Actions

Work Header

Oh My God They Were Roommates

Chapter Text

Having a plan was probably the most sensible way to enter one's 20s.

No, it most definitely was.

Unfortunately, this was a realization made by Kim Dahyun only when she stood with a box full of someone else’s clothes on the street outside her apartment.

 

“Thank you so much for helping me with all this.” Said a sweet voice, dragging Dahyun from her thoughts. She turned with a hum and looked at the blonde girl who was crawling out of the back of a white van, dragging with her another box identical the one Dahyun was holding. An apologetic smile lit up the girl’s entire face, making her eyes shine. Dahyun adjusted her grasp on the box by propping it up with her knee and bending back further. Her knuckles were whitening with the strain and her hand ached. She should’ve let it stay on the ground until Sana was ready to go, but as soon as she had picked it up, her pride had prevented her from putting it back down.

“Only six more boxes to go, and then I’m treating you to pizza.” Sana promised with a grin and signaled for them to head inside.

“Sounds like a deal.” Dahyun said, following the older girl.

“How long have you lived here?” Sana asked as they entered the elevator, pushing the button to the fourth floor.

“A year, give or take. My old roomie decided to move in with her girlfriend.” Dahyun scrunched her nose and rolled her eyes. Sana looked questioningly at her. “Oh no, she’s my best friend, they’re just so sappy it’s awkward to be around them for too long. You’d think two years would take the honeymoon stage out of a relationship.” Dahyun cringed, adjusting the heavy box again.

The elevator chimed and came to a halt, letting them out too slowly for Dahyun’s liking. They turned right and walked towards Dahyun’s-... towards their apartment.

“What about you?”

“I’ve lived here… a day?” Sana wondered, pursing her lips.

“I mean why did you move?” Dahyun clarified.

“I know what you meant.” Sana giggled and nudged her. “I used to live with some friends but it didn’t really work out. So my friend Momo and I were stuck with the apartment and we couldn’t afford it. We wanted to find something together, but when she saw this she insisted I take it. And it’s good because it’s a lot closer to our school.”

Dahyun backed into the door and propped the box on her leg, opening their door. She hurried as much as she could over to the growing pile of belongings and put down the box, swallowing a complaint as her arms yelled for a break. Then Sana was beside her, putting down her own box. She sent Dahyun a bright smile and made to take another trip down to the moving van.

“You go down, I need to use the bathroom.” Dahyun said without meeting Sana’s eyes. Sana nodded and walked back out, leaving the door open by a crack. Dahyun waited until Sana was out of earshot to throw a curse at Sana’s belongings. She massaged her shoulders and non-existant biceps. How much stuff did that girl have anyways? Sure, she got the big room, but it wasn’t that big.

Dahyun swung her arms around, trying to regain some feeling in them, before heading into the bathroom, massaging at her shoulders. She locked the door and sighed, using the opportunity to actually pee.

It was so tempting to let exhaustion overpower her, as she sat there, head buried in her hands. She considered texting Jihyo to say that she wouldn’t be staying the night, but never got around to it.

 

Three minutes later she collided with Sana in the hallway. The older girl had attempted to carry two boxes at once, apparently to save them a trip, and laughed at her own clumsiness as Dahyun caught the top box.

“Thank you.” Sana said through giggles. Dahyun’s shoulders complained but she ignored it. “By now I owe you both pizza and wine.”

“I have some wine in my fridge?” Dahyun pondered.

“That’d do.”

Sana let them into the apartment. Even if it had caused trouble for Sana, a part of Dahyun was grateful that she didn’t have to take another full trip.

 

On the last two trips down to the white van, Dahyun was careful about waiting to lift the box until they were both ready, but she still couldn’t hide a relieved groan as she put down the last box. Even Sana sighed and stretched. Dahyun reached back and tried to rub out a muscle knot in her shoulder, wincing as it gave a jab.

They stood in silence for a little, looking at the boxes.

“I don’t actually know any good pizza places nearby...” Sana admitted with a shy smile. It made Dahyun chuckle. She pointed at a menu stuck to the fridge with one of those tourist magnets that said I heart Singapore .

 

The keys were cold against Jihyo’s hands as she pressed them in a familiar pattern. Sound filled the tiny apartment and her mind emptied of every bad thought. There was just her and the piano and Tzuyu on Jihyo’s bed with her laptop and a set of sheet music. Somehow playing made all of her worries go away, and filled her heart with sound, feeling it stream through every artery. She wasn’t flawless, and it was never easy. But she felt at home in this piece.

 

Only when the song ended and she stopped humming along did she notice that Tzuyu had been as well.

With a smile, she turned on the chair and faced Tzuyu. “Was that okay?”

“Definitely. It always helps when I can see it being played.” Tzuyu said, her ears moving slightly as a smile spread across her face.

“You have a weird brain. But I like it.” Jihyo said and shook her head.

“You guys keep saying that. You and Dahyun.” Tzuyu ran her hand through her hair. Grabbed the hair tie from her wrist and started working her hair into a ponytail.

“Well, it’s true.” Jihyo shrugged.

Just as Jihyo was about to change the subject, Tzuyu’s phone chimed. Tzuyu looked at it and grabbed it to read properly. Moments later Jihyo’s phone vibrated in her pocket as well, and she frowned. The message was from Jeongyeon, about getting together at her place on friday. All of them, for once. It had been more than a month since she had last offered to have people over, and it pleased Jihyo to see that she was once again up for bringing people over.

“Did you get the text from Jeongyeon as well?” Jihyo asked as she texted Jeongyeon back, telling her that she was up for it.

“Yeah.” Tzuyu said and wrote something on her phone. “I still don’t understand why she refuses to use the group chat.”

“She’s just bitter that Nayeon changed her name in the chat.”

“I thought she got her back for that.”

“She did. But they handle things very differently.” Jihyo explained, reminding herself that while Tzuyu had gotten close with most of the group quite soon, it always took longer with the two oldest. They somehow had a special bubble around them that most people never got to be included in.

Tzuyu went back to writing on her laptop, her words pulling Jihyo from her thoughts. “Handle things how?”

“Nayeon yells and forgets about it. Jeongyeon cares a lot more. She’s superb at dishing out the insult, but really bad at being on the receiving end.” Jihyo chuckled. Watched as Tzuyu pressed a dramatic stop on her laptop and stretched.

“Do you have everything you need?” Jihyo asked.

“Yes, it was really just that last bit. I’m just gonna send it to Dahyun, then I’ll be out of your hair.” Tzuyu squinted slightly at the screen as her eyes darted across it.

“You don’t have to go.” Jihyo shrugged. “I mean I have to do laundry, but-”

“Sure.” Tzuyu closed the laptop with a shrug.

“Yeah? I already washed it but it’s just in a big heap in the bag.” Jihyo said, grabbing the laundry bag from beside the piano. Poured the contents onto the bed as soon as Tzuyu had moved her laptop and the sheet music.

“How is school anyway?” Jihyo asked, not sure how else to ask. Didn’t want to seem overprotective, even though she had long ago had to admit, that she was.

“Better, I think. It’s hard to know, but I think better.” Tzuyu grabbed a shirt and folded it.

“That’s a relief.” Jihyo smiled and put a pair of pants next to the shirt.

Tzuyu smiled. Grabbed another shirt. Jihyo took a sweater.

They shared the work in silence. Tzuyu didn’t seem to mind, and Jihyo loved that about her. It was something Jihyo used to do with Mina when she lived in the building, and it was only now she realized how much she missed having people around to do the trivial stuff with as well.

“Isn’t this Dahyun’s?” Tzuyu asked, Jihyo jolting slightly, looking around at the grey shirt.

“Oh. It is. She must’ve forgotten it here.” Jihyo frowned.

“Do you want me to bring it to class for her?” Tzuyu offered.

“No, it’s okay. I’ll bring it with me on friday.” Jihyo grabbed it from Tzuyu and folded it. Held it gently in her hands for a second and then put it on the bed away from the other piles.

“You’re never gonna stop worrying, are you?” Tzuyu asked.

“Never.” Jihyo said, sincerity in her voice.

Tzuyu took another shirt. Folded it, opening her mouth and closing it again. Jihyo frowned but Tzuyu just shook her head and smiled.

“My boss is talking about promoting me.” Jihyo changed the subject.

“That’s amazing.” Tzuyu beamed.

Jihyo fiddled with a sock. “Yeah, I mean. I’m not sure I’d be-”

“Come on, you practically run the business already. Even did back when I met you.” Tzuyu said.

“I just hope I can actually do well. It’s gonna be different once I actually have all the responsibility. I don’t know if I can handle it.” Jihyo admitted, pushing in the pockets of a pair of jeans before folding them.

“Sure you can.” Said Tzuyu.

“You should come by again.” Jihyo looked at her. “It’s been forever, I might’ve forgotten your order by now.”

“I will. I promise.” Tzuyu smiled and took the last shirt.

 

 

Dahyun stepped out of the shower to see her screen light up. No less than eleven messages were listed one after the other on her lock screen. She sighed and wrapped a towel around her hair, drying her hands in it. Grabbed her phone in one hand and a large towel in the other, reading the messages.

 

2:53 pm Chaeyoung: Is she here?

2:54 pm Chaeyoung: What was her name again? Something Japanese right?

2:54 pm Chaeyoung: Was it Sana?

3:15 pm Chaeyoung: Jeongyeon wants a group night on Friday, you game?

3:16 pm Jeongyeon: Group night at my place Friday, wanna come?

3:19 pm Jeongyeon: Your new roomie is welcome to join if you want.

5:10 pm Chaeyoung: Are you alive? Is your roommate an axe murderer? You’re either dead or getting laid.

5:12 pm Chaeyoung: Please don’t be dead. Or getting laid. It’s bad luck to get with your roomie on the first day. Have some respect and wait a few weeks. Or at least a few days.

5:53 pm Tzuyu: You’re coming to movie night, right? I’m not gonna survive gross and grosser if you aren’t there.

5:55 pm Chaeyoung: Don’t make me come over there.

5:59 pm Jihyo: I found a shirt at my place, is it yours?

 

There was a picture attached to Jihyo’s message, a grey shirt with the logo of Dahyun’s dad’s favorite baseball team, the LG Twins. When had she left that? Probably the last time she stayed over, which was when? A few nights ago? Honestly it was all just a blur by now. She sighed and started answering, wrapping the towel around her awkwardly.

 

6:32 pm Dahyun: Chaeng. Calm. Your. Tits.

6:34 pm Dahyun: I was helping Sana move boxes for hours and just took a shower to smell less like a donkey and more like a person. I haven’t been murdered and I definitely haven’t gotten laid, thank you very much.

6:35 pm Dahyun: I haven’t decided about Jeongyeon’s movie night yet. Gonna talk to Sana about it.

 

She dried off and got clothed, combing through her damp hair before twisting it in a bun, changing to her chat with Jeongyeon.

 

6:40 pm Dahyun: Thanks Jeong, I’ll probably join and I might ask Sana if it’s really ok with you for her to join?

 

Tugging her lower lip between her teeth, Dahyun switched to the chat with Jihyo.

 

6:42 pm Dahyun: It’s mine! Or my dad’s but I stole it. Thank you. I’ll come pick it up in a few days.

6:42 pm Dahyun: Oh, and Sana moved in today!

 

In the time it had taken her to answer all the texts, Chaeyoung had answered.

 

6:41 pm Chaeyoung: Just making sure. And you’re sure you don’t need me to move back in? You’re sure you can handle things without me?

 

Dahyun snorted and got dressed.

 

6:45 pm Dahyun: Getting cold feet already?

6:46 pm Dahyun: I definitely do not need you to move back in, I can’t handle more of you two than I have to.

6:46 pm Dahyun: Now go away and annoy that girl of yours instead of me.

 

Dahyun shut off the screen on her phone and pocketed it, shaking her head at Chaeyoung as she walked back into the living room. Sana was sitting in Dahyun’s couch, and beamed as she looked around at Dahyun. It occured to Dahyun that she should probably think that it was weird how happy Sana was all the time. In the few hours she had been here, she had filled the entire place with giggles and sunshine. But Dahyun didn’t think it weird at all. Just saw it as a welcome change in an otherwise annoyingly colorless month. Months.

“Pizza will be here in five minutes. Hopefully. Should I get the wine?” Sana asked, bringing Dahyun back to reality.

“That’d be great.” Dahyun hummed and flopped onto the couch as Sana got up. As Sana turned into the kitchen, Dahyun looked after her, guiding her around. Told her where she could find glasses and a wine opener and what shelf in the fridge had the leftover white wine.

 

A squeal sounded from the kitchen and then a breathless laughter. It seemed that Sana had tripped over her own feet in the kitchen. Her cheeks were slightly pink as she hurried back to the couch and handed over the wine and glasses. And then Sana let out another laugh and honestly, Dahyun wasn’t sure why. But she found that she didn’t need to know.

As Sana sat back down, Dahyun started working at the cork. She fumbled slightly as Sana curled up next to her, keeping a little less than what Dahyun considered a respectable distance for acquaintances. But never mind that, Dahyun thought. They were roommates, they might as well get used to being close. After all, it wasn’t the world’s biggest apartment.

“So, I have a favor to ask.” Sana looked at her glass, then at Dahyun. “Big favor actually.”

“Fire away.” Dahyun took a sip.

“Well, you remember I told you that my friend Momo and I lost our apartment?” Sana put the glass down.

Dahyun nodded.

“Well, she’s still apartment hunting, and she’s getting kicked out of our place soon. So I was wondering if you’d be ok with her staying in my room for a few days. Weeks probably, if we’re being realistic. Just until she finds somewhere else?” Sana’s eyes were big and full of plea. And Dahyun couldn’t help notice just how pretty she was.

“I’m sure we can manage.” Dahyun said without really considering it.

This made Sana beam and excitedly she threw her arms around Dahyun. It blew the air from Dahyun’s lungs and almost made her spill the wine, but she didn’t care.

“Thank you, Dahyunnie!” She said, sunshine in her voice. Then she drew back and raised her glass. “Cheers… to being roommates.”

She poked at Dahyun with a toe. With a laugh, Dahyun clinked her glass against Sana’s and they both drank.

12:34 am Dahyun: HELP.

12:34 am Dahyun: Please be up.

12:34 am Dahyun: Help.

 

Chaeyoung’s eyes went big as she read the messages that had popped up while she had been writing.

 

12:37 am Chaeyoung: Oh my god, you banged.

12:38 am Dahyun: No we didn’t!

12:38 am Dahyun: Shut up

12:38 am Dahyun: Nevermind.

12:39 am Chaeyoung: Come on, it was a joke.

12:39 am Chaeyoung: Mostly.

12:40 am Chaeyoung: No, ok, I was sure you actually had slept with her. Nvm, what’s up?

12:41 am Dahyun: She’s asleep. On me.

12:41 am Chaeyoung: lmao. What?!

 

Chaeyoung laughed. Loud. Loud enough to wake the girl next to her. A pair of drowsy eyes looked up at her the light from the phone reflected in them.

“Dahyun.” Chaeyoung giggled and turned her phone so Nayeon could watch the conversation. A sleepy giggle escaped the older girl’s throat. She was hoarse, like she always was right when she woke, and it made Chaeyoung’s heart flutter.

 

12:43 am Dahyun: She bought me pizza after we finished moving and we drank the wine I had left from Mina’s birthday. And she’s… Cuddly. I don’t really think there’s anything in it?

12:44 am Dahyun: She’s just very touchy.

12:44 am Dahyun: and tall

12:44 am Dahyun: and pretty

12:44 am Dahyun: We watched a movie and she was leaning on me a lot.

 

Chaeyoung snorted at her friend’s obvious panic. Nayeon was chuckling as well, following the conversation.

 

12:45 am Dahyun: and now she’s asleep. I’m lying on the couch and she’s sort of… well, laying on me?

 

This time Nayeon laughed out loud and buried her face in Chaeyoung’s arm. “Poor Dahyun.” She whispered

“Poor Dahyun? She’s sprawled on the couch with a pretty girl on top of her. For years that was my dream!” Chaeyoung grinned, and added, softer: “Still is.” Even if she thought it might be comments like this that made Tzuyu and Jeongyeon roll their eyes and pretend to puke.

Nayeon hummed.

 

12:47 am Chaeyoung: And the problem is?

12:47 am Dahyun: What am I supposed to do?! I can’t carry her to bed, my arms are dead!

12:47 am Dahyun: Don’t.

12:47 am Dahyun: It’s from carrying boxes.

12:47 am Dahyun: But I don’t think I can get out without waking her up.

12:48 am Chaeyoung: Well, it’s obvious isn’t it?

12:48 am Dahyun: No. Enlighten me please oh wise padawan.

 

Chaeyoung chuckled at the sarcastic tone but decided to take it as a compliment. After all one of them was single and the other was not. And Chaeyoung took great pride in being the latter.

 

12:49 am Chaeyoung: Can you reach a blanket?

12:49 am Dahyun: Yeah. why?

 

Chaeyoung rolled her eyes. She felt Nayeon’s cool hand creep under her shirt and drawing circles around her belly button. The hairs stood up wherever Nayeon’s fingers trached. She looked down at Nayeon again but she was paying attention to the screen.

 

12:50 am Chaeyoung: Ok, this is only because I’m your friend and you’re obviously the most useless lesbian I’ve ever met.

12:51 am Chaeyoung: You throw the blanket over both of you.

12:51 am Chaeyoung: And you go to sleep.

12:51 am Chaeyoung: It’s quite simple.

12:51 am Chaeyoung: And then you stop texting me and enjoy this.

 

Chaeyoung felt Nayeon’s shoulders shake with quiet laughter. The hand on her stomach wandered distractingly upwards.

 

12:53 am Dahyun: I hate you, you know that?

12:54 am Chaeyoung: Goodnight!

 

Chaeyoung turned the phone on silent and looked at Nayeon whose eyes were glued to the younger girl’s face.

“At least she’s not alone.” Chaeyoung mumbled as she reached over her girlfriend to reconnect the phone to the charger.

“And Sana seems friendly.” Nayeon said, amusement in her voice. “As long as she doesn’t make Dahyun fall for her. That’d be such a mess.”

“Don’t worry. I give her shit a lot, but Dahyun doesn’t really fall for people that easily. She’s never had a serious crush, I think.” Chaeyoung slid down, turning on her side.

“Unlike some people.” Nayeon’s fingers scratched over Chaeyoung’s stomach before settling on her waist.

“Hey, it really wasn’t a choice, maybe if you hadn’t been so hot then...” Chaeyoung trailed off, her cheeks warming at the way Nayeon raised her eyebrows. “What?”

Nayeon smiled. “You’re cute when you’re flustered. It’s okay that you had a crush on me.”

“I still have a crush on you.” Chaeyoung admitted with a grin.

“Aww, babe that’s so cute.” Nayeon cooed, fingers trailing up the younger girl’s side.

“You know I love you, right?” Chaeyoung hummed, leaning into Nayeon’s touch.

“You might’ve told me.” Nayeon shrugged playfully, smoothly moving her hand around to Chaeyoung’s front. “But I don’t really remember that well. Old age and all that.”

Chaeyoung brushed her lips against Nayeon’s sleep-swollen ones. “I love you, Im Nayeon.”

Nayeon chuckled and pushed the younger girl onto her back, moving to settle above her.

“I love you too.”

 

Dahyun couldn’t sleep. The feeling of Sana’s chest rising and falling against her stomach was too distracting, especially coupled with her warm breath against Dahyun’s collarbone. Sana’s hand was wrapped around Dahyun’s shoulder and the other resting under Sana’s head, separating it from Dahyun’s chest. She had managed to throw the couch blanket over Sana effectively by throwing it as far down their bodies as she could. With as little motion as possible she had used her toes to pull at the ends to cover Sana’s bare legs.

 

Sana mumbled in her sleep and Dahyun dared to look at her phone again. 2:17 am. She sighed and closed her eyes. This was definitely going to have consequences in the morning. She had a class at ten the next morning. But that wasn’t the big problem. It was her night to close up at work. Of course she would have Jeongyeon there, which helped a little. She would understand. Or laugh. Probably both. Jeongyeon… Oh, right. Dahyun’s eyes shot open as she remembered the conversation she had had with Sana about Jeongyeon earlier. She looked at her phone and opened her KakaoTalk, her arms wrapping around Sana’s back so she could write without the light bothering the sleeping girl.

 

2:19 am Dahyun: I’m game for movie night. Sana wants to come but she has a friend coming over. Says she’s probably game as well but I didn’t want to invite both without asking you.

 

Dahyun considered seeing if anyone else was still online, but just as she was about to put the phone away and give sleep another try, the message marked as “read” and a response was being typed.

 

2:21 am Jeongyeon: What are you doing up at this hour, are you ok?

2:21 am Dahyun: Yeah, I’m fine.

2:21 am Jeongyeon: Then what, did you get laid or something?

2:22 am Dahyun: Why does everyone assume I’ve gotten laid? Me. Really?

2:22 am Jeongyeon: It’s bound to happen sooner or later, but I guess since it’s you, later is probably a better guess.

2:23 am Dahyun: Fuck off.

2:23 am Dahyun: What about Sana and Momo, can they come?

2:23 am Jeongyeon: Weird names.

2:23 am Jeongyeon: Sure, I don’t mind.

2:24 am Jeongyeon: What are you doing up anyway?

2:24 am Dahyun: None of your business

2:25 am Jeonyeon: Fine, I’ll just ask Nayeon.

 

Dahyun’s breath caught but it had nothing to do with the message. She felt Sana’s hand travel from her shoulder to her chest and settle above her heart. It was beating treacherously fast against her ribs.

 

2:26 am Dahyun: Why do you assume she knows?

2:26 am Jeongyeon: Cause you tell Chaeyoung everything. And she tells anything to Nayeon if she asks. And Nayeon loves dishing.

 

There was no arguing with that logic, so Dahyun just let out a sigh and replied.

 

2:27 am Dahyun: Fine. Sana fell asleep on top of me and I can’t sleep because of it.

 

Dahyun waited for a response, knowing full well Jeongyeon was laughing her ass off and felt inclined to throw her phone against the wall to avoid whatever response Jeongyeon was going to come up with.

 

2:30 am Jeongyeon: Well, you have fun with that.

 

Dahyun turned the screen off, feeling Sana stir.

“Dahyunnie?” Sana’s voice was croaky and for a moment Dahyun thought she was talking in her sleep. But she felt the hand move from her heart again and a finger traced up her neck, and had to swallow hard to avoid losing herself in the feeling. It wasn’t as if she was trying anything, but it was incredibly hard to ignore the reality of Sana squashed on top of her.

“Mh?” She tried to feign a calm she didn’t have.

“Why aren’t you sleeping?” Sana asked in a whisper.

“I was…” Dahyun lied.

“No you weren’t.” Sana said, a smile in her voice. “Your heart is beating like crazy.”

Dahyun felt her face cringe involuntarily and she opened one eye slowly and looked down her own body. Sana’s gaze fixed her. She sighed and opened the other eye, facing Sana’s stare full on.

“I’m not used to people sleeping on me.” Dahyun admitted quietly.

Sana giggled, her entire body shaking against Dahyun’s.

“Sorry.”

She didn’t sound sorry.

“Also, the couch isn’t really the most comfortable place to sleep.” Dahyun added.

“Would the bed be better?”

“What?” Dahyun’s heart jumped and caught in her throat, her warmth creeping up her neck and settle in her cheeks. She stared at the girl still laying on her chest staring up at her with inquiring eyes. Her entire demeanor was so innocent that Dahyun felt she might’ve imagined that sentence.

“I’m gonna go at least.” Sana smiled. Dahyun felt her mouth open and close as the weight of Sana’s body lifted off of her, the blanket falling to the floor, her mind attempting to catch up with a reality she had not expected to be in. Ever.

“Goodnight, Dahyunnie.” Sana said, trailing her fingers across Dahyun’s embarrassingly warm cheek. Sana’s fingers were soft and cool against her skin. Had she been smarter, had she read her new roommate better, had she been a braver person, she would’ve let herself lean into the touch. But instead she felt the muscles of her neck tighten, keeping her head perfectly still. She felt Sana’s eyes on her, but Dahyun kept her gaze locked on the front door. Only when Dahyun was sure Sana had turned her head away, did she dare look after the older girl as she walked into Chaeyoung’s- into her room. Oh right. Not together to bed. Just.. to bed. Because this wasn’t some cheesy heteronormative rom com she had fallen into, where having a one night stand with your new roomie is seen as normal and desirable. This was reality. And the reality was that Dahyun’s head was spinning. She was absolutely exhausted, yet completely awake. Her arms ached and her legs were buzzing from the sudden return of a steady blood-supply. She should move. She should definitely move into the bed. She wanted to. But she didn’t. Instead she grasped pathetically at the air and the floor until her fingers closed around the blanket. Pulled it with much effort from the floor and wrapped herself in it, turning heavily onto her side and curled up, waiting for sleep to take her.

 

The blanket had a new scent on it.

 

And the apartment had a new resident.

Chapter Text

Dahyun woke to the smell of burnt toast. Sniffing once, twice, she scrunched her nose and opened her eyes. She was still on the couch, wrapped in the blanket, a little too neatly for how her sheets usually looked in the morning. The smell of burnt bread hit her nostrils again and she sat up, looking around. With lenses that stuck to the insides of her eyelids, she tried to make sense of it all.

With the blanket tugged around her shoulders, and phone habitually in her hand, Dahyun walked into the kitchen to find Sana scraping at a piece of charred toast with the dull side of a knife. The older girl looked at Dahyun like a deer caught in headlights, and for a moment Dahyun had to just stare, trying to wrap her mind around the sight of Sana. Her blonde hair was in a messy bun and she wore round spectacles that made her look incredibly adorable. But the thing that really made Dahyun stop was the fact that Sana was wearing an oversized sweater; Dahyun’s oversized sweater. Ignoring the last thought, Dahyun put her phone on the little round kitchen table, grabbed two pieces of bread from the pack  on the counter and held out a hand for the burnt toast. Sana handed it over with an apologetic smile. Without a single word, Dahyun threw it directly into the trash, making Sana gape, then giggle. Dahyun then propped the two new pieces into the toaster and checked the setting. Meanwhile, Sana started cleaning the sink of charred crumbs. Dahyun found them plates and strawberry jam, leftover from Chaeyoung. A thought at the back of Dahyun’s head reminded her that she would have to discuss shopping and cooking with Sana. Honestly she hadn’t been good at remembering either since Chaeyoung moved out, as she had been handling that stuff for months.

 

“Did you sleep well?” Sana asked, breaking the silence, examining the sink for leftover crumbs.

Dahyun didn’t know what to answer, so she just shrugged. Honestly, she was exhausted. Once she had fallen asleep, it had been worried dreams and one of her occasional nightmares that had haunted her. And a part of her wished that she had woken Sana earlier or hadn’t let her fall asleep on her in the first place. But there was another part of her that didn’t mind.

The sound of the toaster saved her from the rest of that thought, and she grabbed the toast quickly, placing one piece on each plate at the table in the tiny kitchen. She filled the kettle with water and turned it on, knowing full well that she would need more than a piece of toast with jam to keep her going through class.

Class.

Her heart in her throat, Dahyun grabbed her phone on the table and turned it so the screen turned on. 8:26. How could she have forgotten to set her alarm? She never forgot. Thankfully she had only overslept by about ten minutes.

“Everything ok?” Sana asked.

“Mh. Just… I have class soon.” Dahyun mumbled, grabbing the now crispy golden toast as it popped up, and sat down. Sana joined her with the other piece and they took turns with the jam.

“What class?” Sana asked between bites, pulling at her hair tie until her hair was released. It fell messily onto her shoulders and down her front, and she ran her hands through it until she had a proper parting.

“History of musical theater.” Dahyun held a hand in front of her mouth as she answered before swallowing. Noticing the sound of boiling water, she got up and dug into the pantry looking for cup noodles. She found one and looked over at Sana, silently asking if she wanted one. Sana nodded, and Dahyun grabbed one for each of them.

“Are you always this talkative in the mornings?” Sana asked playfully.

“Huh?” Dahyun looked up from her attempts to open the cup. “Oh. I’m just tired.”

“I’m sorry. You could’ve woken me, you know.”

“I know.” Dahyun wanted to say more. Things like but you looked so peaceful and I didn’t mind it flew through her head, but she let them stay there. In her head. Instead she took it out on the lid to the cup noodles and almost spilled the contents when she finally managed to get the plastic cover halfway off.

“I hope you slept some after I moved.” Sana said genuinely as Dahyun got up from the creaky kitchen chair once more, this time to get the kettle.

“I did.” She assured Sana. Tried to force a smile at her, but found that she didn’t have to. Sana’s smile was almost impossible not to return.

A buzzing on the little kitchen table grabbed her attention and found her phone lighting up. Sana looked at the caller name with interest.

“Chaeyoung? Isn’t that your old roomie?” She asked.

“Yup.” Dahyun said and picked up. “Hello?”

“She lives!” Chaeyoung proclaimed in the other end of the phone. Dahyun heard Nayeon laugh loudly somewhere in the background

“What do you want?” Dahyun grumbled. Sana tried to get her attention, pointing to the kettle and then to Dahyun’s cup ramen. Dahyun nodded.

“I just thought calling you would be a good idea in case you might oversleep.” Chaeyoung said.

“Oh. That’s… kind of you.” Dahyun said, watching as Sana poured hot water into Dahyun’s cup and then her own, shutting the lids on both.

“You sound dead. Did you end up sleeping at all?”

“In the end.”

“And your roommate… Sana?”

“Yes, Sana.” Dahyun explained.

“That’s me!” Sana said excitedly, raising a hand and giggling.

“Put me on speaker!” Chaeyoung immediately insisted.

“No way.” Dahyun cut her off. Sana looked at her questioningly. Then bit her lip and explained. “My friend wants to talk to you.”

Sana nodded enthusiastically, sitting up straighter.

“It’s your lucky day, Chaeng,” Dahyun said in a warning voice. “Don’t make me regret this.”

“Never.” Chaeyoung promised and Nayeon was laughing again, closer this time.

Dahyun sighed and pressed the speaker button.

“Can she hear me?” Chaeyoung asked.

“Yes, I can! Hi, I’m Sana!” Sana waved at the phone. Dahyun pressed her lips together, hiding a smile.

“Chaeyoung here, nice to uh, well, not meet you I guess, but nice to talk to you! I used to live in your room. I’m also Dahyun’s very best friend in the whole wide-”

“No you’re not.” Dahyun grumbled, opening the lid of her ramen, stirring impatiently with a pair of chopsticks.

“Don’t listen to her, Sana. I’m her best friend.”

“She is!” Nayeon agreed from the other end. “I’m Nayeon by the way. I’m the reason those two don’t live together anymore.”

“So, you’re the grossly sappy girlfriend.” Sana chimed happily. Dahyun looked up, her eyes wide, shaking her head violently. Sana looked confused.

“Oi, Kim Dahyun.” Nayeon warned. Great, Dahyun she was definitely going to pay for this on friday.

“I’m sure Dahyunnie didn’t mean it in a bad way.” Sana tried to help.

“We’re not grossly sappy!” Chaeyoung insisted.

“No, you’re just gross.” Dahyun finally snapped.

“Shut up.” Chaeyoung laughed.

“Fuck off.” Dahyun grinned, finally satisfied with her noodles. She took the lid off entirely as she turned off the call and sent a short text to Chaeyoung.

 

8:45 am Dahyun: Thank you.

 

“I’m gonna kill algebra. I don’t know how but I’ll find a way.” Chaeyoung sighed and threw the pen onto the paper in annoyance.

“I think I might have my answers to that problem somewhere. I took the class last year and I may have a bunch of hand-ins somewhere.” Nayeon looked over at Chaeyoung’s notes, moving the pen.

“That’d be amazing,” Said Chaeyoung. “I cannot figure it out for the life of me. I mean, who knows this shit anyways?”

“Not me. I got mine from Jeongyeon.” Shrugged Nayeon.

“Oh right, you guys took it together.” Chaeyoung mused as Nayeon closed her laptop and got up.

“Hang on, I’ll check,” She said and left the room. Chaeyoung leaned on her arms, waiting.

It was one of the practical things about dating an older girl. Usually Nayeon had already had some of the minor courses. But sometimes Chaeyoung regretted that she had chosen the same major as Nayeon. Of course, being in separate years made a difference, but some of their subjects overlapped and during their busy weeks they hardly spoke about anything but school. Not that Chaeyoung didn’t like school. But sometimes she missed just talking about something else.

“Found them!” Nayeon yelled from the bedroom. “Oh wait! Nope… Yes, this is it!”

Chaeyoung chuckled and sat back up as Nayeon returned, handing the younger girl a stack of notes. Chaeyoung quickly scanned it and groaned. She had miscalculated in the very first step. With a click of the tongue, Chaeyoung ripped off the page she had been writing on and started over.

“You never told me last night, but now that you’ve talked to her, what did you think of Sana?” Nayeon asked, just as Chaeyoung was about to redo the problem.

“Mh, not sure. I mean she seems fun? Friendly too I guess, like you said. I’m just not sure it’s what Dahyun needs right now. She’d be much better off with someone like Mina as her roommate.”

“Did she ask Mina?” Nayeon frowned.

“No, I did. But she said she wanted to try living on her own for now. I just don’t understand why she would want to live all by herself so far away from the rest of us.”

“She’s a hermit.” Nayeon shrugged. “I’m sure she’s good enough. Sana, I mean. Maybe fun is exactly what Dahyun needs.”

“Maybe. You probably know better than me. I mean. Sorry… That wasn’t fair.” Chaeyoung said bending over her math.

“No, it wasn’t. But I get it; she didn’t tell you. But she did it of a good heart.”

“I know.” Sighed Chaeyoung. Smiled when Nayeon wrapped her in a hug and kissed her temple.

“When you’re done with math hell, do you want to go through the work for the presentation next week?”

“Sure.” Chaeyoung smiled.

And they were back on the subject of school.

 

Dahyun yawned. Loudly. Unattractively. Without covering her mouth. She didn’t give a flying fuck by now. She just wanted to sleep. But instead here she was, filling a tray with almost-empty glasses of beer and other less telligible beverages, grabbing the dish cloth she had put down earlier, and wiped the table clean.

“Running on fumes today, huh?” Jeongyeon walked past her with four plates of delicious food.

“It’s not that bad.” Dahyun insisted. She placed a new paper cloth onto the now clean table and took the tray of glasses out into the kitchen. Jeongyeon soon joined her.

“You look like hell.” Jeongyeon said dryly, adjusting her shirt into her skirt and fixing the tie. She looked at the clock and then at the line. It was empty but the next serving wouldn’t be far behind. Even on mondays the place was packed.

“I threw out her toast.” Dahyun groaned, rubbing at her temples.

“Excuse me?” Jeongyeon snorted, turning to look at Dahyun.

“She made toast. Sana.” Dahyun continued as Jeongyeon leaned against the line, shifting the weight on her feet with a slight cringe. Dahyun noticed she wasn’t wearing her usual sneakers but i canvas shoes that definitely weren’t meant for eleven hour shifts. “She made toast and burned it to a char and it woke me. The smell. And I just... Took it? Without a word. And threw it out…” She groaned at her own stupidity.

“You made her a new piece, right?” Jeongyeon asked with actual concern.

“Yes? I think… Yes, I did. I even let her use Chaeyoung’s jam.” Dahyun shook her head then stretched her neck, feeling it crack satisfactorily.

“That’s something at least.” Jeongyeon said and walked over to stand behind Dahyun, rubbing at her shoulders caringly. Dahyun hummed happily and leaned into her friend, her eyes fluttering closed. She might fall asleep right then and there, knowing full well that Jeongyeon would always catch her. But then the chef, Taeyang, called from the line. Three plates were waiting to be served. Jeongyeon let Dahyun’s shoulders go with a final squeeze and Dahyun took the order.

“I’m never going to get back to a regular sleep schedule as long as I work here.” Jeongyeon sighed, sitting down on the bench outside the restaurant, rubbing her ankles.

“Nope. But the money is good.” Dahyun mumbled, her head leaning against the brick wall. The night air was cool, but not cold. It was just past 2 am and they should be heading in opposite directions home. But they didn’t. Instead they sat, like they always did, just for a minute, shoulder to shoulder, looking onto the dead street. Jeongyeon was holding a bottle of leftover red wine from the kitchen. There was only a few swigs at the bottom, barely worth sticking around for, but it had become a tradition whenever they were the ones who closed up.

“Is she cute at least?” Jeongyeon asked unexpectedly, taking a careful sip of the wine.

“Huh?” Dahyun leaned forwards and looked at Jeongyeon.

“Your new roomie; Sana. She cute?”

“Yup.” Dahyun pressed her lips together and looked straight ahead.

“How cute?”

“You know. Cute.” Dahyun accepted the wine bottle from Jeongyeon and valued the contents. She could empty it in one go. She settled for a sip.

“So, drop dead gorgeous.” Jeongyeon concluded.

“Yup.” Dahyun stared at the lamp post.

“You didn’t already fall for her, did you?” Jeongyeon sounded almost worried. Dahyun zoned back and turned to look at Jeongyeon. She didn’t answer. She didn’t exactly feel like she had a crush on Sana. It was more a permanent state of confusion. She made her dizzy. Made her completely unable to think.

“She wore my clothes.” Dahyun blurted. Jeongyeon waited for her to elaborate. “She’s so. I don’t know her at all and she keeps trying to cuddle me and hugged me goodbye before my shift. And this morning,”

“With the toast?”

“Yeah, she was wearing my sweater. You know, the one Mina brought back from Japan for me. We don’t know even know each other. I should find it weird, right? Or is it weird that I actually don’t really mind?”

Jeongyeon didn’t answer. She got up, cringed and looked down at Dahyun with tired eyes.

“You can have the rest.”

Jeongyeon walked into the darkness, heading towards her apartment.

 

Dahyun emptied the bottle.

 

The irony lay heavy in the air around Chaeyoung as she sat on the cold floor in the kitchen, head leaned on the fridge. For an entire month she had lived here officially, yet she hadn’t felt less like this was her apartment. When she lived with Dahyun, this place had been her favorite, but now it felt somewhat like a stranger.

Chaeyoung mumbled to herself as she wrote in her notebook. Lyric after lyric poured from her in the darkness lit only by her phone shining down on her from the countertop. Every word was about the same person. Had been for years. The girl whose arms Chaeyoung could so easily wrap herself in if she just got up and walked into their bed.

There were many places and many people whom Chaeyoung loved. But no place more than Nayeon’s heart and no person more than Nayeon. She knew in her heart that people would look at them and think what an odd match . Knew that all their friends had thought so as well. Of all the combinations in the world, this had been the least expected. Even Chaeyoung had been surprised. She had always waited for the day where her feelings for Dahyun would turn from friendship to romance. It had been the logical choice. But it never happened. She was always just stupid little Dahyun. The best friend in the world. But Nayeon. Nayeon had turned the younger girl into a flustering mess from the start, and had enjoyed it.

A smile spread on Chaeyoung’s lips as she closed the notebook. Got up and turned off the light on her phone. With a yawn she entered the bedroom and crawled gently under the covers, the warmth from Nayeon pulling her in. She settled naturally on her  own side of the bed and stared at the beautiful sleeping girl on the other side. Her hair was red this time around. Had dyed it a few weeks ago when she had gone with Jeongyeon to get her roots done.

“I love you.” Chaeyoung breathed. Nayeon slept.

Finally Chaeyoung scooted closer, her knees bumping against Nayeon’s before turning around and pulling Nayeon around herself like the most wonderful blanket. The sound of Nayeon’s hum and the feeling of her tugging the shorter girl closer was enough to make Chaeyoung’s heart burst. It was all the little things. All the ways they remembered to love each other.

“I love you.” Chaeyoung whispered again. Nayeon mumbled something indistinctive, her face burying in Chaeyoung’s hair.

Despite her currently permanent state of insomnia and the exhaustion that followed, Dahyun rather enjoyed the time she had to herself in the middle of the night after a closing shift. Or normally she did. But tonight her mind was full of worry. Restlessly she started counting the seconds it took for her shadow to overtake her under the streetlights. It only helped somewhat.

She got to her front door and took off her sneakers outside the apartment as to not wake up Sana. Her phone buzzed and she answered quickly that she was home too. A ritual between her and Jeongyeon. She looked at the messages she had gotten throughout the night while unlocking the door to the apartment.

It took her a few seconds to grasp the scene. The house wasn’t dark and quiet like she had expected. The TV was on, volume turned down and the lamp beside the couch had all three lights on. Sana was sitting in the couch, looking at her. A girl’s head was nestled in her lap, fast asleep under the pink and yellow striped blanket.

“Hi,” Sana whispered with a wide smile.

Dahyun looked from Sana to the girl in her lap and back to Sana. Sana noticed and let a hand tangle in the sleeping girl’s dusty rose hair.

“Momo.” She explained quietly, pointing at her with her other hand.

So that was Momo. Dahyun looked at her for a moment. She too was quite pretty, peacefully sleeping with her mouth slightly ajar. Sana caught her eye and smiled softly.

“Wanna join?” Sana asked, looking around for a seat.

Dahyun closed the door behind her, put down her shoes and considered it.

“I should sleep,” Dahyun explained quietly, feeling sleep in the corners of her eyes.

“Oh. Okay.”

Something in Sana’s tone made Dahyun stay put. “What are you watching?”

“Some anime Momo chose. Not sure what it’s about but the music is good.” Sana giggled.

Dahyun looked around at the TV to see if she recognized it. She didn’t.

“It’s almost done I think. Come on, sit?”

Dahyun sighed and nodded, sitting on the floor by Sana’s feet. She felt the exhaustion try to overpower her, but she was determined to reach her bed tonight.

With drooping lids, Dahyun tried to focuson the screen.

“Chocolate?” Sana offered, a hand appearing by the side of her head holding a bar of Dahyun’s fourth favorite chocolate brand. A solid choice.

Dahyun accepted. Any time was chocolate time, really. It tasted like heaven. Slightly like the red wine she had gulped down earlier, but mostly like heaven. She hummed happily, letting her lids win over will for a second. Her bed was calling for her but she ignored it.

“You’re completely exhausted, aren’t you?” Sana asked. Dahyun jumped slightly, feeling a hand in her hair, combing through it gently.

“We had so many customers.” Dahyun complained With a yawn. “Don’t people ever eat at home?”

Sana chuckled and scratched lovingly at Dahyun’s scalp. A shiver ran down the younger girl’s spine.

“Can I ask you something?” The words flew from Dahyun before she could stop them, and she looked up at Sana. Sana’s hand slipped from Dahyun’s head and settled on the couch cushion. She was still combing her other hand through Momo’s hair.

“Sure.” Sana said.

Dahyun’s eyes were fixed on Momo’s calm face as she slept without noticing a thing. Her eyes followed Sana’s hand.

“Nothing, nevermind.” Dahyun turned around to face the TV again. Girls were crying on the screen, hugging each other. Dahyun’s mind seemed to spin incredibly fast without getting anywhere at all. Her thoughts started wandering to the shift, went over every customer, every slip-up. Then the slip-up’s of last shift. The notes she forgot to take. The test she didn’t ace. Biting down on her lip she tried to focus her eyes on the anime. The episode was coming to a close, the ending theme playing over the scene. She finished the last bite chocolate and got to her feet, using almost all the strength she had left. Her legs cursed her and her head was spinning with exhaustion.

“I’m gonna head in. Night, Sana.” She mumbled.

Sana smiled up at her with sparkling eyes, a thumb tracing along Momo’s cheek.

“Goodnight, Dahyunnie.”

 

The cold lights burned her retinas as Dahyun closed the door to the bathroom and turned on the faucet. She let cold water run over her wrists and then cupped her hands into the sink and pouring one handful of water after the other onto her face, rubbing at her skin. Her heart was pounding. She was definitely too tired. She blinked and tried to steady her breathing.

It was all so irrational. It had been a good shift and she had enjoyed working with Jeongyeon. She loved her work, so then why was she going over everything like this? She frowned, trying to remember if she had swept the floor before washing it. Tried to remember if she had locked up. Had Taeyang? No, Jeongyeon had. She groaned and grabbed the edges of the sink, her arms sore. Maybe she should start working on the assignment. Get some of it out of the way. No, definitely not. It was almost three in the morning and she was beyond exhausted. And this was stupid.

She dried her face and didn’t bother with her night routine. Just took out her lenses, brushed her teeth and combed through her hair before dragging herself into her bedroom, setting the alarm on her phone. Her room was tiny, but there was more space now than there had been last summer, several shelves gone. Dahyun tried not to notice it. Instead she flopped onto the bed and curled her body around the squirrel plush normally situated in the corner of her bed. A leftover from her childhood bedroom that she couldn’t get herself to throw out. She had gotten it when she was five and had named it Pearl. Absentmindedly she rubbed her thumb over its ear, the repetitive motion calming her down. Or maybe it was just the heavy duvet holding her body down. She checked that she had set an alarm. She had. With a sigh, she slipped into a worried sleep.

Chapter Text

Tuesday morning came with the sound of a loud discussion in very fast Japanese.

Dahyun attempted to understand some, but she only knew very few words from Mina, and none were close to whatever Sana and Momo were saying. With a groan, Dahyun turned onto her side and got up, reaching for her glasses, but found that she hadn’t put them on after taking out her contacts last night. She squinted as she walked out of her room and into the bathroom, putting on the glasses that lay neatly on the shelf under the mirror. It did not help her mood in the slightest to see how she looked. With a wipe she attempted to remove most of the smudged makeup, nudging her glasses in the process. When she was somewhat satisfied with the result, she adjusted the nose pieces on her glasses and twisted her hair into a bun. It would have to do.

Momo and Sana were still rambling. Then the sound of something breaking and a scream. Then a giggle. Immediately more awake, Dahyun hurried out of the bathroom and looked into the kitchen, the smell of burnt bread hitting her like a wall.

“What happened?” She asked, making a mental note to teach Sana the ways of the toaster.

Momo was standing against the sink a hand covering her mouth, laughing at Sana. Sana was kneeling, trying to pick up the broken pieces of a plate, looking up at Dahyun apologetically. Dahyun couldn’t help but smile at her.

“You better get used to this.” Momo said between laughs. “She’s the clumsiest person on earth.”

“Am not.” Sana mumbled.

“Are too.” Momo insisted, reaching down to take the pieces from Sana.

Dahyun’s eyes travelled from Sana’s figure to Momo. Last night Momo had been underneath a blanket and you couldn’t see her body as such, but now it was on full display. Whatever recipe those two girls were made from, Dahyun envied it. Sana was tall and lean and Momo was fit. As in, extremely fit. And it was becoming increasingly difficult for Dahyun to pull her eyes from the piece of stomach exposed from the hem of Momo’s top to the waistband on her sweatpants. It was hard not to stare at her, in general.

Dahyun really wasn’t used to having pretty girls strut around in her apartment. Not that Chaeyoung wasn’t pretty, but Dahyun had never thought about her in any other way than as her best friend. She noticed Nayeon the first few times she wandered into the kitchen in underwear, Dahyun wasn’t completely blind after all, though she had quickly gotten used to it. But this? Dahyun wasn’t sure she was going to get used to the two japanese girls any time soon.

“Do you have a broom or something? Maybe a dustpan too?” Sana asked, still crouched on the floor.

“Oh, right. Yes.” Dahyun said, her warmth flushing up her neck. Momo’s eyes caught hers and her lips parted in a smirk. Her eyes were enchanting and Dahyun averted her gaze, looking down at Sana who was trying to stack the larger pieces of the porcelain.

Dahyun excused herself and cursed internally at her blush, fetching the dustpan and broom from the back of her closet.  They had never had an actual place for cleaning utensils despite the noticable amount of space in the living room, and since Dahyun did the cleaning, it had just made sense at the time. But with Sana that might have to change, if she really was as much of a klutz as Momo accused her of being.

She allowed herself three deep breaths and felt her cheeks as she walked back. They were warm.

“Thank you. I’m sorry I broke your plate, Dahyunnie.” Sana smiled as she held the dustpan while Momo sweeped the last bits and pieces of broken porcelain into it.

“It’s fine. They’re Ikea. You can buy me a new set someday.” Dahyun said, helping Sana up.

She noticed that the burnt toast was already in the trash today.

“I’ll make breakfast.”

 

 

Chaeyoung had never been the best at piano. But she loved it anyway. Loved the memories it held even if the keys felt wrong under her fingertips. She sang along very quietly. Never liked singing out loud when Nayeon was home. Not that Nayeon ever complained about it, but Chaeyoung’s only insecurity was knowing she could never do a song justice the way her girlfriend could.

Just as she finished the song she felt arms around her shoulders and lips on her hair.

“I know you like Michelle Featherstone, but babe. You need to play something less depressing from time to time.” Nayeon mumbled and stroked her cheek.

“It’s not easy to play something cheerful on this.” Chaeyoung muttered and ran her finger over the middle C. The tone died out too fast.

“How about something romantic then?” Nayeon asked and walked around to sit on the shorter girl’s lap, arms wrapped around her neck. It cheered Chaeyoung up immediately.

“Like what?”

“Like a love song about how much you love your girlfriend.” Nayeon beamed at her.

“Oh, that’s a good idea. If only I had a girlfriend whom I really really loved.” Chaeyoung teased, chuckling when it worked. Nayeon swatted her arm and claimed her lips in a deep kiss.

“Fine, you win.” Chaeyoung mumbled under Nayeon’s lips.

With a grin, Nayeon drew back. “So if I move, will you play a love song for your girlfriend?”

“Deal.” Chaeyoung rolled her eyes.

And she played for Nayeon, feeling her girlfriend’s hands around her waist and her chin on her shoulder. Heard the older girl hum in her ear but she let Chaeyoung sing. And Nayeon kissed her cheek and chuckled when it made Chaeyoung miss a chord, playing a minor instead of a major.

Maybe the keys would have mercy on her in the end.

For most people who move in together, whether strangers or friends, even best friends, there’s an adjustment period. It’s cautious and full of consideration, trying to learn habits and mood swings. But with Sana there wasn’t. It was a head-dive. Sana was everywhere, all the time, invading every inch of Dahyun’s personal space. And Dahyun should’ve minded it. But she didn’t. Somehow it felt like she had been waiting her entire life for someone to take the lead and break through to that place where Dahyun had no mask. It wasn’t like she wasn’t close with her other friends, but it had taken them months or even years to get to the stability that rested between the seven of them.

Sana had told Dahyun on the first night that she had known Momo for the better part of their lives, but she treated Dahyun and Momo with the exact same affection. It was confusing. Half the time Dahyun felt as if Sana was hitting on her and the next she felt like she should avoid her eyes to allow Sana and Momo privacy. And then there was Momo. Momo who was in no way easy to figure out, whose mood changed in seconds, but who seemed to have only a fraction of an inch more respect for personal boundaries than Sana did. But Dahyun didn’t mind that either. Just accepted them as if they had always been there.

 

With a sigh, Dahyun turned around to face the showerhead, warm water pouring over her face. Momo and Sana had gone to the store to replace most of Dahyun’s pantry after effectively emptying it and Dahyun had taken the opportunity to gather her thoughts.

Her mind was buzzing with the words of the chapter she had recently read on the works of Richard Rogers and Oscar Hammerstein II. The duo had been active during the golden age of musical theatre and Dahyun had an assignment due on Hammerstein by friday. She tried to recall some of the main points from the section about The King and I . King Mongkut had been born in 1804. Or 1801? It was one of the two. She counted on her fingers the number of wives and concubines as well as the number of children and tried to calculate how many kids each woman would’ve gotten. She shook her head. It wasn’t prudent to the story of the musical.

She shivered as she stepped out of the shower, quickly grabbing the towel and drying off. When she turned to grab her clothes, her eyes fell on the hamper. The sweater she had gotten from Mina lay neatly folded at the top, as if it had never left. Without thinking, she grabbed it and put it on, even though it had a stain on the sleeve.

Momo and Sana returned an hour later, arms linked and carrying each a massive bag of food. Dahyun looked up from the couch, head leaning on her hand, arm resting on the back of the couch and her feet on the coffee table. She returned their greetings lazily, and couldn’t help smile at them. Sana released Momo’s arm and hurried over, standing behind the couch looking down at Dahyun’s book. A picture of an old yellow poster took off half of a page, and Sana’s eyes flitted across it. Dahyun had been buried in the chapter on Oklahoma! , comfortably wrapped in the blanket that always lived on the couch.

“It looks super cool.” Sana breathed, gently placing the grocery bag on the floor beside her.

“It is. It’s not In the Heights but it’s still really cool.” Dahyun sat up straighter and propped her glasses back up her nose, reaching for the glass of chocolate milk on the coffee table by her feet. She took a gulp before setting it back, ignoring Sana’s little giggle. So what if she was a grown up and still loved chocolate milk? Didn’t people say not to lose the spirit of childhood or something?

Momo walked past them grabbing the grocery bag and bumping into Sana on the way, causing her to stumble and grab the back of the couch for support.  Immediately Dahyun felt her closeness and squirmed. Seemingly, Sana didn’t take this as a sign that Dahyun was uncomfortable, but rather that she was making space for Sana. With a swift motion, Sana had swung her legs over the back of the couch and sat next to Dahyun, leaning close to read along with unfeigned interest.

“So, that guy?” Sana pointed at the name Richard Rogers . “Who is he?”

“Oh, he’s a composer. You know, The Sound of Music ?” Dahyun turned a few pages, making a dog ear on the page she had reached before Sana joined. She found a page with the original poster for The Sound of Music .

“I know that one! I didn’t know the other one though. The yellow one? Did he make that as well?” Sana scooted impossibly closer. Dahyun felt Momo’s eyes on them before she disappeared into the bathroom.

“Yup, same director too. They were really successful in the forties and fifties.” Dahyun explained as Sana flipped the pages back to the Oklahoma! poster.

“Would I know any songs from this one?” Sana pointed at it.

“Well, you might know the song Oklahoma! but I’m not sure you’d know any others. Maybe People Will Say We’re In Love ?”

Sana shrugged and grabbed her phone. She quickly found the soundtrack and played the latter of the two songs. She squinted and looked like she was trying to recognize it, bobbing her head slowly as the song played. Dahyun couldn’t take her eyes away from Sana’s smile as she stared at Dahyun’s text book. But in the end, out of fear of getting caught, Dahyun decided to follow her example, doing her best to ignore the feeling of Sana’s arm pressed against her own. She tried to read more, her fingers fidgeting at the dog ear. Then Sana readjusted herself and her head rested calmly on Dahyun’s shoulder. Dahyun reread the sentence. Ripped the dog ear and cursed under her breath, letting go of the page. She settled for picking lightly at her cuticles even if she knew it was a bad habit. Really, she just had to finish the chapter.

 

The song ended and Sana hummed happily.

“Did you know it?” Dahyun asked.

“No,” Sana said and pressed another song from the album “But I liked it.”

The song filled the entire room and all of Dahyun’s mind as she dove back into the text. She heard Momo exit the bathroom and then felt hands in her hair.

“I’m gonna go for a run.”

Dahyun leaned her head back and looked up at Momo, her hair tickling on Dahyun’s cheeks. Momo shook her head so her hair tickled all over Dahyun’s face. Dahyun huffed and tried to wave it away, but Momo took it and tied it into a ponytail, then bent further down and placed a kiss on Dahyun’s forehead as if it was the most normal thing to do to someone she had known for just about six hours. Dahyun felt her cheeks warm as Momo kissed the top of Sana’s head as well, and disappeared out the door. She wiped at the place where Momo’s lips had touched, a tingling sensation lingering. A giggle revealed that Sana was watching her, but neither commented. Almost simultaneously they returned their focus to Dahyun’s book, the older girl’s head once more resting on Dahyun’s shoulder. For almost twenty minutes they sat there without a word, Dahyun reading the best she could, wishing she had a pen to twirl instead of ruining her nails. She flinched as she accidentally picked too hard at one of her cuticles and looked to see if it had started bleeding. Then Sana’s hand covered Dahyun’s.

“Do you always fidget this much?”

Dahyun tried not to notice how cool and comfortable Sana’s fingers felt on her own would they fit? No, what the hell kind of thought was that anyway? “... I don’t know.” Dahyun answered finally. “Maybe? I usually use a pen. I get restless quite easily.”

“Well, stop ruining your nails please.” Sana said in a pout and squeezed Dahyun’s hand. “Should I get you a pen?”

“I… No, it’s fine.” Dahyun turned her head to look at the expression on Sana’s face but the blonde hair fell like a screen down Sana’s face, the angle already odd with Sana’s forehead pressing against her neck.

Dahyun’s eyes jolted back to her hand as she felt Sana’s fingers forcing through the spaces between Dahyun’s.

“What are you doing?” Dahyun asked, trying not to let the complete lack of breath sound in her voice.

“I’m helping.” Sana turned on Dahyun’s shoulder and Dahyun met her eyes. They glinted as she smiled.

It was an odd feeling. Not because they didn’t know each other, but because in this moment it felt like they did. As if Sana knew that the feeling of her fingers tight around Dahyun’s hand provided exactly the comfort the younger girl needed to focus.

 

 

Maybe Dahyun should have wondered why Sana comfortably spent the next hour turning the page for Dahyun as she read, occasionally putting on a new song – always one mentioned in the text. But she didn’t.

“Are you interested in musical theatre?” Dahyun asked as she read the last page of the chapter.

“Not really? I mean I like the songs and stuff, but I haven’t ever gone to a play, and I never felt like I was missing out. It’s interesting though.” Sana explained. “I mean it would be a perfect fit for me, if it wasn’t wasn’t for the acting part.”

Dahyun closed the book but didn’t move. Just let the book rest in her lap.

“What do you mean? As a musical theatre performer?”

“Yeah. I love dancing and singing but I can’t act for the life of me.” Sana giggled.

“It’s true, she really can’t.” Momo agreed, appearing from the kitchen with a coffee mug steaming of soup. She had gotten home from her run about half an hour earlier, complained to Sana for a few minutes about traffic slowing her down and then gone to shower.

The couch was really only meant for two, but Momo didn’t seem to care. Truth be told, as close as Sana was to Dahyun, another person could fit. And so, Momo placed the mug on the coffee table next to Dahyun’s legs and her empty glass, lifted Sana’s legs and sat down, Sana’s legs curled across her thighs. It didn’t look very comfortable. Sana tried to adjust as Momo reached for her mug, but ended up settling for keeping her feet on the coffee table next to Dahyun’s. Only then did Dahyun notice that Sana’s fingers were still twined tightly with her own. She made to release them but felt Sana’s grip tighten.

“Do you have more to read today?” Sana asked neutrally, as if she hadn’t just done that.

“I have an assignment due on the chapter,” Dahyun cleared her throat, propping the glasses up her nose again. “But it can wait a bit.”

“Good you need a break.” Sana turned to look at Momo who was sipping at her soup, trying to balance the need to eat and not burn her tongue. “Did you make any for me?”

“Nope.” Momo mumbled and took another sip. Sana grumbled and then looked at Dahyun.

“Hungry?”

“Starving.” Dahyun noticed the moment she was asked.

“Want me to make something for us?”

“Is that wise?” Dahyun asked dryly.

Sana opened her mouth and looked at Dahyun feigning offence. Dahyun couldn’t help but laugh at her, earning her a pout.

“I have leftovers in the fridge.” Dahyun suggested.

“No you don’t.” Momo chimed.

“Okay. Well, do we have anything that doesn’t require cooking?”

“Soup? And otherwise no.”

“Soup then.” Dahyun shrugged “I’ll make it.”

There was a part of her that regretted the decision to go make food. It was the part that noticed how Sana’s weight disappeared from her side and her hand slipped from Dahyun’s as the younger girl got up. Instead Sana’s head fell onto Momo’s shoulder, poking the older girl’s cheek cheek with obvious amusement.

There was no doubt that she could get used to the two girls, but she was slowly starting to fear for Friday. There was an increasing chance that she would arrive with Sana hanging off of her, and dealing with everyone’s teasing was not something she looked forwards to. And really, she wasn’t sure that the explanation “Oh no, my new roomie is just a koala reincarnate, no worries” would be widely accepted.

It was a nice change of pace though. Not one she had expected, but nice. It seemed that forty eight hours was all it took, to settle into a new normal. Or maybe Sana had just become a much welcome distraction.

“So, that would be one bowl of gamjatang, a serving of bibimbap, and two sparkling water with lemon?” Dahyun asked kindly. The woman looked at her husband for a second then back at Dahyun. “And kimchi please, and a bowl of white rice.” Dahyun nodded and scribbled on her notepad. “Anything else?” The couple shook their heads in unison and the woman let her hand fall onto his, squeezing it lightly. Dahyun tried not to notice.

“You’re welcome to call for me any time, if you need anything or have questions.”

As she turned from the table, Dahyun blinked fast and swallowed a yawn. Her dreams had been disturbing her all night and she hadn’t found calm until she had rolled over and grabbed the the old plush squirrel, and even then it had been a battle.

With a slight shake of the head she took a round in her section making sure everyone was pleased with their dinners and drinks before heading into the kitchen, nodding her head at Joohyun, the shy sous chef. She found Mina near the line, passing orders through to the kitchen.

Dahyun joined her and bumped her hip. “Busy day?”

“As always.” Mina smiled. “You?”

“I guess. I’m too tired to notice.” Dahyun grinned.

“I thought you were sleeping fine after Sana moved in? Jihyo said you stopped sleeping at her place.” Mina sounded concerned. She flinched as her finger pressed on a sore point on her shoulder.

“I spent a night on the couch and it’s still biting me.” Dahyun said with a shrug. As if that was all.

“Oh, right. I guess that’ll do it.” Mina nodded understandingly, then added with a frown, “Why did you sleep on the couch?”

“Long story, I’ll tell you after closing.” Dahyun promised.

Mina nodded, keeping an eye on three almost finished plates.

“Are you coming on Friday, to Jeongyeon’s?” Dahyun asked.

“Movie night? Yeah, I might. You?”

“Yup, plus two.”

“Plus two?

Three dishes were put onto the line with the note for one of Dahyun’s tables. She balanced the dishes.

“Yeah, my new roomie Sana and her friend Momo. They’re both Japanese, and from Kansai, so at least you’ll have that in common? But really, I hope you join. I miss hanging out with you.” She grinned before walking out of the kitchen to bring the food to her customers. A smile played on Mina’s lips.

 

Thursday came in a haze of closing shifts and bad dreams. Dahyun stood in front of the mirror in her room and massaged her sore arms. Three closing shifts in a row might have been overdoing it a bit, but it was good money and it kept her mind from going into static noise. But she was only just getting back to working the floor for full shifts and it seemed she wasn’t entirely back to her A-game yet. She had always had pride in being the best waitress who remembered all the customers and their orders, but especially the past few days she had slipped up more than usual. She blamed the lack of sleep. It was always worse when she didn’t sleep much. She heard a stumble from the kitchen and then a giggle. Smiled. Too fast she had gotten used to the sounds of Sana’s clumsiness, of her giddiness and the sunshine in her voice. Dahyun shook her head at the continued laughter in the kitchen and reached back at her hair, combing it with her fingers to make a ponytail.

 

“Dahyun, can I borrow the broom?” Asked Sana appearing suddenly in the door. Dahyun turned, dropping a large chunk of the hair she had been holding.

“Uh sure, it’s in the closet.” Dahyun said and tilted her head in the direction of her tiny closet.

Sana nodded and walked behind her, but then stopped. “Oh, you forgot a strand.”

Shivers ran down Dahyun’s spine as Sana’s cool fingers trailed over her nape and grabbed the forgotten pieces of hair. Dahyun dropped some more by accident, trying to poise herself, and Sana giggled.

“Let me.” She said and swatted Dahyun’s hands lightly. Dahyun let go, felt her hair fall awkwardly and Sana catch it. Her fingers scratched against Dahyun’s scalp as she gathered the hair.

“Hair tie?” Sana asked. Dahyun reached around and gave it to her. Sana was standing too close, not close enough, and Dahyun wondered fleetingly how she had let Sana get under her skin so fast, and how to stop it. Because this was getting downright ridiculous. It wasn’t that she hadn’t been attracted to strangers before, but she had always acknowledged that they were just that, strangers. But Sana wasn’t a stranger, even if she probably still counted as one by conventional standards.

“There we go.” Sana smiled and to Dahyun’s regret and complete thrill, wrapped her arms around Dahyun’s frame and pressed a kiss to her now exposed neck. Dahyun pressed her lips together as hard as she could to hide the silly smile that tried to break free. Sana giggled and checked that she hadn’t left any lipstick on it before fixing the collar of Dahyun’s shirt.

“Have fun at work.” Sana said, pulled her ponytail tighter, kissed Dahyun’s cheek and walked out. This one did leave a mark, and Dahyun frantically removed it, checking the mirror five times to make sure there were no remains of it. If Jeongyeon ever saw, she would never hear the end of it. As if that was really the big deal here, instead of the fact that a complete, well somewhat stranger had just kissed her, twice.

Honestly, Dahyun didn’t function properly for the next hour, a tingling sensation on her neck and Sana’s laughter in her ear. She almost walked right past her work, her mind guiltily stuck on her roommates lipstick.

With a silent prayer that Dahyun would soon get past this state of fluster, she opened the door to the employee’s entrance at the restaurant.

Chapter Text

Jihyo sighed. Tried not to lose her temper.

“I’m sorry, I’ll get it eventually, I promise!” The poor boy muttered.

“I know, I’m sorry, I’m just tired. You’re doing well.” Jihyo promised and gave his shoulder a squeeze.

“Thanks.” He sighed and smiled before returning to the coffee machine.

It wasn’t as if he was terrible, Minho, he was just too nervous. It was his fourth shift under Jihyo’s supervision and though he was definitely making progress, it wasn’t going nearly as fast as Jihyo could have wished, even if he worked hard. She missed Mina. Missed how easy it had been to train her and how good she was with the customers. Missed working with her in general. Missed her.

“Like this?” Minho broke through her thoughts. Jihyo snapped around to him and looked as he poured the frothed milk into the coffee making a leaf pattern.

“Exactly!” Jihyo nodded, smiling as Minho beamed at her.

 

He was a nice kid. Really was. And throughout the shift, Jihyo’s confidence grew, that he would become a good employee. Maybe even a great one. He worked hard, and it had been Jihyo who had vouched for him when the choice was between him and another boy for the job. She had seen a potential in him and had promised to train him. After the second shift she had almost admitted defeat, but it was finally starting to help.

Until he broke a cup. The sound rang in Jihyo’s ears and she bit her lip hard trying not to scold him. His ears were red and Jihyo’s mercy took over for her frustration. Patted his back and told him to fetch the broom. It wasn’t his fault how the sound made her flinch.

 

By the time Jihyo was done with her shift, she was absolutely exhausted. But she didn’t go home. As always after a long shift, she longed for the cool spring air outside and walked from the coffee house to the river. Looked at the people walking by, at the water flowing calmly along.

Just as she was about to sit down on the edge of the river, she noticed a girl huddled in her brown coat, face in her phone. The smile on her face made the corners of Jihyo’s lips curl. The girl’s black hair fell onto her shoulders, and she was beaming at whatever was on her phone. Jihyo walked up to her. Tried to look at her phone. But Mina turned it off the second she saw Jihyo, chuckling at her pout.

“Whatcha doing?” Jihyo asked as she plopped down on the bench beside Mina.

“It’s warm.” Mina just said and look out on the river.

“It’s cool considering it’s supposed to be spring.” Jihyo shuddered, tucking the coat tighter around her.

“Nah, it’s warm.” Mina just repeated. “Did you come from work?”

“Yup. Five hours of teaching Minho how to make leaves in the coffee and how to make a frappe.”

“I thought he was doing better by now?”

“Oh, he is. But it’s a slow process. It’s nothing like teaching you.” Jihyo looked around at Mina. “You could come back, you know?”

“I know, but I like it at the restaurant. I like working with Dahyun and Jeongyeon. Not that I didn’t like working with you…”

“Mina, it’s fine, I understand.” Jihyo leaned back and looked over the river. “How is she?”

“Tired. Said it was just one bad night, but I don’t think it is.”

“She hasn’t been over since Sana moved in.”

“Doesn’t surprise me. I think Sana managed to overwhelm her quite thoroughly.” Mina said.

“Really?” Jihyo turned to look at Mina, a small smile playing on her lips.

“Just keep your eyes open tomorrow.” Mina’s eyes sparkled, but didn’t elaborate.

For almost ten minutes they just sat there, side by side, feeling the chilly air and looking over the river, talking about Minho and old times. It was almost like in high school. Almost. Except Mina wasn’t laughing nearly as much now as she had then. Had barely been able to speak a sentence without giggling back then. Or maybe it was just a part of Mina that Jihyo no longer saw.

“I’m gonna head home, I’m starving.” Jihyo finally said, getting overwhelmed by the last thought.

“See you tomorrow?” Mina asked.

Jihyo nodded and made to walk away. Then turned and looked at Mina.

“The offer is always there, Mina.”

“I know.” Mina sighed calmly.

Jihyo turned and walked along the river towards her home.

 

 

Dahyun had slept less than three hours, when the sound of glass breaking made her sit up straight, clutching the squirrel plush. Then the sound of Sana’s laugh. It was the same way she laughed whenever she tripped; embarrassed and breathless. Dahyun lay back down and turned to look at her phone. Friday. 8th of April. 2:34 AM. What was Sana doing up?

Habitually, Dahyun scrolled down the notifications, mostly emails from school and social media notifications, but also three messages, all received around midnight.

 

11:48 pm Jihyo: Mina says you’ve been tired at work. Are you ok? You haven’t called in a while.

11:53 pm Jihyo: Sorry if I’m prying, I’m just worried, you know that right?

11:58 pm Chaeyoung: Hey, you up?

 

The sensible thing would be for Dahyun to go back to bed. But she wanted to answer Jihyo first, bless her caring soul.

 

2:39 am Dahyun: This is probably the entirely worst time to write you, I promise I slept up until now. Sana broke something in the kitchen and it woke me.

2:39 am Dahyun: I’ll call in the morning.

2:40 am Dahyun: Are you coming tonight? I hope you are, I need my shirt back.

 

For a moment, she considered putting the phone away, but if there was the slightest risk of Chaeyoung having a serious reason to write her at midnight knowing Dahyun’s sleep schedule, she had to check.

 

2:40 am Dahyun: I fell asleep early, I hope it wasn’t anything serious.

 

Just when she was about to shut off the phone, the screen changed. An incoming call from Jihyo.

“Mh.” She mumbled into the phone, her voice hoarse.

“Hi.” Jihyo said in a tone of relief.

“What’s up?” Dahyun asked quietly, as to not let Sana know she had woken her.

“Movie night has moved to my place.” Jihyo said.

“It’s 3 am, you could have told me that in the morning.” Dahyun said, suspicious. “What’s actually up? And why are you even up?”

“Just what Mina said… You’re ok, right?”

“I’m fine.” Dahyun smiled. “There’s no point in you losing sleep worrying about me though”

“I’m cramming, we have a major test tomorrow. I’ll nap before you guys show up. Which reminds me, don’t show up before five please unless you wanna wake the post-nap Jihyo monster.”

“No thank you, I don’t like sleep robbed Jihyo.” Dahyun turned and stared at the ceiling. Then she remembered that the broom and dustpan were in her closet and groaned. “Actually, can you hold on for a minute?”

“Sure, why?”

“I need to hand Sana the broom before she tries something stupid like picking up the glass because she doesn’t want to wake me.” Dahyun rolled her eyes and sighed, putting on her glasses and getting to the closet. Sana would do something like that.

“Oh ok. Yeah, sure. I’ll just try to remember all eighteen of these dates and fail miserably in the meantime.” Jihyo complained while Dahyun grabbed the broom and dustpan.

“Well good luck with that.”

Dahyun opened the door and murmured without knowing what she was trying to say. Shut her eyes with a whine, at the light coming from the hallway. Sleepily, she dragged her feet and popped her head into the kitchen, squinting.

“Dahyunnie.” Sana breathed, her entire face lighting up.

“Here.” Dahyun handed over the broom with a tired smile. “We should probably find somewhere out here to keep it if you plan on continuing to break my stuff.”

“I’m sorry…” Sana looked genuinely sorry.

“It was a joke, it’s ok. I don’t really feel attached to glasses. Or plates. Just try not to break my mugs.” Dahyun held the phone with her head against the shoulder, hearing Jihyo curse and repeat dates over and over. Bent down and held the dustpan while Sana swept the kitchen floor for glass.

“I’ll do my best. And I’ll buy new plates. Pretty ones.” Sana was still pouting.

“Just settle for cheap ones. Ikea like these ones is probably the best idea.” Dahyun sent her the biggest smile she could muster, and it made the corners of Sana’s mouth twitch, her eyes softening. Dahyun got up and placed the dustpan with content on the kitchen table.

“Remember to wrap it in newspaper or something before you throw it out.” Dahyun gestured at it. Sana nodded eagerly. Unaware why, Dahyun felt an overwhelming need to make sure Sana smiled before she went back to bed, but she couldn’t think of any way. For a second she thought about reaching out and touching her cheek like she did to Dahyun whenever she walked by, but the moment she felt her hand react to the movement she stopped it, closing it into a fist. She felt a smile try to pry its way onto her lips, but pressed them together hard instead.

“Goodnight, Sana.” She said, and walked back to bed. Felt Sana stare after her.

“You’re entirely too kind, Kim Dahyun.” Jihyo’s smile was audible.

“She didn’t do it on purpose. But now I’m entirely too awake.”

“Lay down, I’ll help you sleep.” Jihyo said quietly. Dahyun hummed, knowing exactly what this meant. For the past two months Dahyun had crashed at Jihyo’s place whenever Mina or Jeongyeon had told on her or whenever she had swallowed her pride and called herself. And Jihyo had picked her up after work or from home. Had taken her home with her, singing her to sleep while she studied. As if it was no big deal to show up at two in the morning at your friend’s job to take her home.

The memory threatened to overwhelm Dahyun as she got back under the still warm covers.  Felt like she might cry. Maybe it was because she was tired, or maybe her heart was just too full of affection for her friend to bear the gesture at such a late time.

 

Jihyo’s voice was calm and wonderful as she sang, like the warmth of a crackling fire through the phone on the pillow beside Dahyun. The younger girl closed her eyes and listened to the story Jihyo’s voice told her. Curled up around the plush, trying to hug every affectionate feeling for her friend into it, so that maybe she could feel it. Still, Dahyun’s heart might just burst.

 

Jihyo hummed the end of the song.

“Thank you.” Dahyun mumbled, her voice high-pitched.

“I’ll keep singing until I can hear you snore.” Jihyo said quietly.

“I don’t snore...” Dahyun objected feebly.

“You do. It’s cute and quiet, but you do snore.” Jihyo giggled and started singing. “ Every time you come around my way, you spread your wings and chase my weary clouds away.”

Dahyun felt sleep fight her beating heart. The darkness wasn’t half as lonely with Jihyo singing. Her lips parted in a wide calm smile and she let out a sigh. Jihyo giggled in the phone before continuing. Dahyun briefly opened her eyes and saw that the lights were off in the hallway, the light no longer shining through underneath the door.

Sana had gone to bed too.

“Little butterfly, you're shining through. And I never wanna live without your love.”

Jihyo kept singing and Dahyun kept thinking. Until she drifted off. And Jihyo whispered: “Goodnight, little butterfly.” But Dahyun didn’t hear. Or she would have objected. She wasn’t a butterfly.

 

“New notebook?” Jihyo asked as she sat down next to Chaeyoung, her eyes drooping slightly.

“Yup.” Chaeyoung grinned, turning the book to show her the cover.

“What did she write this time?” Jihyo asked, turning to the back page. Read Nayeon’s message. A simple note asking Chaeyoung to keep Nayeon in her thoughts when she wrote about love.

“Do you think she has a special notebook budget?” Jihyo chuckled.

“Probably. She’s bought me almost one a month for the entire time we’ve known each other.”

Chaeyoung let her fingers skate over Nayeon’s message before returning to the page she was writing on before Jihyo sat down. Turning the book slightly, she let Jihyo read along as she wrote, crossing out every now and then, Jihyo’s head on her shoulder.

“You look beat.” Chaeyoung commented eventually, when she closed her book. She shuffled slightly to wrap an arm around Jihyo.

“I didn’t get to sleep until three in the morning. I’m not ready for the test at all.”

“Oh, come on, you’re always at the top of the class.” Chaeyoung nudged her.

“Not for this, I can promise you.” Jihyo groaned and looked at her wrist watch.

“Just get some sleep tonight instead of cramming. You can’t think on no sleep.”

“Funny, I feel like I’ve given that lecture myself.” Jihyo got up and offered her hand to Chaeyoung.

“Sometimes you just gotta hear it from someone else.” Chaeyoung shrugged and let Jihyo pull her up. They walked together until they found Nayeon in a crowd. With Jihyo’s arm around her, it was impossible to reach her though, and she settled for following her into the lecture hall.

Music played quietly from her phone on the couch. Dahyun checked the clock. Almost noon. And the paper was due at four.

She was trying her best to write, notes scattered across the table, twirling her favorite pen distractedly in her hand, despite writing on a laptop. It helped her focus. Sana was in school and Momo was at the studio, so she had the apartment to herself, basically for the first time since Sana had moved in and dragged Momo with her.

She was writing a part on Oklahoma! and the importance of letting a story advance through song, rather than having it interrupt the story. Without thinking about it, she reached for her phone and switched to Lonely Room . To get into the mood, she argued to herself. Felt the need to defend her distracted mind. But her thoughts kept falling to Sana and Momo. How had it only been a few days? How did they, well mostly Sana, take up so much of her mind so fast? It couldn’t be normal. Of course Chaeyoung would just call it a convenient distraction and tell her to get it together and deal with her shit. As if it was that easy. And maybe Sana was just that. A comfortable distraction. No. No she wasn’t. She was just… hard to figure out. Wonderful. Needed. Like bubbling champagne right before a meal; the thing that cracks open the conversation. Except she hadn’t broken the ice gently like champagne settling in the throat and cheeks as a warm hug. She was a huge massive red icebreaker, shattering Dahyun’s walls. Walls that she had so carefully built to spare her friends of worry. And Dahyun realized, pen twirling in her hand, exactly what it was about Sana that made her so irresistible. It was the desire to lean on someone. To let someone be there, and let someone soothe you, even if she had no clue what she was doing. So maybe Sana was a convenient distraction. But she was also an unexpected comfort. Even if Dahyun had no clue why Sana had chosen her.

She wasn’t going to ask.

Just wanted to lean a little longer.

 

As Jud sang and Dahyun twirled the pen, the door opened, revealing a sweaty and grinning Momo, a shopping net in her hand. She waved at Dahyun.

“Hey Dahyun, you studying?”  

Dahyun smiled back and paused the music. “Yup, are you restocking my fridge?”

“That’s the deal right?” Momo grinned.

“Exactly.” Dahyun pointed at her with the pen as the older girl walked closer.

“Did you eat?” Momo asked as she walked past Dahyun, ruffling her hair affectionately.

Dahyun pressed her lips together. “Nope…”

“Want dumplings? I bought some from that place down the block.” Momo asked from the kitchen.

“From Higashi’s? Yes, please.”

Dahyun felt her stomach rumble in agreement as she returned to her notes. Jud was still singing about Laurey.

Soon Momo joined Dahyun on the couch with lunch as Dahyun made a stack of the notes that she was done with and another with those she hadn’t gone through yet.

 

From what she had learned about Momo, Dahyun expected that she would have to be fast if she was to get any dumplings, and sure enough, she was soon flicking away Momo’s chopsticks with her own, trying to get the last gyoza.

“You can’t just offer me lunch and then eat it all.” Dahyun complained as Momo successfully snatched it.

“I can try.” Momo grinned as she made to eat the gyoza. Then she turned her chopsticks and directed them at Dahyun. “Here.”

Dahyun hurriedly chomped down on the gyoza before Momo had a chance to change her mind. Momo let out a laugh.

“Ph-ank-you.” Dahyun mumbled, covering her mouth with her hand.

Momo just laughed and got up to pack away the lunch.

When she returned she had a soda and a glass of chocolate milk.

 

Half an hour later Momo was asleep on the couch, leaning against Dahyun as she wrote. Her mouth was slightly ajar and her breath was calm. Dahyun twirled her pen, holding it still only while she wrote. But just as she was sure that she was almost done, Dahyun realized that she had already written a paragraph on this part before, and backtracked. The phone was still playing, but had switched to another musical, still by the duo she was writing about. She reminded herself to learn how to play this one, then shook the thought from her mind.

 

Momo turned slightly in her sleep.

Dahyun wrote.

It had been ages since Dahyun had felt this nervous about going to Jihyo’s place, but sitting tightly mushed between Sana and Momo on the subway made all her worries flood through her veins. She had only known the girls for a few days yet they were so comfortable around her that it was hard to imagine they would act any different when meeting the others. And Dahyun wasn’t exactly known for being cuddly. So she kept thinking up ways to excuse their clinginess and especially a way to excuse the warmth that crept up her neck when Sana wrapped her arm around her shoulders. Dahyun honestly rarely got crushes and the fact that she, within hours probably, developed what was undoubtedly a crush on her new roommate was bound to be noticed. There was no doubt that most of her friends would read her on a mile’s distance.

Dahyun felt her heart beat fast and picked at her cuticles. What if they found the girls weird? What if they didn’t fit in at all? What if-

What if Sana could try to chill for just a second and maybe let Dahyun live? Just as she had started fiddling, Sana’s hand was in hers, squeezing it tightly, and Dahyun couldn’t think. They weren’t even talking. Momo was just bobbing her head to the music from her headphones, Sana’s eyes on the screen of her phone. And Dahyun wished she had something to distract her as well but she had made the mistake of placing her phone in her back pocket and now couldn’t reach without being obvious.

Sana’s thumb ran soothingly over Dahyun’s skin but it did absolutely nothing to calm her down, almost charging her to an uncomfortable level instead. Like a cat being stroked too long. With a deep breath she started counting the seconds until they were at Jihyo’s, the urge to text Chaeyoung in a blind panic increasing. Then Sana was giggling again and Dahyun looked around automatically, meeting Sana’s gaze.

“You’re so cute.” Sana just said. Dahyun stared, her mind going to a state of what could most accurately be described as static noise, trying to make sense of the reason behind that comment.

It didn’t work.

If this subway would just stop soon so they could get off. So they wouldn’t sit so close. So she could get her stupid brain to work again.

And it did. Came to a halt and Dahyun got up so fast, Sana’s hand slid from hers.

“This is our stop.” Dahyun said hurriedly, trying not to care about the amused expression on Momo’s face. A wide smile spread across Dahyun’s face, not from happiness but from embarrassment, and she felt very much like hiding her face in her hair. But the girls thankfully just got up and followed her out of the subway and up to the open street.

 

The fresh air was a blessing, even though it was still chilly. Jihyo lived quite close to the subway in one of the downtown dorms, and Dahyun walked fast. As fast as she could at least. But then Momo’s arm was around her shoulders and Sana’s hand snuck around hers.

If her friends saw them like this, Dahyun would never hear the end of it. Torn between enjoying the feeling of Sana’s hand in hers and the need to not be mocked for all eternity, she walked, enveloped by the two girls she really barely knew. And then her stomach dropped.

Nayeon was turning the corner, Chaeyoung following suit.

Dahyun’s hand automatically let go of Sana’s and she shook Momo’s arms off her shoulder, realizing a moment too late what she had done. They both looked confused. And worse. They looked hurt. She opened her mouth to speak but no words came out. So she did the only thing she could think of, used her newfound overpriced freedom to wave exaggeratedly at Chaeyoung and Nayeon with both arms in the air and started half walking, half running at them.

Chaeyoung’s lips parted in an amused grin as Dahyun quickly approached, engulfing her best friend in a hug. “Don’t comment, just save me.” Dahyun whispered breathlessly.

“What have you do- oh, wow.” Chaeyoung whispered, and Dahyun figured her best friend had seen Momo and Sana approaching. “Are those two yours?”

“Yup. Save me.” Dahyun mumbled.

“Bless…” Chaeyoung chuckled.

“Shut it.”

“If you want my advice, just let yourself sandwich there.” Chaeyoung said quietly. And despite the growing need to flick her right between the eyebrows for her cheek, Dahyun appreciated that the younger girl kept her voice low enough that Nayeon didn’t hear.

“Who says I’m being sandwiched?” Dahyun hissed.

“Your face. Your arms. It screams gay panic.”

“Fuck off.” Dahyun grumbled.

“Then let go.” Chaeyoung poked her side, to no good. “Which one is yours?”

Dahyun’s cheeks burned, knowing they must be close now. “... blonde.”

“Hot.”

Dahyun kept her arms still tightly wrapped around Chaeyoung’s petite frame. “That’s my problem…”

“Do I not get a hug?” Nayeon interrupted with raised eyebrows, catching Dahyun’s eye, a smirk around her lips.

“I’m getting to it.” Dahyun grumbled.

“I’m waiting.” Nayeon sang. Her eyes glinted.

 

Dahyun sighed and let go of Chaeyoung just as Sana and Momo reached them. Turned instinctively to look at them but Nayeon, impatient as always when it came to affection, wrapped her arms around her from behind, claiming her hug.

“I’m Nayeon.” Nayeon introduced herself to Sana and Momo.

“I’m with Im Nayeon.” Chaeyoung snorted.

Nayeon looked a little like she wanted to kill Chaeyoung, and a little like she was gonna kiss her. Dahyun hoped for the first.

“We talked.” Sana said kindly, obviously not noticing the pun. Impossibly Dahyun liked her more for missing it, or ignoring it. Or maybe it was the smile she flashed at Dahyun, that the younger girl automatically returned. Momo however, just stared from Chaeyoung to Nayeon and back again. Didn’t speak. Leaned a little closer to Sana.

“So, you’re Sana?” Chaeyoung asked, as if she didn’t know. Sana nodded and her entire face lit up in a smile that outshone the sun, instinctively grabbing Momo’s hand when the older girl touched hers with her fingertips.

Finally, Nayeon released Dahyun, allowing her to step out of the naturally formed circle she had become the unwilling center of. And Dahyun watched with anticipation as the three girls started talking - Momo had still yet to utter a word - trying to decide whether to mediate or not. Maybe she should. After all, these were just complete strangers, and Dahyun was vouching for them, with what? A few days of getting to know them. And she hardly knew anything about them. But as she stood with her arm pressed against Chaeyoung’s, and she felt her hand squeeze Dahyun’s, thumb running over Dahyun’s. It made it all ok.

Life doesn’t ever turn out the way you plan. Sometimes life means you don’t get to do the one thing you love. Other times it means that you somehow end up being the center of a game of who can make her blush faster . Sometimes you’re just stupid enough to let your brain develop a crush on essentially a total stranger and then bring her to meet all of your friends, knowing full well it could never end well.

Chapter Text

A bright smile greeted the five as Jihyo opened the door for them. Indiscriminately to the newcomers, she hugged them each on turn, kissing Dahyun’s cheek softly as the younger girl walked past her into the apartment. The scent of Jihyo’s apartment embraced Dahyun like a warm blanket. There was something entirely soothing about it. Dahyun almost let the comfort overpower her. She had gotten so used to this place being her free space when she couldn’t be in her own body.

It was really only now Dahyun felt how tense she had been for the past hour, as her shoulders fell and she stretched her head from side to side. She noticed Tzuyu in Jihyo’s wonderfully big couch and almost joined her before remembering Sana and Momo. She turned at Sana’s giggle, her ear catching it as naturally as if she had said Dahyun’s name. Jihyo was gesturing around her room and Sana pointed at the wall behind the couch. Polaroids, drawings, miscellaneous tickets from movies and concerts and train rides, and an abundance of talent show prizes all hung like a collage behind Tzuyu. It was a mess but not an annoyance to the eye. It drew you in. Organized chaos. And it had drawn Sana in as well. She studied the wall closely, leaving Momo behind. With a frown, Dahyun noticed how Momo seemed almost smaller in the space, left behind by Sana. She shifted her weight uncomfortably, eyes shifting to meet Dahyun’s. And she really did try to return the grin Dahyun sent her. But it didn’t go all that well, her eyes flickering to Jihyo and then Tzuyu. Then to Nayeon and Chaeyoung by Jihyo’s big dining table, and back to Dahyun. Who would have thought that Momo would be the one to go all shy and quiet? She was just fine with invading pretty much every inch of Dahyun’s personal space without even knowing her.

“Oh, I love this!” Sana exclaimed, wresting Dahyun from her thoughts. Sana  was looking at a photo of Jihyo, Tzuyu and Dahyun from Halloween last year. Dahyun’s cheeks flushed at the memory. She had definitely been the odd one out. Both Jihyo and Tzuyu had worn stunning dresses and looked like a million bucks. Whereas Dahyun had been a bunny. A bunny with a fluffy tail and a carrot and everything. Had completely misunderstood the concept of college parties. She looked around at Momo, noticing her moving closer, out of the corner of her eye. Dahyun switched her weight towards her and Momo’s hand snuck around Dahyun’s arm. Meanwhile Jihyo continued to tell the story behind whatever item Sana pointed at. And Dahyun couldn’t help staring. Sana’s entire body seemed to be taking to Jihyo’s natural warmth and shine, making her even more radiant.

“This one?” Sana pointed at a beer bottle label CASS fresh .

“Oh.” Jihyo’s eyes flickered and she smiled. “That’s a long story actually. We’d better make sure people have food first.”

Sana looked at Dahyun who nodded her head in Jihyo’s direction, signaling for Sana to follow. With a shrug and a smile, Sana walked past Dahyun into the kitchen.

 

“Hey Momo, you’re a dancer right?” Asked a voice from the kitchen table. Nayeon sat on the edge of it, nose in her phone.

Momo nodded, but when Nayeon didn’t look up she took a breath and said: “I am, yeah.”

“Do you know this dance?” Nayeon turned her phone at Momo, finally looking up. Momo’s grasp on Dahyun's arm strengthened for a second then disappeared. She walked over,  looking at the phone intensely, leaving Dahyun in the middle of the room. However, before she had time to decide whether to join Jihyo and Sana or Momo and Nayeon, Chaeyoung was by her side and pulled her to the couch.

“I forgot to mention; you look like hell.” She noted on the way.

“Just tired.” Dahyun grinned at her, her eyelids fighting her on the sincerity of it.

Chaeyoung hummed and pulled Dahyun with her onto the couch. “Me too.” She sighed and leaned on Tzuyu who immediately made room for Chaeyoung in her arms.

Dahyun grabbed Chaeyoung’s legs and lifted them across her lap, Chaeyoung momentarily surprised but then relaxed in the arms of her friends, closing her eyes peacefully.

“How was the exam?” Dahyun asked.

“It was shit!” Nayeon answered from the couch, looking back down at the phone, huddling close to Momo.

“It was fine,” Chaeyoung said tiredly. “I got most of it right as far as I can tell.”

“You went home and looked it up, didn’t you?” Dahyun grinned.

“Only a few.”

“More like half.” Nayeon grumbled.

“She’s just mad cause she got some wrong.” Chaeyoung hummed.

“Shut up, or I’m kicking you out.” Nayeon said dryly.

“Yeah, right.” Chaeyoung opened her eyes and sent Nayeon her cutest smile, showing off her dimple. Nayeon rolled her eyes but returned the smile, her eyes shining softly.

“Ew. No more cuddles for you.” Tzuyu exclaimed without letting go.

“Yeah, right.” Chaeyoung looked up at Tzuyu with mischief glinting in her eyes.

Tzuyu poked her dimple, a soft smile playing around her lips.

“Now who’s being gross?” Dahyun mumbled and turned her attention to Jihyo who had walked in with bowls of snacks, Sana trailing after her with soda. “Isn’t Jeongyeon coming? Since it moved to your place?”

“She’s coming in a few minutes I think.” Jihyo placed the bowls and threw a piece of chocolate at Dahyun. “She just texted a few days ago and asked if I could host instead, not sure why.”

“What about Mina? She said she might join.” Dahyun said, biting down on her chocolate.

“She’s coming, but she didn’t say when. I haven’t heard from her in the last hour or so.”

 

…  

 

As Jihyo had predicted, Jeongyeon showed up a few minutes later, carrying several bottles of wine and, as she said, vodka just in case. She quickly joined Sana and Jihyo in the kitchen, ordering chicken and cold buckwheat noodles for all. Sana’s laugh was once again audible from the kitchen and Momo was teaching Nayeon a dance move, probably one from the video. Dahyun felt her eyes rest on the two of them. Nayeon wasn’t as good as Momo, not by a long shot, but she caught on fast and soon they were huddled together again, pointing at the screen and repeating the move, this time with an addition. Nayeon seemed beyond pleased to get a private lesson. And somehow, Nayeon had gotten Momo to losen up and forget about her shyness. Or maybe it was just getting to dance, that did the trick.

It was so enchanting to watch Momo dance, something Dahyun hadn’t yet gotten a chance to, that she didn’t even notice Sana until Dahyun felt the couch dip. She jolted slightly and looked around. Sana was keeping an unusual amount of distance, Chaeyoung’s legs creating a barrier. Without thinking Dahyun caught Sana’s eyes and lifted Chaeyoung’s feet with one hand and patted the seat next to her with the other. Sana’s eyes smiled before her mouth caught up. She scooted over and allowed Chaeyoung’s feet to rest in her lap, the angle forcing Chaeyoung to lean even further into Tzuyu’s arms. Sana’s shoulder pressed against Dahyun’s.

Chaeyoung raised an eyebrow but Dahyun ignored it. She had made Sana smile. They sat in a strange but comfortable silence, Dahyun dared to lean against Sana, but quickly pulled back when Sana started giggling uncontrollably.

 

Mina didn’t leave them hanging for long, joining only ten minutes after Jeongyeon, her cheeks revealing a blush as she looked around at the eight pairs of eyes looking at her. Jihyo was quick on her feet and engulfed her in a hug, leading her to the dinner table where Momo was still discussing dance with Nayeon. Mina quickly waved at the four in the couch and held exchanged a smile with Dahyun, holding her eyes for a second.

“Dinner should be here in about fifteen minutes so I don’t know if we should wait for that or break out the wine?” Jeongyeon looked at Jihyo, catching her in a yawn.

“Wine please.” Nayeon answered.

“I guess that decides it.” Jihyo said with a shrug, clearly not bothering to argue sense when it was Nayeon versus alcohol.

Jeongyeon got up and passed behind Mina. Nayeon and Momo seemed to have finished their discussions, as they got up too and helped Jeongyeon pass out glasses. With nine to share, a bottle only just made it around to all. The five at the table joined the four on the couch, Jeongyeon and Momo sharing the chaise, Nayeon on the armrest by Chaeyoung’s head and Jihyo sharing her old wingback chair with Mina, hugging her tight as the younger girl sat on Jihyo’s lap. It made Dahyun smile and Jihyo noticed, sticking out her tongue at her and pulling Mina closer. Mina let out a chuckle.

“Thanks for inviting us along.” Sana said, though she looked unsure of who to thank, initially addressing Jeongyeon but then switching her gaze to Jihyo.

“No problem. It’s always fun to meet new people and I guess at least you will see a lot of us now that you’re living with Dahyun.” Jeongyeon shrugged.

“And you all know each other really well then?” Sana asked. Momo was still quietly observing.

“Yeah. It sort of just grew into this.” Jihyo said. Mina repositioned herself, allowing Jihyo a better view, wrapping her arms around Jihyo’s shoulders.

“It was just Jeongyeon and I to start,” Nayeon took over. “But that was ages ago. We went to primary school together. Jihyo was in a younger year and we didn’t talk to her much for a while, but really, look how cute she is, you can’t really resist that.”

Jihyo’s face lit up.

“I could.” Jeongyeon claimed.

“No, you couldn’t.” Nayeon coughed.

“Then as high school started Jihyo found that silly thing in her class. All shy and friendless, didn’t know the language well.” Jeongyeon pointed at Mina whose gummy smile lit up her entire face, a laugh bubbling on her lips. “And I started working at the same diner as Dahyun when I started college.”

“I knew Chaeyoung from high school, we-” Dahyun stopped, then looked at Chaeyoung before continuing. “She was a year under me but we hung out a lot. And my senior year I started as a kitchen girl at the place where I work now as a waiter. And Jeongyeon brought me along for some stuff. Then I brought Chaeyoung... And then that happened.” Dahyun cringed at the timing of Nayeon placing a kiss on Chaeyoung’s forehead. Tzuyu flicked Nayeon’s forehead and Nayeon flicked back before taking revenge by kissing Chaeyoung full on the lips, upside down, earning her a happy hum and a giggle from Chaeyoung and puking noises from both Jeongyeon and Tzuyu.

“Oh, just let them be.” Jihyo laughed.

“What about her?” Sana asked, gesturing at Tzuyu, looking at Jeongyeon “Did you go to school with her as well?”

“Tzuyu? God no, she’s a baby. She’s the newest addition to the squad, though we weren’t sure we were going to let her in.” Jeongyeon teased.

“Why not?” Asked Sana, seemingly not catching on to Jeongyeon’s joke.

“Jeongyeon couldn’t handle the possibility of someone as beautiful as Tzuyu overshadowing her.” Nayeon insisted.

“I think that was you.” Jihyo said dryly before turning back to Sana to answer her first question about Tzuyu. “She joined quite randomly, almost a year ago. Mina and I worked at this coffee house - I still work there. And Tzuyu came in a lot on her own, so we took her home.”

“You make me sound like a stray puppy.” Tzuyu said, faint indignation in her voice.

“You were! With those big sad puppy eyes whenever I didn’t have time to talk to you.” Jihyo laughed.

Tzuyu’s cheeks reddened slightly but she settled for a timid smile rather than a comment. Chaeyoung looked up at Sana, whifting her hands at Nayeon’s red hair halfway covering her face.

“What about you?”

 

As Sana told the story of how Momo and she met, Momo only commenting rarely, the glasses emptied of their first glass and Jeongyeon got the second bottle out, sharing it between them. Just as she was about to sit back down between Sana and Momo however, the doorbell rang, and she got up to open, Mina jumping up to help carry - the natural waiter in her taking over -  Dahyun thought with a smile.

Leaving the food to Jeongyeon and Mina, Dahyun listened as Sana talked. Told about how she was an only child and had been taken in by Momo and her sister and treated as a third sister. How her mom had suffered from a bad health and the two Hirai sisters, especially Momo, had been her safe space from all the worry. How she always saw Momo as her real sister and never had many other friends, none other than Momo who stuck around when things got bad. So when Momo was offered a scholarship here, she applied for one too, so they could go together, leaving home together.

 

Throughout the story, Momo had crawled back into her shell, and Dahyun feared that Momo would clamp up completely if someone didn’t make sure to include her soon. Tried to come up with ways to do this. Dahyun hadn’t really expected this, as both Sana and Momo had fit in so naturally at the apartment, but while Sana seemed to thrive even in great crowds like this, Momo certainly didn’t. At least until the chicken was brought out. Food seemed to have a magical power over her, even more than usual, and she was soon in a quiet but intense battle with Jeongyeon about who could eat the most. Dahyun had stopped eating a while ago and so had most others. While Dahyun and Sana didn’t take much notice of Momo’s eating habits, Jihyo was laughing louder with each bite, obviously amused at the thought that someone might beat Jeongyeon at what had obviously become an outright eating competition. Mina had moved to the floor, now sitting cross legged on pillow by Jihyo’s feet, and was gazing at the battle as well, a playful smile around her lips, her eyes darting between the two girls.

“We should start taking bets.” Dahyun suggested playfully.

“5 says Momo wins.” Chaeyoung grinned, catching Dahyun’s eye.

“10 says Jeongyeon wins,” Mina added.

“15 says Momo wins and eats everything in Jihyo’s fridge afterwards if no one stops her.” Dahyun said, crossing her arms, earning a laugh from Sana and a sheepish smile from Momo.

“Confidence. I like it.” Jihyo teased.

“She ate my entire fridge on the first day.” Dahyun said.

“Sorry.” Momo mumbled halfway through another chicken leg.

“I must admit,” Jeongyeon sighed, obviously full, face slightly puffy and eyelids drooping slightly. “I’m impressed.”

Momo’s face lit up halfway through a sip of soda. She was adorable, and looking around, Dahyun was pleased to see that everyone else seemed to think so too. Momo dug in for another mouthful of buckwheat noodles, and Jeongyeon cringed.

“Yup. I’m done.” Jeongyeon admitted defeat, leaned back, but with nothing there to catch her, as she was still sitting on the chaise, it was only Momo’s fast reflexes that prevented her from falling back completely. Sana too helped, tugging at Jeongyeon’s arm to help get her back up, and Momo had an arm around her waist. Jeongyeon looked absolutely taken aback, a blush visible in her cheeks. Jihyo and Nayeon were howling with laughter.

“Are you sure you’re well, Jeongyeon?” Jihyo asked, wiping a tear from her eye.

“I’m fine!” Jeongyeon insisted, squirming because Momo was still very close to her.

“First you lose at eating and now this? Who would have thought Jeongyeon was secretly a bottom?” Nayeon teased.

“I’m gonna kill you if you don’t shut up right now.” Jeongyeon’s entire face flushed. She looked around for help but only Tzuyu and Momo weren’t laughing at her.

“I just never knew you’d go for overseas girls!” Nayeon kept at it, never knowing when to stop.

“Okay, that’s it.” Jeongyeon got up faster than Nayeon managed to register, climbing awkwardly past Dahyun and Tzuyu’s legs and pouncing at Nayeon with her entire weight, both falling to the ground. Nayeon squealed incessantly as Jeongyeon poked and tickled her, sitting on her stomach to prevent her from moving.

“Are they always like this?” Sana asked quietly in Dahyun’s ear, her breath warm and her nose tickling against the top of Dahyun’s ear, making her squirm.

“Uh, yeah. They’re pretty insane. But don’t think too much about it. They’d kill for each other.” Dahyun looked around at Sana, the sound of Nayeon’s squeals zoning out as she saw just how close Sana was. She wasn’t smiling. Just looking. At Dahyun. Looking very intensely at Dahyun. Who turned away. Looked back down at the mess of limbs and laughter. It would have taken less than three inches to reach out. The thought made her dizzy, but she blamed it on the wine.

“Someone make her stop!” Nayeon called through laugh, hitting Jeongyeon’s arm, the night blue beads of their bracelets striking each other with a clank. Identical but Jeongyeon’s worn on her left, Nayeon’s on her right. Instinctively Dahyun looked at Jihyo and saw hers on the left arm as well. A memory from a school fair when they were still in elementary school, Jihyo had told.

“Jeongyeon if you break, you buy.” Chaeyoung said dryly.

“Fuck no.” Jeongyeon stopped and got off of Nayeon before she could regain breath. She quickly sat down next to Mina at the foot of the wing chair, her face flushed and her breath shallow. Mina seemed utterly amused and Jeongyeon nudged her grumpily, making her laugh even more. Nayeon settled by Chaeyoung again, distractedly running a hand through the younger girl’s black hair.

They never got around to the Vodka. It didn’t turn into that kind of night. They played board games and planned what to do for Chaeyoung’s birthday. Dahyun had missed the last one because of work, and though she had made up for it with a movie night, she had also promised not to miss this one. Eventually they agreed to just do a night similar to this one, though Nayeon insisted on more alcohol. Jeongyeon seconded that. Jihyo rolled her eyes, and got shit for being a hypocrite. They all knew who drank the most.

They were halfway through a game of Codenames when Chaeyoung turned the subject over to Momo.

“So, how long are you going to stay with Sana and Dahyun?”

“Oh,” Momo shifted in her seat. “I’m actually apartment hunting, so I don’t know exactly. Hopefully not that much longer, I don’t want to intrude.” Momo answered.

“You’re not.” Dahyun insisted immediately and Momo beamed at her.

Mina’s eyes flickered to Jeongyeon and Dahyun noticed that they seemed to be having a wordless conversation, before Mina turned back to Momo and said: “Jeongyeon has a room if you don’t mind having her for a roomie?”

All eyes turned to Jeongyeon.

“What happened?” Jihyo asked before anyone else could.

“I thought you two were doing fine again.” Nayeon said.

Jiyeon, Jeongyeon’s roommate slash girlfriend slash ex girlfriend slash girlfriend again, of years had been unstable to say the least. It was well known that Jeongyeon had always had a soft spot for her, and while she had mostly handled it on her own it hadn’t passed their noses by entirely. Their on-again-off-again relationship had been a heavily discussed subject for as long as Dahyun had known Jeongyeon. Jiyeon had been reckless and uncooperative and used Jeongyeon for all her personal gains, using her kind heart and forgiving spirit.

“I threw her out. She hadn’t paid rent in three months and it’s my name on the lease.” Jeongyeon said coolly. She didn’t meet Nayeon’s eyes, but stared at the ring on the coffee table made by her glass.

“She got pissed when I said I wouldn’t fool around anymore. I mean officially we broke up months ago. Just figured enough was enough, right? But she took it out on me. I just didn’t feel anything anymore, hadn’t since we broke up probably, and she got really uncomfortable to be around. So, at the start of February I told her she had two weeks to get her shit out of my apartment and I started looking for a new roommate.” She shrugged. It honestly didn’t seem to bother her much, but even so, Jeongyeon’s body relaxed into Jihyo’s when the younger girl wrapped her arms around her. Dahyun had a feeling they weren’t getting the full story, but Jeongyeon had clamped up for now. She would tell them eventually. She always did.

“So you’re finally over?” Tzuyu asked

“Finally... you say that as if I should’ve left her long ago.” Jeongyeon scowled, then shrugged. “But yeah, Jiyeon and I are over. Absolutely one hundred percent over.”

“Why didn’t you tell me?” Nayeon asked.

“I… I’m sorry.” Jeongyeon didn’t meet her eyes.

“You’re not even calling her Bona anymore, and you still… didn’t tell me.” Nayeon’s frowned. There was a quiet rumble of thunder in her voice, subtle and unthreatening still, though it made sure everyone in the room knew, that she wasn’t pleased at being left out of the loop in her best friend’s life.

“Later, ok?” Jeongyeon’s eyes flickered to Nayeon’s for a split-second. Then leaned her head on Jihyo’s shoulder, the younger girl wrapping an arm around her shoulder. Nayeon nodded.

“Are you serious about considering Momo for a roommate?” Asked Dahyun quietly, breaking the silence that followed.

“As long as she pays her rent and contributes to the food budget? Sure. I don’t see why not.” Jeongyeon said, her head on Jihyo’s shoulder. She looked up at Momo and smiled tiredly, her shoulders still tense from the revelation of her private life. “You seem cool, and if you have Dahyun’s blessing that’s all I need.”

Momo shone and melted into Sana’s arms, Dahyun ruffling her hair.

“Guess I’ll have to get used to living without your kisses.” Dahyun teased.

“What?” Chaeyoung, Nayeon and Jeongyeon all exclaimed at once. Tzuyu almost choked on her water, couching and beating a fist against her sternum to stop spluttering.

“On the cheek! Only on the cheek!” Dahyun insisted quickly. But then Sana laughed heartily next to her, leaning on her shoulder and nuzzling her nose into her neck, and it was just making it even harder for Dahyun to focus on saving the situation.

“Okay, what exactly is going on with you three?” Nayeon demanded. This was exactly the situation Dahyun had not wanted to get into. Why the hell had she even said that? She felt her heart beat too fast as she tried to blink the oncoming dizziness away.

“We just really like Dahyunnie.” Momo teased, reaching over to pinch at Dahyun’s cheeks. This honestly could not get any worse. Dahyun’s face felt hot and she was sure that she was bright red. And worse, she saw Jihyo mouth the word Dahyunnie and shake her head with what was undoubtedly a smirk.

“So, not only did you finally get a girl, you got two? Well done, Dahyun.” Nayeon said impressed. Chaeyoung laughed.

“I didn’t get anyone! We’re just friends! They’re just- I just-” Dahyun tried desperately to focus.

“Oh, we’re not dating!” Sana finally understood and broke through Dahyun’s babblings, Dahyun thankful for her help.

“She won’t let me.” Sana added in a lower voice, a mischievous glint in her eyes. Dahyun regretted ever bringing them.

“Yeah, we just love teasing her because she’s so easy to mess with. Such a cute little thing.” Momo insisted, patting her under the chin lovingly. Dahyun gave up. Let them. Because sitting here, squashed between Tzuyu and Sana, still with Chaeyoung laying across and Momo leaning in on her as well, Dahyun could do nothing but laugh in an attempt to brush it off. And besides, it wasn’t as if she could ever get mad at Momo or Sana for teasing her. At least Momo was finally comfortable in the crowd. And then who cared that they had given the others a good laugh. As long as none of them actually believed that Dahyun liked them. Didn’t feel like gushing on the way her heart threatened to fly out of her chest whenever Sana came close.

 



Nayeon scowled. Stared at the door and tried to word everything in her head. And as soon as the lock to the bathroom clicked, she pushed the door open, forced her way inside and closed it, not letting Jeongyeon leave.

“What the-”

“You have exactly five seconds to tell me what the hell is going on.” Nayeon locked the door again, flopping down on the cold floor, arms and legs cross defiantly, staring up at Jeongyeon. Blocking her exit really did seem like the only way to make Jeongyeon talk by now.

“To tell- Nayeon, there’s nothing more to it. We broke up.” Jeongyeon shifted her weight.

“That didn’t stop you the first… five? times she left you.” Nayeon said coolly, nodding in a gesture that told Jeongyeon to sit her ass down and talk. The younger girl did.

“The difference is, I left her this time, ok? I deserve better than Jiyeon.” Jeongyeon shrugged, fiddling with the bracelet.

“But why didn’t you tell me?” Nayeon demanded, trying to act a lot less hurt than she was. Which was still very hurt. “I’m supposed to know what goes on in your life. And for the past… Three months? You’ve barely spoken to me. I mean I get it, you have your bad weeks, I’m used to that. But three months. What the hell is going on?”

“I just… needed time to figure out what to do about Jiyeon. About… About myself.”

“And you didn’t think it was something you could’ve discussed with me?” Nayeon frowned.

“It’s complicated.”

“You’re seriously not getting away with ‘it’s complicated’, Yoo Jeongyeon. Not in a million years.” Nayeon grumbled.

“Just give me a little time to figure out where to go from here, ok? You know me. I’ll come back eventually.”

“It’s a pain having you as my best friend, you know that right?” Nayeon glowered.

“I know. Good thing you’re so horribly impossible to be around that it’s only me and Chaeyoung who can stand you for more than five minutes.” Jeongyeon smirked.

“I’m gonna murder you in your sleep.” Nayeon hissed. Grabbed her hand and held it tight. “Idiot.”

 

 

Dahyun’s body was limp. Night had fallen long ago and the lights were dim in Jihyo’s apartment. Nayeon was asleep with her head in Jihyo’s lap, mumbling in her sleep as Jihyo stroked her cheek absentmindedly. Tzuyu was talking in her usual quiet voice and Jihyo was huddled close to hear her over the sound of Jeongyeon, Chaeyoung and Momo’s loud discussion. They were sitting on the floor playing a dare game and Momo kept losing. Chaeyoung looked like she was having the time of her life making Momo lose on purpose and Jeongyeon looked slightly fed up with their ridiculousness. Dahyun knew that it was just a facade, Jeongyeon was worse than both of them when she wanted.

“Dahyunnie, you can’t fall asleep here.” Sana said quietly.

“Yes I can.” Dahyun mumbled and leaned her head back against the wall.

“You definitely can’t sleep like that, you’re going to hurt your neck.” Sana insisted with a smile and tugged gently at Dahyun. She was too tired to protest and let herself fall onto Sana’s lap, mirroring Nayeon and Jihyo.

“Can I sleep here then?” Dahyun asked.

“Yes you can.” Sana said and reached over to cover Dahyun with a blanket, rubbing her arm gently.

“Thank you, Sana-chan.” Dahyun mumbled into the blanket and Sana giggled shyly at the name.

“You’re welcome, Dahyunnie.” Said Sana, her voice bubbling over with sunshine. The sound tethered immediately in Dahyun’s conscience.

With much effort, Dahyun turned her onto her side and looked at Momo who was now throwing herself at Chaeyoung in attempt to stop her from getting her to lose. Chaeyoung yelped and tried to get the girl off her but alas. The youngest girl grumbled as Jeongyeon laughed so loud it filled the entire room. Momo looked at her new roommate-to-be with a smirk.

“Don’t.” Jeongyeon warned.

“Or what?” Momo wiggled her eyebrows.

“I’ll kill you.” Jeongyeon said.

“No you won’t.” Mina commented from the wingback chair, looking up from her phone.

“Fine. But I won’t let her move in with me.” Jeongyeon looked around at Mina.

“Yes you will.” Mina chucked and stuck her tongue out at Jeongyeon. Jeongyeon sulked. Then yelped. Momo had used the moment’s lack of attention to release Chaeyoung and launch herself at Jeongyeon instead. She didn’t do even anything, just lay across Jeongyeon, but it was pinning the older girl to the floor effortlessly. Both Jihyo and Chaeyoung laughed, and Dahyun chuckled into the blanket.

“Let me go!” Jeongyeon complained and tried to push Momo off her.

“Not until you promise never to threaten to throw me out.” Momo sang.

“Oh, she can’t make that promise.” Chaeyoung said. “But don’t worry, she’ll never actually do it.”

“Why won’t I?” Jeongyeon looked at her with raised brows.

“C’mon, we all know you’re just a big softie.” Chaeyoung teased.

“That’s true.” Jihyo added.

“But if she doesn’t promise, then she’s never getting out of here.” Momo added pressure and Jeongyeon looked like she regretted the last chicken wing.

“Fine. I promise. Now get off!” Jeongyeon gasped.

“Your friend is ridiculous.” Dahyun noted.

“So are yours.” Sana chuckled.

“You’re right. All of our friends are ridiculous.” Dahyun mumbled. Sana hummed, gave her arm an affectionate squeeze.

Dahyun felt herself doze off.

 

She won’t let me .

 

Chapter Text

Momo-invasion. That was probably the only way of explaining the state of the entire apartment. Boxes were stacked high and low, furniture, at least double the amount that Sana had, stacked on top of each other in such amounts that you could barely get through the living room. But even if Momo was more sorry than anyone, there was no getting around the fact that her room at Jeongyeon’s wasn’t ready and that the landlord at Sana and Momo’s old apartment had left a kind message threatening Momo to clear out her stuff or have it given to goodwill. So for the second time in two weeks, Dahyun was outside of a white van waiting for a japanese girl to emerge from the back.

“At least it’s faster when we’re three.” Sana said, slightly out of breath, propping up the box she was holding. Dahyun however, had learned from last time. Had the box by her feet and sent Sana a grin. Sana grumbled and shifted her weight. Stuck her tongue out at Dahyun for good measure.

“You could just carry it inside?” Dahyun suggested. For a moment, Sana seemed to consider, then she pressed her lips together and nodded. Dahyun allowed herself a few seconds to look after her, admiring the sight of the sun hitting her hair. Until someone - Momo - cleared her throat beside her.

“You could try being less obvious.” Momo raised an eyebrow at her.

“I don’t know what you’re talking about.” Dahyun shrugged and lifted the box. It was huge but not too heavy and Dahyun suspected that it was full of teddy-bears.

“What in the actual hell are we gonna do though, there’s no more room for stuff, and I still have a desk and three chairs.” Momo sighed,

“I mean I have one idea. But it’s… You’re not gonna like it.” Dahyun looked around at her, halfway up the stairs.

“What?”

“If we make do without the TV for a week, move the couch to the corner and stack stuff in that, then use my bed as a couch and store the desk and some of all the boxes in there?” Dahyun offered.

Momo looked at her with narrowed eyes. “So you wanna give up your room for a week. So I can store my stuff?”

“Basically.”

“What’s your motive?”

“Being able to get to the front door from time to time?”

“I don’t get it though. I mean, why are you even letting me stay here?” Momo asked, pushing open the door to the apartment, immediately met by a kitchen table, upside down with boxes stacked on top of it.

“You’re Sana’s friend. It’s her apartment too.” Dahyun shrugged.

Honestly, she wasn’t really extremely pleased to have all of Momo’s stuff taking up every corner of empty space. But what was she supposed to do? Turn her away? And besides, it was only a week, and despite the fact that she wasn’t looking forwards to sleeping in the middle of the living room for a week, it was the only solution she could think of, to get enough room.

Momo seemed to accept both solution and explanation however, and put the box onto the couch, looking around.

“We should probably move the bed now, before we get more stuff in.” she pondered.

Dahyun nodded.

“Bed? What bed?” Sana appeared from the kitchen with two glasses of water. Stubbornly made Dahyun and Momo drink everything before explaining.

“We’re moving my bed into the living room to use as a couch so we can get extra space to fit everything.” Dahyun explained as soon as she had emptied her glass.

Sana looked from Dahyun to Momo and back again, then crossed her arms. “No way. You’re not giving up your room. We’ll move my bed.”

“It’s twice the size of mine and impossible to move. Do you not remember swearing you’d never move it again once we fit it in?” Dahyun tried to return the stern expression in Sana’s eyes.

“I don’t care. This is already way more than I could hope for.”

“Sana. It’s just a week, we already decided it’s the most logical solution.” Dahyun said, stepping closer to the older girl.

“Why can’t we just store some of it in Jeongyeon’s living room until she’s ready?” Sana grumbled.

“It’s too late for that, we only have the van for another hour. So unless you want to carry it all for 25 minutes by foot both ways, then we’re stuck.” Dahyun insisted, then reached out and touched her arm. She immediately unfolded her hands, her expression softening. “Sana…”

“I just feel so bad making you do this.” Sana sighed.

“I’m choosing it.” Dahyun insisted, squeezing her arm gently. Sana looked down at Dahyun’s hand, and the younger girl immediately withdrew it, fiddling with the hem of her shirt.

“Mhh, fine.” Sana scrunched her nose. “But if you can’t sleep, we’re switching ok?”

“What makes you think I can’t sleep out here?”

“Do you think I’m blind? You’re barely sleeping in there.” Sana nodded towards the hallway, in the direction of Dahyun’s bedroom.

Dahyun pressed her lips together. “It’s nothing I can’t handle.”

“Sorry, it’s not my place to meddle. I mean I barely-”

“It’s ok. We’re friends.” Dahyun shrugged. “I’m just saying, there’s no reason for you to worry.”

“Friends don’t lie to friends.” Sana raised an eyebrow.

“Okay so I don’t sleep very well. It’s been going on for months though, and I haven’t died yet. And besides, I have it under control by now. I have ways to cope.” Dahyun sent her a smile. Almost reached out again. Almost.

Sana deflated and nodded. “As long as you’re ok.”

“Yes sir.” Dahyun grinned and saluted her. Sana rolled her eyes and chuckled. Ruffled her hair as she walked past, instructing Momo and Dahyun to move the bed out so they could start moving furniture. Dahyun yelled an “Aye aye!” after her, just to hear her laugh.

“Did Jeongyeon say when the room would be ready?” Dahyun asked, leading Momo to her bedroom, quickly moving the stuffed squirrel and her sheets into a pile on the floor, conveniently hiding the toy.

Momo chuckled.

“You don’t have to hide it. It’s cute. And besides, I already saw him. I came looking for the broom while you were at work.”

“Oh.” Dahyun blushed.

“I have a ton of stuffed toys.” Momo said, walking to the far end of the bed, trying to figure out how best to turn it so they could carry it out.

“Yeah but I actually still sleep with that one.” Dahyun sighed, mirroring Momo as she reached across the bed and pulled, tugging the bed onto it’s side.

“So?” Momo shrugged, pulling the bed to make space between the wall and the bed for Dahyun. “I still sleep with mine too. Or use Sana to cuddle.”

For a moment Dahyun imagined Sana laying in Momo’s arms, curled into Momo’s body. Then imagined what it would be like to be that close to her. Shook the thought from her mind.

“Y-you never answered about Jeongyeon.” Dahyun tried as Momo counted and they lifted. The bed was heavy, and Momo visibly lifted it a lot higher, but they managed.

“Some time next week. She’s really sorry about it though. Offered to come help and everything but I told her it wasn’t necessary.” Momo said.

They angled the bed, Dahyun moving backwards out of the room.

“I thought Jiyeon moved out already.”

“She did but she left most of her stuff and Jeongyeon didn’t want to just throw it out. I think she managed to get a hold of her though. Something about her picking it up monday?” Momo said, slightly breathless from an unsuccessful attempt at getting the bed out. Though through a lot of effort and some very fascinating Japanese curse words, the bed ended up in the living room.

 

Okay so maybe it wasn’t the brightest idea she had ever gotten, offering to sleep in the living room. But for whatever reason, she had, and now it was two in the morning and she was wide awake. Hated the air and how big the room was. Felt exposed in the middle of the room, even laying under the blanket, curled around the stuffed toy. Even with the residual tingling sensation on her forehead from where Sana’s lips had touched when she had said goodnight. But no matter the case, it was too late to change her mind. She could only pray that the week would go by fast.

 

Tossing and turning, the time passed from two to three, and all she could think about was how little she liked the dark. How she missed Jihyo’s arms around her, voice singing her to sleep. When she had been younger it had always been comforting to know that her brother and later that Chaeyoung had been right across the hall. But out here, not even the comfort of knowing that Sana and Momo were just a wall away, could do much to soothe her hammering heart. Distractedly she scratched over the fabric of the stuffed toys, but little did it help. And for one desperate moment she considered knocking on Sana’s door. And the next she considered calling Jihyo.

Did neither.

Just turned and sighed.

 

When Momo came out at half past four to use the bathroom, Dahyun pretended to be asleep, but Dahyun had a feeling Momo had seen her shuffle. She paused in the hallway for a second before heading into Sana’s room. This was bad. Really bad. If she could just find some way to sleep, she would be fine.

She just needed a few hours.

 

 

9:58 am Tzuyu: Are you on your way?

10:03 am Tzuyu: Dahyun? Are you sick?

11:05 am Tzuyu: You didn’t miss much thankfully, boring class, but please text when you get this.

 

Dahyun groaned. Warm sunlight was heating up her face, and she rolled to find shade. But she only found the edge of the bed. With a jolt she was wide awake, her heart racing. A sheen of sweat covered her arms and face. How was it so warm in here?

Something was buzzing. Buzzing. As she looked around, she saw her phone on the floor. It was blinking at her, a call incoming. She barely registered who it was, before picking it up and swiping across the screen.

“Where are you?”

Dahyun blinked. “What? Mina?”

“Where are you, your shift started ten minutes ago.”

“I… What?” Dahyun looked around, fumbled with the phone and looked at it. 3:11 pm. She cursed loudly.

“Are you ok? Dahyun please, what’s wrong?”

“Mina… I-I overslept. I must’ve… I must’ve o-overslept. I didn’t sleep well last night and- I missed class. And- I’m- I’m on my way. Can you stall? Please Mina?”

“Sure, I’ll figure something out. Just hurry. Yang-nim is in a mood.” Mina whispered and hung up.

Heart in her throat, Dahyun tried to free herself of the sheets. Stumbled. Cursed. Noticed the couch blanket on top of the sheets. Sana? Did she put it over her? Had they just let her sleep? Where were they anywhere? Probably at school. No, it didn’t matter.

Dahyun piled the sheets on the bed. Ran to the bathroom. Accidentally banged her head against the door, not quick enough to open it. Cursed again. Everything in her head was chaos. Everything around her was a blur. Nothing seemed real. But somewhere in the haze, instinct took over, and she splashed water in her face. And accidentally down her shirt. Discarded it thoughtlessly. Then ran to the bedroom. Sprayed on just enough deodorant to mask that she hadn’t had time to shower. Put her hair in a messy bun and checked her bag for work clothes. Then put on clothes. Tied her hair into a messy bun. Grabbed the bag. Ran. Didn’t check that she had her keys. Didn’t check that the door was locked. Didn’t check to see if the lights were turned off. Just ran. She could not afford to lose this job. They had barely let her keep it. And now that she was finally back on the floor, back to her old self. But was she? Was she really back? She had been their best waitress. Remembered every customer, every order, every allergen in each dish. But she hadn’t been that person for a while. If Yang-nim fired her… She would have to move back home. Back to her mom. Move out. Away from- no. No there wasn’t time to worry about that right now. It wasn’t a priority. She couldn’t tether herself like that, not this fast. She just had to get to work

 

 

“Come here.” Jeongyeon hissed as Dahyun came toppling through the back entrance. Caught the younger girl halfway through a stumble and sat her down on the bench, grabbing the bag from her back and pulled off the oversized t-shirt, soaked in sweat.

“Press this to your face.” she said sternly, handing Dahyun a soaked cool towel while she dug into the bag for Dahyun’s shirt. Hurried to her locker and found a deodorant, trying to mask the fact that she had sprinted there. And Dahyun could barely breathe. Could barely muster the energy to notice just how much Jeongyeon was doing for her. How she forced first one of Dahyun’s arms and then the other through the white waiter shirt. How she buttoned it. Knotted the tie around Dahyun’s neck. Made her stand up and helped her change from slacks to skirt. Tied the waiter’s apron around her waist. How she tied Dahyun’s hair into the mandatory ponytail instead of a bun.

“Jeongyeon.” Dahyun finally breathed, exhausted before the shift had even started. With watery eyes, she turned the towel to get the cool side against her skin.

“I know. You’re ok.” Jeongyeon cupped her face. Looked at her with warm eyes that contradicted her commanding voice. “We told him there was a problem with your dog.”

“B-but I don’t have a dog!” Dahyun squeaked. “I’m terrified of them!”

“Well you do now. his name is Wan, he’s a 3 year old pekingese and he’s been throwing up all day so you had to take him to the vet immediately.” Jeongyeon said.

“You named my non-existent dog ‘Wan’. As in bark ?” Dahyun asked, finally starting to regain some control of her breathing. Felt dizzy. Her thighs were aching and her hands shook, but she wasn’t as warm anymore.

“You don’t get to judge.” Jeongyeon reprimanded. “You get to say thank you for saving your ass. Now get out there.”

Then Jeongyeon kissed her forehead. Checked that she didn’t leave a lipstick mark. Then pushed her out of changing room, into the kitchen.

 

 

Any minute. Any minute now she would surely pass out. Felt herself sway on the spot, Yang-nim’s shouting passing over her head. She was a model student. A good waitress. Worked hard and paid attention. She didn’t deserve this. It was just a slip-up. Just a mistake. Except she had known the moment she laid down, that she was only gonna sleep when she was too exhausted to keep awake. So wasn’t this, deep down, her own fault? No. No she didn’t deserve this. Did she? It wasn’t as if she was an angel. She had done shit. Not permanent record shit, but still. Piercing words made their way through the haze. One by one. Useless. Pathetic. Unable to take care of herself. Was it his words? Or her own? She didn’t know. Was so used to it by now. But it still made her eyes sting as the words cut little pieces off her. But she didn’t give him the satisfaction of breaking her. She was at least stronger than that.

“I promise I won’t ever be late again.” She said monotonously.

“This is a warning Kim. A real warning. You’ve been nothing but a pain in my ass lately, and if you don’t suit up and find that gear soon, I’m going to start looking for your replacement.”

 

Dahyun worked in a haze. Smiled at the customers. Took orders. Delivered the right food to the right food. Was more efficient than she had been in months. Was almost too perfect. Except that she fell flat every time she entered the kitchen. Wanted to cry every time Mina and Jeongyeon looked at her with worried eyes. Every time Taeyang patted her shoulder and told her she was ok. Every time Joohyun winked encouragingly at her. So the moment she could, she offered to man the bar, just to get away. It was easier to distract herself with the sound of buzzing conversations all around her instead of worried eyes. Even if she knew that she was going to pay hard for this once she was done. Would probably not make it home. But the phone was on silent in her locker, and she didn’t want to call Jihyo. Didn’t want to bother her again.

 

Jeongyeon left at eleven, after Dahyun repeatedly had turned down her offer to take Dahyun’s last hours. The older girl had been there since noon. She did not need another three hours on her neck, just because Dahyun had screwed up. Getting her to cover for Dahyun to Yang-nim was more than Dahyun could’ve asked of her. But it was hard not to feel, when Jeongyeon’s arms wrapped so tight around her before she left for the night.

 

At half past midnight Yang-nim left and asked Mina to lock up. He never stayed until closing time. And he was never sober when he left. It was only Mina, Dahyun and then Joohyun in the kitchen left by now. Music played from the speakers on the walls around the booths in the area across from the bar, where their drinking guests usually sat. Every now and then Dahyun allowed herself moments where the music filled her soul and she felt her fingers spread, tapping chords onto the bar. For a moment everything else was gone and she feared she might break. Gathered her hand in a fist so hard they made her knuckles impossibly whiter on her already pale skin.

“Miss? Hey miss. Can I get a beer or what?” Asked an impatient voice. Dahyun looked up and met the eyes of the man in front of her for only a split second before she switched her focus to his eyebrows.

“Sure, I’m sorry I spaced. What brand?” She asked with a kind smile.

“Prime draft, three please.” He answered, his voice milder.

“Coming right up.” Dahyun turned and ducked into the refrigerator under the desk, grabbing three beers. Her knees struggled as she got up, but she ignored the pain. Was good at that. She opened the beers and handed them over the desk and received payment in cash. Was good at her job. Was proud of her job. Even if she was feeding beers and probably though unwillingly fantasies to men who got drunk on thursday nights.

 

 

There was something magical about Mina. A blessing and a curse that made the customers follow her voice and gaze longingly after her. And most of the time it was nothing but a hassle that they wouldn’t leave her alone, but tonight Dahyun saw how she used her kindest smile as she took over Dahyun’s failed attempt at throwing out the last costumers. Even if there was a security guard connected to the street patrolling the establishments, they rarely used him. And though they probably should have tonight, Dahyun knew why Mina didn’t. Knew that it would mean paperwork and conversations that would drag out the time to get home.

“Thank you” Dahyun breathed, swaying on the spot as soon as she had locked up. Was inclined to just lean against the glass and slide down onto the floor. It was probably nice and cool.

“Go home, Dahyun.” Mina said softly, enveloping Dahyun in her arms.

“If you don’t let go I’m gonna cry on you.” Dahyun sighed, forehead against Mina’s shoulder, the older girl’s hands stroking up and down Dahyun’s back in a soothing rhythm.

“I don’t mind that.” Mina hushed. It was a good thing, as the tears were already falling onto Mina’s shoulder.

“I’m just so tired…” Dahyun croaked, her feet dragging as Mina led her through the restaurant, out through the kitchen and into the dressing room.

“Do you want me to call Jihyo?” Mina offered.

“No I should get home.” Dahyun tried to hold back a cry, her shoulders shaking with the effort to not sob.

“You cannot walk home like this. If you wait, I can drive you?” Mina offered.

“No it’s okay, it’s late for you too. I’ll get home.” Dahyun tried.

“Come off it Dahyun. I thought you were past this I don’t need help thing.” Mina sat her down on the floor by the lockers, holding her face between her hands. Wiped the tears with her thumbs.

Dahyun breathed shakily, wondering if she dared say it.

“S-sana… is usually awake still…”

It was stupid. Why did she even say it. She could not honestly expect Sana to come pick her up in the middle of the night. They barely knew each other. Except they did know each other.

“Okay.” Mina said. As if there was nothing weird at all in Dahyun’s request. “Your phone?”

“S’in my locker.” Dahyun mumbled and closed her eyes. Felt like she was about to pass out. Soft lips pressed against Dahyun’s forehead and then Mina’s presence disappeared. A sound revealed that she had opened a locker and a shuffling of fabric told the younger girl that Mina was rummaging for her phone. But Dahyun didn’t even have the energy to say that it was in the front pocket. Then Mina was back and took her thumb, pressing it to the phone, unlocking it. The older girl settled right beside Dahyun, close enough that Dahyun could hear the beeps from the phone as it rang.

“Hello?” Dahyun heard Sana’s voice through the phone. She didn’t sound tired. It made Dahyun sigh with relief. A part of her had feared that Sana was asleep, even though she almost never was when Dahyun came home.

“Sana? It’s Mina. I don’t know if you remem-”

“Mitang!” Mina smiled at the nickname. It was something Momo and Sana had come up with on friday. “Why do you have Dahyun’s phone? Is she ok?”

“Well. She’s ok, sorta. But she needs someone to help her home. I can’t do it, I have to close up, but maybe… Can you pick her up? I can text you the address, it’s not too far from your place.”

“Of course.” There was no hesitation and no questions asked beyond that. So Mina merely  thanked her and hung up, texting the address and receiving a thumbs up. Dahyun’s tears had stopped falling but her cheeks were still week, and her eyes were giving up, her contacts blurring her vision as they repeatedly went out of focus.

 

“Okay, I’m going to sit you down here, and then start closing up. I’ll be back to check on you.” Mina pressed a kiss to Dahyun’s hair.

“Thank you…” Dahyun mumbled letting her eyelids close heavily.

“No look at me.” Mina insisted, causing Dahyun to look at her again. The older girl held her eyes, forcing them to focus, forcing them to see properly for the first time since stepping in the door eleven hours earlier. “Please get some sleep tonight. I don’t really care how you do it. I just need you to get some sleep.”

“Mh.” Dahyun mumbled and felt new tears overwhelm her. She buried her head in her arms and felt Mina’s hand stroke her hair for a moment before she disappeared, the door closing after her.

She had been functioning somewhat well since she started getting picked up here by Jihyo, but tonight was just a bad night. It had been a bad day. And she was so tired. So Dahyun closed her eyes to stop the tears. Just to stop the tears. And slowly she felt her heart steady. Then felt nothing at all.

 

 

“Dahyun...” a voice called calmly, as if in a dream.

Dahyun smiled into her arms and hummed. A giggle. Then a hand on her arm and another stroking hair away from her forehead. Dahyun didn’t want to open her eyes, in case she disappeared. The scent was so familiar and the voice so calming.

“Come, Dahyun. Let’s get you home.” Sana said, her voice close.

Dahyun mumbled a response, still floating in and out of sleep. Hands cupped her face and lifted it, a breathy chuckle so close Dahyun could feel the huffs of air on her nose. She opened her eyes, and saw only a blurry mess of what was undoubtedly Sana. The blonde hair framing her unclear face revealed her. She blinked until her eyes focused. Thumbs wiped across her face, trying to remove the salt from dried tears, but in vain.

“We’re going home now, Dahyun.” Sana repeated. Let go of Dahyun’s face and ran her hands down Dahyun’s arms, coaxing her to get a hold of her wrists. Pulled the younger girl gently off the floor, quickly wrapping an arm around Dahyun’s waist when she stumbled. She smelled wonderful. Like flowers and lemon and spring.

“Thank you.” A voice behind said quietly. Dahyun turned as in a trance and saw Mina with a towel over her shoulder, leaning against the door. “Make sure she sleeps. And gets to class. It’s at 11.”

“I will. Thank you for calling me.” Sana said sweetly.

 

Sana never let go of Dahyun. Not even for a step. The entire way home she had one arm around her waist and the other around Dahyun’s wrist, steadying the arm Dahyun had wrapped around her neck.

“You promised you would tell me if you didn’t sleep.” Sana said quietly.

“Sana, it’s no big deal.” Dahyun sighed. Regretted having ever called her. What was she thinking anyways?

“I know we haven’t known each other very long, but I know enough to say that it’s a big fat lie. It’s a huge deal.” Sana sounded angry now. “I really like you Dahyun, and I consider us friends. And I know you consider me your friend. Or you wouldn’t have called me.”

Dahyun mumbled unintelligibly, her eyes still closed almost completely.

“Step.” Sana warned as they reached the front door of their building. Didn’t demand more from Dahyun. Instead she helped Dahyun inside and into the elevator, shifting to wrap both arms around Dahyun. It was really more than one could expect of anyone, and Dahyun felt her heart swell with affection for the older girl. And it was so hard to focus. Because Sana was so close and the smell of what was probably her perfume filled Dahyun’s nostrils and conscience. If she dared, Dahyun could merely turn her head by a few degrees, and her lips would touch Sana’s neck. But she didn’t. Her mind wouldn’t let her. But her heart was begging her to do it.

Apparently at age almost twenty one the heart gets desperate to get certain things done. Like actually kissing a girl. And here Sana was, carrying her home from work in the middle of the night, obviously caring for Dahyun, having spent over a week doing what some who had a bit more sense than Dahyun would count as flirting. But her mind wouldn’t let her. Because she didn’t know Sana. And kissing your roommate in a state of sleep deprivation after the day she had had would be just about the least clever thing Dahyun had ever done, and that was saying a lot.

“Thank you.” Dahyun breathed as Sana removed an arm to unlock the door and let them into their apartment. Momo’s stuff was still everywhere, and Dahyun’s bed was in the middle of the room where the couch used to be. Except it wasn’t empty. Sprawled on Dahyun’s bed, arms, mouth ajar and a twitching toe sticking out under the covers, was Momo. Fast asleep.

“Wh-“

“She insisted.” Sana shrugged. “Said, I’m the cause of this mess and I can sleep anywhere. She saw you pretending to be asleep last night.”

“But where am I-“

“With me, if you don’t mind. We can switch if you’d rather sleep with Momo, or I can-“

“No… no it’s fine.” Dahyun muttered. Was honestly too tired to try and find a reason not to take the offer.  Too tired to try and decipher Sana’s motives.

“Can you sleep with your contacts in?” Sana asked quietly, steering Dahyun through the apartment.

“Mh. It’s ok.” Dahyun hummed.

“Then let’s get you to bed. Are your pyjamas in the bathroom?”

“Don’t know.” Dahyun said honestly. She had left in such a hurry and everything was a hazy mess now. She might not even be able to tell which shoe was left and which was right at this point. And Sana just hummed and guided Dahyun into a room that wasn’t her own and was sat on a bed that wasn’t hers. Took off Dahyun’s shoes and undid the ponytail. Only when she started undoing the buttons on Dahyun’s shirt did Dahyun wake enough to realize what was happening. She looked up at Sana with wide eyes.

“Oh. I’m just. I just wanted to help. You shouldn’t sleep in that.” Sana fumbled.

Dahyun tried to think of something to say, but Sana stepped back and almost fell over her own feet. She turned and quickly opened her closet, throwing a huge white shirt and a pair of frilly pink and lilac shorts at Dahyun. Then turned to stare decisively at the wall, arms crossed and leaning against the closet. Dahyun couldn’t help the chuckle that forced its way up her throat and out past her lips.

“Just change.” Sana rushed.

Dahyun did her best, but her fingers were too tired to quickly undo the buttons and she kept apologizing for being slow. Eventually she got Sana’s shirt over her head, staring down at herself. The shirt was way too big and fell well down her thighs, covering the shorts completely. Most of the nightwear Dahyun had seen Sana in looked like it fit a man three times her bodyweight.

“Ok, I’m decent.” Dahyun mumbled and sat back down on the bed. Sana’s bed. Where she had agreed to sleep. Not that she wasn’t used to spending the night in someone else’s bed, but never with someone who made her heart race like this. “You’re sure it’s ok that I sleep here?”

“Dahyunnie.” Sana turned, arms still crossed but a soft glint in her eyes, a smile tugging at her lips. “It’s two thirty in the morning, will you just lie down already?”

Dahyun sighed and nodded, shuffling under the covers, while Sana took off the sweater she had been wearing, revealing her night shirt. Had she been woken by the phone call after all? Out of respect, Dahyun stared determinately up at the ceiling the moment Sana tugged at the strings in her sweatpants. A soft thump revealed that Sana was changing clothes, but Dahyun just stared at the ceiling. Only when steps revealed that she was walking, did Dahyun look at Sana as she walked across the room, turning off the light. The bed shifted and Dahyun knew, even if she couldn’t see it very well, that Sana was crawling across her, settling in the spot in the corner. As Sana settled under the covers, Dahyun became horribly aware of just how close they were, feeling the warmth emitting from her under the covers.

“Momo left her teddy bear for you in case you wanted to borrow. Something about not wanting to embarrass you with the squirrel but wanted you to have a cuddle buddy. I argued I’d be a better cuddle buddy though, but it’s your choice. I don’t think neither me or the bear would mind your cuddles.”

Dahyun praised the darkness as her cheeks burned. Sana’s voice was so conversational, and Dahyun wanted nothing more than to take Sana up on the offer. But she didn’t. Just took the huge teddy bear that Sana offered her. Then something, a finger, poked at her cheek and Dahyun felt Sana shifting in her side of the bed.

“Go to sleep Dahyun.” Her voice was close and Dahyun nodded. Turned her face, just to say goodnight, to say thanks. But in the exact moment she had chosen to turn to look at Sana, Sana had leaned in, obviously with the intention of kissing Dahyun’s cheek as a goodnight, but the changed angle meant that Sana’s lips brushed over the corner of Dahyun’s lips, and to Dahyun’s horror, just stayed there, as if the older girl hadn’t noticed that she had gotten the angle wrong.

But that wasn’t the worst.

For whatever reason Dahyun might never forgive them for, her own lips responded almost automatically, though so briefly that she could hope that Sana never noticed. She felt Sana giggle against her skin, against her lips and then the pressure disappeared.

“Go to sleep, Dahyunnie.” Sana repeated.

Dahyun couldn’t think. Couldn’t focus on anything but the tingling sensation on the corner of her lip. The bed shifted again and Dahyun turned as well. Away form Sana. Tried to ignore the way blood rushed in her ear, digging her fingers into the fuzzy fur of the teddy bear, hiding her face against the back of it’s head. And maybe if she hadn’t been completely exhausted, she would’ve been able to analyze the situation properly and take the proper distance. But her eyes shut before she was ready for it and got pulled unwillingly off to sleep.



Chapter Text

There was something on Dahyun’s stomach. Something stuck between her stomach and Momo’s teddy bear. A hand. A hand probably belonging to the body pressed against her back, hugging her close.

“She really does sleep like the dead when she finally sleeps.” A voice behind her said. Sana’s voice. And it was so close.

“Try again.” Said another voice, more distant. Momo.

“Dahyun, you have to get up.” Sana whispered. If she was honest, Dahyun wasn’t quite sleeping anymore but not entirely awake either. Just lay with her entire body crumbled around the teddy bear hoping it would mask the sound of her racing heart, as she became increasingly aware of Sana’s bare legs against her own and her torso pressing against Dahyun’s back. Dahyun wanted to run and never move at the same time. Felt the way the corner of her mouth tingled as if to remind her of exactly what had happened last night. Felt like her heart might burst yet somehow completely safe in Sana’s arms.

Then Sana’s hand slid around to her side and started tickling there, making Dahyun squirm.

“Oh, she’s awake!” Momo exclaimed the minute Dahyun failed to hide her grin.

“Mh-not.” Dahyun protested. Felt Sana’s laugh on her neck, leaving goosebumps in its wake. If only Dahyun could read Sana’s mind, know if she had noticed it, and please also know why in the world they were cuddling. Had Sana just fought the teddy bear for cuddle rights as soon as Dahyun had fallen asleep? What reality was this anyway? But she couldn’t really do much about it. Couldn’t really get herself to up and ask Sana, so hey you know how you kissed me last night? What was that about and would you like to do it again because I’d be up for that thank you very much . Yeah, no, not likely to happen.

“Dahyun you have school soon.” Momo chuckled, prising Dahyun from her thoughts.

Slowly Dahyun opened her eyes, but only to glower at Momo. “I’m cancelling school.”

“Right… sure you are” Momo raised an eyebrow at her.

Dahyun tried with a pout but it didn’t help at all. So she closed her eyes again.

“I’ll make some food for you.” Momo’s voice said, and then footsteps revealed that she was gone.

“Did you fall asleep fast?” Sana asked, her hand tracing wonderfully back down to rest on Dahyun’s stomach.

“Mh, thank you.” Dahyun mumbled into the bear.

“You’re welcome.” Sana said and hugged Dahyun even closer.

“What time is it?” Dahyun asked quietly.

“Late enough for you to have gotten enough sleep and early enough that you can make it to class.”

“Thank you.” Dahun said again, scratching over the fuzzy surface of the teddy bear distractedly.

“You don’t have to keep thanking me, it’s not a big deal.” Sana’s breathy laugh hit Dahyun’s skin again.

“You picked me up at work in the middle of the night and you let me sleep in your bed. That is a big deal.” Dahyun insisted, turning slightly to look at Sana, blinking her dry contacts into focus.

“I guess.” Sana smiled. She moved back a little, allowing Dahyun to turn onto her back, letting the bear go. Sana removed her hand and propped herself up on her elbow.

“Feeling better?” She asked.

“Much better. As in, so much better.”

Dahyun looked up at the ceiling, pressing her lips together hard. Sana’s fingers ghosted across Dahyun cheek, then up to stroke hair away from her face and finally touching the tip of Dahyun’s nose gently, briefly, making Dahyun scrunch her face. Sana laughed. How one person could contain so much laughter and energy, Dahyun might never figure out. Her energy was so contagious and made Dahyun’s heart stronger and her head lighter. And Dahyun didn’t want to figure out why. She just wanted to bask in whatever sunshine Sana offered.

She heard steps and drew her eyes away from Sana in time to see Momo waltz into the room with a mug of steaming hot tea and a bowl of what was probably reheated dinner. Still sore from strain and heavy with sleep, Dahyun sat up, finally free of Sana’s embrace, propped against the wall with a pillow behind her back as Momo handed her the japchae and a fork and placed the tea on the nightstand. Sana sat up too, pouting at Momo, clearly disappointed that Momo hadn’t brought her breakfast as well. Dahyun took a proper mouthful and hummed happily at the taste. She had been too tired to feel how empty her stomach was, but now that she tasted the food, it complained loudly, wanting more. Meanwhile Sana was still trying to silently convince Momo.

“No way.” Momo said simply when Sana started blinking at her charmingly.

“Please Momoring… I’m hungry.” Sana’s pouty voice was downright irresistable, and Dahyun almost offered to go make food for her just for that voice.

“Then go make some for yourself.” Momo said coolly. How she managed not to cave was puzzling.

“Momoring…” Sana begged.

“Sana-chan…” Momo imitated Sana’s voice exaggeratedly.

“We can share. Here.” Dahyun said and offered Sana what she had just gotten onto the fork. Sana lit up and leaned in, closing her mouth around the fork, humming happily at the taste. Dahyun heard Momo sigh loudly and leave the room, then a rustling from the kitchen.

A rhythm built between Dahyun feeding her own grumbling stomach and feeding Sana, and soon Momo joined them with another two bowls, pushing Dahyun and with her Sana further towards the wall and gently setting the teddy bear down on the floor before settling besides Dahyun. Handed one of the bowls across to Sana, seemingly unbothered by the fact that the youngest was once again becoming a very squished middle of a sandwich. Sure, the bed was a decent size, but three people side by side was the absolute limit.

As soon as Dahyun and Sana had finished Dahyun’s bowl, Sana insisted on sharing her own with Dahyun as well, and Momo kept muttering under her breath at them.

Dahyun didn’t mind.

 

Chaeyoung winced. Placed the coffee on the counter and sucked on her thumb.

Just as the barista had handed Chaeyoung the two cups, someone had nudged Chaeyoung in the back, making her jolt and the coffee spill. She huffed and turned to see but no one admitted to doing it. With a scrunch of the nose, Chaeyoung picked up the coffee and walked outside. She was about to head back when a familiar face came around the corner, running at a seemingly comfortable but for Chaeyoung insane pace. The japanese girl’s rose-colored hair was in a high ponytail and she had big headphones on. It was clear that she hadn’t noticed Chaeyoung, but was coming closer and closer nonetheless.

“Momo!” Chaeyoung called and tried to wave, a cup of coffee in each hand. Nothing. Not until she was less than fifteen feet from Chaeyoung did the shorter girl manage to get Momo’s attention. Of course Chaeyoung would have preferred if the result wasn’t that Momo stumbled and almost fell as she was distracted, but it was better than Momo just running by, perhaps. She waited patiently as Momo regained her posture and took off her headphones. Momo grinned widely and took a few deep breaths. It was only now that Chaeyoung realized, she had to talk. As in speak words that made sense.

As what’s up and other variations of that sentence seemed ridiculous Chaeyoung settled for “Hi.”

“Hi.” Momo beamed and looked at the coffees. “Study break?”

“Yup. Coffee run.” Chaeyoung grinned.

“Which way?” Momo asked. “In case you want to get home before the coffees get cold, I mean”

“Oh, right, this way.” Chaeyoung pointed with her right hand and Nayeon’s coffee.

Momo turned off the music on her phone and walked alongside Chaeyoung.

“So we didn’t scare you off the other night?” Chaeyoung asked.

“Not in the slightest, I had fun!” Momo insisted, pulling at her shirt to get air.

“You just seemed very shy at first.”

“I’m not good with a lot of strangers. It’s super easy two on two or three on three, but more than that and my brain sort of dies for a while.” Momo chuckled. “It’s always been that way. But once I know people I don’t mind the crowd.”

“Just a lot of strangers at once?”

“Exactly. But you’re not strangers anymore. Now you’re my friends!” Momo beamed at her.

“Yes we are.” Chaeyoung agreed happily. “Do you run every day?”

“Most days. I gotta be in the best shape I can to keep up my reputation.”

“Yeah that makes sense. I guess as a dancer you have to be fit.”

“No, not necessarily. I mean yes, you have to be able to move for a period of time but it’s much more about coordination and muscle memory.” Momo explained, stretching.

“I have neither of those.” Chaeyoung snorted.

“Sure you do. Everyone has. It comes the moment you start listening to music.”

“I listen to music all day, I swear I have no coordination. Rhythm yes, but only for playing instruments.”

“Just try some day. Listen to the music with your heart instead of your head.”

“Listen with your heart? Really?” Chaeyoung giggled and stopped in front of her building.

“I know it sounds cheesy, but just try it.” Momo shrugged, looking at her with a hopeful glint in her eyes.

“I will.” Chaeyoung grinned.

“And tell me about it?” Momo asked.

“Sure.” Chaeyoung said as she tried to unlock the door.

“Here.” Momo said and opened it for her. “Oh, wait.”

“What?” Chaeyoung turned in the door.

“You don’t have my number.”

“Oh, well, I…” Chaeyoung tripped over her words and tried to hold the door and the coffees and find her phone. Almost failed at all three. But Momo just ran her eyes over Chaeyoung’s body and found the edge of the phone sticking up from Chaeyoung’s jeans. Without really grasping the situation, Chaeyoung told her the passcode. Momo nodded, typed it and added her number to Chaeyoung’s phone book. Hirai Momo .

“Good luck with the studies.” Momo put the phone back in Chaeyoung’s pocket.

“Thanks. Good luck with your run.”

“Thank you!”

And Momo was off, and Chaeyoung allowed herself exactly five seconds to stare after her. The sight of Momo was quickly wiped from Chaeyoung’s mind though when she entered the apartment and found that what was most likely a tsunami or one of Nayeon’s study freakouts had occurred while Chaeyoung was gone. Papers were everywhere and Nayeon was in the middle, looking lost. Chaeyoung merely shook her head, took off her shoes and walked over to her girlfriend, setting down the coffee and crouching in front of Nayeon.

“Let’s get this sorted, yeah?” Chaeyoung held Nayeon’s face in her hands.

“Mm-k” Nayeon mumbled. “You’re late.”

“I ran into Momo.” Chaeyoung smiled and pressed her lips to Nayeon’s nose. It scrunched and a giggle bubbled in Nayeon’s throat. “Or rather, she ran into me. Almost.”

“Yeah?”

“Yeah, she was out for a run, you should see that by the way. You know that thing about how Yoga pants only makes like 1% of the population look hot? She’s the one percent.”

“I can imagine.” Nayeon snorted. “Legs like that?”

“Exactly.” Chaeyoung grinned as she helped Nayeon up from the floor and put her to work, gathering papers in four piles depending on the subject. “She’s pretty cool, you know.”

“Oh definitely, I actually understood those dance moves after she taught them to me, and that’s after Hyelim tried to teach me last week. Plus, I always approve of anyone who can make Jeongyeon into a flustered mess.”

“Self-compliment?” Chaeyoung chuckled, reaching for a note.

“Always.” Nayeon smiled. Was already doing better. And Chaeyoung loved knowing that her presence had something to do with that.

 

“Hey.” Dahyun sighed as she sat down next to Tzuyu in the lecture hall.

“Hi! You never answered my text…” Tzuyu looked at her with big eyes and a worried frown.

“I had a shitty day. I meant to text, but I slept up until like an hour ago.” Dahyun apologized.

“It’s ok. Were you ill?” Tzuyu inquired, scribbling nothings on the edge of her paper.

“No, I overslept. By five hours. And was late to work as well.” Dahyun sighed and shook her head, trying to get the memory of Yang-nim’s stinging words out of her head. She hadn’t deserved it. Had she?

“That’s unfortunate.” Tzuyu said.

“To say the least. Do you have plans after class?” Dahyun asked.

“Not other than the lovely cramming of half my curriculum.” Tzuyu flashed her a smile.

“I’ll treat you to coffee if you’ll listen to me?” Dahyun tempted.

“Mh, I don’t know.” Tzuyu bit gently on the end of her pen, a glint in her eye.

“Please? Pretty please pretty Chou Tzuyu. I really really need to talk to someone. Preferably you.” Dahyun begged.

“I guess it wouldn’t be too bad.” Tzuyu gave in. Smiled in that way that made her ears move.

“Thank you…” Dahyun sighed, leaning on her arms, waiting for the lecture to start.

 

Class was thankfully interesting, and Dahyun tried her best to keep up with the pace, taking an excessive amount of notes to keep her motivation high, and keep her mind from drifting to the feeling of Sana’s lips, of her hand, of her body curled around Dahyun’s. She felt Tzuyu’s eyes on her from time to time, and knew that the desperation in her begging had left the younger girl worried.

 

When class ended they left together and walked without talking until they found the coffee shop, one of the only in the area with student friendly prices. Tzuyu wasn’t a big talker but Dahyun never minded. There was a soothing presence about her that Dahyun appreciated. She was stable; a formidable tree, providing shade and cover when needed, and right now, Dahyun needed just that.

“What do you want?” Dahyun asked as they looked up at the menu behind the counter.

“The usual.” Tzuyu smiled shyly. Dahyun wondered why she had bothered asking. She ordered and paid while Tzuyu found a table. It was a well-practiced rhythm.

“So, what’s up?” Tzuyu asked as Dahyun handed her the tall glass and sat down, hands wrapped tightly around her own, staring at the cookie crumbles on top of the whipped cream.

“What counts as a kiss?” Dahyun asked, not bothering to beat around the bush.

Tzuyu didn’t comment or ask for further elaboration. Just sat in silence for a while. When Dahyun snuck a peek at her, Tzuyu’s brows were furrowed and her gaze on her own cup.

“Well,” She said slowly. “if it’s a real kiss it has to be on the lips, of course.”

“You mean like full on the lips? Or does it count if it’s only partly?” Dahyun asked, eyes once more fixed on the crumbles. If it had been anyone else, they would have laughed at her by now, but Tzuyu never judged and Dahyun loved her for that. She never made Dahyun feel like a fool.

“I don’t know. It depends, was is intentional?” Tzuyu asked.

“I’m… Not sure. I don’t think so.” Dahyun admitted.

“So an unintentional kiss, partly on the lips.” Tzuyu said.

“Yes.” Dahyun confirmed.

“Did she comment on it? Or try to kiss you again?”

“How do you know it wasn’t me?” Dahyun asked, looking at her.

“You don’t know if it was intentional, and you would never be brave enough to kiss someone you’d only known two weeks, no matter how into her you are.” Tzuyu said flatly.

“True.” Dahyun mumbled and finally took a sip of the cool mocha under the whipped cream. Chocolate always helped.

“Wait.” Dahyun looked up with a frown. “Who are we talking about?”

“Sana. Obviously.” Tzuyu shrugged. “I think my answer is that you need to get your shit together and kiss her properly. Or at least talk to her about it.” Tzuyu said and drank, eyes catching Dahyun’s and holding them there. Dahyun nodded.

“Like you said, I’ve never been brave. I don’t even know if she likes me.”

“You’re either blind, stupid, or have no confidence at all.” Tzuyu took another sip, and got whipped cream on her nose. She squinted down at her nose, looking absolutely ridiculous and adorable. Dahyun chuckled and handed her a napkin.

“You’re not blind, yet. You’re definitely not stupid. You’re usually confident. So what is it that makes you so unable to see that she’s into you?” Tzuyu asked.

“Sometimes I might think she is but you’ve seen her with Momo, she treats us exactly the same. She’s just… She’s confusing.” Dahyun sighed and grabbed a spoon full of whipped cream, relishing in the taste.

“But how long has she known Momo? Was it ten-twelve years she said?” Tzuyu argued.

“Something like that.”

“And she has known you for what, two weeks?”

“But so has Momo and she’s almost as bad. They’re so-. So touchy.” Dahyun tried to grimace but didn’t do very well. It turned out more like a dopey smile. “God, you’d hate it. I thought I would too, but I don’t. It’s so different with Sana. She’s so apparent, so. Confusing.”

“You say that a lot.” Tzuyu smiled.

“You know how TV’s used to go to static noise when the antenna stopped working?”

“Yeah.”

“That’s how my mind feels every time she does any of her Sana things.”

“And what are Sana things?”

Dahyun took several gulps of frappe, taking her time. Then the events of the last two weeks poured from her lips and her soul, settling between them. How Sana had leaned on her the first night and eventually fallen asleep on top of her, how it felt to have her breath on Dahyun’s neck. How their fingers fit so perfectly when their hands were twined, how soft her lips were against Dahyun’s cheek, against her neck, against her own. How many times she had wanted to be a braver version of herself. And Tzuyu listened. She didn’t interrupt or laugh or judge. She just listened and drank her own frappe.

“Tzuyu, I slept well for the first time in ages last night. I felt so… safe. Like when I was a kid and I sat for hours at the piano because I felt like nothing could hurt me if I kept playing?”

Tzuyu nodded.

“I want more than anything to sleep like that again.”

“With her.” Tzuyu concluded.

“I want to feel safe like that.” Dahyun nodded.

“Tell her.” Tzuyu said.

“You know me, I would never-” Dahyun started, trying to get the last remains of whipped cream onto her spoon.

“You’re a lot braver than you give yourself credit for.” Tzuyu said, grabbing a hold of Dahyun’s hand. Dahyun’s eyes snapped up and looked at her.

“I don’t know what I would do if it was me. If I couldn’t sing anymore.” Tzuyu mumbled, her voice suddenly unsure and her eyes glazing over.

Dahyun squeezed her hand and sent her a reassuring smile. “I might not become the biggest composer of my time, but I will still work with what I love.”

 

 

“So, do you come here often?” Jihyo asked, a teasing grin on her lips and a raised brow as she looked down at Mina. She had been walking after work again, and had once more found Mina there, on the same bench, looking out over river.

Mina giggled and shrugged. Licked her lips and put her phone away as Jihyo joined her.

“I like it here.” Mina mused.

“Looking forwards to summer?” Jihyo asked.

“Definitely. I want to go swimming.” Mina looked around at her.

“You always say that.”

“And I never actually do it, I know. But this year.” Mina nodded to herself as if she had just formed a binding contract. Then she turned and looked at Jihyo, her eyes wavering slightly.

“Jihyo… Dahyun, she-”

“Last night?” Jihyo asked.

Mina nodded.

“But you didn’t call.”

A pause. Then Mina spoke tentatively “She asked me to call Sana.”

“Oh.” Jihyo looked out over the river. Tried not to feel hurt. Just stared at the water flowing calmly. It wasn’t like she was Dahyun’s protector or anything. And Dahyun didn’t owe her anything. It wasn’t a matter of who; the important thing was that Dahyun had actually, for once, asked for help.

“I’m glad she feels like she can lean on Sana.”

As soon as she had said the words, she had feared the knot in her stomach that would tell her the words weren’t genuine. But it didn’t come. There was only gratitude towards the new girl in their group.

“I really thought she was doing better.” Mina sighed.

“We hoped.” Jihyo shrugged. Offered her hand to Mina.

 

 

Tzuyu went with Dahyun home after the trip to the coffee house and stayed for dinner as well. They spent the afternoon studying together with the argument that if they both failed at least they could blame each other. They made scene charts and time lines and compared notes on the similarities between modern musicals and those of the golden age.

Sana took Momo out to eat, noting that they were usually so loud and didn’t want to disturb Dahyun and Tzuyu studying, even though Dahyun kept insisting that it wasn’t a problem.

Dahyun found dumplings in the fridge, from Higashi’s. She took them and put them in the very back of the fridge, so Tzuyu wouldn’t accidentally see them and suggest they eat them. Instead she suggested that she and Tzuyu cook together. Dahyun rarely cooked, but Tzuyu was good and they made enough peanut butter stir fry for at least six people. Played loud music from Dahyun’s bluetooth speaker and sang dramatically along to everything from “Climb Ev’ry Mountain” to “A Wonderful Guy” and bounced test questions off of each other as they chopped scallions and pepper. Dahyun had forgotten to buy carrots, but they made do without them.

 

When Momo and Sana finally returned well past ten pm, Tzuyu was on her way out of the door. Sana refused to let her go without a hug and Tzuyu uncharacteristically let her and also let Momo hug her as they met in the door. Tzuyu waved one last time at Dahyun whom she had placed on the bed that acted as couch, wrapped her in the blanket with tea and chocolate and given her firm instructions to stay put.

 

Momo’s cheeks were red from the cool April night outside and her lips parted in a shy smile as she joined Dahyun on the bed, kissing her cheek.

“Jeongyeon called while we were out. Says I can move in starting monday. Thank you for helping me get that room!”

“No problem.” Dahyun smiled and offered Momo a piece of chocolate.

Sana walked over as well, grabbed Momo’s pillow and seated herself on the floor by Dahyun’s knees, grabbing the remote. It took a moment, but Dahyun realized with a frown that Sana was wearing her sweater again. And it still had a stain on the sleeve, even if Dahyun had tried to get it off. She didn’t mind. If anything it would make it smell like Sana. And Sana smelled like lemons and perfume; and Dahyun loved the smell of lemons. Suddenly.

“Are you done studying for the night?” Sana asked, looking up at Dahyun.

“Yeah, thankfully.” Dahyun said and felt peace settle around her.

“Wanna watch Monster’s Inc?” Momo asked excitedly.

“I… Sure.” Dahyun chuckled and wrapped an arm around Momo’s shoulders, setting the tea down.

It took all of her bravery to reach forwards and let her fingers stroke across Sana’s hair, but she did it, and it earned her a giggle that soon turned into a chuckle. Dahyun tried to make it seem as natural as possible as she let her fingers run through Sana’s hair, over and over. Sana leaned into the touch, humming, and for a second Dahyun allowed herself to hope that maybe Tzuyu was right.

 

 

Momo watched the entire movie without falling asleep, a feat that thoroughly impressed both Sana and Dahyun, but as soon as the credits rolled, she was out like a light, head in Dahyun’s lap. Dahyun looked down at Sana, then at Momo. Stroked a hair out of Momo’s face and smiled as her lips twitched in her sleep.

 

“I should go to sleep, I have work tomorrow… and class.” Dahyun sighed.

“Don’t worry about Momo, she’s already in bed. Just put the blanket over her.” Sana said quietly and got up, holding Momo’s pillow. “Here, if you get up we can put this under her head instead.”

Dahyun carefully lifted Momo’s head and got out from under her. The sleeping girl mumbled and squirmed as Sana placed the pillow under her head. Dahyun threw the blanket over her and let a thumb run across her cheek. She looked up and saw Sana’s hand outstretched towards her. Once again, Dahyun had to use all the courage she had to reach out, but she did. Sana’s grip was firm but welcoming as she dragged Dahyun into the bathroom.

They washed up wordlessly, side by side, took off their contacts and grinned slightly at the sight of both of them in the mirror with their glasses. Double four-eyes. And while Sana used the toilet, Dahyun went to check on Momo and sneak her large stuffed Sully bear, under her arm. She hummed and curled around it. Throughout the movie, well throughout most of the day, something had lured in the back of Dahyun’s mind, and this was the opportunity Dahyun had to test her theory. Ever so gently, the younger girl leaned down and pressed her lips again the soft skin on Momo’s temple. She was warm. But it didn’t make her stomach jolt, and the feeling of Momo’s skin didn’t linger. It was just warm.

Then Sana called quietly and Dahyun went to pee, trying to ensure that she would have the best odds at a night without waking up. When they had both changed, Sana grabbed Dahyun by the hand again, and led her into Sana’s room. Dahyun was wearing Sana’s t-shirt, but had opted for long pyjama pants underneath this time. Didn’t think her heart could take another night with the feeling of Sana’s bare legs against her own.

Almost as if it had already become habit, Dahyun waited for Sana to settle on the inner side of the bed before putting her glasses on the nightstand and crawling under the covers, settling on what she assumed now to be Momo’s side. Hesitation came however when the option was once again whether she should go for the teddy bear or Sana, but all her bravery had been used for tonight.

And it didn’t matter anyway. Sana chose for her.

Just as Dahyun had reached for the stuffed bear, Sana started pulling at her arm. Dahyun turned and looked at Sana, whose pout could not have been more outspoken. Her eyes were big as she held out her arms towards Dahyun. Dahyun didn’t bother try to suppress the smile that spread across her face at the ridiculous girl in front of her, but let bear be bear and scooted closer, letting Sana pull her in. Sana turned onto her back and wrapped one arm around Dahyun’s shoulder pulling her closer by the arm with the other. Dahyun’s pulse made her ears ring as she settled her head in the crook between Sana’s shoulder and neck.

Surely, as her chest pressed against Sana’s side, the older girl would notice how hard Dahyun’s heart was beating. Surely she would figure it out eventually. Surely she must have felt Dahyun’s warm cheek against her shirt when she slid her fingers in between the spaces of Dahyun’s and rested their twined hands somewhere just below Sana’s ribcage. Surely. Surely she must’ve figured out how much Dahyun felt. How fast she had fallen. How desperately she never wanted to get up or move, if not to stretch out just a bit and feel how Sana’s skin felt under her lips. She wondered if it was warm. It felt warm under her shirt, but she wanted more than anything to know .

Dahyun could do nothing but try to sleep, feeling Sana’s chest rise and fall calmly, trying to match the rhythm to steady her own treacherously smitten heart. She was a fool for falling for her roommate, for a total stranger; but an even bigger fool for not doing anything about it.

Yet even if her heart was beating fast at the feeling of Sana so close, Dahyun still felt her body calm down and felt how her eyelids got heavier with each second. Prayed that sleep would take her to wherever Sana had drifted off to.

 

Maybe all that’s needed to start healing, albeit slowly, is a good night’s sleep, a friend to lean on, a hand to hold and perhaps a bit of chocolate. Or maybe this was just a band aid. But a very soft band aid that smelled like lemons and perfume and home.



Chapter Text

8:48 am Jeongyeon: Hey, you doing better?

 

Dahyun looked down at her phone when it buzzed. With a smile, she leaned against the wall in the hallway outside her lecture hall. Class started soon, but Tzuyu wasn’t there yet and she could always spare a few minutes for Jeongyeon.

 

8:49 am Dahyun: Definitely. I’m sorry, I should’ve let you know. I’ve just been busy with papers.

 

Dahyun took a sip of water and scrolled through her texts until she found Mina’s number.

 

8:51 am Dahyun: Hi. Thank you for the other night. I’m sorry it had to come to that, but I’m so glad you helped me. I’m doing better now.

 

Shifting her weight from one foot to the other, Dahyun pressed the notification from Jeongyeon that had appeared while writing Mina.

 

8:51 am Jeongyeon: No worries, Mina said you were in good hands.

 

She definitely had been in good hands. Was in good hands. For the fourth night in a row she had slept for more than a few disturbed hours, and she felt how it healed her. It made it feel less like a lie every time she told her friends she was fine.

 

8:52 am Dahyun: I was. Sana was very kind to me. And Momo too. I’m almost considering keeping her.

 

Just as she sent the text, an answer from Mina appeared as a banner at the top of her screen.

 

8:52 am Mina: That’s so good to hear. I’m glad you texted. I switched shifts with Jeongyeon, I hope you don’t mind closing up with me tonight.

 

Dahyun smiled and quickly texted that she didn’t mind at all before turning back to the chat with Jeongyeon.

 

8:53 am Jeongyeon: Can’t stick to one, huh?

8:53 am Dahyun: Ha. Funny funny Jeongyeon. Funny.

8:54 am Jeongyeon: Well I’m a funny girl.

8:54 am Jeongyeon: Btw, are you coming tomorrow?

 

Dahyun frowned for a second and was about to write back but saw Tzuyu approach out of the corner of her eyes, a smile playing on her lips, revealing her dimple.

 

8:55 am Dahyun: Yeah, I’m helping Momo move

8:55 am Dahyun: Class now, see you tomorrow!

 

Dahyun put her phone away and walked with Tzuyu into the lecture hall. As always they chose seats on the left, about halfway down. But just as Tzuyu had sat down, and Dahyun was about to, Tzuyu spoke.

“So did you kiss her??”

The surprise at the sentence cause Dahyun to slip and almost miss her seat.

“Jesus christ, Tzuyu. You can’t just-” Dahyun winced. “No, I didn’t.”

Tzuyu shrugged and opened her bag, pulling out a music sheet notebook, a regular one and an old blue pencil case. “I thought you were going to do something about it.”

“I’m working on it.” Dahyun said.

“I’ll ask again tomorrow then.” Tzuyu’s eyes glinted mischievously.

“How about we make a pact. I tell you first thing if it happens and until then you shut up about it.” Dahyun offered, digging into her bag, moving notebooks and her laptop around, trying to find her own pencil case.

“Deal.” Tzuyu smiled and handed Dahyun one of her pencils when the older girl reemerged with a frown and only the notebooks in her hand. Had probably left the pencil case back at home on the coffee table.

“Who would’ve known you had such an interest in my love life?” Dahyun rolled her eyes.

“Well, mine is non-existent so I’ll take what I can get by messing with you.” Tzuyu said honestly.

“You do know all you have to do to get a love life is to say yes to one of your many many suitors?” Dahyun chuckled and wrote the date on the top of the page of each open notebook. There was a part of Dahyun that envied Mina and Tzuyu and the attention they got merely for their beauty, but a much bigger part was glad it wasn’t her. A part that had grown considerably after Mina had joined the restaurant staff and Dahyun had seen the not so pretty side of all the attention.

“I just don’t like any of them.” Tzuyu scrunched her nose.

“Have you ever, though?”

“Liked any of the people who ask me out? No.” Tzuyu shrugged.

“No I mean, liked anyone. At all.”

Tzuyu shrugged and grinned into her notebook. “It happens.”

“But you never tell any of us.” Dahyun looked at her.

“How do you know I just don’t tell everyone but you?” Tzuyu raised an eyebrow.

“You wouldn’t…”

“I could.” Tzuyu shrugged.

“But you haven’t.”

“No. I haven’t. Not everyone.”

“Every- Chou-Tzu, I’m offended.”

“Get over yourself.”

“You get over yourself!”

“Wow, sharp reply.” Tzuyu chuckled.

Dahyun felt her cheeks warm. “I-”

“Shh, class.” Tzuyu nudged Dahyun as she was about to retort. Dahyun shook her head with a grumble and turned her head from her smirking friend in the direction of the lecturer.

 

 

For whatever unfathomable reason, Chaeyoung couldn’t play today at all. Not a single chord came out the way she wanted it, either missing a key or pressing them unbalanced, promoting one key over another. Sometimes she just missed the beat, the note too fast or too slow, hit too hard or not at all. But eventually she just gave up. Unplugged the headphones and got up.

“You okay?” Nayeon asked from the table by the kitchen.

“Yeah, just can’t get this to work.” Chaeyoung huffed and flopped onto the chair next to Nayeon.

“Yeah, I figured that much. You curse like a sailor when you think no-one is listening.”

“I curse like a sailor, period.” Chaeyoung shrugged. Rested her head on her arms.

“True.” Nayeon agreed, running a hand soothingly up the younger’s back, squeezing her shoulder before burying her fingers in the black hair.

“Did you find out about the project?” Chaeyoung turned and looked at Nayeon, smiling softly as the latter moved the hair from Chaeyoung’s face, tracing her fingers gently around the back of her ear.

“Sadly yes,” The older girl said, rolling her eyes. “She can only fit it in Wednesday after class.”

Chaeyoung sighed. “I don’t get how you managed to be teamed up with the busiest girl in school, she’s never available for anything.”

“If Seolhyun doesn’t have at least five projects at a time then she wouldn’t be Seolhyun.” Nayeon shrugged. “I need to text Jeongyeon and tell her I can’t make it. I really wanted to help.”

“You can come over for dinner afterwards?”

“Mh, maybe, if we’re done before the devil sets the sun.” Nayeon huffed and took her phone from the table. Chaeyoung watched her. Watched how she gnawed on her lip and rolled her eyes as she wrote. It was fascinating how disgruntled Nayeon could look, but even more fascinating how quickly she melted. Like how she did in this moment where Chaeyoung poked at her shin with a toe and sent her a dimpled smile. Sometimes it was better to be tired with someone you loved than just sitting by yourself.

 

 

One look at the right-hand corner of the laptop was enough to break the mood. And what a mood it had been. For three hours, Sana had been buried in her homework on one side of Dahyun’s bed and Dahyun on her laptop writing an assignment. It hadn’t been heart-racing or in any other way hard to focus, sitting there side by side, just warm and comfortable and calming. But seeing the time on the laptop pulled Dahyun back to reality, and with a sigh she saved her work and started combing her hair into a ponytail.

“Already?” Sana asked with a frown. Then looked at the clock and pressed her lips together.

“It’s ok, I’m gonna quit.” Dahyun yawned.

“No you’re not.” Sana rolled her eyes and closed her book, disposing of it on the far side of the bed.

“How do you know?”

“You would’ve quit ages ago if you didn’t need it.” Sana shrugged.

“Mh, you’re right, I’m poor and have a world of bills.” Dahyun grumbled.

“When are you gonna be home?” Sana asked.

“I’m closing tonight. So I guess two thirty if I’m lucky, three if I’m not?” Dahyun tightened her hair in the tie and stretched her neck, sore from staring into her laptop for three hours.

“Mh, well have fun, and say hi to Mitang from me.” Sana beamed. “It is her who’s on with you tonight, right?”

“Yup.” Dahyun grinned. “How do you even know that?”

“You mentioned it yesterday?” Sana shrugged.

“Incredible.” Dahyun shook her head. “Oh, can you make sure you feed Momo when she gets home. But don’t let her eat the dumplings without me.”

“They’re gonna go bad before you get around to them.” Sana argued.

“We’ll have them tomorrow when we move her stuff.” Dahyun made to get up, but hands around her arm pulled her back, and then Sana’s arms were tight around her in a hug, and despite the slightly awkward angle, Dahyun allowed herself to melt into it.

“I’m gonna be late.” Dahyun looked up at her.

“Mh, fine.” Sana huffed and kissed Dahyun’s forehead chastely before letting her go. But Dahyun’s mind had gotten on static noise and she just lay there against Sana, until the older girls’ giggles forced their way through Dahyun’s conscience. Clearing her throat, Dahyun got up, scratching across her forehead and over her scalp.

“See you, Sana-chan.” Dahyun grinned.

“See you tonight, Dahyunnie.” Sana smiled softly, before opening her book, laying comfortably across the bed, stomach against the sheets, legs in the air and feet dangling carelessly.

 

One day, Dahyun might tell Sana. Tell her how her smile made Dahyun’s heart soar. How Sana’s lips against her skin made it tickle. How her her touch made shivers run down Dahyun’s spine. But not quite yet. Mostly because the moment she told Sana, she could risk losing it all. And even if it wasn’t optimal, she just wanted to live in this dream a little longer. It felt too good to fall. But the ground was getting closer and there was no-one there to remove it from under her or fly her above the clouds where the sun always shines.

So instead of thinking about the realistic outcome of telling Sana, and actually dealing with the possibility of rejection, Dahyun spent the entire walk to work thinking up scenarios, one more far fetched and cheesy than the other, in which she actually managed to confess to Sana that not only would she like to kiss her but she had also wanted to do so for a while. Scenarios that ended in ways that made Dahyun’s stomach turn excitedly and a dumb smile spread on her face.

She couldn’t pinpoint exactly when she had first thought about it. Kissing Sana. Maybe when Sana had picked her up from work. Maybe when she had kissed Dahyun’s cheek the first time. Maybe the very first night when Sana’s breath burned on Dahyun’s neck. She wasn’t sure. Just knew that it was taking up every part of her thoughts now. That her world had somehow stopped revolving around all her guilt and frustration and started revolving only around finding out how Sana’s lips felt against her own. About satisfying the eagle growing in her chest, spreading its wings excitedly at the thought of holding Sana’s face in her hands and taking her breath away.

 

But right now, she had to turn off Channel Sana. Because she had just walked a block too far, and with warm cheeks had a turn around and backtrack until she reached the restaurant, trying her best not to miss it this time.

With five minutes to spare before the shift, Dahyun stepped through the employee’s entrance to the restaurant, her eyes immediately falling on Mina on the bench by their lockers. She was adjusting her hair, tightening the ponytail and then poked at the mole on her nose, checking it in a hand mirror.

“Leave it be, it’s cute.” Dahyun said sitting down next to Mina, undoing the shoelaces on her chucks.

“Mh.” Mina scrunched her nose, then looked around at Dahyun, worry in her eyes. “How are you doing?”

“I’m fine. Honestly, I was just so tired the other night.” Dahyun put a hand on top of Mina’s. The older girl took it and turned it, rubbing over her thumb as Dahyun continued. “I had been sleeping in the living room because all of Momo’s crap is in my room, but we switched and now I sleep just fine.”

“Promise? You’re not just pretending because you don’t want us to worry?”

“No really. I’m good.” Dahyun sent Mina a salute and a grin that made her chuckle. Almost mentioned the reason she had been sleeping so well, but opted not to. Mina would just think it was weird.

“I’ll believe you then.”

 

And with that they armed themselves with brooms and dishcloths. It was always the first order of the day for the late shifts, clean up after lunch. The restaurant normally had a busy period around lunch and then quieted down until four in the afternoon where people slowly started arriving again, and by seven it was always pouring in. Even if Mr Yang-nim was a horrible boss, Dahyun had to give him credit for how well the restaurant was going. Although that credit should be equally attributed to Taeyang, Joohyun and their kitchen.

 

The shift progressed smoothly, and really, Dahyun should’ve been suspicious as soon as things started going her way. Because when did they ever? But the need for something to go right had lulled her into a sense of false security, so when Mina offered to help out in the bar after Dahyun got back from her bathroom break, Dahyun just nodded and took over cleaning the tables. The only thing on her mind was getting done with cleaning as soon as possible. Hoped to get back before Sana went to sleep. And she should’ve been ashamed that everything was about Sana, to the point where she hadn’t even seen it coming, but she didn’t. Just turned her head in surprise at the first drunken complaint from one of Mina’s many suitors. Realized too late that it was rarely a good idea to have Mina in the bar without backup. But there she was, with a polite smile and a shake of the head, handing back a phone number.

“I’m sorry, I can’t accept this.” Mina said kindly handing back a receipt on the back of which a guy in his mid-twenties had written a number.

“What, your boyfriend gonna mind?” The man leaned on the counter and Mina discretely stepped back, leaving the receipt on the counter.

“I don’t have a boyfriend but that wouldn’t have affected my answer if I had.”

Dahyun admired Mina. She was amazing with words, amazing at handling these things, kindly looking at him without returning his gaze. Never stepped out of line. The one thing Dahyun didn’t understand however, was why Mina didn’t just lie. She could’ve easily lied and said that she was seeing someone. It was a suggestion Dahyun had brought up several times, but Mina never took it.

“Oh, come on. Can’t she close up? You can leave with us.” The customer insisted, reaching across the counter. Mina stepped back again with extreme precision, right outside his reach, still looking at him.

“No thank you.” She said.

“Why? I’m a total catch.” He grinned.

“I don’t want to.”

The man tried to reach her again. Dahyun saw the flicker in Mina’s eyes as she hit the counter behind her. That was it; Dahyun’s wake up call, to not just stand idly by. Enough was enough, and the younger girl left the dish cloth on the table, stepping between Mina and the man at the bar.

“May I help you?” She asked politely, ignoring the way her heart immediately raced. She was never good at confrontations, never good with words. But for Mina she could pretend to be. The customer seemed just the right amount of baffled to take away his focus. Dahyun had been successful. For a moment he looked from Dahyun to Mina behind her and then back again. Shrugged and shifted his footing.

“Can you give this to your friend and give me two Soju?” He asked, handing Dahyun the receipt with his number with a wink.

“Sure.” Dahyun found two shot glasses. Placed them on the bar between them and poured the Soju. Received payment and the receipt. With one last look at Mina, the man turned around and walked away, a shot glass in each hand. Back to his table of loud friends. The minute he was far enough away Dahyun tore the receipt in two, four, eight, sixteen tiny pieces and threw them in the trash, grabbing Mina’s hand and squeezing it.

“You’re too kind for your own good, Mina.” Dahyun looked at her softly.

“So I’m told.” Mina grumbled, forcing a smile.

“Wanna switch?” Dahyun offered, but Mina shook her head.

“I’m never going to get used to this. It’s easier to say no now but-” Mina shook her head. “I just hate when they get mad at me. I feel like I’m doing something wrong by rejecting them.”

“You don’t owe them anything.” Dahyun insisted.

“Thank you, Dahyun.” Mina nodded and sighed, slumping against the counter.

“You got this.” Dahyun attempted to wink at her, making the older girl chuckle at the obvious fail. “And if not, just do what we talked about.”

“Lie and tell them I have a boyfriend?”

“They don’t need to know you’re gay,” Dahyun said quietly, “It’s none of their business.”

“Mh, but lying...” Mina scrunched your nose.

“You don’t have to be an angel, Mina. Lie a little. Live a lot.” Dahyun grabbed a clean towel from the counter and swung it over her shoulder. Grinned at Mina as she walked away, not catching what Mina was mumbling under her breath. She was inaudible enough as it was, you couldn’t expect anyone to hear what she said when she actually tried to be quiet, especially when the sounds of Hip and Lip were blasting from the loudspeakers above the bar.

 

 

Around half past two, Dahyun unlocked the door to the apartment, quietly sneaking into the darkness. Only a lamp on the floor by the corner to the kitchen was lit, lighting a way through the chaos of Momo’s belongings for Dahyun. For once it seemed that Sana and Momo had gone to bed at a somewhat sensible time, Momo fast asleep on Dahyun’s bed. The sight of her slightly open mouth and flickering eyes under the eyelids made Dahyun realize how much she was going to miss Momo when she wasn’t here anymore. And guiltily worse, how much she was going to miss having an excuse to sleep in Sana’s arms.

Shaking the last thought from her mind, Dahyun took off her shoes and tiptoed past Momo and into the bathroom. Wondered if Mina got home ok. She normally drove there in her little green Toyota, but tonight she had walked instead. Dahyun didn’t like the idea of her walking alone at night, but then again, Dahyun was too. When Dahyun had questioned why she was walking, Mina had explained that her car was at the garage. But when Dahyun had still been worried, Mina had suggested that they adopt Dahyun and Jeongyeon’s tradition of the “I’m home.” text. It was always hard not to be protective of Mina, just something about her aura, but tonight even more after the incident with the customer. But just as Dahyun looked through her social media while brushing her teeth, a message popped up, letting the younger girl known that Mina too was home. Dahyun had sent hers as soon as she had entered her own building. As soon as she had cleaned the sink, Dahyun changed clothes and took out her contacts, her eyes thanking her for it. Didn’t bother to put on her glasses but just finished washing her face and walked into Sana’s room as if it was the most natural thing to do, the path to her own room long forgotten.

Sana was asleep, undoubtedly so, and Dahyun carefully crawled under the sheets, argued with herself, and scooted closer. Her leg bumped into Sana’s and she froze, afraid to have woken the girl. Heart in her throat, Dahyun waited, until she finally sighed in relief, even if her courage had left her. Turned and reached across Sana for the stuffed bear in the corner. Though just as Dahyun was about to turn her back to Sana, a mumble revealed that Sana hadn’t been nearly as asleep as Dahyun had thought.

“You’re mean.”

“What?” Dahyun looked over at Sana, the bear in between them.

“I thought you liked my cuddles.” Sana grumbled. Dahyun chuckled awkwardly, a warmth creeping up her neck as Sana whined, “And now you’re laughing at me!”

“No, I’m just-. I’m laughing because you’re cute. I just didn’t wanna wake you.” Dahyun explained.

“I’m cute?” Sana was definitely awake now. Her face was barely visible in the darkness but Dahyun knew from her voice that she was beaming.

“No, I take it back. Not cute at all.” Dahyun said, thanking the darkness. Nonetheless, Dahyun put the bear back in the corner and let Sana pull her close.

“You are mean.” Sana stated, holding the younger girl impossibly close.

“Am not.” Dahyun mumbled against Sana’s neck.

“Yeah, you are.”

“No I’m not.” Dahyun chuckled.

“Yeah, you’re a big meanie!” Sana insisted.

“I’m literally allowing you to squash me, you should know how few people are allowed this amount of cuddles.”

“You should’ve just cuddled me immediately.” Sana huffed. “Meanie!”

“Don’t give me a reason to make it true, I know you’re ticklish.”

“You wouldn’t!”

“Don’t test me.”

“Mh, fine. You win.” Sana said disgruntled.

“Thank you. Now go back to sleep.” Dahyun adjusted against the older girl and felt lips in her hair.

“You should too.” Sana mumbled into Dahyun’s hair. Then sighed and pulled the sheets further up around them.

It was possible right? That Sana was doing all this - wanting Dahyun to cuddle her; kissing her all the time - there was a possibility that Sana liked her back, right? This wasn’t just regular friendship stuff. At least not any friendship Dahyun could ever remember having and she did after all have six - seven other friends who were all in one way or the other, into girls, as far as she knew at least. Didn’t actually know about Momo now she thought about it. But the rest. And Dahyun wanted to ask. Wanted to ask Sana if she considered there to be a possibility of more than friendship between them. But couldn’t get herself to move. Just wanted the bliss of Sana’s body against her own and her hand on Dahyun’s waist.

For minutes she lay with her head in the crook of Sana’s neck, asking herself if this was weird, what they were doing, if she should have told Mina when she had the chance, gotten an opinion. If this was something she shouldn’t be doing. Doubt was threatening to overpower her, and it almost made her pull away, but she didn’t want to wake Sana again. Just wanted to figure this out. But what if Sana really didn’t feel anything? What if she instead started pulling away out of respect for Dahyun’s feelings? What if their bubble burst? But then again, how much longer could she take being torn by the conflict raging inside her chest, and how the heck did Sana not see it?

For a split second the need to do something, anything, soared inside Dahyun, wings spreading powerfully in her chest, and without really thinking she turned her head slightly and pressed her lips to Sana’s neck. Froze. Felt sparks fly through her veins and her heart hammer against her ribs, trying to break its confines. Drew back.

It was nothing like kissing Momo, or Chaeyoung or Jihyo. This was addictive. But Dahyun just pressed her lips tight together and held her breath, waiting for Sana to say something. But she didn’t react.

When she was finally convinced that Sana was asleep and hadn’t noticed, closed her eyes, swallowing hard. Buried her forehead against the point on Sana’s neck where her lips had touched. Tried to let the scent of Sana calm her.

She would tell her. Soon. She would try to tell her. Soon.

 

 

“If you back a little and turn it-” Jeongyeon’s voice rang through the hallway. Dahyun grunted and tried turning the desk “Yeah, like that. Okay, it fits.”

Dahyun swore as every muscle in her body went into protest. They had been carrying things the entire day, down into the van in the morning and now back up and to the fourth floor, to Jeongyeon’s apartment after lunch. It was a good thing that apartment was bigger than Dahyun’s and barely contained anything anymore, as most of the stuff in Jeongyeon’s apartment had belonged to Jiyeon.

“You didn’t have to do this.” Momo mumbled next to her, easily carrying a box, her top accentuating strong shoulders and her rose-colored hair in a high bun.

“I know.” Dahyun said and sent her a strained smile. “I’m choosing to.”

Momo nodded shyly and waited as Dahyun and Jeongyeon struggled in the doorway.

“Dahyun, your hand!” Jeongyeon exclaimed and stopped dragging. Dahyun’s hand had almost gotten caught between the desk and the door. She moved it with difficulty, feeling it ache and the desk tip slightly in the time it took for her to reposition her hold on it.

“Thank you.” Dahyun said and nodded for Jeongyeon to continue moving into the apartment. Just as they managed to finally angle the desk right to get it through the door, Chaeyoung showed up behind Momo with what Dahyun knew to be a laundry bag currently used for Momo’s toiletries. As soon as there was enough space, both Momo and Chaeyoung snuck behind the other two and the desk, carrying the stuff into what was now going to be Momo’s room. This of course meant that they both had to hurry quite a bit to get out of the room again, as Jeongyeon and Dahyun now had to master the trick of getting the desk through another door in order to get it into Momo’s room.

“You sure she needs the bed too, can’t she just sleep in yours?” Dahyun complained as they once again had to get the desk through a door.

“I suggested that too but she wasn’t much for it.” Momo grinned, leaning against the wall for a moment to catch her breath before she went back down with Chaeyoung to get more boxes. Jeongyeon grumbled indistinctly.

“She’s a catch, you know.” Dahyun wiggled her eyebrows, angling the desk.

“I’m not interested.” Jeongyeon’s cheeks flushed, pulling the desk and getting it stuck.

“Sure. Right. Have you seen her? Legs for days, abs that can cut diamonds, and she’s Japanese. And she’s so cute.” Dahyun tried to sell the idea as they wriggled the desk back out a bit and turned it some thirty degree.

“Well, if you’re that into her why don’t you go for her?” Jeongyeon said flatly as they finally got the desk through the door to Momo’s room and sat it down where she needed it.

“I’m not into Momo.” Dahyun shrugged, biting down on her lip. Leaned on the desk and felt her mind once again travelling to Sana. If she could just stop thinking about her for one goddamn second. And if she could just not have Sana’s giggle on repeat like a record stuck on the same three seconds, threatening to make her knees buckle just from the memory.

“Oi, earth to Kim Dahyun. Where’d you go?” Jeongyeon asked, ripping Dahyun rudely from the vision in her head of Sana’s smile and the way her hair fell into her face when she nodded exaggeratedly this morning when Dahyun offered to make scrambled eggs.

“Uh, school.” Dahyun said almost on reflex.

“Right, cause school gives you heart eyes.” Jeongyeon raised an eyebrow.

“I don’t have heart eyes!” Dahyun protested.

“Oh, you so do.” Jeongyeon laughed.

“Can’t you just go get laid or something instead of being on my neck?” Dahyun huffed.

“That’s a whole smartass comment coming from you.” Jeongyeon snickered.

“It’s a friendly suggestion. And Momo is right there. She’s gonna be in your apartment now, I bet you it’s not gonna take long for her to win you over.” Dahyun crossed her arms.

“I’m not gonna do her. And I already told you, if you have a crush on Momo, you should just go for it.” Jeongyeon shrugged, her eyes glinting.

“I’m not into Momo!” Dahyun huffed, realizing too late that Jeongyeon was well aware of this.

“You’re not?” Asked a feigned offended voice behind Dahyun. Then arms were around her and Momo’s strong body seemed to attempt to eliminate every inch of space between them, making Dahyun blush. Just because she wasn’t into Momo didn’t mean she didn’t feel anything when she so firmly pressed herself against her. “Well, I can still change that, can’t I?”

“I think you already have.” Jeongyeon laughed.

“Nah, she just thinks I’m hot. I can live with that.” Momo grinned and pressed kisses to Dahyun’s cheek, to her jaw and to her ear.

“Ew.” Dahyun said, turning her head to get away as Momo’s kisses got sloppier. Wiped her ear with her sleeve. At least the two older girls were entertained.

“Okay, are we moving your stuff or not?” Asked Chaeyoung, appearing in the door to Momo’s room, out of breath with another box, placing it on the floor.

“We are! Sorry.” Momo said hurriedly, letting go of Dahyun who had to spend a few seconds regaining her footing.

“Good,” Chaeyoung stretched and then grinned. “I’m happy to help though.”

“Well, it’s only a few more boxes and then the bed.” Dahyun said.

“Wanna order dinner now or wait until we’re actually sure we’re gonna survive the bed?” Jeongyeon asked.

“Order now.” Momo insisted. “Chicken?”

“Sounds good.” Jeongyeon said and disappeared into the kitchen to order for them. Meanwhile Dahyun went with Momo and Chaeyoung out the front door.

“I already hate that bed and we haven’t even started moving it yet.” Chaeyoung said, as they walked down the hallway.

“I know, but Jeongyeon claims there’s no room for me in her bed so we gotta.” Momo said rolling her eyes and clicking her tongue.

“She has a king size, there’s plenty of room!” Chaeyoung complained. Momo just shrugged.

 

 

“I thought we were having chicken?” Momo asked as they finally sat down around Jeongyeon’s coffee table, looking at the box with the italicized lettering revealing that it was from Higashi’s. Dahyun had grabbed the dumplings from her fridge in the morning and brought them to Jeongyeon’s, storing them here.

“We are, but you and I have an outstanding with these.” Dahyun said and opened the box.

“But I thought it might have been a good reason to come visit soon.” Momo said with a pout.

“You’re gonna come over anytime you want, dumplings or not, right?” Dahyun handed Momo a pair of chopsticks.

“If I’m welcome.”

“When has that ever bothered you? But sure, you’re officially welcome to come visit.” Dahyun laughed and stuffed her mouth full of dumpling. Momo did the same with a shrug and a grin. They tasted amazing. Even if it wasn’t a tradition yet, Dahyun would work hard to make it one, because Momo and dumplings was a good combo.

“Are you two willing to share those?” Chaeyoung asked from the couch, eyeing first Momo and then Dahyun sceptically.

Momo and Dahyun exchanged looks.

“One.” They said in unison, both equally hard to understand, still busy with their dumplings.

Chaeyoung took one.

 

Chaeyoung and Dahyun stayed for another two hours, mainly because there was chicken and beer and Fluxx. Dahyun won. Momo sulked. Well, she sulked until Dahyun tiredly curled into a ball in Momo’s arms. And honestly, once seated there with Momo’s warm body around her it was hard to accept that she should probably go home before falling asleep here. But she didn’t want to go home. She really didn’t want to go home to the bed that was now back in her room, without Sana. But it was for the best. Definitely for the best. And Chaeyoung was pulling at her arm trying to get her to go with her, a well timed little roar of a yawn escaping the younger girl. They were taking the same subway line home, Chaeyoung just had to go a bit further. So there really was no getting around it.

 

 

The subway was cold and rumbled too much, but Dahyun and Chaeyoung leaned on each other in the almost empty compartment, watching video clips on Chaeyoung’s phone and talking about Chaeyoung’s upcoming birthday. Even though they didn’t live together anymore, somehow nothing had changed between them. There was the same confidentiality between them that there had been ever since Chaeyoung sat down next to Dahyun all those years ago. And it was for that reason that Dahyun didn’t mind breaking the mood; knew that Chaeyoung would understand.

“I’m afraid that I can’t sleep.” Said Dahyun in a low voice. Chaeyoung raised her head and looked at Dahyun.

“You’ve been sleeping fine the past few days though, right? Since the last-”

“I have. But tonight is going to be different.” Dahyun needed to tell someone. And she needed it to be Chaeyoung. She needed her best friend.

“Why?” Chaeyoung inquired.

“I’ve been sleeping in Sana’s bed for the past few nights. Ever since Momo’s stuff arrived. That night at work, the one Jeongyeon mentioned, that was the first night after Momo’s stuff arrived and we put my bed in the living room. I couldn’t sleep at all that night, and since that Momo insisted on switching. And... I’m afraid I can’t sleep without Sana.” Dahyun picked at her cuticles. Chaeyoung covered her hand and held it tight.

“And you can’t ask her if you can keep sleeping in her room.” Chaeyoung concluded.

“It would be weird.” Dahyun cringed.

“I guess. Yeah, it would.” Chaeyoung agreed honestly. “But I think you should try anyway. Try telling her the truth.”

“All of it?”

“She deserves the truth. You live together, you-” Her expression changed, and Dahyun frowned when Chaeyoung’s lips shook and her voice trembled. “I’m sorry. I know my being away so much the past few months made it harder.”

Chaeyoung didn’t meet Dahyun’s eyes.

Dahyun opened her mouth to protest, but Chaeyoung just shook her head. She looked like she was on the verge of tears, and the sudden change in the mood made Dahyun wrap her free arm around Chaeyoung.

“Nayeon told me.” Chaeyoung muttered into Dahyun’s shirt. “How many nights Jihyo picked you up and took you home. Got you from work and from home when you were up late. Told me that she, that Nayeon- she sat with you. For nights... Why didn’t you tell me?”

“I don’t know… I didn’t want you to put your life on hold for me. I couldn’t get myself to hang onto you just because I was scared. I guess- I guess I just didn’t want to be scared anymore.” Dahyun sighed and felt Chaeyoung’s hand let go and then both her arms around Dahyun.

Chaeyoung just nodded and sniffled, so Dahyun kept going, though her voice was only a whisper against the younger girl’s shoulder.

“I didn’t want to admit that I was the scared girl who couldn’t be alone. I didn’t want to keep you from Nayeon, not when you were so excited to move in with her. It was all just bad timing. I should’ve told you. I know that now, and I’m sorry. Chaengie, I’m so sorry.”

With a whimper Chaeyoung gripped harder around Dahyun. “You’re a fool, Kim Dahyun.”

“I know.” Dahyun sighed. “I’m sorry.”

“Please tell her. Let her help you, I know she’ll want to.”

“I…” Dahyun buried her forehead in Chaeyoung’s shirt. Closed her eyes. “I’ll try.”

 

 

The apartment was dark.

 

Dahyun’s bed was cold.

 

And Dahyun was left of courage.

Chapter Text

Chaeyoung’s birthday arrived in a haze of coffee and involuntary naps.

 

Dahyun woke on the couch, now back in its place, books and notes from all of her subjects spread in a seemingly random pattern across the coffee table, onto the couch and even on the floor. She looked around, her foot pushing a book on lyrics vs composition onto the floor, landing on her flashcards for the just finished test about Rogers and Hammerstein II. Her hair was a mess, the bun on the top of her head halfway undone. With a few deep breaths, Dahyun blinked her contacts into focus and yawned.

“I was just about to wake you.” Said a voice emerging from the kitchen. she walked over with two cups of tea, replacing the empty coffee mug on the table. As she walked past Dahyun again, she reached over and stroked her hair out of her eyes. Then walked into the kitchen with Dahyun’s empty mug and Dahyun’s eyes on her back. Her hair swayed a little when she walked, but too soon she disappeared into the kitchen. A scramble told Dahyun that Sana was cleaning the cup. She turned up in the hallway before Dahyun had gotten enough sense to look away. But Sana didn’t seem to notice, her expression a frown as her eyes searched the mess around Dahyun.

“Do you have any clue when they will start being kinder to you? It seems like an insane amount of work.” Sana commented with obvious worry when Dahyun scrambled to stack her notes enough that Sana could sit down. She settled with the usual lack of personal space, her body snug against Dahyun’s.

“I just need to get to May, then we tone down the intensity to one of the subjects; this one. And it’s my birthday that month so hopefully I’ll get some money from my parents, so I can take fewer shifts.” Dahyun sighed, sleep making her voice croaky.

“I can contribute more with rent if you can’t get the money to last?” Sana offered.

“No, it’s fine. We’re roommates, we share.” Dahyun reassured her

“If you’re sure.” Sana was studying her face, then nodded at the cup on the coffee table. “Drink your tea.”

“What time is it?” Dahyun asked as she reached for her tea. Lemon.

“Just past three. When are we leaving?” Sana asked, sipping from her own mug.

“Around five if we walk there. Half past if we take the subway.” Dahyun rubbed her eyes.

Sana shuffled and grabbed her phone from her pocket as it buzzed. She looked down at it, a soft smile around her lips.

“What?” Dahyun asked curiously.

“Just my mom. She worries easily.” Sana muttered and answered.

“That’s sweet of her.” Dahyun said, taking a sip of her tea.

“It should be me worrying about her.”

“Why? If you don’t mind me asking.” Dahyun frowned.

“Not at all,” Sana smiled. “She’s just dealt with some health stuff. Bad heart... But she’s been doing really well for the past three years.”

“Oh, well, I’m glad she’s doing good.” Dahyun didn’t exactly know how to react to that.

“Me too, I guess I just keep waiting for it to turn bad again. It’s stupid, I know.” She shook her head.

“It’s not stupid. It’s natural to worry.” Dahyun reassured her.

“I guess.” Sana smiled slightly, putting her phone down. “Did you finish the presentation?”

“Which one?” Dahyun laughed hopelessly. The tea had finally gotten the perfect temperature and she took a large gulp, savoring in the taste of it.

“The one you told me about yesterday, about… What was it? Composition and incorporation-”

“Of rock music in modern musical theatre.” Dahyun finished, nodding. “Yeah, I did.”

“Do you have to do more before we leave?” Sana asked, looking around at the mess.

“Not too much. I want to look over these-” Dahyun pointed at a stack of sheet-music but realized those were the wrong ones and started sifting through the piles to find the ones she needed. Her heart raced immediately, but just as she was about to get up to see if she was sitting on them, her eye caught on the name of the song she was looking for. She sighed and picked it out from underneath her book on golden age musicals.

“These ones.” Dahyun showed her three different songs from different musicals. “My Man” from Funny Girl , “For Good” from Wicked and “People Will Say We’re in Love” from Oklahoma! .

“I remember this one.” Sana said and pointed to the last one. Dahyun smiled. She did too.

“I like it.” She hummed and took it gently, fingers ghosting over the lyrics underneath the sheet music. “Do you have to play them?”

Dahyun shook her head. “I’m gonna use them to figure out how music contributes to conveying love in a song. Like, other than the lyrics.”

“That’s so cool.” Sana breathed.

“I just need to listen to each a few times and make some notes, then I’ll be ready to go.” Dahyun made another attempt at an energetic smile.

“And you’re sure you can’t save that until tomorrow?” Sana frowned.

“Why?”

“You look like you could use some more sleep…” Sana admitted, reaching out to stroke Dahyun’s mess of a hair.

“I… I can.” Dahyun gave in, leaning into the touch. “I can do this tomorrow.”

“Good idea.” Sana smiled warmly and took the sheets of paper and tea from Dahyun, placing it on the coffee table as neatly as she could. Dahyun swayed slightly on the couch and Sana caught her. Always seemed to catch her lately. And Dahyun found the all to familiar spot in the crook of Sana’s neck while Sana adjusted herself slightly and let one hand run slowly up and down Dahyun’s arm, the other removing the hair tie from what might once have been a bun. Combed her fingers through Dahyun’s hair. But Dahyun barely registered. She just relished in the smell of Sana’s perfume and let sleep drag her back in.

 

 

Gentle kisses to her forehead pulled Dahyun from sleep way too soon. Stuck somewhere between sleeping and being awake, the younger girl mumbled and squirmed, trying to get closer to Sana. Made her giggle by doing so.

“Dahyunnie, you’re going to miss your best friend’s birthday, and I don’t think she’ll accept the excuse that you were busy sleeping on your roommate.” Sana teased, cupping Dahyun’s face, still pressing soft kisses to Dahyun’s forehead, to her cheek and to the tip of her nose. As always when Sana was too close like this, Dahyun became horribly aware that all she had to do was move her head a fraction of an inch and Sana would be kissing her lips instead of her nose.

So she moved.

Backwards.

Out of reach.

“You’re right.” Dahyun said. Sana’s eyes flickered momentarily, then her lips spread in a warm smile. Why hadn’t Dahyun kissed her right there? Why did her mind turn so horribly blank when she opened her mouth to speak? It was pathetic. She was completely useless. If she just spoke her mind. Told Sana. But it would be so awkward if Sana didn’t like her back. How would she feel knowing her roommate was crushing on her? Would their newfound friendship and confidentiality survive that, or would she draw back? Would Dahyun lose Sana and by extension Momo, as soon as she had gotten them? Honestly, she couldn’t even imagine her life without either them by now.

“Are you gonna change before we leave? I don’t really know what’s customary to dress like for something like this…” The insecurity in Sana’s voice immediately returned Dahyun from her train of thoughts.

“Oh, you’re fine, you look good. I’m gonna change though.” Dahyun looked down herself, cringed and got up grudgingly. It wasn’t as if Chaeyoung would ever judge her for showing up in her so called grandma-style clothes, but Nayeon would never let her hear the end of it.

 

Sana was standing in front of the mirror in the bathroom when Dahyun poked her head in five minutes later. With her toothbrush still sticking out of her mouth, Sana turned and shuffled slightly, making room for Dahyun.

It was becoming a familiar routine, sharing the mirror.

She had gotten used to having the place mostly to herself, as Chaeyoung mostly had morning classes and more often than not spent the night at Nayeon’s. But Sana often bumped into Dahyun in the bathroom, her afternoon classes allowing her a sleep schedule that was more like Dahyun’s than Chaeyoung’s had been. Luckily it had only taken them a few days to get a system. Sana on the left and Dahyun on the right. And they always talked. Today Sana talked about how horrible their calculus lectures were and how she kept zoning out. How she envied Momo and her ability to learn their dances in no time. How she found it embarrassing that she had to keep asking Momo to show the steps. And Dahyun listened with patience and reassured her. Talked about her teacher’s distracting lisp and how Tzuyu had actually ordered tea instead of frappe the other day.

In these moments it seemed almost like they were just regular roommates, and Dahyun was sure she could get used to just having this. But then Sana promised to show her their most recent choreography, and Dahyun felt her stomach respond to the thought of Sana’s body dancing in front of her.

Yeah, she really had to get over it soon.

Or do something about it.

But right now, she merely shook her head and blinked, trying to get her mind in a very different direction than where it was currently heading.

 

 

“You’re late.” Chaeyoung frowned with a pout as she opened the door.

“I know. I’m sorry. But I have a present for you?” Dahyun gave Chaeyoung her most charming smile and blinked in what she hoped was an endearing manner.

“I guess.” Chaeyoung rolled her eyes and chuckled.

“So, this is for you.” Dahyun handed her a flat present and wrapped her arms around her best friend’s neck, planting an open-mouthed kiss on her cheek. “And so was that. Your birthday kiss.”

“Ew, gross!” Chaeyoung complained and wiped her cheek.

“Gross? How dare you call my present gross?” Dahyun huffed. “I’ll give you gross.”

“What’s- Dahyun!” Chaeyoung howled as Dahyun placed more wet kisses onto her best friend’s cheek. “Hey- you stop that! I’m covered in saliva- Ew!” Dahyun laughed against the younger girl’s skin and stopped kissing her, but held her tight still as she chuckled and allowed the closeness. “What’s gotten into you?”

“Missed you, I guess.” Dahyun mumbled happily against her best friend, feeling how Chaeyoung’s body finally relaxed and drew back a little to wipe the poor girl’s cheek dry somewhat. It wasn’t a lie. The moment she had seen Chaeyoung, there had been a moment where everything between them passed over Dahyun like a wave. The little drawings on yellow post it notes. The hours together side by side during recess and after school. The rush when they signed the lease on the apartment. The sinking feeling when they changed the contract. And then a few days ago in the train. Finally admitting to Chaeyoung how bad things had actually been. Realizing that she could have both; could let Chaeyoung live her life separate from their little world and still go to her. Could have her best friend without making her stop to wait for Dahyun.

“Dahyun?”

“Mh? Sorry. I just-” Dahyun shook her head and stood on her toes to kiss Chaeyoung right between the eyebrows, longer than she normally would.

“It’s a good thing this is only once a year.” Chaeyoung sighed and shook her head when Dahyun drew back. “That wasn’t one kiss, that was like a hundred.”

“Okay, so I overdid it a bit but who cares?” Dahyun shrugged, pulling herself from their past- “It’s your birthday!”

With a roll of the eyes and a grumble, the birthday girl turned to Sana and gave her a polite hug as well.

“Thank you for inviting me.” Sana beamed and handed Chaeyoung a rectangular box. “I hope you don’t mind I had Dahyun help me with your present.”

“Not at all.” Chaeyoung smiled and gestured for the two newcomers to step further into the apartment.

Sana passed behind Dahyun into the apartment and Dahyun found herself following her roommate with her eyes until the older girl found Momo in the couch and happily sat down - not on the empty cushion next to Momo - but in her lap. With a chuckle, Momo wrapped her arms around Sana’s waist. And then arms wrapped around Dahyun’s as well, and Chaeyoung’s voice was in her ear.

“So, how is that going?” Chaeyoung asked.

“Huh? What?” Dahyun turned her head slightly as Chaeyoung rested her chin on Dahyun’s shoulder and handed Dahyun the present from Sana as she started opening Dahyun’s.

“Nothing. You’re useless, you know that?” Chaeyoung leaned her head against Dahyun’s, tugging at the piece of scotch tape holding the wrapping.

“Very aware, thank you very much.” Dahyun mused, watching Chaeyoung’s hands in front of her, as the content of the present, thick expensive watercolor paper and a good brush, was revealed. Chaeyoung leaned her head harder against Dahyun’s and the older girl returned it.

“You didn’t have to. I know-”

“Shut up and let me spoil you for once.” Dahyun ran her hand over Chaeyoung’s arm before handing her the present from Sana that she had been holding. It matched Dahyun’s somewhat, this one containing some of the liquid watercolors she had been daydreaming about for months. For another minute they stood by the door, Chaeyoung examining her new supplies.

“I love you.” Chaeyoung hummed.

“You’re embarrassing yourself, weirdo.” Dahyun mused as Chaeyoung let go of her, walking around her to the dining table before walking back to Dahyun. Definitely caught Dahyun’s yawn as she walked back.

“You ok?” Chaeyoung linked their arms.

“Yeah.” Dahyun smiled lazily. “Just tired. Promise.”

With a sceptical nod, the younger girl dragged Dahyun over to the rest of the party, sitting down between Momo and Nayeon while Dahyun joined Mina, Tzuyu and Jihyo on the floor.

“Okay, so now that we’re all here, can we please start drinking?” Nayeon asked, casually wrapping an arm around the birthday girl, nosing into her black hair.

“What about food?” Mina asked, looking around at Tzuyu and Jihyo.

“Sure, that too.” Nayeon shrugged.

“This is the reason you’re always the one who gets the worst hangovers.” Jeongyeon said dryly.

“Or she’s just old.” Jihyo shrugged.

“Fuck off.” Nayeon made a face.

“That’s not your decision, it’s your girl who invited us.” Jihyo said coolly.

“Then at least get the alcohol, I need something to distract from your-” Nayeon made a gesture at all of Jihyo and grimaced. Jihyo scowled, though she immediately softened as Tzuyu caught her eye.

“Fine, alcohol.” Jihyo shook her head with a smile and nudged the youngest girl.

 

No-one objected to that claim.

 

 

“Come on, just say it!” Nayeon complained loudly.

“Like hell I will!” Jeongyeon objected just as loudly.

“It was your question, you have to answer!” Jihyo said, louder than any of them.

“She rigged the questions, I’m not going to answer!” Jeongyeon’s cheeks were flushed, partly due to the amount of alcohol she had consumed at this point and partly because of the question Jihyo had read aloud for her.

“It’s not that hard, just admit you’d do me if I wasn’t taken!” Nayeon insisted, leaning back in the couch nonchalantly.

“Who says I’d ever do you?! You’re just about the last person in this room I’d pick.”

“Of course you’d pick me.” Nayeon rolled her eyes.

“Not in a million years!” Jeongyeon made her best barfing imitation much to Jihyo’s delight.

“Then fucking pick someone, Yoo.” Nayeon kicked at Jeongyeon with her free foot, though the angle didn’t allow much of an impact.

“But we’re adults, why the hell are we even playing truth or dare?” Jeongyeon complained.

“Vodka.” Chaeyoung and Dahyun deadpanned.

 

Jeongyeon groaned and looked around at the crowd, her eyes searching for anyone who’d help. Then with a sigh and a deep blush spreading across her neck and chest she looked up at the ceiling and grumbled “Momo.”

“I knew it! Now you have permission to go for her.” Chaeyoung laughed turning to Momo who looked surprised and shy, but smirked at Jeongyeon nonetheless.

“I still say you wanted to pick me but you can’t get yourself to admit how much you like me.” Nayeon flicked her hair and wiggled her eyebrows.

“Ew.” Jeongyeon glowered.

“Hey, that’s my girlfriend!” Chaeyoung warned, earning a sloppy kiss from Nayeon. Tzuyu caught Dahyun’s eye and they grinned. Neither called them out on it. Not tonight. Tomorrow maybe. Definitely.

“Yeah, you can keep her.” Jeongyeon cringed.

“You need to get laid. You’re insufferable.” Nayeon insisted, then turning to Momo, “Fix it, please.”

Momo laughed and wrapped her arms tighter around Sana still in her lap, looking around at the others. She almost seemed shy. And it seemed that Sana noticed it too, because as Nayeon was about to open her mouth, Sana quickly asked for the game to move on. Jihyo agreed, insisting that there were children present, patting Tzuyu’s hair. Tzuyu however protested and said that since she too was turning twenty next month as well she could hardly count as a kid. Frankly looked a little offended. But Jihyo just poked her cheek and told her she’d always be a baby to Jihyo. Though it seemed like Tzuyu wanted to protest more, she just closed her mouth and let Jihyo nuzzle closer, her cheeks flushed from the quite heavy amount of alcohol she had gotten. Even Tzuyu seemed to have gotten more than normal, normal being none, but now her eyes were unfocused and she swayed slightly at the weight of Jihyo leaning against her.

While most of the others were good at handling alcohol, she and Tzuyu had never been much for it, but tonight it was different. Dahyun didn’t feel the effects too much yet, but she was convinced that she would feel it the second she had to get up. Nevertheless, Dahyun poured herself another swig of vodka and topped it off with orange juice. Could hardly taste the alcohol anymore. Looked over at Sana for the umptienth time, and found her lazily playing with Momo’s hands. So Dahyun leaned against Jihyo, though the older girl was still leaning on Tzuyu. But as Dahyun let her body slump against Jihyo’s, she adjusted to let Dahyun lean better. It was nice. But still Dahyun kept her eyes on Sana, hoping she wouldn’t notice, or maybe hoping just a little bit that she would. Then Jihyo’s arm wrapped around her shoulder and Dahyun shifted to lay down, finally tearing her eyes from Sana’s smile and resting in Jihyo’s lap. Relished in the feeling of Jihyo’s hands absentmindedly playing with her hair and stroking her cheek. It made Dahyun’s heart calm down a bit, and the thought of pulling Sana aside and telling her exactly how she felt got pushed a little further back in her head.

As long as she didn’t put it off too long.

“Tzuyu, truth or dare.” Nayeon said, breaking through Jeongyeon and Chaeyoung’s quiet conversation, starting the game again.

Tzuyu looked apprehensive. “I… Dare.”

“I dare you to tell me the best kiss of your life.”

“That’s not a dare!” Tzuyu flushed.

“Answer!” Nayeon insisted.

Tzuyu scowled. Her eyes travelled down to meet Dahyun’s. There was that thing once again about Tzuyu. And for a moment, Dahyun wondered if they were in the same boat. Or if Tzuyu was just private enough that she hadn’t told. Or maybe she just hadn’t told Dahyun.

“Tzuyu, come on.” Nayeon insisted, waving her beer bottle as she pointed at the youngest, her eyelids drooping. She had definitely been in a mood to drink tonight.

“How about we actually play a game that isn’t for twelve-year-olds?” Jeongyeon asked grumpily, obviously not over the whole Momo incident.

Tzuyu looked at Jeongyeon gratefully and Dahyun, Sana, and Mina quickly agreed. For Dahyun, though she felt for Tzuyu, more than anything else, she did not want to risk that any of them unknowingly made her do or say something about Sana that she wasn’t ready to.

 

They switched to Mafia and Jeongyeon provided roles as well as more vodka for all whose cups were empty. It was just like regular Mafia apart from the fact that you had to drink the entire contents of your cup when you died during the night and take a shot if you were eliminated during the day. While everyone closed their eyes, Jeongyeon got the shot glasses and a bottle of white rum with strawberry taste courtesy of Jihyo. It tasted absolutely disgusting but Jihyo had insisted that if it was rum for the strawberry princess it should be strawberry taste.

Dahyun wasn’t chosen for anything, and kept her place in Jihyo’s lap, hoping it would make her seem innocent. Or maybe was just too lazy and drunk to bother with anything else.

“Mina is definitely a mafia.” Jihyo insisted off the bat.

“Why are you always out to get me?” Mina complained, though Dahyun could barely see her from the angle she was lying in.  “I’m not the Mafia.”

“Oh, come on. I heard you move.”

“You’re sitting too far away to hear anything.” Mina grumbled.

“Dahyun isn’t, Dahyun did you hear anything?” Jihyo asked, stroking Dahyun’s hair.

“Wha- no.” Dahyun turned in Jihyo’s lap and grinned up at her. “I heard your tummy growl.”

“Go home Dahyun, you’re drunk.” Jihyo chuckled and poked the tip of Dahyun’s nose.

“Very true.” Dahyun leaned up a little, adjusting so she could see Mina better from the angle.. “But since I’m using Jihyo as my pillow, I have to follow her, so I’m on Mina too.”

Then there were two. And it didn’t take much accusing for Momo to get on that wagon too.

“I’m with those two. Mina is mafia.”

“Oh, come on.” Mina scowled at Momo but got nothing but a huge cheeky grin back.

“I trust Jihyo and Jihyo says you’re mafia, so you’re mafia.” Momo shrugged.

Mina let out a whine. “But I’m not mafia! I promise, Momo. Just trust me. Trust me and not Jihyo. I bet you she’s mafia and just trying to get rid of me to win some easy points.”

“Why do you all think it’s Mina?” Sana asked just as Momo was about to talk.

“She’s always mafia.” Tzuyu shrugged.

“I’m not!” Mina insisted and then looked up at Jeongyeon who was hiding her grin behind her mouth, the younger girl narrowing her eyes at her with a huff. “This is all your fault.”

“Is not. They’re the ones who got gullible after one night.” Jeongyeon gestured at their friends, barely able to contain herself.

“One night where you made me mafia five times in a row.” Mina grumbled and returned her attention to Momo.

“Just trust me, I’m not mafia.”

“Then accuse someone instead.” Momo challenged, a glint in her eyes.

“What about Sana, she keeps giggling.” Mina argued, just as Sana once again had a fit of laughter in Momo’s arms.

“She always does that no matter what.” Momo said with a shrug.

“She could be using it as a distraction.” Tzuyu argued in favor of Mina.

“Eh, I still say we eliminate Mina.” Jihyo said and pointed at Mina.

“But I’m not mafia!” Mina insisted.

“You might be. And really, can we afford to take the chance?” Chaeyoung raised an eyebrow at her.

“That’s the stupidest argument, any one of us might be the mafia!” Mina said.

“Yeah, well, I’m on Mina.” Chaeyoung pointed at Mina as well. They just needed one more vote on her, and Chaeyoung solved this by whispering something at Nayeon that made her grin widely and immediately point at Mina as well. Dahyun felt the need to throw a pillow in their face, but controlled herself.

And so, Mina, the doctor, was eliminated first. She took her shot and winced, scowling at Jihyo for the betrayal and possibly her choice of disgusting alcohol. Quietly Dahyun reminded herself to take out Jihyo next turn just because of that wide grin, but when Jeongyeon announced the arrival of morning after a night of calling on the different players, Dahyun had been killed by the mafia.

With a scowl up at Jihyo she grabbed her drink and a straw she hoped hadn’t been used before, lazily drinking but not bothering to move from Jihyo’s lap. Just watched as Sana and Momo started bickering when Sana accused Momo. Tzuyu kept saying it was Sana but Chaeyoung and Nayeon went for Tzuyu. Eventually Momo did as well.

Tzuyu, the policeman, slumped back against the couch and stared down her shot as if it was gonna drink itself, but in the end Jihyo coaxed her into taking it. None of them could help laughing at the ridiculous face the youngest made at the taste and Jeongyeon was by her side immediately with a regular coke. Thankfully Tzuyu drank, sending Jeongyeon one of her most endearing smiles and Jeongyeon smiled stupidly back. It was a general effect of Tzuyu’s best smiles. You sort of just stopped functioning properly, overwhelmed by her cuteness.

 

“Okay, night has fallen.” Jeongyeon interrupted and moved over to sit next to Mina who had moved backwards from the circle around the coffee table. The spot gave Jeongyeon a perfect view of the remaining players.

Dahyun watched as Momo and Sana woke as the mafias and both smirked at her. Dahyun almost yelled at them. She should’ve known. Really should’ve known. How had she suspected Jihyo? Even after she had gotten killed. That gullible huh? Or that drunk. But while she tried her best to wordlessly curse their asses from here to the moon, they agreed to kill Chaeyoung. A wise move as Nayeon and Jihyo were unlikely to agree, probably securing their victory. Dahyun felt dizzy as she finished her drink. Had a feeling someone had miscalculated something in this round but was too affected to figure out what.

In the end Sana stood as the sole winner when Nayeon and Jihyo uncharacteristically agreed on Momo and Sana played along, then killing Nayeon for good measure the next night.

 

After the third round, Jihyo suggested they play video games but Nayeon wanted to play cards. Honestly, Dahyun wasn’t sure she could focus on either, and it was made no easier by Tzuyu pulling her to her feet to free Jihyo from under her. The tall girl caught Dahyun as she stumbled.

“How much have you had?” Jihyo asked quietly as Dahyun clung to Tzuyu.

“Not sure.” Dahyun scrunched her face trying to remember, but she had lost count after the fifth? Sixth? No, it really was no use. She shrugged and let Tzuyu and Jihyo drag her into the kitchen and place her on a chair.

“Jihyo, can you? I really have to pee…” Tzuyu asked and got a nod from the older girl. Left Jihyo and Dahyun alone in the kitchen.

“You never drink this much.” Jihyo mumbled as she poured a glass of tap water and held it in front of Dahyun. Waited patiently until Dahyun managed to close both hands around the cool glass and she drank willingly, though her mouth was used to the alcohol and the sugar by now, making this taste quite a bit too bland. Jihyo kneeled on the floor and rested her arms on Dahyun’s knees, looking up at her.

“Dahyun…”

“Mh?” Dahyun asked, blinking Jihyo back into focus every few seconds.

“You never drink this much.” The older girl repeated.

“I know.” Dahyun sighed. “I know I don’t. I hate the taste.”

“Why then?” Jihyo asked.

“I don’t know.” Dahyun shrugged. Finished the water and put the glass on the little table.

“... You haven’t called much lately.” Jihyo said, her voice small.

“I know.” Dahyun looked down at the older girl and felt her heart swell. There was genuine concern in Jihyo’s eyes. Everything about Jihyo was genuine.

“But you’re sleeping better?” Jihyo asked, resting her head on her arms, turning her gaze away.

“I am.” Dahyun lied easily and stroked Jihyo’s hair.

“I’m glad.” Jihyo hummed, her voice barely a whisper as she continued. “But… I wish you’d call even when things are going well.”

Dahyun felt her throat close up. Carefully lifted Jihyo’s head and slid clumsily onto the floor, wrapping her arms around Jihyo, hiding her face in her hair. Could barely hold back tears.

“I will.” Dahyun croaked. “I promise I will.”

The floor of the kitchen was cold, but neither of them seemed to care. They just held onto each other like drunken fools, which they probably were. Dahyun definitely was. Because without really knowing why she started singing, quietly, out of key - but singing the song Jihyo always sang for her. Because it was the only thing she could think of doing in that moment. Quiet though the song might be, it filled the kitchen somehow and Jihyo hugged her impossibly tighter, mumbling along. It sounded a lot better than Dahyun’s, but the younger girl didn’t stop.

At some point, and Dahyun wasn’t quite aware of when, they were joined by Chaeyoung, who sat down quietly beside them and leaned on Dahyun’s shoulder. Dahyun loosened her grip on Jihyo and wrapped one arm around Chaeyoung, the other still stroking Jihyo’s back.

It hadn’t been an intrusion on Dahyun’s moment with Jihyo, for Chaeyoung to join. Had just been another reminder. And the song was a promise to do better. A promise to start remembering to share the good times too. And Dahyun felt somehow both overwhelmed by how crappy a friend she had been lately, and soothed at the hope of improving. Just holding them both so close felt like retribution.

Still, even now, she couldn’t help but think of Sana. And it stung. Because all her attention had been turned to Sana and it would’ve maybe been ok if it hadn’t been for this horrible timing. If she could’ve just met Sana a year ago, or maybe in a year from now. But she had just dumped right down in the middle of a storm and offered cover. And Dahyun wanted to tell Jihyo and Chaeyoung how much happiness she had right now because of Sana. Yet right now, she was so painfully aware, that if she hadn’t been so completely lost in her feelings, she would have spent lunches with Jihyo or nights with Chaeyoung instead of using every excuse to cuddle up with Sana. Had forgotten her friends in the rush of sunlight.

From now on she would do better. But with six friends that had turned to eight, it was almost impossible to keep up with everyone. Especially when she could barely keep herself together.

I don’t wanna do a damn thing without you .

Dahyun winced. Realized for the first time that she actually hated that this song, how every song was suddenly about Sana. But it wasn’t Sana she hated. God, no. It was her own mind. Hated that even now with Jihyo’s calm breath against her collarbone and Chaeyoung’s hand around Dahyun’s, she was still thinking about Sana. And she hated that she couldn’t stop the words that escaped her lips.

“How do you know when something turns from a crush… to something more?” She breathed.

 

The magic was broken.

Their bubble had burst.

Or at least that’s what she had thought.

 

But there was only care and fondness in Jihyo’s expression as she pulled back. She turned her head to the side and let her eyes examine every feature in Dahyun’s face. A smile spread on Jihyo’s face. The kind that made her eyes glint. And then Chaeyoung’s fingers laced through the spaces between Dahyun’s, and Dahyun returned the tightness of Chaeyoung’s grasp.

“You really are a fool, Kim Dahyun.” Jihyo shook her head slightly and leaned back into Dahyun.

 

Maybe there were kinds of magic that couldn’t be broken.

Bubbles that never burst.

Or at least that’s what she hoped.

Chapter Text

Five, ten, fifteen minutes passed until Nayeon claimed her girlfriend from the pile of tangled limbs and quiet voices. Jihyo sighed against Dahyun and sat up, Dahyun immediately missing the warmth and pressure. But just as Dahyun was about to ask for more closeness, Tzuyu showed up in the door, her eyes shifting from Dahyun to Jihyo. Held the eyes of the older girl as she spoke.

“Can we talk? If you have a moment…”

“Sure. Sure, I’m-” Jihyo looked around at Dahyun.

“It’s ok, go.” Dahyun assured her. Jihyo nodded and got up, following Tzuyu back into the hallway. Then a door opened and closed, and Dahyun was left alone, with the feeling of cold hard kitchen tiles and the distant sound of her friends having fun. Wanted to join but also wanted to sleep. Except right now she really had to pee. So blinking the dizziness away, she got up and found the bathroom.

It was unbelievable how much you had to pee when drunk. As if the bladder had suddenly turned the size of a walnut. But maybe this was just her punishment for drinking more than she probably had ought to. Dahyun fumbled a bit trying to get the toilet paper off the roll and clumsily had to wind a bunch back, and when she looked in the mirror, she noticed that her cheeks were slightly flushed and her pupils wide. It was definitely time to stop. Not that she really knew why she had chosen to keep going.

Cooling her wrists under the faucet, Dahyun let her mind wander. Maybe if she got the chance, she would have the courage to tell Sana how she felt. They called it liquid courage, right? It wouldn’t be that bad to just walk up to her and- oh god, if she got to kiss her. No, no this was about talking to her. What was wrong with her that she couldn’t think about anything else? As if she had somehow switched brains with some horny fourteen year old. If she talked to Sana, then maybe they could get everything out in the open and find a way to move on. Move forwards or backwards… or whatever. Honestly she should just have more, confess and then blame the alcohol. Laugh it off. She was so good at just laughing it off. Yeah, that was definitely the solution.

Dahyun cleaned her face the best she could, dried up and headed out, back to the kitchen for her glass. But it wasn’t empty anymore. Jihyo was standing in front of the sink, looking into the depths of it.

“Are you ok?” Dahyun asked, Jihyo jolting slightly as she looked up at Dahyun. Her eyes wavered but she just shrugged and made room for Dahyun by the sink.

“Me? Yeah, I’m fine.” Jihyo smiled. “I think… No, actually, do you wanna play kings?”

“Kings?” Dahyun asked, her brain working just a bit too slow for her liking.

“You know, card game?” Jihyo smiled slightly.

“I… I guess.” Dahyun frowned.

She let Jihyo drag her out of the kitchen, forgetting the glass by the sink. Momo and Mina were playing Mario Kart on either side of Jeongyeon in the couch, Sana on a pillow on the floor between Momo’s legs, watching them.

“Jeongyeon, have you seen the cards?” Dahyun asked as she reached them, patting Jeongyeon’s head distractedly.

“Oh, yeah, they’re-” Jeongyeon moved forwards towards the coffee table, but as both Mina and Momo had been leaning on her, they both shrieked, though Momo managed to get an extra bonus while Mina drove into the water.

“Hah! Karma!” Momo grinned happily.

“Karma for what?!” Mina whined as the car reset.

“For being a sore loser.”

“I’m not a sore loser.” Mina huffed.

“You whacked me over the head for hitting you with a blooper.” Momo smirked at her.

While the two Japanese girls kept arguing, Jeongyeon handed Dahyun the cards, grinning up at her as Momo once more settled with her head on Jeongyeon’s shoulder. And for a moment she was sure that someone was staring at her. And with a jolt of the stomach she saw Sana turn away and stare at the TV the second Dahyun dared hope it had been her staring. Wanted to sit by her. Hold her hand. Lean on her shoulder. But she didn’t. Instead she turned away from her four friends by the tv, towards the dinner table against which Nayeon was leaning, scrolling through her phone.

“Are we playing?” Nayeon asked when she looked up and saw the pack of cards in Dahyun’s hand.

“Kings.” Jihyo said from behind Dahyun, showing up with rum and coke.

“Finally!” Nayeon smirked. “This is my kind of game.”

They settled around the table and were soon joined by Tzuyu and Chaeyoung, though the youngest opted for orange juice instead of rum. For a moment Dahyun was sure that Jihyo would protest as Dahyun grabbed the rum, but she didn’t even notice. Was just shuffling, her eyes narrowed. So Dahyun poured herself a generous amount and topped it with coke, sipping from it and wincing. Maybe a little too strong after all.

 

Nayeon started, drew a six of hearts and grinned as everyone took a sip. Dahyun got a two and gave both sips to a chuckling Nayeon. Then Tzuyu drew a four and chose Chaeyoung as a drinking mate. Jihyo drew a three and took three large gulps. Nayeon was the first to get a waterfall, and Dahyun felt the disorientation return halfway through, but didn’t waver. By the end she swore her revenge for Nayeon though, and got it when she was last to raise her hand on a seven. Then Chaeyoung complained loudly when Dahyun used her innocence in the romantic department as a way to get the others down when she had to do her round of never have I ever. And when Tzuyu drew a king she made the rule that every time Nayeon swore she had to drink.

After the second round of waterfall, Dahyun took the punishment that came with leaving the table, as the other consequence would have been her walnut sized bladder bursting. She swayed slightly as she walked and made sure to not stumble over her own legs.

 

One look in the bathroom mirror was enough for Dahyun to grimace at herself. In an attempt at splashing water in her face to freshen up, she had smeared her make-up slightly and gotten water down the front of her shirt as well. She scrunched her nose in dismay and tried to correct her make-up with a finger. Then wiped her shirt with a towel and sighed. It might really be time to stop. With that consideration, she emerged from the bathroom, adjusting her shirt. But her path was blocked by someone. Someone who smelled lemony and slightly like flowers. Sana. Sana whose arms were immediately around her, steadying her. And Dahyun looked up, her stomach jolting at the feeling of Sana’s warm body so close to her, her senses heightened but her responses slow.

“Sana-chan.” Dahyun mused happily.

“You look like you’re having fun.” Sana chuckled.

“Very much, espe-” Dahyun stumbled over the word and hiccupped. “Especially right now.”

“Okay, just how much have you had to drink?” Sana rubbed Dahyun’s back, laughter still bubbling from her lips like champagne. Maybe Dahyun could take just one more drink.

“Mh-lot.” Dahyun mumbled and wrapped her arms around Sana’s waist - you know for stability. Not at all because she finally had the courage to do almost all the things she wanted whenever she saw Sana looking at her with that smile that seemed to make every nerve in Dahyun’s body stir all at once.

“You’re very pretty, d’you know that?” Dahyun mumbled as Sana fixed the younger girl’s hair.

“You’re very drunk, Dahyunnie.” Sana chuckled and pressed her lips to Dahyun’s forehead. Dahyun hummed and leaned into it. “And apparently a very cuddly drunk.”

Dahyun just nodded and buried her head in Sana’s neck, taking in her scent unapologetically. It felt amazing for once to not be stopped by her doubts. Couldn’t even remember what it felt like to be nervous.

“Why do you always smell like lemons?” Dahyun mumbled.

“It’s my conditioner.”

“I like it.” Dahyun took a deep breath into Sana’s hair. Sana giggled and squirmed slightly, but Dahyun just tightened her grasp, trying to eliminate every inch of air between them.

“Okay, well, I think it’s water for you from now on.” Sana said, amusement evident in her voice.

“Why…” Dahyun whined.

“Because you’re hitting on me.” Sana chuckled.

“So?” Dahyun asked and drew back. She looked up at Sana, trying to focus. Felt with a racing heart how Sana’s eyes flickered between her own. Adjusting in the older girl’s arms, Dahyun felt herself stand up on her toes, inching closer to Sana.

And then Tzuyu was there. Broke the magic. Pulled Dahyun back. And Dahyun could’ve yelled at her. Because she almost did it. She almost kissed Sana. But Tzuyu was stoic in her expression, in her posture, as she caught Dahyun’s eyes and held them.

“Weren’t you on the way to the bathroom, Sana?” Tzuyu asked, looking over at Sana. “I can hold this clingy thing meanwhile.” Sana looked confused for a second. Her eyes flicked from Dahyun’s eyes to her lips and Dahyun’s stomach did a somersault. But then Sana’s hand stroked across Dahyun’s cheek and Dahyun felt herself being handed over to Tzuyu. If Dahyun had been less drunk she might’ve reacted in time, might’ve resisted more when Sana freed herself. But then again, if she had been less drunk she would’ve never gotten to this point. So Dahyun merely sighed when Tzuyu’s arms wrapped around her.

Tzuyu rested her chin on Dahyun’s head and waited until Sana had locked the door.

“Not like this.” Tzuyu mumbled solemnly.

Dahyun sighed. “I know…”

Tomorrow she would thank Tzuyu for not letting her, but right now she couldn’t. All she could think about was how Sana had looked at her lips. That meant something, right? When a girl looked at you like that?

“Can you take me home with you when you leave?” Tzuyu asked quietly, leaning her head back against the wall.

“Weren’t you going to stay here?”

“Change of plans.”

“Ok, sure.”

“Thank you.” Tzuyu hugged her tighter, and Dahyun felt her sigh heavily against her. Let the younger girl walk her to the couch. Away from Sana and the temptations she couldn’t resist. They found Momo, Mina and Jeongyeon still in the couch, still playing Mario Kart. Though now it was Jeongyeon battling Momo.

“Can we join?” Tzuyu asked, her tall frame still wrapped around Dahyun’s petite body.

“Sure,” Mina looked up, her eyes travelling from Tzuyu’s face to Dahyun, “You good Dahyun?”

“No, Tzuyu’s mean.” Dahyun huffed, sticking out her bottom lip.

“When you’re sober you can do whatever you want, but not like this.” Tzuyu mumbled.

“I know.” Dahyun whined. “You’re still mean.”

“I’m ok with that.” Tzuyu shrugged. “Mina, can you take her?”

“I- sure.” Mina frowned. With the slight feeling of being a puppy handed from one to the other, Dahyun let Mina pull her onto her lap

“Don’t let her do anything dumb.” Tzuyu reprimanded before walking away.

“Dumb? Dahyun? Like we can prevent it.” Jeongyeon snorted and let out a loud laugh as Momo’s car spun from being hit with a turtle shell.

“I’m not that dumb.” Dahyun pouted, leaning into Mina.

“No, you’re not. But you are a fool.” Chaeyoung commented as she joined, sitting by Mina’s feet.

“That… I cannot deny.” Dahyun shrugged and started nudging Chaeyoung’s shoulder with her foot until the younger girl shot her a look and moved to sit by Momo’s feet instead. Dahyun chuckled lazily and dangled her feet off the couch.

 

 

Midnight came and left, and Chaeyoung’s birthday was officially over, but they all stuck around until one in the morning. Mina was the first to leave. Needed to catch the right trains if she was going to get back before sunrise. It seemed that this became everyone’s cue to pack up, Tzuyu’s hand tugging at the hem of Dahyun’s shirt, her eyelids drooping and her body swaying slightly where she stood. The worst buzz had left Dahyun, as it had been almost an hour and a half since she had stopped drinking, and her body ached.

“You wanna head home, Chou-Tzu?” Dahyun asked, linking her arm with Tzuyu’s to keep the tall girl steady. And herself as well, maybe. Probably. How long did you have to stay away from alcohol to start feeling better?

“Mhh…” Tzuyu nodded.

“Yeah, I think we’re heading home now too.” Jeongyeon yawned, hanging off Nayeon’s shoulders like a koala.

“Good, then you can stop being a pain.” Nayeon hummed, stroking Jeongyeon’s arm.

“Jerk.” Jeongyeon said, tightening her arms around the older girl before letting her go. “Momo, you ready to go?”

Momo, who was still on the couch with Sana, Chaeyoung and Jihyo, looked for a moment like she was going to protest but in the end she nodded and dragged Sana with her from the couch. Jihyo was the only one who was gonna spend the night, and even if she had wanted to move, Chaeyoung was curled in a ball in her arms, fast asleep, the controller for Mario Kart limply in her hand.

“Can you help me get this tired child home?” Dahyun asked Sana as the older girl joined them by the door, holding onto her own arm, pinching slightly at the skin.

“M’not… child.” Tzuyu mumbled, more and more of her weight against Dahyun.

“Okay, Chou-Tzu.” Dahyun hushed, taking a few deep breaths to feign more energy and a more sober demeanor.

“Let me just get my purse, do you have everything?” Sana said calmly, trying to hand a very clingy Momo off to Jeongyeon who didn’t seem the slightest like this was a plan she wanted to be a part of, but in the end she accepted and said her goodbyes to Jihyo and Nayeon, telling the latter to tell the sleeping birthday girl goodnight for her. In the meantime Sana had gotten back with her purse.

“You know you can still stay here, right?” Nayeon said quietly as she hugged Tzuyu goodbye. If Dahyun hadn’t stood right by the youngest, she wouldn’t have heard it.

“I know.” Tzuyu smiled. “Thank you, Nayeon.”

Just as they were about to leave, Chaeyoung stirred in Jihyo’s arms and resurfaced with a raspy groan, stretching and almost hitting Jihyo in the face with her arm.

“The strawberry princess lives.” Dahyun noted with a grin as Dahyun blinked, her mouth slightly ajar, looking around.

“Where’s…”

“She had to catch a train.” Momo explained, leaning half against the wall and half against Jeongyeon.

“Oh. You could’ve woken me.” Chaeyoung pouted.

“Sorry. But you’re catching the rest of us, just in time.” Dahyun said and watched as Chaeyoung and then Jihyo got up and joined the rest of the party by the door, the older girl rubbing her thighs, probably sore after having Chaeyoung sleeping on her for an hour.

Sana was the first to get a hug from Chaeyoung, and it made Dahyun happy to see it. Momo who had been shy when first introduced had now so quickly become familiar with all of them, whereas Sana still kept to Dahyun and Momo. But as Chaeyoung pulled back, Sana pressed a chaste kiss to the younger girl’s cheek. The latter blushed but allowed it.

“Happy birthday, Chaeyoung. Thank you for inviting me.” Sana said with a soft smile.

“No problem.” Chaeyoung said, a smile tugging at the corners of her lips.

“I know it’s not exactly your birthday anymore but Mina told me about the tradition, and though I’m not exactly a part of the group yet, I just-”

“Sana. You are a part of the group. And it’s ok. I’m glad I got my birthday kiss from you, even if it was late.” Chaeyoung assured her. Sana beamed, and her posture straightened proudly. Chaeyoung’s smile widened automatically and she shook her head at the silly girl. Dahyun couldn’t help smiling either. Not even when Chaeyoung caught her gaze and rolled her eyes.

As soon as everyone had said their goodbyes, the five left together, but separated down on the street. Even if they lived in roughly the same direction, it would’ve been a detour for Jeongyeon and Momo to go past Sana and Dahyun’s building, and Momo looked half-asleep already. Definitely wasn’t in the mood for a detour.

 

 

Cool wind blew through the streets, as Sana, Tzuyu, and Dahyun walked side by side, arms around each other, their shadows switching between following them and showing the way as they passed under the yellow street lights. It was warm. Somehow it had become the end of April.

Dahyun’s vision blurred in and out of focus, the cars on the street going too fast for her to properly notice and the sounds of the night distant as if the three girls were surrounded by a bubble. There was something assuring about walking together, Tzuyu in the middle, her long legs taking lazy heavy steps, stumbling every few blocks. Sana’s arm was around Tzuyu’s shoulder, holding her gently, while Dahyun held around her waist, steadying herself as well as her friend. The wind helped sober Dahyun up a little, cooling her cheeks and her neck, taking deep refreshing breaths, but she was still definitely not sober. Not even close.

 

Dahyun’s phone buzzed in her jacket pocket and she fumbled with the zipper, trying to get the phone out. It buzzed another two times before she managed to retrieve it.

 

1:24 am Chaeyoung: Thank you for tonight. Text when you get home, and make sure Tzuyu drinks water before she sleeps.

1:25 am Chaeyoung: You should drink water too!

1:25 am Chaeyoung: Oh and about Sana. She’s good for you.

 

Dahyun pressed her lips tightly together, trying to hide a smile, and clumsily typed a response with one hand.

 

1:26 am Dahyun: Wwill do. Happy birthday

1:27 am Dahyun: Thankyou.

 

Dahyun shut off the screen and put the phone back in her pocket. Sana looked at her inquisitively.

“Chaeyoung.” Dahyun said as an answer to the question in Sana’s eyes. “She likes you.”

“I like her too!” Sana exclaimed happily, beaming at Dahyun. “I like all of you! So much.”

“We like you too.” Dahyun chuckled.

And it wasn’t just the crush part. She really liked Sana. Liked the new normal she had brought with her. In fact, she didn’t think she ever wanted another normal than this. Dahyun’s mind was still so full of love and admiration for all of her friends, and she let their faces take up her vision, their smiles making hers wider and their laughter ringing in her ears.

Maybe she was just being sentimental because of the alcohol - no, she definitely was - but maybe that was ok. She closed her eyes and leaned on Tzuyu. Her heart threatened to burst and was glad Tzuyu couldn’t read her mind, or she would’ve called out on how sappy she was. And even that made Dahyun’s heart swell.

Tzuyu was never good at sappy or cheesy, but she loved so fiercely, so genuinely and Dahyun knew that Tzuyu would always stand up to anyone who got in the way of someone she loved.

“Step.” Tzuyu said quietly and Dahyun opened her eyes in time to step from the curb onto the asphalt as they passed the street.

All the way home, that was the most they talked, but they held onto each other, steadying and comforting one another in the darkness. Only when they got to the front door of Sana and Dahyun’s building did they let go of each other. After fumbling to find her key, Sana unlocked the door, and held it for the other two.

“You two can take my bed if you want. It fits two, and the couch is really uncomfortable to sleep on.” Sana said as they headed up the stairs.

“If you don’t mind, I’d rather not sleep with Dahyun, she kicks in her sleep.” Tzuyu looked down at Dahyun.

“No she doesn’t?” Sana frowned. “I mean once but-”

“I actually do bustle quite a lot in my sleep, normally...” Dahyun felt a warmth creep up her neck at the memory of having once kicked Tzuyu’s thigh so hard during a nightmare that it bruised.

“Well, I’ve only noticed it one time.” Sana shrugged.

“But,” Dahyun turned to Tzuyu just as they reached the door, “Sana doesn’t kick, you can just sleep with her if that’s ok with you?”  

“Uh, sure.” Tzuyu said with apprehension. Sana looked at her, clearly not buying it.

“I can take the couch if you’re more comfortable with that?” Sana asked. Unlocked the door and held it for them.

“No, I’m the one who didn’t choose to stay, I’ll take the couch.” Tzuyu said as they stepped into the apartment, Dahyun reaching to turn on the lights.

“No way. You’re taking my bed, I’ll bunk with Sana, she’s used to me by now anyways.” Dahyun said firmly, squatting to untie her shoelaces.

“But-” Tzuyu frowned and crouched beside Dahyun, Sana busy taking off her own shoes, stumbling over her own feet and giggling at herself. Tzuyu’s voice was barely a whisper when she spoke. “Are you sure that’s a good idea?”

“Look, I promise I won’t kiss her, or confess, or- or anything. Ok? So you just take my bed and I’ll handle it.” Dahyun insisted under her breath.

“Mhh, I don’t like it. But if you promise.”

“You said it yourself, not like this, right? This isn’t how it’s supposed to happen.” Dahyun got back up, Tzuyu following her.

“Okay.” Tzuyu nodded.

“What are you two talking about?”

“... Tzuyu’s girlfriend.” Dahyun shrugged.

“You have a girlfriend?!” Sana’s entire face split in a wide smile.

“No. Definitely not. She’s drunk. Don’t trust her.” Tzuyu scowled down at Dahyun. Once in a while Dahyun swore Tzuyu made herself taller just to bother Dahyun.

“I’m not drunk.” Dahyun protested.

“Yeah you are, Dahyunnie.” Sana giggled as Dahyun decided to disprove her own point by colliding with the couch.

“Well, I’m your problem tonight.” Dahyun grinned at her.

“I think I can handle five feet of drunk goof.” Sana said with raised eyebrows.

“Okay then. You and me tonight then, Sana-chan.” Dahyun nodded decisively. Sana giggled into her hand at the nickname and Dahyun felt like flying. Then Sana almost tripped over her own feet as the three walked towards the rooms, and Dahyun wondered for a split-second how much she was affected by the alcohol. They had barely talked that night and Dahyun hadn’t seen if Sana had gotten a lot. Maybe she was just being her clumsy self. But no matter the reason for the stumble, Sana merely laughed at herself and straightened up, running a hand through her blonde hair, the dark roots growing slowly longer.

 

 

Jihyo sighed. With a raised eyebrow at one of her oldest friends, Nayeon leaned against the counter, watching how Jihyo stared into the empty glass.

“You okay?” Nayeon asked with a frown.

“Yeah, but so tired. I’ll be out of your hair in a few. Promise.” Jihyo sent her a tired smile, but Nayeon honestly didn’t like sending Jihyo out into the night by herself.

“You really should stay, Jihyo. It’s a long way home and-”

“I’d rather just get home.” Jihyo ran a hand through her hair and yawned loudly.

“If you’re sure.”

“You know, for someone who claims they don’t give a shit, you sure care a lot.” Jihyo nudged her, and Nayeon couldn’t help but nudge back.

“You better text me when you get home.” Nayeon sent Jihyo what she hoped was a stern look.

“I will.” Jihyo nodded and pushed herself away from the counter. At Jihyo’s gesture towards the living room, Nayeon followed her, watching as the younger girl put on her coat, patting the pockets to check for content and then looked around at Nayeon again.

“I’ll see you… what? Monday? Do we have classes together monday?”

“I think so. Probably.” Nayeon shrugged, not bothering to try and remember.

“Then Monday.” Jihyo nodded, smiling at something over Nayeon’s shoulder, and next thing, Chaeyoung’s arms wrapped around Nayeon from behind.

“Had a good birthday?” Jihyo asked with a chuckle. Chaeyoung nodded into Nayeon’s shoulder.

“Good.” Jihyo took the few steps to reach them, hugging both at the same time. “Night, Chaeyoungie. Night, Nabongs.” She said, sending them a tired smile before walking out of the apartment.

For a moment Nayeon just stood there, looking at the closed door, but then Chaeyoung leaned her head against Nayeon’s.

“She’s a big girl. She’s gonna be ok.” Chaeyoung muttered.

“I know.” Nayeon smiled, turning in her girlfriend’s arms. “But at least now we have the apartment to ourselves”

“Okay, wow, mood change.” Chaeyoung chuckled as Nayeon played with the black hair.

“You make everything dirty.” Nayeon rolled her eyes, pecking Chaeyoung’s plump lips softly.

“Says you who tried to do me after two dates.” Chaeyoung said dryly.

“Says you who let me.” Nayeon retorted.

“... I guess you have a point.” Chaeyoung chuckled, tugging the older girl closer. “So. Do I get my birthday present now?”

 

Dahyun’s heart raced and her head was spinning.

The minute she had laid down, the remaining effects of the alcohol hit her. Hard. Or maybe it was the wonderful feeling of being back in Sana’s warm, big, comfortable bed, her head on the pillow that smelled like lemons. It was intoxicating all on its own. And she thought of how she might do it. How maybe tonight when Sana pulled her close she would turn around in her arms and ask if she could kiss her. And maybe she would let her, and Dahyun would finally know how Sana’s lips felt. They looked soft, and felt soft against her skin, but she wanted to know how they felt against her own lips. Wanted to know how she tasted. Or maybe it would just get awkward and someone would end up sleeping on the couch. Yeah, better not. And besides, she had just promised Tzuyu fifteen minutes ago that she wasn’t going to try tonight. But still.

 

Only a few minutes passed from when Dahyun had laid down until Sana walked into the room, closed the door and turned off the lights, leaving them in darkness. Then the sound of glasses being put on a nightstand. She could do it now. Could do it right now. Say her name. Yet some little voice kept ringing in her ears, persistent and annoying. Not like this. But she wasn’t drunk anymore. Was she? She was dizzy but that was Sana right? She wasn’t drunk anymore. She was allowed to kiss her. But... if she still had the courage, then maybe she was actually still drunk? But not a lot. Not too much.

 

Dahyun fixed her eyes on the blurry outline of the lamp in the ceiling as the bed dipped and she felt Sana crawl across her. Clenched her hands around the sheets to keep from reaching up and pulling Sana close. She could feel her heartbeat and hear the blood rushing in her ear and wondered if Sana could her hear how shallow her breath was.

“You ok there?” Sana asked with a breathy chuckle as she settled next to Dahyun.

Not like this.

“Yeah. Just... dizzy.” Dahyun croaked, her mouth dry. She closed her eyes and tried to steady her breathing, biting down on her lip. Why did Sana do this to her, make her so desperate, like a teenager with her first crush. But she was somehow in this moment just a teenager with her first crush.

“Do you need water?” Sana offered, already on her way up, but Dahyun shook her head, too fast, and she felt slightly sick. She tried to focus but everything was too far away for her eyes to see. Really shouldn’t have taken off her glasses already.

“You sure?” Sana insisted. Dahyun looked over at her, and found that she was close enough for Dahyun to make out her features properly. And considering Dahyun’s horrible vision, that was definitely close enough.

Not like this.

Dahyun held her breath. Tried so hard not to cave. Needed Sana gone. Right now. Just for a moment. To get over whatever was going on with her right now, because she was definitely losing control of it. It felt as if the alcohol had magnified her feelings tenfold. Everything was just too much, and there was no cool wind in here to make her feel less like she was going to hurl.

“I guess… Water… Would be good.” Dahyun breathed. Once again she felt the bed move. Felt Sana crawl over her and out of the bed. Dahyun bustled, kicking her legs to get the covers away, a clammy sheen of sweat spreading over her skin. And with all the strength she had, Dahyun propped herself up on her elbows, letting her head fall back against the wall with a sigh. Why wouldn’t Tzuyu’s voice inside her head shut up? Why was it so hard to just ignore it and ask Sana? And Dahyun feared the answer. That the voice was right. That she was still too affected by the alcohol, that she might not remember this in the morning.

 

Sana came back too fast, tippy-toeing and closing the door behind her gently. Turned on the little bedside lamp on the nightstand. Awkwardly because of the angle, Dahyun grabbed the pillow and propped it up against the wall, sitting more upright as Sana kneeled by the bed.  Took the glass when Sana held it out to her and held it with both hands. It was wonderfully cool, and for a moment she forgot that she was also supposed to drink the contents and not just hold it. But Sana was watching her with a smile playing on her lips.

Dahyun tried to concentrate on drinking the water. It was hard, when Sana’s smile was so infectious. If she spilled water down herself from smiling too much, Dahyun thought, she would definitely never manage to get Sana to fall for her.

“You know,” Sana said, her eyes glinting, a mischievous smile replacing the sweet one as soon as Dahyun had managed to drink some of the water. “It’s my birthday in December.”

Dahyun stared at the older girl, her mind trying to decipher the relevance of this.

“Yeah, you told me that the first night.” Dahyun said feebly. Drank a little more of the water. It was like putting two and two together and getting the answer three hundred and forty five.

“It’s an awful long time away.” Sana leaned closer to Dahyun.

Oh.

Dahyun took her time drinking the water, but eventually lowered the glass, focusing on the blurred outline of Sana’s hairline. And when she spoke, she tried to be as neutral as she could.

“It is.”

But she was practically asking her to-. Wasn’t she?

Not like this .

“You don’t have to wait until then.” Sana’s grin made her entire face light up. And Dahyun wondered if she was joking. Because the slightly raised eyebrow and glinting eyes suggested she might be. But she caught Dahyun’s eyes and moved closer. She was definitely asking her. Or messing with her. Oh god, what if she was messing with her like always? What if she was and Dahyun would look like a complete fool. Either way she would have to tell Sana. Immediately. Admit her feelings to get her to stop. It was the only solution.

Not like this.

God, could Tzuyu’s voice just shut up for one second, it was really hard enough to focus without it.

“What are you doing?” Dahyun breathed as Sana kept inching closer.

“Giving you an opportunity.” Sana said with a shrug, her voice cute and innocent, but her smirk not so much.

“An… opportunity?” Dahyun’s voice caught in her throat. Sana was too close. In about three seconds she was going to break. “What do you-”

“You can kiss me if you want.” Sana breathed so quietly, Dahyun had to spend several seconds making sure she had heard her right. But she had felt Sana’s breath against her lips, sending sparks through her entire body. Sana’s smile had gone. Less than two inches away. If this was Sana teasing her, Dahyun might actually get mad. But it couldn’t be.

Not like this .

Shut up. Just. Shut up. This was it. This was the moment she had been hoping for, dreaming of. This was… okay, so a slight chance that Dahyun was reading it wrong. Maybe thirty percent. Could be that she meant that she wanted cheek kisses, like she gave Dahyun all the time. After all, they didn’t kiss each other on the lips on their birthdays. So maybe a fifty fifty.

Not like this.

In this moment she almost hated Tzuyu for saying it. For saving her. And Dahyun bit her lip, regretting the words before she even said them.

“Good to know.”

Immediately, Sana drew back and chuckled. Closed her eyes for a moment. Almost hesitantly she reached up and let her fingertips run across Dahyun’s forehead along her hairline and down her temple, tucking a strand behind her ear. And she got up. Crawled back across Dahyun into the bed. Put the covers back over the both of them. Laid down on her back.

“Goodnight, Dahyun.” She said sweetly and turned on her side, facing Dahyun. Closed her eyes.

Dahyun put the empty glass on the nightstand, turned off the light and shuffled to get back down, fluffing her pillow the best she could. Stared at the ceiling, waiting for Sana. Waited for her to pull at her arm or turn Dahyun onto her side and drag her closer.

Anything.

But nothing happened.

She kept staring at the ceiling. Sana wasn’t touching her, not even a fingertip. And Dahyun didn’t dare look. Her head was spinning and Sana’s words replayed in her head.

You can kiss me if you want. And Dahyun wanted to. But Sana’s eyes had been full of devilry and her chuckle had been light. The fear that Sana was just messing with her was threatening to overpower her, moving uncomfortably in her stomach. The thought that Sana might just have said it to make Dahyun blush. But Sana had to know by now. She had to be aware why Dahyun turned into a blushing mess every time Sana did stuff like this. But she never did anything about it. If it wasn’t for the tiny little fact that Dahyun hadn’t ever really said anything. So how could she know? How could she even have an inkling that Dahyun was here, her mind blank every time Sana came too close. And Sana hadn’t said anything either. So probably, most likely, Sana had no intention of ever doing anything about it. Because it wasn’t like that for her. She felt no different about Dahyun than she did about Momo. But Sana wasn’t touching her. For whatever reason she wasn’t saying. And Dahyun wanted to respect that. Didn’t want to intrude.

For about half an hour.

Then she gave in.

Scooted closer, turning onto her side, facing away from Sana.

“Sana. I… I can’t sleep.” She breathed, hoping against hope that Sana was still awake.

Sana was around her instantly, as if she had just waited for Dahyun to ask her. The eagerness of Sana’s touch made Dahyun chuckle and Sana buried her head in the younger girl’s hair. Dahyun heard a giggle. Or maybe something else. But she never found out, because her body reacted instantly to Sana’s body pressed against hers.

Dragged her off to sleep.

Chapter Text

Dahyun could barely breathe. The room was too stuffy and warm, and the sheets were clammy. And in about two seconds, she was definitely gonna throw up. Definitely. Which meant getting away from Sana, so it wasn’t-. But… Wait. Where was Sana? There were no arms around her. No legs against hers. No soft breathing. No smell of lemons.

Swallowing hard, Dahyun opened her eyes and turned in Sana’s bed. Stared at the wall.

Sana was gone.

But when she had gone, Dahyun had no clue of. She had been out like a light the second Sana was around her. As if Sana had become her safety blanket. Had she?

You can kiss me if you want.

God damn it. Why the hell hadn’t she just done it. Why hadn’t she just… let herself go for once? Why did she have to be such a pathetic useless- Okay, yeah, it was definitely time to find a toilet. Or a bucket. Anything really, by this point.

Trying her best not to get trapped in the sheets, Dahyun stumbled out of bed, her eyes swimming and the floors moving under her. Somehow managed to make it to the bathroom, but would most likely get a bruise on her shoulder from a collision with the door jam.

 

 

Ten minutes later, Dahyun dragged her trembling body into the kitchen, everything aching and the acid burning in her throat. Didn’t even notice Tzuyu until after she had sat down on one of the old kitchen chairs.

“You look dead.” Tzuyu said dryly.

“I am.” Dahyun groaned, resting her head on the cool surface of the kitchen table with a sigh.

“Did you kiss her?” Tzuyu asked without a warning.

“Christ, Tzuyu, will you let me live?” Dahyun whined, her speech muffled by the fact that her cheek was sticking to the surface, which warmed a lot faster than Dahyun wanted it to. Already missed the cold and considered turning her face to find a new cool spot. Couldn’t move enough to actually do so.

“Here, drink this.” Tzuyu said, placing a glass of water in front of Dahyun. “Did you?”

“No.” Dahyun sighed. “No, I didn’t.”

But I fucking should’ve. Somehow, the feel of Sana’s breath on her lips was still there. But she didn’t want to get into it with Tzuyu. It was all a blur, and a part of Dahyun was sure that she was imagining the whole thing as being a lot more intense than it probably was. But whatever the case, Dahyun didn’t feel like sharing. Not yet.

“I’m proud of you. Drunk kissing never ends well. Now drink your water.” Tzuyu said neutrally. Dahyun grumbled and raised her head, her cheek sticking slightly to the table. Rubbing her cheek with one hand, Dahyun grabbed the glass with the other and immediately sighed. It was ice cold, but the feeling of condensation on the glass brought back memories of last night. Of the sparkle in Sana’s eyes. Dahyun shook her head. Shook the memory out and took a careful sip of the water, acid still burning in her throat and her stomach turning uncomfortably. But the water was an almost instant relief. Made it easier to ignore whatever was trying to drill a hole in her skull.

With a smile, Tzuyu walked around the table and started running her fingers through Dahyun’s hair, gathering it in a ponytail.

“If you’re gonna throw up again.” She explained when Dahyun mumbled unintelligibly at her. Despite hoping she really wouldn’t need it, she was grateful. The possibility was definitely there. If her stomach even had more content left. But then again, the water she was trying to drink could just come right back up too.

In an attempt to cool her warm face, Dahyun held the glass to her forehead, closing her eyes at the relief it provided.

“I love you, you know that?” Dahyun mumbled as a drop of water from the glass trickled down her forehead into her eyebrow. She wiped it lazily and opened her eyes again.

“I know.” Tzuyu said, sitting back down opposite Dahyun.

Dahyun looked at her. Somehow, Tzuyu didn’t seem dead nor tired. Didn’t look happy or sad. Just… sat there. Looking at her phone. And to Dahyun’s complete astonishment, she saw that Tzuyu’s phone wasn’t open on instagram or twitter or whatever. It was open on the university intranet, looking up an assignment. At this hour. Whatever hour it was. After the kind of party they had had last night.

“...Tzuyu?”

“What?” Tzuyu turned off the screen on her phone and looked at Dahyun with a frown. Tucked a piece of hair behind her ear. How in the world did Tzuyu manage to look downright adorable while Dahyun was sure she mostly resembled the sad remnants of a regurgitated shrew?

“How do you do it all?” Dahyun asked with as much power in her voice as she could muster.

Tzuyu frowned. “I don’t know what you-”

“You take max credits.” Dahyun continued. “You have a job, you’re always hanging out with either Jihyo or Chaeyoung or me, I don’t know how you do it all.”

“I… I actually ask myself that sometimes as well.” Tzuyu smiled weakly before changing the subject. “Do you want breakfast?”

For a moment Dahyun considered pressing the subject, but the way Tzuyu’s eyes wavered suddenly made her rethink. “Yes please.”

“Toast?”

Dahyun tried suppressing a smile, but failed. “Yes, if you don’t burn it.”

“Why would I burn it?”

“No reason. Nevermind. Toast would be nice.” Dahyun said feebly, waving a hand at Tzuyu. Bit her lip and looked down at the half empty water glass. “Is… Is Sana out?”

“Yeah, she left a note, said she went to help Momo unpack.” Tzuyu said, her back to Dahyun.

“Oh.” Dahyun swallowed. Felt her stomach turn. Nerves and hangovers definitely didn’t do well together.

“Please don’t turn into one of those gross couples we hate.” Tzuyu begged.

“We’re not a couple” Dahyun mumbled.

“But you want her to be your girlfriend.” Tzuyu noted.

“I want a lot of things that are never gonna happen, Tzuyu.” The thought of… yeah, no, that was never gonna happen. Yet her mind went back to night before and she felt her own fingers ghost across her forehead like Sana’s had done. Had Sana even been drunk? Her breath hadn’t smelled like alcohol. Had it? Dahyun let a finger touch her lip, trying to remember. It was hard to remember much. But she hadn’t been as drunk as she had been afraid of, because Sana’s glinting eyes and mischievous were vividly imprinted in Dahyun’s memory.

Maybe if she just asked her, actually talked to her about it, she would find out. Because either way, this couldn’t keep going. She had to either kiss Sana or get the girl to take enough steps backwards to let Dahyun get over her. But either way, she needed to know. This was all too much.

“Sore spot?” Tzuyu asked.

“Eh, it’s fine. I’m just… way too close to barfing to discuss my love life right now.” Dahyun sighed.

“That’s fair.”

“I have got to talk to her.” Dahyun mumbled and let her forehead lean against the kitchen table. “I have to… do something.”

“I agree. You need to get laid.” Tzuyu said in a way too casual voice.

“Shut up. I need to get over her.”

“Under her. You’re in no way capable of topping.”

“It’s too goddamn early for you to be so snarky, why aren’t you hungover?” Dahyun lifted her head from the table and stared at the younger girl with a dead expression.

“Because I, unlike you, did not have a plan to get drunk and confess to a girl.” Tzuyu shrugged. “And because you’re tiny.”

“Okay low blow, what does that even have to do with anything?” Dahyun scowled.

“Small people have a lower threshold.”

“So is that why I feel like someone’s practicing one of Metallica’s drum solos against the inside of my skull?”

“Probably.” Tzuyu got up and took the almost empty glass from Dahyun. “I’ll get you an aspirin and then make breakfast, ok?”

 

 

2:36 pm Dahyun: Hey, is Sana with you?

2:37 pm Momo: Yup, we’re unpacking

2:38 pm Dahyun: Good. How are you? Not too hungover?

2:38 pm Momo: Nah, I’m good. Jeongyeon’s got it worst here

2:38 pm Dahyun: Bet she’s just blaming Nayeon like always

2:38 pm Momo: Yup.

2:40 pm Dahyun: How about Sana?

2:43 pm Momo: She’s good too. You could just text her, you know.

2:44 pm Dahyun: I know

2:45 pm Dahyun: Thank you Momo.

 

 

Okay so in retrospect getting far more hammered than ever tried before, maybe should’ve waited until a day where you didn’t have an eleven hour shift afterwards. Especially with everything going on with Sana still taking up most of Dahyun’s mind. But it didn’t change facts. And fact were that Dahyun had barely eaten, could not keep her eyes in focus and had left a note on a yellow post it on the kitchen table for Sana.

 

Sana.

There’s leftover bulgogi in the fridge, bottom shelf, blue box. Will be home around 2:30-3:00 AM.  

- Dahyun

 

Not that she couldn’t have texted Sana. But she somehow couldn’t get herself to do so. And couldn’t really justify communicating any more through Momo. Maybe it was the fear that Sana would expand the conversation at this hour, ask what happened, ask if Dahyun was ok. And Right now, Dahyun just couldn’t handle any of that.

It was bad enough that the lights were so bright and the music from the loudspeakers rang in her ears and for some reason her knees wouldn’t stop shaking. And with every minute she regretted that last drink. And the one before that. And maybe the one before that too. The only thing she had been able to keep down all day was an antacid and a glass of some ginger and orange juice that Tzuyu had bought her from the corner store. Though the taste of ginger still sat grossly in her mouth, it miraculously had helped her nausea. But she didn’t dare eat. Throwing up on the customers was probably a very bad tactic for a girl who was really trying not to screw up. Not to fail again. So Dahyun just stuck to filling the tray on her arm with empty glasses and used napkins, getting the last of the lunch tables cleaned and ready for dinner guests.

“So I was thinking,” Jeongyeon said, passing by Dahyun, balancing four used plates on her left arm, “You should come over after class tomorrow, if you have time?”

Dahyun frowned. How did Jeongyeon have that same ability as Tzuyu to look amazing after a night like that? And while Tzuyu might not have been that drunk, Jeongyeon definitely had been. That much Dahyun was sure of.

“Dahyun?” Jeongyeon tilted her head with a frown.

“Oh, right! Uh...” Dahyun tried to remember her schedule. She had a test on friday but that was still three days away. And if she got up early tomorrow she could fit in the essay she had to write before class.

“Sure. Any particular reason?” Dahyun frowned.

“Momo misses you.” Jeongyeon shrugged.

“I… well-”

“And I maybe miss you too.” Jeongyeon shifted her footing and put a stabilizing hand on the empty dishes.

“I haven’t been very good at… all of that - being a good friend and all… have I?” Dahyun felt her stomach turn uncomfortably. But not in the hangover kind of way. In the guilty kind of way.

“I think it’s a mix of us giving you too much space and you not wanting to bother in case something went down.” Jeongyeon shrugged as much as the weight of the dishes allowed. “So you’re coming over?”

“Sure.” Dahyun nodded. “You should get those out.”

Jeongyeon nodded and turned to walk away, looking back at Dahuyn with a grin. “We’ll have dumplings or whatever.”

“You really are trying to score her, aren’t you?” Dahyun grinned back.

“Says you.” Jeongyeon chuckled and walked away. And somehow Dahuyn’s heart felt just a little lighter.

With a shake of the head, Dahyun got back to filling the tray, going over her schedule in her head. If she started revising in her head now, she might be able to get a head start.

 

It just didn’t go that way. Because sometimes an attempt to revise while having a hangover and working at the same time, is just not that good of an idea, and when she was assigned to door duty at six, Dahyun gave up trying to revise. It was all she could just to manage the reservations list.

She should’ve been so happy to be assigned door duty. It was her favorite part of work after all. Welcoming guests, making them smile even if they were drenched from the pouring rain outside, managing the time slots and the tables, in a big weird puzzle that somehow always made sense in Dahyun’s head. She had always been good at figuring out systems and Chaeyoung used to say that she solved puzzles like she read sheet music - using math and patterns.

Tonight however, Dahyun could barely enjoy this part, hated every song from the loudspeakers and had to rely on her instinct to smile whenever she greeted guests. But Mina and Jeongyeon made it easier. Swarmed the tables like bees but still somehow smiles at Dahyun every chance they got. And somehow, tonight it didn’t feel like they were pitying her, like they were looking after her. Just felt like friends all going through the same aftermath of a party that maybe got a little too festive, and shouldered it together.

 

Really. It was all slowly improving. Except every time she lowered her guard, her mind went back to Sana. And it made Dahyun’s heart race and her cheeks flush. She kept getting stuck somewhere between being mad at Sana for being such a tease when Dahyun was obviously crushing so hard and being convinced that Sana had actually meant it. That Sana actually wanted Dahyun to kiss her. But if she wanted that, why hadn’t she just done it? Honestly, Dahyun just had to get her shit together and confess so they could move out of whatever this was. Because it was too much, and it was so scary to risk losing her. To have to cope without the girl who had become her safety. Except there was that feeling of Sana’s breath on her lips that made Dahyun feel lightheaded.

And then Dahyun was pulled from her thoughts. Loud voices pierced through her ears, and the words made Dahyun’s heart sink feel heavy with worry.

“You never called.” A man’s voice said loudly, and Dahyun turned to look at the scene, even if she already knew who the words were meant for. And there Mina stood; somewhat safe behind the counter of the bar, frozen with a towel wrapped around a glass.

“I’m not interested. I apologize for not making that clear.” Mina said politely, her voice so gentle that Dahyun could barely make it out.

“But your pretty friend gave you my number.” The man said.

“I know, but I’m not interested. Would you like to order drinks?” Mina asked, regaining her posture and drying off the glass, placing it with the bottom up. Held her chin high. The man glowered for a moment, then ordered three sojus. With a kind smile Mina got his table number and provided the drinks. As he walked away, Dahyun caught Mina’s eye and nodded encouragingly, making her smile genuine.

 

“Excuse me?”

 

Dahyun turned at the sound. A couple stood in front of her. A chubby balding man with round specs and kind eyes next to a short lady with grey strands in thick black hair and wrinkles around the eyes.

“Hello,” Dahyun said, a professional smile on her lips. Knew it didn’t reach her eyes. “I’m sorry about that. How may I help you?”

“We have a reservation here at 8:30 pm.” The man in front of her said.

“Ah yes, of course.” Dahyun nodded “May I have your last name?”

“Peom.”

“Peom...” Dahyun mused, running a finger down the list. Mumbled the name over and over searching for it.

Peom.

Peom.

Table 14. Peom Jeong-Yul. 2 people. 8:30 pm.

Her heart skipped a beat and she felt an uncomfortable heat creep up her neck and settle in her cheeks. She looked down the list of tables and her fears were confirmed. Half an hour earlier she had seated another couple at their table. Frantically, hear eyes ran over the seating chart, trying to find a free space. Nothing. The headache returned on full force, and her pulse rushed in her ears. Why this all of a sudden? It was okay. It was just a slip up. But her heart was racing and her cheeks flushed involuntarily. She blinked fast. Felt sick. Bit down on her lip. Come on. This was nothing. She always solved these problems. This was just. Bad, this was bad. The screw up she couldn’t make. The mistake there wasn’t room for. Yet another mistake. Why did she keep making these mistakes? Why did she-

“Miss, is there a problem?” The man asked with a frown.

“Uh, logistics, I’m sorry. Let me just check on something, I will be right back.” Dahyun sent them her most polite smile. The man nodded apprehensively. Dahyun blinked. Rapidly. Turned on her heel. Walked as fast as she could - into the kitchen - away from the noise. Away from her own head. Her head hurt. She pinched the bridge of her nose, trying to get it to subside. Just a bit. But it didn’t. As soon as she got into the kitchen, every part of her body shook. Gave in. As if it had only held on her until this point. Hadn’t even felt herself shaking until now.

Jeongyeon was immediately there, a hand on her back.

“You okay?”

“I’m…” Dahyun mumbled, her knees weak. It wasn’t as if she had never made mistakes like this before. She wasn’t perfect. But her head was spinning and she had to bend down, leaning on her knees. Definitely regretted every single shot of the strawberry rum now. Tried to blink the room back into focus. Tried to turn her head to look up at Jeongyeon instead of at her sneakers. Maybe if she could just get Jeongyeon to help. She just had to ask for help. Jeongyeon would help. God, her head was going to explode.

“Do you need to be sick?” Jeongyeon asked, but her voice was distant. “Dahyun?”

What was wrong with her? This wasn’t a big deal. 8:30 was usually the time when the earliest guests started getting done. It wasn’t a problem. Yet she kept shaking. Kept… Was she crying? What was wrong with her. It was just a mistake. Just… Just a mistake right? Nothing that would get her fired. God what if she got fired. She wouldn’t be able to keep the apartment. Wouldn’t be able to pay her bills. Would have to start lending from her parents just to keep the interests paid. Pay for what? A shattered dream.

“Mina!” Jeongyeon’s voice rang somewhere behind a veil. Someone was holding her shoulders. Dahyun blinked. The kitchen tiles swam. And then she was being pushed down. Fell onto a surface. A chair? A chair. Heat settled in Dahyun’s cheeks. Her arms. Her ears. Her hands. Sweat gathered on her forehead. Cold droplets on hot skin. It burned. Her skin. She couldn’t breathe. Why couldn’t she breathe? What was wrong with her? It was just a mistake. Just a mistake. Just a mistake. A sound escaped her lips. A whimper? A sob? And she dug her fingers into her arms. Was gonna throw up. Definitely gonna throw up. Definitely-

Hands cupped her face. Soft cool hands. And her head was forced up. Forced to focus. And there was a face in front of her. With soft eyes. Mina’s soft eyes. And it was all too much. It was just a mistake. This was just Dahyun being pathetic. It was just the hangover or the remnants of November or whatever. It was too much of a fuss. But she still couldn’t breathe. Couldn’t… Couldn’t breathe. And Mina’s features were blurry.

“You’re ok.” Mina’s face was so close but her voice was so far away.

“Peom” Dahyun mumbled. “Four- fourteen.”

“Jeongyeon’s on it.” Mina said.  “You’re ok.”

“Peom Jeong-Yul.” Dahyun repeated, her voice breaking.

“We’ve got it under control. You’re ok.” Mina said, still holding Dahyun’s face, thumbs rubbing against her cheek. Dahyun tried to focus. Her eyes landed on the mole on Mina’s nose. Focused only on that. Really, Mina should get away. Because in about five seconds Dahyun was going to throw up on her. Not even from nausea. But her head… It was. God someone was pressing a bowling ball against her forehead.

“You’re ok.”

Mina kept saying it. But she was lying. Dahyun’s head was so heavy. Hurt so much. And her face was wet. She kept looking at Mina’s face. Couldn’t meet her eyes. Stared at the mole on her nose. Blinked. Her eyes kept swimming. Why was she even crying? If she could just focus. She was never gonna drink again. Ever. Never. Not if this was the price. But it wasn’t just the alcohol. And Dahyun knew that. Even in her delusion and all this pain Dahyun knew that.

“Look at me.” Mina said.

But she was. She was looking. Dahyun’s eyes flickered. And she shut them tight. Couldn’t breathe. Her head was going to kill her. Or her heart. Whichever won the battle to cause her most pain.

“Look at me.” Mina repeated. And Dahyun did. Opened her eyes. Let out a sob. Met Mina’s gaze. It was so firm. Warm. Trapped Dahyun’s. And Dahyun couldn’t breathe. Sobbed. Then a hand was on her back. Something was shoved into her hand. Then her hand was pushed to her mouth. And Dahyun did her best to breathe. The bag inflated. Deflated. Her skin still burned. But at least now, if she threw up, it wouldn’t be on Mina. Mina. Mina who still kept her gaze locked. And somehow it was the only real thing to Dahyun. Mina. Her eyes. The thumbs that still wiped her cheeks. They were wet. Something cool pressed against her forehead. Mina wouldn’t let her look away. Her head hurt. But the cloth helped. She could breathe. But it hurt. The bag inflated. Deflated. Over and over. And Dahyun felt dizzy. Felt sick. Felt… relief?

New tears trickled from her eyes, momentarily blurring Mina’s features.

“You’re ok.” Mina said.

Dahyun sobbed into the bag. She wasn’t ok. This was the second time in less than two weeks that she had broken down at work. The second time in less than two weeks that Mina was drying her tears. And she had been so sure. Had been so confident that everything was better now. But it had just been a band aid. And damn it, Dahyun knew that band aids did nothing to fix what was broken underneath. Another sob left Dahyun. Another stream of tears.

“You’re ok.” Mina insisted and her grip on Dahyun’s face got tighter. And the cloth disappeared momentarily and then returned, colder. Someone had turned it. Dahyun moved the bag from her mouth. Her lips trembled. Her chin.

“H-hurts” Dahyun stammered.

“What hurts?” A voice asked. Jeongyeon’s. Somewhere above her. She must be the one holding the cloth.

“Everything...” Dahyun croaked. Sighed shakily. Jeongyeon’s hand wrapped around hers. Forced the bag back over her mouth. Made her breathe.

“You’re ok.” Mina insisted. Relief washed over Dahyun once more. Or exhaustion. It was hard to put a word to any feeling right now. The cloth disappeared from her forehead. Lay on her neck the next moment. Cooled her. And Mina’s eyes were still there. Except so was the rest of her face. And her cheeks were wet too. With a trembling hand, Dahyun reached out. Wiped the tears from Mina’s cheek. Mina’s eyes softened. Dahyun kept breathing into the bag. Awkwardly, Dahyun tried to dry the other cheek too. Tried not to poke Mina in the eye wiping the tears away. It helped somehow. And Dahyun held on to the peace Mina offered.

“You’re ok.” Mina mumbled.

Dahyun was ok. Right? She was ok?

“You’re ok.”

She was ok.

Once more, the cloth was turned, coolness once more on her neck. She looked up. Jeongyeon was holding the cloth. And Dahyun’s water bottle. And Dahyun let the bag fall. Reached out. Took the bottle. Drank. Breathed. Drank. Breathed. Handed back the bottle. Breathed. The cloth disappeared again. But then Mina’s forehead pushed against Dahyun’s. Gently but demanding all her attention. Footsteps. Jeongyeon was gone.

“You’re ok.”

“I’m… I’m ok.”

Her head still hurt. Tears still flowed.

“You’re ok.” Mina breathed.

“I’m ok.” Dahyun looked into her eyes. “Jeongyeon…”

“She took care of it. She offered them drinks and asked them for patience. There was another couple about to leave. You’re ok.” Mina let her face go, but kept their foreheads pressed together. Squeezed her shoulders lightly.

“I’m ok.” Dahyun repeated. “I don’t know. I don’t know what happened.”

Her body felt weak. She wasn’t aware how much time had passed. What if her boss found out? What if. What if he found out. She had already been late. And this. This wasn’t good.

“Hey. Hey no. No, you’re ok.” Mina grabbed her face again and pressed her lips to Dahyun’s forehead.

“You’re ok.” She mumbled against Dahyun’s skin.

“Did he see me? Yang-nim” Dahyun feared the answer.

“Do you think for a second he’s been out of the office? No, of course he didn’t. You’re ok.” Mina kissed the bridge of Dahyun’s nose and then wrapped her arms around Dahyun’s neck, hugging her close.

“I’m ok.” Dahyun breathed and tried to get Mina to let her go. “You should go help Jeongyeon. The place is packed.”

“Felix took over. Just cause he’s a kitchen boy doesn’t mean he can’t serve food.” Mina said, her arms tightening shortly before letting Dahyun go, staring into her eyes. “You’re more important.”

“I’m ok.” Dahyun promised. “Y-you go. I’ll be out in a few minutes”

“Dahyun…”

“I’m ok. Promise.”

“Mh, okay. But I’m gonna kick your butt from here and until Monday if you’re lying to me.” Mina promised quietly. Kissed Dahyun’s forehead again.

Dahyun chuckled and coughed.

 

Then Mina was gone and Dahyun stared at the floor. It seemed so silly. Double bookings happened. It was no big deal. The place was big enough that there was room for those kinds of mistakes. They were only human. Dahyun made a simple mistake, nothing more. But her body had betrayed her, faster than her mind could make sense of it all. It really must’ve been the hangover making everything so much worse. It was stupid to have gotten that drunk. Everything about yesterday had been stupid. She should’ve traded away her shift. After all had an exam on friday. And she had agreed to go to Jeongyeon’s tomorrow. She would just have to deal.

She was ok.

 

It took a few minutes, but eventually she managed to get up. Ignoring Taeyang’s worried looks, Dahyun took a moment in the bathroom to freshen up, then returned to the floor. Thanked Felix and finished her shift, though she had switched places with Jeongyeon, waiting tables instead of organizing the floor.

 

Several times during the night she caught the staff looking at her. Saw the worry in their eyes. Hated it. Hated that she had broken down. But she just smiled at them. Joked around. Used every little bit of remaining energy pretended to be her usual energetic self. It helped. Laughing and pulling jokes. And at one point Jeongyeon even noted that she seemed to be better, and they joked around a litte.

It was almost as if it had never happened. If it wasn’t for the headache and her stinging eyes, she might’ve believed it if someone told her it never happened. But the next second she caught Mina and Jeongyeon with their heads together. Discussing. Looking at her when they thought she didn’t notice. They were talking about her. Pitied her. No… No they loved her. They did this out of love. Worried because they loved her. Dahyun knew that. But her stomach turned. And she wished they would just all stop worrying. Would stop pitying her.

 

She was ok.

 

She had expected Sana to be asleep when she got home. It was late after all. But she saw the light under the front door and allowed herself five seconds to breathe before unlocking the door. She stepped inside and found Sana on the couch, hiding in a blanket with a bag of chips and wide eyes.

Screams came from the TV.

Then Sana looked up at Dahyun. Reached out and grabbed the remote.

Paused the movie.

“How was work?” She asked, her voice shaking slightly.

Dahyun took her time taking off her shoes and jacket. Allowed herself a moment to figure out whether or not she should tell the truth or not. But she couldn’t take one more pair of worried eyes. Couldn’t take any more commiseration.

“It was good.” Dahyun lied. “Busy night. I’m off until saturday now. Thankfully. I’m so beat.”

“You going straight to bed?” Sana asked, curling up the top of the chips bag and tying a bag clip around it, preventing the remaining chips from going stale. Was she going to bed now as well?

“Yeah, I promised Jeongyeon I’d keep Momo company tomorrow night so I gotta study before my afternoon classes.”

“Do you ever take time off?” Sana asked, getting up, the blanket still around her.

Turned off the TV.

“Yeah, tomorrow night.” Dahyun grinned at her.

“I mean to yourself. Stare into a wall or your phone or something. Alone?”

“I guess not. I don’t really like being alone?” Dahyun said.

But I like being with you.

They walked together to the bathroom.

“Yeah, I remember you said you slept at Jihyo’s a lot before I moved in.” Sana said.

Side by side, they washed up. Had Sana waited for her?

“I did.” Dahyun took out her lenses, and put on her glasses. “I didn’t like sleeping alone.”

“And now?” Sana asked.

“I still don’t.” Dahyun yawned, covering her mouth.

I like sleeping with you.

Sana didn’t ask more. She just hummed and combed through her hair. The roots were starting to show, revealing black hair underneath the blonde. Without talking, they got ready for bed together. But they didn’t look at each other. Didn’t nudge each other. Just stood there, side by side, brushing their teeth, cleaning their lenses, cleaning their faces. And eventually there was nothing left but the smell of toothpaste and Sana’s raspberry foam cleanser. And her eyes finally found Dahyun’s.

“Goodnight, Dahyun.” Sana stretched and looked at Dahyun with a peaceful smile.

“Goodnight, Sana.” Dahyun smiled back.

I like you .

Sana turned and walked out. And Dahyun felt her body ache, finally allowing herself to feel. Because feeling when Sana was there… wouldn’t have ended well. Would it? Dahyun dug her fingers into her arms and locked the bathroom door. Sat down on the closed toilet seat and felt her eyes swim with tears of exhaustion.

She had almost told her. Almost reached out. But not tonight. No more tonight. No more. Of anything. Except her screen lit up.

 

3:12 am Jeongyeon: You asleep yet?

 

Dahyun considered not answering.

 

3:13 am Dahyun: Almost, but I won’t be if I keep texting you.

3:13 am Jeongyeon: I just worry.

3:13 am Dahyun: I know.

 

Dahyun bit her lip. Wrote. Felt how her heart tugged with regret before she even pressed send, but sent it anyway.

 

3:14 am Dahyun: I’m fine though.

3:14 am Dahyun: Just stop worrying please.

3:14 am Dahyun: It’s not necessary.

3:14 am Dahyun: And honestly getting a little annoying.

3:15 am Jeongyeon: Ok.

3:16 am Jeongyeon: Night.

 

Dahyun almost forgot to turn left when she exited the bathroom, rubbing her tired eyes. But Sana’s door was closed. And turned and walked into her own room. Closed her own door. Fell onto the bed. With a groan of regret she set the alarm for only four hours later. Took off her glasses and rolled into the corner, her back against the wall. Waited for sleep to take her.

 

 

“Hello?” Jihyo frowned and yawned. It was barely seven in the morning.

“Jihyo? Did I wake you?”

“No…” Jihyo lied and covered the microphone to yawn loudly before returning to the conversation. She still had a bit of a headache from friday, but it wasn’t half as bad as it had been yesterday. She had felt completely dead then, and hadn’t been able to get out of bed for more than fifteen minutes at a time without getting too nauseous.

“I did wake you… I’m sorry.”

“It’s okay, I’m up now.” Jihyo turned onto her side and pulled the covers further up. Felt her stomach growl.

“Do you have work today?”

“At noon.”

“Can we meet? Now?”

Maybe it was the way Mina was talking, hushed and unsure, or maybe just the fact that she was calling at this hour. But Jihyo sat up, a worry in her heart building.

“Sure. But… Mina, what’s wrong?”

Jihyo’s stomach dropped with Mina’s words.

 

“She’s not ok.”

Chapter Text

You know that feeling in your stomach kind of like hunger and kind of like someone decided to pull at your intestines and kind of like your organs are simply trying to switch places? Yeah, that’s guilt. And it was exactly the feeling Dahyun was trying not to dwell on as she emerged to street level from the subway, a clear blue sky interrupted only by the tall buildings around her and the warm sun shining down on the idesias with a promise to make the streets burst into a sea of yellow. Still, the weather didn’t really matter much, even if it normally cheered Dahyun up. The regret and awkwardness was being doubled by the lack of sleep and her almost chronic state of confusion as she made her way to Momo and Jeongyeon’s apartment. Honestly, she could’ve cancelled. Wanted to cancel. Didn’t want to face Jeongyeon. But if it wasn’t here, it’d just be at the next shift, and she had after all, promised to come by. So here she was. Leaving the revision and frustration about Sana behind. Once again, she had gone when morning came, and this time, Dahyun had an inkling that she wasn’t going to find her at Momo’s. Actually wasn’t aware if she even had other friends, as she never really talked about anyone but Momo and her sister. A classmate every now and then, but never named.

 

Without really noticing her feet carrying her, Dahyun reached the apartment building and stared at the name on the door phone. Momo’s name that been written in with a red pen on a piece of paper covering over Jiyeon’s name. A rush of guilt flooded over Dahyun at the sight of Jeongyeon’s name. She had just done it to be kind. She was just looking after Dahyun. Had done so ever since that night. And Dahyun could still hear her shouting outside the room, even now.

Swallowing her pride, Dahyun pressed the buzzer and leaned her forehead against the building.

“Hello?” Jeongyeon’s voice said, Dahyun’s stomach jolting once more.

“It’s me… You-”

“Dahyun? Good, finally.” Jeongyeon’s voice sounded almost relieved? Had she been afraid that Dahyun wasn’t going to show?

A click revealed that the door had been unlocked, and Dahyun sighed before pushing open the door.

 

With thoughts circling around Jeongyeon, Dahyun reached the apartment. It was flung open before Dahyun had even knocked, and a tiny frame engulfed her, black hair blocking her view, Chaeyoung hugging her so hard that it felt like they were sixteen all over again. For a moment Dahyun could even smell Dahyun’s grandma’s freshly baked cookies and a hear the laughter when Chaeyoung played a minor key rather than a major accidentally. But…

“Chaengie…” Dahyun frowned and felt Chaeyoung’s arms tighten around her shoulders for a second before letting her go “What are you doing here?”

“I... Well, Momo invited me over? Nothing more than that?” Chaeyoung said with a shrug, but her eyes searched Dahyun’s.

“Then why did you hug me like I’m terminal?” Dahyun asked, kicking off her shoes and taking off her coat, hanging it on the overfilled hook by the door.

“Am I not allowed to miss my best friend?” Chaeyoung feigned a pout, but Dahyun didn’t buy it for a moment.

“What are you planning?” Dahyun knew already that she wasn’t going to get an answer. Strongly suspected that she had attained knowledge of last night’s incident from the source with the blonde hair whose fingers were currently digging into her arms, eyes narrowed, looking decidedly not at Dahyun.

“You told?” Dahyun asked without greeting Jeongyeon.

Jeongyeon shrugged. “I thought she knew.”

Dahyun pressed her lips together. Looked from Jeongyeon to Chaeyoung and back again. Nodded. “Can we talk?”

Jeongyeon’s fingers dug harder into her arms for a second then she gestured towards the kitchen, and Dahyun followed the older girl. Watched as Jeongyeon opened the fridge and grabbed a soda, settling on the kitchen counter.

“I don’t think I thanked you properly.” Dahyun leaned against the wall. Jeongyeon kicked her feet slightly. “And now I can put an apology on top of the thank you .”

“You don’t have to apologize.” Jeongyeon took a gulp of her soda.

“I do.” Dahyun insisted. “It was a shitty thing to say. I’m just.. Sick and tired of being weak, and needing people to watch over me, and I took it out on you because you care. And that’s not fair.”

“Well, you’re right about that, but honestly, just because you tell me I’m annoying for caring, doesn’t mean I’m gonna stop, you know that right?” Jeongyeon reached out and poked Dahyun’s stomach with a toe.

“So we’re good?” Dahyun asked with a small smile.

“I am. But you. You need to get this shit under control again.”

“I know.” Dahyun sighed. “God, I just…”

“I know.” Jeongyeon poked her stomach again, and Dahyun tried to catch the foot, but Jeongyeon retreated it too fast. Offered Dahyun the soda and shook her head with a smile as Dahyun took a gulp, feeling the bubbles down her throat. Handed it back to Jeongyeon.

“So what did you do about your hot roommate?”

“Getting food.” Jeongyeon hopped down from the kitchen counter and wrapped her free arm around Dahyun’s shoulders, dragging her back out into the living room. Ruffled Dahyun’s hair just for good measure.

“You two cool?” Chaeyoung asked from the couch, raising an eyebrow at them as Dahyun tried to step on Jeongyeon’s foot to get her to stop messing up her hair.

“The coolest. Way cooler than you.” Jeongyeon said, trying her best not to laugh. She obviously didn’t see Dahyun as much of a threat. Did however end up leaping out of the way to avoid Dahyun, spilling soda down her shirt in the process.

“Oi, Kim Dahyun!” Jeongyeon huffed, letting go of Dahyun to grab a kleenex from the side table by the couch, drying over the Calvin and Hobbes comic strip on the front. Dahyun just rolled her eyes effectively - so she was sure Jeongyeon saw - and flattened her hair before joining Chaeyoung in the couch.

“I’m gonna kill you someday.” Jeongyeon promised.

“Yeah, yeah.” Dahyun waved her off and turned to face her best friend, swallowing a yawn. “So how’s the wife?”

Chaeyoung chuckled, pulling Dahyun’s legs into her lap, playing with the rips in Dahyun’s jeans. “Panicking about how amazing she is, as always.”

“Vocal tests?” Dahyun asked, leaning her head against her arm, adjusting as her back pressed into the corner of the couch, preventing her shoulder blade from digging into the armrest.

“What else?”

“I don’t understand her.” Dahyun shook her head. “Subjects she’s not great at she’s always really chill about but as soon as it’s something she’s ace at she gets so many nerves she can barely function.”

“It’s simple.” Chaeyoung shrugged. “There’s too many expectations. If it’s just herself she’s risking letting down but if she’s risking letting anyone else down she just becomes a mess.”

“Ahh… And that’s why you’re dating her and not me.” Dahyun scrunched her nose.

“Very true.” Chaeyoung mused, a smile on her lips.

“Ew. Okay new subject, I did not sign up for soft Im Nayeon hours.”

“But they’re my basic mood.” Chaeyoung pouted. “I love her…”

“Trust me, I know, that’s kind of why I have a new roomie now.”

Chaeyoung gave a loud laugh and squeezed Dahyun’s knee to make her squirm and kick. “Don’t you dare say you’re unhappy with your Sana.”

“I’m not- She’s not my-”

“Are we talking Sana?” Jeongyeon asked, flopping down on the Chaise next to Dahyun. “Cause I want in.”

“We’re not talking Sana.” Dahyun whined, squirming as Chaeyoung kept trying to grab her knee. “Sto- stop that!” Dahyun pulled her legs back, hugging them, squeezed into a corner between her friends.

“We’re talking Sana.” Chaeyoung said decidedly.

And so they did. Even if Dahyun refused to be a part of the conversation.

 

 

Momo grabbed the last dumpling. Dahyun moped. Momo gave it to Dahyun.

“I don’t get it.” Chaeyoung rolled her eyes when Dahyun happily chewed on the dumpling, opening a soda. Momo was sitting between Dahyun and Jeongyeon in the couch, while Chaeyoung sat cross-legged on the chaise, a box of take-out noodles in her lap.

“What don’t you get?” Momo asked as she reached for the bowl of buckwheat noodles.

“You spend five minutes bickering about who should get the last one and then the minute she pouts you give it to her?”

“Don’t question the way of the dumpling.” Dahyun shrugged.

“But-”

“Do not,” Dahyun pointed at her with the chopsticks, “question the dumpling.”

“I just-”

“Well, it’s simple.” Momo said as Dahyun narrowed her eyes at Chaeyoung, raising an eyebrow.

“Simple?” Chaeyoung said, snorting at Dahyun.

“I just can’t resist her.” Momo cooed, wrapping her arms around Dahyun as she took a gulp of soda. “She’s way too cute!”

Chaeyoung frowned slightly at them, then shook her head and held up her hands in defeat. Dahyun felt the familiar warmth creep up her neck as Momo started kissing her cheek.

“Momo, come on, we’re eating here.” Jeongyeon complained, looking up from her phone instead of just eyeing them every thirty seconds. She had been texting on and off for the past half hour.

“You’re just jealous.” Momo smirked.

“Am not.” Jeongyeon said neutrally, pocketing the phone.

“Don’t even deny it, I noticed you staring at me.” Momo said, her arm around Dahyun.

Jeongyeon turned her attention firmly to the rice cake she was eating. “What, am I supposed to not notice you? It’s not like you’re trying to be discreet!”

“Well, if you’ve got it, flaunt it, right?” Momo grinned.

“Then don’t complain.”

“Not complaining.” Momo said with a shrug and pressed another kiss to Dahyun’s cheek. Dahyun chuckled and took another gulp of soda.

“I swear you’re worse than Nayeon with the kissing.” Jeongyeon grumbled. “I’m seriously regretting letting you move in.”

“You’re just afraid you can’t handle it.” Dahyun said and poked at Jeongyeon’s leg with her toe.

“Not in any way afraid.”

“Yeah? So you wouldn’t cower if I did this to you?” Momo asked, and reached under Dahyun’s chin, turning her face so they were barely an inch apart. Dahyun met her gaze unwaveringly, feeling both Chaeyoung and Jeongyeon stare at them with breaths held. In their defense Dahyun hadn’t been this close to a girl, ever. At least not what they knew. Yet, as they stared at each other, there was something in Momo’s eyes that made Dahyun’s trust in Momo fade just a little.

“I swear, if you two start making out...” Jeongyeon warned.

“I could never.” Momo chuckled and her breath hit Dahyun’s lips before drawing back. And Dahyun couldn’t help feeling slightly relieved. Any wrong movement in that moment and Momo would’ve actually kissed her. Not that it would’ve been the end of the world, but Dahyun couldn’t help the stupid dream of who she wanted to get her first kiss from. Every kiss. Momo caught her eyes again, and winked. Then leaned back, into Jeongyeon, who automatically wrapped an arm around her shoulders, tapping a rhythm on her arm.

“Thank god, I was about to barf up my food.” Chaeyoung noted, her eyes flickering from Jeongyeon’s fingers to Dahyun’s face.

Dahyun looked at her with indignation “You have nothing to let any of us hear.”

“I don’t know what you mean.” Chaeyoung mumbled and shrugged.

“Couch sex.” Dahyun simply said, her eyes narrowed at her best friend.

“You seriously cannot keep holding a grudge for that, it was one time!” Chaeyoung said exasperatedly.

“Wait, what?” Momo asked.

“Dahyun once saw Nayeon’s naked ass on accident.” Jeongyeon explained, then turned her head at Chaeyoung. “Did you actually not know she was home or was it just an excuse?”

“We actually thought she was at rehearsal.” Chaeyoung didn’t look nearly as ashamed as Dahyun would’ve liked.

“I will never get over that sight.” Dahyun mumbled.

“Oh come on, Nayeon has a nice butt, it couldn’t have been that bad.” Momo noted dryly.

“See?” Chaeyoung gestured at Momo, her eyes still on Dahyun. Then she frowned and looked at Momo. “You checked out my girlfriend?”

“I checked out all of you. Yours is nice too.” Momo didn’t seem the least bit ashamed.

“I… thank you?” Chaeyoung looked slightly confused.

Momo drank of her soda with a shrug and leaned into Jeongyeon, resting the back of her head in the crook of the older girl’s neck. “You’re welcome. I only give praise where praise is due.”

Dahyun finished her soda and looked at the clock. And the magic was broken at once, reality hitting her like a wave without warning. It was almost eight. Late… Very late. And if she had to get home in time to revise, then it was… wait, when was the test again? What even was the curriculum? She felt Jeongyeon’s eyes rest on her and sent her a smile before getting up.

“What are you-”

“I drank almost three sodas, my bladder is bursting.” Dahyun lied.

“Rip…” Chaeyoung hummed, closing the empty take-out box.

With half an ear still on the conversation - Chaeyoung had started questioning Momo’s taste in music, Dahyun walked into the bathroom. Locked the door and stared into the mirror. Taking a few calming breaths, she drew out her phone and looked at the list she had made earlier. If she could excuse herself within an hour she could get home before ten, then she could probably get two hours of revision in before heading to bed. At least. It might be a little late, but it was going to be necessary. The test would count for 40 percent of their grade, and right now, Dahyun couldn’t remember a single thing they had been through. Her analysis of music to underline emotion had been written with too much haste this morning, but it wasn’t due until the next day. If she hurried she could look it over and hopefully finish some before Tzuyu came over to study for the test together. Counting on her fingers, Dahyun made a mental note of the order in which she should do everything to get through it. Turned on the faucet and held her hands under the cold water. Had always hated how the nerves gave her clammy hands. Hated that she had to force herself to keep it together like this instead of just being able to deal. Or tell them.

 

 

But sometimes plans don’t turn out the way you plan it. Sometimes, intention to study and get home in due time get overshadowed by the magic of laughter and maybe an unspoken wish to escape. And sometimes that magic causes you to end on a coffee table reenacting Monty Python’s Flying Circus.

“Our chief weapon is surprise, surprise and fear, fear and surprise-” Dahyun rambled, pointing at the three girls in the couch.

Jeongyeon had stopped functioning properly the moment Dahyun had started her impression and Chaeyoung was pretty much crying with laughter by now, sniffling and wiping her eyes, a hand on her stomach. Only Momo, though chuckling, seemed less immune to Dahyun’s stupidities. Still, seeing their faces, knowing that the laughter that rang through the house was caused by her, was a rush Dahyun had missed more than anything in the past six months. It was intoxicating, addicting, and Dahyun felt like flying. As if she had no limits and no problems.

“Our two weapons are fear and surprise, and ruthless efficiency- our three weapons are fear, surprise and ruthless efficiency-” Dahyun continued, pinning Momo down with a look. It was obvious that she was questioning Dahyun’s sanity, but eventually the laughter poured from her like a bursting stream in the spring.

“Our three weapons are fear, and surprise, and ruthless efficiency... and an almost fanatical devotion to the Pope…”

Dahyun flicked her fluxx goal card unexpected things at Momo before finishing Ximinez’ monologue and jumping down, bowing deeply, Jeongyeon and Chaeyoung clapping loudly.

“-I’ll come in again!” Dahyun said, making to jump back onto the table, causing Chaeyoung to actually slip from the couch onto the floor but Dahyun stayed down and offered her a hand. If she could do nothing else for the rest of her life, Dahyun knew that she would just like to make Chaeyoung and the rest of her friends laugh this much. Chaeyoung and Jeongyeon were still trying to steady their breathing and dry their eyes. However, Momo had stopped laughing. And the look she sent Dahyun seemed to deflate her. But Dahyun merely kept smiling, even if her stomach was turning uncomfortably once more.

Not that it made much of a difference now, as a still chuckling, half crying Chaeyoung announced that she was going home to her nervous wreck of a girlfriend.

“Bring her next time.” Momo suggested.

“Oh, please don’t.” Jeongyeon interjected, playing with the sleeve of Momo’s shirt.

“I’ll tell her you said that.” Chaeyoung noted, getting to her feet and stretching.

“I’m not afraid of her.” Jeongyeon insisted, to which both Dahyun and Chaeyoung raised their eyebrows.

“Well, it’s girlfriend care time, you all be good.” Chaeyoung waved at them, but stopped halfway on her way to the door, staring back. “Wait, Momo-”

“Yeah?”

“If you’ve checked out all of us, you’re the best to give an unbiased opinion. Best butt?”

Momo snorted, obviously taken aback by the question but answered almost immediately. “Mina, obviously.”

“Damn, and here I thought I’d have a good point to bring back to the wreck.”

“She’s a close third.” Momo shrugged.

“Who’s second?”

“Me.” Momo grinned unabashedly.

“I… fair.” Chaeyoung shrugged, and then she was off.

“What about you?” Momo asked, getting up from her position of halfway squashing Jeongyeon. The oldest girl took a thankful opportunity to go pee, finally able to move.

“Me?”

“You could stay here?” Momo suggested softly. Her mood change made Dahyun frown. Made her actually consider it.

“I should really get home,” Dahyun mumbled. “I have a lot of school work and I need to sleep.”

“Don’t pretend with me, Dahyunnie.” Momo said it quietly, but her gaze was intense.

How could she know? Maybe her eyes saw more than she let on, or maybe Dahyun was just too obviously exhausted by now. But somehow, Dahyun couldn’t keep her mask on with Momo. Just melted into her outstretched arms and let the older girl care for her. Wondered how she did it. How she had broken through a barrier in mere hours that she could still put up in front of the others. Momo somehow just… saw.

“Okay… Thank you.” Dahyun mumbled. And Momo took that as a yes to staying.

 

 

Momo’s bed wasn’t as soft as Sana’s, but it was far more crowded. There was barely room for the both of them and all twelve of Momo’s massive stuffed toys that made her own stuffed squirrel seem pathetic in comparison. But Dahyun quickly recognized the pastel teddy bear she had used and picked it from the pile.

“I thought I was going to be your cuddle buddy!” Momo complained immediately. Dahyun laughed at her ridiculous pout and changed into the pyjamas Momo handed her.

“What is it with you and Sana and cuddles?” Dahyun asked as she climbed under the covers and waited for Momo to join her, placing the bear back in the pile.

“Not sure. Just makes me feel safe to have someone to protect I guess?” Momo shrugged, shifting her footing as she struggled to put her shirt on the right way.

“Mh, I guess.”

“As a kid I’d always cuddle my teddies but as I got older I cuddled Sana instead whenever she came over. Kept her safe, you know?”

“You were really close, huh?” Dahyun muttered.

“We are still. But I guess there were times where we were almost inseparable. Or more like I wouldn’t let her go.” Momo finally got both arms out of the t-shirt and pulled at the front to get it to fall right, skillfully clipping off the bra underneath before crawling into bed, turning on her side to look at Dahyun.

“... Can I ask you something?”

“Sure.” Momo shrugged.

Dahyun swallowed, couldn’t look Momo in the eyes. It was a thought that had occurred to her repeatedly over the past weeks. That there might be a history there. “You and Sana… Have you-”

“What, dated?”

Dahyun nodded, her cheeks warm.

“No.” Momo chuckled. “No, she kissed me once but-”

“She kissed you?”

“She was afraid that she would be bad at it” Momo shrugged. “She’s not, by the way. But she’s just… she tries to hide it all behind her laughter. Not that she isn’t happy, but her family has never been the easiest subject.”

“Her mom has been ill, right?” Dahyun frowned. Knew only what Momo had told the first night and then what Sana had mentioned a little while back.

“She has. A lot. Almost… a few times. She’s good now though but it always kind of broke Sana whenever she was in a bad period. But because everyone else around her just left, she never told me about the bad periods. So I had to learn how to read her to help her and now I think I know her too well sometimes.”

“You know a lot about people. I mean I can fool those two goofs on a good day, but you see right through me.”

“Well, that’s because you’re a lot like her. Sana. You both hide behind your smile.” Momo said.

Dahyun frowned. She was nothing like Sana. But Momo also wasn’t wrong in her observations. Dahyun’s smile was her best mask. An actress in her ace game when she could just bring out that smile. So she nodded at Momo and let the older girl tug her closer and curl around her. She hummed as Momo ran her hand up and down Dahyun’s arm, and Dahyun couldn’t hold back a chuckle as a ridiculous thought entered her mind.

“What?” Momo mumbled.

“Well, for someone who’s never kissed a girl, I sure have gotten into bed with quite a few by now.” Dahyun said, a nervous giggle bubbling out under her breath.

“Well, it’s your own fault that you haven’t kissed anyone yet.” Momo said against Dahyun’s neck.

“What, do you wanna kiss me?” Dahyun laughed.

Momo didn’t answer.

Dahyun turned in her arms, her stomach jolting at a sudden thought. Had she read it wrong, with Momo and Sana?

“Do you?”

“No.” Momo looked sincere. “And you know that.”

“I…”

“I get that you haven’t told me what’s going on, we’re not that close-”

“We literally couldn’t get closer.”

“Dahyun.”

“Sorry.”

“I know we’re not that close. But just promise me that you’ll try to get better before anything else. Make it your first priority.”

Dahyun nodded against Momo’s neck, without even bothering to protest. Knew that Momo was right. Sighed and closed her eyes as Momo stroked Dahyun’s hair and wrapped a leg over Dahyun’s.

“I have to be up by seven. I need to head home, I have a paper due.” Dahyun said with a yawn.

“Why did you stay here then?” Momo asked softly, confusion in her voice.

“... I don’t like sleeping alone.” Dahyun mumbled.

Momo hummed and rubbed circles on Dahyun’s back.

“Sleep now, then.” Momo said and tugged Dahyun closer.

 

...

 

In another bed, in another part of town, Chaeyoung was trying to get her breathing under control, shuddering as she crawled under the covers for warmth. Heard Nayeon’s breathless chuckle next to her and turned her head.

“You know, you should join next time.” Chaeyoung said, running a hand through her tousled hair.

“What, so that was a solo show?” Nayeon frowned.

“No, I mean join when Jeongyeon and Momo invite us over.” Chaeyoung rolled her eyes.

“Why?” Nayeon asked with little interest.

Chaeyoung sighed. “Look, I know you and Jeongyeon aren’t exactly on the best of terms-”

“She’s hiding something, I know it.” Nayeon huffed.

“Then talk to her.” Chaeyoung shrugged. “You’re best friends.”

“It’s not that simple this time.” Nayeon turned onto her side, away from her girlfriend.

“Nayeon.” Chaeyoung tugged at Nayeon’s shoulder, turning her back around. Kissed her swollen lips once.

“She’ll come to me when she’s ready to talk.”

“Momo asked for you.” Chaeyoung noted.

“She did?” Nayeon asked.

“She did. So… Join me next time?” Chaeyoung asked again.

“Mh… I guess.” Nayeon smiled. “And I guess I can suffer through Jeongyeon being a dick.”

“You love her and you know it.” Chaeyoung shook her head.

“Mh… Maybe.”

“You love her. And I love you. But right now, I’m gonna write.”

“I always did inspire you.” Nayeon grinned.

“Oh, definitely. My own personal muse.” Chaeyoung leaned down and pressed her lips to her girlfriend’s just for a second before getting out, grabbing a shirt and panties on the way. Laughed as Nayeon wolf whistled.

Chaeyoung tugged her shirt town over her knees as she turned on the lamp beside the couch Grabbed a notebook. One of many. And old one, almost full. And Chaeyoung wondered what would happen if Nayeon ever broke her promise to never look in them until Chaeyoung asked her to.

 

A snort left Dahyun as the sound of her phone woke her, sun creeping past the blinds. She tried turning to grab her phone to turn off the alarm, but Momo was holding onto her so tight, their legs tangled and Momo’s strong arms preventing her from moving.

“Momo…” Dahyun mumbled and poked gently at Momo’s arm. It worked. Somewhat. Momo didn’t wake, but her grip loosened just enough for Dahyun to be able to reach behind her and grab the phone. She turned off the alarm and tried waking Momo, quickly realizing that it was going to take too long. So instead Dahyun just started moving Momo’s limbs, enabling her to sneak out of the bed. Momo grumbled and turned around, her back to Dahyun, hands gripping at the foot of the pastel teddy bear, instinctively pulling it closer. And Dahyun allowed herself a second to look at her sleeping friend.

The bathroom was empty and Dahyun thought she heard Jeongyeon talking in the kitchen. She rubbed her eyes and tried to fix her face and hair somehow, grabbing what she recognized as Momo’s hairbrush. The feeling of the brush running over her scalp woke her a bit. With a groan she tied her hair in a lazy bun.

It was already ten past seven and the pressure of the assignment, of everything... It was too early for her heart to betray her like this. With all the force she could muster, she grabbed the sink, clenched her teeth. Begged for the pulse in her ears to shut up.

She was just a little bit behind, that was all. And one bad grade wouldn’t be the end of the world. She was gonna be ok. She was ok. With a sigh she turned on the faucet and let the cold water run over her wrists and hands, cooling her down. She was ok.

 

When she entered the kitchen she found Jeongyeon leaning against the sink, on the phone, chuckling. She looked at Dahyun and covered the mic on the phone with her hand. “Slept well?”

Dahyun nodded and grabbed a cup of noodles, filling the pot with water and getting it to boil. “You?”

“Like a rock.” Jeongyeon yawned and returned to her phone conversation. “No, she’s still sleeping.”

Dahyun saw her smile softly. Shyly?

“Yeah, tonight?” Jeongyeon asked, sipping from her coffee. “Deal. Yeah, I’m gonna run. Bye. You too.”

Dahyun frowned. “Who was-”

“Jihyo.” Jeongyeon explained and took a bite of toast.

“Sorry to just steal your food and your roomie and then bail, but I have an assignment due at noon. And Tzuyu is coming to revise with me.” Dahyun poured the now boiling water over the noodles and closed the lid on them.

“Don’t worry about it, you do you.” Jeongyeon insisted. “You seem better.”

“I am, I’m really good. I honestly don’t know what came over me the other day, it was so weird.”

Dahyun looked at her watch.

“I’m gonna change real quick.” She added before Jeongyeon could comment. Heard her call Dahyun’s name but ignored it.

Making as little noise as possible, Dahyun snuck back into Momo’s room, Momo still fast asleep with her back to Dahyun. Dahyun quickly shimmied out of the borrowed pyjamas and put on her clothes from last night. Heard Momo mumble in her sleep as Dahyun tippy-toed out of the room again, closing the door gently.

“Do you at least have an easier schedule after this exam?” Jeongyeon asked as Dahyun sat down with the cup of noodles, opening it to judge if they were done. They weren’t.

“Yeah, well, I’m going to have more shifts again but classes are going to hopefully get easier.” Dahyun nodded.

“Good.” Jeongyeon sounded hesitant. “And how about-”

“Jeongyeon. I’m good.” Dahyun grinned and gave her the thumbs up.

Dahyun opened the lid again, not willing to wait more. The noodles were slightly chewy but they tasted good and she ate fast, Jeongyeon scrolling lazily through what looked like instagram, but Dahyun wasn’t sure from the angle.

“Jeong?” Dahyun said as soon as she was done with the noodles.

“Mh?” Jeongyeon looked up from her phone. “What?”

“I just… Thank you again for having me over. It was so much fun. I’ve missed it a lot. Missed you. Outside of work, I mean.”

“Yeah, me too.” Jeongyeon poked gently against Dahyun’s hand. “You should come over more.”

“I will.” Dahyun nodded and got up. “Tell Momo I’m sorry I had to leave?”

“Sure.” Jeongyeon smiled. Followed Dahyun to the door.

 

 

“I’m not sure this is right.” Dahyun mumbled.

“I’m not sure this is right either.” Tzuyu groaned.

“We’re gonna fail.” Dahyun whined.

“We’re gonna die.” Tzuyu agreed.

 

Tzuyu and Dahyun sat on the floor on either end of the coffee table in Dahyun’s living room. Dahyun let her head fall onto the table, her forehead on a piece by Sondheim.

To hell with Sondheim anyway.

He was a git.

Well.

No, Dahyun didn’t mean that.

Not really.

Just right now.

 

The clock read three in the morning, Friday rising with the sun in a few hours, and they had spent hours going over the assigned sheet music. Dahyun couldn’t focus. Couldn’t visualize. If she could just play it out, she would be able to figure it out. Instead, they listened to the pieces over and over, with lyrics, without lyrics, making notes and comparing. The coffee pot was empty and a mouthful of cold coffee was all that was left in Dahyun’s mug. She drank it anyway, wincing. Had never really liked the taste of black coffee, much less cold.

“But the assigned essay could be on any one of these, right?” Tzuyu asked, pointing to a long list of musical pieces.

Dahyun lifted her head, resting her chin against the coffee table instead of her forehead.

“Yup.”

“We’re screwed.”

“We need more coffee.” Dahyun sighed. She didn’t get up. Neither did Tzuyu.

“And you’re sure you shouldn’t sleep instead? What good is it even to go over this so late?”

“I can’t sleep even if I want to, but you should sleep. Take my bed.”

“No way, if you’re staying up, so am I.” Tzuyu insisted. “We die together, remember?”

“Yeah. But I really need to figure this out. I’m sure I could figure it out if I could just...” Dahyun clenched her fist, stretched her fingers then clenched her fist again.

“Wait.”

“What?” Dahyun looked up at Tzuyu. Her eyes sparked.

“... I have an idea.” Tzuyu mumbled, then got up with an energy Dahyun didn’t fathom or could ever hope to muster at this hour. Dahyun merely watched as her friend disappeared into her room and returned with an squared notebook and scotch tape, opening the notebook on an empty page.

“Can I use this?”

“Sure.” Dahyun looked at her, trying to find out what the hell was going on.

“Can you hand me that?” Tzuyu pointed at a black pen by Dahyun’s hair.

“... Sure.” Dahyun lazily swiped it across the notes. Watched as Tzuyu started counting squares on the paper and drawing lines. Slowly, a picture formed. One that made Dahyun’s eyes grow big and heart race as she realized what Tzuyu was doing. Made her stomach turn as she raised her head from the coffee table and looked. Tzuyu ripped out the page and drew the same on the next page.

Dahyun opened her mouth to protest.

“This is going to work.” Tzuyu stopped her, reading the expression on Dahyun’s face right. To say that Tzuyu looked stubborn would be the understatement of the century. She looked downright  fierce in her determination.

“But Tzu-” Dahyun said.

“Just try.” Tzuyu said, ripped out the second page and got up, placing the pages on the table in front of Dahyun, gathering the sheet music in stacks to make space. Took the scotch tape and connected the two pieces properly, then taped them to the coffee table.

“I’m not sure I can. It’s not the same.”

“Try.” Tzuyu insisted.

Dahyun studied the pages Tzuyu had drawn on. It was a piano, drawn in almost real scale, not with all octaves but most, which worked for the most pieces. This was silly. But Tzuyu was looking at her with a fire in her eyes, and Dahyun carefully placed her fingers on the make-believe notes, adjusting to the scale.

“Okay, now this one.” Tzuyu said and held up the hardest piece in front of Dahyun. “I’ll play the music on my phone when you’re ready and you just play along.”

“I-”

“You can do this, I know it. You’re a genius.”

“I’m a doof and you know it.” Dahyun argued.

“You’re a goddamn genius when it comes to music, and you know it. Dahyun, I’ve never seen anyone with your talent.”

“Tzuyu...” Dahyun croaked.

“You can do this.” Tzuyu said firmly.

“I don’t…”

“Try.”

“Then… okay, at least let me just try without music. I’m not used to this.” Dahyun said, admitting defeat. Probably might as well have given in to the younger girl from the start.

 

It felt awkward, wrong. Her fingers were so used to the distance from a one key to the next that she had to try several times to scale it down. It was muscle memory and it would be a hard opponent.

“Okay.” Dahyun sighed.  “Okay, try.”

It was much against her will that Tzuyu turned on the music and Dahyun tried to play along, barely needing to read the sheet music.

 

The first time was awkward. She kept making the chords too big, fitting a real piano, kept slipping behind when she had to adjust. Ignored the jolts. Knew that Tzuyu had drawn it in less than full scale out of kindness, but somehow it made it harder. Was just a cruel reminder of a crushed dream.

 

The second time was better. Somehow.

 

The third time she played with tears in her eyes. Tears that dripped onto the paper and smeared the penned lines. Played with Tzuyu’s hands squeezing her shoulders, asking if she wanted to quit. Played with a shake of her head..

 

The fourth time Dahyun cracked it.

Yelped out loud and nearly crumbled one of the pieces of paper. Her hand ached already, but she ignored it. Instead she grabbed the sheet music and noted down exactly where the change in music caused the mood shift and  added a little note at the bottom of the page about why. And as she looked up, she found that Tzuyu beamed, her eyes shining as Dahyun explained enthusiastically, pointing between the chords she made with her hand and the sheet music and the lyrics.

“Okay. So here, we expect her voice to climb in tone to increase drama, right? Because the song dictates it. Right?”

“But it doesn’t, when she sings true it goes down, but the music is swelling.” Tzuyu pointed to the point in the sheet music.

“Anticlimax.” Dahyun said. “But we remember this song as dramatic. Because of the music that proceeds the lyrics. But the lyrics aren’t contributing to that.”

 

They knew the theory of this, had gone through it some weeks ago, but finding the exact point in the songs that was hard. And Dahyun had been so familiar with the piece that she had assumed the structure instead of actually listening to it. But because her hands could observe the song separately from the lyrics, she noticed the difference.

 

The exhilaration of the breakthrough felt almost like being high, and Dahyun was so enchanted by her own discoveries that she managed to get through three more pieces this way; Dahyun playing along on the imaginary piano, albeit still fighting the muscle memory, and Tzuyu playing the pieces on the phone and noting down every time Dahyun said. “Here, contradiction.” and “Here, affirmation.”

 

Still, at five in the morning Dahyun went into the kitchen and drank an entire glass of water with her painkillers and cursed at herself. Grabbed a pack of choco pies.

“You should really sleep.” Tzuyu leaned against the door, looking at her.

“So should you.” Dahyun smiled. Struggled to open the pack, her hand trembling terribly. Watched with little protest as Tzuyu grabbed the pack and opened it.

They shared the pack.

 

Neither went to bed that night.

 

 

It was hard to decide whether it had been worth it, staying up all night.

To save their grade, it definitely had. Dahyun had used several of the points from the night’s revision in her essay and had been happy with the effort she had put into it, when she finally handed it in.

But now? Now she was stumbling across the curb, her feet refusing to carry her much further. Didn’t notice if anyone was home. Didn’t notice if she remembered to close to door to her room. Didn’t bother to take off her jeans. Didn’t crawl under the covers. Just curled into a ball around the squirrel plush, lying on top of her bed.

 

Cried into it until she fell asleep.

 

 

Dahyun sat up with a jolt.

A blanket fell off of her shoulders, gathering around her legs. Heart in her throat, she looked around, blinked her contacts into focus. It was dark. The door was closed and no light was visible around the edges. Was it night? Must be.

With sweaty palms, Dahyun grabbed her phone, still in the pocket of her jeans, but it had run out of battery. Cursed and fumbled with the charger.

What time was it?

Her hand still ached. And it broke her heart. Despite herself, last night she had thought maybe. Just maybe. And she blamed herself for letting Tzuyu get her hopes up. But loved Tzuyu for trying. All this time, she had thought that she would get used to her new normal, with Sana, with Momo, with her work and less classes. More bills. The tiny but painfully present scar on the side of her left hand by her thumb.

It was all so stupid. She was so stupid. And so weak. Useless. For months she had been carried around by her friends. Kept standing only because Jihyo forced her to sleep. Calm only with Mina’s hands cupping her face telling her sweet little lies. Smiling only when her friends did.

But sleeping also when Sana wrapped her body around her. Calm when she held her hand. Smiling whenever Sana did. But she had neglected everyone else because of Sana. Had forgotten to call Jihyo. Had spent way too little time with Chaeyoung. With Jeongyeon.

She had relied so much on her friends and given so little in return.

What if she would always just be the one who had to be picked up, who could never stand on her own. Who could never get back up. Not properly. Not back to who she used to be.

 

More than anything she wanted to become the girl she used to be. The one who dragged Chaeyoung out of bed at three in the morning to get snacks and watch the sun go up, kaw’ing at the birds as they flew by. To be the one to always choke on her food because she was laughing so hard. The girl who sang karaoke offkey with a wooden spoon in front of her howling friends.

 

The one who would always be at the center of the laughter.

 

Not at the center of everyone’s worries.

 

It was so stupid. So stupid of her to have worried them so much. She had just kept convincing herself she just needed a few nights of good sleep to be fine. To catch up. But who was she even kidding anymore?

 

Tears fell before she could stop them. Her heart clenched painfully in her chest. She was way too exhausted. Way too stressed. Way too confused and tired of all this. Had to keep breathing, but her breath was shallow and the dizziness was threatening to overpower her.

 

She was useless.

Powerless.

 

More than anything, she just needed a little bit of control. Something she could grasp onto, something steady. And Sana had been so willing to let her escape into her light. Had crawled under her skin in a matter of days, hours, minutes.

And now her bed was so cold, and Sana wasn’t there, and she was forced to face the reality. That she wasn’t there yet. That all their hard work to keep her afloat wasn’t working. That all of her attempts to fight were failing.

 

But what was she supposed to do? Not pay her bills? Not complete her education?

 

Just give up?

 

It was this exact thought that made Dahyun freeze, made her grab her phone, begging that it had charged enough to turn on and allowing her heart a moment’s relief when it did.

 

1:34 am.

 

She thought it might be too late, but the call was answered almost immediately.

“Dahyun?”

“I… I’m not ok.”

Chapter Text

Grey. Everything was gray. The train was cold, loud, unwelcoming and perfect for the occasion. Perfect for a trip through town in the dead of night. With a sigh, Dahyun leaned against the window. The clammy sweatshirt stuck to her arms, still wet from the short walk from her home to the station.

 

“I… I’m not ok.” Dahyun said quietly. Hadn’t been sure she could get the words out, but now that she had, it felt like a burden lifted from her shoulders.

“No, you’re not.”

“I don’t know what to do.” Dahyun sighed, running a hand through her hair. Rubbed her tired eyes. They hurt. Probably the lenses. “I’ve just tried not to let it bother me, and mostly it hasn’t. I’ve been fine like ninety percent of the time.”

“Have you though?”

The speed that argument came at, stung more than Dahyun wanted to admit. “Yes. I mean. I’m sorry. I’m just tired and stressed but that’s college for you, right? I don’t know. I’m just being overdramatic. It’s probably nothing. I’m sorry. I’m sorry. I’m-”

“Dahyun.”

Dahyun took a deep breath. Recognized the gravity in her voice and nodded to herself. “Yeah?”

“It’s 1:30 in the morning.”

“I’m sorry. I shouldn’t-”

“Stop, that’s not what I meant.”

“Then what?” Dahyun frowned. Was maybe just a bit more confused still than she wanted to admit.

“You’re calling me at 1:30 in the morning saying you’re not ok. Finally. And now you’re trying to take it all back?”

“I just. I got scared, that I wasn’t over everything. That I wasn’t better.”

“But you’re not better, are you?”

Dahyun looked down at her knees and remembered for a moment all the things that had made her call in the first place. Knew that she had to stop running.

“No. I’m not better.”

Silence.

“How long have you known?” Dahyun asked.

“A while. I’m not sure. I was going to ask you to come over tomorrow- today- if you hadn’t called me yourself. I just knew there was no point trying to get through to you while you were studying for that exam.”

“I’m never going to play again.” Dahyun clenched her hand. It still ached horribly and the nerve jolted almost as if just to underline a point.

“I know.”

For a moment Dahyun didn’t answer. Just got up, out of the bed. Out of her room. Took step after step to relieve at least some of the pain. Winced when she turned on the lights in the bathroom, locking the door after her.

“Dahyun?”

“Can I…” Dahyun’s voice caught in her throat as she took out the lenses, placing one in each room in the little case, flushing them with salt water. Put on her glasses and looked at herself in the mirror. Saw how the tears glazed over her eyes almost immediately. “Can I come over? I don’t know what to do.”

“Do you want me to pick you up?”

Dahyun considered the offer for a moment. Longed for a little melancholy, honestly. “No, I’ll take the subway.”

“At this hour?”

“Trains do ride at this hour.”

“I know that.”

She sounded hurt, and Dahyun felt the guilt settle in every fiber of her body.

“Sorry. I just.”

“I get it. Just be safe.”

Dahyun nodded. Unlocked the bathroom. Walked into the dark hallway.

“I will.”

 

 

She wasn’t alone anymore, in the train compartment. A crowd of four people had entered at the last stop, tipsy and high-spirited. Played loud music and laughed. Music so loud that it deafened the sounds of the four-hand piano piece that played from Dahyun’s headphones. But there was no point in telling them to turn it down, so Dahyun merely covered her face with the hood of her sweatshirt and turned up the music, leaning her head against the window of the train.

Still, laughter broke through the song. Dahyun turned up the sound more, and disappeared in the memory of it. It was the first piece they had learned to play together, playing in the piano room during lunch breaks. It had been a wonderful moment, when they finally did it. Played it to perfection together. Student and teacher. Padawan and Maestro. A girl and her best friend in the entire world. Even now, with her aching hand, for the first time fully accepting that they would never play together again pressing down on her, it brought her comfort. She could almost feel the cool keys of the piano. Closed her eyes. Let herself be swept off by the song. Let herself engulf in the smell of cookies and the sound of Chaeyoung’s laughter. Her favorite sound, even overtaking the sound of just the right key finishing a song, leaving the heart satisfied and full. Yeah… Chaeyoung’s laughter was better than that.

The train stopped and started.

Dahyun counted the stations.

Knew exactly when she would have to get off.

Knew this trip well.

Even if she rarely took it with a smile on her face.

Promised herself to change that.

 

 

Low-angled rays of sunlight poured through the living room window, bathing the room in a cold light. Dahyun wrapped the blanket tighter around herself.

“Dahyun?” Chaeyoung’s voice was soft, too caring. Too worried even if it was obvious that she tried not to be.

“Chaeng-chaeng!” Dahyun smiled at her. Knew it was a mask. Just hoped that Chaeyoung would let it slide. And besides, most of the time, Dahyun could get away with the mask. Was too good of an actress to let the pain show. Good enough to fool her best friend. “What’s up?”

“How’s the pain?” Chaeyoung asked, joining Dahyun in the couch.

Dahyun shrugged and gnawed at her lip. The doctor had taken off the bandages this morning. It had been bad to look at her hand first in a cast and then in bandages after the surgery. But now that it was exposed, it was somehow worse. It was all pink and irritated, and Dahyun had to stop herself from scratching it every five minutes.

“Stop that.” Chaeyoung mumbled and covered her hand. Dahyun had been staring at it again. For a moment Dahyun considered just letting it slide. Laugh it off. But she couldn’t.

“What if it won’t heal?” Dahyun whispered as she leaned into her best friend. Admitted her fears for once.

“It will.” Chaeyoung assured her. Nosed Dahyun’s temple and ran her thumb softly over the scar. Soothed the itching sensation and made it hurt a little less. “Did you sleep?”

Dahyun shook her head and felt tears prickle in the corners of her eyes. “I had to write the email. To my teacher. Tell her I couldn’t rejoin the class.”

“It’s for the best.” Chaeyoung hushed. “You’ll get back to it. You can always apply to take the class next year.”

Dahyun nodded. Then shook her head. “... The doctor said it’s unlikely that I can ever stretch my fingers enough to hit the wide chords without being in pain. Like the add-nine chords?”

“But even so, you might be able to play most songs once this heals properly.” Chaeyoung argued. Dahyun looked at her, hoping that the affection that soared through Dahyun’s heart would cut through the sense of hopelessness and frustration that filled the air between them.

“I don’t know if I can settle for less.” Dahyun admitted.

“Give it time.” Chaeyoung hummed and wrapped an arm around Dahyun’s shoulder. Held her close for a moment, then spoke again. “And in the meantime, I think I found a solution to the sleeping problem. You know, take the edge off?”

“You suggesting I drink it off? Or take benadryl?” Dahyun drew back a bit to look at her.

“No. I mean, benadryl could be a solution, but listen. I found these things at the drugstore. They’re not sleeping pills. They’re something called… Argh, what was it… uh, melatonin I think. Yeah, that. And there’s like no side effects to them. They even come with flavors, you know, as chewing tablets. It’s basically just something we already make in our brains but by adding more you get extra sleepy. So maybe it can counteract the anxiety enough so that you can fall asleep easier?”

Dahyun looked as Chaeyoung pulled out her phone and looked it up. It looked legit.

“I guess it’s worth a try. Otherwise I’ll just have Tzuyu supply me with benadryl. She always has them lying around for her hay fever.”

“Making the kid into a drug dealer. Brilliant idea, Kim Dahyun. Look, just try them, okay?”

“Okay, first of all, she’s a month younger than you are. But fine. I’ll try.” Dahyun nodded and leaned into Chaeyoung again.

“Good cause I already bought you a bottle. One pill before sleep, like half an hour before.”

“Let me guess, you got the strawberry flavored ones?” Dahyun raised an eyebrow, the air between them lighter somehow.

“Of course.” Chaeyoung shrugged.

Then she switched the window to YouTube, and insisted on showing Dahyun at least five different videos of cats being stupid.

 

Dahyun laughed that day.

Loved Chaeyoung.

 

 

Dahyun had barely knocked before the door was flung open and arms were around her, brown hair blocking her vision and a raspy whimper in her voice. It didn’t matter that Dahyun was drenched from the pouring rain outside, Jihyo didn’t shy away for a second. Just held Dahyun close, arms so tight around her neck, her body pressing against Dahyun’s.

“I’m ok.” Dahyun mumbled and held the older girl tight, running a hand down her back.

“Shut up.” Jihyo mumbled, lips pressing into Dahyun’s hair. And Dahyun knew that she was crying. Could hear it in Jihyo’s breath and feel the older girl’s attempts to control her own shaking.

Dahyun held her tighter. Didn’t say anymore. Just let Jihyo hang onto her.

It should be awkward standing in an empty hallway at 2:30 in the morning, but it wasn’t. It was just… Jihyo. And for the longest time they stood there, arms around each other, their silent conversation impossibly more sincere than the promises they had made the night of Chaeyoung’s birthday.

Eventually, Jihyo’s grip loosened, and she drew back, wiping Dahyun’s cheeks before she dried her own. Gave a wet laugh and shook her head. “You’re such an idiot.”

“I know. A dumb little butterfly, right?” Dahyun made little flapping motions with her hands, just to hear that laugh again, if only but once.

“The dumbest.” Jihyo sniffled. “You’re both... So dumb.”

“Wait… Both?” Dahyun frowned and looked past Jihyo, into the apartment.

Tzuyu was sitting in the couch in her favorite hoodie - the one with the big paw print on the front - wrapped in a fluffy pink blanket, her hair in braids and a steaming mug of tea in her hands. She looked at Dahyun and smiled, shaking her head. Dahyun knew what she was thinking. Idiot. And Dahyun was inclined to agree.

“Well, as a whole, you still take the prize.” Jihyo said dryly as she pulled Dahyun into the apartment, “But right now I’m inclined to mark both of you as idiots. To think that you convinced each other-”

Jihyo seemed lost for words. Then she clicked her tongue and seemed to make up her mind.

“No, you know what? No more scolding. Just... sit down next to fool number one over there.”

Jihyo gestured at Tzuyu, the youngest looking somewhere between sheepish and slightly offended.

Dahyun felt a bit like laughing. Ashamed of their stupid ass decision, yes, but also just a little bit like laughing at Jihyo. Just because she was being such a mother trying to deal with her kids after they had chosen to color with crayons all over her wall. And it was ironic, simply because her natural state in life was anything but motherly. It was just… loud. Weird. And Dahyun missed that side of her, however humorous her current exasperation was.

While Jihyo mumbled under her breath and disappeared into the kitchen, Dahyun turned to join said fool number one on the couch. But just as Dahyun made to sit down she noticed a stack of fluffy fabrics on the armrest. Gave a chuckle and eyed the pile.

“Don’t even try to resist, she’s been in a mood ever since I called.”

“You called her?” Dahyun grabbed the clothes.

“I maybe sorta broke down a little after the test. Too tired I guess… And I didn’t want to disturb you in case you were sleeping.” Tzuyu shrugged and sipped from her tea.

“So you’re good?” Dahyun frowned. “You and Jihyo I mean? I thought for a second- you know, the party? I thought maybe you’d been arguing, but I didn’t wanna pry.”

“No, we’re good.” Tzuyu nodded. “Just a misunderstanding.”

“That’s good.”

“Yeah.” Tzuyu sent Dahyun a shy smile, then looked at her clothes. “You should change. You’re drenched.”

“Oh, right.” Dahyun looked down at the fluffy clothes in her hand. Sent Tzuyu a smile and turned from her, poking her head into the kitchen to Jihyo, kissing her once again tearstained cheek before borrowing the bathroom to change.

There was a tranquility about Jihyo’s place that allowed Dahyun to distance herself from the panic and confusion that had overwhelmed her. Everything somehow just became easier when wearing Jihyo’s fluffy pyjama pants.

 

When she came back out of the bathroom, Jihyo was there, waiting for her with a mug of steaming hot tea. Took Dahyun by the arm and sat her down beside Tzuyu, wrapping her up in the blanket and then put a cup of chamomile tea in her hands. She looked down at Dahyun and Tzuyu with crossed arms and raised eyebrows, sniffling.

“You’re both idiots.”

Dahyun looked over at Tzuyu who in turn looked at Dahyun, both smiling slightly.

Jihyo shook her head and told them to drink their tea. Found pens and paper and chocolate, went to stand in front of them and had both of them move over a bit, sitting down between them.

“Did you figure out things with work?” Jihyo looked at Tzuyu.

The paper in her hands already had a schedule on it. Tzuyu’s, from the look of it. Why she worked so much when she only had to pay for a small college dorm room, Dahyun didn’t get. She rarely bought herself anything.

“I think we’re all set.”

“And your head?”

“Me and my head are good.” Tzuyu emptied her cup of tea, holding it tightly between her hands.

“Your head?” Dahyun frowned.

“She means all my thoughts running around in there.” Tzuyu leaned forwards a little to look past Jihyo.

“You should try to sleep then.” Jihyo said. “Use the bed, we’ll fit.”

“Jihyo…” Tzuyu said quietly. “I don’t-”

“It’s okay.” Jihyo reassured her. “I’m ok.”

“But-” Tzuyu tried, but as Dahyun caught her eye she clamped up. The blanket fell from around her as she got up.

“We’ll join you soon.” Jihyo said softly.

“Mh,” Tzuyu eyed Dahyun again, “Just... don’t let her lie in the middle. She kicks.”

“I know. I’ll be the middle.” Jihyo said, and for a moment Tzuyu pressed her lips together tight, in an obvious attempt not to smile, though her exposed ears revealed her. Moved just a little bit.

“Goodnight, Tzuyu.” Jihyo said quietly. Smiled fondly at the younger girl.

“Goodnight, Jihyo.” Tzuyu hummed and walked into the kitchen with her cup.

 

As soon as the door to Jihyo’s room closed, Dahyun felt her heart attempt to bring her out of the calm, but she leaned on Jihyo and let the older girl take her hand. Let her rub over the scar. Let her help.

“Okay, now. How about we start from… well, the start.”

“Would you like me to lie down on the couch so you can play shrink? Hear all about my troubled childhood?” Dahyun asked jokingly.

She felt her heart race and heard the rain hammering against the windows. She really wasn’t sure how it would go over if she had to tell everything. It was easier just to keep avoiding it.

Jihyo looked at her, squeezed her hand and told her to drink her tea.

 

Somewhere, between the fuzzy pyjamas, the smell of chamomile and Jihyo’s soft humming, Dahyun started talking. Told about everything that had gone down since Sana moved in. About everything that had happened since Dahyun stopped coming over.

 

Couldn’t look Jihyo in the eyes. Talked to the tea instead, staring at it as it turned cold between her hands.

 

 

“So you’re… back where you were before Chaeyoung moved out?”

Dahyun nodded. “I think I am.”

“Except this time you’re also in love.” Jihyo really couldn’t help that dumb little smile on her face, could she?

Dahyun pressed her lips together. “I don’t… know if I’d say ‘in love’. But I like her….”

“You’ve rambled about her for forty five minutes, I think we’re well beyond a schoolgirl crush here, Dahyun.” Jihyo raised an eyebrow and then took the half-empty cup of cold tea from Dahyun and placed it on the table. Took Dahyun’s hands instead.

“... I guess that’s a fair point.” Dahyun sighed, squeezing Jihyo’s hands. Knew that she held on more for herself than for Dahyun. “But how can those two things even be happening at the same time? How can I be sure that Sana isn’t just a projection or whatever it is shrinks say about these things? I barely know the girl.”

“I think the fact that you worry about exactly that, proves that it’s not the case. And you do know her. You’ve lived together for what? A month?”

“Yeah, that’s about right. But it’s just inconvenient.” Dahyun groaned. “I like her so much.”

“I’m glad.” Jihyo hummed.

“Why are you glad? This is not what I need right now at all!” Dahyun groaned, leaning on Jihyo.

“Maybe it is. Because for the first time you’ve started reaching out on your own. Not because we nag you. And I’m not saying she’s gonna fix you. I’m definitely not, that’s not her responsibility. I’m saying you’re changing because you’re letting someone in for once. Way in there.” Jihyo let Dahyun’s right hand go, to poke gently at Dahyun’s forehead.

“Not my heart?”

“No, we all live there, but you’re letting her into that odd brain of yours. And it’s okay to like her. It’s even okay to be in love with her. Just try to get your life under control before trying to get her into bed.”

“I-” Dahyun felt her cheeks burn immediately, and from Jihyo’s chuckle it showed clearly. “I mean, I-”

“You really are such a useless lesbian, huh?” Jihyo said in an amused tone.

“I really am,” Dahyun sighed and shook her head with a smile. “How do you even do it? I mean, how do you get past the fear that everything is just gonna change and fall to the ground?” Dahyun asked.

“I… have no clue.” Jihyo admitted quietly. “Alcohol was my solution and look how that turned out.”

“Oh God no, I’m never gonna drink again.” Dahyun groaned.

“Right, you keep believing that.” Jihyo clicked her tongue and held Dahyun tighter. “Now I think I have solutions to some of your problems, but it will have to wait until tomorrow, because this is going to require help from everyone. I mean, it’s not exactly an easy situation you’ve put yourself in. Well, I would say, he put you in but you won’t let me blame him-”

“It was an accident.” Dahyun interjected.

“Still hate him.” Jihyo mumbled.

“Don’t.” Dahyun begged. “We’ll never know whose fault it actually was.”

“Fine… But you’re okay with me recruiting the group?”

Dahyun shrugged. “It’s probably better they all know about… about everything anyway. They’ve been worried.”

“Yes, we have.” Jihyo kissed her hair. “Come on. It’s almost half past three, we’re going to need all of the few hours we can get.”

“I’m sorry to have kept you up like this…” Dahyun said and stifled a yawn.

“I’m not. I just want my happy, stupid, little Dahyunnie back.” Jihyo got up and pulled Dahyun with her.

“Are you sure I shouldn’t sleep out here? Sure, your bed is big, but three people? Isn’t that a bit much?” Dahyun frowned.

“I’ve had Jeongyeon and Nayeon in it more times than I can count and those two practically fight in their sleep.” Jihyo said dryly.

“Do you plan to get all of us into bed by the end?” Dahyun joked, her eyes drooping, hiding another yawn behind her hand.

“In one way or another.” Jihyo winked and dragged Dahyun with her.

 

 

Dahyun could hear the rain. Only the rain. How it fell around her, onto her, soaking her to the bone. Felt how the water ran down her back and down her face. Could feel the hairs sticking to her face and her heartbeat in her throat.

But no matter what she did, Dahyun couldn’t go faster. Barely moved no matter how fast she moved her legs.

“Dahyun.”

The voice was distant, barely audible through the rain. Called for her over and over. Then cursed. Cursed?

 

Dahyun woke.

 

For a moment she was two places at once. Out in the rain and safe in whoever’s arms were around her. Whoever she had been kicking. And then she was fully awake. All at once. Except her face was still wet with the rain… with tears. And the realization made her body shake worse than it already was, and she tried to hold on to whomever was keeping her safe, but her left hand was still in a cast and the other was awkwardly stuck against her own stomach.

“Hey, Dahyun! It’s okay, I’m here!” The voice was raspy with sleep but undeniably belonging to Nayeon.

Dahyun couldn’t respond. Couldn’t think. Could just press herself into Nayeon’s body, somehow halfway sitting, halfway lying in her arms, the older girl leaning into the corner, tugging Dahyun impossibly closer.

“It was just a dream.” Nayeon said soothingly. “It was just a dream, you’re okay. You’re safe.”

But Dahyun just shook. Tried to listen to Nayeon’s voice, but couldn’t stop shaking. Bit down on her lip to stop the sobs, and tasted blood. But Nayeon didn’t walk away. Didn’t stop talking.

It had been almost a month, and still, nothing seemed to be better. She was supposed to get the cast off in three days, and then have the surgery. But she wasn’t ready. Wasn’t ready at all. Because one thing was having her stress relief, her biggest passion, taken from her for a month. Another thing was risking that they took it away forever. That he had taken it away from her. But it wasn’t his fault, she could’ve just looked. The only thing she could do to cope, was just to blame the rain. Otherwise she’d have no-one left to hate but herself. Poor little Dahyun who couldn’t be alone. Poor little Dahyun who was so caught up in her own misery and fear that she barely sensed the world around her. Poor little Dahyun who hadn’t gotten through a single night in a month without a nightmare, hadn’t gotten through a single day without an unexplainable panic attack. Who winced every time a car passed by her. And it was all so stupid. She was so stupid. It was just an accident. Just bad luck, and she was so… weak.

Somewhere between it all, Dahyun passed out, a whimper leaving her as she drifted off, still shaking in the older girl’s arms, exhausted to the point where she couldn’t stay awake even for a second longer.

 

Nayeon was still there when morning came.

 

 

Something was warm against Dahyun’s face as she woke, and she realized that it was sunlight. The storm had passed and made way for a strong spring sun. The scent of lilac filled Dahyun’s nostrils, coming from the sheets and the pillow. Jihyo. But the bed was empty. And voices were coming from the living room. Jihyo and Tzuyu were up, it seemed, and had let her sleep. For a minute, Dahyun merely stared up at the ceiling fan before turning to check her phone, almost poking herself in the eye as she put on her glasses. Subconsciously she noted that it was half past ten, but her eyes fell only on the single email notification on her screen. No other messages. Not that she had expected any. But the name on the email kept claiming her attention. Nothing good ever comes from an email from a professor when it’s subject is ‘concerning missing assignment’. Had Dahyun forgotten to hand it in? Maybe she had. But there was no room in her head to deal with it, her skin flushing with heat that quickly settled in the shells of her ears, her cheeks and her arms. She had definitely written it. Clutching a hand to her chest, Dahyun tried to get her heart to stop beating so fast. Logically Dahyun knew how to handle a situation like this, even if she had never been in it before, but her brain could barely connect far enough to realize whose laughter was forcing its way through the sound of her pulse rushing in her ears.

Nayeon.

Nayeon’s laugh. Nayeon’s cackling… Nayeon? Why the hell was Nayeon here?

Leaving the phone in the bed, Dahyun untangled herself from the covers and walked out of Jihyo’s little bedroom, trying her best not to look at the little keyboard in the corner that Jihyo had bought after her high school graduation, just to learn how to play for fun.

 

Dahyun did indeed find Nayeon in the living room, but also Mina and Jeongyeon, as well as Jihyo and Tzuyu. And they were all looking at her. Dahyun, busy trying to make sense of it all, just stared from one to the next, their faces expressing worry and care in varying balances. Then Jihyo was there by her side, having jumped from her seat next to Mina, pulling Dahyun by the wrist and sitting her down on the exact seat that Jihyo had just left, leaving her squeezed between Nayeon and Mina. Yet neither of them were supposed to be here right now. So why were they?

“What are-”

“Reinforcements” Jeongyeon said from her seat next to Nayeon.

The frown on Dahyun’s face seemed almost permanent by now. “For what?”

“What do you think?” Nayeon rolled her eyes and put a hand on Dahyun’s knee. “For you.”

For a moment, Dahyun opened her mouth to protest but then remembered what Jihyo had said. Help from everyone . They were here… for her. To help her. But-

“Where’s Chaeyoungie?” Dahyun asked, looking around for her best friend.

“What, aren’t we enough for you?” Nayeon feigned a pout. If she was here, then Chaeyoung surely- unless she was mad at Dahyun for not coming to her? Was it possible that she was actually angry with Dahyun? Guilt tugged at Dahyun’s insides.

“She’s in the bathroom.” Jeongyeon said, obviously sensing Dahyun’s fear, and a wave of relief flushed over Dahyun.

“So you’re basically having a full group intervention for me?” Dahyun tried to relieve the mood, but she could hear the indignation in her own voice.

“Not Momo and Sana. We didn’t know if they knew, and-”

“They don’t.” Dahyun pressed her lips tight together. “I haven’t really gotten around to telling them…”

“Don’t you think it’s about time?” Mina asked.

“I just don’t want them to feel sorry for me. What’s done is done and there’s nothing to do except get on with my life. And they- yeah, they still need to know.”

“They won’t love you less.” Mina said. “And they won’t pity you.”

“How can you know that?” Dahyun asked, finding Mina’s eyes. Had looked into that face so often, but never realized just how much love she found in it until now. Honestly had no clue what she had done to win Mina’s friendship to such an extent. There had never been anything beyond friendship between them, but for some reason, there had always been a mutual instinct to protect and reassure each other. And the words she spoke, her small voice held such power that it almost liberated Dahyun.

“None of us love you less. And none of us pity you. In fact, we all quite admire you.”

Dahyun smiled. Didn’t know what else to do, and couldn’t have helped it even if she wanted to. And just as Mina put a hand on Dahyun’s other knee, Nayeon’s thumb still rubbing soothingly over the left one, a door unlocked and Chaeyoung appeared from the bathroom. One look told Dahyun that she had been crying, her eyes red, and her hair a mess. She didn’t say hi. Barely looked at Dahyun. Yet when she joined the rest, she sat down right in front of Dahyun, back against her knees, and she gave a wet laugh when Dahyun tried to tickle her sides with her toes. Then Jihyo came back from the kitchen, carrying a plate with more pieces of toast than Dahyun could probably eat, all with strawberry jam. And a glass of chocolate milk.

Dahyun shared the toast with Chaeyoung. Drank all the chocolate milk in one go.

No-one spoke, just looked at Dahyun. But she wished they would speak. Wished they wouldn’t just observe her. Because with every passing minute it got harder to believe Mina’s words - that they didn’t pity her. Right now, she just felt silly. They were all being extremely overdramatic. And so was she. It was her fault that they were sitting here - probably ditching school and maybe even shifts, to be here. And for what? A stupid decision to pull an all-nighter. A bit of anxiety. A dream that wouldn’t be more than that. But that was nothing. They all had dreams they would never achieve, right? Knew that Jeongyeon did. Knew that Chaeyoung and Mina did too. Jihyo. If she just passed this exam and get her late assignment- god, the late assignment. She still hadn’t done anything about that. She picked at her cuticles to avoid rubbing her fingers over the scar. Then Nayeon’s hand was in hers.

But it just made her feel more pathetic.

 

None of us pity you

 

Lies.

 



“Dahyun?” Nayeon’s voice was quiet. So quiet that Dahyun barely heard it.

Dahyun had been sitting with her nose buried in her laptop, reading a long research paper on the brain’s perception of major and minor chords in modern music. But now that Nayeon sat down next to her, hugging her knees and biting her cheek, Dahyun closed the laptop and put it onto the coffee table.

“You ok?” Dahyun asked. It was all she could manage.

“Yeah.” Nayeon smiled nervously. “How is your hand?”

“All good.” Dahyun nodded and showed her, clenching it and releasing it. Lied.

Nayeon nodded and took Dahyun’s hand between both of hers. Patted it gently. “Good… good. And- and you’ve been sleeping well recently? Taking your meds and stuff?”

“Of course!” Dahyun smiled. Lied.

She didn’t want to lie. Especially to Nayeon. Nayeon, who had carried her through nightmares time and time again, who kept their secret from Chaeyoung to spare her the worry, even though she thoroughly disapproved of it. Nayeon, who let Dahyun heal on her own terms, merely holding her. Yet she still felt like the same little scared girl she had become that night. Poor little Dahyun who always had everyone worrying about her. No. No more of that. From now on she was going to run on the good old fake it ‘till you make it train. And she was doing well. She could pull this off. Nayeon’s relieved smile told her that.

“So, what’s up?” Dahyun asked, turning in the couch to see her better.

“I-” Nayeon started, then cleared her throat. “God, why is this so hard.”

“What?” Dahyun frowned.

“I want… I want Chaeyoung to move in with me.” Nayeon mumbled.

Dahyun felt her heart stop, if only for a second, then beat harder than before.

Life without Chaeyoung…

She had known it would come sooner or later. The minute she signed the lease with Chaeyoung that she would some day have to find a new roommate. Even if they were barely dating at the time, Nayeon and Chaeyoung were already too stable, too good for each other to not last. But it hurt nonetheless. In that moment, it felt like betrayal. Nayeon was taking something from Dahyun, and Dahyun had failed to let her know she wasn’t ready to give it up yet. And now she was left with all the consequences and no-one to blame except herself.

“Dahyun?” Nayeon asked.

“Huh? Oh. Yeah, it’s-” Dahyun nodded and forced herself to think only about her friends, taking herself out of the equation. “It’s a great idea.”

It was. It really was. For those two it would be perfect to live together. They would both thrive living so close, basically already sleeping over every or every other night, spending most waking moments together. But Dahyun couldn’t help thinking about the other benefit. That neither of them would have to worry about her, if they weren’t here. That she could just get a roommate who didn’t know Dahyun and who didn’t have to ever know her.

They could be happy.

“Are you sure?” Nayeon frowned.

“Yeah! I think it’s brilliant!” Dahyun smiled widely. “And your place is so much better than this. I really think it’s a good idea. I really do.”

 

Dahyun muffled her sobs into the pillow that night.

 

 

There’s a certain point you reach, when your friends stare at you eating toast with jam for too long, and no-one speaks. Dahyun reached that point just around now.

“So,” Dahyun started, putting the now empty plate down next to Chaeyoung on the floor. “What’s the plan?”

“Well, we gotta get you better, don’t we?” Jihyo raised an eyebrow at her.

Dahyun pressed her lips together and tried really hard not to protest. It didn’t work out all that well for her.

“Really, Jihyo, I’m-”

“If you say you’re fine one more time I’m gonna smack you so hard.” Chaeyoung turned and glared at Dahyun.

Dahyun glared back. Then deflated.

“So, I might be a little bit anxious sometimes.”

“More like really anxious most of the time.” Jihyo said dryly.

“And you’re not sleeping.” Nayeon added. “Bet you’re still having nightmares too.”

“And you forget things. All the time. Your schedule, your pencil case, your homework.” Tzuyu looked at her with kind eyes under a stern expression.

“And you freak out about things you never used to freak out about. Details. Little things.” Jeongyeon continued

“Getting panic attacks because you’re so scared of losing your job?” Mina took her hand and squeezed it.

Dahyun looked around at them all. Felt cornered. “I mean-”

“Look, how about we stop listing all the bad things and start figuring out how to fix it?” Jihyo suggested.

Dahyun nodded.

“You’re working a lot at the moment. More than you should with that hand, I mean you’re not supposed to work more than 20 hours when it’s not even fully healed.”

“I have a loan to pay out, and 20 hours barely covers the interest rate, let alone food and rent.” Dahyun admitted.

“The surgery bill, right?” Jeongyeon asked.

“Yup. To fix- to… to operate on the nerve. And to pay for classes.”

“And you’re still doing max credits?” Nayeon asked.

“I have to. I dropped two high credit classes right before exams last semester because I couldn’t play. They offered to let me take the exam this summer but there’s no way. So the credits and the money are out the window.”

“So if you took less classes,” Jihyo started, but Dahyun interrupted.

“I’d be graduating later than expected which means longer time to get a hopefully well-paid job so I can get rid of the bill and not just pay interests.”

“What about summer classes?” Tzuyu suggested.

“Huh?”

“Do a few low credit classes with me, this summer, that way we can both take less subjects next semester.”

“I…” Dahyun couldn’t focus. “I just need to move on with my life. I can’t have it hanging over my head forever, it’s just. It’s bad enough that I can’t play anymore but to have this reminding me every time the month rolls over?”

Dahyun’s throat started closing up and she gulped to try and relieve the sensation. Didn’t work very well.

“You know you can always borrow the money from me.” Mina offered.

“We’ve been over this five times, I’m not taking your money.” Dahyun looked at her. It wasn’t a secret that Mina was well off, but there was no way Dahyun was going to start lending money from her friends. Couldn’t have that in a friendship.

“I can fix the loan.” Nayeon said, to everyone’s surprise, including her own.

“How?” Dahyun stared at her, confused.

“Well, I think I can fix it, anyway.” Nayeon corrected herself and started explaining about creditors and freezing interest and how most creditors are quite willing to lower the interest or freeze it if they see a risk that they might not get their money at all. “They live off of making money because people need more than they have, but they’d rather make a little money than risk you not paying at all.”

“How do you even know that?” Chaeyoung asked.

“My mom explained it to me, how she handled it after my dad left and she had all the debt on the house.” Nayeon shrugged and turned to Dahyun. “Just leave that to me, we’re going to call as soon as their phone hours are open.”

Dahyun looked at her in amazement.

“And I’ve got big boss man Yang-nim handled.” Jeongyeon cut in “He might be an ass but you’re his best waitress.”

Dahyun felt warmth creep up her neck, and she opened her mouth to protest but Mina spoke before she could. “She’s right.”

Jeongyeon continued. “So tomorrow, you and I are going to go talk to him and get the schedule switched around. Mina and I already talked about it, and with two of the others as well, and if it’s okay with you, we’re going to switch so you get more of the half shifts instead of the full ones.”

Dahyun looked from Jeongyeon to Mina and back again. She opened her mouth several times to say something but she couldn’t get a word out. Somewhere in between Tzuyu’s offer and Nayeon’s words about creditors and the fact that Mina and Jeongyeon had talked to the other waiters at the job, Dahyun had forgotten how to breathe. It was all so much. Too much. But they were all doing it for her, and she was being so silly, it was all too much. There wasn’t a need for all of this. She would just be causing them pain and trouble. Jeongyeon and Mina both worked so much already and she was going to cause them an even bigger workload. She felt tears prickle at the corners of her eyes. Hated that she was getting them all to do so much. But she couldn’t let them see.

 

“I’ll be right back.” Dahyun muttered. “Gotta pee.”

She got up and left for the bathroom before any of them could say a word.  As soon as she had locked the door, Dahyun slid onto the floor, clutching her pounding heart. It was all her fault. If she could just be stronger, get everything under control, then there would be no need for all this. The way they were reacting was like she had stopped working altogether but she was working just fine. If she could just get her heart to stop trying to break her ribs; if she could just stop being so dizzy, stop the tears that pressed against her tightly shut eyelids, she would be fine.

 

“Dahyun.”

 

Dahyun looked up, recognizing the voice. But she couldn’t let her see her like that.

“Dahyun. Dahyun, open the door before I kick it in.”

Squinting slightly, Dahyun wondered if there was an actual possibility that such a small person could excess enough strength to break down a door. But she knew that Chaeyoung would at least try. So really, there was no way around it. Didn’t even bother to try and get it together, merely shuffled and reached up, tears trickling down her cheeks as she unlocked the door. It opened gently, and Chaeyoung snuck in.

“Too much?”

“Too much.”

Chaeyoung locked the door again and sat down next to Dahyun, offering her hand. Dahyun didn’t take it, but instead let the weight of her entire body lean on her best friend.

“One thing at a time.” Chaeyoung kissed her hair.

“Mh.” Dahyun mumbled into her neck.

 

Felt safe in Chaeyoung’s arms, in Jihyo’s home.

 

 

Dahyun was barely standing. Could barely see, the darkness so dense that she could barely see a hand if she stretched it in front of her. But she could see the figure sitting on the bench in front of the restaurant. Could feel the arm that linked with hers and tugged her along. Knew without looking that it was Mina’s.

She should’ve known, even without seeing her face, who was sitting on the bench.

“Jihyo? What are-” Dahyun’s voice caught as Jihyo stood up, facing them, her worried eyes searching Dahyun’s face.

“You’re coming with me tonight.” Jihyo said in a small voice. Unusually small.

“Why? I don’t understand?” Dahyun mumbled, swaying slightly. Mina’s grip on her arm strengthened.

“I’m sorry, I had to.” Mina muttered, and let go just as Jihyo’s arm wrapped around her shoulder. Like a kid handed from one parent to the next.

“I’m… Jihyo, it’s two in the morning.” Dahyun squinted at her. Saw Mina walk away without another word, and then heard the sound of a car door.

“I know. And you’re sleeping at my place tonight.” Jihyo said.

Dahyun was too tired to protest. Too tired to defend herself. Too tired.

Jihyo’s body was warm in the freezing January night as she was led to Jihyo’s old red car, and just as they reached it, Mina drove past them, an apologetic look on her face and her lip tucked between her teeth.

Only then did Dahyun understand that Mina had called Jihyo.

 

Dahyun stumbled. Jihyo was the only thing there to hold her up. Patiently, the older girl opened the door to the passenger seat and helped Dahyun in.

“You’re okay. We’re gonna make you all okay again.” Jihyo muttered and closed the door. Got in and drove off, in the opposite direction of Dahyun’s home.

 

They didn’t speak - just listened to Jihyo’s calming playlist.

 

It almost helped.

 

“When do you have class tomorrow?” Jihyo asked as she pulled the covers over herself and Dahyun twenty minutes later.

“I don’t- I don’t remember.” Dahyun mumbled and fumbled around for her phone. It wasn’t there. Where was her phone? Had she even brought it to work?

Tears fell.

“I’ll call Tzuyu in the morning.” Jihyo wrapped an arm around her. “Just sleep.”

“I don’t know if I can.” Dahyun croaked.

“Try. I’m right here.” Jihyo hummed, but Dahyun merely shuffled and turned her back to Jihyo. Hid.

“Don’t tell Chaeyoung about this.” Dahyun begged into the pillow.

“But she’s your best friend.” Jihyo sounded absolutely devastated.

“Promise me.” Dahyun croaked, grasping the pillow as tight as she could, her hand throbbing with pain. “Don’t tell her. Or Nayeon.”

“But I-”

“Just promise me.” Dahyun sobbed.

“Okay… Okay, alright.” Jihyo gave in. “I promise. If you promise to call me before things get this bad next time.”

Dahyun nodded and felt Jihyo’s hand on her arm. Dahyun turned. Buried her face in Jihyo’s neck and let the older girl sing her to sleep.

 

Slept a record-breaking five hours for the first time in four weeks.

 

Mina had to call Jihyo three more times before Dahyun started doing it herself.

 

 

One by one Dahyun’s friends came into the bathroom.

Chaeyoung held onto her the entire time, guiding the conversations; was her pillar.

Nayeon was first. The three of them sat on the floor together and called Dahyun’s creditor. Nayeon explained the situation and Dahyun tried to explain her budget and how much income she could realistically manage, then Chaeyoung cut ten hours off that shift schedule, and Dahyun reluctantly agreed.

It took almost half an hour, but eventually they convinced him to freeze the interest for six months and then keep her on a low interest plan until the end of college.

Nayeon thanked him sincerely. Then called him a cold-hearted shithead the minute they had hung up.

Dahyun loved her.

 

Jihyo brought ice cream and more tea, and sang for her until Chaeyoung called them out for being overly cheesy. Dahyun laughed.

 

Tzuyu brought her calendar and one for Dahyun - had sent Mina down to buy one while Nayeon was helping out. They filled it with time tables and reading plans and time to relax. Then agreed to take two summer courses together to make up for credits so Dahyun wouldn’t feel inclined to take max credits next semester.

Chaeyoung drew little Mickey Mouse ears one the pages where she had put herself on Disney Duty as she called it. Once a week she was going to come over and make sure Dahyun did something fun. And in Chaeyoung’s words, what was more fun than Disney movies and snacks? Nothing. At least nothing when those Disney movies and snacks were accompanied by Chaeyoung.

 

“Can we invite Momo?” Dahyun asked hesitantly. She didn’t know if Chaeyoung had wanted it to be something all by herself, but despite everything, Dahyun found that she missed Momo terribly and knew that no-one loved singing along to Disney music more than Momo.

“Of course. But then we’re buying extra snacks.”

“Oh, definitely.” Dahyun agreed.

 

By two in the afternoon the sun was shining through the little bathroom window. But Dahyun’s stomach was turning at the thought of work. She knew from her scheduling with Tzuyu that she would only be able to manage half the amount of hours she had worked per week the past two months. And getting Yang-nim to agree to that was the least of her problems. It was Mina and Jeongyeon and the other waiters she was worried about.

She could barely manage letting them through the door. There were too many people all of a sudden.

 

It was too warm.

The sun was too hot on her cheek.

 

It took almost an hour. An hour of Mina and Jeongyeon reassuring Dahyun that she wasn’t a bother; that it wasn’t going to burden them to change shifts. Dahyun could feel their determination, knew that they had talked this over before addressing it with her. With her new schedule Dahyun would go from 33 hours per week to 21, one of these being an 11 hour shift and two being half shifts. And Jeongyeon promised to kick Yang-nim’s ass if he didn’t comply, but Chaeyoung just laughed at her and the other two followed.

They all knew Jeongyeon was about as hardcore as butter left out of the fridge on a warm day.

 

 

“There is no way in hell I’m going to wait until morning. I need to see her!”

Dahyun recognized the voice, half-asleep and still quite heavily drugged. But there was no doubt who was shouting, and who she was shouting for. With a shaky smile, Dahyun looked at the clock on the wall. Three in the morning.

Felt pain and love hit her like violent waves.

“Miss, please calm down.” Another voice said, more mature and controlled, but definitely not happy with the situation. “It’s the middle of the night and she’s probably sleeping, she’s been through a lot in the past hours, and it’d be much better if-”

“Please… Please! I’m awake!” Dahyun said as loudly as she could. She paid for it as her body sent a ripple of pain through every fiber in her body. Still, she kept going with all the force she had left.

“Let her in. Please!”

“It’s the middle of the night,” The nurse said exasperatedly, “visiting hours start at nine.”

“Just five minutes please. Please let me see her. Five minutes then I’ll come back at a normal hour.” Jeongyeon pleaded with the nurse.

Dahyun didn’t bother try to keep the tears back. She was too tired. Was too full of love for her friend who had obviously come here straight from work instead of going home.

“Five minutes.” The nurse’s voice was strict but compassionate. “And then you come back at a sane time. During visiting hours.”

 

A surge coursed through Dahyun, but before she could even get through one steadying breath, Jeongyeon slipped between the curtains, providing a little bit of privacy for Dahyun in all her pain. As soon as Jeongyeon saw Dahyun however, her face screwed up, and Dahyun could almost read her mind. And she was blaming herself.

“Jeongyeon… Please.” Dahyun said with what little breath she had left, reaching out with her good hand.

For a moment Jeongyeon looked like she might faint, but her chin and lip trembled and she walked around to Dahyun’s side, taking the hand and sitting down on the red chair next to Dahyun’s bed. She didn’t speak. Just crumbled as Dahyun rubbed circles over her skin with her thumb.

“It’s not your fault.” Dahyun said.

Jeongyeon shook her head violently, and looked up at Dahyun with eyes that sought forgiveness more than anything.

“It’s okay. I’m okay.”

“No you’re not… you’re all… Dahyun, your face. Your arm… y-your hand.”

“I’m okay.” Dahyun repeated.

“H-how long do you have to stay here for?” Jeongyeon whispered.

“I don’t know. It’s just some bruised ribs. And the concussion wasn’t too bad. But the hand is-” Dahyun’s voice broke off.

“It’s just broken, right? Broken wrists can be fixed.” Jeongyeon insisted.

“I don’t know. They talked about a nerve. I’m scared.” She could barely muster the words as they spilled from her tired mind.

“I’m sure it’s going to be fine.” Jeongyeon reassured her, even though they both had the same fear. That this was the end of Dahyun’s life as she had known it, the end of every possible scenario of her future that she had imagined.

 

Jeongyeon didn’t leave.

 

 

Never in her life had Dahyun imagined this part would be so hard. This last part. Even though she would have to tell Momo as well, this was somehow way harder.

Almost ironically, the key stuck in the door as she unlocked the apartment on tired feet, and was met with the sound of the TV and Sana in the couch, wrapped in the pink and yellow blanket, hugging her legs. But her eyes weren’t on the TV.

“Hi.” Dahyun said quietly, taking off her shoes.

“Hey.” Sana’s voice was low, but melodic as ever.

“Can I sit?” Dahyun asked as she walked over to the couch, rubbing over her thumb distractedly.

Sana nodded.

“I-I’ve been worried.”

“I’m sorry.” Dahyun said, sitting down at a respectable distance from Sana. “I should have called.”

Dahyun hesitated, tried to find out how to start; where to start. It was all such a mess. She just knew how the story ended. And it wasn’t in a good way. Not yet anyway. But there was hope now at least, that it eventually could.

Maybe it was this thought, that made Dahyun reach out, or maybe it was just an inability to stay away from Sana for one second longer. But no matter the reason, Dahyun reached out, and tugged lightly at Sana’s wrist, until her right hand was in Dahyun’s left. Then Dahyun turned their hands so the scar faced them both. With a wriggle of the thumb, Dahyun called attention to it.

“I have to tell you something.”

“I figured you would eventually.” Sana said softly, shuffling gently to sit cross-legged, closer to Dahyun. Placed their clasped hands on her thigh. With her free hand she reached out and ghosted a finger over the scar.

“I noticed it a few times. It’s a surgical scar, right?”

“How can you see that?” Dahyun said, her mouth falling slightly open in surprise.

“It looks like the ones my mom has.” Sana shrugged. “Though it’s a lot smaller.”

Dahyun closed her mouth and stared at the blonde girl, the roots showing more than ever.

“Jeongyeon’s sister is an actress.” Dahyun said distractedly, noticing Sana’s little black baby-hairs by her hairline.

“What?” Sana tilted her head, a frown on her face that made Dahyun return to reality.

“Jeongyeon’s sister. She’s an actress, does plays and movies, mostly background work so far. Had a small role in a play back in November, and the last night, Jeongyeon wanted to surprise her and come see the play even though she had already seen it two times. So we agreed to split her shift, because I was working on this huge composition piece at the time, with Chaeyoung and Jihyo. So I was supposed to work on that until seven, then take over her shift at eight so she could go see the last half of the play. It was the best we could fit in, but it was just good enough. Except I completely forgot about time, and I ended up rushing out of the apartment.” Dahyun paused when Sana’s grasp loosened for a second, and Dahyun held on tighter. Looked up at Sana and her eyes glazed over already. As if she knew what Dahyun was about to say.

“It was pouring down and already dark, and the rain drenched me completely. I was freezing, shaking so hard. I could barely see a hand in front of me. And I don’t actually know if it was my fault for not looking properly or his. But there was a car, hit the front wheel of my bike, and somehow miraculously not me, but the speed was enough to throw me onto the street. I broke a rib and got some hairline fractures. Lots of bruises, my arm and chest looked like someone had put military paint on me. But my hand. It hit the edge of a storm drain and the wrist was fractured. The nerve right here was badly damaged.” Dahyun gestured at the scar. “They tried to fix it with surgery, but they couldn’t make it better. Not back to what it was.”

“When was this?” Sana asked in a small voice. Her eyes had given way for tears the second Dahyun had mentioned the car.

“Early November of last year.” Dahyun pressed her lips together. “I got back to work around Christmas and then took full shifts in January so I could start covering the hospital bills and late fees for classes. But that wasn’t really why I’ve been so… Off.”

“I don’t-” Sana’s voice was small.

“Just... watch this.” Dahyun said quietly, holding her gaze for a moment.

Knowing it would break her heart just watching, Dahyun drew out her phone, shuffled through her videos and found the one she was looking for. As she pressed play, she couldn’t help grasping grasping Sana’s hand tighter.

Dahyun was wearing a suit. Black, pinstriped and cooler than the blue dress her mom had suggested. Her long black hair was braided and fell down her front. The camera was shaking slightly. Dahyun’s mom was crying as she recorded it.

Grieg’s Wedding Day at Troldhaugen .

Sana’s mouth fell open and tears trickled down her already wet cheeks. Dahyun’s eyes had already spilled over the second the first note fell. The note that made her heart break into a thousand pieces. It had been the goal of her life, to play that song. She had started when she was thirteen, given up for almost two years and spent all of her fifteenth year learning it. On her sixteenth birthday she played it in front of two thousand people, to perfection.

A true virtuous she had been called. The one to watch. The shining star in the crowd. That one in a million who might be able to make a living from her talent.

The screen turned black.

The music was over.

“You can’t play anymore?” Sana breathed.

“I-I can’t play anymore.” Dahyun confirmed.

It was the first time she had fully accepted the truth of those words. It was threatening to crush her. But then Sana’s thumb ran across the scar with such purpose that Dahyun was sure Sana was trying to make it disappear. As if her own skin could erase every bad consequence that had come from that one rainy night where someone missed a red light.

“Can you play it again?” Sana asked quietly.

Dahyun nodded, and turned on the video once more, except this time she turned down the music slightly.

And with the sound of her first dream coming true, she told what had happened since the accident and up until last night. Then told about this day too. About the steps she had taken and how much she loved each and every one of her friends. Even admitted that she felt guilty for accepting their help.

Sana didn’t say anything, just listened, her thumb stroking across the scar, healing the pain of it. Until Dahyun’s words died out and there were only the last hour between them.

“What do you want my part to be?” Sana asked. “In this, I mean.”

“Honestly… I don’t know.” Dahyun admitted. It was the truth. She didn’t know. Because what she wanted, she couldn’t have. “I guess… Just you being here? I don’t need anyone to fix me as such, I just have to get everything around me to make sense again. So I guess just… space, you know? Time? For now. Until I can stand on my own two feet again?”

Sana nodded and sniffled. And though her eyes were sad, there was a smile on her lips. But Dahyun couldn’t help notice how Sana let go of her hand, running both hands through her blonde hair, shifting in her seat to once again hug her legs.

“Sana, I-” Dahyun started, but her words caught and she changed directions. Not like this . “I’m really glad you moved in.”

 

“Me too.”

 

The sun set outside the apartment.

Dahyun’s heart was still trying to get closer.