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sometime during the night, a crowd had formed around seulgi at the kitchen table. irene had paid it no mind. she was curious, sure. but she wanted to catch up with her own friends first. however now that jennie had retired early for the night, irene makes her way towards her girlfriend. she lingers by the fridge, not exactly within the crowd, but close enough that she can eavesdrop on the conversation.

seulgi's got everyone's attention and they're all sporting various degrees of amused expressions.

“she thinks she’s prettiest right after she’s washed up. no make-up or anything. and she’s so right. she’s always right.”

seulgi pauses and looks around the table wearily. uh oh. irene did not have a good feeling about this.

“...and she’s so smart. she just knows everything and can figure everything else by herself. the only time i can help her is when she gets stuck in super mario bros.” that earns a few chuckles from the crowd.

seulgi then lowers her head, looking around the apartment for any signs of her girlfriend. she even goes so far as to lock eyes with irene at one point but doesn't register who she is.

irene quirks an eyebrow. where was seulgi going with this and how far gone was she? she’s going to give seulgi one chance to salvage this before she steps in. just then, seulgi’s voice dips into a hushed whisper.

“she’s so bad at video games. but don’t tell anyone because she gets mad.”

laughter breaks out around the table and irene’s ears burn. too far gone was the answer. she tries to hide. seulgi remains clueless and tries her best to shush her audience.

“stop it! be quiet. she’ll be back soon. don’t let her hear you!”

moonbyul, the little shit, is the one that pipes up with a smirk on her face turning to face irene. irene's fight or flight instinct kicks in immediately.

“unnie, is that true?” the entire table turns to look at her.

irene scowls at moonbyul and decides it’s time to break the crowd up. still oblivious, seulgi looks between moonbyul and irene trying to figure out why the supposed stranger would be able to confirm this fact. still whispering, the inebriated woman asks irene if she knows her girlfriend.

pushing through the embarrassment, irene pulls seulgi up while addressing the table. “if you guys still want to enjoy the rest of the night, you will stop pestering my girlfriend.” her tone is final and the look in her eyes ensure that they all get the message.

her threat results in a chorus of boos but the girls know better than to keep pushing. they disperse from the kitchen as seulgi struggles to stand up on her feet.

when seulgi eventually gets up on her feet, she gently pushes irene away to irene’s shock.

“i’m sorry, miss. i have a girlfriend. i should go find her.” seulgi looks apologetic and irene doesn't know whether to laugh or cry. seulgi doesn't register her internal conflict and starts scouting the apartment for the aforementioned woman. irene can’t help but adore the way seulgi squints as she does so. sighing, irene resigns herself to her duty as a caring girlfriend.

“let’s get some fresh air first and then i’ll help you find your girlfriend,” irene offers lightly. seulgi blinks a few times as she registers her words.

“fresh air.” fresh air. fresh air sounds good. “okay, joohyun likes the stars. maybe she’ll be there.”

a shy smile appears on irene’s face and seulgi marvels at how much this stranger reminds her of her girlfriend. “your eyes smile just like my girlfriend’s.” seulgi informs her unabashedly. irene blushes as she admires how seulgi’s own eyes smile brightly.

irene pushes seulgi towards joy’s room before anyone can see her melting. there's a balcony attached to joy's bedroom where they could take refuge for a few minutes.

as they pass through joy’s room, irene silently takes in the way the younger woman has decorated the room so luxuriously. so different from what it was before. with a tinge of sadness, she ushers seulgi along.

once outside, they settle onto the cushioned bench and irene covers them both with the throw she grabbed on the way through the apartment.

seulgi lets out a huge sigh as she looks up at the night sky.

“i’ve missed this place so much." memories run through seulgi's mind like a film reel. "we used to live here, you know? my girlfriend and i. her name’s irene.” seulgi closes her eyes, smiling at memories of their time together here. irene snuggles up under the blanket as she waits for seulgi to continue. “when we first moved in, it was just her, wendy, and i." irene still remembers, they wanted to live off-campus to save some money. "we each had our own rooms: irene had this one, i had the one next to this one, and wendy has the one by the door. i miss those days. we’d study together on the couches. wendy bakes when she procrastinates, did you know?”

irene smiles and nods. she did know that. they all put on a few pounds every exam season because of her stress baking. then they’d make up for it afterwards by finding unique gym classes together. underwater cycling was an interesting experience.  

seulgi’s head lulls to the side. “then joy was looking for a place after her first year of school so we decided that i’d move into irene’s room. we didn’t need two rooms between us anyways." another pause, another smile. "it got so much louder after she moved in.”

after that, seulgi starts giggling and irene wonders which memory she’s laughing at. was it the time joy started dancing on the kitchen table? or maybe the time she made wendy pretend to be a dog she was training.

seulgi takes a deep breath in then continues her story. “two years after, irene’s sister yeri was looking for a place to stay in the city. irene and i had been talking about finding a place of our own. so we moved out, joy took our room, and yeri moved in.” seulgi sighs again, eyes opening to look up at the night sky again. “i miss this apartment. i miss seungwannie and sooyoungie and yerimie." seulgi bites her lip in contemplation. "i know joohyunnie does too.”

i do, irene thinks as she looks up to gaze at the night sky as well. she loves the life she has with seulgi but she misses her girls. the chaos, the constant noise, and the comfort of having them close to her.

a sudden breeze catches both of them off guard. irene shivers and snuggles up to seulgi for warmth. seulgi instinctively puts her arm around the other woman, tugging her close.

“my girlfriend gets cold easily too. she cuddles in like you just did. she’s small and cute like you too.”

then, for the first time since irene pulled her away from the other girls, seulgi falls silent. if irene has to guess, seulgi’s probably feeling guilty for calling someone else cute. she lets out a snort at the thought. if that’s the case, seulgi’s feeling guilty for calling her own girlfriend cute. however seulgi seems to stiffen at irene’s amusement.

irene turns to look up at her girlfriend who is poorly avoiding her gaze.

“seulgi-ah, what’s wrong?”

seulgi scrunches her face up and lifts her head up. “you’re my girlfriend, aren’t you?”

at this, irene bursts out into laughter and that’s confirmation enough for seulgi. she lets out a cry as she buries her face in her hands. irene paws at seulgi as she guffaws and struggles for breath.

“you’re my girlfriend, you’re the cute one and sexy one and the hot one and the funny one and the smart one i was talking about.” seulgi groans. she turns towards irene and buries her face in her girlfriend’s neck, cheeks burning from embarrassment.

but irene pushes seulgi away, albeit while she’s still laughing. “yah, i’m still mad at you. you told everyone i was bad at video games.”

eyes wide, seulgi scrambles to get up. “i’m sorry! i’ll go out and tell everyone now that you’re not. who did i tell?”

cackling at seulgi’s eagerness to fix the situation, she tugs at seulgi’s arm to get her to stay. “it’s too late. you can make it up to me by keeping me warm.”

seulgi grins cheekily at the easy solution. she responds cheerily, “okay!”

later on, they retreat into the safety of joy’s bed. it was only meant to be a temporary stop before they gathered the energy to head back home. however now that they’re snuggled up under the sheets, their legs tangled up together, they weren’t going anywhere tonight.

a loud smack comes from the doorway, disrupting them and causing irene to jump up in bed.

“yah! you two better not be having sex on my bed, you guys don’t live here anymore!”

the sight of irene clutching the sheets up to her chest in fright causes seulgi to start laughing. the eldest frowns at the scare. irene tries to snap back at joy.

“clearly we’re not having sex in your bed. we’re both fully clothed.” but joy has always been quick to fire back.

“who knows what you filthy sinners are doing under the covers.”


irene’s about to throw a pillow at joy when wendy appears beside the taller woman at the doorway. she tugs at joy’s sleeve. “come on, you can sleep with me tonight,” she says softly.

turning to look at wendy, joy scoffs. “as if i’m that easy,” she says dismissively. or at least she tried to.

everyone but joy tries to suppress a smile. it was a commonly known secret that joy was heads over heels in love with wendy. even if nothing had come of it yet. nonetheless, joy throws her arm over wendy’s shoulder as they turn to walk away. but she does throw a threat over her shoulder before they’re gone.

“if you two have sex in my bed, you guys are paying for a new mattress and sheets!”

irene settles back into bed and they spend the rest of the night fondly reminiscing and giggling softly in their old room.