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Heejin hates when she gets like this.

When this noisy thing comes to life in the pit of her stomach, making her bounce her leg and look around the room, searching faces for the person she knows isn't even there. She always wondered if other people ever felt like this.

It builds so slow. A nagging want in her chest, like something was boring a hole in her heart, trying to get her attention until it comes to live in a ball in her stomach. It shows in her facial expressions, when her brows reflexively upturn and she frowns. The weird part is that it's not an uncomfortable feeling. But it's a feeling that demands her full attention. Clouds her thoughts.

It's not even an unwelcome feeling. When she's able to do something about it, she likes it, even.

She becomes so overwhelmed with this need to touch someone. To explode with affection, she hates the accompanying loneliness that follows. As a teenager it was nearly unbearable because she had no proper outlet. Especially when it came with confusing thoughts about girls. She thought she was supposed to like boys.

Back then, Heejin would get home from school, hike up the stairs to her room, drop her things and grab her pillow. First she'd scream into it out of pure frustration, but then she'd just... lay there. Clutching it to her chest. Wishing she could hear a heartbeat.

It wasn't until she met Jiwoo that she realized what this feeling was. She didn't know there was such a concept as "touch starved" and that everyone's needs were a little bit different. Upon learning this, Heejin couldn't help but think maybe she was the neediest person on earth. If she were allowed, she'd never stop. She'd always be holding hands with Jiwoo, hugging her, breathing her in.

It's embarrassing, but even after their first time getting physical with each other, her favorite part was the afterglow. The quiet that came when they'd both come down from it all. And the permission to be as close as she wants. She slept that night with her head tucked under Jiwoo's chin--it's the happiest she'd ever been.

They never took off their clothes fully when they got like this. Normally their time was short and they acted quick. A pair of hormonal young adults working out tension in the dark together, constantly aware of the fact that someone could burst into Heejin's dorm room any second. Jiwoo wasn't supposed to be there after hours.

When Jiwoo finally surfaces out of the blanket like a diver breaking water for air, she makes a satisfied sort of noise. It always ended too quickly, but Jiwoo always promised they'd take their time when she got an apartment and Heejin could stay over any time she wanted. And it's impossible not to believe her. Heejin always thought Jiwoo could and would achieve anything she set her mind to--and she'd proved her right time and time again.

Heejin watches as Jiwoo sucks her middle and ring finger clean. It's an act that makes her feel lewd in a way that isn't wholly unpleasant, but still makes her nerves prickle.

"I should probably get back," she says, a touch of bitterness coloring her words. She can never stay the night.

But that thing continues to live in Heejin's stomach. That ball of emotions threatening to explode. The persistent feeling of touch starvation that still hadn't gone away despite the fact that Jiwoo had been inside her less than a minute ago.

Jiwoo sees her face in the dark and her brows rise up, confusion painted all over her features.

"Heekki? What's wrong?"

It's weird. She wants to cry.

She turns around fully to face her, getting back under the blanket and her hand coming to cup the side of Heejin's face.

"Did I hurt you?"

"Sorry," Heejin says, her voice dipping a bit low. "No, you didn't."

A tear rolls down her cheek before she has an opportunity to put a cap on her emotions. This is hardly the time for crying. She doesn't want to make things uncomfortable. To give Jiwoo less reason to take the risk for moments like this with her. Even if Jiwoo had never really given her reason to believe so, Heejin still couldn't help but treat their relationship as this fragile thing.

But without hesitation, Jiwoo leans in, kissing away the tear. It's so painfully sweet and fulfills that aching need for touch that it makes a nervous sort of laugh bubble up suddenly.

"Can you please stay?" Heejin asks. Begs. Her voice nasally and wavering. "Just for a little bit."

There's a second where Jiwoo can be seen parsing what's being asked before she's smiling again, filling the dark dorm room with warmth as she gets resituated with Heejin under the blanket. It's almost funny how she knows exactly what Heejin needs. Her hands crawl up her shirt, no underlying intent other than intimate skinship. More than just simple hand holding. The sort of touch they can only share under the cover of dark.

Heejin brings her arms up tight against her body as Jiwoo closes in on her, legs tangling and Jiwoo coming to rest the majority of her body weight over her. It's so soothing and Heejin's fingertips brush over Jiwoo's collarbone, making her shift her shoulders and a giggle could be heard in the older girl's throat when it tickles.

Tucking her head under Jiwoo's chin, she can feel her heartbeat. Almost hear it. It's the best sound in the world.

/\/\/\/

"I'm jealous of them," Jinsoul says, it's almost a whine as she moves in behind Jungeun, snaking her arms around her middle and burying her face in the crook of Jungeun's neck. It makes Jungeun groan, but everyone in the room knows she loves it.

"How come you don't sit in my lap like that?" Jinsoul asks, pouting dramatically. "You don't wanna be close to me?"

Jungeun groans a little louder, struggling to move with Jinsoul clinging so tightly while trying to match her gait. "Stop! You're gonna trip me."

There's that signature airy sort of laugh out of Jinsoul when she knows she's just barely starting to annoy her girlfriend. She noisily kisses her neck, earning a high pitched sound of protest out of Jungeun as she tries to squirm away, but she's laughing a second later. The sound seems to echo through Jiwoo and she wraps her arms a little tighter around Heejin.

At the end of the semester, Jiwoo had achieved exactly what she'd promised and gotten an apartment with Jungeun. And much to Heejin's delight, she insisted on her coming over constantly. She half wondered if it was because Jinsoul had more-or-less taken up residence and Jiwoo didn't like to feel like a third wheel. Heejin was good at conjuring up reasons to feel self conscious it seemed.

"I sit on you plenty," Jungeun protests, and Heejin watches her gently elbow Jinsoul in the ribs.

While Heejin can't catch what's said, she sees a glimpse of Jinsoul muttering something in Jungeun's ear, a smug little smile on her face. Jungeun's face turns bright red a second later and she drags her off to the bedroom, shutting the door. Heejin can guess what they're up to. There's an ounce of jealousy that comes to live in her chest. She wants that same kind of familiarity with Jiwoo. Wants to be able to call her "girlfriend." They hadn't quite gotten there yet, even if it felt like they should be.

Their routine is nice, though. She doesn't take it for granted. Given that summer has come, they're not burdened with homework, so more often than not Jiwoo invites her over to simply exist in the same space. And typically, Jiwoo would pick up on that nagging feeling that comes to live in Heejin's belly. She'd invite Heejin to sit on her lap.

At first it felt a little strange. Heejin liked it--of course she did--but she wondered how much Jiwoo did. Until Jiwoo started getting demanding. God, Heejin liked it when Jiwoo got needy. It made things feel less one-sided. She'd come to straddle Jiwoo's lap, arms resting over her shoulders and the back of the couch. She'd pull out her phone and they'd sit like that for well over an hour sometimes.

Though typically this would be the precursor to when they'd retire to Jiwoo's bedroom and the inevitable tonal shift.

Even if she couldn't call her girlfriend yet, Heejin ate up the fact that Jiwoo wouldn't or couldn't get demanding with other people. She savors the fact that she has her own pillow on Jiwoo's bed and gets to wear her clothes. And she lives for this side of Jiwoo that gets possessive in the dark. It's vulnerable in its own way when Jiwoo would make her wants plainly known in a way that doesn't suit the persona known to everyone else.

No one else knows Jiwoo's favorite positions. No one else knows what she sounds like when she begs. No one else knows how afterwards, she likes to walk her fingers up Heejin's side and count her ribs--and Heejin lets her every time, even though it gives her goosebumps.

Heejin tries to tell Jiwoo how much she loves her. It's hard to be bold. It's hard to make the words come out, but her love languages had always been physical touch and presents. She'd drawn for Jiwoo, made her cookies, and even saved up enough money to buy her nice headphones for when she works out. None of these things went unappreciated--and she'd always wink at Heejin when she'd fit her headphones in her ears. But it never quite felt like the message was delivered.

She'd keep trying anyway.

"Heekki..." Her voice comes a little lower than usual and close to Heejin's ear. She then feels Jiwoo's hands start to snake under the hem of her shirt, nails just barely raking against her skin. She knows one of Heejin's spots is the small of her back.

The reaction is so instant, so electric. It'd frustrate Heejin how easily she could be manipulated if it was anyone else. She reflexively arches herself into Jiwoo, making a noise in her chest that isn't quite a sound of protest.

"Already?" Heejin asks, her voice coming out breathy and embarrassing her. "It's still so early," she comments, noting that the sun hadn't even fully set yet.

Jiwoo traces a circle against Heejin's spine with her blunt nail, making her arch into Jiwoo again, as though trying to get away from her touch. Her hips roll into her a second later and Heejin whimpers. She knows she's been coiled around Jiwoo's little finger.

"You don't want to?" she asks, taking her finger away. Heejin already misses the touch and she knows Jiwoo knows.

"I didn't say that," she admits bashfully, and a moment later she feels both of Jiwoo's hands work their way up her shirt up towards the middle of her back, then drawing blunt nails down slowly. She can't help the moan that escapes her as she rolls her hips into Jiwoo reflectively again. It's so much at once and she knows she's already wet. It takes so little with Jiwoo to work her up like this.

Then she hears it. Jinsoul's low voice followed by a muffled, but still loud moan out of Jungeun. Jiwoo is jealous. Not specifically jealous of Jinsoul or Jungeun, but of the fun they're having. At minimum, Heejin knows Jiwoo's roommate (roommates?) aren't a threat.

Heejin decides to use this as a little ammunition. She rarely got to tease Jiwoo, but she knows that as much as she loves having the small of her back touched, Jiwoo loves when people speak softly into her ear.

"You're jealous of them?" Heejin asks, her voice low but still playful next to Jiwoo's ear. The response is instant as Heejin feels Jiwoo tense up beneath her, hands freezing in place. One of Heejin's hands works its way up the back of Jiwoo's neck, fingers raking into her hair as she continues.

"You want to hear me make those noises?" Heejin continues, letting her lips brush against the shell of Jiwoo's ear. It earns a grumpy noise out of her and she feels Jiwoo's hands at her thighs, trying to urge her up. She knows if Jiwoo was stronger, she'd be carried off by now.

"Heejin..." she says at normal volume and it's somewhere between a warning tone and a whine.

It's foreign to feel in control of a situation, and Heejin doesn't dislike it necessarily. She just enjoys Jiwoo taking the reins--and more than anything, she loves the chase. She loves feeling wanted by Jiwoo.

So she rolls off her lap and gets up, giggling as she immediately makes her way into the bedroom, Jiwoo hot on her heels a second later. The moment the door shuts behind Jiwoo, she's tugging at Heejin's clothes and kissing her. God, she loves the way Jiwoo kisses her. Sometimes soft and sweet or playful. Quick little reminders of "I like you!" Or they come hot like this and Heejin is compelled to part her lips and let Jiwoo have a better taste.

"I want to make you feel good," Jiwoo says, and it's something Heejin had become accustomed to hearing any time they were about to have sex. Heejin hums happily into the kiss she's given a second later before she's urged to sit on the bed. Her shirt is pulled off a moment later before her tights and skirt are yanked off. Left in only her bra and underwear, Jiwoo stands over her, taking her in as she pulls off her shirt and undoes the button and zipper on her pants. Under anyone else's gaze, Heejin might feel self conscious, but she'd grown to know what hunger looks like behind Jiwoo's eyes.

It wasn't until Jiwoo had gotten an apartment that she'd let herself use her mouth. In their dorm rooms, they were always having to act so quickly and retain some amount of subtlety that Jiwoo had only ever gotten her off with her fingers. Not that Heejin would ever complain, of course. She couldn't have known what she was missing out on.

But that first night in the apartment, and every night together ever since, Heejin finally came to understand what people meant by "seeing stars."

Pulling her own panties off, Heejin shows she's ready when she flings them off to the side and gets herself situated further up the bed, into their pillows. Jiwoo looks elated at the look of her and quickly follows, crawling on all fours to meet her.

And as usual, she doesn't immediately stick her head between Heejin's thighs, even if that's what she really wants. She positions herself over the younger girl, meeting her lips to kiss her sweetly, then to kiss a trail down her body, stopping just below her navel. Her arms come up under Heejin's legs and she kisses her inner thigh, a soft warning for what she's about to do.

No amount of bracing ever prepares her, so she does her best to relax. It does nothing to stifle the gasp when Jiwoo's tongue rolls over her folds, parting her. She can't be sure what it is that makes Jiwoo eat her out like her life depends on it, but Heejin also isn't sure what she'd do without it.

"Jiwoo..." she calls breathlessly, startled by the way her tongue rolls over her so expertly, knowing exactly where Heejin wants her without a single word uttered between them. And the sound of her own name seems to spur Jiwoo along. Her hands grip at Heejin's thighs and her lips latch around her hard clit, tongue flicking harshly, making Heejin's legs flinch and clamp over Jiwoo's head for a moment before she remembers to relax.

She draws a long, lazy line with the flat of her tongue then, ending with another harsh flick, and it's as though she wasn't trying to get Heejin off, but taste every ounce of her wetness she could collect on her tongue. It's so cruel, the way Heejin whines as her muscles tense, stopping herself from rolling her hips. She wants to cum so badly.

There's a low sort of chuckle out of JIwoo that makes Heejin tremble. She knows she's happy with herself for the kind of reaction she's earned out of Heejin. But she's not above begging.

"Jiwooming..." she whines, muscles tensing again as her hips just barely buck up into Jiwoo's mouth. "Please..."

There's a pleased hum out of Jiwoo and she relents just barely. Heejin whines when her touch is gone.

"I like Heejin like this," she says in a playful voice, kissing the inside of her thigh again, "Only I get to see you like this..."

To hear something so similar to her own thoughts echoed back at her is almost too much. She whimpers, "Jiwoo, please," she begs a little louder, "I need you."

Jiwoo's lips meet Heejin's other thigh, kissing softly, it worsens the tremble in Heejin's lower half. She can feel Jiwoo's breath fanning over her and she feels so hollow.

"Mm you need me?" Jiwoo asks, feigning innocence as though needing confirmation.

Heejin was so close and the longer Jiwoo takes to touch her, the quicker she can feel herself being pulled from the edge. "I need you. I need you," Heejin pleads, her voice going up an octave on the second and her hands coming to ball up the comforter beneath her.

Jiwoo finally answers her call, the flat of her tongue, hot and wet coming to finally meet her again, pushing inward to part Heejin's lips, dragging so painfully slow like Jiwoo were savoring every inch of her. It makes Heejin's back arch and her toes curl, hips bucking again into Jiwoo's mouth when she sucks around her stiff clit. She's so hopelessly turned on, Heejin's eyes practically roll back when it's finally given attention.

When it finally hits her, it takes every ounce of self control not to clamp her thighs around Jiwoo's head and she fails at that. A moan erupts out from deep in her chest as her back arches again and she struggles to gulp enough air when she begins to come down. It's hard when Jiwoo refuses to pull back. When she's egged on by the sudden intensified wetness. Heejin would almost swear it's her taste that Jiwoo keeps coming back for, the way she insists on "cleaning her up" afterwards. Only to result in a second or third orgasm in quick succession.

When the third one hits, the intensity of it is silencing. Her mouth coming open and her back arching harshly as she pulls and pulls at the comforter balled up in her hands. Even though it feels so good, it still doesn't chase away the persistent hollow feeling she'd been left with. More than that, she needs Jiwoo close. She pants for air, breathlessly trying to call her up as her legs limply part from Jiwoo's head.

"Jiwoo, please," she pleads, though as Jiwoo's tongue runs up the length of her again, she flinches, "No, Jiwoo, please come--come here." And that seems to get the message across. It's so cute the way she sticks her head up suddenly as realization dawns on her and she makes her way to Heejin's side to hold her.

"I'm here," she whispers sweetly and Heejin once again becomes too aware of that feeling. The need that refuses to leave her. Her hands find Jiwoo's face, drawing her in to kiss her again and again, noting the taste still left on her lips and tongue.

But once again, Jiwoo remains keenly aware of Heejin's needs. They've done this enough times, it shouldn't come as a surprise, but it still catches her off guard when she feels a pair of fingers slide over her lips, brushing against her oversensitive clit and making her flinch and moan into the kiss she was on the receiving end of.

As usual, Jiwoo is gentle and careful--starting first with a single finger to test the waters, so to speak. And when she finds Heejin's body drawing her in greedily, she withdraws and presses inward with her middle and ring finger. It elicits a relieved sigh out of Heejin as she finally feels Jiwoo inside her, chasing away that annoying hollow feeling and enjoying the dull ache of the familiar stretch.

She coaxes Heejin to lay fully on her back while Jiwoo lay at her side, pumping her fingers slowly and making Heejin's legs reflexively jerk at points because she's still just so overstimulated. But it feels so nice. Her hands reach for Jiwoo, seeking skinship again, and Jiwoo lays on her side, almost flush with Heejin so she can touch wherever she'd like.

"Ji-Ji--" Heejin starts to whine, not having the faculties to express what she wants. But Jiwoo knows. She always does. She kisses the corner of Heejin's lips, tilting her head into hers. Her hand eventually steadies, fingers curling inward. She always seemed to find Heejin's spot so effortlessly, and when she feels her fingers press into it, she whimpers, giving Jiwoo the confirmation she was waiting for.

"You're so pretty like this," Jiwoo coos at her, "The prettiest I've ever seen." And of course the compliment has an effect on Heejin. Squeezing her eyes shut, she cranes her neck towards Jiwoo blindly, trying to kiss her again, but she's too far away.

But that's okay. Jiwoo knows. She always does. She's looked after Heejin for so long that they rarely need words anymore. Especially like this. As her fingers work over Heejin's core in slow and steady motions, she leans in, planting the softest kiss on her lips. It's met with so much hunger when the contact is given. One of Heejin's hands comes to hold Jiwoo's face to try and keep her there. That anxious ball that lives in the pit of her stomach had migrated to her chest now. What had started out as a sort of quiet but persistent desire to be held and touched was now this keening need.

Between Jiwoo fulfilling both of her needs, it doesn't take long for Heejin to tumble over the edge. She feels so completely wrapped up in Jiwoo that nothing else in the universe exists. Nothing else matters as she rides the wave and savors the feeling of Jiwoo's fingers pressing and pushing into her. She wishes it were possible to exist like this forever.

The come down is much gentler. Jiwoo's fingers continue to rock, slowing down as though she were easing her down carefully. It makes her whole body shiver and her legs reflexively flinch again until Jiwoo slowly removes herself. As usual, she sucks her fingers clean--too lazy to get up to properly wash her hands, or wanting another taste. Whatever the case may be, Heejin is grateful for it because a second later, she's being pulled into JIwoo's arms. Her head tucked under Jiwoo's chin. Exactly where she's meant to be.

/\/\/\/

Jiwoo cycles through the pictures of them on her laptop. Trips to the beach, walks on the boardwalk, sharing ice cream. Always touching, either Heejin leaning on her, holding hands or linking arms. They had that much in common. Touch.

Jiwoo loves touching Heejin so much. In any capacity. In every way.

She then moves on to the pictures they took on their trip to Japan a year ago. They had so much fun despite the language barrier. They had tools at their disposal to navigate, thankfully. One particular picture sticks out. Jiwoo isn't in it. It was in Kyoto near one of the temples, Heejin hand-feeding one of the little deer populating the area. She'd stood so still with the feed in her palm, waiting for one to approach. Jiwoo had stood several feet away, camera poised at the ready for the magical moment. Jiwoo thought Heejin was gonna cry when the little deer's nose met her palm. It's been her phone wallpaper ever since.

It was here that Jiwoo really thought of finally saying something. It'd have been so easy to slip her hand into Heejins as they walked together through some of the quieter, scenic parts of Kyoto. She could have let it slip and said a quick, painless Aishiteru to get her idea across and gauged Heejin's reaction.

But she didn't.

Instead they spent the following school year living in the shadow of a relationship. It had a way of making Jiwoo's chest ache from time to time. She'd do anything for Heejin and often did. She broke so many rules hiding in her dorm room because it always broke her when Heejin would beg her to stay. It felt as close to an "I love you" as she was going to get.

It made Jiwoo greedy with her. Needy, even. Even if she couldn't coax the words Jiwoo so desperately needs to hear out of her, she could get close. Heejin would often beg in some way or another to be held. Sometimes verbally, most times not. Jiwoo usually just knew. But the sweet noises she'd make when Jiwoo would fulfill that need are all she needs to be swept up in Heejin's ocean.

She wonders if she knows. If Heejin realizes Jiwoo is so tightly wrapped around her little finger. Though judging by the way she blushes when Jiwoo winks at her, she isn't so sure.

And it's hard to say whether or not that's a good thing. She wants Heejin to know.

God, she wants to tell her. Every day, every hour. Every time she shows up, smiling and holding a little bundle of cookies she'd baked for her. Every time she sits on her lap and does this content little sigh next to Jiwoo's ear. Every time she says Jiwoo's name in the throes of sex, and especially in the afterglow when she moves in so close.

And sure, the sex is good. It's where they can connect and she doesn't feel this love language barrier. They can say so much through physical touch, but so often it doesn't feel like enough. Jiwoo has to tell her how pretty she is. Has to tell her how much she cares about her. She only wishes she could get over this fear of rejection. The terrifying prospect of:

"I love you!"

"That's nice!"

Which seems so stupid. Heejin rarely stayed in her own dorm. She has her own pillow on Jiwoo's bed. Not to mention the fact that she'd caught Heejin pulling one of her sweaters from the laundry basket once just to wear it because, quote: "It smells like you."

She kissed her so hard that day. It was almost dizzying.

But Jiwoo had grown to live with this bubble in her chest. This thing constantly threatening to float up to the surface whenever Heejin drew close. She'd gotten good at swallowing it down. Instead she found other ways to say it.

"Did you remember to eat?" I love you.

"Are you cold?" I love you.

"Do you want to spend the night?" I love you.

"I ordered your favorite for dinner." I love you.

Jiwoo thinks she says it in her own way at least five times a day. Even if they don't see each other. She'd text her reminders to take care of herself or send a selfie with a little encouraging note.

Much to Jiwoo's disappointment she was usually met with emoji in response. Not words.

So rarely did she get words...

/\/\/\/

Heejin arrives at Jiwoo and Jungeun's place after class as usual. She knocks purely out of habit and an ingrained politeness she can't wear away so easily, even though she practically lived there. Though ultimately she lets herself in, prodding the four digits into the door's keypad without looking.

She's met with the sight of Jungeun sitting at the dining table, a tub of ice cream in front of her and a jar of pickled chilies. Heejin wants to make the joke: Jinsoul get you pregnant? But she knows better. She knows Jungeun gets weird cravings when she's stressed and she'd been talking about an important assignment for the last two weeks that was nearly due.

Jungeun eventually tears her eyes from the TV to look at the new arrival.

"Jinthol got me pregnant," she slurs flatly with the spoon still on her tongue. It shocks a laugh out of Heejin as she slips her shoes off, almost tripping.

"I'm not surprised. I've barely seen you two this week," Heejin comments, lampshading how ridiculous the couple had been with each other recently.

Jungeun finally takes the spoon from her tongue and clearly there's no caring about germs as she digs it into the tub for another spoonful. She offers it to Heejin who waves a hand and shakes her head.

"She's been insatiable lately," Jungeun says before shoving the spoon in her mouth.

"You're sure it's not you?" Heejin counters, eyes briefly searching the apartment for signs of Jiwoo. Normally she'd be out in an instant upon hearing Heejin's voice. But looking around the corner into Jiwoo's room she doesn't spot any movement.

"Not home yet," Jungeun answers for her, ignoring the jab. "I'm glad you're here though."

"Huh?"

"You need to talk to Jiwoo."

"What?"

"Talk. With Jiwoo."

Heejin blinks again, still not quite understanding. "About what?"

Jungeun grabs the lid to the ice cream off the table and caps it, getting up to return it to the freezer. "She's been moping without you around."

"Moping?"

"What? You're surprised?"

Heejin stands there, feeling a little stupid for not being able to parse the message Jungeun is trying to deliver. She watches her stuff the ice cream in the freezer, shoving it once, twice, three times as it keeps trying to slip out of the disorganized mess. Eventually she gives it one good shove and slams the door shut. Apparently it would be a problem for whoever decided to open it next. Heejin wants to laugh, but her mind is too busy trying to figure out why Jiwoo would be moping.

Jiwoo doesn't mope.

"How long have you two been seeing each other?" Jungeun asks, pulling open a drawer to get herself a pair of chopsticks.

"I... uh... Seeing?"

"You're dating, right?"

Heejin purses her lips. Are we?

"Oh my god you're more hopeless than Jinsoul was..." Jungeun mutters, getting back to her spot at the table. She sticks the chopsticks into the jar of chilies, fishing one out and tapping it on the edge of the jar to get some of the vinegar off. Then she uses it to point at Heejin accusingly.

"You really are the reason she's moping, Jeon Heejin."

Heejin then gets to the opposite side of the dining table, dropping her bag, taking a seat and leaning in. "Why? How?" she demands. Begs, even.

Jungeun bites into the tip of the pepper, chewing and sizing Heejin up almost lazily. As though she were trying to decide if it's worth spelling out. Heejin feels like her life depends on it.

Eventually Jungeun rolls her eyes, her form relaxing a little, leaning back into the chair.

"She loves you. But she isn't getting what she needs from you."

"What she needs? What am I missing?" Heejin quickly asks, brows upturned. She hates the idea that she could be blindly ruining her favorite thing in her life. Driving her favorite person away somehow.

"Words matter to Jiwoo," she explains, speaking plainly now. "It's how I am too. I didn't think I was Jiwoo's friend until she told me--and she didn't think she was my best friend until I told her. All the signs were there, and maybe we didn't need to say things out loud for them to be true, but it was important anyway."

Heejin feels her chest get tight with anxiety, it then works down to her stomach. "I try to tell her," Heejin explains, her voice low, sheepish, "I bring her stuff I bake. I bought her that bracelet--"

"It's not the same as words," Jungeun cuts her off, taking another bite of the pepper. The keypad rings, heralding another arrival a second before Jinsoul suddenly appears, greeting the two of them in a happy, sing-songy voice. Heejin adores Jinsoul.

She comes up behind Heejin, the closer between the two and gives her a hug around the shoulders, squishing her cheek against the side of Heejin's head. Jungeun makes a dissatisfied noise, expressing her jealousy in a single grumpy note. It makes Jinsoul giggle and she holds onto Heejin a moment longer.

"Has she been eating ice cream too?" Jinsoul asks.

Heejin hums in affirmation, "You're gonna be a father."

The joke earns a bark of a laugh out of Jinsoul and Jungeun rolls her eyes again, but she's smiling the second her girlfriend is wrapped around her from behind.

"What'll we name it?" Jinsoul asks, lapsing into baby talk to annoy Jungeun. It doesn't work, surprisingly, but she does wriggle away from her.

"It!? You call our baby it?!"

Jinsoul stands up straight. She slouches so much that Heejin forgets how tall she is. She feigns shock at Jungeun's reaction, pulling her hands tight to her body.

"What are we having then?"

"Twins," Jungeun answers, not missing a beat. It makes Heejin giggle.

"Twins?! I need to get a better job..." Jinsoul laments, pretending to fall deep into thought for a moment before she's leaning over to kiss Jungeun. "Mm you taste funny."

"Then don't kiss me."

"Mm maybe I like funny."

The more Heejin watches, the more jealous she gets. They had these sorts of domestic moments constantly. All the cute little jabs and jokes come from a place of intimate familiarity. From an understanding that they'd chosen to be together and would stay that way, so they can poke fun at each other from time to time.

It's not that Heejin and Jiwoo didn't do this. It just wasn't the same. There's that missing element that stops them from really bridging the gap.

Her attention snaps back to the couple when Jinsoul is replacing the lid on the chilies and Jungeun is making an annoyed sort of noise.

"No more. You'll make yourself sick," Jinsoul chides, and it's cute seeing the role reversal between them.

Obviously, not long after, the two make their way back to Jungeun's room--well, Heejin figures she may as well call it their room.

Feeling awkward sitting alone at the table, Heejin gets up, dragging her bag with her to the couch. Though before she has the opportunity to sit down, the keypad rings again and in steps Jiwoo. Her heart immediately starts to hammer in her chest.

"I'm home," she calls, and Heejin hears it, then sees it. Jiwoo really doesn't seem like herself.

Her body language reads exhausted and her tone in just the simple greeting seems so reluctant.

For a second, Heejin is almost at a loss. It's not that she'd ever seen Jiwoo sad, but to know that she's the cause...

It breaks her heart to see it in full.

"Welcome home," she greets back, and Jiwoo immediately seems to perk up, her eyes locking onto Heejin as she toes off her shoes, grocery bag in hand.

"Heekki?!" she says in surprise, face suddenly breaking into a smile. It makes butterflies erupt violently in Heejin's stomach.

The bag gets dropped on the table as Jiwoo quickly closes the gap between them, grabbing both of Heejin's hands and suddenly showering her in rapid fire kisses that make her giggle nervously, as if this were the first time and not a completely normal part of their routine. Though the laughter catches Jiwoo off guard and she stops, smiling.

"Is everything okay?" she asks, her mood hardly sunk.

"Yeah. Yes, of course. I was just surprised you weren't home when I got here."

"Oh. Yeah, Jungie sent me out to go pick up some more chilies. She's stressed."

Heejin once again resists the urge to make a pregnancy joke. Especially since certain noises could already be heard from Jungeun's room. It makes Jiwoo burst out laughing and she finally takes her hands from Heejins to put the groceries away. As usual, Jiwoo had gone for one thing, but returned with about eight.

Heejin follows a moment later, stopping short at the dining table and holding onto the back of one of the chairs.

"Jiwooming," she starts, trying to restrain the nerves prickling the back of her neck. She gets a hum in acknowledgement. "There's something I wanted to talk to you about."

Popping open the fridge, Jiwoo looks at Heejin as she places a couple things in the door. "Huh? What's the matter?" she asks, pausing with an arm slung over the door and fixing the younger girl with a concerned look.

"Jung... Jungeunie told me you've been sad lately. Is everything okay?"

Jiwoo blinks and smiles. It doesn't quite reach her eyes and it makes Heejin want to close the gap between them and kiss her until it does. But she remains rooted to the spot.

"Some things on my mind, don't worry," is all she says, turning back to the grocery bag to place something in the fridge before closing it.

"Like what?" Heejin asks, brows upturned and her gaze following Jiwoo closely.

She has her back to her now, taking the last couple of things from the bag to place them in a cabinet.

"Just... things."

Heejin hates this. Hates this so much. She loves Jiwoo more than anything, why can't she just say it?

Without thinking, she circles around the dining table, coming right up behind Jiwoo. She snakes her arms around her middle and feels her tense as Heejin rests her forehead near the base of Jiwoo's neck.

"I wish you'd talk to me," Heejin murmurs, just loud enough that she knows Jiwoo could understand her.

It's met with silence. Jiwoo slowly relaxing before turning around in Heejin's arms. She's smiling again, but it still doesn't quite seem to reach her eyes.

"It's okay," she insists, but Heejin knows it's not, "Let's watch something. Will you sit on my lap again? Please?"

So once again they find themselves in their usual favorite position. Though instead of Heejin looking through her phone, she settles into Jiwoo's lap, arms lazily thrown around her and cheek pressed into her shoulder. Apparently it's Heejin's turn to mope.

Jiwoo picks up on it eventually, of course. Heejin can't hide anything from her. As she sits there, wracking her brain for a way to finally tell Jiwoo how she feels, she hears the older girl's voice and it pulls her from her thoughts.

"Heekki, you okay?" she asks, her voice low and so sweet.

What does she even say? Nothing, she figures. The moment she opens her mouth she knows she'll give herself away. So she simply hums an affirmation, shifting slightly in her spot to get more comfortable. At the very least she can enjoy this closeness.

But apparently it's not a good enough answer. She feels Jiwoo's hands on her hips, inching up under the hem of her shirt. She wants to say something before they inevitably move to the bedroom. And with the sounds coming out of Jungeun and Jinsoul's room, she knows it's only a matter of time before Jiwoo will want to move things elsewhere.

"What's the matter?" she asks, and again, her voice is just so sweet. She could prise just about anything out of Heejin. Whether it was a whimper, a moan, or...

"I love you."

Or the truth.

It's muffled. She'd said it into the crook of Jiwoo's neck when she felt those fingers crawling up to her spot in the small of her back. But judging by the way she freezes and tenses up--it wasn't missed.

"... What?"

It felt good to say.

Terrifying. But good. Honest.

She tucks her head further into Jiwoo, arms wrapping tighter. She's still so bashful about this. So scared.

"I love you."

Jiwoo's hands come to her ribs, pushing slightly to force Heejin to sit upright and look her in the eye. She feels overwhelmed, like she might cry. That familiar need building up in her stomach worsens. She wants Jiwoo to hold her.

Jiwoo's brows upturn and her hands find Heejin's face. She seems... disbelieving almost.

"Do you mean that?" she asks in a small voice. It's so remarkably vulnerable.

Heejin nods. Almost scared that if she makes another noise, she'll burst into tears. She doesn't want to ruin this moment by being overly emotional--even if the situation may even call for it. She's still so scared of driving Jiwoo away.

She feels Jiwoo's thumbs brush over the apples of her cheeks and that growing need gets so much worse. The longer they maintain this eye contact and she tries to get a read on Jiwoo, the more she just wants to hide back in the crook of her neck.

"How long?" she asks, the smile on her face now starting to reach her eyes. It makes the flock of butterflies in Heejin's stomach burst into flight again and her voice wavers when she answers.

"A long time."

"A year?"

Heejin pouts. She doesn't want to answer this. She's already so embarrassed. But Jiwoo asked, so she feels like she deserves the answer. Deserves honesty. She blinks several times, feeling a burn start to build behind her eyes.

Don't cry. Don't cry.

"A little longer."

"Heekki, why didn't you say something?"

Heejin frowns a little harder. Jiwoo was finally getting what she needed, but her own love language had gone ignored for so long.

"I tried," Heejin argues, her voice small and growing nasal. She still hadn't heard it back. "I tried giving you so many presents to show you."

"I love your presents," Jiwoo is quick to respond.

But do you love me...?

"I use my headphones all the time and the bracelet is so pretty, but... Heejin, you didn't have to do that. If you had just told me..."

Heejin hates that she's getting so emotional. That she's always so emotional. And of course Jiwoo is the one person who draws it out of her the most.

She feels Jiwoo swipe away at a tear that had already rolled down her cheek with her thumb, and then she kisses her. Heejin returns it--she can't help herself--but she's still bothered.

"I wanted you to know. It's just so hard to say."

"I know. I should have figured it out," Jiwoo's quick to say, and it's comforting, "I'm sorry Heekki. I love your presents, it's just something I need to hear, you know?"

Heejin nods a bit pathetically, but Jiwoo is kissing her a second later, smiling into it and the world starts to feel like a much better place.

"I love you too."

Maybe not just a better place, Heejin thinks. A perfect place.