Chapter 1: Chapter One
Seungwan had changed her outfit four times in the span of thirty minutes. She had originally intended to get up at seven o’clock to have enough time to get to her new job as a secretary at Bae and Kang Law Firm by eight thirty, but her nerves had woken her at six o’clock instead. She had been rifling through her closet, trying to find something suitable to wear to her first day of work ever since. Nothing seemed appropriate; it either felt too casual or too formal, to plain or too flashy. She was determined to keep this job, a feat no others who had been handed the position had been able to do. Bae Joohyun was an up and coming criminal lawyer who already had multiple case wins under her belt, but she also had quite a knack for firing secretaries. Seungwan had seen the job notice online and had almost immediately passed by it, until she saw the pay rate. She was desperate, and she loved a challenge. And boy did Bae Joohyun seem like a challenge.
She reached into the back of her closet, tugging out a pleated, navy blue skirt that was about calf length. Sighing, she laid it out on her bed and went searching for a shirt to go with it, coming up with a cream colored blouse. She quickly slid the newest outfit option on, looking herself over in her full length mirror. It was the best of all the outfits she had tried so far, not looking too modest while certainly not being provocative. Silently approving this as the final clothing choice, she went rooting through the bottom of her closet for shoes. Seungwan found an old pair of black flats and slid them on, feeling the familiar worn soles mold to her feet immediately. She checked her wrist watch as she made her way to the small kitchen to make some coffee. The time read 7:03, so Seungwan began brewing her coffee and sat herself down at the kitchen table and opened up her laptop. Her google searches from the previous night looked back at her, showing her pictures of her new boss. She was usually pictured next to the other owner of the firm, Kang Seulgi. They both looked young, almost too young to own a law firm together. One picture caught Seungwan’s eye and she clicked on it. It showed Joohyun in court, standing in front of the jury, looking calm and collected, her eyes fiery.
The coffee pot beeped, pulling Seungwan’s focus away from the picture on her laptop. She made her way over to the counter and poured a mug of coffee, meandering back to her computer. As she sipped her coffee, she went back to a regular google search of her boss, reading articles about the cases Joohyun had won. She was specifically a criminal lawyer, Seungwan had learned that much already. Some of the cases she dealt with seemed downright gruesome, and Seungwan wondered how she could stomach it. The more she read about her boss, the more nervous she became; every article described Joohyun as intense, fiery, and bold, someone who was not to be messed with. Seungwan wanted this job to work out, more than she had ever wanted a job to work out before. She would be making twice as much in this position than her last job, and she was terrified to mess this opportunity up.
At eight o’clock sharp Seungwan headed out her apartment door, locking the door behind her. She did not live in the best area and had learned very quickly to never leave her door unlocked, even if she was simply taking the trash out for five minutes. She ran down the flights of stairs to the main door of her apartment building and stepped out into the crisp autumn air. Dead leaves littered the streets and she kicked a few out of her path as she began walking to work. Taxis flew down the streets, beeping at one another. People hustled on either side of her, moving quickly as always. Seungwan felt as if everyone in the city moved with as fast a pace as possible besides her. She missed the friendliness she had felt in her small town home, where neighbors waved to each other as they passed.
Seungwan arrived at the building and she peered closely at the sign above the door; First Floor: Greenwood Publications - Second Floor: Bae and Kang Law Firm. She took a deep breath, steadying herself, and pushed open the door. She climbed the stairs rapidly, counting each step as she went in hopes of calming her pounding heart. She reached a frosted glass door reading Bae and Kang Law Firm in loopy printed script and she knocked hesitantly, rocking back and forth on her feet nervously. The door opened, revealing a young woman she had not seen pictures of in her google searches. She was tall, with shoulder length auburn hair and round eyes the smiled with her lips.
“Hi! You’re Son Seungwan, right?” She said, a welcoming smile on her lips. Seungwan nodded, not trusting herself to speak just yet. The woman held her hand out for a hand shake. “Park Sooyoung. I’m the general practice lawyer at the firm.” They shook hands. “Come on in, I’ll let Joohyun know you’re here.” Seungwan followed Sooyoung inside the studio apartment turned office space. There had clearly been many renovations done; what had been intended to be bedrooms had been transformed into offices that also had frosted glass doors and frosted glass windows where parts of the walls had most definitely once been. The door farthest to left read PARK and was left open. The door directly across from the entrance read KANG, and a young girl was seated at a desk in front of the door, a phone to her ear. The door farther to the right was labelled BAE and an empty desk sat in front of it, which Seungwan knew was intended for her. The waiting room (which had clearly been intended to be a living room) was adjoined to the small kitchen, where two pots were steaming on the double coffee brewer. Sooyoung had disappeared into the door marked for Joohyun, and Seungwan could hear muffled voices from inside despite the closed door. She waited a few steps away from the entrance, towards Joohyun’s door, shifting from foot to foot.
The rightmost door clicked open and Sooyoung stepped out, followed by Joohyun. Sooyoung waved to Seungwan and then made her way back to her own office. Joohyun walked towards Seungwan, offering a hand to shake. “You must be Seungwan.” She said, smiling warmly. Seungwan shook her hand, trying not to grip too tightly. Joohyun only stood an inch taller than Seungwan but she felt extremely small in Joohyun’s presence. Joohyun wore a deep green pencil skirt, a black blouse, and an unbuttoned white cardigan and she was still smiling down at Seungwan, her dark hair falling past her shoulders and framing her face perfectly. “I’m Bae Joohyun. It’s very nice to meet you.”
“It’s nice to meet you as well, Miss Bae.” Seungwan said in a tight voice, her heart thrumming in her chest.
“I see you’ve already met Sooyoung, but let me introduce you to your other colleagues.” Joohyun said back, her voice sounding like honey. She led Seungwan to the middle office, stopping at the desk of the young girl. The girl smiled at Joohyun and then waved to Seungwan. “Seungwan, this is Kim Yerim. Yerim, this is my new secretary, Son Seungwan.”
“Nice to meet you, Seungwan!” Yerim said cheerily, standing up and and shaking Seungwan’s hand. “You can just call me Yeri if you’d like.” Yeri had a childlike grin, her face framed by a short, bluntly cut bob.
“It’s nice to meet you, Yeri.” Seungwan replied, trying to smile back through her nerves.
Joohyun promptly knocked on the office door and then pushed it open. “Seulgi?” She said softly. Seulgi looked up from her computer, smiling as Joohyun and Seungwan stepped inside the office. She had long black hair that fell just above her ribs and bangs cut directly across her forehead. Joohyun stepped beside Seungwan to introduce her. “This is my new secretary, Son Seungwan. Seungwan this is my business partner Kang Seulgi.”
“Wonderful to meet you, Seungwan.” Seulgi said as she stepped around the desk and shook Seungwan’s hand.
“Likewise, Miss Kang.” Seungwan said back.
Seulgi smiled at her again. “Don’t let Joohyun work you too hard.” Seungwan smiled back, feeling a bit more at ease. Joohyun smiled too, playfully hitting Seulgi’s arm.
Joohyun led the way back to the waiting room and went towards the kitchen, Seungwan trailing behind her. “How do you like your coffee?” Joohyun asked, taking a cup and a lid from the stacks.
“Huh?” Seungwan was taken aback by the question, by the whole morning really. She had expected Joohyun to be cold and maybe even a bit rude, considering how quickly she went through secretaries and how she was known to dominate a courtroom. But Joohyun had been overwhelmingly nice, giving Seungwan warm smiles at every opportunity.
“Your coffee,” Joohyun repeated. “Do you take it with creamer or milk, or do you prefer it black?”
“Oh, uh,” Seungwan stumbled over her words, feeling nervous again, but a different kind of nervous this time. A kind she couldn’t quite put her finger on. “Black, please.”
Joohyun smiled and poured her a cup, closing the plastic lid on securely. “Be careful,” She said as she handed Seungwan the cup. “It’ll be hot.” She reached for another cup, presumably to get her own coffee.
“Thank you.” Seungwan said quietly. A bit louder, she continue. “I can get your coffee for you, if you’d like.”
“Goodness no, I wouldn’t ask you to do something like that.” Joohyun insisted, taking the other pot filled with boiling water and poured that into the cup, proceeding to open a cabinet above the coffee pots and fishing out a tea bag. “Besides, I don’t drink coffee. It’s entirely too bitter.” As she put the tea bag in and swirled it around a bit, she started to head back towards her office, motioning for Seungwan to follow. She pulled Seungwan’s chair out for her, to which Seungwan mumbled a thank you. “The computer system is a breeze, all you have to do is begin a new file for each new case that comes in.” Joohyun bent down beside her to begin showing her the computer system. “This is how you access the already created files, and here’s how you edit them.” Seungwan glanced to Joohyun, noticing her blouse wasn’t buttoned fully, giving her a direct view down the woman’s shirt. She quickly averted her eyes. That’s your boss, idiot. You’re gonna get yourself fired. She berated herself mentally. “If you have any questions about anything, you can ask Yerim or myself.” Joohyun continued.
“Thank you for showing me everything.” Seungwan said, still looking straight ahead at the computer. “I won’t let you down.”
“I’m sure you won’t.” Joohyun said, resting a hand on her shoulder and squeezing ever so slightly. She turned and went to her office, shutting the door behind her with a click. Seungwan released a breath she hadn’t realized she was holding, looking over her shoulder back at the door. The phone on her desk rang, drawing her attention back to her own work space. She picked it up with a slight tremor to her hand.
“Bae Joohyun’s office, how may I help you?” She said into the receiver.
“Hello, this is Doctor McLaughlin, the court appointed psychiatrist for the case dealing with the Reynolds murder.” The voice on the phone said. Seungwan quickly opened the file labelled Reynolds, tucking the phone between her shoulder and her ear and poising her fingers over the keys. As the doctor spoke, she typed rapidly, getting into a groove of how the online program worked.
“Thank you for calling, I’ll let Miss Bae know which day you will be appearing in court and I will pass the files on to her. Have a nice day ma’am.” Seungwan closed up the conversation, hanging the phone back up. She attached the document to an email and sent it to Joohyun’s email, which she had left on a sticky note on Seungwan’s desk, reading: Send any updates to files here. The rest of the morning passed quickly, filled with phone calls and Seungwan sifting through all of the files on the computer so she could get a grasp on the cases Joohyun was handling at the moment.
The office door behind her clicked open and she fought the urge to turn around and look at Joohyun exiting her office. The clock on Seungwan’s desk read 12:11. Joohyun made her way across her the waiting room, heels clicking in rhythm on the floor, and disappeared into Sooyoung’s office. A few minutes later she re appeared and made her way to Yerim’s desk, speaking with her for a few moments and scribbling something down on a notepad. She then disappeared into Seulgi’s office. Seungwan found herself distracted from her work, despite having been extremely focused minutes earlier, wondering what Joohyun was doing. Joohyun exited Seulgi’s office and began walking over to Seungwan’s desk, stopping just in front of it.
“How has your first morning been?” Joohyun asked in a kind voice.
“It’s gone well, I’m already used to the computer program.” Seungwan answered earnestly.
“Good, that’s good.” Joohyun trailed off for a moment. With a sigh, she went on, “We’re getting sandwiches for lunch, what kind would you like?”
“Oh um…” Seungwan huffed out a nervous breath. “I’m alright without lunch, thank you though.”
“I can’t let you not eat.” Joohyun insisted. Seungwan bit her lip, not sure how to proceed.
“I’m not trying to be rude, Miss Bae,” She said quietly. “I just don’t have the money at the moment.” Money was always tight for Seungwan, but it had become a worsening issue in the few months she had been unemployed. Her stockpile of money had been running out with celerity.
“Don’t worry about that.” Joohyun said, her voice soft.
“Miss Bae, I couldn’t let you pay for me…” Seungwan felt her throat tighten out of embarrassment. Joohyun didn’t answer, she simply went to a drawer in the kitchen, pulling out what looked like a menu. She went back to Seungwan’s desk and set it down in front of her, looking at her expectantly.
“I’m not taking no for an answer.” She said firmly. Seungwan heard a hint of that fire creeping into her voice, closer now to what she had originally imagined Joohyun to be like. It seemed ironic she had only become firm when it was an issue of Seungwan’s well being, not in regards to her work quality. Seungwan looked up at Joohyun, seeing the woman watching her intently. She glanced back down to the menu, quickly choosing a cheap sandwich and passing the menu back to Joohyun.
“Thank you very much, Miss Bae. I’ll pay you back.” Seungwan insisted.
“No need, Seungwan.” Joohyun said, running a delicate hand over Seungwan’s back before heading to her office and scooping her up car keys. As she walked towards the door to leave, she looked back at Seungwan and smiled, warmth seeming to radiate from her. Seungwan smiled back, her chest feeling tight.
Chapter 2: Chapter Two
here's chapter 2! i figure instead of a rigid posting schedule i'll just ask on twitter when y'all would like me to update. all the chapters are already written so it's truly up to you guys! my twitter is @hyunsvelvet if you'd like to follow haha. i hope you enjoy!
ps. i changed around everybody's ages to adjust for the fact irene, seulgi, and joy would've had to graduate law school and things like that.
The main door pushed open loudly, the sound of keys jingling making Seungwan glance up from her desk. Joohyun let the door fall shut behind her as she balanced her car keys and the sandwich bags in her arms. Seungwan stood up and went over to her new boss, taking two of the small bags from her arms. “Here, let me help.” She said, wanting to repay her in some way for buying her lunch.
“You’re kind, Seungwan.” Joohyun said with a smile. “One of those is yours, the other is Yerim’s.”
“I’ll take it over to her.” Seungwan said with a nod, going over to Yeri’s desk and tapping her on the shoulder. “Lunch is here.”
“Oh!” Yeri said, looking up at her and stopping her frantic typing. “Thank you!” She took the bag and set it on an open spot on the desk. “How has your first day been?”
“Good, I like having things to do all day.” Seungwan replied.
“That’s good.” Yeri sighed. “If you ever need anything just let me know. I’m only a desk away.” She winked jokingly, making Seungwan laugh. She liked Yeri already.
“I’ll let you get back to work.” Seungwan said, making her way back to her own desk.
She noticed Joohyun’s office door was ajar and was about to sit down when she heard Joohyun’s voice saying, “Seungwan, could you come in here a moment?” Still clutching the bag that held her sandwich, Seungwan went into Joohyun’s office hesitantly. The office was clean and orderly, her desk polished and organized. Pictures were hung on the wall behind Joohyun, most of Joohyun and Seulgi, but many of the two of them along with Sooyoung and Yeri. None seemed to include family. “Go ahead and sit.” Joohyun said, gesturing to the chair opposite her desk. “I was hoping we could take this opportunity to get to know each other a little bit.”
“Oh okay.” Seungwan said, exhaling a low breath. She sat, crossing her legs, fiddling with the hem of her skirt. Joohyun studied her, head tilted to the side, worrying her bottom lip between her teeth.
“You said in your application that you are twenty eight…” Joohyun trailed off, looking at what Seungwan assumed was a printed copy of her application. “Have you graduated university?”
“Yes, from Temple University.” Seungwan answered, feeling a little insecure. She had not missed the degree from Harvard framed on the wall in her visual search of Joohyun’s office.
“What did you study?” Joohyun inquired further, looking at her, eyes full of what seemed to be genuine interest.
“I majored in music and minored in communications.” Seungwan said, her voice small. Most people thought she was ridiculous when she told them she majored in music, told her that’s why she struggled so much with money.
“You have an interest in music?” Joohyun’s voice filled Seungwan’s ears, and she couldn’t help but feel warm all over under Joohyun’s gaze.
“I love music.” Seungwan answered. “I sing and play the guitar.”
“That’s wonderful.” Joohyun said, brushing a lock of hair behind her ear. “How did you end up applying for a desk job then?”
“I was working in a record shop, but I was let go from that job.” Seungwan mumbled. “I saw this job application online and figured it was worth a shot, especially since it pays well.”
“Well I’m glad you applied.” Joohyun said back, taking Seungwan by surprise. She had been expecting to be asked why she had been fired. She certainly wasn’t going to offer that information up without Joohyun asking though. “You’ll get your weekly paycheck on Fridays, unless you’d prefer another day.”
“No, Friday is good.” Seungwan answered quickly. Joohyun nodded curtly.
“How long were you unemployed before this position?” Joohyun asked softly.
“Two months.” Seungwan replied.
“That must have been hard, money wise.” Joohyun went on, something shadowing her eyes. Seungwan simply shrugged, not wanting to admit how awful the last two months had been, only eating dinner, maybe lunch if she was lucky, her utilities constantly being shut off, having to walk everywhere no matter how far. She kept her eyes cast down, away from Joohyun, who was still watching her intently.
“I managed.” Seungwan muttered, her hands wringing together in her lap. Silence fell between them, and Seungwan felt heat creeping up her neck at Joohyun’s stare.
“Well I won’t keep you too long.” Joohyun finally said. “Go and eat your lunch.” Seungwan finally glanced back up, seeing an almost wistful look on Joohyun’s face. She nodded, saying nothing, and then headed out the office door back to her desk.
Seungwan spent the rest of her afternoon taking phone calls and continuing to go through the files created by previous secretaries. She found herself wondering why Joohyun had fired so many people before her. Joohyun seemed incredibly sweet, too sweet in fact, and Seungwan could not imagine the woman firing anyone. She tapped her pen on her desk mindlessly, rhythms to some unwritten song in brain, as she waited for a new phone call to occupy her. Her mind was wandering, always landing on her new boss; How did she come to be a criminal lawyer? Why were there no pictures of family on her wall? How was she so kind and warm to Seungwan when every article detailing her cases called her cold? The idea of Joohyun being cold, of having any expression other than her soft smile that made her eyes shine, made Seungwan’s stomach turn. But the question that plagued Seungwan more than any other was how many secretaries had come before her, and why did they get fired so quickly?
Across the office, Yerim’s voice made Seungwan’s ears perk. “Miss Kang?” She heard Yerim say into Seulgi’s open office door. “I’m leaving now, I have to make it to night classes.”
“Alright Yerim, thank you for letting me know.” Seulgi called back, voice sweet sounding. “Good luck at class!”
“Thanks!” Yerim turned to go, looking over to Seungwan and saying, “Bye Seungwan! See you tomorrow.”
“See you tomorrow, Yeri.” Seungwan replied, eyes darting to the clock. It read 4:57. The end of her shift was at five o’clock.
Sooyoung’s door swung open and the woman made her way into the main area of the living room. “I’m heading home, Seulgi!” She called in a sing song voice. She came over to Seungwan’s desk, asking, “How was your first day?”
“Good.” Seungwan answered genuinely. She really enjoyed this job, despite her usual hatred for mundane desk jobs. Her colleagues, specifically her new boss, made work more interesting.
“I’m glad.” Sooyoung replied, smiling brightly. She went to Joohyun’s office, pushing open the door and leaning on the door frame. “I’m heading out, Joohyun. Seulgi is probably right behind me.”
From inside the office, Seungwan heard Joohyun’s quiet voice. “Okay, I’ll see you both tomorrow.”
“Don’t stay here too late.” Sooyoung said, her voice firm.
“I don’t want to hear it, Hyun. Go home. Work isn’t everything.”
“I’m fine.” Joohyun’s voice sound icy, and it made Seungwan cringe inwardly. She glanced over her shoulder quickly, hearing Sooyoung sigh and watching her straighten up. Seulgi walked by Seungwan’s desk, smiling politely at her before standing at Sooyoung’s side. Seungwan quickly looked away, reading her clock; 5:08.
“We’re leaving, Hyun.” Seulgi said. “I’ll see you tomorrow.”
“Alright, Seul. Be careful.” Joohyun said back, sounding more like herself.
Seulgi looked over at Seungwan, and Seungwan could feel the gaze on the back of her head. Seulgi then whispered, “She’s probably waiting for you to leave before she goes, you know.” Seungwan pretended not to hear. Joohyun only sighed. Seulgi and Sooyoung left shortly after, following each other out the door. Seungwan began packing her things up slowly, wanting to see if Joohyun would be leaving or if she would stay in her office.
“You don’t have to wait around if I’m still here, you’re free to leave at five.” Joohyun said. Seungwan spun around, seeing her boss standing in her office doorway.
“Oh, I uh-” Seungwan found herself stammering. “I was just-” She stopped abruptly.
“You were just…” Joohyun gestured for her to continue.
“I was just waiting to uh, to make sure you were okay.” Seungwan mumbled back, avoiding eye contact.
“You…” Joohyun trailed off, like there were no words to encapsulate what she wanted to say. “I’m fine, really. Just a bit of a workaholic.” She smiled, though it felt false to Seungwan. “Go ahead home, Seungwan. I’ll see you in the morning.”
“Yeah, I’ll see you then.” Seungwan turned to leave, making it to the door before looking back to see Joohyun still watching her. “Goodbye, Miss Bae.”
“Goodbye, Seungwan.” Joohyun murmured. “Safe travels.”
Chapter 3: Chapter Three
here's chapter three! thank you all for leaving hits, kudos, and comments, it's much appreciated~
Seungwan arrived at her desk five minutes early the next morning to find a cup of black coffee waiting on it, no note and nobody in sight except for Yerim, all the way across the office, typing away at her computer. She figured it was from Joohyun, but that still did not explain why. Setting her bag down on her chair, she decided she would go and say hello to Joohyun and then ask about the coffee. She knocked on Joohyun’s office door and heard a faint, “Come in!” Pushing open the door, she saw Joohyun sitting behind her desk, a manila folder open in front of her and her cup of tea sitting at the corner of the desk. Her boss was wearing black dress pants, a pale purple button up and a black blazer.
“Morning, Miss Bae.” Seungwan said, catching Joohyun’s attention. The older woman looked up at her, black hair tucked behind her ears and eyes soft.
“Good morning, Seungwan.” Joohyun replied cheerily.
“Did you put that coffee on my desk?” Seungwan inquired, trying to sound nonchalant.
“Yes.” Joohyun answered bluntly. “Why do you ask?”
“I just wondered why you did that.” Seungwan said back.
“A thank you, for working hard.” Joohyun explained simply. Her personal cell phone began to ring and Seungwan glanced towards it, seeing the caller ID read Mother. “Excuse me, I have to take this.” Joohyun said, her voice sounding less cheerful than before. Seungwan nodded, leaving the office, hearing a “Hello?” From Joohyun before shutting the door. She looked to the waiting room, seeing a young girl waiting on one of the couches.
Making her way over to the girl, Seungwan said, “Excuse me miss, who are you waiting to see?”
“Bae Joohyun.” The girl said, her hands trembling slightly in her lap.
“Did you have an appointment?” Seungwan asked, to which the girl nodded. “She’s on a phone call at the moment but when she’s free I’ll let her know you’re here.” Again, the girl only nodded. Seungwan went back to her desk, nervously fiddling with her pen and watching the client in their waiting room. She could hear Joohyun’s muffled voice through the closed door and she wondered what was going on in there. She had figured Joohyun had no relationship with her family, based on the lack of photos of them, but here she was talking on the phone with her mother. Joohyun seemed to be speaking quickly, her voice rising in volume, though Seungwan still could not make out what she was saying. And then suddenly there was no noise at all. Seungwan heard a faint crack and then silence fell again. She was nervous to knock, but she couldn’t keep the client waiting, so she mustered up her courage and went and knocked softly.
“Yes?” Joohyun said in a strained voice. Seungwan pushed the door open and stepped inside, brow furrowed as she studied Joohyun. Her boss sat with her head in her hand, her phone clearly having been what made the crack sound as it seemed to have collided with the desk and fallen on the ground.
“Are you okay?” Seungwan asked impulsively, immediately regretting her question, her cheeks flushing pink.
“Fine.” Joohyun answered stiffly. “What do you need?”
“There’s a young girl here to see you, she said she had an appointment.” Seungwan answered.
“Oh.” Joohyun, looked to her planner on the desk, nodding to herself. “Send her in here, please.” Seungwan nodded and went to find the girl, escorting her into Joohyun’s office. As Seungwan was leaving and Joohyun went to close the door, she glanced back at her boss, catching her eye. They watched each other for a few moments, Joohyun’s eyes looking downcast and weary. Seungwan felt a pang in her heart, wanting to say something but not knowing what was appropriate or helpful. “Don’t worry yourself, Seungwan-ah.” Joohyun said, trying to smile reassuringly. Then the door was shut, and Seungwan was left to her own work, which was not nearly enough to take her mind off of what was going on with Joohyun.
Joohyun’s meeting with the young client took up until nearly noon, and when Joohyun and the young girl exited her office Seungwan could tell her boss was in much better spirits. Joohyun escorted the client to the door, waving as she left, and then headed to the kitchen and opened the drawer that contained the menus. She walked back towards Seungwan, a smile on her lips. “How are you doing today, Seungwan-ah?”
“Okay.” Seungwan said, wondering if Joohyun was truly back to her cheery self or if she was pretending for Seungwan’s sake.
Joohyun dropped the menu in front of her, saying, “What would you like?”
“I’m not letting you pay for me twice.” Seungwan said firmly. Joohyun sighed, a smile still on her lips.
“Well I’m getting you something regardless, so you might as well pick something you like.” She went on, something Seungwan equated to a smirk on her lips.
“Ugh.” Seungwan replied, pointing to her choice. Joohyun took the menu back and began making her way to Sooyoung’s office. “I’ll pay you back one day!” Seungwan called out. Joohyun said nothing in reply as she went into Sooyoung’s office. Seungwan sighed, watching the door, waiting for Joohyun to come back out. She knew she had an email containing all the information about the new client that she had to make into a new case file, but she couldn’t tear her eyes away from the door, wanting to see Joohyun again, to see her smile and know she’s okay, know she is still the same warm person she had been the day before. The door to Sooyoung’s office swung open and both Joohyun and Sooyoung came out, laughing together about something. Sooyoung went to the kitchen and retrieved a bottle of water from the refrigerator as Joohyun went over to Yerim’s desk.
Opening the email and creating a new case file, Seungwan alternated between typing and glancing up at her boss. She watched Sooyoung go into Seulgi’s office while Joohyun was still speaking with Yeri. Yeri was grinning, talking animatedly and Joohyun was nodding along, listening politely. Sooyoung came back out of Seulgi’s office and handed Joohyun a sticky note with what Seungwan assumed was Seulgi’s order on it and a few bills. Seungwan flushed a little, looking away and back to her work. She hated that Joohyun was paying for her to eat, especially since she had only known the woman a day and a half. Seungwan kept typing as she heard the click clack of Joohyun’s heels on the wooden floor as she headed for the door.
“Are you alright, Seungwan-ah?” Joohyun’s voice startled Seungwan and she looked up quickly.
“Oh, um,” She stumbled a little. “Yeah, just focused.”
“Okay, good.” Joohyun replied, smiling, and then went out the door.
After everyone had finished lunch, the afternoon sped by once again. Seungwan had once sworn she would never enjoy a desk job in her life, but something was different about this job. It was a small work staff, and everyone was friendly but still kept to themselves. She also had a lot to do all day, and she had never realized how interesting court cases would be. She found herself reading through old files multiple times, amazed at how Joohyun had managed to win some of the most seemingly impossible cases. Seungwan hoped at some point she would be required to attend a trial with Joohyun, simply so she could finally understand how she dominated a courtroom when she seemed so reserved, quiet, and gentle in the office.
The clock on Seungwan’s desk told her it was already a few minutes past five, but she kept reading the file she was on. Sooyoung’s office door opened and Sooyoung left, going to Seulgi’s office and waiting by the door until Seulgi came out and joined her. They went together to Joohyun’s door, telling her goodbye, and then left the office, waving to Seungwan and Yerim as they went. Yerim left shortly after, saying goodbye to Joohyun and Seungwan in her cheery voice before heading out the door. Seungwan kept reading, ignoring the clock and the empty office signaling it was time for her to go home. Home was such a dreary place, her cramped, three room apartment made her sad. She longed for the house from her childhood at times, though she loved the city.
“Your shift ended sixteen minutes ago.” Joohyun’s voice made Seungwan jump. She turned around in her chair and saw Joohyun standing just outside her office door. Seungwan wondered how long Joohyun had been watching her. “Though I’m not one to talk, I always stay here far too late.”
Seungwan laughed nervously, turning her chair to face Joohyun. “I was just reading through some of your older case files. They’re really interesting”
“You have an interest in law?” Joohyun asked, coming and standing beside Seungwan’s desk. Joohyun’s presence beside her made Seungwan’s heart thrum a little faster.
“I didn’t until I started working here.” Seungwan explained. “I’ve never been in a courtroom, not even for jury duty. It’s fascinating to me. I don’t know how you deal with such awful cases.”
“I like to help people.” Joohyun answered simply. She looked down at Seungwan, her head tilted to one side, like she was contemplating something. “I have a sentencing for a trial next Monday, if you’d like to accompany me I would be more than happy to bring you along.”
“Is that allowed?” Seungwan asked, feeling a little dumb for having to ask.
“Yes, of course. A lot of lawyers bring their secretaries or assistants to take notes and observe.” Joohyun explained. “Would you like to come?”
“I would love to.” Seungwan said, which made Joohyun smile widely.
“The trial is at one thirty. We could leave a bit early and get lunch before we go.” Joohyun suggested, her voice soft and honey sounding. It made Seungwan feel calm and nervous all at once.
“That sounds nice.” Seungwan said, smiling back at Joohyun. “Thank you for taking me along.”
“Of course.” Joohyun answered. “You should get going.”
“So should you.” Seungwan pointed out, which made Joohyun chuckle.
“You’re being very bold today, Seungwan-ah. I’m not sure what’s gotten into to you.” She said lightheartedly. “But I much prefer it when you’re not so nervous.” Seungwan laughed a little with Joohyun as she shut the computer down and began packing her things up.
“I’ll see you tomorrow, Miss Bae.” Seungwan said, grinning. Joohyun walked her to the door, pulling it open for her.
“See you tomorrow. Have a good evening.” Joohyun said back. Seungwan headed out the door and went towards the stairs. She kept waiting to hear the click signaling Joohyun had shut the door but it never came, and she knew Joohyun was watching her leave from the doorway.
Chapter 4: Chapter Four
i suppose i should clarify, i guess this is set in america since that's the only judicial system i know enough about to write decently...not that it really matters! it isn't pertinent to the plot in any way i just felt i should point that out haha. enjoy the new update~
The rest of Seungwan’s week passed by quickly, being filled with phone calls, filing, and many conversations with Joohyun about the upcoming trial Seungwan would be attending. When she received her first paycheck on Friday, which was $850, she nearly cried. She was late on paying her heat bill, and knowing she would be able to pay it and still have money left over for food was a comfort she had not known since she moved to the big city. So on her first Saturday since starting her new job, she walked down to the grocery store to stock up on food. During the week she shopped at the convenience store down the street from her, but it was known for getting broken into and she avoided it if she could. The closest grocery store was still a pretty decent distance from her apartment, but it was worth it especially now she had the money to actually stock up on food.
Seungwan walked up and down the aisles, feeling happier than she had in a long time. She finally had a job she enjoyed and made good money at, and she was making new friends while she was there. She and Yeri had exchanged phone numbers and had been texting throughout the day; it turned out they both liked music and they had bonded over that. As she went from the fresh produce section to the self checkout registers and began scanning her items, a familiar voice from behind her said, “Seungwan-ah?” She turned around to find Joohyun looking at her, brow furrowed, a basket tucked inside her elbow. Joohyun’s face brightened as she realized her assumption had been correct. “I knew it was you by the hair.” Seungwan smiled at Joohyun, still unsure what to say. She was a bit shell shocked at seeing Joohyun outside of work, wearing nothing but jeans and a sweater, face free of makeup. “How has your weekend been?” Joohyun asked.
“Really good.” Seungwan answered truthfully. “How about you?”
“Can’t complain.” Joohyun said with a smile, stepping up to the register beside Seungwan and beginning to scan her own items. “Do you live around here as well?”
“Oh, no,” Seungwan felt heat rush to her face and she was certain her cheeks were red. “I live in the north part of the city.” She watched Joohyun’s face change as she mentioned the north of the city; it was known for being a bad area where a lot of crime happened.
“Why did you come all the way to center city to grocery shop?” Joohyun asked, trying to cover her impulsive reaction.
“There isn’t a true grocery store up there, only convenience stores. They aren’t exactly the nicest place to shop.” Seungwan explained. Joohyun gave her a solemn nod, like she understood. Seungwan wasn’t surprised Joohyun lived in center city, as that was where the law firm was located and only very wealthy people could afford to live in the southern part of the city.
“Do the buses have routes in the northern part of the city?” Joohyun inquired further. Seungwan shifted her weight between her feet out of nervousness; she hated talking about her living situation. She focused on scanning her groceries, not looking at Joohyun.
“Not really. There’s two routes into center city and one to the southern city. I walk everywhere I go.” She answered in a tight voice.
“You walk?” Joohyun echoed, her voice faint. “You walked all the way from north city to here? You walk all the way to work everyday?” Seungwan nodded, to which Joohyun sighed. Seungwan finished placing her items in the plastic grocery bags and stuck her debit card into the chip reader to pay. Joohyun continued scanning her groceries in silence, which was deafening to Seungwan’s ears. Why isn’t she saying anything? She asked herself. Stalling, as she was hoping for a response from Joohyun, Seungwan slowly began picking up her grocery bags. Joohyun paid quickly, scooping her bags up with one hand and looked at Seungwan almost expectantly. “Come on, then.”
“Huh?” Seungwan said, puzzled.
“Let me give you a ride home.” Joohyun said, her tone amiable as ever. “I’d hate to make you walk.”
“No, it’s okay, Miss Bae. I couldn’t let you…” Seungwan trailed off, the last part of her sentence - keep doing things for me - dying in her throat.
“I would feel awful knowing you’re walking all alone in such a bad neighborhood.” Joohyun went on, eyes dimmed by worry. “Please, let me give you a ride.” Seungwan sighed, contemplating.
“Okay, fine.” She conceded. Joohyun’s face was wreathed in a smile, which made Seungwan feel somehow more guilty about the whole thing. Why does she keep doing things for me?
Joohyun led the way towards the exit, Seungwan behind her, clutching her bags tightly. She was a bit excited to see what kind of car Joohyun drove, as she always arrived at work later than her boss and left before her. Her car was always in the parking lot behind the apartment building that housed the firm and Seungwan had never thought to go and look. Joohyun clicked her keys twice, unlocking the car doors as they approached a shiny, silver Volvo S60. Seungwan had never been in a car this nice and she was a bit stunned that Joohyun drove a car this expensive.
“You can go ahead and put your bags in the backseat.” Joohyun said, setting her own shopping bags on the floor of the backseat, leaving the seats for Seungwan’s use. Seungwan slid her few bags in and shut the door carefully before going to sit in the passenger seat. Joohyun got into the driver’s seat, smiling at Seungwan as she started the car and began to back out of her spot cautiously. They drove north, taking side streets Seungwan knew by heart as she directed Joohyun towards her home. Side streets were less likely to be filled with men who would cat call or harass the women who walked alone, and Seungwan had had to learn that lesson the hard way. They rode in silence for a few moments, Joohyun carefully abiding the speed limit and watching the buildings whiz past them.
“Turn up here, my apartment building is the second on the right. There’s parking spots on the street.” Seungwan directed, pointing to the street. Joohyun turned, peering down the street and spotting the old, worn looking brick building. She parked in one of the open spots easily, putting the car in park and turning to face Seungwan. “Thank you for driving me home.” Seungwan said. “You didn’t have to do that.”
“It was my pleasure, Seungwan-ah.” Joohyun said, waving away the thank you. “I was actually hoping you would let me give you rides regularly, to and from work.”
“You shouldn’t have to go out of your way to help me.” Seungwan replied. “I’m just your employee.”
“Well I had been under the impression we were becoming friends.” Joohyun teased. Seungwan let out a quiet laugh. “Truly, I couldn’t live with myself if you had to walk so far everyday. I’m happy to drive you.”
“You’re too nice.” Seungwan said, her cheeks rosy. She looked to the floor to cover her embarrassment.
“So I’ll see you bright and early Monday morning?” Joohyun asked knowingly, aware she had won Seungwan over as she always seemed to do.
“You like to get your way, don’t you?” Seungwan asked in lieu of an actual answer.
“Why do you think I make a good lawyer?” Joohyun asked in reply, making Seungwan laugh. They smiled at one another for a brief moment, and then Seungwan opened her door and clambered out of the car, retrieving her shopping bags quickly and exchanging goodbyes with Joohyun. She stood on the cracked sidewalk of her street, grocery bags in hand, and watched as Joohyun drove away, staring after her car until it disappeared fully into the hustle and bustle of the city.
Chapter 5: Chapter Five
thank you all so, so much for your wonderful comments. i'm so happy people are genuinely interested in this story and i hope sticking with it is worth it for all of you. enjoy chapter 5! xo
Sunday morning, Seungwan awoke to her phone buzzing with a text under her pillow. She reached blindly for it, covering a yawn with her hand. Retrieving her phone, she rubbed the sleepiness from her eyes and peered at the message on her screen. It was from Yerim, and it read:
Hey, wanna go get coffee?
Seungwan grinned at the screen. It had been a very long time since she’d had a real friend, and she really liked Yeri. She typed back a reply.
Time and place?
Yeri was quick to reply.
Starbucks at the edge of north and center around 11 sound good?
Seungwan knew which Starbucks Yeri meant, as it was the beginning of the transition from the northern city, which was filled with exclusively self started business and unknown chains, to the center city which held most of the normal chains found in bigger cities. She sent her reply.
Yep! See you then!!
She slipped out of bed, stretching to relieve her muscles of the stiffness that had formed from sleeping soundly. She hadn’t been sleeping very well as of late, what with her heat being shut off in the middle of October and the constant anxiety over her unpaid bills or empty fridge. For now at least, Seungwan no longer had to worry about those things. All her bills were paid, the fridge newly stocked with groceries, and she still had a small cache of money stored for personal use, like getting coffee with a friend. So she had slept soundly for the first time in awhile. It was nearly ten thirty, and the walk to Seungwan and Yeri’s destination would take about fifteen minutes, so Seungwan hurriedly got dressed into a pair of jeans and an old, oversized hoodie. She continued getting ready, humming to herself as she applied a bit of makeup.
At ten forty-five, Seungwan stepped out of her apartment into the brisk October air, purse slung over her shoulder. She walked down her street, putting her earbuds in and picking a song, her feet automatically walking to the beat. She looked around her as she walked, which she hardly ever did anymore in her own neighborhood. She wondered which parts of her neighborhood Joohyun had noticed on their drive the previous day. Had she seen the old laundromat, which was a popular spot for homeless people to sit and keep warm? Had she noticed the many grimy looking dive bars, or the small food trucks that lined the street? Had she realized nearly every door, businesses and apartments alike, were locked with padlocks? Seungwan walked, feet maneuvering the familiar sidewalks with ease, knowing when to step over a dip or crack without even looking down. She thought about Joohyun, who lived in the cleaner, nicer part of the city, who probably did not have to worry about locking her door every single time she left, who did not have to walk for half an hour to get to work, forty five minutes to get to the grocery store, an hour to get to the nearest decent medical center. Did she think of Seungwan differently now that she knew where the girl lived? It didn’t seem like she did, but Seungwan worried that the more times Joohyun drove into the north city to pick her up the more she would start to think of Seungwan differently than she would have before.
Seungwan reached the Starbucks at two minutes until eleven. She ordered herself a black coffee, as she wasn’t looking to spend so much of her left over money in one go. Glancing around as she waited for her drink, she concluded Yeri had yet to arrive. So, once she had gotten her coffee, she chose a small table by the window and sat to wait for her friend to arrive. She bounced her leg, hating to wait, and drummed mindlessly on the table. Six minutes past eleven, Yeri came rushing over to the table, coffee in hand, smiling apologetically.
“I’m sorry I’m a little late.” She said immediately, sitting down across from Seungwan. “My sisters were being a pain about me leaving.”
“That’s okay.” Seungwan assured, sipping from her black coffee. When she was younger, she would drink her coffee with at least creamer, something to make it a little sweet, but she had learned to like black coffee since she moved to the city, since creamer was an unnecessary expense Seungwan could not afford. “You have sisters?” She asked, curious to know more about Yeri.
“Two. Eleven and nine.” Yeri answered. “I love them, but they can be a little annoying sometimes. They hate when I go anywhere on the weekends, since I hardly see them during the week what with work and school.”
“You’re still in school?” Seungwan went on.
“Yeah, I’m in my last year of college.” Yeri explained. “I’m a communications and business double major, so working for Miss Kang has been my internship I need to graduate.”
“Does that mean you’ll stop working at the firm once you graduate?” Seungwan didn’t want Yeri to leave the firm, though she tried to remind herself that with Joohyun’s track record she would be fired by the time Yeri graduated in April.
Yeri sighed. “I don’t know. Miss Kang told me that once I graduate she would offer me a real position at the office, which would mean I would get paid seven dollars more an hour than I do now.” She worried her bottom lip between her teeth. “My dream is to start my own business, but I doubt that’ll happen anytime soon. I might as well stay at the firm.”
“Well I’d miss you if you left the firm, but don’t let that sway you one way or the other.” Seungwan said, her tone lighthearted, making Yeri smile.
“Enough about me, tell me about yourself. You mentioned that you majored in music, so I’m very curious why you’re working as a secretary.” Yeri said, pushing her light hair behind her ears.
“Well, majoring in music is a dumb decision.” Seungwan started, laughing a little to herself. “I have a degree that I can’t do anything with. I got fired from my last job, and have been scraping by on my savings account ever since. So when I saw the position paid twenty dollars an hour I decided I didn’t care it was a desk job and applied. I’m surprised I even got hired.”
“Wow.” Yeri laughed. “Why did you get fired?”
“It’s a long story.” Seungwan said simply, not in the mood to get into it. Yeri took the hint, dropping the subject. “I do like the job, though. Miss Bae is a really good boss.”
“Yeah, she’s really nice.” Yeri agreed. “So are Miss Kang and Miss Park. For Miss Park’s birthday in September, Miss Kang, Miss Bae and I threw her a surprise party at the office. She was so shocked she almost cried.” Yeri grinned, the memory clearly a fond one. “I wish you had been there for it.”
“Me too, that sounds fun.” Seungwan said back, smiling at Yeri’s glee. The young girl’s smile seemed to be contagious. “Hey so, do you know why Miss Bae fired her previous secretaires? I’m not trying to pry, I just want to know what mistakes not to make.”
“I really don’t know, actually.” Yeri replied. “I’ve only been at the firm for two other secretaries before you. I caught the tail end of one when I came in at the end of August, and then the other one got fired at the beginning of October.” She went silent for a minute, as though pondering something. “It’s so weird, because to me it didn’t look like they’d done anything. One day everything is fine, and then the next they’re packing up their desk to leave. Miss Bae has never shown any signs of being angry or annoyed with them either, she takes them in her office quietly and sets them up with a new position somewhere else.”
“How do you know she sets them up somewhere else?” Seungwan pressed further.
“I asked Miss Kang what the protocol was for people getting fired, and she told me they always at least attempt to set you up with a new position, unless you’ve done something really bad.” Yeri explained. “I really want to know why Miss Bae fires people so fast, like I couldn’t imagine her firing anyone. She’s just too soft spoken.” With a laugh, she said, “If you get fired you have to tell me why.”
“I have no plans to get fired anytime soon, I like this job and I’d do anything to keep it.” Seungwan replied.
“Ooh, you’re determined, I like that.” Yeri said back, making Seungwan smile. “Well I’ll put a good word in for you with the bosses because out of all of Miss Bae’s secretaries you’ve been my favorite by far. The other ones were not nearly as interesting to talk to.”
“Thanks.” Seungwan said, chuckling a little. Yeri’s phone dinged three times in procession and she picked it up, her brow furrowing as she read her messages.
“Well shit.” She muttered to herself. “It’s my mom, she needs me to come watch my sisters while she goes to the store. I’m sorry to desert you so abruptly.”
“No it’s okay, I get it.” Seungwan said, smiling in a way she hoped was understanding. “We should do this again sometime.” Both girls stood to throw their cups away and began making their way towards the door. They stepped outside, the cold air hitting their faces instantly.
“Yeah, we should.” Yeri agreed. “I’ll see you tomorrow at work, Seungwan unnie.”
“See you tomorrow.” Seungwan said back, waving as Yeri turned and walked away, deeper into center city. Seungwan turned the opposite direction, back towards north city, and began walking home. Her questions about Joohyun had not been answered the way she had hoped they would be; if anything, she was more curious now than ever.
Chapter 6: Chapter Six
your guesses and wonderings about why joohyun fires her secretaries is incredibly amusing, i love to read them. hopefully you'll find sticking with the story to find out what the reason is worth it!
Early morning sunlight filtered through the blinds that covered the windows in Seungwan’s combined kitchen and living room. It projected small slats of light onto the tile floors that Seungwan steadied her gaze on as she sat on her small couch, waiting for Joohyun to pick her up. She had gotten up earlier than usual, as she had not been told a time to be ready by and she knew Joohyun typically went into the office earlier than eight thirty. She was desperate to make sure Joohyun had no reason to enter her apartment building and come knock at her door, so she planned on bolting down the steps and out to the sidewalk the minute she saw the silver Volvo arrive. Seungwan reached behind her and opened the blinds, peering outside and down at the sidewalk. No parked cars in sight, but plenty of people were walking the sidewalk and cars sped down the street by the dozen. None looked like Joohyun’s car.
Seungwan sighed, leaning back against the couch cushion. She was in the largest room of her apartment, which was not saying much. It was both her kitchen and living room, and it housed a small, used couch from Goodwill, a coffee table she had found at a rummage sale, a lamp that sat on said coffee table that she had had since she was a teenager, a small kitchen table (also from Goodwill), and a fridge and microwave that came with the apartment if you paid extra for them. Her bedroom was small, and there was only room for her twin bed and a small dresser. The bathroom was so cramped she hardly had room to move, and she thanked God every time she went in there that she was so small because she could hardly imagine anyone taller than five foot one using it comfortably. Seungwan glanced out the window again and spotted Joohyun’s car moving down the road, watching her slow down to pull into a parking spot. She bolted up from her seat, snatched her purse up off the floor, and hurried out the door. She fumbled with her keys as she moved to lock her apartment up, and forced herself to take a deep breath as she managed to get the key in. After she heard the definitive click of the lock, she took off down the stairs and out the door, immediately beginning to shiver in the early morning air.
Joohyun’s car was parked right in front of the apartment building, and when Seungwan reached for the handle she found the car already unlocked. She hoped Joohyun had not been sitting with the doors unlocked the whole time she’d been waiting. Grateful for the heat of the car, Seungwan quickly shut the door behind her, still trembling slightly from the cold. “How can you have left the house without a coat on?” Joohyun asked incredulously, skipping any semblance of a formal greeting. “It’s absolutely freezing out.”
Seungwan looked over to Joohyun, who focused her eyes on the road as she pulled away from the curb and back out into traffic. She had on a deep purple pea coat and a gray scarf, even in the warmth of the car. Seungwan did not wear a coat over her work clothes, which consisted of a long sleeve white button up and gray dress pants. She refused to wear the coat she did own out in public because it was full of holes and tears, so it really did nothing to protect her from the cold anyways and she was embarrassed by the fact she couldn’t afford a new one. “I forgot.” Seungwan lied, her heart aching in her chest at the dishonesty.
“Oh dear.” Was all Joohyun said in reply. Silence settled over the pair as they rode down the streets, buildings blurring as they increased speed when Joohyun turned onto a main road. The walk that took Seungwan thirty minutes everyday was less than a ten minute drive in Joohyun’s car. She parked the car in the lot behind the building, making sure the car was perfectly in the lines. Seungwan checked the car’s clock, which told her it was eight seventeen. There was only one other car there. As Seungwan reached to open the car door and get out, Joohyun stopped her. “Wait,” She said, leaning and reaching into her backseat, grabbing a black coat and pressing it into Seungwan’s hands. “So you don’t get cold.”
“You’re the only person I know who would keep an extra coat in the backseat of her car.” Seungwan commented, clutching the coat in her hands.
“Well lucky thing I do, because someone was forgetful this morning.” Joohyun teased back, making Seungwan smile softly. “Aren’t you going to put it on?” Seungwan slipped the coat on, and it fit well, settling on her shoulders in just the right way. It was warm and it smelled of lavender, which she figured was the fabric softener Joohyun must use.
“Thank you.” Seungwan said quietly.
“It’s nothing Seungwan-ah. Anything to help a friend.” Joohyun replied just as quietly, smiling before turning to get out of the car. Seungwan went out her respective door and met Joohyun around the other side of the car. The coat did keep Seungwan much warmer; she hardly felt the cold wind anywhere but her face. They made their way up to the door together and went inside, Seungwan following Joohyun up the stairs to the second floor. Joohyun pushed the door open and called out, “Sooyoung? Seulgi?”
“Ah, Joohyun unnie!” Sooyoung said from the kitchen. Joohyun and Seungwan stepped inside and shut the door behind them. “I wondered where you were, you’ve never gotten here after us.” Seungwan followed Joohyun into the kitchen and saw both Sooyoung and Seulgi leaning against the counter, drinking coffee.
“I was picking Seungwan up.” Joohyun explained as she went to the coffee maker. She poured a cup, put the lid on, and handed it to Seungwan, who accepted it with a small thank you. She then began pouring her own cup.
“Oh really?” Seulgi asked. “Well that’s nice of you.”
“You say that like I don’t often do nice things.” Joohyun said back, making Seulgi laugh.
“Come on you know that’s not what I meant.” She assured the older woman, who laughed alongside her friend. The office door creaked open and Yeri came bustling in, hair mussed from the wind and her cheeks rosy from the cold.
“What, now I’m the late one?” She said, looking at the four women already in the kitchen. “I thought I could count on Seungwan unnie to be later than me.”
“Joohyun gave Seungwan a ride this morning.” Seulgi told Yeri in her usual sweet voice.
“Oh!” Yeri said brightly, sliding her coat off and tucking it over her arm. “Well then it doesn’t count because that’s Joohyun being extra punctual, not Seungwan.”
“Whatever you say, Yerim.” Sooyoung laughed, picking her coffee cup up off the counter. “I’m going to have to excuse myself to go and make a phone call.” She gave Seulgi’s shoulder a light squeeze and then walked off to her office.
“I should probably get to work as well.” Seulgi said, watching Sooyoung until her office door shut. She turned towards Yeri. “You too, kid.” She joked, making Yeri grin. “You’re not getting college credit for nothing.” Seulgi smiled and put a hand on Yeri’s shoulder, the pair walking together towards Seulgi’s office.
“And then there were two.” Joohyun said, sipping from her coffee. Seungwan grinned at the joke. “Are you still hoping to come to the trial with me?”
“If you’d still like me to come.” Seungwan watched Joohyun lean back against the counter, holding her coffee delicately.
“Of course I would.” Joohyun replied, looking up at Seungwan. Her dark eyes seemed full of light all of the sudden. “We’ll leave at noon, get lunch, and then go down to the courthouse.”
“Okay.” Seungwan agreed. Their eyes steadied on each other, a comfortable stare, as they studied one another. Seungwan felt at ease with Joohyun, and she hardly felt at ease with anyone. Something about the older woman’s gentle nature made it easy to trust her. “Let me give you your coat back.” Seungwan said, sliding the coat off.
“No, keep it.” Joohyun insisted, pushing herself off the counter. “I don’t need it, and besides it suits you.” Seungwan had many things she wanted to say, though none of them seemed right. She felt odd, accepting a gift like this from her boss, but at the end of the day she didn’t just consider Joohyun her boss; Joohyun was her friend too, a friend she had made quickly but felt as though she had known forever.
“Thank you, Miss Bae.” Seungwan settled on a simple thank you, though she wanted to say more. Joohyun gave her a half smile in response before heading off to her office. Seungwan trailed behind her, sitting down at her desk and beginning her work day.
Chapter 7: Chapter Seven
this chapter is quite a bit longer than the first six i think, but i hope it's worth reading all the way through! happy thanksgiving to everyone who is celebrating it today~
Seungwan spent her morning at work anxiously awaiting noon, when she and Joohyun would leave the office to go down to the courthouse. At noon exactly, Joohyun came out of her office, donning her coat and scarf again, and came up beside Seungwan’s desk. “Are you ready to go, Seungwan-ah?” She asked.
“Yes ma’am.” Seungwan smiled up at Joohyun. Joohyun picked the black coat up off the back of Seungwan’s chair and held it up for Seungwan to slide her arms into.
She placed a gentle hand on the small of Seungwan’s back and led her to the door, turning and calling out, “We’re heading to the sentencing!”
“Good luck, Miss Bae!” Yeri called back, giving her a thumbs up.
Joohyun smiled at her, saying in a kind way, “Thank you, Yerim.” She held the door open to let Seungwan step out first and followed her out, shutting the door quietly. Seungwan watched her walk towards the stairs, long black hair flowing down her back, swaying slightly as she walked. Seungwan hurried after her, biting her lip nervously. Soon they were back in the warmth of Joohyun’s car, moving down the road at a very stop and go pace. The roads were much busier now than they had been that morning. Stuck at a red light, Joohyun took her hands off the steering wheel a moment, running her fingers through her hair and securing it behind her ear. She let out a soft sigh.
“Are you nervous?” Seungwan asked her.
“Not particularly.” Joohyun replied easily. The light turned green and she slowly began to inch forward again. “I’m more nervous for the victim and her family than anything else.” Joohyun held the steering wheel in only her left hand and rested her right elbow on the center console.
“What is the case about?” Seungwan pressed on with her questioning. Joohyun moved into a left turn lane and waited behind another car to make the turn.
“My client was raped by an older boy at her college.” Joohyun answered, her voice distant and professional. “Her, along with many other girls, testified against him. Today, we will find out whether he will be charged with the counts against him or if he’ll walk free. Myself and his defense attorney will be giving closing statements and the victims will be giving their victim impact statements.”
Seungwan let out a low breath, unsure what to say. It was still a marvel to her how Joohyun could handle these kinds of cases, how she could handle being the one burdened with getting criminals locked away. “You’re a damn saint.” Seungwan said softly. “I couldn’t imagine taking on such a huge responsibility, but you do it everyday. Do you know how many people must consider you their hero?”
“You speak too highly of me, Seungwan-ah. I’m just doing my job.” Joohyun dismissed her compliment in a quiet tone, different from the one she generally spoke with. She sounded more reserved, almost far away in a sense. They arrived to a sort of upscale looking restaurant and Joohyun parked in front of the building. She quickly came around the other side of the car and opened Seungwan’s door for her, giving her a hand to help her step down more gently onto the curb. They made their way into the restaurant together and were seated swiftly in a booth near the back. Seungwan held her gaze on Joohyun as the older woman began peering at her menu, studying her small mannerisms. She watched Joohyun set her chin her hand, tilting her head ever so slightly to the side. Her eyes flicked rapidly back and forth, her cheeks still dusted pink from the frigid air outside. “What?” Joohyun’s voice brought Seungwan out of her reverie. She realized a moment too late she had been caught staring.
“Nothing, sorry.” Seungwan muttered, looking away and down to her own menu. They ordered drinks shortly after - water with lemon for Joohyun, iced tea for Seungwan - and silence fell over them again.
“You’re awfully quiet, Seungwan.” Joohyun commented, tracing the rim of her glass of water with her fingernail.
“Lost in thought.” Seungwan replied, which was not a lie. She had been thinking about how much her life had been reshaped even in just the course of a week. She went from having no friends to having four colleagues who she cared very much for and considered friends. She went from struggling to keep any food in fridge to being stocked up for the week. Life was finally looking up for her, and it all seemed to be thanks to the woman across from her.
“What were you thinking about?” Joohyun inquired. Seungwan looked up to meet her eyes.
“How I’m enjoying my new job.” She answered, simplifying all she was feeling at the moment.
Joohyun smiled. “I’m glad you like your position. I enjoy having you in the office.” Their conversation was interrupted briefly as the waitress took their orders, and they chatted about mundane things until their food arrived. They fell silent as they ate.
“I feel so bad that you keep paying for my lunch.” Seungwan said. “I have the money now, I can pay for my own.”
“Don’t be silly.” Joohyun countered softly. “I don’t mind in the slightest.”
“But it’s not fair of me to let you do that.” Seungwan insisted, guilt weighing heavily on her heart. She hated to let people do things for her.
“Please, Seungwan, just let me do you this kindness.” Joohyun met her eyes, and Seungwan could see the emotion in her gaze. “You have done more for me than you can understand, so please allow me to buy your lunch.”
“Now you’re the one speaking too highly of me.” Seungwan said in a lighthearted tone, hoping to steer the conversation back into less emotion filled territory. “I’m just doing my job.” Joohyun smiled half heartedly. They finished and paid for their lunch soon after that, and then they were on their way to the courthouse. It was nearing one o’clock, and they had to be in the courtroom at one fifteen for the sentencing at one thirty. Seungwan bounced her leg, an anxious habit she had tried to kick in high school but she had never quite been able to shake. “What am I expected to do during the sentencing?” She asked Joohyun, nerves evident in her voice.
“Take notes, I suppose.” Joohyun’s answer was vague, not enough to satisfy Seungwan’s curiosity.
“What did your other secretaries do?” She pressed her questioning, hoping to ease her anxieties.
“You’re the first secretary I’ve ever taken to court with me.” Joohyun told her as they pulled into the parking garage across the street from the courthouse.
“Really?” Seungwan asked, shock evident in her voice. She wasn’t sure what to do with that information. Joohyun simply nodded, parking the car and then exiting hastily. Seungwan met her in front of the car, and then the pair hurried off towards the exit and onto the sidewalk, waiting to cross the street. Joohyun put a hand on Seungwan’s back as they rushed across the busy street, guiding her, her hand warm against the fabric of Seungwan’s coat. The younger woman leaned ever so slightly into Joohyun’s touch, letting the gentle hand guide her towards the entrance of the imposing marble building. Joohyun did not remove her hand from Seungwan’s back even as they stepped inside, the rush of warm air hitting their chilled skin, making their cheeks smart.
“We’re going to go up to the third floor.” Joohyun informed Seungwan in her soft way, continuing to press her forward with a gentle push of her hand. They walked together towards the elevator, Joohyun pressing the up button with her free hand. The elevator doors opened, revealing an empty inside, which calmed Seungwan’s nerves slightly. She did not know what was the proper way to act in a situation like this; when she was at the office she didn’t feel pressured to be overly business like, as everyone was very friendly, but this sentencing was a huge deal and Seungwan worried she would not seem professional enough. The longer it was only herself and Joohyun, the better she felt. “You’re shaking life a leaf, Seungwan-ah.” Joohyun commented as the elevator dinged and came to a halt.
“I’m nervous.” Seungwan admitted as the doors slid open. Joohyun ran her hand up and down Seungwan’s back a few times in quick procession, attempting to comfort her.
“No need to be nervous. Just sit in the front row of the gallery and observe, or take notes if you’d like.” Joohyun assured her warmly. They walked up to the door of courtroom A3 and Seungwan managed to take a shuddering breath. “You’ll be my good luck charm today.”
“I have awful luck, Miss Bae.” Seungwan deadpanned, to which Joohyun let out a soft, melodic laugh. The sound made Seungwan feel more at ease.
“Here, follow me inside.” Joohyun said, still smiling slightly. Seungwan noticed her smile was slightly crooked, and it made it all the more appealing. Joohyun pushed the heavy wooden door open, striding confidently inside, glancing behind her to assure Seungwan was following. She walked up to the table on the right from the judge’s perspective. Her client was already waiting there for her; it was a young girl, couldn’t be older than twenty one, who was trembling slightly but managed to smile at Joohyun as she approached. “How are you doing today?” Joohyun asked the young woman.
“I’ve already thrown up once.” The girl answered honestly.
“That’s alright, nerves are understandable.” Joohyun said back, placing a hand on her client’s shoulder and squeezing gently to comfort her. “No matter what happens today, you should be proud of yourself. It isn’t an easy thing to speak up, and that’s very brave of you.”
“Thank you.” Her client said shakily. She looked behind Joohyun to Seungwan, a puzzled expression on her face.
“Oh dear, I forgot the introductions.” Joohyun exclaimed in her quiet manner. “Seungwan, this is my client Georgia. Georgia, this is my secretary Seungwan. She’ll be observing the sentencing today.”
“It’s nice to meet you.” Seungwan extended a hand first. Georgia shook her hand, her grip tight.
“Likewise.” Georgia said.
People were filing into the courtroom at a rapid rate, and Joohyun quickly checked the watch on her wrist. “It’s nearly one thirty. Seungwan, go ahead to the gallery.” She instructed, to which Seungwan promptly obliged, weaving around the table and sitting in the row behind Joohyun and Georgia. The judge entered the courtroom at one thirty on the dot, and everyone stood as she walked in. She was tall and slender with dark skin and had her hair woven into a bun on the top of her head.
“You may be seated.” She said, her voice commanding. Everyone sat, as did the judge herself. “Bring in the defendant.” She was curt and to the point. Seungwan hoped desperately that she would sympathize with Georgia, since she was also a woman. The defendant and his lawyer entered, and Seungwan saw Georgia immediately recoil. Joohyun held a hand out, which Georgia gripped tightly. “Today will be the sentencing for Peter Marshall, accused of three counts of rape, two counts of attempted rape, and the possession of child pornography.” The counts against Peter rang in Seungwan’s ears, making her stomach turn. “We will hear the closing statements from the prosecutor and the defendant, as well as the victim’s statement. Would the prosecutor please stand and make your closing remarks.”
Joohyun stood, shoulders back and jaw set, looking determined. She glided to the middle of the courtroom, looking almost regal in the way she moved, commanding the entire room with just the slightest movements. Seungwan watched her, encaptivated. She began her closing remarks, each word weighted carefully, sounding articulate and calculated. Each sentence was punctuated with hand movements, and she spoke almost directly to the defendant as she detailed his crimes. Seungwan finally understood exactly what every article about Joohyun’s skills meant; she was cold, calculated, and commanding. Everyone in the room was hanging off her every word, it was impossible to turn away. She appealed to the room’s every emotion, while herself staying calm and collected. She never once raised her voice or inflicted her tone with rage, only cruel, deserved bitterness. When she was finished, the courtroom fell deafeningly silent as she took her seat.
Seungwan was hardly listening to the defendant’s closing remarks, she couldn’t stop watching Joohyun. She had never imagined that her boss could be so cold and unforgiving, though she agreed it was deserving when directed at the defendant. All she had ever seen of Joohyun was her warmth, her sweet smiles and soft, quiet laughs, had only known her boss to be the kind to offer a jacket, or a ride. Something about this side of Joohyun fascinated Seungwan, she wanted to understand the polarity of Joohyun in the courtroom and Joohyun in the office. The difference was striking, and both sides of the woman were of equal interest to Seungwan. Everything about Joohyun was mesmerizing to her, from her articulated attacks in the courtroom right down to her barely noticeable crooked smile.
Georgia’s statement to the court was tear filled, causing nearly everyone to cry. Seungwan clasped her hands together, hoping desperately that Georgia would win and that her attacker would be locked away forever. She couldn’t imagine how Georgia must feel, and she could hardly comprehend how much faith was put in Joohyun to secure Georgia’s safety from this day forward. As Georgia walked back to her seat, shoulders shaking with barely concealed sobs, the judge surveyed the courtroom. There were a few long moments of silence that seemed to stretch for hours, but finally the judge spoke. “Would the defendant please rise?” He stood, looking ahead at the judge. “The court finds Peter Marshall guilty on all charges.” Georgia let out a gasp, like she had never imagined this would be the outcome. “He will be sentenced to ten years in prison, with no opportunity for parole.”
Everything seemed to move around them as the court was adjourned and the defendant was taken away. Joohyun and Georgia both stood, hugging tightly. “Congratulations.” Joohyun said to her client. “Does it feel freeing?” Georgia nodded, tears on her cheeks. “Your family is waiting for you at the back of the gallery, if you’d like to go and find them.”
“Thank you, for everything.” Georgia said, her voice hoarse. Joohyun gave her another hug before Georgia went to find her family.
Then, Joohyun turned to Seungwan. “Are you ready to go?” She asked, Seungwan nodded and they departed, going out the way they came, back down the elevator and out into the chilly October afternoon. Joohyun led the way into the parking garage and back to her car. They sat for a moment with the car started but not moving. “Was that what you expected?” Joohyun inquired, studying Seungwan.
“Not at all.” Seungwan replied in a hushed voice. “It was intense.”
“That is one word for it.” Joohyun agreed, backing out of her spot and exiting the parking garage hastily.
“I have so much respect for what you do.” Seungwan said. “Your closing remarks were incredible.”
“Thank you, Seungwan-ah, you’re sweet.” Joohyun sounded almost embarrassed at the compliment. She rested her right arm on the center console as she had done earlier. “I enjoyed having you there.”
“I liked being there for you.” Seungwan immediately amended with, “I mean, to watch you.” They drove in silence for a few minutes, the business of the city rushing by, leaves falling from trees and littering the sidewalks. Subconsciously, Seungwan rested her left arm on the console and her fingers brushed against Joohyun’s briefly before she pulled her hand away, feeling mortified at her mistake. “Sorry.” She mumbled, huffing out a nervous breath and turning to look out her window. Joohyun said nothing the rest of the drive back to the office, and Seungwan wondered what she had been thinking about the accident for the rest of the day.
Chapter 8: Chapter Eight
i didn't plan this but it's a nice coincidence this chapter is getting posted so close to thanksgiving haha. i hope you guys enjoy!
A month passed easily and similarly, Joohyun continuing to give Seungwan rides to and from work. There was never mention of the accidental hand touching in Joohyun’s car that bitter cold October afternoon, and Seungwan preferred it that way. Seungwan loved her job and she did not want anything to mess it up for her, especially since now she was living more comfortably and had even begun writing music again in her free time. She had not picked up her guitar since she had been fired from the record shop, and it felt wonderful to have her inspiration for music back again. She and Yeri saw a lot of each other on weekends, usually going to get coffee or lunch. During the week, Seungwan saw a lot of Joohyun, who seemed to be staying at work less and looked less tired as of late. She felt that was in part due to the fact Joohyun had to leave the office promptly at five to drive Seungwan home, and she was glad some good was coming out of the ride ordeal. Thanksgiving was approaching with celerity, and it was made apparent to Seungwan everyday she went into the office that it was looming over them like a ticking time bomb. She hated the holidays meant to be spent with family, as she had not spoken to her family in nearly ten years. The holidays made her horribly sad, and she usually ignored them altogether when they rolled around.
The day before Thanksgiving at the office, which was the last day in this particular work week since the employees were given Thursday and Friday off for the holiday, Seungwan heard everyone talking about their plans for the holiday as they were all preparing to leave. Yeri had bid everyone in the office a Happy Thanksgiving before going home early to help her mother start preparing the dinner for the next day. At five o’clock on the dot, Seulgi and Sooyoung both came from their offices and went to Joohyun’s as was their custom, so they could say goodbye.
“Goodbye, Hyun.” Seulgi said brightly. “Have a good Thanksgiving!” Joohyun said nothing as far as Seungwan could hear from her desk, but she must have made some response as Seulgi continued, “What about your mom?” There was silence, though Seungwan figured Joohyun was murmuring a reply.
“You can always come and celebrate with us, Joohyun unnie. We’d love to have you.” Sooyoung chimed in.
Loud enough for Seungwan to hear, Joohyun said, “No, no, you two enjoy yourselves. I’ll be fine.” Sooyoung sighed, though Seulgi stayed silent.
“Alright, well call us if you need us.” Seulgi finally said, sounding reluctant.
“I’ll be fine.” Joohyun reiterated. Sooyoung and Seulgi both gave her quick hugs and then departed, wishing Seungwan well on their way out. Seungwan gave a soft sigh, watching the door fall shut and then beginning to pack up her things. She slung her bag over her shoulder and then slid on the black coat from Joohyun, which now felt familiar to her. She went to Joohyun’s office door, rapping her knuckles on it though it was open.
“Are you ready to leave, Miss Bae?” Seungwan asked. This was their usual routine; Seungwan would go to Joohyun’s office, make sure she was ready to leave, which she always was. Today, though, she still sat peering over a document, round framed reading glasses perched on her nose.
“Oh, yes, I’m sorry.” She said hurriedly, closing the file and sliding her glasses off. “Time slipped away from me.”
“It’s okay.” Seungwan assured. “Gotta finish work before Thanksgiving break.” Joohyun gave her a half hearted smile as she slipped her own coat on.
“I’ll still be working, just not here at the office.” She said.
“You’re not celebrating Thanksgiving?” Seungwan asked, curious to know after hearing her boss’s conversation with Seulgi and Sooyoung.
“I don’t have much family, so no I don’t really celebrate.” Joohyun answered, though it felt as if she was omitting some sort of truth. Seungwan did not press her further. “What will you be doing for Thanksgiving, Seungwan?”
They began walking towards the door as Seungwan answered, “I don’t talk to my family, so I’m not really celebrating either.”
“I’m sorry you don’t talk to them.” Joohyun’s voice was sincere. “That must be extremely difficult.”
“It was, at first.” Seungwan admitted quietly as they began descending the staircase. They stepped outside into the flurry of snowflakes as she continued, “It’s easier now that it’s been nearly ten years.” This was only half true; sometimes it was easy, other times Seungwan was terribly sad over the fact she had not spoken to or seen her family in so long.
They said nothing more on the topic until they were well on their way to Seungwan’s home. Joohyun murmured, “You’re so young to have nobody.”
“I don’t entirely have nobody.” Seungwan amended softly. “I have Yerim, and Miss Park and Miss Kang.” She paused for a moment. “And I have you.” Joohyun pulled into her normal parking spot in front of Seungwan’s apartment building.
“That you do.” She agreed, looking over at the younger woman. “Seungwan-ah?” She captured her attention. “Would you like to celebrate Thanksgiving together, since otherwise we’d both be alone?” Seungwan had not expected that, and it made her heart thrum nervously in her chest as she scoured her brain for a response.
“I...I would love to.” She said, her throat tight.
Joohyun smiled warmly, her crooked smile that made Seungwan want to smile back. “Good. I’ll pick you up tomorrow, around five? Is that alright?”
“Yeah, that’s perfect.” Seungwan said, feeling almost dazed, like there was no way this could be real.
“Alright, well I’ll see you tomorrow then.” Joohyun affirmed. Seungwan nodded, opening her car door and slipping out carefully.
“See you tomorrow, Miss Bae. Drive safe.” She said, shutting the door and waving as Joohyun drove away.
The following morning, Seungwan rushed to the store and bought ingredients to make pumpkin cake, which was an old family recipe she had kept when she moved away. She wanted to bring something to the dinner with Joohyun, as turning up empty handed would feel rude. She’d spent all morning preparing it and then spent the afternoon getting ready, putting on her nicest dress, which was a muted royal blue and fell just above her knees. She loosely curled her golden hair and arranged it so it fell evenly over her shoulders. Everything was prepared by four o’clock, and she spent the hour of downtime until Joohyun arrived pacing her apartment. Seungwan was incredibly nervous about this whole affair. She tried to remind herself it was just Joohyun, whom she saw everyday and spoke to quite regularly, but something about the prospect of entering the older woman’s home made this situation different.
Joohyun’s silver car arrived in it’s normal spot right at five, and Seungwan took a deep breath before leaving her apartment. She locked the door, fixed her hair, and walked as calmly as possible down the steps while still being quick. The front door to her apartment complex was heavy, and it took all the strength in the arm not holding the tray of cake to manage to open it. Flurries of snow fell down around her, sticking to her hair, yet melting as soon as they hit the ground. Joohyun was sitting patiently in her car, and Seungwan smiled to herself at the sight. She went and opened the passenger side door, and settled into her seat, setting the foil covered plate of cake gently on her lap. Joohyun pulled back onto the road immediately and sped away, towards the main road into center city. Seungwan looked to her left, studying Joohyun closely. She wore a long black skirt and a pale, cream colored sweater, her hair as it normally was, gleaming and long, falling over her shoulders messily. Seungwan thought she looked wonderful.
“Happy Thanksgiving.” Joohyun said with a grin, looking cheerful.
“Happy Thanksgiving!” Seungwan said back brightly, genuinely feeling happier than she had been on Thanksgiving in a long time. The snow began to come down in heavier torrents, making the city look as though it was moving into winter. The snow settled on the branches of trees and the tops of buildings, and Seungwan thought it looked almost like powdered sugar. She loved the snow, had ever since she was a child. Sledding, ice skating, and skiing were her favorite parts of childhood. It had been a long time since she had participated in any winter sports.
Seungwan was drawn from her musings as Joohyun turned on to a residential road in center city unfamiliar to Seungwan. It was filled with duplex apartments, larger than the apartment buildings in Seungwan’s neighborhood. Each building was split into two apartments, each with its own garage. A ways down the road, Joohyun pulled into one of the driveways, pressing a button on her car control panel and the leftmost garage opened up. She pulled her car in carefully and pressed the button again so the door would shut behind them. “Well here we are.” Joohyun gave Seungwan a small smile. “The door leading into the house should be unlocked, go ahead in.”
They both got out of the car and Seungwan lingered by the door, feeling awkward going in before Joohyun. Joohyun pushed the door open and went in, Seungwan following, peering around at her boss’s apartment. It was neat and orderly, as Seungwan had expected it to be. The door from the garage led into the kitchen, which was open to the living room; both were comfortably sized without being too small. There were many bookshelves in the living room, which were filled totally, and pictures hung on the walls. There was a wooden staircase a few steps into the living room, which Seungwan assumed led to the bedrooms and bathroom. The kitchen was warmly lit and the table set off to the side already had napkins and cutlery on it.
“Your apartment is really nice.” Seungwan commented, wanting to retain every detail she could get her eyes on.
“Thank you, Seungwan-ah.” Joohyun said, going and hanging her purse on the coat rack by the front door. “Come on in, you can sit anywhere you like.” She herself went into the living room and flicked a lamp on. “I got a very small, pre sliced turkey from the store and it’s still in the oven, so we have a bit of time.” Her eyes landed on the plate in Seungwan’s hands and they widened, as though she hadn’t noticed it before. “Oh, you brought something? You’re a sweetheart.” Seungwan’s cheeks heated at the comment. Joohyun went back over to her and continued, “Do I need to refrigerate it?”
“Probably.” Seungwan said with a soft laugh. Joohyun took it from her hands and went and put it in the fridge. “It’s pumpkin cake, an old family recipe. We had it every year for Thanksgiving when I was a kid.”
Joohyun smiled warmly. “I’m excited to try some.” Seungwan smiled back easily. “Come on into the living room, we can sit there and wait for the turkey.” Seungwan obliged, following Joohyun to the couch. They sat on the same couch, a fair distance between them. Seungwan’s eyes drifted over the living room again, seeing many pictures of the same young girls together, though she wasn’t sure who the girls were.
“Who are all your pictures of?” Seungwan asked.
“Seulgi and myself, when we were children.” Joohyun answered. Seungwan’s expression must have given away her shock, because Joohyun chuckled as she continued on. “We’ve been friends since first grade, we basically grew up like siblings.”
“Wow, that’s really cool.” Seungwan said. She had no friends left from her life before college, and though it may be for the better the idea of counting on the same person for so long sounded appealing to her. “When did you guys meet Miss Park?”
“In law school.” Joohyun said, her voice more relaxed than Seungwan had ever heard it. “She graduated a few years after Seulgi and I did, and we told her our idea of starting a firm together. She was totally on board to work for us and told us she would always support us, she was a big reason we even decided to follow through with the idea.” She had a fond look in her eye at the memories of starting their firm.
“That’s really amazing, how close you all are.” Seungwan commented, looking again to the pictures of Joohyun and Seulgi as young children. It was easy now to identify which one was Joohyun, her smile crooked even at six years old. “Are Miss Kang and Miss Park spending Thanksgiving together?” She asked.
“Yes, they do every year.” Joohyun told her.
“Why only the two of them and not you as well?” Seungwan went on. Joohyun laughed a little and Seungwan furrowed her brow, confused.
“I thought you- You don’t know, do you?” Joohyun kept giggling softly, hiding the sound behind her hand, amused at something unbeknownst to Seungwan. “The two of them are dating, so I would feel odd intruding on their holiday together.”
“Wait, Miss Kang and Miss Park are like...together?” Seungwan asked incredulously. She could hardly believe it, though now she knew things made much more sense, like how they always seemed to arrive and depart at the same time.
“You don’t...have a problem with that, do you?” Joohyun’s voice suddenly sounded meek and timid, like she was afraid of the answer.
“Oh, oh god no.” Seungwan hurried to explain. “I’m just shocked is all.” She let out a nervous breath. “I’m gay myself, so I definitely don’t have an issue with it.” The words came out without much thought, and Seungwan regretted it. Joohyun looked at her suddenly and she felt odd under her boss’s gaze. She hadn’t been planning on bringing the gay thing up to Joohyun, since it didn’t seem to matter and she’d never found the right time, but the words had bubbled out without Seungwan’s permission. She did not fear being fired, as Joohyun was obviously okay with it, though she could not understand why Joohyun was looking at her so oddly after the admission.
“I didn’t know that about you, but I’m glad you trust me enough to tell me.” Joohyun said finally. “You’ll have to tell Seulgi and Sooyoung, they’ll be overjoyed there’s another gay person in the office.” Seungwan laughed at that, which pulled a smile from Joohyun.
“Is Yeri gay too?” Seungwan asked, almost joking, but Joohyun nodded. “Damn, that’s a lot of gay people in one place.”
Joohyun chuckled, shaking her head a little. “Sooyoung always jokes that I’m outnumbered.”
“Hold on, you work with entirely gay people and you’re straight?” Seungwan said, disbelief evident in her voice. “I don’t buy that.”
“You sound like Sooyoung.” Joohyun commented, though she sounded a bit off, different than she had before. Seungwan felt her heart sink, wondering if something she had said was what upset Joohyun. The oven beeped loudly from the kitchen and Joohyun jumped up, going to the kitchen without another word. Seungwan followed her, confused by her sudden change in demeanor. Joohyun didn’t speak as she took the turkey from the oven, setting it on the counter and going to the fridge and pulling out two pans to slide in the oven to reheat the food inside them. “Thank you for coming tonight, Seungwan-ah. I’d be terribly lonely if you weren’t here.”
“Thank you for having me, Miss Bae.” Seungwan said, moving closer to the other woman’s side, wanting to be near her. The whole apartment smelled faintly of the same lavender scent Joohyun’s black coat that Seungwan had taken had originally smelled like. Seungwan had found herself missing the smell, the delicate lavender scent had comforted her when it was bitterly cold and dreary outside, and it had reminded her of Joohyun even when she was not with the woman.
“You don’t have to be so formal tonight.” The older woman amended as she set the tray of turkey on the table as it had cooled slightly. “You can just call me Joohyun.”
“Alright, Joohyun it is then.” Seungwan said, trying out the woman’s name with a smile playing on her lips.
Soon after that the other trays of food, which held mashed potatoes and green bean casserole, joined the turkey on the table. Joohyun also went to get a bottle of red wine and proceeded to pour both of them a glass. They sat opposite each other and began their meal easily, keeping up simple conversation. Seungwan loved talking to Joohyun, loved learning more about her, loved hearing her warm, quiet voice that seemed to make Seungwan’s stomach do somersaults.
“So tell me,” Joohyun started, holding the stem of her wine glass between her fingers delicately. “What made you move to such a big city?”
“Well, my parents had disowned me.” Seungwan started, knowing she would usually feel ashamed of this story, but when it was Joohyun things were different. She knew Joohyun would never judge her or think poorly of her. She trusted Joohyun implicitly. “So I moved as far away as I possibly could. I haven’t been back to my hometown since I left.”
“Do you miss it?” Joohyun inquired in her gentle manner.
“Sometimes.” Seungwan was honest. “But now that I have good friends and a good job in the city I miss it less.”
“That’s good.” Joohyun said softly, sipping her wine. They continued their meal in silence for a few moments, and then Joohyun’s phone rang from its place at the end of the table. The caller ID read Mother and Joohyun reached over and hit Decline. The phone rang again a moment later and she hit Decline in a more forceful way than before, as though that finalized it.
“You can take that, Joohyun.” Seungwan murmured, the less formal name feeling foreign on her tongue. “I don’t mind.” She liked using her boss’s first name, liked feeling more like friends than employee and employer. Joohyun’s name suited her in a way Seungwan couldn’t totally describe.
“No, it would be rude of me when I have a guest over.” Joohyun said. “And I much prefer talking to you.” Seungwan smiled in a shy way, her cheeks rosy.
“Why didn’t you spend Thanksgiving with your mom?” Seungwan took a chance asking such a personal question.
“We get along much better at a distance.” Joohyun explained. “She doesn’t agree with my professional decision to start my own firm, or with my choice in friends.” Seungwan raised her eyebrows, asking a silent question that Joohyun answered with, “She doesn’t like that Sooyoung and Seulgi are romantically involved.”
“Oh.” Was all Seungwan replied with, a sour taste in her mouth. She had a million questions swirling in her mind about Joohyun’s family life that she knew would be inappropriate to ask but still burned a hole in her mind.
“Anyways.” Joohyun steered the conversation elsewhere. “Let’s talk about something more cheerful. What are you thankful for this year, Seungwan-ah?”
“My job.” Seungwan answered truthfully. “Yeri, Miss Park and Miss Kang.” A soft glance was exchanged between them, Seungwan memorizing the exact color of Joohyun’s eyes in the warm light of the kitchen. “You.” She finished quietly. Joohyun gave a gentle, almost hesitant smile. “If you weren’t so kind to me I would have things much harder.”
“You deserve all the kindness in the world.” Joohyun murmured, her eyes still resting on Seungwan’s face, making her feel warm all over. Seungwan thought for half a second about what it might be like to kiss Joohyun, to know what her gentle, sweet looking lips would feel like, but she dismissed the thought quickly. Must just be the wine. She thought to herself as they continued talking into the night.
Chapter 9: Chapter Nine
i love reading all of your comments, they warm my heart. i'm so so glad people genuinely like this story, i was so worried nobody would. i'm excited to keep posting!
Seungwan woke to late morning sunlight filling her bedroom the Friday after Thanksgiving. She typically woke up before ten, even on weekends, but she had slept past eleven. She chalked it up the wine she’d had during dinner, as she had always gotten quiet sleepy after a night of drinking in high school and college. She let out a soft sigh, peering around her bedroom through half lidded eyes. Her dress and shoes from the night before were strewn across the floor, and the black coat she now always wore out was slung across the bottom right corner of her bed. She sat up, the blankets covering her falling down and pooling in her lap as she reached and snatched up the coat, bringing the soft fabric to her and breathing in deeply. It now smelled of lavender again, which is what she had been hoping for. Seungwan got out of bed entirely, picking her dress up off the floor and breathing in the scent of that cloth as well, identifying lavender again. It all smelled of Joohyun, which put Seungwan immediately at ease. She did not want the scent to fade again. She set the garments down at the end of her bed and went to retrieve her phone, which told her she a new message from a number not saved in her contacts. It read:
Hi Seungwan, it’s Joohyun. I know you don’t have my phone number, but I found yours in your employee file so I could message you. Thank you for last night, it was very sweet of you to spend your holiday with me. I hope you enjoy the rest of your weekend! I’ll see you on Monday morning. :)
Seungwan grinned reading the message, laughing a little to herself at the smiley face Joohyun had added to the end. The previous night had not felt real, had felt so dreamlike Seungwan had nearly convinced herself it truly had been a figment of her sleeping mind’s imagination, but now she had two pieces of tangible proof the night had been real; the lingering scent of Joohyun on her clothing and the text message now awaiting a response. She began typing her reply.
Hi! Thank you for the message, and for dinner last night. It was really nice to get to spend time with you out of the office. Enjoy your weekend and don’t work too hard. See you Monday!!
She left off any name, as she was now unsure when she was allowed to call her boss Joohyun and when to revert back to her previous formalities. She didn’t know if the privilege of using Joohyun was reserved for that night only and was never to be repeated or if outside the office she could be casual with her employer. Seungwan slipped her phone into the pocket of the worn sweatpants she used as her pajama bottoms and made her way out into the kitchen. She made herself a mug of coffee and went with it to the living room, sitting down on the couch and opening up her blinds so the light of the morning could illuminate her apartment. Her phone buzzed in her pocket and she took it out immediately, seeing a new text from Joohyun.
You left your cake pan at my house, do you need it this weekend? Or should I just bring it to you on Monday?
The question was so very Joohyun; Seungwan could almost see her boss’s furrowed brow as she worried over what to do with Seungwan’s property left in the wrong place. She composed her response quickly, smiling to herself as she did so.
I don’t need it haha, Monday is fine. Thank you for the concern though.
As she sent her reply, she settled back against the cushion of the couch and sipped her coffee, contemplating what to do with her weekend. She had gotten her paycheck early, before she had left on Wednesday, so she figured she could grocery shop for the following week. Maybe she could see if Yeri wanted to get lunch the next day. She would find ways to occupy herself no matter what. As the morning waxed on, Seungwan found herself glancing every so often out the window and down to the curb, then to the cars cruising by her apartment complex. It hit her as she finished her first mug of coffee - she was subconsciously waiting for Joohyun’s silver car to pull up, because that had become her routine every single day. The thought that she wouldn’t see that sight for three days made her heart ache. She missed Joohyun already, and it had not even been a day since she had last seen her.
Seungwan often wondered why she had become so fond of her boss. She had been working for Joohyun just over a month, but she felt incredibly attached to the office and to Joohyun as well. She was so overwhelmingly kind to Seungwan; she offered rides, meals, her coat, and she did all of it without complaint. Seungwan could not fathom what she did to deserve someone like Joohyun in her life, but she knew for certain she would not take it for granted. She considered Joohyun an angel on earth. Knowing Joohyun’s track record, Seungwan knew her metaphorical expiration date as Joohyun’s secretary was looming over her head. Yeri had told her most secretaries only lasted about a month or two, and she was inching closer and closer to a month and a half everyday. Deciding not to worry about a problem that wasn’t happening yet, Seungwan got up and took her mug to the kitchen sink, rinsing it out and setting it in the dish rack. She sighed, thinking of the weekend ahead of her, and for the first time in all her life she wished it was Monday already.
Monday morning started with a knock on Seungwan’s door. She bolted upright in bed, her breath labored, hoping she had imagined the knock. A moment later two more knocks came, and she felt her heart rate pick up rapidly. Her mind was still half clouded with sleep, but she knew one thing; nobody ever knocked at her door. She slipped out of bed and cautiously went to the door, pulling it open a sliver and peering out. Joohyun, dressed in her work clothes, looked back at her with bright eyes. “Hi.” She said.
“Hi.” Seungwan said back hoarsely.
“You usually come out to the car right away, but you didn’t this morning, so after a little while I came up and knocked.” Joohyun explained. It hit Seungwan all at once; she had overslept, Joohyun had been waiting on her for awhile now, and now Joohyun was here, at her small, dingy apartment, looking at her as she was still donning her old, worn pajamas.
“Fuck.” Was the first thing out of Seungwan’s mouth, and Joohyun’s eyes widened at her profanity. “Oh my god, I’m so sorry. I messed up.” Joohyun looked almost sad at Seungwan’s sudden nervous outburst. “I have to run and get dressed but I’ll be quick, I swear.” A beat. “You need to come in, it’s a bad idea to linger in the hallways.” She opened the door all the way and Joohyun stepped inside. “My neighbors aren’t the nicest.” Seungwan rushed off and dressed quicker than she ever had before, pausing only to make sure the black coat was settled the right way so the collar was high enough to cover her neck. She ran back out to meet Joohyun in her living room.
“Your apartment is very you.” Joohyun commented softly as Seungwan rejoined her and they went out the door and down the stairs.
“What do you mean?” Seungwan asked as she held the front door open for Joohyun, watching as big snowflakes immediately nestled themselves into Joohyun’s dark hair.
“Tidy, but not in an orderly way, in a way where you only keep the necessities.” Joohyun explained, though Seungwan still did not quite know where this observation came from, or why it was important right now. They got into Joohyun’s car and sped off towards the office.
There was silence for a few minutes until Seungwan blurted out, “I’m so sorry I was late, I accidentally overslept because I forgot to turn my alarms back on and I usually try so hard to get out to your car quickly but I just-” She stopped as she ran out of breath, finishing meekly with, “-didn’t. Today.”
“Seungwan-ah, it’s okay, I promise.” Joohyun reassured her, her voice as warm as ever. “I don’t know why this has you so upset. Have I done something to make you think I would punish you in some way for something so small?” There was a bit of hurt under the concern in her voice, and Seungwan hated to hear it, hated even more to know it was because of her own assumptions about Joohyun.
“I…” Seungwan did not want to explain, did not want to detail her obsession with how to not get fired, did not want to tell Joohyun she knew about all the secretaries before her and had tried every avenue of getting information about why they were fired and had still turned up empty so she had resorted to walking on eggshells. She even more desperately did not want to explain that she was just plain embarrassed of her apartment, and how small it was, where it was located.
“You don’t have to be afraid.” Joohyun murmured, sneaking a look at Seungwan.
“I was scared you would fire me, or something.” Seungwan mumbled. “And I didn’t want you to see how gross my apartment is.” Joohyun let out the smallest of breaths, though it held the weight of her feelings and Seungwan knew that. She could see the sadness reflecting in Joohyun’s eyes when she finally gathered the courage to look up at the woman.
“You thought I would fire you.” Joohyun did not pose this as a question, it was a clear statement, but Seungwan nodded anyways. Joohyun sighed out a soft, “Seungwan.” There was a long moment of silence where Seungwan was scared she might start crying, and then Joohyun said, “I’m sorry I gave you the impression I was that cruel.”
“No, Joohyun,” Seungwan looked up at her, desperation evident in her voice. “I don’t think you’re cruel at all. You’re the kindest person I’ve ever met. I’ve just...heard stuff. About the secretaries before me.”
“Oh.” Joohyun whispered. Seungwan could’ve sworn there were tears welling up in Joohyun’s eyes, but a moment later they seemed to have vanished. They pulled into the office parking lot just then, and Joohyun parked the car but made no attempt to move. “As far as your apartment goes, I’ve never thought less of you because of the area you live in. I wish I had made that more known to you.”
“I’m sorry.” Seungwan whispered softly, a tear slipping down her cheek. Joohyun’s gentle hand came to her shoulder, her thumb rubbing back and forth in hopes of comforting the younger woman.
“There’s nothing for you to apologize for.” Joohyun replied, the emphasis on the you making Seungwan’s heart drop. Joohyun took a deep breath and said, “When you’re ready we’ll go in, there’s no rush.”
“No, I’m okay.” Seungwan said, trying to convince herself. “I’m okay.” She repeated. She wiped her tears away quickly. “I’m good.” Joohyun just watched her, so Seungwan made the first move out of the car. Joohyun followed hesitantly, trailing behind Seungwan as they went into the building and up to the office. Seungwan pushed opened the office door and Joohyun came in behind her, white knuckling her purse. She walked straight to her office and by the time Seungwan reached her own desk she heard the lock click on Joohyun’s office door.
Chapter 10: Chapter Ten
i swear all of you who comment are the loveliest people in the world. thank you for your encouragement, i'm honored you enjoy my story.
The following weeks that passed made Seungwan’s heart heavy. Joohyun had become distant, and though she was still giving her rides, she kept the conversation minimal and mundane. Seungwan felt as though she had lost something dear to her heart, and had spent the rest of November and most December grieving that loss. She did not see Joohyun outside of the office anymore than necessary, and she had even started declining Yeri’s invitations to go get coffee, as she was assuming her time at the office was coming to a close. As far as the rest of the world was concerned, the only pressing matter at hand was Christmas swiftly approaching. All the shops in the city were decorated appropriately for the holiday, there were Christmas carols on every station, and the snow was heavy and coated the sidewalks nearly every night.
The day before Christmas Eve was an office Christmas party, organized by Sooyoung with the reluctant help of Seulgi. Sooyoung, Seulgi, and Yeri were all chatting by the punch bowl on the kitchen counter, meanwhile Seungwan sat on the couch in the waiting room, feeling distant from the whole occasion. She had nothing about Christmas to look forward to. She could hear the conversation from her seat, and her ears perked when the topic turned to Joohyun.
“Has anybody seen Joohyun?” Sooyoung asked.
“She’s stayed in her office all day.” Yeri answered in a quiet way, unusual for her.
“Well somebody has to go and make her have some fun for once.” Sooyoung said with an exasperated sigh. “She’s been so sad lately, I don’t know what happened.”
“I don’t know either.” Seulgi replied. “I’ll go and get her. She needs to stop working so much. She thinks nobody knows but after she drops Seungwan off she comes back to the office and stays here until god knows when. I came back to get a USB I had forgotten I needed the other day and she was still here, and it was nearly ten o’clock at night.” Seulgi walked off, stopping by Seungwan for a moment. “Hey, are you okay?”
“Yeah, just tired is all.” Seungwan said, forcing a smile. Seulgi did not look convinced, but she accepted the answer anyways, going to Joohyun’s office. Over ten minutes passed before Seulgi came back out, Joohyun following reluctantly behind her. Seungwan dared a glance at her boss and the first thing she noticed was how tired she looked. She had lost the brightness in her face and she looked almost ghost like, trailing behind Seulgi in her flowy white dress. Joohyun joined the circle, and Seulgi beckoned Seungwan to join it as well, so she stood and walked over, listening in on the conversation but not participating.
“My mom is trying to win the stupid competition our neighborhood has for who has the best Christmas decorations.” Yeri told, a clear attempt at brightening the mood. “But we don’t have enough lights and she’s stressed because every store is sold out.”
“Oh! We have extra lights in the storage closet.” Sooyoung said, bringing a puzzled look from Yeri. “We usually decorate the office for Christmas but I guess we all kind of forgot this year. There’s a bunch of boxes in there, you can borrow them if you’d like.”
“That’d be awesome, thank you.” Yeri replied, grinning.
“Alright well let’s go get the boxes.” Sooyoung said. “Can you three help carry them? There’s a lot of small ones.” Seulgi, Seungwan, and Joohyun all nodded. They all turned and began walking towards the hallway, Joohyun and Seungwan being closest to the hallway entrance reaching it first. They walked side by side but did not look at each other. As they each stepped under the hallway entrance, they heard Sooyoung go, “Oh god.”
“What?” Joohyun turned around and looked at the taller woman.
Sooyoung pointed upwards and both Joohyun and Seungwan glanced up, spotting the sprig of mistletoe hanging from the ceiling. “Seulgi,” Sooyoung turned and looked at her girlfriend. “Did you put that there?”
“Maybe.” Seulgi said, shrugging. “I was hoping I’d catch you under it, I didn’t anticipate anyone else going back there.” Seungwan looked from Sooyoung and Seulgi to Joohyun nervously. What the fuck is my life anymore? Why does this stuff always happen to me? She thought to herself.
“It’s tradition.” Sooyoung pointed out, giggling a little. Joohyun shot her a glare.
“It’s a silly tradition.” Joohyun said sternly.
“It means bad luck if you don’t follow it.” Sooyoung kept going, obviously enjoying her teasing. Seulgi gave her a sharp elbow to the side. “Hey! I’m just warning her.”
Seungwan could tell everyone was watching, wondering what the conclusion of this mistletoe saga would be, and so she threw all caution to the wind and leaned and gave Joohyun a quick peck on the cheek. Joohyun’s cheeks turned bright red, she could feel the heat under her lips the brief moment they rested on Joohyun’s cheek, and after Seungwan pulled away she turned and looked right at Seungwan, which she had not done for nearly a month. “There, does that count?” Seungwan asked, her question directed at Sooyoung.
“I guess it does.” Sooyoung conceded, so the crowd moved ahead and deeper into the hallway, Seungwan and Joohyun stepping out the way to let them through. Joohyun’s cheeks were still rosy and she had went back to avoiding Seungwan’s gaze.
“I’m sorry if I overstepped.” Seungwan said, drawing Joohyun’s attention. “I just knew Miss Park wouldn’t let us go without something.”
Joohyun gave a hesitant half smile. “You’re right, Sooyoung loves traditions like that and follows them closely. She’s very superstitious.”
Seungwan gave a small smile back and stepped back to let Joohyun go down the hallway first. “After you.” She said, her heart in her throat. As Joohyun walked by her she could swear she caught the faintest scent of the lavender that had long since disappeared from her clothes again, and she found herself wishing for that familiar scent again, which always put her at ease when nothing else could.
Christmas morning brought four inches of snow, leaving the streets and sidewalks laden with gray slush from cars and pedestrians trekking through. It took Seungwan one look outside to decide once and for all she would be content not leaving her apartment the entire day. She did get dressed, so she could have some semblance of put togetherness, wearing a thick, knit, red sweater and jeans. Her apartment felt frigid and so she went and turned the heat up slightly, still not used to the luxury of being able to do that without worrying about the heat bill becoming far too expensive. The morning was passing quickly into the afternoon, the blazing winter sun reflecting rectangle slats through the blinds onto Seungwan’s floors, making the room look slightly dim.
Knock knock knock.
The sound startled Seungwan, making her jump slightly. She debated on ignoring the knocking sound as she was positive this could not lead to anything good. She mentally went over all of the bills that needed to be paid for December and their due dates, nearly positive she was not behind on anything, though she couldn’t imagine who other than her landlord this could be. Sighing, she meandered slowly to the door, wrenching it open and finding herself stunned into silence. It was Joohyun, wearing a mauve colored cardigan that made her features look soft and warm, clutching a gold colored box tied with a pearly white ribbon.
“Hi?” The greeting came out more as a question as Seungwan leaned against her door frame, almost tempted to pinch herself to see if she was actually awake. The last month of Joohyun’s distant, cold disposition and now she was here, smiling timidly at Seungwan and looking more cheerful than she had in a long while.
“Hi.” Joohyun said in reply. “I hope I’m not intruding on anything.”
“You’re not.” Seungwan answered bluntly, unsure what else to say.
“I just wanted to apologize, for my behavior these past couple of weeks.” Joohyun began in a low voice. “It was wrong of me to be so cold towards you when you had done nothing wrong.”
“Thank you.” Seungwan said softly, confused as to what led Joohyun to her door on Christmas Day.
“Your worries were not off base, and I wish they had been, but considering my…” She waved her hand, searching for the right word. “...history, I can understand your concerns.”
“But I know you better than to think you’d be so cruel.” Seungwan said. “Or at least I should have.”
“Please, don’t place the blame on yourself. I should shoulder all of the burden.” Joohyun corrected her in a gentle way.
Seungwan sighed, and then asked, “Are you doing anything today?”
“I was supposed to, but those plans fell through.” Joohyun answered vaguely. “Why do you ask?”
“I was going to invite you in for some tea.” Seungwan told her. Joohyun smiled.
“I’d like that very much.” She replied, so Seungwan let her inside the apartment and led her to the couch, offering her a seat.
“What kind of tea do you want? I have earl grey, green tea, jasmine, chamomile…” Seungwan left the list open ended.
“Chamomile would be nice, thank you.” Joohyun said, her voice sounding meek. She sat on the couch, gold box on her lap, eyes roaming over Seungwan’s apartment as Seungwan prepared the mugs of tea. As the water boiled, Seungwan glanced back at Joohyun, who looked almost out of place in her tiny living room. Her cheeks were still tinged pink from the bitterly cold outdoors, but her face was complemented by the extra color. It made her look wonderfully youthful and bright, like she was straight out of a painting of angels from the Renaissance.
The pot of water bubbled loudly behind Seungwan, drawing her from her reverie. She poured the water into two mugs, dropping the tea bags in and adding spoons. As she carried the mugs she noticed one had a chip and mentally noted to give Joohyun the unchipped one. She sat beside Joohyun on the couch, passing her the mug with no chip, and held tightly to her own mug. Joohyun murmured her thanks and then took her spoon, crushing the tea bag so the flavor would fill the water quickly. She swirled the spoon, her eyes trained on the thing, all her focus on this small, simplistic task. Seungwan herself simply crushed the teabag forcefully and let it sit, the flavor filtering into her tea slowly.
“What’s in the box?” Seungwan inquired.
“Oh!” Joohyun exclaimed softly, picking the box up and placing it in Seungwan’s lap. “It’s your Christmas present.”
“But I didn’t get you anything.” Seungwan looked from the beautifully packaged present to Joohyun, who was beaming at her. She couldn’t help but think that Joohyun looked beautiful, so beautiful she didn’t seem real. She was practically radiating joy.
“That doesn’t matter.” Joohyun brushed off the concern. “Open it!” Her excitement was a bit contagious, coaxing a small smile from Seungwan as she carefully pulled the ribbon undone. She set the ribbon aside and cautiously slipped the top of the box off. Inside was an envelope with her name written on it in meticulous, even lettering nestled amongst white tissue paper. “Read the card first.” Joohyun instructed. Seungwan followed the direction, opening the envelope with nimble fingers and sliding out a thick, beautiful card. She opened the card, searching for the words inside. The same neat print covered the blank left side and Joohyun’s pretty looking signature was placed at the bottom of the right page. It read:
Merry Christmas, Seungwan-ah. I hope this card finds you in good spirits. I know it seems odd of me to give you something like this after the past month we’ve had, but I do hope you can still find it in your heart to enjoy the gift. I’ve been pondering what to get you since Thanksgiving, and I hope what I settled on is satisfactory. Thank you for your kindness and diligence in your work, you have been a wonderful employee and an even more delightful friend. We all enjoy having you at the office, but I in particular would feel lost without your presence. You have been a gift to all of us.
Seungwan read the words once, and then went back and read them a second time, savoring every word. It was so heartfelt, she could feel the emotion behind the words. Joohyun was watching her intently, anticipating her reaction. Seungwan looked up to the older woman, expressing her gratitude with a hushed, “Thank you so much.”
“You haven’t even opened the gift yet.” Joohyun reminded her.
“The card alone was wonderful.” Seungwan said, her voice filled with awe. She set the card at her side, beside the ribbon, and pulled back the tissue paper. It revealed a picture frame made of glossy wood, with a note attached. The note said: Since you don’t have any pictures hanging up in your apartment yet. “Oh…” A soft gasp left her lips as she ran her fingers over the wood and then the glass. “It’s beautiful.”
“You like it?” Joohyun asked.
“I love it.” Seungwan answered honestly. “I just don’t have many pictures. I’m not a picture person.”
“That’s alright.” Joohyun said with a smile. “I’ll turn you into a picture person. Pictures are just so wonderful, they capture the most amazing moments of life. They’re like magic.” Seungwan looked at Joohyun fondly, her heart thrumming rapidly in her chest. She could’ve sworn there was nothing more precious in life than the smile that wreathed Joohyun’s face, her eyes glowing with joy. Life finally felt full again, and Seungwan was keenly aware that feeling was all due to Joohyun.
Chapter 11: Chapter Eleven
i think i'll just leave you with this chapter as it is because this is when things get...interesting.
The day spent with Joohyun had made work more than simply tolerable for Seungwan again, and she was beyond glad that she and Joohyun were back on friendly speaking terms. The change was noticeable, Joohyun was more inclined to leave her office during the day for brief intervals to come and chat to Seungwan or to go and talk to Seulgi or Sooyoung. It seemed everything in the universe had righted itself and life was back to normal. The day before New Years Eve, as Seungwan and Joohyun were driving to the former’s apartment, Joohyun brought up the annual office celebration. “The office New Years celebration is tomorrow night, at Seulgi and Sooyoung’s apartment.” Joohyun informed Seungwan as she turned down Seungwan’s street. “Would you like to come? I would pick you up, of course.”
“I’d love to come.” Seungwan said easily as Joohyun came to a stop in front of her house. She reached into her coat pocket and fished out the twenty dollar bill she had been saving since the night before to give to Joohyun as payment for the constant rides. “Here, take this.” She put the bill into Joohyun’s hand. “Gas money.”
“No, no, I’m not taking that.” Joohyun argued, pushing the bill back towards her. “I don’t mind giving you rides.”
“I feel bad about it though, so just take it.” Seungwan pressed the bill back into Joohyun’s hand.
Joohyun sighed, holding onto the bill and saying, “Well alright then. I’ll see you tomorrow at seven, okay?”
“Sounds good.” Seungwan agreed. “See you tomorrow Joohyun!” She slid out of the car and as she went, Joohyun took her chance and slipped the bill back into Seungwan’s pocket. Seungwan didn’t register the movement until she had already closed the car door and before she could open it back up Joohyun had locked it and was waving her goodbyes. As Joohyun pulled away, Seungwan shook her head, laughing to herself.
Seulgi and Sooyoung’s apartment was very similar to Joohyun’s; in fact, it was only a block away from Joohyun’s apartment. Joohyun and Seungwan walked up to the front door together, Joohyun knocking three times in quick procession. Seulgi came and answered the door, grinning at the two of them and opening the door up. “Come on in!” She said cheerily, leading the way inside. Joohyun slipped her shoes off at the door and Seungwan followed suit, her eyes travelling the room quickly. The front door led into the living room, which was semi open to the kitchen. “Sooyoung and Yerim are in the kitchen.” Seulgi said, taking them there. “There’s plenty of food and drinks, alcohol and otherwise.” They all stepped into the kitchen and Seulgi turned back towards them, hugging Joohyun first and then surprising Seungwan with an equally tight hug. “It’s good to see you both.”
“Joohyun unnie!” Sooyoung exclaimed, coming over and giving Joohyun a big hug. She then turned to Seungwan, grinning at her, saying, “And my favorite secretary.”
“Hey!” Yeri called out, taking mock offense to Sooyoung’s joke.
“You guys have to come and do shots with me, Seulgi and Yeri won’t.” Sooyoung insisted.
“I’m sorry I prefer to sip my drink slowly and not chug it.” Yeri laughed, sipping from a Mike’s hard lemonade.
“There has to be one responsible adult.” Seulgi explained, coming up to Sooyoung and sliding an arm around her waist.
Sooyoung kissed the top of her head and said, “You’re cute, Seul.” Seungwan was slightly taken aback by the easy displays of affection, which were non existent in the office. She did think it was sweet, and it was clear they made each other very happy. Sooyoung pressed shot glasses into Joohyun and Seungwan’s hands.
“You know I hate liquor, Soo.” Joohyun said.
“Uh no, you love liquor and don’t like what it does to you the next day.” Sooyoung corrected, making Joohyun laugh softly. “Ready?” She said, to which both Seungwan and Joohyun nodded. They all threw back their shots, the bitter taste of the vodka burning in Seungwan’s throat. It had been a long time since she had had hard liquor and she wasn’t quite as immune to the flavor as she once had been. She looked to her left at Joohyun, who was also cringing a little at the harsh flavor. Reaching into her pocket, Seungwan grasped onto the twenty dollar bill she still intended to give Joohyun for gas money. She took advantage of Joohyun being distracted and slid the bill into the back pocket of Joohyun’s jeans.
“Whoa,” Joohyun said, quickly turning to Seungwan and then looking behind her, clearly startled. “What did you do?” Seungwan couldn’t hide her grin despite her best attempts and Joohyun gave her a knowing look. “I’m not keeping it, Seungwan. I’ll get it back to you eventually.”
“Sure you will.” Seungwan said, still grinning. Joohyun rolled her eyes and turned back to Sooyoung. As Sooyoung and Joohyun got into a conversation while preparing a second shot, Seungwan went and got herself a Mike’s hard from the fridge to nurse.
The night seemed to fly by in a whirlwind of stories, jokes, and a lot of alcohol. Joohyun was well beyond tipsy as the clock inched closer and closer to midnight, though Seungwan was only slightly buzzed. She stayed close to Joohyun’s side, looking after her. Joohyun was still quiet as ever, even drunk. They had all crowded in the living room to prepare to watch the ball drop, and Seulgi, Sooyoung, and Yeri were all hooping and hollering as the minutes ticked by. Joohyun put her fingers to her ears to block the sound, so Seungwan whispered, “Do you want to go to the kitchen where it’s quieter?”
“Mhm,” Joohyun said. “Sounds better.” Seungwan offered her a hand to help her up and Joohyun slipped an arm around Seungwan’s waist, hanging on to her for balance. They went to the kitchen unnoticed by the rest of the group. It was slightly quieter in the kitchen, the half wall blocking some of the yelling. The stove clock told them it was three minutes until midnight.
“How are you feeling?” Seungwan asked, as Joohyun still had not moved her hand from Seungwan’s waist.
“Good.” Joohyun answered, her voice even more quiet than usual. “A little fuzzy.” She paused. “How close is it to midnight?”
“About two minutes.” Seungwan told her. Joohyun only nodded. “I’m kind of glad we’re out of the living room, we’ll get to miss Sooyoung drunkenly trying to kiss Seulgi at midnight.”
Joohyun laughed in an odd way. There were a few short moments of silence in the kitchen, though the yells of the rowdier crowd in the living room could still be heard.
“Seungwan.” Joohyun said, her voice suddenly very serious.
“Hm?” The younger woman asked in reply. There was half a minute of silence, in which the time on the clock switched to 11:59.
Then, suddenly, “You’re the most wonderful person I think I’ve ever met.”
“Thank you, Joohyun. You’re sweet.” Seungwan said, confused as to where this was coming from.
“You’re so beautiful.” Joohyun went on. “I hope you know that.” The group in the living room began a loud countdown, starting at thirty.
“Thank you.” Seungwan said again. Joohyun simply studied her, her dark eyes clouded with drunkenness, but a fondness still glimmering through. Seungwan was terribly confused at what was going on and she, for some odd reason she could not explain, felt nervousness growing in the pit of her stomach. The countdown reached twenty and Joohyun moved forward, wrapping her arms around Seungwan in a soft, frail hug. “Is everything okay?” Seungwan asked, to which Joohyun only nodded. She did not let go of Seungwan.
10, 9, 8
The voices from the living room all chorused in unison. Joohyun tightened her hold on Seungwan.
7, 6, 5
Suddenly, Joohyun looked up at Seungwan, their faces close, closer than they had ever been. Seungwan felt her breath hitch in her throat.
4, 3, 2
As the voices from the living room shouted one, Joohyun leaned forward and pressed a gentle kiss to Seungwan’s lips, and Seungwan could feel Joohyun was trembling all over. The kiss was soft, slow, and delicate, and Seungwan felt herself almost beginning to enjoy it until she snapped quickly back to reality. She pulled back and Joohyun looked up at her, looking horribly sad, still shaking slightly. “I’m sorry, Joohyun. Not while you’re drunk. You’ll regret it in the morning.” Embarrassment clouded her eyes and Joohyun nodded solemnly, which made Seungwan feel horridly guilty. “Let’s go home.” Joohyun nodded again. Seungwan led her out to the living room and said to the group, “We’re gonna head out, Joohyun overdid it a little.”
“Okay, be careful Seungwan.” Seulgi said.
“Goodbye, Wan!” Yeri called out.
“Bye Seungwan!” Sooyoung chimed in.
“Bye, everybody.” Seungwan said back, going to the door with haste. She led Joohyun out to the car, realizing she was now tasked with driving. “Joohyun, can you hand me your car keys?” Joohyun complied, taking longer than usual to grasp her keys but getting there eventually. Seungwan helped Joohyun into the passenger seat and buckled her seatbelt before going around to the drivers side. It had been a very long time since she had driven, so she was extremely careful backing out of the driveway and onto the road. She drove the block over to Joohyun’s apartment. “I’ll bring you back your car tomorrow, okay?”
“Mhm.” Joohyun agreed easily. Seungwan helped her out of the car and up to the door, getting her inside.
“Goodnight, Joohyun. Be careful.” She said.
“You too, Seungwannie.” Joohyun mumbled back. The nickname took Seungwan by surprise. “Night.” She waved half heartedly and then shut the door. Seungwan spent the whole drive back to her apartment fretting over Joohyun all alone in her apartment and replaying their quick, stolen kiss in Seulgi and Sooyoung’s kitchen, wondering what to do about it. Because of that one moment, as the year changed, things were changed forever and Seungwan had no control over the trajectory of that change.
Chapter 12: Chapter Twelve
all of your comments are so wonderful, the fact people genuinely look forward to my story blows me away. i hope you continue to look forward to it.
Seungwan hardly slept at all once she arrived home, despite feeling exhausted, and began her day at seven o’clock in the morning. She couldn’t stop worrying, worrying about Joohyun being left all alone in her drunken state, worrying about the kiss and what it would now mean for them. Seungwan only knew one thing for sure; she could never go there with Joohyun. It was too risky, it would jeopardize too much for the both of them. Seungwan adored Joohyun with every fiber of her being and would do anything for her, even if that meant pretending all of her feelings for the woman were entirely platonic. There was also the fact Joohyun had specifically told Seungwan that she was straight, not into girls, and yet she had made the decision to kiss Seungwan and had seemed disappointed when Seungwan stopped. In her college days, Seungwan had encountered girls who claimed to be straight until they were drunk and from her experience, none of them were actually straight. Though Joohyun did not seem like those girls, who had thought of being gay as gross or dirty until their inhibitions were gone. Joohyun was too considerate to think like that, or to act like that. It must’ve just been a mistake, or a misunderstanding somehow. It had to be.
She waited until nearly noon before texting Joohyun, nervously writing and rewriting her message a handful of times before settling on a final draft.
Hey Joohyun, are you up yet? When you are let me know so I can swing by and drop your car off.
Joohyun’s reply came much quicker than Seungwan had anticipated.
Yes, I’m awake. I think it says a lot about last night that I didn’t even realize you had my car.
The message made Seungwan hopeful Joohyun wouldn’t even remember the quick kiss in the kitchen. She replied quickly.
How are you feeling?
Terrible, honestly. Never let me do what Sooyoung suggests ever again.
Haha I won’t. Can I bring your car by?
Yes, thank you for everything last night.
The word everything made Seungwan’s stomach turn a little. Maybe it was because she was dwelling on things too much, but it seemed to imply much more than she assumed Joohyun intended it to. She did not respond to the message yet, instead going to her kitchen table and scooping up Joohyun’s car keys and then slipping her coat on, readying herself to leave. After locking her apartment door and beginning her descent down the stairs, she composed a reply.
Of course, anytime. On my way, see you in a bit.
The reply sounded nonchalant enough to Seungwan with seeming stand offish. Sighing, she rushed over to Joohyun’s car and clambered in, easing the car out into traffic. She was overly cautious with her driving, and she nearly got lost twice, so it took her much longer to get to Joohyun’s than it should have, but she arrived nonetheless. She hesitated a moment before pressing the garage door opener and guiding the car in. She shut the garage door and go out of the car, pocketing the keys and going to the side door. She knocked loudly twice and stepped back slightly, waiting. She heard the shuffling of feet and the click of a lock and then the door opened. Joohyun smiled tiredly at Seungwan. This was the most casual Seungwan had ever seen her dressed; she was wearing black leggings, an oversized Harvard hoodie, her hair in a ponytail and her circle rimmed glasses perched on her nose
“Thank you, Seungwan-ah. You’re an angel.” Joohyun said as a greeting. Seungwan was glad she was back to her normal self. When she was intoxicated she had seemed so far away, hardly speaking at all and clinging to Seungwan, not leaving her side. “Come in for a moment, if you’d like.” Seungwan stepped inside, the lavender smell she had come to associate with comfort washing over her.
“You seem awfully cheerful for saying you feel terrible.” Seungwan teased lightly.
“Well how could I not be more cheerful when you’re here?” Joohyun said warmly. A comment like this usually would not make Seungwan nervous, it was nothing Joohyun hadn’t said before, but it made Seungwan’s heartbeat speed up significantly. Does she know we kissed last night? She wondered to herself. “How do you plan on getting home?”
“I figured I’d just walk.” Seungwan said with a sigh. Joohyun pursed her lips, looking at Seungwan with disapproval. “Well you can’t drive, you’re still hungover.” Seungwan pointed out.
Joohyun looked away. “I really overdid it, didn’t I?”
“Yeah, a little.” Seungwan said. “How much do you remember?” The question left a sour taste in her mouth.
“Not much. I remember getting there and being in the kitchen with you and…” Joohyun stopped, thinking. Seungwan held her breath, hoping that the kiss would be omitted from Joohyun’s memory. Finally, Joohyun said, “That’s it.”
“It wasn’t too interesting anyways.” Seungwan assured her. “You get really quiet when you’re drunk.”
“Do I?” Joohyun asked. “It’s been a long time since I’ve been genuinely drunk, and I never remember much anyways.”
“Yeah, you hardly spoke at all. We stayed in the kitchen during the countdown, because the others were being really rowdy and you didn’t like it.” Seungwan explained. Joohyun gave a half smile. Seungwan looked at her, wondering again whether she remembered their kiss. It didn’t seem like she did. As much as Seungwan was glad, there was a part of her that was disappointed. She was jealous, in a way. Joohyun could move on as if nothing happened, as if they were just friends and colleagues. But Seungwan would never forget what it felt like to kiss Joohyun, how wonderful even that small, short kiss was, how much she craved more, longer, deeper kisses. How could she pretend everything was as it had always been when she couldn’t even look at Joohyun without remembering what her lips felt like, what they taste like?
“Hey, earth to Seungwan.” Joohyun said softly, snapping Seungwan back to reality. “Lost you there for a moment.”
“Sorry.” Seungwan mumbled. “What did you say?”
“I’m going to call you a cab to take you home.” Joohyun repeated, her voice steady and patient. “I’ll give you money to pay for it.”
“Joohyun.” Seungwan said, sounding exasperated. “Stop being nice to me.”
Joohyun let out a quiet giggle at that. “You’re funny, Seungwan-ah.” She went over to the kitchen counter and grabbed her phone, looking at a list of phone numbers on her fridge, searching for the right one to call. “Oh, by the way, I’m not going to be at work for the next week or so.”
Seungwan felt her heart drop. “Why?”
“I’m going out of town, to visit some family.” Joohyun explained vaguely. “I’ll be back before you know it.”
“What do I do while you’re gone?” Seungwan asked, her voice meek. What would she do without Joohyun’s presence so close by, watching over her and comforting her?
“It’ll be a slow week for you. Any phone calls you get just do what you can with, set appointments up for the following week if anyone calls to schedule.” Joohyun detailed. “I’ve asked Seulgi and Sooyoung to pick you up and drop you off and they were more than happy to help out.” She walked over to Seungwan, phone still in hand. She placed her free hand on Seungwan’s shoulder, giving a gentle squeeze. “You look so sad, Seungwan. It’s just a week.”
“I know, I’ll just miss you.” Seungwan said back, her throat feeling tight. She wasn’t entirely sure how she would manage without Joohyun. Even the month they spent hardly speaking they still saw one another everyday, still spoke even if it was brief. A whole week without Joohyun, who had become the center of her world, sounded so dreary and lonely. Especially considering, if what Seungwan was assuming was correct, Joohyun would be visiting her mother, who did not sound like a kind woman. She did not want to see Joohyun go and be with someone who made her feel awful about who she was friends with, especially when she could be here, with everyone who loved her. Tears threatened to well up in Seungwan’s eyes and so she cast her gaze downwards.
“I’ll miss you as well.” Joohyun said. She continued on kindly with, “I don’t mean to kick you out, I just have a lot of packing to do. I’m sorry.” Seungwan could picture the checklist Joohyun must have of everything she would need, and it almost made her smile.
“That’s okay, I understand.” Seungwan replied, and she meant it. Joohyun called the cab and it arrived fairly quickly, quicker than Seungwan wanted it to.
Joohyun walked her to the door and took Seungwan into her arms, hugging her delicately. “Don’t get into too much trouble while I’m gone.” She whispered against Seungwan’s ear. Seungwan managed a small smile. Joohyun slipped money for the cab into Seungwan’s coat pocket.
“I won’t.” She agreed as she hugged Joohyun back. “Enjoy your trip.”
“I’ll try.” Joohyun said, smiling in a way that soothed Seungwan’s heartache slightly. “Take care.” Seungwan let go of Joohyun reluctantly and walked down the steps and out to the cab that was waiting for her. She climbed into the backseat, the money Joohyun had given her safely in her pocket. As the cab pulled away she looked back at Joohyun’s apartment, seeing her waving from the front porch. Seungwan waved back, though she knew Joohyun couldn’t see her through the tinted windows. She kept her eyes trained on Joohyun, drinking in every detail she could before she wouldn’t be able to see her for a week. The tears welling in her eyes spilled over the second Joohyun was out of her view, and she cried as silently as she could the whole way home.
Chapter 13: Chapter Thirteen
here is chapter thirteen~ be aware there's mild homophobic language (it's probably not what you all are thinking dw) but it's only one word. i just figured i'd put a warning because i never want to make anyone uncomfortable or upset.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
The week spent at work without Joohyun dragged by at a miserable pace. Seungwan did love her other colleagues, and she enjoyed spending time with them, but she had gotten so close to Joohyun, was so used to her being there, even if they hardly spoke throughout the day, that it was hard to get used to her not being around. Because of this fact, a majority of Seungwan’s downtime at work was spent wondering if it was normal to be close to your boss, to think of your boss as more of a friend than a colleague. She’d even posed the question to Yeri when they had gone to get dinner during the week.
“Do you consider Miss Kang your friend?” Seungwan had asked, trying to keep her voice level.
“I mean, I guess so. We don’t hang out a lot, but yeah we’re friends.” Yeri had answered, seeming confused by the question.
“Are you close with her?” Seungwan had pressed on, needing an answer so she could assess what was going on for her.
“What does close mean?” Yeri had said. “I think she’s a lovely lady, and I love talking to her and working for her is nice. She’s helped me out when I’ve been in a pinch for student loans and always lets me have time to pay her back. But as far as being close goes, I don't know. I don’t know anything about her personal life, except that if she and Sooyoung don’t get married soon I’m gonna need to have some words with them.” They both laughed together at that, and then, “Why are you asking?”
“Just wondering.” Is all Seungwan had said, though ever since then she’d been stuck thinking about her relationship with Joohyun.
After she went home Friday for the weekend, she spent all of that night thinking about her past two and a half months at the office. All of the moments she had spent with Joohyun, all of the kind words, soft smiles, the conversations about anything and everything. Seungwan had told Joohyun so much about her that she had never told anyone else, she trusted Joohyun more than anyone else in the world. Joohyun was on her mind constantly, she seemed to be everywhere in Seungwan’s apartment. The box of chamomile tea bags in her cupboard would forever remind her of their Christmas Day spent together, as did the glossy wooden picture frame still waiting for a picture that had found a temporary home on Seungwan’s kitchen table. The black coat that was Seungwan’s favorite thing she owned, which still held the change leftover from her cab ride home from Joohyun’s in the pocket, made her heart ache to look at because it made her think of all the times she had worn it with Joohyun, how it smelled when she first put it on. All of these things had forced Seungwan to realize that she liked Joohyun much more than she should if Joohyun was only her boss, or even only her friend. She wanted to be with Joohyun, to kiss her again. It was getting harder and harder to lock her romantic feelings for
Joohyun away, and a part of Seungwan didn’t want to. She loved being around Joohyun, she loved the way Joohyun made her feel, the way they talked and laughed together so easily.
She slept fretfully Friday night, tossing and turning, waking up freezing and disoriented from dreams that all centered around Joohyun, nearly calling out for the woman in confusion until she remembered where she was and what time it was. She finally fell into a deep sleep, purely out of exhaustion, around six o’clock in the morning, and slept soundly until noon. When she woke up, the two days left of her week without Joohyun seemed horribly bleak. She passed the time by going to the grocery store, picking out her groceries slowly and deliberately, wanting to kill time. Being out in the world, around other people, was much preferable to being isolated in her apartment. When she arrived back home she cooked dinner, using another old family recipe she remembered from her childhood, eating alone at her table and then putting the leftovers into the fridge. By that time it was nearing ten o’clock at night, and despite only getting a solid six hours of sleep she was not tired. So, she went to her couch and sat, opening her blinds and watching the city lights flicker on and off as the cars whizzed by.
Only one more day. She reminded herself. She would see Joohyun again Monday morning. Saturday evening was coming to a close and the prospect of only one Sunday and then she would be with Joohyun again sounded blissful. She watched the cars, nearly getting tricked several times by the ones that looked like Joohyun’s in the dark. A car that really resembled Joohyun’s came down the road very slowly, pulling into the parking spot that was now Joohyun’s spot in Seungwan’s mind. Confused, Seungwan leaned and opened her window totally, poking her head out. She watched as someone came around the car and started towards the apartment building, someone with long hair and a slight build who looked very much like Joohyun. Seungwan shut her window with trembling hands, entirely confused as to what was going. She’s not supposed to get back until tomorrow night, and why would she come here?
There were a few minutes of silence, in which Seungwan had convinced herself she had been seeing things. Three light knocks sounded at Seungwan’s door and she nearly fell as she scrambled to get off the couch, running to answer the door. Her hands still shook as she turned the knob and looked around the door. There Joohyun stood, eyes red rimmed, shaking all over. Seungwan was scared, not knowing what was wrong, but so desperately wanting to protect Joohyun from whatever it was. “Joohyun?” She asked in a whisper. “What’s wrong?”
Joohyun took a shallow, shaky breath and said, “I-” The minute the word left her lips, tears came running down her cheeks, sobs catching in her throat. Seungwan rushed forward, guiding her inside and kicking the door shut, taking Joohyun into her embrace. Joohyun buried her face into the space between Seungwan’s shoulder and neck, letting out quiet sobs that shook her whole body.
She gripped tightly to Seungwan’s shirt, and Seungwan gently rubbed her back, whispering to her, “It’ll be okay, I promise. Whatever it is it’ll be okay.” She said this, but she wasn’t entirely sure if it was true, as she had gathered from her time knowing Joohyun that she was an extremely private person and if she was openly sobbing to Seungwan it must be pretty bad.
“I’m-I’m so s-sorry.” Joohyun choked out, her voice hoarse. Seungwan could nearly cry at hearing the apology, as if she felt like she had to be sorry for having feelings at all.
“It’s okay, please don’t be sorry.” Seungwan soothed her. “Cry it all out.” She ran her hands gently through Joohyun’s hair, hoping it would calm her somewhat. “Why don’t we sit down?” She suggested, to which Joohyun nodded. She led Joohyun to the couch and sat. Joohyun curled up beside her, keeping her face hidden against Seungwan’s neck, her arms wrapped around the younger woman. There were many long minutes where Joohyun simply cried, her whole body trembling, as Seungwan did all she could to comfort her.
“I’m so sorry.” Joohyun finally looked up, her face tear streaked and her eyes red rimmed. “I’m so, so sorry.” She exhaled a harsh breath. “I shouldn’t have bothered you so late and so unexpectedly.”
“Joohyun stop that, you can always come to me when you’re upset.” Seungwan said, feeling helpless and not knowing what to do. “Do you want to talk about it?” Joohyun shrugged slightly. “Was it your mom?”
“Yes.” Joohyun whispered so quietly Seungwan could hardly hear it.
“What happened?” Seungwan asked in a low voice.
“I went to stay with her, just for the week. We hardly see each other at all, maybe twice during the whole year. Usually once in the summer and once for Christmas, but she cancelled Christmas and told me instead to come out for a whole week right after New Years.” Joohyun spoke in a raspy tone, like her throat was raw from crying. “It was fine at first, no worse than it usually is at least. But as the week went on she kept nagging me about everything she could think of, but especially about my being friends with Seulgi and Sooyoung. She’s always hated Seulgi, ever since we were young, she didn’t like that Seulgi was such a tomboy and that she encouraged me to go play in the dirt and things like that.” Joohyun stopped for a moment to take a few shallow breaths. “It got worse when Seulgi came out, and then when she started dating Sooyoung and the three of us all got close it was horrible. My mother and I didn’t speak for nearly a year. I can usually handle what she says, I just kind of stay quiet until she’s finished, but this morning was the worst it’s ever been.”
Joohyun paused for a solid minute, pacing her breathing, Seungwan offered a hand and she took it, gripping tightly. “Do you remember the Peter Marshall case you came along to?”
“Yes, why?” Seungwan said softly.
“Well it was a high profile case, and there were a lot of articles about it.” Joohyun explained. “One of the online articles happened to feature a photo of us walking in together, when I-when I had my hand on your back.” She swallowed hard, clearly trying not to start crying again. “The article didn’t even mention you, the picture just happened to have you in it, but my mother took that and ran with it.” Seungwan listened with baited breath, scared of where this was going. “She told me that if I…” She stopped. “That if I turn out to be dyke like my friends, s-she would- she would disown me.” She bit down hard on her bottom lip, tears welling in her eyes.
Seungwan was beyond angry, for Seulgi and Sooyoung, for Joohyun. Her anger only multiplied as Joohyun let out a soft whimper and buried her face against Seungwan’s neck once more, crying again. She held Joohyun tightly, whispering to her, “You deserve so much better than this. You didn’t deserve any of that.” Tears slid down Seungwan’s cheeks as she comforted Joohyun. “She should feel lucky to have you as her daughter, no matter what. You are an incredible person and she should feel privileged to know you.” She felt Joohyun close her eyes and let out a soft sigh. “Don’t listen to what she says, Joohyun. You can be whoever you want to be, and love whoever you want to love. You don’t need her permission, or anyone else’s, to be yourself.”
Joohyun sat up and faced Seungwan, reaching to wipe Seungwan’s tears away with a delicate hand. “Why are you crying, Wan-ah?”
“Because I hate to see you so sad.” Seungwan said.
“I’ll be okay.” Joohyun murmured, leaning her head against Seungwan’s shoulder. “Thank you, for everything. I don’t know what I would do without you.”
“Well luckily you’ll never have to find out.” Seungwan replied. “You’re stuck with me.” Joohyun gave her a half hearted smile, curling up with her head resting in Seungwan’s lap. She hid a yawn behind her hand, her eyes threatening to fall closed. “Go ahead and go to sleep, Hyun. You must be exhausted.” Joohyun let her eyes fall closed without protest, a small sigh escaping her lips before her breathing began to even out. Seungwan ran her hands through Joohyun’s hair once more, and though she had said a long time ago she wouldn’t sing for anyone, she thought this could be the one exception. She began to sing a softer version of an old Beatles song, making it more of a lullaby.
Once there was a way, to get back homewards
Once there was a way to get back home
Sleep pretty darling, do not cry
And I will sing a lullaby
Golden slumbers fill your eyes
Smiles awake you when you rise
Sleep pretty darling, do not cry
And I will sing a lullably
Joohyun was fast asleep, her features relaxed and her breathing even. Seungwan watched over her as long as she could keep her own eyes open, but eventually she too was taken by sleep, and they both slept peacefully the whole night through.
here is the link to the version of golden slumbers i had mind:
Chapter 14: Chapter Fourteen
i probably won't be able to update again for a few days, i work a lot this week :( but i promise i will update again as soon as i can! probably friday night or saturday afternoon haha~
Winter sunlight shone through the windows, filling Seungwan’s living room with peaceful morning light. Fresh snow coated the outdoors and it still continued to come down in flurries outside of the warmth of the living room. Seungwan woke with a start as she felt something move against her, opening her blearly, sleep filled eyes. Joohyun was no longer resting her in her lap, and she said to Seungwan softly, “I’m sorry, did I wake you up?” Seungwan smiled, looking at Joohyun fondly through eyes half clouded with sleep.
“Yeah but that’s okay. I’d rather be awake when you’re around.” Seungwan answered, knowing her answer sounded flirtatious but deciding to ignore the constant anxiety of how everything sounds for one morning.
“You’re a sweetheart.” Joohyun commented, rising from the couch and stretching. Seungwan loved it when she said things like that, calling her a sweetheart or an angel. It made her feel important to Joohyun.
“How are you?” Seungwan asked, following Joohyun off the couch.
“Better.” Joohyun answered simply. She shivered slightly, and Seungwan noticed she was only wearing a t-shirt.
“Are you cold?” Seungwan stepped closer to her as she asked.
“A bit.” Joohyun laughed softly.
“Hold on.” Seungwan rushed off to her bedroom and pulled out an older hoodie of hers, one from when she was a senior in high school and ran track. It still fit her so she figured it would fit Joohyun as well. She ran back out to the living room and passed the hoodie to Joohyun.
She glanced over the fabric and then said, “Are you trying to hint at something?”
“Huh?” Seungwan asked, confused. Joohyun pointed to the back, which had Seungwan’s last name printed on it.
“At least when I was in high school if you wore someone’s hoodie that had their surname on it, it meant you were dating.” She slipped the hoodie on. “But maybe that’s old fashioned and I’m just old now.”
“Please,” Seungwan scoffed. Joohyun giggled softly, making Seungwan laugh too. “You’re can’t be that much older than me.” Seungwan said, to which Joohyun only shrugged. “How old are you, anyways?”
“I’ll be thirty in March.” Joohyun answered.
“Well hey, I’ll be twenty eight in February, so we’re not too far apart.” Seungwan commented.
“Funny, Seulgi is also turning twenty eight in February.” Joohyun said with a smile, amused by the revelation.
“What’s her birthday?” Seungwan asked, curious.
“The tenth.” Joohyun answered. “Yours?”
“The twenty first. She has me beat by eleven days.” Seungwan said, jokingly upset. “And what day of March is your birthday?”
“Don’t worry about it.” Joohyun gave a smile that Seungwan could not call anything other than a smirk. “Anyways, Yerim is turning twenty two on the fifth March.”
“No, no, you don’t get out of this that easily.” Seungwan said with a teasing lilt to her voice. “ Come on, I want to know so I can buy you a present!”
“Seungwan.” Joohyun said in an exasperated tone.
“Joohyun.” Seungwan mocked her tone, earning her a look of annoyance, though the smile playing on Joohyun’s lips made it hard to take her seriously. “Please?”
Joohyun sighed, “It’s the twenty ninth.” Seungwan smiled, happy to know. “I hope you know this means I’ll be getting you a present for your birthday as well.”
“Dammit.” Seungwan said, earning a light tap on her shoulder from Joohyun.
“Hey, language.” She scolded teasingly.
“We’re not in the office, I can say whatever I want.” Seungwan laughed. She felt so genuinely happy whenever she was with Joohyun it shocked her. Before her job at the office, she was sad much more than she was happy, and she rarely felt any real joy from another person’s company. But Joohyun made her feel so light and so free, free to be herself and to enjoy her life, free to talk and free to listen. She studied the woman opposite her, taking in everything about this moment. The way the light of the cold, winter’s day made Joohyun look as though she was glowing, made her look ethereal. The way she laughed, when she was genuinely laughing, and how much more exuberant it was than her normal volume of speech. How entirely small she looked wrapped up in Seungwan’s old hoodie, how despite being an inch taller than Seungwan she seemed so much more delicate and petite.
“Thank you so much for last night.” Joohyun murmured, her voice more serious. “You were so kind, and I can never repay you.”
“You don’t have to repay me for anything. I’ll always be here for you, that’s what friends are for.” The word friends seemed to stick on Seungwan’s tongue, and it didn’t feel quite right. You don’t think about how beautiful your friends are, how much you want to kiss them. And you certainly don’t think those things about your boss. I’m fucked. Seungwan couldn’t stop her inner dialogue from racing through her mind.
Joohyun tentatively approached Seungwan, opening her arms to indicate a hug. Seungwan took the initiative to step forward and close the distance between them, wrapping Joohyun up in her arms. She wanted to hold on to this feeling forever; Joohyun so close to her, her face nestled perfectly in the crook of Seungwan’s neck, exhaling a soft sigh and relaxing against her. If she could freeze time, she would stay just as she was, cradling Joohyun in her arms so delicately, falling over and over again each time she looked down and caught Joohyun staring back up at her.
The rest of January passed uneventfully, and February dawned bright and full of much more snow than December and January combined. It was a struggle to get to work, the streets being so snow covered, but they all managed as they moved into February with celerity. Seungwan’s time was entirely occupied by Joohyun, who she had begun texting regularly on the days they did not see each other. The work week was nice, but weekends were wonderful; she and Joohyun would spend most of Saturday together, doing their grocery shopping for the following week alongside one another and then going to lunch or dinner, depending on the time. Sundays Seungwan reserved for Yeri, who she loved very dearly and thought of as like a younger sister. She would help Yeri study for tests or proofread her papers, or they would play video games at Yeri’s house. Everyone in the Kim house loved Seungwan, especially Yeri’s little sisters. Finally, Seungwan felt as though she was stable in life. Her job felt more and more permanent everyday, she had built these friendships that filled her days with laughter and joy, and she was beginning to apartment hunt for somewhere out of north city as she began saving part of her paycheck away every week.
Seungwan’s birthday was the first day in all the month that did not bring a torrent of snow. In fact, it got warm enough some of the slush on the streets began to melt a little and water droplets dripped from the tree branches as a tiny sliver of the upcoming spring began to peek through. Seungwan assumed her day at the office would be uneventful, as the only one there she had told her birthday was Joohyun, but when she arrived she was greeted with a chorus of “Happy birthday!” from her colleagues.
“It’s so funny our birthdays are so close.” Seulgi said, coming over to Seungwan and giving her a hug. She gave her a card and continued, “From Sooyoung and I.”
“Thank you so much.” Seungwan smiled, her voice grateful.
Sooyoung came over next and hugged her as well, a grin on her face. “Happy birthday, Seungwan.”
“Thank you.” Seungwan said, a little overwhelmed by all the attention being paid to her but still grateful nonetheless. Yeri came skipping over to her, hugging her and picking her up a little, laughing as she did so.
“Happy birthday Seungwan unnie!” She called out as she passed Seungwan a card.
“Thanks Yeri.” Seungwan said in reply, a warm smile on her lips.
The office calmed after that, everyone returning to their respective areas. Joohyun and Seungwan walked over to Seungwan’s desk together. Joohyun grinned at Seungwan, saying, “Happy birthday, Seungwan-ah.”
“Thank you.” Seungwan felt as if her heart was full. “Did you tell everyone it was my birthday?”
“I might have mentioned it.” Joohyun replied with a smile. “Come into my office for a moment, I have to give you your present.” Seungwan complied easily, following her into the office. Over the months being Joohyun’s secretary, Seungwan had grown more comfortable being in the office and enjoyed being in there, liking to notice what little things had been moved around; Joohyun was constantly rearranging things in her office, as though she wasn’t ever completely satisfied with how it looked. Joohyun went and opened a drawer in her desk, retrieving a small package wrapped in glossy white paper, tied with a blue bow and a card attached to it. “Go ahead and open the card.”
Seungwan did, being delicate with the thick cream colored envelope, sliding the card out and letting it fall open. It was filled with writing on both pages and read:
Today you turn twenty-eight, and I wish you the happiest of birthdays. I hope this upcoming year is fulfilling for you, and that you find your goals and aspirations are within arms reach. Even though it has only been four months since we first met it feels as though we’ve known each other much, much longer than that. I am thankful I have gotten to know you in the way I have, and I am also thankful that you have allowed yourself to get to know me. You are truly one of the most wonderful individuals I have ever had the pleasure of meeting. I hope that you enjoy your time working in the office, as I have no plans of letting you go. You have brought such a bright presence to our small workplace; you fill every room you step into with light. Thank you for being a lovely friend, as well as a conscientious worker. I would be absolutely lost without you. I do hope you’ll enjoy your birthday gift, I wasn’t totally sure if it was something you would like but I took a chance! I feel it represents you well.
Her signature was placed carefully at the bottom, and Seungwan ran her fingers over it briefly. She almost felt as if she could cry at Joohyun’s eloquent words, at the way they depicted how much their friendship had become. She would have been content with nothing more than Joohyun’s kind words as a gift, but she still had the small package to open up, and she did so with as much care as she had the card. Beneath the glossy paper was a black velvet box that Seungwan was nearly positive contained jewelry of some kind. She took the lid off, her eyes being met with a shimmering silver necklace, a small sun pendant on a thin chain. “Joohyun…” She looked up to the woman, who was watching her intently. “This is too nice.” Tears were threatening to make an appearance and Seungwan took a deep breath, steeling herself.
“Nonsense.” Joohyun waved away the protest. She came over to stand at Seungwan’s side, resting a hand on her lower back. “I got you the sun pendant because I think it fits you well.” She looked at Seungwan, her gaze soft and full of warmth. Seungwan met her eyes, feeling shy in an odd kind of way. “You’re like sunshine.”
Seungwan wanted to kiss her so desperately it took every ounce of self control to hold herself back. It was such a tender moment, their eyes still locked, saying all the things their mouths would not. It felt too real and too dreamlike all at once, and Seungwan wished that she had more courage and would just kiss her, that she had more strength and could hold back. She was stuck between two things, what she wanted and what she should want. The longer things went on as they did, she found herself caring less and less what it meant that she had fallen for her boss. The fact of the matter was that she fallen head over god forsaken heels in love with her, and there was nothing she could do to change that now.
Chapter 15: Chapter Fifteen
i'll try and update again tomorrow or sunday~~ until then enjoy this chapter!
Late February passed into early March just the same as January had moved into February. Seungwan felt as though all of these mundane weeks were building up to something, as though the world was surely going to combust soon. From the moment she put the necklace from Joohyun on she did not take it off; she cherished it deeply, cherished what it meant. She was Joohyun’s sunshine, her sweetheart, her angel, and these things made Seungwan feel giddy and heady with love day in and day out. They texted frequently, as much as they could really, from the minute they were separated until they were reunited. They had their little rituals with their messages; Joohyun always told Seungwan when she was home safe, and they always sent each other a goodnight message before retiring to bed. Seungwan found herself waiting up every single night for the Goodnight, Wan-ah text she knew she would receive.
It was nearly two weeks into March, on a rainy Saturday night, when Seungwan found herself pondering what to do about the situation she had gotten herself into. The only thing she knew for sure was that she loved Joohyun with all of her heart and would do anything to make her happy, but whatever that was was still a mystery to Seungwan. There were too many variables to keep track of what outcome each could lead to. Seungwan had so many unanswered questions; Did Joohyun feel the same way about her as she did Joohyun? Did Joohyun even like girls at all? And the question that had been burning in the back of Seungwan’s mind since the minute she stepped into the office on her first day - Why had all the other secretaries before her been fired but she’d been kept far beyond when she had been expecting to be let go? A ding from her phone brought her out of her musings.
Seungwan? Are you okay?
Seungwan realized she had opened and not replied to Joohyun’s latest message from nearly fifteen minutes ago. She was usually quick to reply but she had gotten lost in thought. Her normal response would be to tell Joohyun of course she’s okay, and just go back to their conversation, but she couldn’t bring herself to do that. She needed to sort this situation out quickly, before things got even messier than they already had. On a whim, Seungwan sent:
Can I call you?
Joohyun answered within the same minute.
Yes, is something wrong?
Seungwan pressed the call button, holding the phone to her ear with a slight tremor in her hand. The ringing seemed to go on forever, and then she heard the line pick up. “Wan, are you alright?”
“Yeah…” Seungwan trailed off, unsure how to begin what she wanted to say.
“You don’t sound alright.” Joohyun commented, concern lacing her voice. Seungwan could picture the furrow in her brow.
“Will you promise me something?” She whispered into the receiver.
“Anything.” Joohyun agreed easily. Her voice sounded like honey even through the phone.
“If I ask you some questions, will you answer honestly?” Seungwan asked, her heart drumming faster and faster in her chest.
“Of course.” Joohyun said. “I’m always honest with you.”
There was a beat of silence and then, “Why did you fire the people who had my job before me?”
She heard a loud exhale from Joohyun’s end and then it sounded as if she switched the phone from one ear to the other. “Well, it’s complicated.” Joohyun started quietly. “I’m a very private person. I hardly even tell Seulgi personal things.” Seungwan listened with rapt attention. “Things would be fine for the first few weeks, but then something always seemed to happen to ruin it. My mother would come and visit the firm unexpectedly, or they would catch me during a phone call with her. The minute I thought they knew too much about my mother and how strained our relationship is, it made me feel sick to my stomach. I hated the idea of an absolute stranger knowing so much. It would always break my heart but I could hardly look at them, let alone work with them anymore, so I would set them up somewhere else and transfer them.”
The explanation shocked Seungwan; she wasn’t sure what she had expected, but it certainly wasn’t that. “Why haven’t you fired me, then?” Seungwan asked. “I know way more than accidentally barging in on a phone call.”
“You’re just...different.” Joohyun sighed. “You don’t feel like a stranger.” There was a moment of silence. “During December, when we weren’t really speaking, I considered transferring you, but the thought of you being gone hurt more than having to distance myself from you.”
“Why did you start talking to me again?” Seungwan went on with her questions, though she was still at surface level, too scared to delve deeper into more personal territory.
“I missed you terribly.” Joohyun admitted softly. “And I realized how silly and juvenile
I was being, giving you the cold shoulder. I realized you deserve much better than that, and that I should learn to separate my personal worries from my professional relations.”
“I missed you as well.” Was all Seungwan could conjure in response, feeling nervous as to where the conversation was going to lead.
“Did I answer all your questions, Wan?” Joohyun asked.
“Uh,” Seungwan stammered, her nerves showing. “Well I was going to ask something a little personal, but maybe I shouldn’t.”
“No, it’s okay. I don’t mind.” Joohyun insisted. “I trust you.”
“Well…” Seungwan could hear the question in her mind, four simple words; Do you like girls? But what she blurted out was, “Do you remember what happened in the kitchen on New Years Eve?” Horrified, Seungwan almost tried to backtrack, but the damage had already been done.
“I-” Joohyun stopped before her sentence started. “Vaguely.”
“We…” Seungwan could barely form the words she was so nervous, she was trembling all over. “We kissed, just for a second, when the year turned.”
There was silence for a few long, painstaking moments. Then, Joohyun whispered “We kissed? Why? How? Who initiated it?”
“You did.” Seungwan said, her lip quivering as she waited for Joohyun to say something back.
“I kissed you?” Joohyun asked in disbelief.
“I didn’t mean to upset you.” Seungwan felt beyond guilty for ruining the tranquil peace that had been settled over the last two months.
“No, I’m not upset with you Seungwan.” Joohyun assured her. “I’m just confused, and a little mad at myself.”
“Why are you mad at yourself?” Seungwan asked, worrying her bottom lip between her teeth.
“Because that’s an awful situation to put you in. I was drunk and I kissed you out of the blue and I couldn’t imagine how uncomfortable that must have made you.” Joohyun explained.
“I never said I was uncomfortable.” Seungwan mumbled, her words unintelligible.
“What?” Joohyun said.
“It didn’t make me uncomfortable.” Seungwan clarified reluctantly. “It was an innocent kiss, no ill intentions behind it. You were really sad when I told you to stop though.”
“Fuck.” Joohyun muttered. It was the first time Seungwan had ever heard her curse and it took her by surprise. “Well I guess that’s that secret revealed.”
“What do you mean?” Seungwan held her breath.
“I’m not as straight as I like to pretend I am.” Joohyun sounded embarrassed, and Seungwan could picture her eyes as she said these words, looking sad and dark.
“That’s okay, though, I mean-” Seungwan took a deep breath. “You know none of us would care, we’ll love you no matter what.”
“You’re the only person I’ve ever told.” The admission made Seungwan want to cry. “Anyways, is that all you wanted to talk about?” Joohyun was clearly ready to move on, but Seungwan couldn’t bring herself to. She had to know the answer to her final question.
“I know this is unprofessional, but who gives a fuck at this point.” Seungwan said, steadying herself as she began to admit all that she had held in her heart for so many weeks. “I liked when you kissed me, I’ve been wanting to kiss you again every single time I see you. I like you so much, so much more than as my boss or as my friend. I just...I need to know if you feel that way too. I can’t keep all this inside anymore.”
Silence dragged on and for a moment Seungwan was scared Joohyun had hung up. But then she heard the sound of a car door closing, and Joohyun said, “Hold on.” The line went dead. Seungwan was more than confused, and she stayed looking at her phone for several minutes, feeling a little numb. After nearly fifteen minutes, she heard a solid three knocks at her door. Hesitant, Seungwan stood and went to her door, opening it and looking out into the hallway. Joohyun was there, as Seungwan had hoped but not expected. “Can I come in?” Joohyun asked. Seungwan nodded, unable to speak.
For a moment they only looked at each other, and then suddenly Joohyun came closer to Seungwan, cupping her face in her hands and pressing their lips together. Everything around them melted away into unimportance as they kissed, their lips gentle and slow against one another. Seungwan put her hands on Joohyun’s waist, pulling her closer, kissing her with everything she had in her body, pouring her heart out into this one kiss, wanting to make Joohyun know all the feelings she was holding in her heart. They kissed for a long stretch of time, though it still didn’t feel like enough when Joohyun finally pulled away. “Does that answer your question?” She whispered, looking at Seungwan with nothing but love and adoration in her eyes. Seungwan didn’t reply as she leaned back in to kiss her once more, savoring every single moment.
Chapter 16: Chapter Sixteen
thank you all for being patient as i upload so sporadically. work is kicking my ass this week haha. enjoy~
Seungwan stirred late Sunday morning, half woken and dazed, feeling warmth surrounding her. Her eyes fluttered open partly, roaming until they landed on the figure curled up on her chest. Joohyun was still fast asleep, her cheek pressed against the fabric of Seungwan’s sleep shirt, looking peaceful and relaxed. Her left arm was draped over Seungwan’s torso and her hair was splayed out on the white sheets behind her. Seungwan let out a content sigh as the memories of the previous night came flooding back into her mind. She thought of their first kiss, and the many kisses after that, and as she looked at Joohyun she felt as if her heart was swelling with affection. She leaned forward and pressed a delicate kiss to Joohyun’s forehead, and then her nose and her cheek. Joohyun opened her eyes, the relaxed look still on her face.
“Good morning, sunshine.” She murmured, her voice thick with sleep. Seungwan could swear she’s never heard anything more beautiful.
“Morning,” Seungwan replied, watching Joohyun with a smile on her face.
“What?” Joohyun said, smiling too as her gaze leveled with Seungwan’s.
“Hm?” Seungwan asked.
“Why are you looking at me like that?” Joohyun clarified, which made Seungwan laugh a little.
“Because you’re cute.” She answered. Joohyun propped her chin up on her hand so she could look at Seungwan more easily. She smiled, leaning forward and pressing a kiss to Seungwan’s cheek. “So…” Seungwan began, toying with the ends of Joohyun’s hair, running it through her fingers. “Does this mean we’re girlfriends now?”
“If you’d like us to be.” Joohyun said softly, almost sounding shy. “I just hope you know I’ve never done anything like this before, dating another woman I mean. I’m not out to anybody except for you.”
“I know, and I’m okay with all of that.” Seungwan reassured her. “Take all of this at your own pace. I’m not in any rush.”
“You’re too kind to me, Wan-ah.” Joohyun murmured, a shy smile on her lips.
“No, you deserve it.” Seungwan tucked a loose bit of hair behind Joohyun’s ear, cupping her face in her hand briefly as she pulled away. “I’m just happy to be with you, in whatever way that may be.”
Joohyun kissed her then, a honey sweet kiss that made Seungwan a little dizzy. “You’re an angel, I swear.” Joohyun whispered. Seungwan smiled, kissing her again for a brief moment.
“What are your plans today?” She asked.
“Seulgi, Sooyoung, and I were supposed to go and get lunch.” Joohyun said with a sigh. “I’m sure they wouldn’t mind if you came along.”
“Oh no, I wouldn’t intrude on your guys’ thing like that.” Seungwan replied. “Besides, Yeri and I had plans today.”
“Oh that’s nice.” Joohyun commented with a kind smile. “You two are close, aren’t you?”
“Yeah, she’s like a little sister to me.” Seungwan replied.
“That’s good. I think she needs someone to look out for her, since she’s always looking after her younger sisters.” Joohyun said in her soft way. She pecked Seungwan on the forehead and slipped out of the bed, saying, “I should probably get going, so I can change and make it to meet Seul and Sooyoung.”
Seungwan followed her out of bed, frowning slightly. “I’ll miss you.”
“I’ll miss you too.” Joohyun sighed, her eyes warm. “We’ll see each other again tomorrow.”
“Yeah, tomorrow.” Seungwan agreed. “Let me walk you to the door.” She took Joohyun’s hand, interlacing their fingers, and walked her out to the door. “Are you planning on telling them anything about this?” She wondered aloud.
“I’m not sure.” Joohyun said honestly. “I probably should, but...I don’t know how.”
“That’s okay, maybe another day.” Seungwan told her, giving her hand a gentle squeeze. “I won’t tell Yeri anything then.”
“Thank you for being so good about all of this.” Joohyun thanked in a grateful tone.
“Of course, anything for you.” Seungwan kissed her cheek. “Have fun at lunch.”
“Have fun with Yeri.” Joohyun said, stepping out into the hallway and waving a little as goodbye. Seungwan closed the door behind her, missing her already. She hadn’t expected Joohyun to stay the night, but neither of them had wanted to leave each other’s arms so they had gone to Seungwan’s room and fell asleep closely embraced. It was the best Seungwan had slept in a long time, and she knew falling asleep without Joohyun would be a struggle now.
She went and got dressed to go to Yeri’s, excited to see her friend. She knew it would be hard to keep from telling Yeri everything that had happened with Joohyun but she would hold back, for Joohyun’s sake. She knew Joohyun needed to take things slowly, especially her coming out process. Seungwan didn’t want to think about the repercussions Joohyun would face from her mother because of their dating. She sighed, knowing the issue would be resolved one way or another, and headed out into the kitchen to slip her coat on and head out the door. She skipped down the steps and out the front door, the bitter March wind stinging her cheeks as she began the short walk to Yeri’s house. Yeri lived in one of the larger apartment complexes just outside of north city, so the walk was not a terrible one.
It took Seungwan seven minutes to reach Yeri’s apartment building and she went to the front desk, telling the worker she was here to see the Kim’s. The woman buzzed her up and Seungwan ran up the stairs, knocking on the door of Yeri’s apartment. Yeri opened the door with a bright grin and let Seungwan inside. “How’s your weekend been, unnie?” She asked cheerfully.
“Good.” Seungwan answered, thinking of her night with Joohyun.
“That’s good!” Yeri replied, leading Seungwan off to her room.
“How’s yours been?” Seungwan asked in return. Yeri pushed open her bedroom door.
“Really good. I finally got PUBG and I’m gonna start playing it soon. Plus, I finished my last paper for my Advanced Financing course.” She sighed, sitting on the edge of her bed. “I’m so close to graduating, I just want to be done already.”
“Yeah, I get it. Only one more month!” Seungwan said encouragingly.
“Oh, by the way, I’m getting tickets for Miss Bae, Miss Kang, and Miss Park to come to the graduation ceremony, do you want me to get you a ticket as well?” Yeri asked.
“Of course!” Seungwan answered easily. “Seeing you graduate will be awesome.”
“Aw, thanks.” Yeri said. She paused a minute and then went, “You seem extra happy today. Did something happen?”
“What?” Seungwan was nervous now; she hadn’t thought Yeri would suspect anything.
“I don’t know, you just seem...brighter.” Yeri tried to explain. “Did you get laid?”
“No!” Seungwan felt her cheeks flush.
“I think you’re lying.” Yeri teased, laughing. “Your red cheeks are giving you away.”
“I did not get laid, Yerim.” Seungwan said firmly, which only made Yeri laugh more.
“Whatever you say, Seungwan unnie.” Yeri said in a sing song voice. Seungwan rolled her eyes. “How’s apartment hunting been going?”
“It’s alright.” Seungwan replied with a sigh. “I haven’t really loved any of the ones I’ve seen yet.”
“That’s okay, you’ll find the right one soon.” Yeri assured her. “And if you ever need a roommate, I am more than willing to do that.” Seungwan laughed at that and Yeri grinned at her.
“Have you thought anymore about whether you’ll stay at the firm after graduation?” Seungwan asked. On one hand, she hoped Yeri would stay on, as she liked seeing her friend everyday and she knew Seulgi enjoyed having Yeri as a secretary. But on the other hand, she knew Yeri’s dream was to start her own business, and she wanted to watch her friend pursue her goals and succeed in them.
Yeri sighed, “I don’t know. I’m so torn. My mom thinks it’s a dumb idea to quit such a good job to do something so risky, but I didn’t major in business for nothing.”
“You could talk to Miss Kang about it.” Seungwan suggested.
“Hm, I never thought of that. Maybe I will.” Yeri considered the idea. “She always knows what to do in tough situations.”
“She seems like a problem solver.” Seungwan agreed.
“Anyways, you wanna play a video game?” Yeri asked, and Seungwan agreed, so they spent much of their afternoon playing games and joking around. Seungwan loved Yeri, and it stung a little not to be able to tell her about the fact she had gotten a girlfriend, but she understood Joohyun’s hesitation. She was struggling with being open and the least Seungwan could do was respect that. She would wait forever if it meant she could keep loving Joohyun and know Joohyun loves her in return.
Chapter 17: Chapter Seventeen
ahh, my work week from hell is finally over! i have three days off so hopefully i'll be able to post more frequently and keep writing my next story ;)
Monday morning was rain filled, and Seungwan had to run from the door of her apartment building to Joohyun’s car to avoid getting totally drenched. As she settled into the passenger seat, wiping the rain droplets from her hair, she looked over at Joohyun, who was smiling warmly at her and watching her. “You look beautiful.” Joohyun said as she merged into traffic, her voice quiet and level.
“Thank you.” Seungwan smiled back at her. “So do you. You always do.” She could see Joohyun’s cheeks become rosier even in the dreary light of the rainy day. Joohyun drove with her left hand, reaching her right hand to intertwine with Seungwan’s, running her thumb over Seungwan’s skin gently.
They arrived at the office ten minutes early, us usual, and once the car was in park Joohyun turned to face Seungwan. “I’m going to tell Seulgi and Sooyoung soon.” She said, taking both of Seungwan’s hands in hers. “I just have to work up the courage.”
“You don’t have to tell them so soon if you don’t want to.” Seungwan reminded her.
“I want to tell them.” Joohyun assured her with a smile that made her eyes light up. “I’m not ashamed of being with you, or of…” She trailed off, and Seungwan thought for a moment she was going to say loving you, though she did not. She sighed and then went on, “I know they’ll be happy about it, but I’m still a little nervous.”
“Nerves are understandable.” Seungwan said. “It gets easier each time you do it, but the first time is the hardest.”
“Well technically my first time was to you, and I wasn’t nervous at all telling you.” Joohyun replied.
“Why weren’t you nervous with me?” Seungwan wondered aloud softly.
“Because I trust you more than anyone.” Joohyun answered, which made Seungwan’s heart feel warm in her chest. Seungwan smiled, wanting to kiss her but knowing that would have to wait until later. Joohyun gave her hands a delicate squeeze and then let go to get out of the car. Seungwan followed suit, trailing behind her as they went into the building. As she followed Joohyun up the steps, she thought back to the weekend, to the way Joohyun’s lips felt, to what waking up with Joohyun in her bed had been like. She would cherish those memories forever, and she knew she would cherish every memory they were yet to make together. Even walking with Joohyun was pleasant and calming, being with the woman she so adored made her feel at ease. They reached the top of the steps and went inside the office, Joohyun calling out, “Morning everyone!” In a bright, cheery voice.
“You seem happy today.” Seulgi commented from where she was standing by Yeri’s desk.
“I am.” Joohyun answered simply. “Am I not usually?”
“Well yeah, but you just seem...extra happy today in particular.” Seulgi clarified.
“That’s what I said about Seungwan unnie yesterday.” Yeri added, and Seungwan quickly glanced to Joohyun.
“Seungwan must be passing her good spirit around.” Joohyun commented, looking back at Seungwan and grinning. The younger woman held back a laugh at the oddness of the situation. They made their way to Seungwan’s desk and as Seungwan sat down, Joohyun said, “I’ll get you your coffee.”
“You don’t have to.” Seungwan said back, but Joohyun was already walking to the kitchen. Sighing, Seungwan settled in her chair and opened up a file she needed to reorganize that she had started the previous Friday. She had barely begun when Joohyun came by and set her drink down, running a hand over her shoulder before disappearing into her office. She smiled to herself, continuing her work. About an hour into the morning, a client came in through the door, looking around. Seungwan walked over to her and asked, “Who are you here to see, ma’am?”
“Park Sooyoung.” The woman answered. Seungwan nodded and pointed over to the far left office.
“She’s right in there.” She said, and the woman thanked her and walked off.
As Seungwan was about to go back to her desk, she heard Yeri call out, “Unnie, come over here for a second.”
So she turned on her heel and went over to Yerim’s desk, asking, “What’s up?”
“I have your graduation ticket.” Yeri said, passing her a long slip of glossy paper.
“Oh, thank you.” Seungwan said.
“Can you give Miss Bae her ticket too?” Yeri asked, holding up another glossy slip of paper.
“Sure.” Seungwan said easily, taking it as well. She walked over to Joohyun’s office door, checking the tickets as she went. Her ticket was labelled Seat H23 and Joohyun’s was labelled Seat H24. She was glad they would be sitting beside one another. She tapped her knuckles lightly on Joohyun’s office door.
“Come on in!” Joohyun called out brightly. Seungwan pushed the door open and stepped inside, letting the door fall shut behind her. Joohyun looked up from her computer and noticed Seungwan, smiling. “Oh, what a pleasant surprise.” Her round rimmed glasses were slipping down her nose and she quickly slipped them off and set them down as she stood up and came around the desk. “What do you need?”
“Yeri gave me your ticket to her graduation.” Seungwan answered, passing the ticket over. Joohyun took it in her small hands, looking over the paper.
“Oh, it’s at the nice theater.” She commented quietly. “That’ll be wonderful.”
“Yeah, it’ll be cool to see her finally graduate.” Seungwan said. “She might not stay working at the firm though.”
“Really?” Joohyun asked, looking back up at Seungwan. “What is she planning on doing?”
“She wants to start a business.” Seungwan answered. “But she hasn’t totally decided yet.”
“Hm.” Joohyun responded, lost in thought. “We’ll have to figure something out if she does leave.” Seungwan nodded as Joohyun turned and set her ticket on her desk.
“I’ll let you get back to work.” Seungwan said, turning to go.
“Wait.” Joohyun said and Seungwan turned back around. Joohyun pulled her closer, kissing her. The kiss felt different than any of the others before; this was deeper and warmer. It seemed to set Seungwan on fire as she kissed back, her hands gripping Joohyun’s waist. She felt the older woman’s fingers card through her hair.
She pulled back, her breath leaving in soft gasps. “Well I wasn’t expecting that.” She whispered. Joohyun smirked a little, which made Seungwan feel as though she couldn’t breath suddenly.
“Go on back to work.” Joohyun said in a low voice, kissing Seungwan’s cheek. Seungwan looked at Joohyun for a moment, half smiling, and then she let herself out of Joohyun’s office, feeling mildly dazed as she sat back down at her desk. She could still feel Joohyun’s lips ghosting her own as she tried to focus again on the file at hand, and she worried someone might be able to tell what they had been doing. She resisted the urge to touch her lips and make sure they were not kiss swollen. Her fingers settled on the keyboard as she began typing, trying to find a way to focus when all she could think about was Joohyun.
Seungwan spent her day going through the court files, re wording things here and there, organizing them more efficiently. She was still typing, focused intensely, when five o’clock rolled around. She was glancing back and forth between a PDF file of the court reports for a case and her own file as she transcribed the information, and she didn’t notice Joohyun’s office door opening and Joohyun stepping out. Joohyun stepped up behind her, leaning down to peer over her shoulder at what she was working on, placing her hands on Seungwan’s shoulders. Seungwan jumped a little, turning back to look at Joohyun.
“You scared me.” She said with a laugh.
Joohyun smiled. “Sorry, I didn’t mean to startle you. I just wanted to see what you’re working on.”
“Same old thing as always.” Seungwan scrolled back up to the beginning of the case summary she was typing. “I’ll email you the finished file when it’s done.”
“Thank you.” Joohyun said, straightening back up. “Are you ready to go?”
“Yeah, let me just close things up.” Seungwan shut the computer down and stood, slipping on her coat.
“I’m going to go and let Seulgi and Sooyoung know we’re leaving.” Joohyun gestured for Seungwan to follow her, so they walked together to Seulgi’s office door. As they passed by Yeri’s desk, Joohyun said, “Just over a month until you graduate, right Yerim?”
“Yep!” Yeri said brightly. “My cap and gown should come in sometime this week.”
“That’s exciting.” Joohyun replied, smiling warmly. “I’m very happy for you. We’re all very proud.”
“Thank you, Miss Bae.” Yeri grinned as she spoke.
“I’m gonna cry when I see you on the stage.” Seungwan chimed in.
“I’m not dying!” Yeri laughed. “I’m just graduating college.” Seungwan rolled her eyes jokingly as Yeri stood up, readying to leave. She hugged Seungwan and said, “I’m heading out, I’ll see you tomorrow unnie.”
“See you tomorrow.” Seungwan said, hugging her back tightly. Yeri went to the door as Joohyun and Seungwan went into Seulgi’s office.
“Seulgi-ya?” Joohyun said as she stepped in. Seulgi looked up from the file on her desk, smiling when she saw Joohyun and Seungwan.
“Is it really time to leave already?” She asked, checking her wrist watch. “Time is flying by recently.”
“It is.” Joohyun agreed. “I just stopped in to say goodbye.” She hesitated before continuing, “Oh, by the way, I have something to tell you and Sooyoung. Later.”
“Oh?” Seulgi said as she stood up, sliding on her coat. “Is everything alright?”
“Everything’s fine.” Joohyun assured her.
“Well now you have me nervous, Hyun.” Seulgi responded as the three women left her office to go to Sooyoung’s.
“Don’t worry about it, it isn’t bad.” Joohyun said.
Seulgi stepped closer to Joohyun and whispered, “It’s not something with your mom, is it?”
“No, no. Not at all.” Joohyun whispered back. They all stepped into Sooyoung’s office and found Sooyoung already preparing to leave, coat on and purse over her shoulder.
“I thought I was going to have to come and get you.” She said to Seulgi, smiling. “Usually that’s the case.”
“Usually.” Seulgi agreed, going to stand by her girlfriend. Seungwan thought it was ironic that now there were two couples at the office. “Joohyun said she has something to tell us.”
“Oh really? What is it unnie?” Sooyoung asked as they all made their way to the exit.
“I’ll tell you both later.” Joohyun said with a small laugh. “I regret bringing it up now that you’re both so curious about it.” They all went out the door and filed down the stairs towards the main exit to the parking lot. Sooyoung and Seulgi went to their car as Joohyun and Seungwan went to Joohyun’s.
“When will you tell us?” Sooyoung pressed.
Joohyun sighed. “When are you both free?”
“You can come over for dinner tonight.” Sooyoung suggested. As the conversation continued, Seungwan opened the passenger side door and climbed inside. She could hear faintly the plans of dinner being made and it made her a bit nervous, knowing that after tonight Seulgi and Sooyoung would know. She trusted both of them and knew they wouldn’t react badly, but she was nervous for Joohyun. Telling the first couple of people is a huge step and she hoped Joohyun wouldn’t regret telling them so soon.
Soon after the plans were made, Joohyun got into the car and started it up. She let Sooyoung and Seulgi pull out first, following behind them. “I’m glad Sooyoung is such a planner, I needed a set date and time to tell them.” Joohyun said quietly.
“Are you still really nervous?” Seungwan asked.
Joohyun nodded. “The only time I’ve been more nervous than this is when I took the bar exam.” Seungwan smiled.
“Well the stakes are much lower than the bar exam, so you’ll be fine.” She said in a comforting voice.
“The thing is,” Joohyun started. “I know they’ll be okay with it, I’m just scared they’ll be upset I kept it a secret so long. Especially Seulgi, she tells me everything and I know it hurts her feelings terribly when I keep things from her.” She sighed. “They’ll be overjoyed that we’re dating though, they both adore you.”
“Really?” Seungwan didn’t know that, but it made her feel good. She was glad that both Seulgi and Sooyoung liked her, as she liked them very much.
“Oh yes, they tell me all the time about how wonderful you are. Sooyoung made it very known that she’ll be extremely upset if I fire you.” Joohyun said, which made Seungwan chuckle. They reached Seungwan’s apartment building then, and Joohyun asked suddenly, “How has looking at apartments been going?”
“Oh, it’s been fine.” Seungwan answered, knowing this meant Joohyun wanted to move on from such a serious topic. “I haven’t found the one yet but I will soon, I can feel it.” Joohyun smiled at her, seeming to admire the liveliness in the way she spoke. “Good luck tonight, I’m sure it’ll be just fine. Call me if you need to.”
“I will, thank you.” Joohyun said softly. She leaned over and hugged Seungwan lightly, pressing a quick, chaste kiss to Seungwan’s cheek. “Have a good night, sunshine.” The term of endearment made Seungwan smile as her cheeks heated. She got out of the car, waving goodbye as Joohyun drove off.
Chapter 18: Chapter Eighteen
this chapter is kind of short but i hope it's still decent!
It was nearly nine o’clock in the evening when Seungwan received a phone call from Joohyun. She had been playing her guitar, humming along with melodies she made up on the spot, when her phone rang from its place on the couch cushion beside her. She picked it up, knowing it would be Joohyun, and answered, “Hello?”
“Hi.” Joohyun said softly. Seungwan could not tell if she sounded upset or not, but she figured the fact she wasn’t obviously upset was a good sign.
“How was dinner?” She asked in as nonchalant of a voice as she could muster. Her heart was pounding in her chest as she waited for a reply.
“It was fine.” Joohyun answered simply.
“You’re gonna leave me in suspense like that?” Seungwan asked with a nervous laugh. “Tell me what happened.”
“Well I told them…” Joohyun trailed off. “Sooyoung said she wasn’t surprised that I’m not straight..” She exhaled a small breath. “Seulgi said she was upset I hadn’t told her earlier, but she understands why.”
“That’s good!” Seungwan cheered softly. “What did they say about us dating?”
“Seulgi was very happy about it, she said she could tell you make me happy.” Joohyun replied. “Sooyoung made a few vulgar jokes I don’t care to repeat.”
“Wait no, what did she say?” Seungwan laughed into the phone; she could only imagine what Sooyoung must’ve joked about and how flustered it must have made Joohyun.
Joohyun laughed quietly. “Oh nothing, you perv.”
“Hey!” Seungwan mocked offense at the comment. “I’m just curious.” Joohyun laughed again and she joined in this time, giggling into the receiver. “I’m glad it went well Hyun. A weight off your shoulders huh?”
“Yes, I finally feel like I can breathe properly again.” Joohyun said. There were a few moments of contented silence, and then, “I miss you so much, Seungwan.”
“I miss you too.” Seungwan murmured back, sighing quietly. She missed the warmth of Joohyun in her arms, the way they fit perfectly together, like puzzle pieces.
“You’re too good to be true.” Joohyun said in a hushed voice.
“Hardly.” Seungwan scoffed. “You’re so perfect you’re hardly even real.”
“You’re too kind to me.” Joohyun replied. She changed the topic abruptly, asking, “Have you put a picture in the frame yet?”
“No, I haven’t.” Seungwan answered, glancing over to where the frame sat on her kitchen table. “I haven’t found the right picture yet.”
“I’ll have to start taking pictures for you.” Joohyun said warmly.
“I’m going to have to come up with a really good birthday gift for you, since you got me such nice Christmas and birthday presents.” Seungwan said back. “Your birthday is next week!”
“Yes, it is.” Joohyun sounded less enthusiastic about the matter than Seungwan had.
“Where’s your excitement? You’re turning thirty, that’s a big deal.” Seungwan pressed.
“I guess.” Joohyun conceded. “I feel old.”
“Thirty is not old.” Seungwan insisted, rolling her eyes. “It seems like a good age. You’re totally settled in life, you have a stable job, a good apartment, a girlfriend.”
“I suppose that is a good thing.” Joohyun said. “Especially the girlfriend part.” Seungwan could hear her smile through the phone.
“You know, we haven’t gone on a real date yet.” Seungwan pointed out.
“I was actually thinking about that on my drive home from Seulgi and Sooyoung’s.” Joohyun replied. “Do you happen to be free tomorrow night?”
“Yes, I am.” Seungwan smiled as she spoke, the reality of the fact that Joohyun was her girlfriend settling over her once again. “What do you have in mind?”
“Well the weather is actually supposed to be quite warm, so I thought we could go to the park in center city.” Joohyun sounded excited at the prospect. Seungwan liked the idea, though she had never been to the park in the city.
“That would be really nice.” Seungwan replied. “It’s been so long since the weather has been nice enough to be outside.”
“I’ve missed the warm days.” Joohyun said in agreement.
“Me too.” Seungwan replied, letting out a small sigh. “I’m sorry to end the call, but I should probably call Yeri and tell her what’s going on so she doesn’t feel out of the loop.” Seungwan said with a small laugh.
“Oh yes, she would hate to be the only one in the office not to know.” Joohyun replied knowingly. “I’ll see you tomorrow morning, sweetheart.”
“I’ll see you then. Goodnight.” Seungwan said, smiling.
“Goodnight.” Joohyun said back, and then the called ended.
Seungwan sighed, dialing Yeri’s number and waiting for her to pick up. It only took three rings and then she heard Yeri say, “What’s up, unnie? You never call.”
“I have something to tell you.” Seungwan said, gathering her courage.
“Ooo, what is it?” Yeri asked excitedly. “You found an apartment?”
“No…” Seungwan trailed off, pacing her breathing. She was oddly nervous about telling Yeri, though rationally she knew it would fine. “I got a girlfriend.”
“Really?!” Yeri exclaimed. “Oh my god that’s awesome! Who is it?”
“It’s Joohyun.” Seungwan said quietly.
“Wait, like...Miss Bae? You and Miss Bae are dating?” Yeri asked in disbelief.
“Yeah…” Seungwan held her breath, waiting for a genuine reaction.
“Oh my god.” Yeri said. “You’re fucking your boss.”
“Yerim! We’re not having sex!” Seungwan sighed as Yeri laughed. “It’s not like that, I genuinely like her.”
“Aw, so you fell in love with your boss.” Yeri amended herself.
“Yeri…” Seungwan trailed off in an exasperated voice.
“You’re not denying it this time.” Yeri pointed out. “How long have you guys been dating?”
“A couple days.” Seungwan said.
“And you’re already head over heels.” Yeri laughed. “You’re too funny, Seungwan unnie. Do Miss Kang and Miss Park know?”
“Yeah, Joohyun told them earlier tonight.” Seungwan answered. “They were chill with it.”
“Well I would assume so.” Yeri said. “Wait so like, have you guys kissed?”
“Yeah?” Seungwan posed it almost like a question, unsure why Yeri would ask.
“You’ve kissed your boss that’s so weird.” Yeri said, giggling
“It’s not that weird!” Seungwan replied defensively.
“I’m just joking, Wannie. I think you guys are cute together.” Yeri clarified. “So are you going to like, move in with her or something?”
“It’s only been like three days since we got together.” Seungwan said.
“Well yeah, but clearly you’re already really serious about her. And I couldn’t imagine Miss Bae just dating for fun.” Yeri replied. “To be honest, I couldn’t have imagined Miss Bae dating at all. Then again, I thought she was straight.”
“We’ll just have to see how things go.” Seungwan sighed.
“I’m really happy for you.” Yeri said in a sincere voice. “You deserve someone nice who will treat you right.”
“Aw thank you Yeri.” Seungwan said. “So do you.”
“Now I’m the only one at the office without a girlfriend, this is depressing.” Yeri said with a laugh. Seungwan laughed too. Yeri then said, “I’m gonna have to cut the call short, I have an exam to cram for. See you tomorrow unnie! Love you.”
“Love you too, Yeri.” Seungwan replied and then hung the call up. She felt as though a huge burden had been lifted off her shoulders now that everyone in the office knew about her and Joohyun’s relationship. Everything went as well as it possibly could have gone, and she was very grateful things had turned out that way. She knew it wouldn’t always be that way, especially considering Joohyun would have to tell her mother eventually, but they would tackle that obstacle when they got there. For now, Seungwan was just going to appreciate everything going well around her.
Chapter 19: Chapter Nineteen
ahh here's a nice fluffy chapter for you all haha~ if you celebrate christmas i hope you all have a merry christmasy and if not then happy holidays! xoxo
Seungwan had spent nearly an hour getting ready for her date with Joohyun, carefully picking out her outfit which consisted of her nicest jeans, a button up shirt, and the necklace from Joohyun that she always wore. She had gone through nearly every shirt in her closet before settling on her blue and white pin striped button up, which she had forgotten she owned until she spotted it again. It was just past six o’clock when Joohyun pulled up outside her apartment building, and Seungwan took the steps two at a time so she could get out to the car quickly. She opened the door and slid inside, shutting the door carefully and buckling her seatbelt. She met eyes with Joohyun and then Joohyun leaned over and gave her a soft kiss on the lips as a greeting.
“You look very nice.” Joohyun complimented her warmly.
“So do you.” Seungwan said in reply, taking Joohyun’s outfit; she wore a knee length, flowy black skirt and a white top. She wore hardly any makeup, which Seungwan thought made her look even more beautiful. Joohyun smiled as she murmured her thanks, taking Seungwan’s hand and interlocking their fingers. She pulled away, driving down streets Seungwan had never been on, towards a part of center city that had a lot more greenery than the business district the firm was located in.
“Have you ever been to the park up here?” Joohyun asked as she drove down a street with small houses on it, an area that seemed to be the start of the transition from the urban city to the suburbs located outside of it.
“No, I haven’t.” Seungwan answered. “It’s a very nice day to go.” The sun had been shining all day, which was rare this time of year. It was warmer than it had been in months, and she was glad to be taking advantage of that fact while she was spending time with Joohyun. Joohyun turned down a long road leading to the park, following the signs that took them to the area where there would be trails to walk.
“Are you up for walking the trails?” She asked Seungwan as they parked the car in the little lot. “There’s a spot I’d like to take you to.”
“Yeah, of course.” Seungwan answered. “Do you walk the trails a lot?”
“Whenever I need to clear my head.” Joohyun replied, turning the car off and getting out. Seungwan followed, walking around the back of the car to meet her on the other side. They began walking towards the trail entrance together, hand in hand. “It helps me think things over better.” Seungwan smiled as she watched Joohyun taking in the trees and the sky.
“See when I need to clear my head, I sing.” Seungwan said as they stepped onto the first trail. Joohyun led them down the left fork of it, which had a lot of foliage and flowers not yet bloomed.
“You have a beautiful voice.” Joohyun said back.
“How would you know that?” Seungwan asked with a laugh.
“You sang to me that night I came to you when I was crying.” Joohyun told her. Seungwan had totally forgotten about that, but now the memory was coming back to her. “I can’t quite remember the song, but I remember your voice.”
“It’s called ‘Golden Slumbers,’ it’s by the Beatles.” Seungwan told her, remembering the song now. “I sang it really slow though, much slower than the original version.”
“It was very pretty.” Joohyun’s voice was sweet and quiet as she looked at Seungwan. “I’d love to hear you sing again sometime.”
Seungwan smiled shyly. “I don’t usually sing in front of other people, but for you I can probably make an exception.” Joohyun smiled at that, the crooked smile Seungwan loved. They headed onto a bridge that ran over a small stream, some remnants of the winter ice not yet melted into the running water. “Where are you taking me?” Seungwan asked as they stepped off the bridge on the other side, taking the right fork.
“You’ll see in just a minute.” Joohyun answered, going a bit ahead but still not letting go of Seungwan’s hand. The path opened up into a grassy field, the grass just barely regaining its color after a long winter, the sky clear and uncovered by trees. The sky was already streaked with hues of pink and orange, the beginning of the sunset. “I know it isn’t that special, but…” Joohyun trailed off, seeming embarrassed, as though this might seem underwhelming to Seungwan. “I thought it would be a nice place to just talk, get to know each other more.”
“It’s perfect.” Seungwan said, coming up behind Joohyun and wrapping her arms around the other woman. She rested her chin on Joohyun’s shoulder. “It’s honestly nice to get away from the city for a little bit. Everything is always moving so quickly. This place makes it feel like time is stopped for minute.”
“Yes, exactly.” Joohyun agreed, turning her head to look at Seungwan. “I love living in the city, but it’s so fast paced it feels like it’s hard to keep up.”
“I didn’t know anybody else felt like that.” Seungwan said softly as their eyes met easily.
“Neither did I.” Joohyun murmured in reply. “Do you want to sit?”
“Sure.” They sat side by side, looking up at the sky, watching the clouds change colors as the sun dipped lower and lower below the horizon.
“I love looking at the sky.” Joohyun said in a hushed voice. “It’s so different everywhere you go.” Seungwan looked away from the sky and watched Joohyun, seeing the excitement on her face, the golden hue of the sunset bathing her features in a sweet, honey-like light, illuminating the rosiness of her cheeks and the different shades of brown within in her eyes.
“I never thought of it like that.” Seungwan said back. “I’ll have to pay more attention to the sky.” Joohyun grinned, looking over at Seungwan and sighing in a content way.
There was a few moments of silence where they both watched the sky, Joohyun’s head on Seungwan’s shoulder. Then, Joohyun whispered, “Can I ask you an odd question?”
“Of course.” Seungwan said easily. She would tell Joohyun anything.
“Why did you get fired from your last job?” The question surprised Seungwan; she had not expected it, she had in all honesty forgotten she had even told Joohyun that she’d been fired.
“Damn, well,” She said, the unpleasant memories from her previous job coming back to her. “The store owner had a weird thing for me. He was way older than me, first of all, and second of all I don’t like guys so obviously I turned him down every time he’d make an advance towards me. At first I kept it casual, just saying I wasn’t interested, but he kept persisting so then I brought up the gay thing, hoping that would make him back off.” She exhaled a shaky breath. “It didn’t. He tried to kiss me after a shift and I smacked him away, so he fired me for ‘violence and misconduct.’”
“I’m so sorry, Seungwan.” Joohyun said softly. “That’s such bullshit.” Seungwan gave a half smile at the profanity, for Joohyun hardly ever cursed. “You could take him to court.”
“You’re such a lawyer.” Seungwan teased. “Nah, it’s not worth it. I’m much happier with the job I have now, so maybe it all happened for a reason.”
“Maybe.” Joohyun agreed in a quiet voice.
“What made you bring that up?” Seungwan wondered.
“I’d been curious ever since you told me you’d been fired, because I couldn’t imagine you doing anything to warrant you getting fired.” Joohyun explained. “I just didn’t want to seem rude by asking. It’s a personal thing.” Seungwan admired how much Joohyun considered other people and what they were feeling or what would make them upset. It was a trait she absolutely adored about Joohyun, how compassionate and thoughtful she was.
“Can I ask you something now?” She said with a smile. Joohyun nodded and she continued, “Why the hell did you hire someone with no experience as a secretary, or any desk job at all for that matter, to work for you?”
Joohyun laughed, and said, “Well honestly when you put it that way I don’t know.” She kept giggling as she went on, “I just had a gut feeling, I guess. I don’t know why but I just knew I should hire you.”
“Life works in funny ways sometimes.” Seungwan commented.
“That it does.” Joohyun agreed. There was a moment where they did not speak and then, “It feels as if we’ve known each other much longer than only five months.” She looked at Seungwan, brushing a piece of the younger woman’s hair behind her ear and caressing her cheek in her hand. “I feel like I’ve known you forever.”
“The first day we met feels like a lifetime ago.” Seungwan said, leaning into the warmth of Joohyun’s hand.
“When did you know?” Joohyun whispered, and Seungwan gave her a quizzical look.”That you had feelings for me, I mean.”
“Oh.” Seungwan thought for a moment, not really sure herself. It seemed as if they had always been there, waiting until she noticed them and decided to act on them. From the first time she met Joohyun she had been enamored with the woman, even before they had met she’d been fascinated with her and how she would be as a boss. Seungwan thought it would be impossible not to love Joohyun, she was so wonderful nobody could resist enjoying her company. But truly she had not acknowledged the feelings until just after New Years, when she’d been forced to confront them. “I guess right after you kissed me on New Years Eve I kind of had to make myself realize that I liked you much more than as my boss or as my friend. But the feelings had been there much longer than that.” Seungwan took Joohyun’s hand, smiling as she did so. “When did you know?”
“Hm.” Joohyun took a few moments to reply as well, clearly thinking how to word it properly. “Well, I suppose when we went to the trial together was the first time I thought about you as something other than just an employee, but still as just a friend. It was when we weren’t speaking that I realized my feelings were more than friendly because I missed you so desperately. I just didn’t want to be honest with myself about the fact that I could love a woman.”
Seungwan caught the word love as it left Joohyun’s lips, before Joohyun caught it, and as she saw the horror registering on Joohyun’s face as she realized her slip up, Seungwan said, “Well I’m glad you were honest with yourself.” Joohyun smiled in an embarrassed way, not looking at Seungwan. Seungwan tried to change the topic. “Did I ever tell you I googled you before my first day at work?”
“You did?” Joohyun asked in an amused voice. Seungwan nodded. “What came up?”
“A lot of Center City News articles, detailing your cases.” Seungwan answered. “There was also quite a few articles from some website called The Center Spot that made me nervous to meet you.”
“Ugh, The Center Spot.” Joohyun rolled her eyes. “They’re a gossip site pretending to be news. Why did they make you nervous?”
“They made you sound mean.” Seungwan said with a soft laugh. “Clearly that isn’t the case though.”
Joohyun laughed a little too. “That website is horrible.” She said with a sigh.
“I guess I can understand how if they only knew how you were in a courtroom they might think you’re intimidating.” Seungwan commented.
“Oh, but they’re always so dramatic.” The remark made Seungwan smile, and Joohyun smiled too, resting her head back on Seungwan’s shoulder. “Did you find anything else of interest in your search?” She giggled softly as she asked. “I’m curious.”
“I will admit I mostly looked at pictures of you.” Seungwan said unabashedly. “Because you’re so damn pretty.” Joohyun sighed and shook her head. “It’s true!” The sky had darkened and a full moon glowed above them, stars glittering in the sky.
“Look at the moon!” Joohyun gasped, pointing up to it.
“You’re so cute.” Seungwan remarked with an affectionate grin.
“Why?” Joohyun asked, sounded a bit sheepish.
“It makes sense that you’re a ‘look at the moon’ person.” Seungwan went on. “It’s cute how much you like the sky.”
“Why do I have a sneaking suspicion you’re teasing me a little?” Joohyun narrowed her eyes at Seungwan jokingly.
“I would never.” Seungwan replied with a smile, slipping an arm over Joohyun’s shoulders. Joohyun sighed in a content way.
“Do you think we should head back?” Joohyun asked in a whisper.
“Maybe. We do still have work tomorrow.” Seungwan whispered back. They stood together, linking arms as they walked back to the trail, following the path they came quickly. Soon they were back out into the parking lot, which was illuminated by streetlights. Joohyun’s car was the only car left in the lot and they went over to it, getting in their respective seats. Joohyun drove out of the park and back up the suburban streets towards the city.
“Thank you for tonight.” Joohyun murmured as they drove.
“Why are you thanking me?” Seungwan asked.
“This all feels too good to be true.” Joohyun remarked, her voice small and hushed. Seungwan took her free hand, rubbing her thumb back and forth over the skin of her hand. They arrived outside Seungwan’s apartment building shortly after that, and Seungwan leaned in to kiss Joohyun. The kiss was sweet, and Seungwan could feel Joohyun smiling against her lips. When they pulled apart, Joohyun whispered, “Can we see each other again tomorrow? Outside of work.”
“Of course.” Seungwan answered softly. She kissed Joohyun again, feeling as though she would never get enough of the feeling. “I’ll take you somewhere tomorrow, my treat. Since you pay for things all the time.”
“I don’t mind paying.” Joohyun pointed out.
“I know, but I want to pay. You deserve it.” Seungwan replied. She continued, “I’ll see you in the morning. Goodnight, Joohyun.”
“Goodnight, Seungwan.” Joohyun said in return, pressing a gentle kiss to Seungwan’s cheek. Seungwan got out of the car, hesitating before closing the car door. “You’re the sweetest angel.” Joohyun murmured to her. Seungwan felt as though she could cry at the comment, and she gave a teary smile of thanks before shutting the car door and reluctantly turning to go inside her apartment building.
Chapter 20: Chapter Twenty
alright, here's chapter 20! this is the calm before the storm, so enjoy it while it lasts ;)
The rest of Seungwan’s week was spent similarly, her days spent at the office and her evenings spent with Joohyun. After the first two nights spent at the park and then out to dinner, the last three days of the business week were spent at Joohyun’s apartment. They would go there right after work and stay until nearly eleven at night, when Joohyun would remind Seungwan they had work the next day and take her home. As far as their time together went, they spent most of it getting to know each other, telling each other stories and finding things they had in common. Seungwan never felt as though she ran out of things to talk to Joohyun about. On Friday night, as eleven o’clock had neared, neither paid any mind to the time, and by the time they noticed how long it had been it was nearly one o’clock in the morning.
“Do you just want to stay over?” Joohyun had asked as her hands ran through Seungwans hair. Seungwan was laying with her head in Joohyun’s lap.
“If you don’t mind.” Seungwan had said back quietly.
“I never mind.” Joohyun had told her. So, they went upstairs to Joohyun’s bedroom, a room of the apartment Seungwan had never been in. It was cozy looking, the walls painted a cream color, the bed covered in a light purple duvet. Joohyun gave Seungwan clothes to sleep in, and as Seungwan slipped them on she breathed in the scent of lavender on them and it made her feel wonderfully calm. They had gotten into bed, finding each other’s arms immediately, and sleep took Seungwan quickly.
The next morning, Seungwan woke up slightly disoriented. She opened her eyes and was confused by the fact she was not in her own room until she felt the arms wrapped around her waist and the feeling of Joohyun’s face pressed against the back of her neck. She relaxed, enjoying the warmth of being held so closely like this. A few moments later, she felt soft kisses being placed on the back of her neck and she smiled, saying hoarsely, “Good morning.”
“Morning, sweetheart.” Joohyun said back. Seungwan turned so she could face Joohyun.
“Thank you for letting me stay over.” She said.
“Anytime.” Joohyun replied. Her phone dinged two times from it’s place on the nightstand and she sighed, moving away from Seungwan and sitting up. She slipped her glasses on and picked her phone up, still squinting slightly to read the texts. Seungwan sat up as well and moved closer to Joohyun, who moved the phone to show her the texts. They were from Sooyoung, and they read:
Up for brunch with Seul and I?
You can bring Seungwan too ;)
“Thoughts?” Joohyun asked.
“If you’d like to go I wouldn’t mind.” Seungwan answered easily.
“Are you sure? We don’t have to.” Joohyun assured her, but Seungwan waved it away.
“I love Seulgi and Sooyoung, I don’t mind at all.” Seungwan replied with a smile. “I will feel a little odd wearing the clothes I wore to work yesterday, but whatever.”
“Oh, well you can borrow clothes.” Joohyun said, slipping out from under the covers and going over to her closet. Seungwan followed her, watching as she picked out a pair of jeans and a flowy, light blue top. “Is this okay?”
“Yes, thank you.” Seungwan said sincerely. She stepped away as Joohyun searched for her own outfit and changed quickly; she figured it would be okay, considering they changed in the same room the previous night when getting ready for bed. She spent a few moments adjusting the top to sit correctly on her shoulders, as it was a little big on her, but she didn’t mind. She liked knowing what she was wearing were Joohyun’s clothes. When she turned back around Joohyun was already changed as well, wearing a plaid shirt tucked into her jeans.
“The top compliments you so nicely.” Joohyun remarked with a sweet smile.
“Thank you, you’re kind.” Seungwan said back. Joohyun quickly texted Sooyoung telling her they were coming and asking for details. They continued getting ready and by the time they were, Sooyoung had told them where to meet. It was not a far distance from Joohyun’s apartment, and the weather was warm again so they decided to walk. When they arrived, Seulgi and Sooyoung were already there saving a table. Joohyun sat in one of the chairs across from them and Seungwan sat beside her, moving the chair slightly so they were close.
“Good morning!” Sooyoung said cheerily, smiling at them.
“Morning Soo.” Joohyun said back with a small grin. “Thank you for inviting us.”
“It’s nice to get to see you both together.” Seulgi remarked. She and Joohyun exchanged a glance and Seulgi smiled in a proud way. Seungwan watched them, thinking of what it must be like to have a friend you’ve known as long as they had known each other. Seulgi must practically feel like a sister to Joohyun. Seungwan longed for a friendship like that, though she was finding one in Yeri as time went on.
“How has your weekend been?” Joohyun asked to both Seulgi and Sooyoung.
“Great.” Sooyoung said, looking at Seulgi with a grin. “I almost have her convinced that we should get a dog.”
“I said I’ll think about it.” Seulgi amended. Seungwan chuckled a little at the exchange.
“You might as well give in now, Seul. You always cave and give Sooyoung whatever she wants.” Joohyun teased.
“Oh please, like you aren’t completely whipped for Seungwan already.” Seulgi poked back, which brought a slight rosiness to Joohyun’s cheeks. Seulgi and Sooyoung giggled, and Seungwan laughed along with them. A waitress came by and took their drink orders, bustling off and bringing them back quickly.
“How are you liking the office, Seungwan?” Sooyoung asked as Seulgi and Joohyun struck up their own conversation.
“I love it. This is the best job I’ve ever had.” Seungwan answered honestly. “Do you enjoy being a lawyer?”
“It’s hard sometimes, but it’s so rewarding.” Sooyoung said. “I’m only a general practitioner, so I handle more mundane cases but still, there are some cases that feel so good to win. There was a case where a young girl was suing her school because they had a policy where two girls couldn’t go to prom together as a couple and winning that case was amazing. It felt like I had helped to shape the world somehow.”
“That’s awesome.” Seungwan replied. “I admire the work you guys do so much. You guys make such a difference in people’s lives.” Sooyoung smiled at her and Seungwan grinned back. She was glad Joohyun’s friends liked her, and she was equally glad she liked them.
“Hyun, when does the Davis case start again?” She heard Seulgi ask. Seungwan and Sooyoung both turned to face Joohyun and Seulgi, joining the conversation.
“March twenty seventh.” Joohyun answered. “I have a meeting with the victim’s family on Monday to prepare them for the trial.”
“This one will be a doozy.” Seulgi remarked with a sigh.
“It really will be. I hope it will go as quickly and as painlessly as possible.” Joohyun sighed as well. “But I doubt it will. No matter what deal we offered the suspect will not change his plea to guilty.”
“Which case is this one again?” Seungwan asked, mentally filtering through the files she knew were on her work computer, trying to remember the contents of the one about Davis case.
“Joann Davis, who was murdered last June.” Joohyun answered. “The suspect on trial is her neighbor. This is so much evidence against him but he refuses to admit he did it.”
“Oh god.” Seungwan let out a low breath.
“Are they bringing in a psychiatrist?” Sooyoung asked. “To try and plead insanity.”
“I haven’t seen anything of the sort, but I wouldn’t doubt it. It’s the only way they could even try at getting a lesser sentence.” Joohyun said. “Wan, have you gotten any emails or calls about a psychiatrist evaluation for this case? Something could have slipped past me.”
“No, I haven’t heard anything from the defense attorney on this case.” Seungwan answered.
“Odd.” Joohyun remarked quietly. There were a few moments of silence and then Joohyun asked, “Do you want to come along to this case? It’s been awhile since you’ve done that.”
“Sure.” Seungwan agreed easily. “I’ll actually take decent notes this time.”
“What’s been going on with your latest case, Seul?” Joohyun turned to the woman opposite her.
“Oh don’t remind me of that.” Seulgi groaned softly. “The mother is still trying for sole custody even though when Child Services searched her home they found it completely unfit for children to live in. It’s terrible. She doesn’t care at all about the kids, she just knows she’ll be able to rely on child support money if she has sole custody.”
“That’s terrible.” Joohyun commented in reply. “When is the official hearing?”
“Not until early April.” Seulgi answered. “I hope this case goes in our favor but I’m not sure. The judge seems to already want to just hand the kids off to their mother because of the unspoken mom rule.”
“Well I hope it goes well for you.” Joohyun said. The conversation flowed into another topic, and soon they ordered their food. The morning was spent filled with conversation and laughter, and Seungwan was glad to have finally found a group of people she loved to be around. Things were looking up, and Seungwan was not taking that for granted.
The morning of March 27th, when Joohyun picked Seungwan up, they drove straight to the courthouse. The trial was beginning at nine o’clock, and they were set to arrive at around eight thirty. As they drove, Joohyun tried to prepare Seungwan for what was going to come that day. “This is a very high profile case.” She said. “There will be a lot of reporters and people taking pictures everywhere. It’s very hectic and overwhelming, but just ignore them. Keep walking into the courthouse, don’t look at them, don’t talk to them. We’re not there for them, we’re there for the trial.” Seungwan nodded as she listened. “This trial will be very hard to get through. If you continue to come along as it goes further, there will be a lot of disturbing things you’ll see and hear. Are you still okay with coming along?”
“Yes.” Seungwan said firmly. “I can handle it.”
“Okay, good.” Joohyun gave her a quick glance and smiled. “Thank you for coming.”
“I’m always happy to come and support you.” Seungwan said. “Plus, this is technically my job.” Joohyun let out a small chuckle at that as she pulled into the parking deck across from the Center City Courthouse, taking her parking ticket and pulling farther into the deck. She parked on the first level and she and Seungwan got out of the car quickly, walking out to the exit. Across the street, the courthouse was swarmed by camera crews and reporters, approaching everyone who entered.
“Are you ready?” Joohyun asked softly as they walked to the crosswalk, waiting to cross the street and enter the swarm. Seungwan nodded, though she was nervous suddenly at the sight of all the reporters who were so aggressively approaching people. Joohyun reached and took her hand, interlocking their fingers. “We’ll get through the crowd together. It’s not as bad as it seems, I promise.”
They stepped out into the street, hurrying across the crosswalk and onto the sidewalk in front of the courthouse. They walked up the walkway, hands still clasped together, and as soon as their feet hit the pavement reporters were all around them. Cameras flashed in their face as they climbed the courthouse steps hastily. Seungwan gripped Joohyun’s hand tightly and Joohyun ran her thumb over Seungwan’s skin comfortingly. It felt like a sea that would never end, the swarms of people with cameras trailing them as they went up the steps, ignoring any semblance of personal space. People were yelling questions in unintelligible voices and Seungwan was thankful when they finally made it into the quietness of the courthouse’s main lobby.
“It’s crazy out there.” She remarked.
“It always is with cases like these.” Joohyun said with a sigh. “Come on, let’s head up to level four.” They went to the elevator and went up to level four alone, stepping out and walking briskly down a long hallway of marble flooring. The only sound now was the rhythmic click clack click clack of Joohyun’s heels on the floor. They reached a door at the very end and Joohyun pushed it open, letting Seungwan go in first and following behind her. The victim’s family was waiting in the first row of the gallery and Joohyun made her way over to them, saying hello and reviewing what the proceedings would be like today. She introduced Seungwan, who shook all of their hands. Seungwan recognized some of their faces, remembering them from their many visits to Joohyun’s office.
“Where should I sit, Hyun?” Seungwan whispered as Joohyun walked over to her table and set her things down.
“The second row, probably. The first row will be filled with the family.” Joohyun answered quietly. Seungwan nodded. She clutched a pen and notepad in her hands, prepared to take notes as opposed to her previous time accompanying Joohyun.
“Good luck.” Seungwan said, and then, “Is that what you say in situations like this?”
Joohyun gave a half smile. “I’m not sure what would be appropriate, but I think good luck is fine. Thank you. I’ll see you after.” Seungwan walked back to the second row of the gallery and took her seat, watching Joohyun as she settled in her own chair, organizing her files on the table.
“All rise.” The bailiff said and they all followed the instruction as the judge entered the room. He was an older man with thick framed glasses settled on the tip of his nose.
“You may be seated.” He said in a gravelly voice. “Today we are here to begin the proceedings in the case of the death of Joann Davis, the main suspect being Henry Archibald Fredrickson the third.”
The court proceedings began, and Seungwan scribbled notes as she watched and listened, no longer thinking of the reporters hovering outside the building or the world outside of the courtroom she was in.
Chapter 21: Chapter Twenty One
here's my last update of 2018! it might already be 2019 for some of you, but it's still 2018 where i am haha. have a happy new year~~
The following morning, the day before Joohyun’s birthday, started as any other would. They did not have to be to the courthouse for the second day of the trial until ten thirty. Joohyun picked Seungwan up and they drove to the office as usual, but the minute they stepped inside everything normal about the day flew out the window. As soon as the door clicked behind them, Seulgi was running over to them, calling out, “I need both of you in my office right now.”
“What’s wrong?” Joohyun asked immediately as the three of them walked swiftly to Seulgi’s office. Seulgi went around her desk to her computer and both Joohyun and Seungwan followed, crowding around to look at the screen.
“Look.” Seulgi said, pointing to the computer.
The screen displayed an article on The Center Spot’s website, the headline reading: Forensic lawyer Bae Joohyun arrives at the courthouse holding hands with her secretary. About halfway down the page was a picture of Joohyun and Seungwan, hands interlocked, both looking solemnly ahead as they walked to the courthouse. Seungwan could picture the photographers that had been around them, the cameras flashing over and over again as they walked.
“Oh my god.” Joohyun gasped, leaning closer to read the article. “Oh my god. Oh my god.” She was trembling now as her eyes scanned the screen over and over again.
“Joohyun, if your mother sees this…” Seulgi said quietly.
“I know.” Joohyun could hardly manage to get the words out, she was shaking so badly all over. “I didn’t think about this at all when we went in, I didn’t think it would matter.” She took a few shallow breaths, an attempt to calm herself down that failed. “You would think the fact the case was about a fucking murder would be more interesting than who I’m holding hands with.” A tear slid down her cheek and Seungwan moved closer to her, sliding an arm around her waist.
“That website is despicable, you know that.” Seulgi said in an attempt to comfort her. “They’ve written so many articles about Sooyoung and I, every time we’ve done a joint case they won’t leave us alone. It won’t matter in a few days, Joohyun, nobody will care anymore.”
“My mother will.” Joohyun whispered, worrying her bottom lip between her teeth.
“She might not even see it.” Seulgi tried to rationalize. Joohyun shrugged in a defeated way. Seulgi sighed, a sad look on her face. Joohyun was clearly fighting back more tears, leaning into Seungwan’s side for support. “I’m sorry.” Seulgi said softly.
“You didn’t do anything.” Joohyun muttered.
“It’s still an awful situation.” Seulgi replied.
Joohyun took a deep breath and said, “Life goes on.” She hugged Seulgi quickly and then made to leave.
Seungwan went to follow her, but Seulgi called her back. “Seungwan, stay a second.” She backtracked and Joohyun reluctantly walked on without her. “I’m sorry this is happening. I know this must be awful for you as well.”
“Not nearly as awful as it is for her.” Seungwan said sadly.
Seulgi sighed, her face solemn. “Look after her today, please. You’re the only one she’ll admit she isn’t okay to.”
“Of course.” Seungwan said with a nod.
“She really loves you, I hope you know that.” Seulgi went on.
“I really love her too.” Seungwan admitted softly.
Seulgi smiled sadly, and then came and hugged Seungwan. “Everything will be okay, I promise.”
“I hope so.” Seungwan whispered. She left after that, walking to Joohyun’s closed office door and knocking lightly. “Joohyun, can I come in?”
“Sure.” Joohyun’s voice was faint. Seungwan pushed the door open, and stepped inside, closing the door behind her. Joohyun was sitting in her office chair, her eyes red rimmed and her face tear streaked. She stood as Seungwan came in.
“Honey,” Seungwan said softly, walking over to her. “Come here.” Joohyun stepped into Seungwan’s arms, burying her face in the crook of her neck. “I’m so, so sorry.”
“It isn’t your fault.” Joohyun whispered, clutching at the fabric of Seungwan’s shirt, like she was scared Seungwan would disappear if she didn’t hold onto her. “Please, don’t think I’m ashamed of this.” She sobbed again quietly. “I’m just scared.”
“I know.” Seungwan rubbed her back and kissed the side of her head, hoping it would comfort her in some way. “It’s okay, it’ll all be okay. I won’t let anything happen.”
“I can’t lose you.” Joohyun mumbled, her voice shaky. “My mother finds a way to take away every good thing I have, I don’t want her to take you away too.”
“She won’t. I’m not going anywhere.” Seungwan reassured her. Joohyun cried against her, sobs wracking her whole body, making her tremble. Seungwan cried with her, tears falling silently as she thought about how terrifying this must be, how awful it was to think Joohyun didn’t even get a chance to tell her mother herself. Seungwan had never considered the reporters would even care in the slightest about their holding hands; she assumed, as did Joohyun, they would only care about the case that was beginning, considering how horrible it was and how anxious everyone was to see what the results of the trial would be. Joohyun’s phone rang on her desk, the caller ID popping up as Mother. “Don’t answer it.” Seungwan said firmly. “Don’t worry about it right now.”
“She’s going to disown me.” Joohyun said, her voice sounding far away, like she was somewhere else mentally. Seungwan was not sure what to say to comfort her, or to reassure her that wouldn’t happen because it was logistically the most likely possibility. It was why Seungwan had not spoken to her own family since she moved away to go to college, and she knew exactly how isolating it was to suddenly have no family, nobody supporting you.
“Well,” Seungwan started after a long moment. “No matter what happens, you still have a family. You have Seulgi and Sooyoung, and you have Yeri too.” Joohyun nodded slightly. “And you have me. You’ll always have me.” The phone rang again and they let it ring out, Joohyun taking deep breaths while Seungwan comforted her. “You can deal with it when you’re ready.”
“I have to be at the courthouse again by ten thirty.” Joohyun said, exhaling a low breath. “I’ll have to be there nearly everyday until this trial is over.”
“Do you want me to stay here?” Seungwan asked. “So things die down.”
Joohyun finally looked back up at her, wiping away tears with a delicate hand. “No, it’s pointless now.” She forced a smile, looking almost defeated.
“I won’t be upset if you would rather pretend nothing is going on with us.” Seungwan told her.
“I don’t want to do that, though. It isn’t fair to you, and it isn’t the truth. Besides, I’ll have to go through this eventually and it’s already happening, so I might as well finish it.” Joohyun said quietly. Her phone dinged three times, and she walked away from Seungwan to look at the messages. It was three curt messages from her mother, reading:
You better start picking up my calls, Joohyun.
I saw the article.
I cannot even begin to express my disappointment in you.
Joohyun sighed and set her phone back down, not saying anything. Seungwan wanted so badly to take all of this away, to be able to fix it in an instant. She hated to see Joohyun so upset and worried, so scared of what was going to happen. “Should I call her back?” Joohyun asked in a whisper.
“If you think you should.” Seungwan answered hesitantly. She knew it would only upset Joohyun more to talk to her mother, but she also thought it might be better to just get it over with.
“I guess I should.” Joohyun said, her tone reluctant.
“I can leave, if you would rather do it alone.” Seungwan offered, but Joohyun reached and clutched her hand.
“Please don’t go.” Joohyun mumbled. Seungwan stayed, running her thumb over the skin of Joohyun’s hand as Joohyun hit call and held the phone up to her ear. Seungwan could hear a muffled voice through the phone, though she couldn’t make out what it was saying. Joohyun’s grip on Seungwan’s hand tightened, and Seungwan felt a surge of anger towards Joohyun’s mother, hating her for making Joohyun feel so awful. “I’m nearly thirty years old, I shouldn’t have to answer to you about my love life.” Joohyun said angrily, and Seungwan was proud of her for being so bold. Her whole demeanor had changed as she had been listening; she stood straighter, the same look she wore in the courtroom gracing her features as she spoke. There was a faint response, and whatever it was made Joohyun roll her eyes. “This has nothing to do with Seulgi or Sooyoung! This is about me, and what I want out of life, and if that just so happens to be a relationship with a woman then you have to deal with that.”
Seungwan watched as angry tears tracked down Joohyun’s cheeks. Joohyun glanced up at Seungwan and Seungwan gave her an encouraging smile, mouthing You’re doing good.
“She’s only two years younger than I am, and so what if she works at the firm?” Joohyun said in a biting tone. Seungwan suddenly felt uncomfortable, knowing they were discussing her. “She is hardly a child, and I’m hardly taking advantage of her.” It made Seungwan’s stomach turn to think anyone was assuming Joohyun was somehow taking advantage of her. There was a long pause from Joohyun, during which she squeezed Seungwan’s hand tightly again and took even, paced breaths. “Nothing you say will change the way I feel.” Joohyun murmured. A muffled voice said something, and then Joohyun said, “Fine, disown me then.” Tears slipped down her cheeks and Seungwan gave her hand a reassuring squeeze. A moment later Joohyun hung the phone up with a trembling hand. “Well I just got disowned.” Joohyun let out a harsh breath.
“I’m so sorry, Joohyun.” Seungwan said softly. Joohyun shrugged, brushing the tears off her cheeks.
“There’s nothing I can do to change it.” She said matter of factly.
“It’s still terrible. You don’t deserve that.” Seungwan went on.
“Thank you, sweetheart.” Joohyun walked to her and hugged her, kissing her cheek and murmuring, “You are the most wonderful thing in the world.” Seungwan hugged her in return. With a sigh, Joohyun pulled away and said, “I guess we have to actually start the day.”
“Are you okay?” Seungwan asked. “You’re handling this a lot better than I thought you would.”
“Well, what you said about how no matter what happens I’ll still have you, Seulgi, Sooyoung, and Yeri makes it more bearable. I do still have a family.” Joohyun explained. “I’m sad about losing my mother, but in the end I think it’ll be better for me.” Seungwan smiled proudly and Joohyun smiled too. “I’m going to go and fill Seulgi in.”
They left the office together, and as they walked across the waiting room towards Seulgi’s office, Yeri stood and said, “I heard what happened.” She looked more solemn than Seungwan had ever seen her. “Miss Bae, are you okay?” Yeri asked.
“Yes Yerim, I’ll be fine.” Joohyun said back.
“Can I give you both a hug?” Yeri said in a small voice.
“Come here, Yeri.” Seungwan waved her over and she and Joohyun enveloped Yeri in a tight hug.
“I hate that bullshit website.” Yeri muttered. “They always focus on stupid stuff that doesn’t matter.”
“You’re right about that.” Joohyun agreed. Yeri stepped back from the hug and tried to give them both an encouraging smile.
“Well if it counts for anything, I think you guys are really good together.” She said. Seungwan felt her heart warm at the comment, and she and Joohyun both said their thanks before heading into Seulgi’s office. Both Seulgi and Sooyoung were in there, discussing something with each other. They looked up as Seungwan and Joohyun entered.
“What happened?” Seulgi asked. She sat in her office chair and Sooyoung stood behind it, her hand on Seulgi’s shoulder. They both wore the same expression of concern on their faces.
“I talked to my mother on the phone.” Joohyun said, her tone calmer than it had been. She kept her voice as even as possible. “And she disowned me.” Seungwan let out a sad sigh at hearing the words again, putting a hand on Joohyun’s lower back to comfort her.
“She actually did it this time?” Sooyoung looked shocked, her eyes wide.
“Yes, she did.” Joohyun’s voice was matter of fact as she said this.
“Goddamn.” Sooyoung let out in a low breath. “That fucking bitch.”
“Sooyoung.” Seulgi said softly, holding a hand up to quiet her counterpart. To Joohyun, she said, “I’m sorry Hyun, that’s so awful.”
“It’s been a long time coming, you know that.” Joohyun argued quietly. “She’s been waiting for a reason.”
“It still isn’t right.” Sooyoung muttered, still sounding angry.
“Well right or wrong, it’s the reality I’m facing.” Joohyun said with a sigh.
“Shit, you have a trial today don’t you?” Seulgi asked, though she seemed to already know the answer. Joohyun nodded. “Are you going to go?”
“Of course.” Joohyun answered like it was a dumb question. “I wouldn’t miss work for something this trivial.”
“Getting disowned is not trivial, Joohyun.” Sooyoung replied, sounding almost amused. “Are you going?” She directed her question to Seungwan.
“Yeah.” Seungwan said quietly.
“That’s bold.” Sooyoung commented.
“In a bad way or a good way?” Seungwan asked.
“I’m not sure, probably both.” Sooyoung answered.
“I’m not ashamed of anything, and there’s no reason I shouldn’t bring her along considering she does still work for me.” Joohyun explained.
“That’s true.” Seulgi added in a thoughtful voice. “Are you going to say anything to the press if they ask?”
“I didn’t think about that.” Joohyun admitted. “I probably should, but who knows. They may not even ask.”
“They will, and you know it.” Seulgi told her.
“You tell them to take it and shove it up their asses.” Sooyoung said, which made Joohyun smile a little.
“Sooyoung!” Seulgi scolded. “Stop saying stuff like that at work, it’s unprofessional.”
“Oh like you’re going to fire me.” Sooyoung teased. Seulgi gave her an annoyed look and then Sooyoung went on, “Well even if you want to, Joohyun unnie won’t let you. At least she still likes me.” Joohyun laughed softly, and Seungwan and Sooyoung joined in too. Seulgi shook her head, holding back her own laughter.
“We should probably go and get ready for the trial, we have to be there by ten thirty.” Joohyun said, gesturing to the wall clock that told them it was nearing ten o’clock.
“Good luck today, with the press and everything.” Sooyoung said, coming over and hugging Joohyun tightly. “You’re gonna kick ass, you always do.” Joohyun smiled as she rested her head on Sooyoung’s shoulder, hugging her back.
“Thank you, Soo. You’re the best.” Joohyun murmured. Sooyoung smiled as she pulled back, letting Seulgi come up and have her turn hugging Joohyun.
“I love you, Hyun.” Seulgi said softly as she hugged her. “You’ll always have a family with us.”
“I love you too Seul.” Joohyun whispered back. “You’ve always been my family.” Seungwan smiled at the sweet exchange.
“You don’t get away without a hug, Seungwan!” Sooyoung said brightly, coming over and hugging her, making her grin. “You’re part of the family now too!”
Seulgi smiled as she and Joohyun ended their hug and she went and hugged Seungwan too when Sooyoung stepped back. “Thank you for taking care of Joohyun.” Seulgi said. “Make sure you’re taking care of yourself too.”
Seungwan smiled, saying, “Thank you, Seulgi.” There was a pause, and then, “You should start telling Sooyoung you’ll only let her get a dog if she stops swearing in the office.”
“That’s a fantastic idea.” Seulgi grinned as she spoke, looking back at Sooyoung. “Hear that, Soo?”
“Yeah, yeah, sure.” Sooyoung said with a slight laugh in her voice.
Joohyun and Seungwan left the office, going to make the preparations for the trial ahead of them. Today would be the first day witnesses would be called to stand, and Joohyun had everything planned out exactly. Seungwan had read through the entirety of the case file again the previous day, refreshing herself on everything so she could be aware of what would be happening during the court proceedings. She knew this would be a long, grueling trial for everyone involved and it weighed heavy on her mind that now they had to contend with the controversy started by the press in addition to the already stressful trial. They had collected everything they needed and headed out the door to the car by the time the clock hit ten, and the drive to the courthouse was a silent one. The day had already felt so long, despite it not even being afternoon yet. So much had happened between the article and Joohyun’s phone call with her mother, it hardly felt as if the trial was part of the same day. Joohyun maneuvered the car into the parking garage and parked close to the exit, so they had a short distance to walk to get out to the sidewalk.
As they waited for the signal to switch and let them cross the street, Seungwan noticed the hoard of reporters outside the courthouse, just as large as the day before. She swallowed hard, nervous now as she watched them. “It’s okay.” Joohyun said softly. “Don’t worry about them.” The signal switched and they began to walk, moving at a quick pace to the other side of the street. They began to head up the walkway towards the stairs of the courthouse and the reporters moved in, cameras flashing and people shouting. Seungwan cringed away from them on instinct. She felt Joohyun’s warm hand taking her own, lacing their fingers together. She whispered to Seungwan, “I’ve got you.”
“Any comment on the article published this morning?” A reporter at the edge of the cluster shouted.
Joohyun turned towards him, the icy glare Seungwan only knew from the courtroom clouding her normally gentle features. “Yes, actually,” She said in a clear voice. Seungwan held her breath as she waited for Joohyun to continue. “I think it’s ridiculous you all care more about my personal life than the trial you are supposed to be reporting on. A tragic thing happened, and we are here to seek justice for the victims, not to gossip. My personal life is of no concern to you, the only concern any of us should have is to get closure on such a horrible event.” She exhaled a low breath, and finished with, “Now if you’ll excuse me, we have somewhere to be.”
Joohyun immediately moved onwards, Seungwan in tow, as the reporters watched her go. They hurried up the courthouse steps, and Seungwan said in a proud voice, “You are incredible.”
“Oh, no.” Joohyun protested, her voice once again warm and quiet. “It was what needed to be done.”
“It was still kickass.” Seungwan said, which made Joohyun shake her head and laugh a little. They entered the courthouse together, hands still intertwined, leaving the sea of reporters behind them, not caring what was to be said.
Chapter 22: Chapter Twenty Two
i can't write angst very well no matter how hard i try so really after one or two chapters of angst it all ends up fluffy again. i think everyone could use some sweet, sappy wenrene though~
Seungwan knew Joohyun had been hoping she would forget the twenty ninth was her birthday, but Seungwan had been counting down the days until it finally came. Despite the controversy, she still planned to do everything she could to make the day special for Joohyun. She had planned everything with Seulgi, Sooyoung, and Yeri so they could celebrate after work; while she and Joohyun had been at the trial, Seulgi and Yeri had gone to Seungwan’s apartment to decorate for a surprise party while Sooyoung stayed behind to run the office. The trial lasted until the late afternoon, and so they called it a day early and Joohyun drove Seungwan home as normal. Seungwan knew Seulgi, Sooyoung, and Yeri were already in the apartment, waiting for them to arrive.
“Will you come up with me?” Seungwan asked, trying to keep it as vague as possible. Joohyun gave her a confused look. “I want to give you something, for your birthday.”
“Seungwan.” Joohyun whined softly, drawing out the a in her name. “You shouldn’t have gotten me anything.” Seungwan shrugged in reply, a cheeky grin on her face. Joohyun sighed, “Alright, let’s go up.” They got out of the car, locking it and heading into the apartment building, climbing the stairs together. Seungwan took her keys out and unlocked the door, heart drumming in her chest with nerves, hoping everything would work out the way it should.
As she pushed the door open and they stepped in there was a chorus of, “Surprise!” From Seulgi, Sooyoung, and Yeri as they revealed themselves. Balloons and streamers were hung all over the living room and kitchen, and there were presents and cards on the table.
Seungwan looked at Joohyun to see her reaction, and as Joohyun peered around at everything tears came to her eyes. “Whoa, what’s wrong?” Seungwan asked, anxiety evident in her voice.
Joohyun smiled tearily, shaking her head, “It’s just been a hard last couple of days, and this is just so kind.” She kissed Seungwan quickly and then said, “Thank you all so much.”
“Quit crying and come enjoy the party.” Sooyoung teased, making Joohyun chuckle a little through her tears. “Unnie you’re old now!”
“Hey, watch it!” Joohyun gave her a glare, though it was hardly threatening with the sweet smile on her lips.
“Happy birthday, Miss Bae!” Yeri chirped in a cheery voice. Joohyun smiled warmly at her.
“You don’t have to be so formal outside the office, Yerim. I think we’re far past formalities anyways.” Joohyun said, looking at Seungwan for a moment.
“Sweet!” Yeri replied with a laugh.
Seulgi came over and hugged Joohyun, saying, “Happy birthday Hyun!”
“Thanks Seul.” Joohyun smiled.
“Seungwan is quite the party planner.” Seulgi remarked. “She had such an elaborate plan to make sure you didn’t find out.”
“What can I say, I’m organized.” Seungwan joked. To Joohyun, she said,“That’s why you hired me.” Joohyun rolled her eyes, chuckling.
The party was full of laughter and fun stories, which Seungwan hoped helped Joohyun forget for a little bit about the situation with her mother. She knew it was still making Joohyun upset, though she wasn’t mentioning it anymore. Joohyun was much more solemn in the last two days than she had been before, and Seungwan completely understood, but she wanted to cheer Joohyun up somehow. As the night moved onwards, they went to the table so Joohyun could open her cards and gifts.
“Open mine first!” Yeri called out as she set her chair close to the table. Joohyun smiled and picked up a card in a pink envelope, Yeri’s messy handwriting signifying which card was hers. Joohyun slipped the card out and read the message, smiling as she did so.
“Thank you, Yeri, that’s very sweet.” Joohyun said, setting the card gently back on the table. She opened Seulgi and Sooyoung’s cards next, and then she took the gift they had bought her together and carefully peeled the wrapping paper off. It was a Keurig and a few boxes of tea to use for it.
“I know you don’t like coffee, but you can just use it for tea.” Seulgi said. “Cause you’re addicted.”
“I am not addicted,” Joohyun protested with a laugh. “But thank you, this is wonderful.” She turned to Seungwan and said, “Only your gift left?”
“Yes.” Seungwan smiled picking the card and box up and handing them to her. Joohyun opened the card with careful fingers and peered at the message, scanning it over three times. It read:
Happy birthday! You are the most wonderful person in the world and I hope this year treats you very well. I am so lucky to have you in my life, you’ve taught me so much about strength and love and I can never repay you for that. I care so deeply about you and I hope you feel the same about me. Here’s to many more birthdays spent with one another. Enjoy your special day honey.
Joohyun looked up at Seungwan, a fond look in her eye. “Thank you so much.”
“Open the gift.” Seungwan prompted. Joohyun did so, delicately opening a jewelry box to reveal a silver bracelet with the word Strength printed on it in small script. “Because you are the strongest person I know, and I think sometimes you doubt your own strength.”
Joohyun set the gift and card down to come over and kiss Seungwan, saying as she pulled away, “You are the sweetest person I’ve ever met.”
“You deserve it all and more.” Seungwan whispered back.
“Get a room you two!” Sooyoung laughed. Joohyun and Seungwan both shot her a look but laughed along with everyone else easily. The party moved into Seungwan’s living room, the group crowding together on the couch as they talked.
“Joohyun do you remember your eighth birthday party?” Seulgi asked with an amused look on her face.
“When you fell off the side of the slide?” Joohyun said back, giggling at the memory.
“Wait you’ve never told me this story.” Sooyoung elbowed Seulgi gently.
“You see,” Joohyun started. “She was a very rambunctious kid, and got a little over excited and flung herself down the slide so fast she whipped right off the edge about halfway down.”
“You were more worried than any of the adults were.” Seulgi said. “Joohyun came running over to me screaming bloody murder, acting like I’d just died.”
“I was eight!” Joohyun protested with a laugh.
Seulgi was giggling as she went on, “And school pictures were the next day!”
“Oh yeah, so she strolls into her first grade picture day with a huge scrape down the side of her face and a black eye.” Joohyun continued, which made Seulgi laugh even harder. “I didn’t see her until we were on the bus together at the end of the day and she tells me, ‘The camera guy asked me if everything was okay at home, what did he mean?’”
The group was all laughing at the story’s conclusion, Sooyoung saying, “You have got to show me your first grade photos now!”
“No, they’re so embarrassing.” Seulgi shook her head. “Aside from my messed up face, both my front teeth were missing and my hair was just a mess. I look insane.”
“Fine, I’ll get them from your mom.” Sooyoung replied, which made the rest of the party laugh again.
“I don’t have any photos from my childhood.” Seungwan said. “There’s no proof I existed before the age of like sixteen.”
“Wait really, you don’t have any?” Yeri asked, a puzzled look on her face. “What happened to them?”
“My mom has them all.” Seungwan replied simply. “I haven’t talked to her in ten years.”
“Wow.” Yeri let out a breath. “That’s rough.”
“I didn’t mean to lower the mood!” Seungwan remarked hastily. “I’m kind of glad none of those embarrassing photos will end up in any of your guys’ hands.”
“My mom took photos of me and my sisters all obsessively.” Yeri went on. “So my childhood was more documented than I care to remember.”
“Me too.” Sooyoung said. “My mom is still a huge picture taker. Everytime Seulgi and I go to visit her she takes so many pictures of us together. She always says, ‘You’ll be thankful when you finally get married and want to put together a photo book or slideshow!’” Everyone laughed at that, and the mood lightened considerably.
“I love pictures.” Joohyun sighed, a smile on her face. “I took as many as I could when I left for college, and I have a lot of pictures from college as well.”
“Well let’s all take a picture!” Yeri suggested. “We can hang it in the office!” She took her phone out and they all gathered around, huddling close together so they could all be in shot. Genuine smiles came to their lips as they looked into the camera, grinning widely and holding onto each other. As Yeri snapped the photo, Seungwan felt a rush of joy flood through her; she finally fit in somewhere, after feeling so alone and left out her entire life. She had finally found a family.
Chapter 23: Chapter Twenty Three
we're getting so close to the end of this story, i'm a bit sad :( i do promise i'll post other stories eventually, i'm working on a new one now!
April was a calm month, filled with rainy days and flowers beginning to bloom again. The office was pleasant, and work slowed down once the Davis trial finally came to a close. Joohyun won the case in the end, and the murderer was locked away for life, which Seungwan could tell took a huge weight off the victim’s family’s shoulders. They had all run to hug Joohyun at the sentencing, crying and saying their thanks. There would not be another big trial for Joohyun until the beginning of June, so things had slowed considerably. Joohyun and Seungwan spent most days together, sometimes with the rest of their colleagues, but alone a lot of the time too. There never seemed to be a dull moment; Seungwan enjoyed every second they spent with one another. They had been together just over a month, though it felt much longer.
Yeri’s graduation from college was rapidly approaching, which meant she had to make a decision about whether to stay working at the firm or not. One day, a week away from her graduation, Seulgi and Joohyun called an office meeting to discuss the situation. They all crowded in the waiting room, listening intently as Seulgi explained.
“So we all know our little Yeri is graduating college next week.” Seulgi began, a proud smile on her face. Yeri rolled her eyes at the little comment, though she grinned as well. “And she’s been considering leaving the firm to pursue something with her business degree.”
“Which we’ll fully support no matter what,” Joohyun chimed in softly. “But we have an idea that might make the decision easier.” Yeri looked at them with a confused expression.
“We thought of a way for you to open your own business and stay at the firm until it’s settled and it seems like things are working out.” Seulgi went on. “We’re going to make some changes in the way the secretarial system runs. We’re going to be promoting you and Seungwan both to executive assistants, which means you’ll be sharing the duties of full time secretaries for the entire office. So no person specific secretaries, and you’ll both be paid much more than before.” Seulgi paced as she explained. “Yeri, you would only have to work part time, whether that only be a few days a week or only in the mornings or afternoons, whatever works best for you. We can work the scheduling out later.”
“Is this new system okay with the both of you?” Joohyun asked, looking between Yeri and Seungwan.
“We would both be answering phones and doing paperwork for all three of you?” Seungwan wondered, trying to wrap her head around the concept. Seulgi and Joohyun both nodded. “Interesting.”
“You would really let me do that?” Yeri asked in a hushed voice. “Only work part time and still get paid well?”
“Of course.” Seulgi said. “We’d all miss you too much if you left forever, and we figured this would be a good compromise.”
“Thank you so much.” Yeri ran to hug Seulgi, and then Joohyun, her eyes tearing up slightly. She went to Seungwan next, saying gleefully, “We get to work together now!”
“Yeah!” Seungwan grinned, Yeri’s joy contagious. “We’ll be a great team.” They high fived, smiles wreathing their faces.
“I’m so glad this will all work out.” Joohyun remarked. Seungwan had been hesitant at first to change her routine, what she was used to doing, but knowing this was the way to keep Yeri at the firm made her much more open to it. She was excited to start this new chapter of working, knowing it would only be one week more before this change was set into motion.
“Welcome to the graduation of the Center City University class of two thousand and eighteen!”
The theater seats were filled with people waiting anxiously to watch whoever they were there to see cross the stage and receive their diploma. Seungwan, Joohyun, Seulgi, and Sooyoung sat in a row, listening as the announcer said the name of the valedictorian and stepped down to let them make their speech. Seungwan took Joohyun’s hand and she felt Joohyun squeeze gently, their silent signal, saying I’ve got you. The valedictorian’s speech was brief, and then they began calling names.
“I’m going to cry, I’m so proud of her!” Seulgi gushed. “I remember when she first came to the firm, I was so nervous to let a college student intern but she did so well. I don’t know what the firm would be like without her.”
“She makes it a brighter place.” Sooyoung added, to which all of them agreed.
The announcer called out, “Kim Yerim, graduating with honors and a double degree in Business and Communications.”
Seungwan, Joohyun, Seulgi, and Sooyoung all cheered for her, and she found them in the crowd up on the stage, smiling widely at them. It felt as though every moment since October had been building until this moment, this solitary second in time where they all came together to support the youngest member of their little family, so unified in their joy for her. Seungwan had never known what it was like to have people supporting her and people to support; she had felt alone for twenty eight years but she knew now she would never have to be alone like that again. She had wonderful friends and had found someone she adored with all of her heart. She knew life was moving forward in a good way, not just for her but for all of them.
After the ceremony concluded, they met Yeri outside the theater. Her parents and sisters were already crowded around her, hugging her and congratulating her. Yeri was grinning at them, tears welling in her eyes. It was a big day for her; she’d been telling Seungwan for months about how long she’d been waiting for this moment, how it finally felt like every night of missed sleep to write a paper or saying no to something fun so she could study would be paying off. Yeri’s eyes lit up when she saw her colleagues approaching, and she said, “Hi guys!” She introduced them all to her parents and sisters, who shook their hands and smiled at them. Seungwan was already familiar with them, considering she had been in Yeri’s house many times before, and they all gave her a big hug.
“Let me get a picture of you girls all together!” Yeri’s mother said, waving them together. Sooyoung and Seulgi went on either side of Yeri, arms around her back. Seungwan and Joohyun filed in beside Sooyoung, both smiling at the camera. Seungwan slid her arms around Joohyun’s waist and leaned into her as the picture was snapped. “Beautiful!” Yeri’s mother declared, a warm smile on her face. “Why don’t you join us for dinner? We’re going to that nice place down the street.”
“You guys have to come, it’ll be so fun!” Yeri chimed in, smiling. It was easy to agree, and they all began walking as a group down the street to the restaurant.
Once they were seated, Yeri’s family at one end, her colleagues at the other, with Yeri in the middle of it all, Seungwan leaned over to Yeri and said, “I’m so proud of you.”
Yeri smiled, clearly touched. “Thank you so much.”
“We’re all very proud of you.” Joohyun added, to which Seulgi and Sooyoung nodded. “None of us ever thought we’d be so attached to Seulgi’s little intern but you made your way into all of our hearts.”
“Hey, now I’m out of college you can stop the little jokes!” Yeri teased, making them all laugh. “I love you guys so much.” She said in a more serious tone.
“We love you too.” Seulgi answered for the table, putting a hand on Yeri’s shoulder and squeezing gently.
“Let’s make a toast.” Sooyoung suggested, raising her glass. “To Yeri’s success.”
“May life bring you amazing things.” Seulgi added on, raising her own glass.
“Here’s hoping your business goes well.” Joohyun said, smiling, her glass joining Seulgi and Sooyoung’s.
“I hope we all get to keep you around forever.” Seungwan put her glass up with the others.
Yeri raised her own glass, saying, “You’re all stuck with me.” They all laughed softly, chorusing their cheers and clinking glasses, going silent as they sipped.
When they left the restaurant later that night, Seungwan was significantly tipsier than she had been before entering. She was stationed in the passenger seat of Joohyun’s car as they drove away from the theater, and she leaned against the car door to watch Joohyun as she drove.
“Where am I taking you?” Joohyun asked her in a soft voice. “Home, or my place?”
“Hm?” Seungwan blinked a few times, registering the question. She wasn’t wasted, but everything felt a little fuzzy. “Home?”
“You say that like a question.” Joohyun chuckled.
“Well yeah.” Seungwan almost felt as though there was cotton in her mouth, like she couldn’t wrap her brain around the words she was saying. “That apartment isn’t home.”
“Then what is?” Joohyun asked her gently.
“You.” The word made Joohyun smile in the way she only seemed to smile at Seungwan. They stopped at a red light.
“You’re very sweet.” Joohyun remarked, reaching over and brushing a few strands of Seungwan’s hair out of her face. “And very tipsy it seems.”
“Maybe.” Seungwan sighed, grinning. The light turned green and Joohyun turned left down the street that led to her apartment, which Seungwan was grateful for. She did not want to spend the night, or any night ever again for that matter, without Joohyun. Once they were parked safely, in Joohyun’s garage, Seungwan opened her door and stepped out. She was immediately hit with a feeling of dizziness, and didn’t regain focus until she felt Joohyun’s hand closing on her arm, steadying her.
“Whoa there.” Joohyun murmured. “Come on, let’s get inside.”
“I overdid it.” Seungwan deadpanned, which made Joohyun laugh.
“At least you’re self aware.” Joohyun said as she led Seungwan through the door and towards the steps, taking each step slowly so Seungwan would not stumble. Once they reached her bedroom, she gave Seungwan her usual pair of pajamas to put on and went to change herself. Seungwan slid the familiar clothing on and went right to the bed, getting under the covers and sighing, waiting for Joohyun to join her. Joohyun came out of the bathroom and her eyes fell on Seungwan under the covers. “You look so cute bundled up like that.”
“Come here.” Seungwan whined, reaching her arms out and motioning for Joohyun to come to her. Joohyun obliged, sliding under the covers and pulling Seungwan into her arms, feeling Seungwan sigh against her. “Better.” Joohyun smiled and ran her hands gently over Seungwan’s back. “Hey.” Seungwan abruptly looked up at Joohyun, her eyes looking clearer than they had previously.
“Hm?” Joohyun asked absentmindedly.
“I love you.” Seungwan whispered, looking away with a shy grin on her lips.
Joohyun kissed her cheek and murmured, “I love you too. Now get some sleep.” Seungwan settled back into her position in Joohyun’s arms, head on her chest and arms wrapped around her, letting sleep pull her in.
Chapter 24: Chapter Twenty Four
we're almost to the very end of the road here :( i hope you enjoy all the fluff right at the very end haha
The next morning, Seungwan awoke to Joohyun sitting on the edge of the bed, peering down at her. “Well hello there, sleepyhead.” Joohyun teased in a gentle voice.
“What time is it?” Seungwan asked in a hoarse voice.
“Just past noon.” Joohyun told her. She picked up a glass of water from the bedside table and handed it to Seungwan. “Sip off this.”
“Did I get drunk or something? I have a killer headache.” Seungwan laughed, wincing when it made her head pound even more. She took a big gulp of the water.
“You were a bit tipsy last night, but not wasted or anything.” Joohyun sighed.
“I didn’t do anything embarrassing did I?” Seungwan felt her cheeks heat at even the mere thought of doing anything cringe worthy in front of Joohyun.
“No, you were just very whiny.” Joohyun said. “And very honest.”
“Oh god, what does that mean?” Seungwan sipped from the water again, hoping it would help her headache.
“You told me I’m your home.” Joohyun smiled softly while she spoke. “And you said ‘I love you’ for the first time.”
“And what did you say back?” Seungwan was scared to ask.
“I told you I loved you too and then made you go to sleep.” Joohyun said easily, which made Seungwan feel a lot less worried. She had known deep down her feelings of love were reciprocated in the same intensity, but it was nice to know it.
“That isn’t exactly the most romantic way of saying ‘I love you’ for the first time, I’m sorry.” Seungwan said half jokingly, though she knew there was some truth to it. She had been planning on finding the perfect time to say it, but it had just slipped out drunkenly.
“It was sweet, and besides, it’s not like it’s the last time you’ll ever say it.” Joohyun reassured her. “Or at least I hope not.”
“Definitely not.” Seungwan confirmed, leaning up and kissing Joohyun. She secured her fingers in Joohyun’s long hair, her other hand gripping onto her leg. Joohyun placed both her hands on Seungwan’s shoulders as she kissed her back. “I love you.” Seungwan whispered against Joohyun’s lips.
“I love you too, my angel.” Joohyun murmured back, kissing her again briefly before pulling back to stand up. “Do you want painkillers for your headache?”
“Sure.” Seungwan slid out of bed and followed Joohyun to the bathroom. Joohyun took a bottle of painkillers out of the cabinet and handed it over to Seungwan, who shook three capsules out and popped them into her mouth, swallowing them easily.
“Good god, Seungwan.” Joohyun said, looking shocked. “How can you do that without water?”
“Lots of practice from hangovers in high school.” Seungwan answered with a slightly cheeky grin on her face. “You were probably too busy being the valedictorian or student council president or something.”
“Both, actually.” Joohyun laughed. “I didn’t do anything that crazy in high school.”
“Boring.” Seungwan teased as she headed back to the bed, sitting on the edge. Joohyun joined her, giving her a glare for the comment. “I mean, I did other stuff too, I was in band and drama club. I was just also known for being a little wild on the weekends.”
“Please don’t tell me you did any hard drugs.” Joohyun said, making Seungwan laugh.
“God no! Only weed, and that was once or twice.” Seungwan sighed. “What did you do on your weekends, miss goody two shoes?”
“I can still fire you, you know that right?” Joohyun joked, poking Seungwan in the side. “I studied, or Seulgi and I would do something. I had fun! Just legal fun.”
“Pfft.” Seungwan scoffed. “Let me guess, you were a popular girl weren’t you?”
“People liked me, I guess.” Joohyun said, though the way she said it made it sound like an understatement. “But Seulgi was the only person I was really close to.”
“Aw.” Seungwan said. “I didn’t have a close group of friends or anything, just the people I’d go to parties with. I had a girlfriend very briefly but it ended bad.” She laughed a little. “It’s funny to think about now.”
“You’ve known you were gay that long?” Joohyun asked in a quiet voice. Seungwan nodded.
“What, did you have a boyfriend in high school?” She asked, curious. She couldn’t imagine Joohyun like that, dating a boy, pretending to love him.
“Sadly, yes.” Joohyun rolled her eyes. “My freshman year I dated a junior, but then I broke up with him to ‘focus on my studies.’” She chuckled. “I really just felt sick everytime we kissed and couldn’t stand it anymore.”
“Well look how far you’ve come.” Seungwan pointed out. “I’m proud of you for being yourself. That’s a huge difference even from when we first met. I can’t imagine how it must feel to you.”
“It’s freeing.” Joohyun remarked. “I finally feel like I’m actually living.” Seungwan smiled at her. “Seulgi said she’d started noticing I was different even before she knew we were together. She said I seemed happier.” Joohyun gave a small smile. “I am much happier.”
“I’m glad.” Seungwan said. “So am I. I was miserable before I started working at the firm, but now I’ve got everything turned around. I can actually pay my bills, I’ll be able to afford a better apartment soon.”
“That’s wonderful.” Joohyun said, her voice genuine. “I hated to see you struggle so much.”
“I didn’t realize you knew how bad it was before I told you.” Seungwan commented.
“I just figured, since you didn’t bring a lunch or money to pay for one, you had no car and didn’t bus to work, you didn’t have a decent winter coat.” Joohyun explained. “It was the least I could do to help you.”
“You have the kindest soul.” Seungwan whispered, making Joohyun blush. “Really, I don’t know where I’d be without you.”
“The same to you. I don’t know what I would do if I did not have you.” Joohyun said softly. Seungwan took her hand and they both smiled at one another, both feeling thankful for the luck of fate that brought them together.
April moved into May, which moved into June peacefully. The new system was set into place, with Seungwan and Yeri sharing secretarial duties during the mornings and Seungwan running things by herself during the afternoon. She enjoyed having more to do, it kept her occupied longer and she was learning more about other forms of law through dealing with Seulgi and Sooyoung’s cases as well as Joohyun’s. Yeri had found a small place in a plaza at the border of center city and north city where she was planning on opening a small bakery.
It was nearing five o’clock in the middle of the week and Seungwan was stationed at her new, larger desk in the center of the office, a phone tucked against her ear as she typed away rapidly, listening intently to the voice on the other end of the line. She tapped her foot to a rhythm stuck in her head as she typed, fingers flying over the keys easily. When she thought about it, she was much more satisfied with this kind of job than she had ever anticipated being. She had always thought her job would be making music in some shape or form, but now she thinks it might be all the better that stayed a hobby. Especially considering she loves working at the firm, loves meeting new clients everyday and learning new things about law.
“I’ll send the files Miss Kang’s way and she’ll call you tomorrow.” Seungwan said to the client on the phone. “Okay, have a good night. Buh-bye.” The door to the office pushed open and Yeri came in, carrying a stack of small papers , her hair tied up in a messy knot. She smiled at seeing Seungwan. “Well it’s not typical to see you here this late anymore.” Seungwan remarked, leaning for to rest her chin in her hands.
“I came to drop something off to you guys.” Yeri explained with a grin. She took one of the papers, which turned out not to be a paper at all but a picture. The picture of the five of them from Yeri’s graduation day. “My mom got a bunch of photos printed, so I asked her to print you all a copy of this one.”
“That’s so sweet Yeri, thank you.” Seungwan said with a genuine smile. She studied the picture, remembering that day, savoring the way it had been captured perfectly how happy they all were. Yeri grinned at her and headed off to Seulgi’s office, presumably to deliver the other photos. Seungwan readied herself to leave, still clutching the photo as she walked to Joohyun’s office and pushed the door open to go inside. Joohyun was typing at her computer, glasses slipping down the bridge of her nose as they perpetually seemed to do. Seungwan came up to her and pushed the glasses back up, startling Joohyun.
“Oh!” She gasped softly, her eyes wide. “You scared me.”
“You should be used to it by now, considering how jumpy you are.” Seungwan teased, kissing the tip of Joohyun’s nose before pulling back. “Your glasses were slipping.”
“They always are.” Joohyun sighed, closing her file and shutting the computer down. “What have you got there?”
“The picture from Yeri’s graduation day.” Seungwan replied as they left the office, hand in hand. “She printed one for everybody.” As she said this, Yeri came bustling over to them to hand Joohyun her copy.
“I have to rush back to the shop, but here you go! Thank you again, for everything.” Yeri smiled sheepishly and Joohyun returned her grin. Yeri ran off, back out the door. Joohyun peered down at the photo, studying it intently.
“It’s a very nice picture.” She sounded lost in thought, running her fingers over the photo. Sighing, she tore her gaze away from the picture. “Let’s get going.” Seungwan nodded, and they walked out of the office and down to the parking lot. Joohyun drove Seungwan to her apartment building, parking in the spot she had claimed as hers long ago.
“I think I finally found the picture to put in my frame.” Seungwan said thoughtfully.
“This is the one?” Joohyun asked with a giggle. “It only took you six months to pick one.”
“Oh hush.” Seungwan laughed. “It’s the perfect picture!” She sighed. “I guess I shouldn’t hang it up yet though, if I’m going to be moving soon anyways.”
“Have you chosen an apartment?” Joohyun bit her bottom lip, not meeting Seungwan’s gaze.
“No.” Seungwan sounded solemn. “None of them feel right.”
There was a few moments of silence between them and then Joohyun blurted out, “Just move in with me.”
“Huh?” Seungwan gave her a confused look, assuming she heard her wrong.
“Move into my apartment with me.” Joohyun said again, looking nervous but carrying on. “You stay there practically every night anyways, and you haven’t liked any of the apartments you’ve looked at so far and there’s more than enough room for your things and…” Joohyun stopped suddenly, her cheeks rosy as her nerves caught up with her. When she spoke again her voice trembled. “It’s like you said that night… You’re my home too, Seungwan. I want to spend the rest of my life with you, which sounds so foolish after only three months together but I just-”
“Yes.” Seungwan cut her off and Joohyun stumbled on her words, looking at her confused.
“What?” Joohyun whispered.
“Yes, I’ll move in with you.” Seungwan clarified, taking Joohyun’s hands in her own. “So what if we’ve only officially been together for three months? I’ve loved you so much longer, and I don’t want to go another night not being with you.” Joohyun smiled, her eyes alight, and she kissed Seungwan hard, their foreheads knocking together slightly. They sighed against each others lips, their kiss a passionate one still filled with love. It was almost as though they were finalizing the deal, deciding once and for all they would be taking this step together. Seungwan had never felt anything as heavenly as kissing Joohyun, and she knew she would never find that bliss in anything else either.
One Year Later
“Wannie! Come on, we’re going to be late!” Joohyun called up the stairs of her and Seungwan’s apartment.
“I’m coming, I’m coming!” Seungwan said back as she made her way down the steps, fastening her left earring in as she walked. She and Joohyun both wore long, crimson colored dresses; the chosen color for Sooyoung and Seulgi’s bridesmaids to wear. “It takes a long time to look this pretty, okay?” Seungwan joked.
Joohyun pulled her close, kissing her ear and whispering, “You do look beautiful. But you always do.” Seungwan smiled widely, leaning in to kiss Joohyun firmly on the lips.
“What time do we have to be there?” Seungwan asked, which brought an exasperated sigh from Joohyun.
“In half an hour, to run through everything quickly and then be ready for the guests to arrive.” Joohyun told her, as she had told her the whole week before.
In August of the previous year, Sooyoung had finally proposed to Seulgi, making everyone in the office and both of their families cry. Yeri had been the most overjoyed, she wouldn’t stop talking about it for weeks. Ever since that proposal, they had been planning their wedding carefully and meticulously. Joohyun, Seungwan, Yeri, and Sooyoung’s sisters made up the bridal party, that was something they had decided right away. Every other detail came over time, and it seemed as though everything was set up to go smoothly.
“It doesn’t take half an hour to get to the venue.” Seungwan whined. “Why did you rush me?”
“Because we should be early to support Seul and Soo.” Joohyun laughed a little at Seungwan, tilting her head to the side as a cheeky grin settled on her face. “Now stop pouting and let’s get going.”
Seungwan obliged easily, taking Joohyun’s hand and following her out the door to the car. As they drove, she thought about the past year and how much she had grown, how much they had all grown. Seulgi and Sooyoung were finally getting married after nearly five years of being together, the firm was growing and they were looking to hire more lawyers to work there, Yeri’s bakery had been extremely successful. And Joohyun and Seungwan had only fallen more in love as time went on, Seungwan swearing she fell again and again every single day. Seulgi and Sooyoung had begun joking they would be next to get married, and though it was only a joke Seungwan knew she wanted to marry Joohyun one day.
“What are you thinking so hard about, sunshine?” Joohyun asked her as they pulled into the parking lot.
“You.” Seungwan answered honestly, not embarrassed. “As always.” The comment make Joohyun’s cheeks turn rosy, as those comments always did. Seungwan loved to make her blush.
“I love you, Wan.” Joohyun sighed, her voice sweet as she spoke. Sweet like honey.
“I love you too, Hyun. Forever and always.” Seungwan said back, meaning it with every fiber of her being. She knew life would not always be this serene, that there would be hardships and challenges down the road. But she had always loved a challenge.
since this is the last update, i just wanted to say thank you all so, so much for all of the support and love this story has received. it’s been years since i posted my own work and you managed to make posting it feel so worth it. i appreciate and cherish every single comment i’ve received and i’m so happy that this story was loved by so many. this may be the end of here, but i promise i will be posting another story eventually! and until then, you can find me on twitter @hyunsvelvet
until next time luvies. xoxo