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3am

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It’s 3am and the members are aching from having practised all day with no breaks. Wendy finds Irene slumped against the back mirror of their practice room, face covered in pain and exhaustion, sweat soaking the front of her top. Irene offers her a weak smile, only to let it fade abruptly when she tries to get up from her position on the floor.

Wendy bends down immediately, grabbing her friend from below her armpits and helping her up gently.

“You good?”

Irene gives her a look that says ‘do I look all right?’ but nods her head anyway, and adjusts her clothes quickly. Wendy can’t help but stare at the way the fabric of her loose top clings to her body, the way Irene’s chest rises and falls at a steady pace, and how the sweat on her brow plasters stray hairs to her forehead.

Is there ever a moment in which Joohyun doesn’t look beautiful?

They walk silently down to the van where the other members are waiting. Joy looks at them accusatorially, Seulgi asks if they can grab takeout.

“What took you both so long?” is the only thing Joy says when they sit themselves down beside each other and close the door.

“I was helping Irene— uh,” Wendy doesn’t know why she’s having trouble telling them what they were doing. It’s not as if they had been up to anything they shouldn’t have been, but the way Joy’s gaze bores into Wendy’s eyes is somewhat intimidating.

“I was sore from practice,” Irene says simply, draping a blanket over her lap and grabbing her half empty water bottle from her bag.

Seulgi, confusion plaguing her face, interjects then: “So are we getting Thai?”

Wendy and Irene share a smile, and Wendy tucks a lock of hair behind her ear shyly. They all sit in comfortable silence as they drive to the nearest Thai restaurant, Seulgi scrolling through social media, Yeri resting her head on Joy’s shoulder drifting peacefully, and Wendy’s hand in Irene’s lap. Wendy wishes this moment could last forever.

When they get back, Irene drags Wendy to her bedroom and asks for help in getting ready for bed. Wendy doesn’t find this unusual; Irene’s joints are prone to getting swollen after long hours of practice, and it was never a bother to help. But when the tips of her fingers linger for too long on Irene’s abdomen, dragging themselves upwards, she feels a shiver go up her spine and she retracts her hands bashfully.

“What’s wrong?” the leader asks.

“Agh, nothing - I just,” she wonders if she can even find the words herself. Finally, she doesn’t have to, because Irene reaches forwards and laces their fingers together, pulling her back in slowly.

Wendy is about to leave after finishing helping when Irene says from where she’s sitting on the bed: “Will you stay, Seungwan?”

That’s how they end up spending their first night together, with Wendy’s right arm around Irene’s waist, her other tangled in her hair, their breaths mingling and heartbeats syncing as Irene’s alarm clock ticks quietly by their side.

-

It’s 3am again and Wendy finds herself backed up against her bedroom wall with two of Irene’s fingers buried deep inside her throbbing core, pumping in and out to match the rate of her breathing. She wonders how exactly they had ended up like this but her thoughts are cut short when she feels Irene press a thumb to her clit.

“Fu-huh-ck,” she breathes out heavily. She has to fist her hands into Irene’s clothes in order to keep herself standing up. “F-faster, Joohyun-ah.”

Irene grabs one of Wendy’s legs and hoists it up around her waist in order to get better access. She angles her hand and adds a third finger, Wendy crying out in a mixture of pleasure and pain, and thrusts even harder than before. Wendy can feel herself start to unravel but she holds on to the edge just a bit longer, wanting to prolong the feeling of ecstasy that runs through her. The knot in her groin tightens as Irene pulls her closer and closer until —

“Come for me, baby.”

Three words send Wendy crumpling to the floor, legs tightening around Irene’s forearm as she comes with such a force that she feels she might black out due to sheer pleasure coursing through her body. She shakes for a while as Irene slows down her pace, and removes her fingers entirely, satisfied with her work.

She kisses Wendy’s lips and when she pulls back she says, “You’re beautiful” quickly, almost as if she thinks about it for too long it will make it too serious.

-

This becomes a regular occurrence for them; one or other of them backed against a wall, a bathroom stall, even a kitchen counter at one point, fingers and hands everywhere, needing to feel each other closer. They’re still careful. Never when the other members are awake or in the house, never leaving any trace behind.

It’s 3am and they’re both sitting together on the living room sofa, hands intertwined, watching the 4th romantic comedy of the night. Wendy looks down at their fingers, they’ve become almost couple-like in their actions as of late. They hold hands, kiss each other when no one is around to see, and they flirt to no end, much to the annoyance of their members.

They don’t label this, whatever ‘this’ is. Wendy’s too afraid that if she brings it up Irene will get scared and retreat away, and that things will go back to the way they were before. That Irene will forget all about their shared moments and emotions, and Wendy will be left pining again. So she settles for ‘this’.

Wendy realises she’s been watching Irene rather than the screen in front of her for quite a while now.

“Why are you looking at me?” Irene smirks, keeping her eyes fixed on whatever movie is playing.

“Because you’re pretty.”

Irene cringes in response but laughs and turns to face Wendy nonetheless.

“How am I pretty?” she leans closer.

Wendy wonders how such simple actions can make her heart beat so fast, especially when they have sex on almost a daily basis now. But this feels different, somehow more intimate, their mouths inches apart, Wendy glancing from them to her eyes and then back down again. And when they kiss, her stomach erupts into butterflies all over again, and Irene moves her free hand into Wendy’s hair to try and pull her in more.

They kiss like this for a while, savouring the moment, and they forget about the movie playing on the screen.

-

It’s 3am. Wendy finds Irene crying on her bathroom floor when she wakes up to go to the toilet. Her eyes are red and puffy and she’s holding her phone in her hand, an article from some website glaring up at her.

“We can’t keep doing this,” she mutters, her voice barely audible over the sound of the bathroom fan.

“What do you mean?”

“I mean this, Seungwan,” she gestures between the both of them, “Whatever’s going on between us has to stop. People are already writing articles about how close we act—“

“That’s one article. And they’re only rumours.”

“They’re not rumours if they’re true. I’ve seen 3 articles this week speculating on our relationship,” she runs a hand through her messy hair.

“Well, what is our relationship anyway?” Wendy asks then, crossing her arms over her chest.

“Is now really the time?”

“Yes.”

Irene sighs, allowing herself to break down into tears once more. Wendy thinks she says something under her breath but she can’t make it out amidst the garbled sobs that are coming from her. She bends down then and takes Irene’s face in her hands and wipes away the falling tears gently. Neither of them knows how to navigate this kind of situation, all their years of training, public appearance classes, and in not one of them did it tell them what to do if they fell in love with one of their group members.

“Shh, it’s okay,” Wendy kisses her cheeks, her jaw and then finally her lips, “We’re gonna be okay.”

What else can she say?

That night, Wendy wraps herself around Irene, and they fall asleep together, as one. Neither of them is going through this alone, the comfort of each other is as much as they can ask for.

-

Wendy checks the time on her watch: 02:55. She and Irene have been baking and drinking together for the past five hours and she wonders how the time could have gone so quickly. Irene’s giggles fill the air and Wendy bends over double in pain when she laughs too hard.

“Why did you put salt in instead of su-sugar,” Irene laughs after spitting out the cookies that had just come out of the oven.

“I did not! You were in charge of that!”

When Wendy tries one she cannot mask the disgust and lets the contents of her mouth dribble back into the palm of her hand. She makes a face.

“WAN-AH!” they erupt into laughter again.

“Those are awful,” Wendy says finally, earning a nod of agreement from the other. “I thought we were supposed to be good at baking.”

“Not baking while drunk,” she reminds her.

“Oh right, how much have we had to drink already?” Wendy asks, her mind too hazy to remember much of what had happened in the last few hours. All she remembers is the other members leaving for some event and telling them they’ll be back in a while.

“Are you gonna clean that up?” Irene asks, pointing to the mush of cookie that was still residing in Wendy’s hand.

Wendy washes her hands and then Irene comes up behind her suddenly, wrapping her arms around her waist and trailing light kisses up her shoulder to the nape of her neck. She can’t help the moan that escapes her lips and she feels Irene smirk against her skin.

“Irene—“

“Mm, be quiet,” is all Irene says before letting her hands pull down Wendy’s jeans. Wendy bites her lip, trying to keep her breathing regular.

“The others, they could be back soon,” she says, reluctantly, and as if on cue they hear the front door unlock.

They break apart frantically and Wendy tries to pull up her jeans but is too slow and earns a questioning look from the three at the door. She feels her cheeks burn bright red and doesn’t know whether she should stay still or continue redressing herself.

“What were you guys uh, doing?” Yeri asks, glancing between her, Irene and the empty wine bottle on the counter.

“I was g-getting changed.” Great, Seungwan, is that the best you can come up with? She internally cringes at herself for having such a poor excuse, but it’s hard to think on the spot in front of others.

“In the kitchen?” Yeri looks as if she can barely believe that Wendy’s trying to pass this off.

Irene lets her head fall into her hand, covering her eyes in embarrassment.

Seulgi only then catches on, her eyes widening in horror as she realises why Wendy’s jeans are halfway down her thighs, “Wait, you guys were... oh.”

“How long has this been going on for?”

“2 months,” Irene speaks finally. Wendy herself isn’t sure of the time frame, it seems the initial shift in their relationship happened much longer ago than that, but they hadn’t acted on anything until much later.

“I fucking knew it, Yeri you owe me money,” Joy says, clapping her hands together excitedly.

The reaction from the other members wasn’t bad, nor was it amazing, it just was. Wendy knows they have good intentions, and she knows it must be an adjustment for them, but she can’t help but feel a little hopeful for what the future might hold. If her friends can be accepting, then maybe so can others.

-

“Maybe we could’ve been, in another world where we’re not in an idol group, where we’re not scrutinised by every news outlet in Korea, where we live private and normal lives, but we’re not in that reality, Wendy!”

“I’m not saying to go public, Irene. I know that would ruin our careers. But please don’t distance yourself from me, I don’t know how to be without you,” Wendy says, making an attempt to reach over for Irene’s hands.

“Well then learn.”

A shot of pain goes through Wendy’s chest. The look in Irene’s eyes is cold and unforgiving, is she the same person that she fell in love with not too long ago?

“Please, Joohyun.”

Irene leaves, shutting the door to their bedroom dully behind her, and Wendy stands there feeling more vulnerable than ever.

Maybe they could’ve been.