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at war with the obvious

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It’s not a thing.

Nayeon knows it’s not a thing because there’s been no outward confirmation, no verbal contract, nothing to tie this series of abstract occurrences to a tangible reality. And she’s a very logical person and all, so she’d know if it was a thing or not. It happens, and then sometimes it happens more, and it eventually keeps happening. Like how sometimes she feeds the cat that roams outside their dorm, and it’ll come back every other week for more. Or how occasionally she’ll try a recipe from the internet when she’s bored, which will always end up criticized, but still eaten to completion.

So the way Momo’s climbing her lap, kiss-bitten lips and something hungry in her eyes?

Yeah. Not really a thing.

But Nayeon still presses her lips to Momo’s with the intensity of a naval fleet and tries to stay afloat despite Momo pervading all of her senses—the scent of Momo’s perfume intermingling with her skin, the way her abs tense against Nayeon’s touch, her tongue trailing Nayeon’s neck. It makes her want to give up everything she knows and drown in this moment, give herself up entirely to the feeling.

But Nayeon’s not one to let go like that, so she pushes Momo’s chin up with her hand and starts doing the work this time, until that chorus of whimpers and cries she loves so dearly emerges.

Afterwards, Momo stays, because she always does. Nayeon stays awake and takes her in: curled into Nayeon’s side, undone and glowing in the moonlight’s glance. She needs the rest, God knows, so Nayeon does her very best to move lightly as she props her arm against her pillow, staring at the way Momo’s chest rises and falls, an unfaltering rhythm. (Nayeon’s always been a music kid, and so she thinks she has proper authority to say that this is one of her favorites. Not that she’d admit that, however.)

When she finally drops her head against the pillow, as sleep starts to pull her under, she thinks about how she can still feel Momo right beside her—warm, comfortable, and present.

 

 

Momo has this habit of both treating Nayeon like a sleeping bag and entirely ignoring her well upkept mandate of personal space.

Their latest iteration of a comeback performance goes smoothly, and they’re on the way back from Music Bank, van moving along as fast as it can get in night time Seoul traffic. Which is to say not very quickly at all. Each person is passing the time in whatever way they do: Mina’s tapping furiously at some multiplayer game on her phone, Jeongyeon’s staring pensively towards the skyline, Jihyo’s updating her playlist and singing along quietly (but since it’s Jihyo read: not quietly whatsoever) to whatever’s running through her earphones.

The rest are napping, because it’s the part of the cycle where the need for rest crashes down like a tsunami, powerful and jagged, and it still baffles Nayeon to this day how Tzuyu sleeps with her back completely straight, posture unwavering.

Anyways, Nayeon would join them, but it’s too hot for her to sleep—she’s never been quite comfortable with the summertime, despite it being her birth season—and the broken AC isn’t doing her any favors, so she taps out the beats to their latest song against her thigh while willing the cars ahead of her to just move a little faster.

Momo, her unofficial seat companion, has ended up occupying one and a half seats—the one being her own seat, and the half being Nayeon’s general being. Head close to Nayeon’s collarbone, leg across her thigh, arm wrapped around her torso for support. It’s the usual for them, because Momo won’t take no for an answer, even though Nayeon wouldn’t dare tell her no anyways. She doesn’t think she ever has. Or that she ever could, really.

It’s clear that Momo’s fallen asleep, and it’s funny how she’s always the first to do so; not too surprising, given Nayeon’s frequent bouts of insomnia, but always consistent. Nayeon’s usually the constant in things, but for once it’s Momo.

When they pull into garage parking, Nayeon puts her hand over Momo’s thigh and shakes her gently, three times, because she knows it’ll wake her up. Momo’s groggy and clings extra hard to Nayeon the way she tends to do seconds after waking as they exit the vehicle.

There’s snickers behind them.

“Whipped,” she thinks she hears from a voice suspiciously like Jihyo’s.

“Wow, I wonder what they’re going to be doing once we get back into our rooms,” and she hates the way Sana’s voice makes everything sound ten times more suggestive.

Nayeon shoots a brief glare over her shoulder—not enough to jostle the girl attached to her side, but enough to get the point across. It obviously does nothing but fuel the laughter, and Nayeon’s mad she’s not as intimidating as she thinks she is.

Jokes on them, because all she does once they’re inside is hoist Momo onto her bed, where she promptly shuts her eyes and starts snoring. How she sleeps this much, Nayeon doesn’t know, but she’s not going to do anything to interfere.

An hour later Momo’s eyes blink open, slow and dazed, and Nayeon pauses the drama she’s watching to say, “Hey, sleepyhead,” and smirk. Momo says nothing—there are times where the tiredness seems to rob her of speech, and in these occasions she’ll do things like she is now, pulling Nayeon closer and pressing her phone screen to unpause the show.

In the end, Momo falls asleep again halfway through the episode, but this time it’s against the crook of Nayeon’s neck, and the show was getting boring anyways, so it’s not like she minds. It’s Momo—she could never anyways. And so Nayeon plugs in her phone, bracing her movements along the way, and closes her eyes right then and there, Momo sound next to her.

 

 

Because they don’t always do that kind of stuff. Just so you know.

Okay, so, yes, Jeongyeon has walked in on them in rather compromising situations more times than she can count, because Momo has the habit of starting things accidentally and Nayeon can’t not follow through with it once Momo’s fingers trail down and her kisses turn to bites, but they’re not like, obsessed or anything. Momo just happens to be very attractive, and Nayeon just happens to enjoy it, in very physical ways.

But a good portion of them, of Nayeon & Momo, is a lot more mundane.

It’s Nayeon shaking a sleepy-eyed Momo awake for daily choreo, it’s Momo grabbing Nayeon’s favorite flavor of iced tea at the company café, it’s after-practice noodle dates where they shuffle into the restaurant tired to the bone from working hours on end. It’s all that and much, much more, because they go back, and they just seem to click in a way that others don’t—two peas in a pod, as Chaeyoung would say, or two peas that sometimes make each other come way too loudly and wake up their roommates as the much crasser Sana would put it. Which, to that comment, Nayeon has to say: oops, but also not really sorry (so maybe she enjoys Momo getting a little too loud just because of her—sue her).

At any rate, it’s how they’re in this food court now, underneath some mall. Caps over faces, unidentifying coats, the drill. It’s boring and she wishes she could wear anything besides the same three pieces, but it’s kind of worth it for these sorts of moments.

“I wanted to run a cooking show when I was nine,” says Momo, halfway into biting her dumplings. Nayeon follows the curvature of her neck as she swallows.

“Chew before you talk,” scolds Nayeon, reaching over to brush some spare moisture off the corner of Momo’s lips with a napkin, and then, “wait, cooking show?”

Momo lets herself be pampered for a minute before responding. “Not a chef, though. One of those people who host those Food Network type shows. You know, like Ted Allen from Chopped, only with less cooking knowledge and more eating.”

This is Momo: unexpected topics of conversation, constant tidbits about her life that only Nayeon seems to be privy to. There’s something in the way she doesn’t even need to think twice about revealing anything—like her life is a completely open book to Nayeon, like none of the guards or barriers that set up shop in Nayeon’s own mind exist for her.

“How do you even make money from that, though?” Nayeon dunks a dumpling in the vinegar sat between them. “Aren’t people who try to do that usually, like, broke, until they’re like fifteen years established or something?”

Momo sits back, thinks dramatically.

“I mean, I could always get myself a sugar mommy.”

Nayeon snorts. “Please. In any universe that you would get a sugar mommy, I would be a millionaire. You would never.”

Momo picks up a dumpling, pops it in her mouth. “Okay, but would millionaire you fund my food television-host mission?” And she’s still chewing while she talks, but that’ll take a while to get down, she supposes.

Nayeon smirks. “Only if I can guest star.”

“I’d always let you guest star,” and that shouldn’t make Nayeon feel things, but maybe it kinda does. Because how does Momo even do that? Open herself so freely, spill out her unedited emotions with no second thought?

Jeongyeon tells her she’s wound too tight sometimes. Dahyun tells her to let loose a little. Jihyo has taken to being her noraebang buddy, because she knows the only way Nayeon’s going to let anything out is through other people’s words. Nayeon isn’t even close to that level of bareness, not even close to being close, so she does the only thing she can do: she takes the last dumpling left, and picks it up and plops it down on Momo’s plate, who grins at her like she’s just solved world peace.

And she leaves it at that, because she knows that anything else that comes out of her mouth would either be insanely stupid or sound incredibly dumb, and would either way break this moment going on, so she lets Momo finish her food and walks them out without a word.

 

 

Nayeon knows well how the other members think of her. Of this.

“So when are you two going to get it together?” asks Jeongyeon every few weeks.

“Tell her how you feel already—don’t be such a coward.” says Jihyo every late-night noraebang outing.

“Can you two just get married already so you can honeymoon in Hawaii and I can finally get some sleep at night with the absence of the...noises I too frequently hear?” Oh, Son Chaeyoung.

They’re all really very bad at subtleties. Their advice is generally useless, too, aside from Jihyo every so often dropping unexpectedly wise counsel that she promptly ignores.

The fact of the matter: exactly none of that can happen. Because whenever Nayeon thinks about them occurring, a cold and paralyzing fear grips her entire being—the one that says don’t fuck up, Im Nayeon. Because if there’s one thing in this world she can’t fuck up, it’s Momo; she doesn’t know if she could even live with herself if she ruined Momo. And there is too the issue of how utterly terrifying it is to feel this far, and deep, and wide—it’s like nothing she’s experienced in her life, and she’s afraid that it’ll swallow her up whole if she even steps in its direction. So the rational thing, to Nayeon, is to ignore it all and continue on with her life.

Nayeon feels better when she pretends not to listen to them, anyways.

She’s a coward, that’s for sure.

 

 

All of that is forgotten in times like these, when Momo’s wearing a dress like that, the kind where her legs look like they go on for miles and the contour of her chest is clear as day, and Nayeon prays a mental thank you to the stylists of whatever award show they’re at for making this happen.

Dressing rooms are insanely crowded, contrary to popular belief, so they end up in their usual spot, because there’s no way Nayeon can wait when Momo’s out there looking like this: one of the seldom used employee bathrooms, lockable door handle and all, with Momo pressed against the wood of the door and Nayeon’s mouth on her.

This is one of her favorite sounds—Momo trying so hard to keep her mewls and gasps under wraps and ultimately failing, ending up with a whiny and delirious litany of fuck, fuck, Nayeon, fuck.

Momo’s close, Nayeon knows through the heightening pitch of her groans and the way her thighs tighten around Nayeon’s head, and so she works her fingers and her tongue simultaneously in a way she knows drives Momo crazy.

And she’s finally there—Nayeon keeps going, takes her through and down until Momo physically pushes her away, looking dazed and utterly spent.

Nayeon smirks, bites her lip and knows that Momo’s watching the way they shine, following the movement of her tongue as she swipes it across.

“Come on. We can’t be late, can we?”

She pushes open the door, saunters out, and relishes the way Momo scrambles after her.

The desire, the pride all fall into the background a few moments later, when Momo grabs her hand like it’s second nature, like they’re meant to fit together. Nayeon’s struck with it—the ease, the familiarity of everything. It’s heavy and light, confusing and rewarding all at once, and she’s stuck between what she wants to do with the ambiguity of it.

But they reach the dressing room, and their hands stay linked, and Nayeon thinks that probably means something.

 

 

Fall passes quick, but winter hits Nayeon like a truck.

So she’s never had the strongest immune system, but that usually doesn’t mean much more than a few more colds than she’d like and a tiredness that takes a little longer to go away. But something’s decided to inhabit her cells or whatever, because Nayeon’s suddenly bedridden and burning all over and it feels like she’s next door to death every other second.

It’s the flu, says the company’s doctor, but it feels more like liquified agony, somehow injected directly into her bloodstream.

The members have been taking turns checking in on her, and Nayeon has probably missed half of their visits with her floating in and out of consciousness and all, but she’s still positive that there’s one person who hasn’t come in yet.

Nayeon’s halfway from reality, slumped against her pillow in a room that’s sectioned off just for her so the rest don’t catch what she has, when she hears the door creak open. It feels like a fever dream (literally) when something cool drapes itself across her forehead, and oh, it didn’t actually drape itself because Momo’s there, says her blurry vision steadily becoming clearer.

“Hey,” says the Momo in front of her that she’s still not convinced isn’t a figment of her imagination. “Brought you something.”

And she pulls out a container of something steaming and familiar, perches it next to the tissue box on her dresser.

“It’s samgyetang—should help you feel better. Also, choreo for the concert solo stage has been crazy, so sorry I’m here so late. If it helps, I was thinking about you the whole time.”

If Nayeon was dreaming, she thinks her dream self would’ve either jumped or proposed to Momo right now, so she’s come to the conclusion that this is the correct universe. And it happens to be the one where Momo misses her too, so she thinks she won.

And fever-ridden Nayeon’s limbs seem to have minds of their own, because her hand stretches out to meet Momo’s, curls their fingers together without saying a word. If Nayeon were more alive, she would’ve noticed the soft smile settling on Momo’s face, but she wasn’t, so she just had to imagine it was there.

With that, Momo sits carefully next to the bed, taking their joined fingers with her as she leans against the mattress. Nayeon thinks she feels a quick kiss to the back of her hand, and then she blacks out.

When she comes back to consciousness, hours later, Momo hasn’t moved an inch.

 

 

It doesn’t take her long to return once she’s recovered, because Nayeon is famously stubborn and even though she maybe passes out once or twice (only for a few seconds, or, fine, perhaps minutes), there’s no stopping her when she’s set herself on a path.

There’s extra hours in the practice room, because she’s missed out on, like, three different dances (seriously? they did that many already?) from being taken over by Satan’s viral children, and it’s there that she finds herself so frustrated she’s reconsidering her position on property destruction (namely, cracking the mirror with her fist out of pure rage).

This is how Momo finds her, on the verge of losing her mind from physical exhaustion and mental overstimulation and giant sentiments of inadequacy and irritation pushing their way through her. Fists balled up, moves heavy and forceful.

“It’s like this,” says Momo, voice tinged with the kindness she’s renown for, and ten minutes later Nayeon feels substantially less infuriated after Momo takes her through the steps.

It’s no surprise what happens next; they’re alone in a practice room, and she’s got a thing about mirrors, so being able to watch Momo come undone in every possible direction with absolutely no prospect of interference? Yes, please.

She bites a little more this time; she’s been angry tonight, and when she’s angry she thinks, and when she thinks it’s always about Momo, because when is it not? She’s haunted by her own cowardice, by the enormity of her feelings, by her inability to fully submit, to be known entirely. It’s her own fault, all of it, she knows, but she doesn’t really have very many healthy outlets, other than this.

And so poor Momo’s neck and chest and thighs are marred with red marks, which she feels both bad for—Momo will have to cover that up for days until they fade—and pleased about—there’s something immeasurably satisfying about seeing Momo marked up like this, all by her, with constant reminders of Nayeon for the next few days.

They walk out in the dimly lit streets for a while after, because it’s pretty late and they don’t want to bother the girls just yet, and everything before is already forgotten—Momo does this thing where she can talk about anything and Nayeon will listen so fully anything else gets disregarded, and right now Momo’s moaning about some snack she’s craving that’s apparently like, so good, I can’t even describe it, but is only available in Japan.

Nayeon’s decided, right at that moment—she knows what she has to do.

Days later, a box arrives for her; it takes a few calls, sure, and a whole lot of internet searching, but Nayeon gets her hands on those damn chips.

A while after she’s nervous for no reason when she calls Momo into her room; it’s not like it’s anything much, and it’s nothing close to what Momo deserves, but it’s a start.

Nayeon’s got a bundle of them, and puts them in a cute little box left over from Christmas, bow and everything. It’s cheesy and dumb, but she thinks it’ll work.

And her assumptions were correct. Momo’s face lights up, and Nayeon doesn’t think it’s an exaggeration to say it’s the cutest thing in the entire world; Momo launches herself into a hug so strong Nayeon almost topples over, and they’re laughing and Momo’s mumbling thank yous into Nayeon’s collarbones and it’s sort of perfect.

It’s not all, Nayeon knows; she owes a hell of a lot more than chips to Momo. But she’s slowly working off her debt in the few ways that she can, and in moments like these, she feels like they’ll maybe be alright.

 

 

Everyone knows that Momo’s hers. And vice versa, because this is a proper and healthy....something. Well, not a thing, again.

So Nayeon doesn’t question it anymore when Chaeyoung goes, “Hey, tell Momo unnie that I bought the stuffed animal we were looking at,” or when Jihyo hands her a freshly-rinsed bowl of fruit and says, “Bring this to Momo.” Because she’s as much herself as she is Momo’s; there’s a part of Momo pieced into her, and she doesn’t think she’ll ever want it out.

Because where there is Nayeon, there is Momo. And where there is Momo there is Nayeon—they’re in it together, and them and everyone else all know.

It’s like this: Nayeon buys a shirt, and days later Momo’s sporting it on a live. Or when they all go to the amusement park, and Nayeon immediately slides in next to Momo on the bumper cars. There’s also an incident that Nayeon doesn’t love to talk about with Momo and Chungha backstage at Inkigayo—she may or may not have been a touch too aggressive with Momo that night when they got home. The stylists were cursing her for weeks after, but at least seeing the marks dotting her skin replaced some of that totally-not-jealousy with some kind of fulfillment.

But given that every time someone asks Nayeon about the state between them she deflects completely, she probably should’ve known that the members would meddle.

They all start to be very ominous about it. Glances thrown around wildly whenever they hold hands, whispers whenever Momo falls asleep slumped against her, fingers pointed whenever they’re out to eat and Nayeon carries out her usual habit of feeding Momo.

Nayeon’s suspicious, but Momo seems oblivious, so she doesn’t bring it up. It’s not like she wants to have that conversation with her anyways.

And then they all start cornering her.

“What would you think if Momo ended up dating, say, Chungha or someone?” says Jeongyeon one day when they’re lounging around in the living room together.

“Wh-what?” Nayeon is taken aback.

Jeongyeon laughs raucously. “I’m just kidding. We all know she’s whipped as hell for you. But I just wanted to scare you into thinking about what could happen if you don’t make your move quick.”

The next day, it’s Sana, cleaning dishes with her in the kitchen.

“You know if you hurt her, I’ll kill you, right? Like, I’m legally obligated.” Completely out of the blue. Absolutely no provocation. And this is when Nayeon’s 100% sure they’re staging a coup, or something.

“I...I don’t plan on hurting her?”

Sana turns to her, looks in a way that seems it’s meant to be a glare. “Good. Because if you keep this up for much longer, you will be, and you remember what I said about the killing and legal obligation and all that.” With that, she turns back to the sink and switches back to her usual bubbly self, humming and everything.

Bunch of weirdos they all are, thinks Nayeon.

Nothing happens for another day or two, and Nayeon thinks she’s in the clear. She was wrong.

Jihyo was an inevitable.

They’re the last ones at the shoot, stripping off their makeup and outfits to leave for home when Jihyo lets out a, “So—,”

“Yes, I get it,” Nayeon cuts her off before she gets the chance to start the lecture. “I need to say something to Momo or something bad’s going to happen to me, either from her or from you, right?”

Jihyo blinks. “Yeah, basically. So you figured out what we’re trying to do?”

“I would be pretty dumb not to,” Nayeon scoffs.

Jihyo shrugs. “We all got kind of sick of you guys not being a thing already. Anyways, just confess as soon as you can, basically.”

“I just…I...can’t.” Nayeon isn’t usually Shakespeare or anything, but words really and truly are not emerging for this topic.

Jihyo takes her time rummaging through their shared eco bag before replying. “Very eloquent, miss. But for the record, you totally can. Just go ‘hey, Momo, I’m super into you, and not just your abs. Let’s date and maybe get married and have babies someday.’ Bing, bang, bong.”

This is where Nayeon kind of explodes, because the past few days have built up a steady stream of worry, anguish, and fear, and she’s had no outlet for them. “Okay, but what if she ends up not feeling the same? What if I’m not good enough for her now? What if I somehow mess things up bad, and we can never even be in the same room again? What if I make some dumb mistake and completely jeopardize everything the nine of us have worked at for years? What if—,”

Jihyo cuts her off, because of course she’d know to. “For one? You won’t. If you care this much already, if you’ve been holding back on telling her how you feel just because you’re afraid of it, there’s an extremely low probability of that happening. You should worry more about Momo switching to a career in square dancing, or something equally as dumb, before that. And second? What do you mean “what if I’m not good enough for her”? You’re Im Nayeon, remember? Do you know how many people either want you or want to be you? And finally, knowing the both of you, if anything ever were to happen, which I doubt it will, for that matter, it won’t ruin us all. You’re adults, we’re adults, it’ll be fine. The most important thing is to let her know how you feel, because you’ll be regretting every moment you don’t once you can’t anymore.”

Damn it—Jihyo always has the best advice. Nothing beats best friends, she supposes. But this entire thing’s kind of got her head spinning, to be honest—it’s been nothing but Momo for days, and she’s terrified at the possibilities.

Nayeon’s quiet for a minute. “What if...I waited too long?”

“Momo’s planted her flag a long time ago, you know,” says Jihyo, munching on a strawberry she pulls from a container their manager brought. “I think it’s time you do, too.”

She shuts the container, deposits it back in and throws the bag around her shoulder.

“And also, if you don’t let her know how you feel any time soon, we’re gonna stick you two together at every outing or variety show or any event we possibly can so you can’t avoid her. Or maybe just lock you two in a room together for forever, or however long it takes. So talk to her soon!” With that, she bounces off to the van.

Nayeon looks after her, bewildered. She’s stuck to her spot, and it’s only at their manager yelling after her that she moves.

The ride home is solemn—Nayeon is buzzing with thoughts, thousands, millions of them, and she’s trying to rein a few in, because she’s decided to accept her fate. If the universe wasn’t enough to change her mind, her groupmates certainly were, because she’s thinking from the time she exits the van to the time she lays down in her bed to sleep about what she’s going to do.

She’s thinking of pushing it off a few different times; tell Jihyo to call it off, that she needs another day to gain some composure, keep repeating that until it eventually fades from people’s memories.

But, as Jihyo said, she’s Im Nayeon, and there’s no way she’ll back down from a challenge like this; especially considering what’s at stake.

 

 

Nayeon has been afraid many times.

Standing in front of JYP for her auditions, enduring the hell that was Sixteen, having her private information seized by the paparazzi and released to the world—fear is not exactly new in her career.

But for the first time in Nayeon’s life, it’s because of Momo.

The girls have all made convenient excuses not to be in the dorm today—Dahyun drags the kids to the mall for “bonding time”, Jeongyeon claims she’s visiting her sister, and Sana, Mina, and Jihyo plan an arcade trip—and so Nayeon’s left alone with the one girl that’s been on her mind nonstop for the past twelve hours. Honestly, for the past year, maybe.

From the time she’s woken up, Nayeon has washed her face three times out of nervousness, and has accidentally burnt the sausages she was cooking twice. Momo hasn’t noticed yet, but that also might have something to do with the fact that she’s avoiding the younger girl like the plague.

When she finishes scrubbing the dishes perfectly clean, she decides that it’s finally time—to rip the band-aid off, to finish it once and for all.

Because she has no concrete plan, despite obsessing over this very moment for hours, what she does instinctively is walk into Momo’s room, where she’s lounging on her bed, music moving through the air from the speaker next to her.

As soon as Momo notices her, she shuts the speaker off, sitting up. “What’s up?” she says, smile on her face small and gentle.

And since Nayeon has no plan, she lets her mouth take over and goes with whatever comes out.

“Listen, I—,” and Nayeon’s a little terrible at this, listen, she never said she wasn’t, “I just want you to know that—I’d be stuck with you forever, if I could. And I’d guest star on your cooking show, and I’d fly to Japan to get you all your favorite snacks, and I’d let you sleep on me whenever you want, even if I cramp up.”

Nayeon thinks this is possibly the worst confession in the history of confessions. But she’s Im Nayeon, for God’s sake, and so she marches on.

“I like what we do. I like kissing you and a whole lot of other things, but I also...like a lot more than that. Like, your smile, you know. How patient you are, even when I’m about to blow up, how you bring me back down. The way you tell me things you don’t tell other people, and the way I only feel really comfortable around you.”

Momo’s eyes are wide at this point, and her mouth is slightly ajar, but Nayeon presses on, a woman determined.

“I didn’t have a plan, so this entire thing is a royal mess and I’m sorry because I feel like you deserve better than that, you know, a proper confession with flowers and romance and you feeling like a queen and all that. I’m sorry if I’m coming in here not enough or something because it does feel like that a lot and I don’t want you to think I didn’t care all this time, because I did, I’m just extremely bad at letting you know, as you can see. Also, if you would like to shut me up at any point, please do, because I feel extraordinarily stupid right now, rambling like an idiot.”

Nayeon takes a breath, and she feels like she’s teetering on the edge of a cliff—Momo’s reaction determines if she falls down and crashes into a million pieces or gets pulled back to safety.

Momo gets up off the bed, slowly, and Nayeon feels like her heart is millimeters away from bursting entirely with the way it’s beating in her chest, hard and fast and laced with anxiety.

A few steps later and Momo’s face to face with Nayeon, expression new and not quite as readable to Nayeon, who’s usually the expert on understanding Momo-feelings. Then Momo brings her hand up to cup Nayeon’s face, as gently as only Momo would, and traces her cheek lightly.

“I don’t think you understand,” says Momo, “how much I wanted to hear you say that.”

And Nayeon can breathe, breathe, breathe—Momo breaks out into a grin and Nayeon matches her, exceeds her, maybe, and she definitely should’ve listened to the rest of them sooner because this is perhaps the best feeling in the world. No first win, no daesang, only this moment, which Nayeon is going to memorize and replay and relive as much as she possibly can in the future.

“It’s always you for me, you know? It’s never not been,” says Nayeon, and she’s about to burst with happiness, maybe.

Momo leans in until their foreheads touch. “I’ve been waiting so long for this.” She looks straight into Nayeon’s eyes, and she feels like she’s on fire. “And I would’ve waited so much longer, but this is pretty nice right now, I have to say.”

Nayeon laughs, and then thinks, wait, what am I even doing right now before pulling Momo in until their lips meet. They’ve kissed so many times before, but somehow it feels different this time—it’s secure, it’s teeming with happiness, it feels like love, given and received and acknowledged and returned. And it keeps going, and going, and going until it feels like her contentment is overflowing her body.

They’re in bed a while later, and it’s probably the best ever, in Nayeon’s opinion, but maybe it’s the circumstances clouding her judgment. Still, it’s pretty hard not to think everything is great once you realize the girl you’re in love with feels the same, and that everything’s turning out alright.

“You know you don’t have to feel insecure about anything, right?” and Momo moves a strand of hair out of Nayeon’s eyes. “I don’t need a grand confession with flowers and chocolate. I just want you, that’s all. You’ll always be enough for me.”

Nayeon doesn’t cry often, but she thinks she might be somewhere near tears hearing that, because of course Momo would know exactly what she needed, exactly what to say. It reaffirms her opinion that she’s the luckiest person in the entire world, probably.

“You’re my favorite person,” she mumbles against Momo’s chest, and snuggles closer into her arms.

And for once, it’s Nayeon who falls asleep first; because she’s in Momo’s grasp, and everything is right, and she doesn’t have to hide anymore. It’s the perfect end to the perfect day, and as she drifts off, she thinks she feels Momo press a quick kiss to her temple, brief and tender nonetheless.

 

 

Okay, so maybe it is a thing.

It’s a thing in the same way that it always was—with the kisses and the physicality and the hand-holding and the togetherness—but entirely different at the same time, because Momo is officially hers, and vice versa, and she’s finally completely and entirely sure of one thing in her life.

They wake up hours later, that same day, to seven girls standing over them—Nayeon doesn’t want to deal with it, so she just grumbles and pulls the sheets over her head, but Momo laughs and pulls it back down.

“Thank God,” she hears Jeongyeon say.

“This took like, ten years,” she hears Chaeyoung go.

“Guys, I think we should just let them rest,” she hears Tzuyu let out quietly, and she’s never been more appreciative of the youngest in her life.

They shuffle out, and Nayeon moves her head against Momo’s chest so she can look at her.

“I’m glad we got here,” she murmurs.

Momo smiles, and it almost blinds her. “Me too.”

It keeps going after that—they lock themselves in a storage room on their break at some photoshoot, trading lazy kisses until someone calls for one of them. Momo buys her a hand warmer when the coldest season hits, because she’s got bad circulation, and Nayeon takes it in one hand and grabs Momo’s with the other. They still share food and clothes and basically everything, but the implications are no longer obscure—they’re crystal clear, and it’s things like how Nayeon is the first to rush over as Momo near faints from exhaustion one dance practice, how nobody even tries to stop her, how she cooks her mediocre recipes and Momo eats everything like it’s gourmet. Things that tell her and everyone else what it all means.

Nayeon’s still a little afraid; she can’t deny it. The intensity of her feelings, their enormous nature; those tremblings of fear still make it into her life a little more frequently than she’d like.

But now, with Momo, it lessens every day.