The scandalous voice was loud enough to almost beat the university's emergency siren that it made the students present in the university square stop and turn to where the noise came from.
Kang Hyewon, however, with her airpods plugged in, is unbothered by this and continued to walk towards the exit until she is harshly yanked back on her collar by the woman who just screamed her name from across the yard just a few seconds ago.
"Ack—" Hyewon thought she'd choke to death as she coughed hard while the culprit of her close-encounter with death stood guiltily on her side, muttering her sincerest apologies with her protruding and puckering mouth.
She takes one airpod off and glares at the woman once she's recovered. "What the hell is your problem?"
"Dude, you promised to accompany me at the dance club auditions!"
Hyewon pauses for a moment and thinks back to the first day of the week when she half-heartedly made a promise to accompany Yena to her dance audition.
"That was today?"
"YES!" Yena yells in frustraion and glances at her Apple watch. "In like twenty minutes! Come on! You have to go with me."
If there's anything that Hyewon hates doing, it is breaking promises. And she just wants to scold herself so hard at the moment because she also made another promise yesterday with another person that she hasn't seen for months.
She thinks thoroughly for a while, ignoring her panicking friend who once again caught the attention of the other students passing by. Yena is just such a head-turner with her weird mannerisms that even Hyewon can't control.
"Kwangbae, come on. Didn't you say you wanted to see Chaeyeon dance too?"
In the end, Hyewon really can't say no to Yena or to the chance that she can get to see their infamous friend Lee Chaeyeon dance for free. But beyond her friends, she has other reasons to anticipate during the auditions that her friend doesn't know.
She heaves a sigh and hopes that Eunbi would also understand why she has to back out.
"Okay, let's go."
"YES! This is why I love you, Kwangbae!" Yena, without warning, squeezes her into a hug and rubs their cheeks together, much to Hyewon's disgust and she pushes her away.
As they walk towards the dance club room, Hyewon sneaks a message to Eunbi.
[17:10] hyem: unnie, I'm sorry but I can't make it today. something came up.
[17:11] eunbi: it's okay. some other time then?
Hyewon couldn't send her reply because they arrived at the dance club and everyone is told to keep their phones as it is not allowed to be used inside the club room to avoid unauthorized filming.
It's okay. She'll understand, she thinks as she sinks on to the floor next to a nervous duck.
"Will you please just relax?" She tells Yena who couldn't stop shaking her legs.
"I can't! I'm nervous as fuck." Yena spat the curse a little too loud that the woman sitting a bit close to them whipped her head towards their direction with an annoyed look.
Hyewon has an eye for spotting pretty women and she could immediately say and rightfully judge that the annoyed woman is a beauty. And a cute one at that with how she closely resembled a hamster right at the first glance. She didn't look prepped for the audition so she thought she's also just like her, supporting a friend.
"Sorry." Hyewon mutters an apology in behalf of Yena who is now suddenly frozen in her spot. The woman doesn’t respond to the apology and turns her attention back to where the dance club members are huddled up.
"You need to get your shit together, duck." She tells her friend but Yena remains unresponsive. She peeks at her and finds that she's still staring at the annoyed woman from a while ago.
She smacks Yena hard on the head that earns her a very upset and disapproving gaze.
"Focus. You're here to dance, not to flirt."
Yena rubs the back of her head and streatches out her legs. "Geez, I'm just appreciating beauty."
"Sure. And I can already tell you have something planned in mind right after this."
Yena doesn't deny it and instead grins before enthusiastically jumping on to her feet. Hyewon plants a hand on her face. She knows Yena is about to embarrass herself one way or another.
The auditions doesn't start for another ten minutes since, apparently, there are still core members missing—ironically, it's the leader and assistant. Yena is getting antsy but turns into stone every time the hamster-like woman faces their direction. Hyewon had to slap her a few times to get her to focus and not embarrass herself way earlier than she expects.
Chaeyeon also dropped by their place to chat, saying she's also nervous even though she's not auditioning and was just observing as a core member of the club.
Hyewon finds it disappointing that she might not get to witness Chaeyeon dance today, but all that is erased when the dancer assures them that the seniors will most likely throw her in for an impromptu freestyle battle with the auditioning members. (She tells them that it's a secret and that doesn't help Yena calm down at all.)
Not long after, the door busts open and two beautiful women walk in and everyone is instantly on their feet greeting them and squealing at their presence.
Hyewon immediately recognizes the two as she had already been long a fan of them both even before stepping into the university, especially the woman wearing a beanie that added charisma points to her undeniably strong presence.
Noh Jihye, or better known as Noze, the leader, has everyone head over heels for her even with just a cropped-top longsleeve and cargo pants. Much more when she stands side-by-side with the assistant leader, Rozalin, who is also a beauty in her own right wearing a beret and oversized t-shirt tucked neatly into her shorts.
"Gotta go. Good luck, Yena!" Chaeyeon cheers before skipping back to her place with the rest of the members.
Two loud claps were heard and everyone immediately hushed to focus their attention on Noze who charismatically stands in the middle of the room.
"Want2B is pleased to see a lot of new faces this year. So let's not waste any time and let's get this thing started."
And the room erupts in cheers.
"Congratulations on not embarrassing yourself, ducky!" Hyewon greets Yena right after everyone is dismissed.
"Ha ha, very funny." Yena mocks, wiping her sweating neck with a towel Hyewon had handed over to her. The audition have just ended and everyone is already preparing to leave.
"Yena! Hyewon!" They turn their heads to Chaeyeon who is jogging up to them. "Wanna go grab dinner with us?"
"Noze unnie is treating us out. Said we can invite whoever we want. Hitomi and Yuri are coming too." Chaeyeon even points at the only Japanese student who was apparently the one being accompanied by the annoyed hamster-like woman.
Seeing who Chaeyeon was pointing at, Yena is quick to give her positive response that leaves Hyewon hesitating as she glances at the message on her phone that she received more than an hour ago.
[19:02] eunbi: tell me when you're home. let's call.
Hyewon looks up and is about to decline when she spots Noze walking up to them. She couldn’t believe it's finally happening. She's standing literally just a feet away from the woman that she's a huge fan of!
"You're joining us, right?" Noze's deep feminine voice sounded refreshing to Hyewon and she mindlessly nodded her head, completely forgetting that Eunbi is waiting for her reply. "Alright. We'll head out first. Drive safely, Chaeyeon."
The senior flashes them a warm smile before heading towards the door where Rozalin is already waiting.
"She's so cool!" Yena swoons and acts like her knees are giving up which earns a laugh from Chaeyeon.
Hyewon laughs too—until she receives another message from Eunbi.
[20:27] eunbi: let's just call some other time. i'm heading to bed early. good night, hyewon-ah
"No way! You won all those by yourself?" Noze exclaims in disbelief after hearing about Hyewon's Korean Mathematical Olympiad stint in high school. It's a story that bores Hyewon to death when sharing to others, but with how enthusiastic Noze and even Rozalin—who's infamously known for being less expressive when not dancing—were listening to her, she felt proud telling them about it.
"I didn't win it all." Hyewon says bashfully.
"That's still a feat." Rozalin says with a smirk. "Jihye unnie barely even passed that subject in high school."
"Stop spouting nonsense, Eungyu. I had better scores than you."
"Eungyu?" Yena asks, curious as she has never heard that name before.
"Her real name." Noze points mockingly at Rozalin and the latter glares. "I told you not to call me that." Noze ignores her whining and sticks out her tongue.
Hyewon, on the other hand, finds it surreal to be sitting in the same table as the two and sharing a part of her life to them. She wishes someone would just pinch her hard so that she can confirm it isn't dream.
And somebody actually does pinch her hard—on her thigh under the table.
Her piercing glare immediately directs to Yena and she mouths in silence, "What is your problem?"
Yena leans in and whispers, "Help me with Yuri."
Hyewon pushes her away, almost making Yena fall off the chair. "No."
And that came out too loud than she intended and everyone at their table heard her.
"You okay, Hyewon?" Chaeyeon asks.
"Y-Yeah. Yena's just being annoying."
"Yah, yah, yah! I was asking nicely." Yena reiterates but Hyewon just rolls her eyes.
In front of them, Noze is amusingly observing them in silence.
Sundays are always uneventful for Hyewon. Ever since Eunbi graduated and she lost a roommate, she is left with nothing but only books to bond with and tons of math problems to solve during the weekend.
Not that she actually has a choice when she is under the university's math olympiad adviser and, unfortunately, her advanced calculus professor who always expects her to present answers from solving the pages of math problems and equations that he's given the previous meeting.
It's a preparation for the next Olympiad, Professor Kim always says even though she has already expressed no will to particpate this year.
But that man is only good with numbers, not with human expressions and language. And Hyewon doesn't know how to say no to people, especially her seniors, so there's that problem.
Eunbi was the only person that kept her Sundays occupied, no matter how much schoolwork there is needed to be complied—none of it mattered because they were together.
Hyewon knows they were roommates, but she is well-aware that they were more than just roommates. But that was never made clear between them because Eunbi was already packed and ready to leave the day Hyewon realized it all.
She didn't even know if Eunbi was aware of it as well—that is not until one stormy night that they were in a video call.
The rain poured like there was no tomorrow and the wind angrily slapped the dorm windows. The storm was scary, but it didn't faze Hyewon at all. She was already prepping for bed, discarding the book she was reading on the bedside table when her phone rang rhythmically beside it.
After seeing the caller ID with the prettiest picture she's ever taken of the older woman, Hyewon didn't hesitate on answering the call right away, not minding if she looked presentable or not. It didn't matter anyway. Not when Eunbi already saw her much worse when they still lived together.
"Hyewon-ah~" Eunbi, as always, is so endearing whenever she calls for her name. And it makes Hyewon a tad bit flustered, but, of course, doesn't make it obvious.
"Unnie, I miss you." She tells her right off the bat and the latter doesn't even skip a beat in answering back. "I miss you, too."
They exchange chuckles and stare at each other on their screens for a good few seconds before Hyewon decides to break the ice.
"When are you gonna visit?"
Eunbi gives her a tight-lipped smile, "Soon."
Hyewon doesn't dare hide her frown and even shows it visibly on screen. "That's what you told me last time too."
Eunbi, by then, already realized Hyewon knew she was lying. Of course, Hyewon would always know when she is lying. Kang Hyewon knows Kwon Eunbi so well and way better than anyone.
"I'm sorry. It’s been really tough trying to get leave credits from my work."
"You should've just accepted the offer in Seoul." Hyewon unintentionally blurts out, out of her frustration from remembering how Eunbi easily decided on accepting the job offer from Daegu instead of just in the city.
Eunbi's gaze softened and Hyewon thankfully thought that she isn't mad at her for saying that.
"We already talked about this. I accepted the offer because—"
"Because you love the job better than the one in Seoul. I know." Hyewon sighs. "I'm sorry, unnie. I just really miss you. I miss my princess."
It must have been the lightning or the rolling of thunder, but something suddenly shifted during the call and Eunbi did not hesitate to even hop on it bravely.
"I really miss you too, my love."
That night, Hyewon was confident that Eunbi knew whatever was going on between them as well. After that, their conversations casually shifted into something more than just what friends would normally talk about.
But still, neither of them verbally placed the label on it nor did they ever talk about it.
It just happened.
Eunbi never stopped calling her my love either.
And now, for months, Hyewon has been dying to score a romantic date with Eunbi, with hopes that during that, she can finally, and bravely, bare her feelings and let the label be firmly established between them. No longer do they have to wander individually still with uncertainties about where they both stand in their relationship.
However, that has been proven to be a lot tougher than her math problems.
Because ever since she had turned down Eunbi on the only day that she's been sent to Seoul for work, it has become more difficult to even just plan when the next opportunity for them would be available.
Eunbi may love her job, but Hyewon definitely hates it to the core. Especially when she found out that the woman has to work even on weekends. Before, they would still be able to spend time every night talking to each other over the phone, but now, it's even more scarce than the food stock Hyewon has in the dorm.
Hyewon's stomach grumbles after reading her dreaded sushi word in the problem she is solving and she remembers she is supposed to do groceries.
It was definitely a lot more easier with Eunbi as her roommate. Not only because she felt inspired (although she was still painfully oblivious about it), but also because Eunbi definitely knew how to take care of them both.
With Eunbi, she's never skipped a meal. With Eunbi, she's never been late to class. With Eunbi, she's never had trouble finding her belongings. Although the older woman had tendencies of being such a baby sometimes, to Hyewon, being with Eunbi felt everything was just like how it was for her when she was still living with her parents.
To put it simply, Eunbi was like a mom.
She shivers at her thoughts. No, she doesn’t have a kink. Oh god, no. She really just misses her.
God, she really needs to call her REAL mom later.
Another thing that made it easier when Eunbi was still around is that Hyewon never really had any dilemma when doing grocery shopping. Eunbi always had an instant answer to her every question and all she really needed to do was push the cart and follow the older woman around.
And now that she's alone, she can't even decide if she wants to buy the discounted bacon or the premium beef.
"Oh? Isn't it Hyewon?" Hyewon whips her head at the mention of her name.
Just a meter away, Noze stood behind her own cart that is filled with nothing but chips.
Hyewon quickly drops the bacon she was holding and dips her head to greet the senior.
"I told you, just call me unnie." Noze smiles and Hyewon bashfully smiles back. "O-Okay, unnie."
"Are you doing groceries alone?" The dancer asks and she nods her head.
"Me too. I mean, I'm not alone, but yeah. Groceries." Noze lightly stomps her foot and looks around the area, muttering a question. "Where did that woman go?"
"Jihye—" Hyewon heard another familiar voice at the other direction and spots Rozalin with a huge watermelon in her hold. She looked surprised at first before realizing that it's Hyewon that's looking at her. "Ah... Hyewon-ah, hello!"
"Where did you get that?" Noze asks, pointing at the watermelon.
"Middle aisle. Discounted." Rozalin answers briefly as she carefully places the fruit in their cart. Then she turns to Hyewon, "You should buy one too. It's the perfect pair to this damned weather."
That is true. The summer heat is really being such a bitch that Hyewon even had thoughts about mintchoco ice cream even though she hates it. Eugh!
"Say, Hyewon, are you going somewhere after this?" Noze asks while Hyewon is placing the bacon in her cart. Sorry beef, maybe next time.
"Uhm, no. Just going back to the dorm." And drown in mathematics.
Hyewon isn't quite sure if she saw it right, but Rozalin was subtly tugging on the hem of Noze's sweater. The latter doesn't seem to notice it so she dismisses the thought.
"Let's have dinner together. My treat." Noze says casually and Hyewon is definitely sure she caught Rozalin's pout before the latter quickly wiped it with a smile.
Hyewon wants to decline, but her stomach has already been growling the entire time she's in the groceries and her wallet is also screaming no to fast-food. Her allowance isn't coming until Tuesday.
And most importantly, how can she deny an offer from a pretty woman like Noze?
"Is it really okay?"
"Of course. Why wouldn't it be?" Noze even cracks a little chuckle. "Come on. Let's go pay for these. I'm starving."
Noze starts pushing her cart with Rozalin walking closely beside her and telling her something in a hushed tone. Hyewon thinks about backing out and heading straight home instead and just cook herself some cupped ramen but, again, her stomach growls angrily and she easily gives up the thought.
The moment Hyewon arrived at the dorm, she immediately discarded her groceries in the kitchen and plopped on the couch.
She is dead tired. And the heavy dinner that Noze treated them with just made her feel lazier to even move a muscle. She makes an excuse to herself to get a power nap.
A minute or two of shuteye will do.
But a notification bell from her phone interrupts her time just ten seconds after she shut her eyes.
Thinking that it might be Eunbi, she doesn't complain and swiftly fishes her phone out of her pocket check the notif.
Unfortunately, it wasn't a message from Eunbi.
But rather from Noze whom she just exchanged numbers with an hour ago.
[20:08] noze: you forgot your watermelon
Hyewon groans in frustration. She knew she left something and yet she just ignored her gut because she wanted to get home fast.
[20:09] noze: what's your dorm number? will drop it off in the morning
[20:09] hyewon: oh no i'm really sorry unnie
[20:09] hyewon: it's 342G, west wing
[20:10] noze: don't worry about it, it's fine
[20:10] noze: zal will knock around 7am. you're still around by then, right?
[20:11] hyewon: yes.. but who's zal, unnie?
The reply doesn't come immediately, giving Hyewon time to guess who it is. Her sleepiness completely worn off as she thinks hard.
Her phone pinged as the reply came.
[20:13] noze: sorry, i meant rozalin, haha
[20:13] noze: don't tell her i slipped up
Hyewon ponders for a bit, but doesn't ask why.
[20:14] hyewon: okay unnie
[20:14] hyewon: thanks for the dinner... again
[20:15] noze: don't mention it
[20:15] noze: i won't hesitate about treating you again :)
That night, Hyewon's mind is flooded with questions about Noze's intentions and her relationship with Rozalin.
Hyewon looks up from her paper and sees Sakura taking the vacant seat in front of her. It's lunch time and she's passing time in the cafeteria solving another set of math problems her professor gave her earlier.
"Don't you get tired solving those?" Sakura asks as she unpacks a sausage stick, then quickly taking a bite.
"I've got no choice." Hyewon shrugs and goes back to solving the equation she's been dealing with the past ten minutes.
"You always have a choice. You just never take the other one." Sakura meaningfully says and it stops Hyewon from solving again.
"What are you trying to say?"
To be honest, it irks her that Sakura suddenly shows up and ruin her mood for the day. They were really good friends—they were close like how she is close with Yena since the latter was the common friend that intoduced them to each other. Sakura was also close with Eunbi.
But for who knows what reason, after Eunbi graduated, they suddenly slipped apart. They stopped hanging out and they stopped talking. It only got better when Sakura got into a relationship with Chaeyeon. But still, their bond was severed and Sakura never stopped saying cryptic messages to her when they're alone just like what she just did that neither Hyewon's mathematically-trained mind ever could crack to understand.
Sakura just kept munchung on her sausage stick, ignoring Hyewon's confused look.
"I heard you got close with the Want2B leaders?" Sakura asks, pretending like the previous exchange never happened.
"They're just being nice."
Sure, she's been spending a lot of her free time with them. She doesn't even remember how it exactly started to become frequent, but it just happened once and since then, she never says no each time they ask her to join them, especially when it's Noze asking her. That woman just really has her ways with people that doesn't warrant you to decline.
But she really wouldn't consider herself as part of their 'close friends' circle. She's just a common friend who got absorbed and not given the chance to back out because of their strong and persuasive personalities.
Don't get her wrong. She loves being in their company. But of course the feeling of not belonging to their group will always linger. Also, there are people who misinterpret it often—with Sakura being one of them.
Sakura hums as she crumples the plastic in her hand. "Of course. It all starts there."
"Excuse me?" Now, Sakura is definitely sounding ridiculous to Hyewon. "Seriously, what is your problem?"
"Solve it, genius. Don't you always have the answers?"
"I don't waste time on solving something that's clearly not what is being asked."
Sakura stares at her and Hyewon equals her gaze the same.
If Chaeyeon didn't arrive and interrupt them, someone might have already died in their head.
"You guys should've seen Yena in practice. She killed the choreo."
Chaeyeon was telling them stories about the club practice. And yes, Yena did sucessfully get into Want2B, along with Hitomi and four other people that Hyewon can't remember the names. Hyewon isn't fully paying attention to Chaeyeon's stories though as she's still annoyed by Sakura's inexplicable attitude towards her.
"I bet Eunbi would love to try it out." Sakura says and it catches another portion of Hyewon's attention.
"Oh, definitely! I heard Noze unnie is trying to get in touch with her for a special project, but that's still undecided."
Now, Hyewon's torn her eyes off the numbers and is looking eager to squeeze out more details from Chaeyeon.
"What project? Is she gonna come here?"
It doesn't escape her sight how Sakura is mockingly smirking at her. But she pretends not to see it. She is not interested in whatever bullshit Sakura is thinking.
"I'm not sure if I'm allowed to tell you actually..." Chaeyeon lets out a nervous chuckle. She was never supposed to mention it to anyone after all.
"Just tell her, Chae. Who knows she might finally choose the right thing to do this time."
Hyewon slams her hands on the table and leans over to the Japanese who remains unfazed in her seat. The busy cafeteria is hushed and all eyes are on them which causes Chaeyeon to panic and immediately moves to stop them.
"H-Hey, Hyewon, calm down. Don't make a scene here." Chaeyeon successfully manages to get Hyewon off the table, but the latter doesn't tear her threatening gaze from Sakura.
"You should tell your girlfriend to watch her mouth."
"I– I will. Just, please just chill out and take a seat."
Instead of doing so, Hyewon gathers all her stuff and swings her bag on her shoulder. She is about to walk away when she hears Sakura talk again.
"Until when are you gonna make the choice just an option?"
Hyewon pauses. When she turns around to look at her again, Sakura no longer has the annoying smirk on her face and is looking at her seriously, ignoring how Chaeyeon has been nudging her to stop.
"That is up to me to decide and not for you to meddle."
With that, she leaves the table and walks out of the cafteria going up to the fifth floor. She frustratingly runs a hand through her hair the moment she arrived in the isolated restroom and unceremoniously slams her bag on the sink before glaring at her reflection in the mirror.
She finally understood what Sakura has been telling her and she is so annoyed at herself for not realizing it sooner.
"Kang Hyewon, you—"
A thud followed by a series of flirty giggling noises interrupts her intended monologue. She whips her head towards the last cubicle with a scowl.
Sure, some students love to hang out in the 5th floor restroom because people barely use it—unless otherwise they're like Hyewon who needs time for herself to reflect and scold herself—but there's no fucking way someone's doing it in the restroom.
She purposely opens the faucet, and the noise from the cubicle immediately stops. She allows the water to run longer just to annoy whoever were inside.
Hyewon doesn't give the damn if she interrupted them. They interrupted her moment too anyway.
Once satisfied, she shuts the faucet, fixes herself in the mirror and makes her exit.
But before she's completely out into the hall, she yells, "Go get a fucking bedroom!"
Eunbi doesn't reply to her messages for a week.
Although it worries her, she convinces herself that maybe the woman is once again drowned in her job just as she is drowning in academics that just never seem to end.
"You should make a schedule." Yena tells her when they were at Subway, munching on each their own sandwhiches.
"Since when did you know a thing about scheduling?" Hyewon asks, baffled at the unusual suggestion from her friend.
"Since Yuri showed me how efficient it makes me get things done." Yena nonchalantly bites on her sandwhich again.
"What? You two dating now?"
"We're getting there."
Hyewon is in disbelief with how fast Yena is progressing with the said woman. It's only been a few weeks since they first met!
"But yeah, I think you should do that." Yena says going back to their topic.
"I'd rather not." Hyewon sips on her cola. "Following a schedule only stresses me out."
"But doesn't Eunbi do that before?"
Hyewon raises a brow. "Scheduling? No. She hates it as much as I do."
Confusion took over Yena's expressive face. "But she always seems to know what and when to do something."
"She's efficient that way. She get things done the moment she thinks about it. No second thoughts." Hyewon proudly says.
Yup, that was really another perk of having Eunbi around. She influences Hyewon to get everything done without wasting any time. No matter how spontaneous it is, Eunbi was diligent enough to never procrastinate.
"Oh god, you're at it again." Yena grimaces and Hyewon blinks at her.
"The hell are you saying?"
"Every time you talk about Eunbi, you always make that face." Yena even points a finger at her face and swirls it around as if she's drawing something.
"The disgusting one."
Hyewon doesn't skip a beat in smacking Yena on the head. "You're talking nonsense."
"Believe me, you do have it on your face. I know you miss her so bad but you don't have to show how down bad you are for her."
The remark causes blood to run up Hyewon's face and she panics. She tries to cool herself down by sipping on her cola but she's ran out and her face still feels hot.
"W-What are you saying?"
"Dude, you're literally blushing right now." Yena smugly takes a sip from her drink. "You like Eunbi, don't you?"
Hyewon almost choked, but thankfully she managed to get the food down and through her throat. "Nonsense. Of course I like her."
"No, not like that." Yena shakes both her head and free hand for emphasis. "I mean you like her more than just a friend."
Albeit not mentioning to anyone about her feelings for Eunbi, Yena’s intuition and observative ass are really pains in the ass.
Hyewon looks away, opting not to answer. But of course, that was a terrible idea when it's Yena you're talking to.
"Heh. I knew it." Yena concludes with mischievous grin.
"Oh shut up."
"Look, it's Noze."
The aforementioned woman have just walked into the establishment but her eyes are already settled on them. Instead of heading to the counter, she walks up to their table with a heart–stopping smile.
"Hello, unnie." They greet her at the same time.
"Hello. Is this seat taken?" Noze asks and Hyewon shakes her head. Hyewon also gives a subtle glance at her outfit: a sweater vest over a white t-shirt, black leather pants and red Jordans.
"Have a seat, unnie."
"Aren't you going to order, unnie?"
Yena nods her head and continues eating her sandwhich. But Hyewon is bothered by Noze's gaze on her and decides to wrap the remaining food instead.
"You're not gonna finish that?" Noze asks, pointing at her sandwhich.
"Saving it for later."
"Ahh." Noze nods. "Speaking of later, do you wanna hang out?"
Hyewon has to blink numerous times, not believing what she just heard from the woman. She turns to Yena, looking for validation and with the latter looking dumbfounded as she is, it has been confirmed.
"You can come with us too, Yena." Noze adds, now also smiling at Yena.
"Oh, actually, I already have a thing planned with Yuri later."
"That's too bad. Guess it's just us then, Hyewon." Noze grins and Hyewon feels like she needs to hold on to something or else—oh god why is she easily entranced by a pretty woman?!
"Mhm." Noze nods. "I was supposed to go with Rozalin but she has a project to work on with Chaeyeon and it'll be a waste if I can't use the coupons I got. It expires today."
That is tempting, Hyewon thought. But then she remembers her stupid math homework and she is about to decline—until Yena beats her to it, not giving her a chance to reason out.
"Hyewon would love to go with you, unnie. She badly needs a break and could really use some help with having fun."
Noze scrunches her nose as she laughs in amusement. "I'm no expert in having fun, but sure. We can work on that together. "
The dancer is already looking at her, expecting a favorable answer and Hyewon gives up. Cursing her unfinished homework in her head as she answers, "Okay, I'll go."
"Cool. Meet you at the east entrance after your class?"
After the rendevouz point has been agreed, Noze immediately excused herself to order, leaving Hyewon and Yena pinching each other after the former started it.
"You do realize she just asked you out on a date, right?" Yena asks and Hyewon pinches her again.
"Stop pinching me."
"I've always wanted to ask Eunbi out on a date too."
Yena pinches her back hard and she complains along with a hard slap on the arm.
"Ow! You're screwed."
She gives Yena death glare, "No fucking thanks to you."
Indeed, Yena was right.
She is screwed.
Because while she was enjoying her time with Noze at a noraebang, got to see the preview her newest choreo first-hand, then ate dinner at a famous tteokbokki house using the coupons Noze had, it's only when she's in the taxi on the way back to the
dorm that she notices that she missed a couple of calls from Eunbi.
It's been a week since she last heard from her and she wasn't even paying attention when the woman finally remembered her.
It didn't help that her IG notifs was already popping after Noze tagged her in a few selcas together and a story the woman posted before they went home captioning both with I went on a date with Hyewonie today.
That is definitely going to be the university's Buzz of the Week. And surely, Eunbi saw it all cuz it's the first thing she brought up when Hyewon answered the call, minutes after she sent a late reply.
"You're having so much fun with Noze, huh?"
Hyewon can't read Eunbi's expression with how emotionless her face looked on the screen. But nonetheless, Hyewon decides it's best to apologize.
"I'm really sorry, unnie."
"Why are you saying sorry, Hyewon-ah? I'm just asking if you're having fun with Noze."
Hyewon bites her lip and runs a hand through her hair. "I didn't get to answer your calls earlier—"
"I understand. You were with Noze. It's okay."
"You like her, huh?"
"Unnie, come on."
"What? You just literally went out on a date with her."
"It's not like I had a choice."
"You always have a choice, Hyewon-ah..."
Eunbi's words made Hyewon freeze. It's the same thing Sakura told her and she's doing it again.
"I'm glad she's taking care of you like I told her to, but I admit... I'm feeling kind'a..." Eunbi doesn't finish her sentence and instead heaves a sigh. "Forget it. You should rest. You look exhausted—"
"Wait unnie–" She interrupts, wanting to ask something based on Eunbi's earlier reaction. "Are you jealous?"
Her heart anxiously pounds against her ribcage as a lump forms in her throat. She is so anxious to hear her former roommate's answer.
"What if I am, Hyewon-ah?"
Her ears turned deaf as a smile stretches across her face, not giving a damn if Eunbi could see her. The latter doesn't question her dumb grin but instead frowns at her.
"Forget I said that. Just go to sle—"
"Bring Geumbi with you when you come here." Hyewon interrupts and the older woman raises a brow. "What?"
"You heard me unnie."
"I did. But why are you suddenly asking me to bring my dog?"
"Because I want to..." She trails off. Suddenly, she lost the courage to actually ask the woman out on a date. Her nervousness to pop the question has taken over!
"You want to what?"
Just say it, Hyewon, she tells herself but her mouth is already blurting something else.
"Because I want to take her out on a walk."
While she is busy internally scolding herself, Eunbi suddenly cracks into a hearty laugh, a complete three-sixty to her jealousy earlier. Hyewon stops and frowns at it, but doesn't complain. She loves seeing and hearing Eunbi laugh. It's her most favorite music that is not on her daily playlist that is why she savors it each and every time she gets the opportunity to listen to it.
"Alright. I'll bring Geumbi next time if you promise to bring Zeze, too." She is talking about Hyewon's dog that is currently being taken care of by her mom and brother at ther family home.
"Okay. I promise."
Eunbi's smile hasn't disappeared since she stopped laughing and Hyewon is allowing herself to be drowned by it.
"Don't be jealous, unnie. I'll always like you the most."
She almost said it in one breath and immediately ended the call in panic. She knows she caught Eunbi off guard and she's satisfied by it, even though she still wanted to talk with her longer.
A notif came thru the app from Eunbi. A message.
[21:39] eunbi: no
[21:39] eunbi: you should only like me
Hyewon grins and giddily types her reply.
[21:40] hyem: yes, ma'am! ^^7
[21:41] eunbi: message me when you get home. take care, my love
It's only then that Hyewon realized, she's still in the taxi. And the driver has been glancing at her on the rearview mirror as he's heard every bit of her conversation with Eunbi.
She looks up and smiles at him. Though he didn't look hostile, his gaze was very observant that it made her nervous of what he is about to say.
"Young love, huh?" He asks, now showing his own warm smile. Hyewon even felt his fatherly aura from it and that made her feel at ease. "Reminds me of my younger days."
Being the extroverted person that she is, Hyewon began asking about his story and the 49-year old taxi driver willingly shared it to her. Throughout the ride, they had a great time exchanging stories and she even got a free advice from him.
"You have the time and energy to make your life worthwhile. Don't bury yourself in worries and regrets. Choose the path that rewards you happiness. You only live once, young miss. Make every decision count."
And surely, Hyewon is keeping it in mind from then on.
Hyewon is on her way to her next class when she literally bumps into Chaeyeon at a corner.
"Oh shit, sorry!" Chaeyeon exclaims and hurriedly crouches to help her pick up her books that fell to the ground.
"It's okay. Why are you in a rush?"
"I'm running late for my class and I need to drop by the club room first to give Noze unnie her flashdrive."
Chaeyeon may always seem to be oriented with her movements in her everyday life, especially when dancing, but whenever she is in a state of panic, her mind goes haywire and she uncharacteristically starts doing things out of order. And Hyewon isn't a stranger to such phenomenon of her friend.
She holds out her hand and Chaeyeon looks at it in visible confusion. "Give it to me. I'll do it."
"The flash drive. My next class is near your club room. I'll give it to her myself."
Chaeyeon literally jumps and squeaks in joy, thanking Hyewon for her kindness before handing over the said flash drive.
"I owe you this. Mwah!" The quirky dancer gives her one last flying kiss before sprinting away to her class that starts in literally a minute.
Hyewon shakes her head in amusement before leisurely taking her time to detour towards the dance club room.
When she arrived in front of the room, she took a peek inside through a small slit of the door's glass window that isn't fully covered by the calendar that the members purposely put up on it to act as the blinds.
The room seemed occupied from the outside, seeing a few water bottles on one side and hearing a faint hip hop music coming from the stereo. Chaeyeon did mention that the leaders are inside. But when she turned the knob, it was locked.
And so she decided to knock.
Three knocks, no one answered. Maybe the music was too loud.
Another three, still not a single soul responded, even though the music had already died down.
For the last three knocks, and the loudest that she's ever pounded on the door, she finally hears a click and the door is opened before her—revealing the assistant leader whose face clearly looks flushed yet displeased for some reason, but her following actions are completely friendly towards her.
"Hey, Hyewon. What brings you here?"
Hyewon tilts her head a bit, noticing the dancer's sweaty, messy fringe and crumpled collar, but doesn't comment on it.
Instead she answers, "Hey... Is Noze unnie here? I have something to give her."
"Uh, yup. She is. You actually came just in time. She was just about to call you." Rozalin opens the door wider for her and gestures a hand. "Come inside."
Hyewon nods. "Thanks."
She steps inside with her eyes suspiciously following Rozalin's movements as the latter is walks towards the small curtained space of the club room. The dancer briefly went behind the curtains before coming out again with Noze, trailing behind her. The older is sporting a similar attire as Rozalin: white collared long-sleeved button-down shirt and jeans. The younger wore the sleeveless variation.
The older one greets her with a smile. "Hello, Hyewon-ah. Glad to see you drop by."
Hyewon smiles back, forcing her eyes not to be glued on the faint red stains she is seeing on the dancer's inner collar.
"Hello, unnie. Actually, I just bumped into Chaeyeon and she asked me to give you this." She carefully hands over the flash drive.
"Ah, that girl really..." Noze sighs as she accepts the flash drive. "I told her she can just give this to me whenever she's free. But thanks!"
Noze gives the device a little inspection. Once satisfied with what she saw, she calls and gestures a hand at the other woman in the room who has been busy fixing her hair in the mirror. The latter took only a second to understand whatever Noze was telling her before another flash drive is fished out of her pocket and handed over to the older woman.
Hyewon surely didn't miss the smirk and the wink Noze subtly—but not really—gave Rozalin before the dancer turned to face her again. The blush she is seeing on the younger dancer's face have just raised her suspicions higher.
"Also, here." Noze holds the tip of the flash drive, handing it to her.
"What's this?" Hyewon asks as she accepts the device in her hand.
"Something Eunbi unnie has personally requested. I told her I could just email her the choreography video but she insisted for it to be placed in a flash drive instead and have it given to you."
Hyewon scrunches her forehead in confusion. "But why me?"
She was hopeful Noze would give her an honest answer, but the dancer just shrugs her shoulders. "Beats me."
"Okay..?" She is still confused, especially with the way Noze was smiling at her.
Something is being hidden from her but she decides not to press on it further. Instead, she pinpoints at the thing that has been bothering her ever since she first saw it.
"By the way, unnie, is that a lipstick stain on your collar?"
As quick as how dancers could pull off an intense pop and lock move, Noze's hand snaps to her collar and pulls it away from her, trying to peek at it. When she saw what Hyewon was pointing out, a nervous laugh broke out from the dancer and her eyes shakingly wandered towards Rozalin, completely avoiding Hyewon's eyes.
"Also, uhh," she clears her throat—although it is unnecessary, "I can see the bruise on your neck."
Noze's face turns ripe as a tomato while Rozalin just silently stands beside them, though a faint hue can also be seen on her cheeks. They aren't even denying it!
Heh, caught you, Hyewon thinks, even proud that her intuition was right. She's always known something fishy was going on with Want2B's leaders.
"Don't worry. I won't tell anybody." She finally tells them, seeing the two have socially malfunctioned after being caught.
Noze just smiles as she allows Rozalin to take over the conversation with Hyewon.
"Thanks, Hyewon. I'll keep it in mind next time to not leave a hickey where it can be easily seen by others."
Hyewon blinks in surprise at Rozalin's lack of filter. She can even feel her face heating up in embarrassment even though she is a third-party receiving end of a supposed private information.
"You're making her uncomfortable." Noze whispers over to Rozalin, yet it was still audible to Hyewon.
The younger dancer just gives the older a sharp look and the latter backs up with a chuckle.
"N-No, it's fine. I'm just—" Hyewon coughs. God, Chaeyeon's infamous honey water sounds really delicious right now. "I'm just surprised. That's all."
"Well, you have to get used to it from now on. I'm done being nice to this woman." Rozalin points her thumb at Noze and Hyewon nods in understanding.
Got it. Noze, taken. Off-limits. Always expect the unexpected with Rozalin around, Hyewon mentally notes. But, damn! Power couple!
"I'm still older than you, Eungyu." Noze reminds the younger, and Rozalin fearlessly retorts, "Tell that to me when you're no longer screaming for my name when—"
"OKAY! I think that's my cue." Hyewon loudly announces, interrupting the couple's TMI–now–turned–rated banter. Fortunately for her, the bell rings along, indicating the time that her next class will be starting soon.
Rozalin simply nods at her while Noze gives her an apologetic smile and says, "Sorry about that. Thanks for dropping by, Hyewon."
"It's okay, unnie. You two have fun." She tells them before bidding goodbye and exiting the room as fast as she can without rushing.
On her way to her classroom, she sends a text over to Chaeyeon.
[14:28] kwangbae: why didn't you tell me Noze and Rozalin are dating
She is already in her seat waiting for her professor to finish setting up his presentation when Chaeyeon's reply came.
[14:32] chaeng: huh? dating?
[14:33] chaeng: WHAT?!
Hyewon patiently stands outside a classroom where Professor Kim is currently teaching. She could just wait at the bench down the hallway but looking at the time remaining for the class to end, she opts to stand where it would be easier for her to intercept the Professor right after dismissing his class.
And Hyewon counts it down.
Just as she muttered zero, the bell rang and she can hear the shuffling from inside the classroom.
Not long after, students came flooding out, each at their own pace. Some were in a hurry to get to their next class, while others leisurely took their time to relax after a gruesome hour in Professor Kim's calculus class.
She hears someone mutter their frustration about the difficulty of the problems presented and Hyewon mentally nods her head in agreement.
Once she sees almost everyone is out of the classroom, she takes the initiative to knock on the door and call for the Professor's attention before he attempts to leave.
"Ah, Miss Kang, come in. What do you need? Have you finished solving the exercises I gave you?" Professor Kim asks as he begins rummaging through his folder, carefully checking each piece of paper he's held on.
"That's good. I have more—"
"But I'm not here just so you could give me more." She stops him before he could pull out another two-paged sheet (Hyewon thinks it's shit) of problems and equations.
The professor stops and looks at her expectantly. "Okay? What is it that you need?"
"I'm here to talk to you about this year's Olympiad, sir."
It took all her might to not stutter or even falter in the following words she's about to say, and fortunately, her voice didn't betray her.
She sees his brow twitch, a reaction he's always had every time someone argues with him in class. Their argument hasn't even started yet, but she thinks maybe he's already expecting what she is about to say.
She inhales a deep breath, calming her nerves and focusing on what she has concluded in her mind after days of thinking thoroughly.
"I am not participating in the Math Olympiad this year, Professor." Hyewon straightforwardly tells him. When the latter was about to counter, she corrects her initial statement. "No. I am no longer participating in any Olympiads, Professor. Not this year, not next year, not ever."
The twitching became more apparent, and Hyewon is not gonna lie. She is hellbent nervous right now, especially since they are the only ones left in the room.
No words were exchanged for almost a minute and Hyewon braces herself for the worst that could happen.
"May I know the reason why, Miss Kang?"
Hyewon didn't expect such a calm reaction from him. He is known to be short-tempered and often refuses to accept any refusal from his students with regards to their academics, especially about the competition.
Now is her chance to finally put an end to her two-year misery. Professor Kim has been holding her captive since she first entered the university—and today, Hyewon wants the shackles off her.
"It just isn't fun for me anymore, Professor." Her honesty seems to have him taken aback. Surprise is evident on his middle-aged face, but he doesn't mutter a word. Hyewon took it as a cue to continue.
"Ever since you started giving me endless exercise sheets to work on almost every day, I've slowly lost the enthusiasm that I've always had with mathematics. I participated the Math Olympiads as a hobby and a distraction, but to be completely honest with you, Professor, you've successfully twisted my interest and made it a burden for me. And I would really appreciate if you would just respect my decision and not force me to join the competition, or even assume that I still enjoy solving math like you used to know me for."
"You are giving it up for what, Miss Kang?" Professor Kim asks and it catches Hyewon off-guard for a moment. But with her mind already conditioned and fixed to her decision after days and weeks of thinking thoroughly, she is able to easily give up an answer.
"For my mental health and happiness, Professor. Yes, I may have the brains and the skills for it, but I don’t want to achieve more at the cost of my own well-being. There are still other students who are as qualified as me, and perhaps even more deserving to take the opportunity of winning the prizes that await as their reward— I am willing to give up my spot for them. I personally think I've done enough for my growth in that field and I'd prefer if someone else can benefit from it."
Professor Kim doesn't say anything and Hyewon is fine with it. She can see in his eyes that he is having a hard time accepting her decision. If she recalls correctly, she will be the first student to even step down from his guidance in preparation for the competition. That's a huge blow to his ego.
And maybe it is the reason why he opts to just dismiss her instead of saying his piece.
For the last time, Kang Hyewon bows to her adviser and mentor.
She admits he did help her a lot; but his ways just weren't befitting her. She felt suffocated under his guidance, and now she is glad that can worry no more about the pressure the competition has been giving her and is free to do whatever she wants during her free-time.
"I won't lie, that was awesome."
Hyewon almost jumps upon hearing Sakura speak just as she got out of the classroom. The Japanese is leaning on the wall right beside the vending machine, with a can of coffee in her hand, her face obviously amused at something.
Sakura shakes her coffee before taking a sip. "What you said to Professor Kim. That was awesome."
Hyewon raises a brow at the woman. "And you are saying that because..?"
"For once, I am witnessing you choosing to do something right." Sakura doesn’t even hide her smile after she said it. And Hyewon is stunned, dumbfounded even at the unexpected comment.
The Japanese crumples her empty can and throws it into the bin before shifting on her heels to face her again. "You owe me coffee, by the way."
"You owe it to me for knocking some sense into your math-induced brain."
Hyewon squints her eyes. "I owe you nothing."
"Our friends say otherwise." Sakura nonchalantly said before waving a hand as she walks away.
Hyewon is left wondering about what the woman said. What does she even mean by that? Their friends? Which friends? Yena? Chaeyeon?
Her internal reflection is cut short when she feels her phone vibrate in her pocket. She quickly pulls it out and sees a message coming from Noze.
[16:42] noze: where are you? we're starting soon
[16:42] noze: you don't wanna miss this one ;)
Ah, right. She almost forgot about the dance club's public demo today at the university square. It's a Want2B tradition that they put on a mob show for the students in the middle of the semester.
[16:43] hyewon: i'm omw unnie
[16:43] noze: see ya ;)
After she caught Noze and Rozalin in the club room last time, she really thought the leader would tone down eith her flirting tendencies when it comes to the way she texts. But then she thinks, maybe that's just really how Noze talks to everyone—a manner that is very prone to misunderstandings—and yet, Rozalin just lets her. She further thinks maybe it's either the younger trusts her or she simply just doesn't give a damn about it, knowing that they're so down bad for each other.
She is convinced that it is really more of the latter.
It takes her about five minutes to get to the university square that's already buzzing with students. Scattered around the area are the dance club members wearing a similar theme—caps/beanies. She easily spots Yuri by the entrance who gives her a small wave as a greeting. She greets back before getting interrupted by Yena's loud blabbering.
"Kwangbae! You came!" The duck is now clinging on to her back, forcing her to lean back uncomfortably. The students passing by giving them weirded looks as always. She elbows the other to the rib and it works like instant magic with how fast Yena releases her.
"What are you performing?"
"You'll see." Despite clenching on to her severed rib, Yena still beams at her and winks.
She looks around trying to find the leader, but the woman is nowhere to be found. Not even Rozalin.
When they heard a loud whistle coming from the somewhere, Yena quickly bids her goodbye and rushes to here place. Hyewon also takes it as a cue to find the best observer spot—which she supposes to be right beside Yuri, at the top of the stairs of the main building's entrance.
"Hey." Yuri answers back. "Here to cheer?"
"I'm more of an observer, really."
Just as Yuri says that, music suddenly explodes in the university square, surprising the clueless faculty and staff in the vicinity. Hyewon felt goosebumps run up her arms and neck as the intro of David Guetta's Hey Mama gave life to the usually uneventful university square.
People began to notice the dance club members hop out from where they were stationed and began gathering in the middle—and just like that, it gathered an audience and the square exploded in cheers.
The core led by Noze, Rozalin and Chaeyeon, took charge of start of the choreo, hitting every step fierce and hard. Their caps adding the extra charisma spice to the already sizzling hot choreo.
Yes, actually, Hyewon have already seen it first-hand when Noze danced in front of her at the noraebang, but to see the actual choreography in its full glory along with all the equally talented members of Want2B, it was a whole new experience for her. The choreography evolved in such a short period of time and Hyewon's respect and admiration for Noze just rose higher.
But just as she thought that was all there is for her to expect, the formation suddenly changed when the song hit the pre-chorus and someone else took charge in the middle while the core allowed themselves to be drowned with the rest of the group.
It was a woman with long, black, wavy hair wearing a white jacket with the zipper open showing the fitted lavender crop top she wore inside. Although her face is covered by the cap she is wearing, it didn't stop the people from recognizing her.
And Hyewon definitely knew who she is even just with how she moved her body.
"Omo! Hyewon! Isn't that—"
Yuri has been shaking her arm in excitement as she joined the rest of the audience in cheering for the woman.
However, Hyewon is just frozen in place. Her eyes glued at the Want2B alumna, a former University Student Council Member, and 1the woman she has been longing for so long. Her former roommate.
HOLY SHIT! KWON EUNBI IS LITERALLY IN FRONT OF HER DANCING!!
The performance ended before she even realizes it and she is now holding her breath, seeing the said woman walk towards her direction.
The cheers around them are deafening, but the pounding of her heart is louder than their pterodactyl screams.
Kang Hyewon has completely shut the world around her and all she can see is Kwon Eunbi standing before her—drenched in sweat, panting at her shortness of breath, and yet still managed to steal the air from Hyewon's lungs with her presence and beauty.
"Hello, Hyewon-ah..." Eunbi greets her with hooded eyes and a heart–stopping smile that also stopped her brain from working properly and she blurted out the words that were supposed to stay in her mind.
"I can't believe you said that, Kwangbae! HAHAHAHAHA" Yena explodes and starts another round of laughter at their table after Yuri told them what she witnessed Hyewon do earlier in front of Eunbi.
Kang Hyewon's obvious gay panic has been their favorite topic ever since they arrived at the pub, which Eunbi has reserved for the dance club in celebration for their sucessful performance.
"Shut the hell up, you duck!" Hyewon snaps at Yena but the latter doesn't mind and urges Yuri to tell them more. Hyewon could only helplessly groan in defeat when Yuri does what is requested.
A hand ran circles on her knee, trying to calm her down, and she buries her face at the neck of its owner.
"I wanna leave this place." She murmurs against Eunbi's hair.
The latter, however, just laughs and squeezes her hand. "We will, but let's enjoy the night with them first, okay?"
Hyewon heaves a sigh before pulling away from the older woman. Eunbi is lovingly looking at her even under the dim and dizzying strobe lights around them.
A cough, however, interrupts their moment and pulls their attention back to the rest of the group who have been silently observing them.
"Just to be sure, you're just roommates?" It was Chaewon, Hyewon recognizes her as one of the new members of the club. She also just found out the same time she knew her name that the woman is Hitomi's girlfriend. Kind'a surprising, if you ask her, but who is she to judge?
Eunbi innocently smiles at Chaewon yet her hand is busy running along Hyewon's thigh. "Yes."
No one at their table seems to believe it though, not even Yena who technically knows their situation. Maybe because they're being too clingy with one another.
In Hyewon's defense, however, she's always been that close with Eunbi even when they were living together. With both of them being fond of skinship, it was just difficult not to be affectionate with one another, even when in front of other people.
Their intimacy is also something that naturally grew along with their unpronounced feelings.
"Oh, okay. Cool. Just wanted to clear that out, in case we mistakenly comment something that might make you uncomfortable."
"I don't mind." Eunbi doesn't falter in saying those words and Hyewon almost chokes on her drink. "We'll probably end up the same way like Jihye and Rozalin are now anyway."
The leaders who have been busy in their own little world finally tears their gaze from each other and looks at them, confused at why Eunbi mentioned their names.
"You were saying, unnie?" Noze asks, a hand playfully loitering around Rozalin's arm.
"I said you and Rozalin started as roommates, too, and look at you two now." Eunbi rephrases and the dim lighting isn't even successful in hiding their flushed faces. They were embarrassed even though that was the truth.
"What's your take on that, Hyewon-ah?" Chaeyeon asks, not even daring to mask the teasing in her tone. It doesn't help that Sakura is equally giving her a teasing smirk beside the dancer.
Hyewon can feel Eunbi shift in her seat to look at her but she lands her sights on everyone but the woman.
"I don't have any problem with it." In her peripheral vision, she can see Eunbi's lips stretch into a gummy smile.
"You two should just date already." Chaewon remarks and everyone at the table nods in agreement.
Eunbi once again looks up at her and this time, Hyewon meets her gaze. They keep their smiles at each other while Eunbi answers for them both.
"Yeah, we could do that."
Hyewon and Eunbi don't wait for the peak of the party as they decide to spend their limited-time together outside and away from peering eyes of their almost drunk colleagues. (Eunbi has to take the first train in the morning back to Daegu for work.)
They go to the nearest park where not many people are fond of loitering around during the wee hours of the night. Hyewon assists and holds Eunbi's hand tight when the latter decided to let her tipsy inner child loose as she steps on the ledge and balances herself on it while they tread on leisurely under the moonlight.
"Woah... careful." Hyewon says when Eunbi almost fell into the water. Eunbi chuckles, loving the moment they're having—and just how Hyewon cares for her.
"I trust you won't let me fall, Hyewon-ah."
Hyewon almosts counters it with a confession, but bites on her tongue before she'd even regret saying it. Instead, she asks the question she's been meaning to ask the older woman since the first time in months that they've seen each other face–to–face.
"Why didn't you tell me you're visiting?"
Eunbi giggles as she hops off the ledge and lands perfectly in front of Hyewon. Her eyes gleaming in unspoken joy as she playfully leans forward, making Hyewon's heart skip a beat with the distance between their faces.
"I wanted to surprise you."
"Why? Are you not convinced?" Eunbi tilts her head to the side and Hyewon doesn't say it to her face, but she really finds it adorable whenever the woman does it.
"No, it's not that." Hyewon looks away for a moment, giving herself some space to breath since prolonged eye contact with Eunbi rarely does her any good. "I just hoped you could've at least told me." So I can prepare my heart in advance.
"It wouldn't be a surprise if I did." Eunbi pouts. "And besides, it's not like I didn't give you a clue."
"A clue?" Hyewon jerks an eyebrow after snapping her head back to face her, thinking back to their previous conversations. But she frowns when she realizes Eunbi hasn't ever mentioned anything about the plan to her. "You didn't."
Eunbi, upon reading the sheer confusion on Hyewon's face, takes Hyewon's free hand in her hold and pulls both their clasped hands close to her.
"Remember the flash drive Jihye gave you?"
Hyewon's face lights up. "That was the clue?"
Eunbi laughs at her adorable reaction. "And you never asked me about it."
That is true. She had been too occupied with academics and how to get loose from Professor Kim that she forgot to mention the flash drive handed over to her the following day when Eunbi called.
"I was too busy to even think about the oddness of your decision to have Noze unnie give it to me."
Eunbi nods her head knowing exactly what Hyewon means. "And now, you know." She releases one hand and moves to cup the younger's cheek, the latter leaning in to the touch. "So, you finally backed out of the Olympiad."
Hyewon nods and doesn't question why she already knows about something that just happened a few hours ago. "Sakura really keeps you updated."
"Her and Jihye, actually."
"But you get jealous of Noze..."
Hyewon said it with intentions of teasing Eunbi, but the idea backfires when her former roommate doesn't deny it.
Confessions really hit different when it's thrown right at your face and in the moment.
"Can't help it when my love's being taken care of by someone else when it should be me doing it." Eunbi doesn't even blink when she says it in a voice that just takes Hyewon's breath away.
The air has shifted around them and Hyewon breathlessly mutters, "Unnie..."
Hyewon doesn't know if fate is playing around with them or it's really just a mere coincidence that befits their situation when a corndog truck parked in the middle of the park that has been setting the ambiance of the place with its playlist starts playing a song that's all too familiar with Hyewon since she's been listening to it almost every day after Eunbi moved out.
Waking up alone
I guess that's how it goes
That's a start, we drift apart
Then the next thing you know
You're barely holding on
And you don't know what is wrong
You're tired of sleeping back to back
You miss the feeling that you had (Are we?)
"What are we, unnie?" Hyewon asks just as the chorus starts. But Eunbi doesn't answer and lets the music wrap around them.
Are we? Are we? Are we lovers or are we roommates?
Are we riding our own waves?
Now the only thing that we share is the toothpaste
Are we lovers or roommates?
Are we? Are we? Are we lovers or are we roommates?
Are we waiting for it to break?
Now the only thing that we share is the toothpaste
Are we lovers or roommates?
"You..." Eunbi whispers. "You tell me what you think." And places her arms over Hyewon's shoulders, locking her hands behind the younger's neck.
She is being pulled dangerously close as the next part comes along.
Tell me girl if it's too late
Are we lovers or roommates now?
Tell me girl if it's too late
Are we lovers or roommates?
"I think we're more than just roommates."
Eunbi's nose scrunches as she smiles, pulling Hyewon close until their foreheads meet. She can smell the lingering scent of alcohol from their breaths. "I think so, too."
The rest of the song is spent in complete silence as they slowly sway along to its catchy tune. Hyewon takes the opportunity to think back to when she thinks might have been the first time bore feelings for her roommate without her realizing it.
Hyewon was a freshman and Eunbi was in her third year in university.
Hyewon was enjoying watching a movie when Eunbi barged in the dorm, her breathing ragged as she dragged her feet towards the couch where the younger is comfortably sitting.
"Unnie, are you okay?" Hyewon asked worried seeing how terrible Eunbi's flushed face looked. She was sweating all over that her hair was even damp.
"H-Hyewon-ah..." Eunbi managed to mutter before collapsing entirely onto Hyewon.
Panic washed over the younger when she felt Eunbi's skin burning up. She even placed the back of her hand on the woman's forehead just to make sure and confirmed it.
"You have a fever!" She exclaimed and the response she's getting from Eunbi were just whispers of her name in between labored breaths.
"Come on. Let's get you to bed."
Hyewon struggled for a bit, finding the best way to bring Eunbi to her room without them toppling over. Cuz damn, Eunbi may be smaller than her, but she's heavy especially when she's not in full control of her body.
"I... I can w-walk." Eunbi said, though having a hard time saying the words.
"Are you sure?"
Eunbi nodded and stood on her feet, Hyewon immediately anchored her side to prevent her from falling until she'd safely brought her to the bed.
Hyewon thought that was already her biggest challenge until she realized she has to change Eunbi's clothes.
They've known each other for four years and have been living together for almost a year, and though they have seen each other in their undergarments before or always wrapped in towels after a bath, it's never been to a point where one has to personally take the clothes off the other.
Their relationship just wasn't like that.
But hearing and seeing Eunbi's discomfort in her clothes already drenched in sweat, Hyewon cursed all the malicious thoughts in her head and moved to do what is needed to be done.
She gulped a lump in her throat before telling the older what she's about to do. "Unnie, we need to change your clothes."
Eunbi responded with a throaty groan and a nod of her head, her hooded eyes opening and closing in whatever pain she's going through.
With shaking hands and endless cursing in her head, Hyewon did what she had to do.
Once she succeeded in the toughest endeavor she thought she's ever faced, Hyewon took the wet towel and began wiping the sweat off of Eunbi's face, neck and arms. The latter had calmed down after changing into a new set of clothes and drank medicine and water.
Yes, it was quite a challenge, but Hyewon thought of it to be rewarding when she saw the peacefulness on Eunbi's sleeping face.
It's not the first time she’d seen the woman in her sleep, but hearing her name being muttered by Eunbi while asleep stirred something unknown within her.
Hyewon thought it was just her long-time admiration for the older woman and opted to hold on to Eunbi's hand each time she hears her name, but, unbeknownst to her, she had already sunk a level deeper in her unrealized feelings for her roommate.
"A penny for your thoughts?" Eunbi's voice drags her back to the present and is met with orbs that she thinks are the most beautiful pair she's ever seen.
They haven't let go of each other and still swayed to LANY's ILYSB from the truck. Hyewon can't help but smirk when she realizes how much she likes the music taste of whoever is in charge of the playlist.
"I'm just thinking."
"About what?" Eunbi's smile has some underlying meaning to it and Hyewon thinks it would be fun to mess around with the woman for a bit.
She receives a hard slap on the arm. "Seriously? I'm the one with you right now and you're thinking about my dog?"
"What's wrong with that? I always think about Zeze too."
Now, Eunbi has an evident frown on her face, clearly unhappy with what Hyewon is doing.
"I can't believe you."
Hyewon feigns ignorance and asks. "Where's Geumbi, by the way? Didn't you promise to bring her when you come visit?"
Eunbi pushes her away, her facial expression in utter disbelief. "Seriously?"
"What? I'm serious."
She hears Eunbi mumble the words I can’t believe I'm getting jealous over my dog and Hyewon just couldn't stop herself from laughing out loud. The older woman stares at her unamused, until Hyewon reaches for her and pulls her into a hug.
"I'm sorry. I just couldn't help myself from teasing you when you're being so adorable like that." She says against the side of Eunbi's temple.
She feels a loose pinch on her side, tickling her a bit, and she giggles. "Very funny."
"But really, I'm serious about taking Geumbi out on a walk."
"With Zeze." She lands her lips on Eunbi's hair, mumbling against it. "And you."
Eunbi again pulls away and gives her a skeptical look that she answers back with raised brows. "What?"
"Is this your way of asking me out on a date?"
Hyewon pauses. She hasn't really thought of it that way—but the idea sure works considering how she just can't seem to say the words directly to the woman without frying the circuits in her mind.
"Am I worthy enough to ask my former roommate out on a date right now?" She asks in a playful tone, but Eunbi seems to have other thoughts in her head.
The older woman's expression turns serious as she gives Hyewon no time to protest and snakes a hand behind the younger's neck, pulling her in without warning—
And their lips crashing into each other like mallows.
Time seemed to stop for Hyewon at that moment and all she can taste is the mix of Eunbi's cherry flavoured liptint and the alcohol they had consumed at the club. It's not her first time kissing someone, but to say the least, in comparison, Eunbi's lips have her most favorite taste of them all.
Eunbi has taken charge, arms now wrapped around the other's neck once again, and all Hyewon does is follow and respond to the woman's fervor against her own, pulling the older closer as she wraps her own arms around the smaller woman's waist, they're fronts complete squeezed against each other. Both of them completely forgets that they are in the middle of a public place and, though it may not be crowded, there are a still people who can see them making out.
But neither of them really makes it a part of their concern as their attentions are only focused on each other even until they were done and are catching their breaths.
"Wow..." Eunbi's first word, airy and audibly amazed as she gazes at Hyewon's lips before dragging it up to meet the younger's intoxicated eyes.
Hyewon feels lightheaded, but she is still yearning for more. Eunbi's lips were that addicting to her.
"If I'd known you're such a good kisser, I would have done it before I left you in the dorms." Eunbi says, smirking as her fingers played with the baby strands of hair at the back of Hyewon's neck. The gesture is tickling and giving Hyewon the goosebumps but she doesn’t mind. She's too drawn into the older woman's eyes after the kiss.
"Then why didn't you, unnie?"
"Because I wasn't sure if you felt the same way that I've been feeling for years, Hyewon-ah..."
Hyewon blinks at the new found fact. "For how long?"
"Three? I don’t know. I'm not good with numbers like you." The answer earns a hearty laugh from Hyewon. A very literal one with how she feels her heart swell now finding out that their relationship have just been long delayed because of her.
She leans in for another kiss, this time shorter yet still equally passionate and Eunbi obliges. Their lips parting right after with only a small space in between. If one of them talks, it will scrape the other pair.
And Hyewon does so.
"I'm sorry for making you wait this long, unnie."
Eunbi shakes her head minimally and smiles. "Don't be. I liked how we got to individually grow apart first before realizing we really want to date each other so bad."
Hyewon chuckles. "I guess you're right."
"I'm always right, my love."
They lean in for one more kiss before settling to dance the night away in each other's arms, with dumb smiles on their faces and a few subtle winks getting thrown by Eunbi every now and then that sends Hyewon into a giddy trance of laughter.
Hyewon has her own tricks up her sleeves that makes Eunbi crack up too—tickling the woman when she finds the opportunity before sneaking in for a kiss when Eunbi is left vulnerable from her attacks.
And every time she sees and hears Eunbi laugh like there is no tomorrow, Hyewon swears into the night that she's gonna make the older woman the happiest while she is still able to love her.
It's in the end of 10000 Hours playing in the background that Eunbi has forcefully stopped her from making any more tickling attacks. She's had enough and Hyewon knows that, already internally shaking as Eunbi is restraining her movements.
Yes, Eunbi may be smaller, but she is absolutely much more stronger than Hyewon in terms of physicality. (Hyewon can't help but worry about this for some other reason.) She has Hyewon's wrists locked together with one hand while the other is holding on to the younger's collar, pulling her close until they are eye–level.
"So," Eunbi hisses, her eyes are playful but her tone dangerous with warning as Hyewon helplessly submits to her in defeat. The hand that was on her collar is now snaking up to her cheek and a thumb gently passes over her lower lip, leaving Hyewon's mouth ajar. "Is this how you treat your Mama?"
The memory of her Hey Mama incident earlier instantly plays in her head and she begins to feel her entire being blush in embarrassment once again.
"T-That was— Let me explain—" Hyewon tries to reason out, but Eunbi hushed her with a finger on her lips.
"Shh. It's okay, Hyewon-ah. You don't have to be ashamed."
Hyewon groans, but doesn't complain anymore despite knowing that at this point, Eunbi is already just messing with her, seeing the woman’s teasing grin.
"Do you want to roleplay when we get home tonight?"
Hyewon feels like her head is about to blow a fuse and she doesn't hesistate nor think twice in answering back.
"No. I'm gonna call MY mom."
It immediately sends Eunbi cackling into the night, not minding if Hyewon is already as a red as a tomato.
Hyewon calls when they are cuddled in the bed of her dorm that night, just a few winks away from completely dozing off.
"Hm?" Eunbi answers weakly, obviously exhausted from everything that transpired in one day, and snuggles closer to her chest.
"Let's go out on a romantic date when you come back." Hyewon is finally able to say without malfunctioning.
"What about Geumbi and Zeze?"
"We can just leave them with my brother."
Eunbi chuckles, low and silent. "You sound like you already have a lot planned in mind."
Hyewon smiles and repositions her arm holding on to Eunbi's bare waist. She leans in and plants a kiss on the older woman's forehead.
"After tonight? You bet I do."
For the last time, Eunbi gives a response paired with a yawn. "Okay, baby...whatever...you...s-say..."
And they both drift into a few hours of sleep in each other's arms before her former roommate—now girlfriend—has to leave once again.