around shoving her skinny ass—”

Irene cut her off. “What is this really about, Sooyoung?” She only ever used Joy’s real name when she’s serious and now was one of those times.

“What do you mean?”

Irene inwardly sighed, this kid definitely likes beating around the bush. “Why are you really annoyed with Krystal?”

“I told you, she stole my Nintendo back in high school.” She huffed, crossing her arms in annoyance at the topic. “And she’s just not a good match for Seulgi. There has to be some sort of law for dating your boss’s sister!”

“Ex boss.” Irene pointed out.

“Same difference.”

Irene had to strain her ears to hear what Joy had mumbled.

“Oh yeah?” Irene asked rhetorically. “You know what, Sooyoung. I think you’re jealous.”

“I am not jealous,” The younger girl retorted, almost angrily. “Park Sooyoung does not get jealous.”

The older girl raised her eyebrows at the defensive tone. “That sounds exactly like jealousy.”

“Jealously is not a good look on me.”

“Neither is selfishness.”

“I’m not being selfish!”

“Look, Sooyoung. The reason why you’re so worked up about this whole Seulgi and Krystal thing is because you’re sad.”

“Sad? You’re way far off, unnie.”

“Don’t cut me off.”

“… I’m sorry, continue with your lengthy rant.”

Irene’s friends has always complimented on her motherly ways, even Joy but now the older girl swore that she has never had a daughter like Joy. “As I was saying, you’re sad because you’re no longer receiving Seulgi’s attention when for the past few years, you’ve been nothing but that. It feels weird for you to not have Seulgi by your side all the time, it’s almost as if you’ve lost a limb and you don’t know how to function without it anymore.

“You and I both know that Krystal was never the problem. You’re just worried that Seulgi will neglect you and prioritise Krystal more than you. Don’t doubt Seulgi. You know she has the purest heart. She won’t ever make a choice between her best friend and her girlfriend.”

Joy stayed silent and Irene just let her digest everything. Irene was patient enough to wait for the younger girl to come to her senses.

“You’re right.” Joy spoke up after a long moment of silence. “You’re right, Joohyun unnie.”

Irene shrugged. “I’m always right.”

“And obnoxious.”

“Watch your mouth.”

The only response she got from Joy was a tongue sticking out to her.

“Now, come on.” Irene held out her hand. “We have a CF commercial shoot to get to.”

 

(x)

“Seulgi, we need to talk.”

Those words from your girlfriend was never a good sign. Seulgi felt apprehensive, as if she didn’t knew what she did wrong. Or if she even did anything wrong. She tried to remember if she had forgotten any important dates or any significant memories that would explain why Krystal had suddenly wanted to talk to her but she couldn’t.

Instead, she only nodded in agreement before they both silently walked to their park and sat down at their bench.

It was a few silent moments until Krystal finally spoke up, breaking the silence between them.

“It sucks to be in your position.” Krystal sighed deeply. “But I understand what you’re going through. I went through it too with Jinri last time.”

Seulgi had never been so confused in her life. She didn’t know what Krystal was talking about and she didn’t know if they were even on the same page. “Wait, what do you mean?”

Krystal only smiled thinly. “I like you, Seulgi. I really do. You make me feel good. But you and I both know that your heart is owned by someone else but me.”

“W-wait, w-what are you talking about?” Seulgi didn’t like where this was going. “I-I never cheated on you, it has always been you.”

“And that’s where you’re wrong, Seulgi. It hasn’t always been me. It has always been Joy.” Krystal held Seulgi’s hands, squeezing it in reassurance.

“What does Joy have anything to do with us?”

“She has everything to do with us.” Krystal explained calmly, as if the topic didn’t pain her anymore. “Look, babe. It’s my duty as your girlfriend to want to want to see you be happy and sadly, your happiness lies with Joy. You’re in love with Joy, you’re in love with your own best friend.”

“N-no no no!” Seulgi scrambled to say. She didn’t love Joy. She didn’t. She couldn’t. “I-I like you, Soojung. No one else.”

“Your mouth says that but your heart says otherwise.” Krystal smiled sadly. “I’m breaking up with you, Seulgi, so that you can be with someone that you love. I’ve seen how you looked at her and I’ve seen how soft you are for her. It was me back then with my best friend. I’ve never seen you looked at anyone like that. You deserve to be happy, Seulgi.”

Krystal only stood up, pulling her hands away from Seulgi’s limb ones. Seulgi’s own body acted on autopilot as her mind just simply couldn’t comprehend things. “You’ve been so good to me, Seulgi. I want you to know that your happiness is mine and I hope you find it soon.”

Tears were forming in Krystal’s eyes as she leaned down to capture Seulgi’s lips in one last kiss. Seulgi automatically responded, her arms pulling down Krystal closer and closer, as if they were the ones telling her don’t leave, don’t leave, don’t leave.

“Thank you for the happy memories, Kang Seulgi.” Krystal said sadly, a tear escaping. “I’ll never forget you.”

All Seulgi could do was just watch Krystal Jung walk away from her and her life.

(x)

“Seulgi unnie?”

The said girl was studying at her desk in her room. She looked up to see her best friend wringing her hands repeatedly, a clear sign she was nervous. Joy stepped into Seulgi’s room even further, sitting at the edge of Seulgi’s bed.

“Sooyoung? What’s up?”

Joy inhaled sharply. “I-I j-just wanted to apologise. For how I acted around you and Krystal. For how I completely disregarded your happiness over my hatred for someone else. For not taking into account of your feelings. I’m just… I’m sorry.”

Seulgi stood up before enveloping the younger girl in a tight hug. “It’s okay, Sooyoung. I knew you didn’t mean what you said and you only said it out of anger. It’s really okay. For what it’s worth, I forgave you a long time ago.”

“Thank you, unnie.” Joy hid herself in Seulgi’s neck before squeezing the older girl. “Alright, I’ll leave you back to your studying.”

Seulgi nodded, watching Joy walking out of her bedroom when a sudden thought occurred to her.

“You never told me.”

Joy paused in her steps, wondering what this was all about. “What about?”

“You and Dowhan.”

“How did you know?” Joy turned around, walking into Seulgi’s room once more.

“I heard rumours that you broke up with Dowhan.” Seulgi stated. “Is that true?”

“Yeah,” Joy nodded. “Yeah it is.”

“Why didn’t you tell me?”

“It never came up.”

Sensing it was a sensitive topic to talk about, Seulgi tried to steer the conversation away. “Alright, so… are you okay?”

Joy raised an eyebrow. “Why wouldn’t I be?”

“C-cause you just broke up with your boyfriend and… I was just checking up on you.” Seulgi stammered on.

A thin smile appeared on Joy’s face, it looked as if she was in deep thought. Seulgi wondered what was going on that head of hers for a moment until Joy broke the silence between them.

“I have something to tell you, unnie.” Joy started nervously. “I-it’s important.”

“Ohh.. okay?” Seulgi hated how it came out more of a question rather than a comforting statement.

Joy sucked in a deep breath, as if she was going to spill out the biggest secret of her life. “I think I’m bi.”

Out of everything that Seulgi expected, she certainly did not expect that. She did not expect Joy to suddenly confess to her that she might be bi, she expected for Joy to tell her she was pregnant or something. That sounded more believable. Before Seulgi could wrap her head around Joy’s sexuality, Joy continued on.

“The reason why I broke up with Dowhan oppa was because that I had an identity crisis. I suddenly didn’t know who I was anymore, I didn’t know who I wanted to be anymore. But one clear thing I knew was that I didn’t want to be with Dowhan oppa anymore.” Joy breathed out, closing her eyes.

“He didn’t deserve me stringing him along so I broke it off before we could crash and burn. He deserved someone better than me. He deserved someone who could give him everything they could offer. And I couldn’t. I couldn’t because I think I like girls.”

Seulgi reached out to hold Joy’s hands. “It’s not a bad thing being bi. You know that, right?”

“Of course I do.” Joy chuckled. “I’m pro LGBT. It was just more to the fact that something that I thought I knew my whole life was suddenly incorrect. It was that type of feeling where damn, that was never me. You know? I felt like I didn’t know who I was anymore. And I hate feeling that way.”

Seulgi only hummed in acknowledgment. “I get where you’re coming from. What made you suddenly rediscover yourself?”

“Would you believe me that it only took a video of you dancing to Greedy for me to suddenly question my sexuality?”

“W-what?!”

“Just kidding! I made out with Yerin at a party last month during seven minutes in heaven. It turned out to be more than seven minutes because apparently, I woke up naked next to her. It completely threw me off guard and I rushed back home.”

Ignoring the stab in her heart at hearing the news of Joy sleeping with someone else, Seulgi nodded in understanding. “These things take time, Sooyoung-ah. It takes a lot of time for you to be fully comfortable with yourself but I guarantee you, when you do, nothing in the world could stop you. You would be the best version of yourself yet.”

Joy grinned, hugging Seulgi tightly. “You’re right. Thank you for listening, unnie.”

“It’s no problem at all.”

(x)

“I met a girl.”

Those were not the words Seulgi had expected to come out of the younger girl’s mouth when Joy had told her she had wanted to talk. After the whole Joy-coming-out-fiasco, Seulgi thought they were closer than ever. It felt as if they had something more now that Joy had deemed her trustworthy enough to be the first person for her to come out to.

Call her a hopeless romantic, but a tiny part of Seulgi secretly hoped that Joy would suddenly confess to her.

Right. That would never happen even in Seulgi’s wildest dreams.

And so, Seulgi decided to play the part of a doting best friend because what else could she do. She has gone way too far on this road of unrequited love so she might as well go even further down.

“Oh who is it?” Seulgi hoped that her voice stayed calm.

Luckily, Joy replied. “Her name’s Chaeyoung.”

“Chaeyoung?” Seulgi repeated. “Park Chaeyoung?”

“Yeah!” The taller girl grinned, tilting her head. “How do you know her?”

“I know of her.”

“Same thing.”

Seulgi shrugged. “She’s Jisoo’s roommate. How do you know her?”

“We met at the karaoke.”

“Which karaoke?”

“The one just a few blocks from college, Velvet Karaoke! We met-

But that’s our karaoke, Seulgi bitterly thought. Was it never special to you?

“-and then she suddenly serenaded me with a song! She confessed her whole feelings for me and I couldn’t help but fall in love with her voice too.”

“W-wait,” Seulgi tried to sound calm. “You’re in love?”

Joy hummed. “Not with her… yet. But I do admit, she has a pretty voice.”

Is my voice not pretty enough for you?

“That’s nice.”

“It really is.” Joy sat down, laying her head on Seulgi’s shoulder. “I’m happy, unnie.”

Seulgi pretended those words didn’t hurt her. “I’m glad she makes you happy.”

I wish I could make you happy.

“She does.”

It should be me instead of her.

(x)

Seulgi stared hard at the door in front of her.

She had walked aimlessly for a while, only wanting to clear her head and not think about her situation with Joy. It hurt her a lot, to state the obvious. Sometimes when Seulgi sees Joy and Chaeyoung together, she feels a pit in her stomach and a terrible ache at the left side of her chest. She just didn’t know why it hurt so much. She felt like she didn’t want to do anything and just lay on her bed in misery.

This is how heartbreak feels like.

She was not sure how she got to where she was at the moment. Staring at the red door with the numbers 24 on the front, Seulgi wasn’t sure if it was a good idea to knock. One of the people she longed for stayed behind the said door. Automatically, her fist reached up hovering above the door. She was contemplating on whether to knock or not when suddenly, the door was abruptly opened by the owner.

“Seulgi?”

“Soojung… hi.”

“Hi,” Krystal raised an eyebrow, crossing her arms. “What are you doing here?”

“I… I’m not sure… I don’t know how I ended up here. My feet just brought me here.”

Krystal nodded in understanding. Seulgi almost smiled at the fact that Soojung just knew what she would be talking about even if Seulgi wasn’t as good as expressing her feelings. “You wanna come in?”

“Sure.”

Krystal ushered her in, leaving Seulgi to walk in first. Nothing had changed in Soojung’s quaint apartment where the walls were lined up with framed artworks of her own and other painters. The scent of lavender wafted through the air, reminding Seulgi of the times where she would stay over at Soojung’s apartment after a late date night.

The only thing that changed was Krystal herself. She had cut her hair into a mid-length bob now, her hair a darker shade of brown since the last time Seulgi saw her. She lost more weight as Seulgi caught sight of Krystal’s protruding collarbones from underneath her shirt.

Seulgi turned to see Krystal already back in the kitchen, pouring hot water into two mugs. Seulgi briefly wondered why couldn’t have she easily fallen in love with Krystal instead of Joy. It would have been easier, she wouldn’t have to worry about Soojung returning her feelings. She wouldn’t have to worry about the heartbreak she was currently experiencing.

She missed Soojung.

“So, what brings you here to my humble abode?” Krystal gave her a gentle smile, pushing a mug of hot chocolate into her hands. “You never come over anymore.”

Seulgi looked down in shame. Krystal was right, she hadn’t been coming over to her apartment anymore because she was scared. Ever since they broke up, Seulgi felt shy to come over to her apartment mostly due to the awkwardness she wasn’t ready to face.

Yet, sitting here on Krystal’s couch again with the said goddess next to her, there was no sign of awkwardness at all but instead just fond memories that kept on replaying in Seulgi’s mind.

Seulgi should have known — everything was always easy with Soojung.

“Yeah,” Seulgi started, scratching the nape of her neck. “I thought that you wouldn’t want me here anymore.”

“I’ll always want you, Seulgi.” Krystal stared back, her words unwavering. Seulgi had a feeling that she meant something more than just staying in the apartment so she quickly cleared her throat to change the topic.

“So, how are you?”

Krystal remained unfazed. “I’m good, actually. Just passed my art history assignment and tonight I was just thinking of rewarding myself with a good indie movie and some jazz.”

“That’s nice.”

“So, what about you?”

Seulgi inhaled sharply. For some reason, whenever she talks to Soojung, there’s a need in her to talk about everything and anything that has been bothering her. It was as if Soojung didn’t have to do anything for Seulgi to open up. It was just because it was Soojung. Someone Seulgi trusted with her whole life.

“It hurts so much.” Seulgi started bawling, tears streaming down her face. “It shouldn’t hurt so much. Why does it hurt so much?”

Krystal looked alarmed and surprised at the same time, wondering what could have triggered Seulgi to tear up so abruptly. She only stayed silent and waited for Seulgi to elaborate more.

“I shouldn’t be feeling this way, I really shouldn’t. I don’t want to feel this anymore. Feeling this… this… thing for Joy, for Sooyoung, it hurts me than it should. Why is that? Why am I suffering so much? Why can’t I move on?” Seulgi looked up to Krystal as if she would have the answers to everything.

Krystal only gave her a pitiful smile. “Because that’s love.”

“Isn’t love supposed to be a beautiful feeling?”

“In some ways, yes. But it can also be tragically beautiful.”

“Tragically beautiful?” Seulgi sniffed, tears still streaming down her face.

“Love makes you feel a variety of emotions; jealousy, madness, happiness, selflessness. You feel all of this at once. The happiness counters the loneliness you once felt. The jealously complements your pain. Only love can do that to you.”

“And that’s what makes it tragically beautiful.” Seulgi continued, her eyes distant and unfocused.

Soojung only nodded, gently bringing Seulgi’s head down to lie on her lap. She then brushed her fingers through the other’s hair, receiving a soft hum in acknowledgement.

A moment of silence engulfed them, both girls too lost in their own heads. Seulgi thought about Sooyoung and her smile that lights up whenever she’s with Chaeyoung. Whereas Soojung only thought of her soft spot for Seulgi and how it hurts to see the other girl hurting.

“You’ll be okay.” Soojung broke the silence. “You’ll be okay, Seulgi.”

“I hope so.”

(x)

Joy and Chaeyoung didn’t work out in the end.

They both realised that they were just pushing feelings that were not there. They were just still in the relationship for the sake of their friendship and not their feelings towards each other. It wasn’t genuine love for each other but more of an admiration for each other. They both decided that they were better off as friends and nothing more than that.

Seulgi only found out about this when Wendy asked her about it one day in their tutorial together. Since Wendy was both friends with Joy and Chaeyoung, she wanted to know Seulgi’s opinion on it.

“Wait,” Wendy paused. “You didn’t know about it?”

Seulgi looked hurt. “Sooyoung didn’t tell me.”

“It takes time, Seulgi, to get over a broken heart. They may have broken up on mutual terms but it still hurts. Give her time to tell you, I’m sure she will. After all, you guys are best friends.”

“You’re right, Wendy.”

And right, she was.

A few days later, Joy did tell her. She told Seulgi of the events leading up to the breakup, where they didn’t even have any fights throughout the course of their relationship but they just didn’t communicate. They even went on for two weeks without communicating each other. She told Seulgi that she did love Chaeyoung as a friend, more than anything but it just wasn’t enough for her to feel more than a friend’s love. It wasn’t enough for a lover’s love.

That night, as Joy was telling her stories on the her bed with Seulgi next to her, Joy couldn’t help the tears spewing out of her. She wasn’t as sad or anything but she felt as if she needed to cry it out and so she did.

She cried on Seulgi’s shoulders, letting all of her frustrations and her emotions out. The only thing Seulgi could do to make Joy feel better was just hugging the younger girl in hopes of comforting her.

“I just don’t know why I’m so sad about it.” Joy sniffed, tears still falling. “It wasn’t as if she cheated on me. Why am I so heartbroken?”

Seulgi kissed Joy’s temple, rubbing circles on her arm. “It’s okay to be sad about it. You deserve to be sad about it. I would be more worried if you weren’t upset about it.”

“Chaeyoung was my first girlfriend and I don’t regret anything with her. It’s just… I can’t really explain it, unnie.” Joy mumbled out, snuggling even further into Seulgi’s side.

“Shhhh,” Seulgi shushed. “You don’t have to explain it to me, Sooyoung-ah. Just let it all out. I’m here for you.”

(x)

It took almost a week for Joy to get back on track. She was still sad about the whole ordeal with Chaeyoung but she realised that they just weren’t compatible as lovers which wasn’t necessarily a bad thing. Seulgi had watched as Joy picked herself up again and started her daily routine as usual. It brought a smile to Seulgi’s face to see Joy becoming her playful self again.

One day, they were on Seulgi’s bed.

Joy sprawled on one side of the bed with books all around her whereas Seulgi sat cross-legged with her back at the headboard of her bed. They were both studying for their respective tests next week.

Two hours into studying, Seulgi could already see from the corner of her eyes that Joy was starting to get restless, judging by her flickering of her pen every now and then and her sighs every two minutes. Joy was quickly becoming bored of studying. And she was right when Joy suddenly straighten her back and looked at Seulgi questioningly.

“What?” Seulgi questioned, weirded out as to why Joy was staring at her all of a sudden.

“Let’s play a game.”

“A game?” Seulgi asked incredulously. “We have tests to study for, Park Sooyoung!”

“I know, I know. But we can study while playing this game.” Joy suggested, her round eyes sparkling. “Come on! It’ll be fun!”

“Alright, alright.” Seulgi gave in a bit too easily. “What’s the game about?”

The Cheshire grin that Joy gave her made her almost regret her decision. Almost.

“For every answer that you get right, I’ll take a piece of clothing off.” Joy paused, probably for the dramatic effect. “And for every answer that you get wrong, you’ll take a piece of clothing off.”

Seulgi gulped in nervousness. She didn’t like where this was going.

However, it looked like this game had another effect on Joy. She seemed to be having fun at seeing a flustered Seulgi. She could already see the embarrassment emitting from the girl.

This is going to be fun, Joy thought.

“No.” Seulgi refuted, shaking her head in disagreement. “I don’t want to play.”

“What?! Why?” Joy whined like a baby, pouting.

Seulgi stared hard at the wall, not wanting to make eye contact with Joy because she knew she was too weak against Joy’s puppy dog eyes. “I just don’t want to.”

“B-but…” Joy sniffed, tears already forming at the corner of her eyes. Seulgi looked up, alarmed that she made Joy cry but instead she made eye contact with Joy and she could slowly feel her restrain depleting.

“… fine, I’ll play.”

Seulgi ignored the shout of hurray from Joy.

Joy took Seulgi’s flashcards. “First question. Who greatly influenced Pieter Bruegel’s artistic style?”

“Easy. Bosch.”

“I gave you an easy one.”

“Okay, my turn to ask you.” Seulgi choose one of the flashcards from Joy’s pile. “Who composed the Il Trovatore piece?”

“Guiseppe Verdi. Duh.” Joy smugly smirked. “The Rococo Period’s beginning was termed as what?”

Seulgi blanked out. She didn’t cover this topic yet. “Um… the age of youth?”

“Wrong! Answer is the age of Versialle.”

“I knew that, pfft.”

“Of course you did.” Joy raised an eyebrow, obviously unimpressed. “Now, take off your t-shirt.”

This was one of those rare nights where Seulgi regretted wearing just a t-shirt and shorts because she was feeling hot. Blame global warming.

Once topless, Seulgi ignored the way Joy’s eyes were tracing her body. It almost made her shiver. Instead, she focused to ask the next question. “Explain Bit Depth.”

“Uhhh…” Joy hesitated. “The number of samples per unit of time?”

“Nope, it’s the corresponding to the resolution of each sample.”

Joy cursed, already pulling up her shirt above her head before continuing with her question. “What were the main topics of Brugel’s artwork?”

Seulgi found it hard to focus now that Joy was topless. “Uhhhh… m-moral… defects of man.”

“Ding ding ding!”

Looking at the flashcards, Seulgi asked another question to Joy instead. “What is the parameter of Q on an EQ unit?”

“I like you.”

It took her two seconds to process the statement but Seulgi’s eyes widened as soon as it does. Her mouth was still gaping open when she suddenly stammered out, “That’s not the answer.”

“It is the answer, for me.”

Seulgi turned to look at Joy who was determinedly looking at the older girl with a gaze that made Seulgi feel warm on the inside. At first, she wasn’t sure if Joy was joking with her but when she met Joy’s eyes that seem to exude seriousness, she felt herself freeze.

Could it be? That Joy actually liked her back?

“Seulgi, look.” Joy took her hands, gulping nervously. “It took me some time to figure it out but I did. I liked you. I like you. All those times with Dowhan oppa and Chaeyoung made me realise that I was more in love with the idea of them, instead of them. I realised that I preferred to be in your presence more than theirs. I realised that I wanted to always be with you. It was weird at first. It felt foreign even, for me to want my best friend’s company more than my boyfriend’s until I realised what it all meant.

“It means that I’m in love with you, Kang Seulgi.”

(x)

There was not much difference being lovers with Joy.

They still have their weekly movie nights, eat lunch together and study together. They still go do their laundry together and they still have quarrels and fights over who didn’t do the dishes. It was the normal routine they both fell into back when they were friends.

The only difference now that there were kisses. A lot of kisses.

Seulgi would cook dinner and Joy would reward her with a kiss. Seulgi would massage Joy whenever the said girl had a rough day at school and she would get rewarded with a kiss. Or more like, multiple kisses.

It was nice. Seulgi’s heart felt content.

“I love you.”

Seulgi broke out of her thoughts abruptly, shock evident on her face. “So suddenly?”

They were in their apartment, standing near the kitchen counter after coming back from dinner together.

She wasn’t expecting any words from Joy when she saw the younger girl staring at her from the corner of her eye. Joy liked to do that so it didn’t occur to Seulgi that Joy was actually in deep thought.

“Yeah.” Joy sighed, a small smile on her lips. “I do love you.”

“It took you years to figure that out.”

“It wasn’t my fault that you’re a dumb bear who didn’t like to make the first move.”

Seulgi narrowed her eyes. “Excuse you, I did! Remember the music festival where we first met?”

“When you tried to hit on a minor and got yourself exposed as a pedophile?” Joy smirked, amusement glistening in her eyes.

“Yes, yes, yes.” Seulgi rolled her eyes. When will Joy ever let that go? “Look who I’m dating now.”

“Who?”

“The same person I hit on at a music festival a few years ago.”

Joy inched closer, their chests touching. “And how does this person look like?”

“She’s the most beautiful girl I have ever seen.”

“Does she make you happy?” Joy inquired, her arms wrapping around Seulgi’s waist.

In return, Seulgi put her arms around Joy’s neck. “She used to make me cry last time but now, instead of sadness, she makes me cry with tears of joy.”

“I’m glad she does.”

Joy started to lean in, their breaths mingling with each other. She couldn’t keep her eyes off of Seulgi’s lips as she just wanted to feel them against hers. And she did. She pressed her lips against Seulgi’s, adding more pressure every time their lips connect again. It wasn’t until Joy decided to sneak in her tongue into Seulgi’s mouth that Seulgi moaned in pleasure. Seulgi pulled the younger girl closer, wanting to feel her body against hers. They kissed and kissed and kissed until they were both out of breath.

Seulgi laid her forehead against Joy’s, giving her another peck on the lips.

“For the record, I love you too, Park Sooyoung.”