There's a knock on her door, and brief expressions of both shock and confusion appear on her face before she walks to the entrance. She's not made any plans with anyone, and her apartment is out of the way enough for door-to-door salesmen to leave her unbothered (as if there were door-to-door salesmen in Seoul). For a second she thinks that maybe it's her neighbor, perhaps out of sugar again and needing assistance. It's happened before.
What she does not predict is a sheepish, yet nervous-looking Im Nayeon, in all of her confident glory, greeting her with a smile as she swings open the door.
"Hi," she repeats, her voice weaker than she intended because of the pure shock that hasn't quite exited from her system yet.
"Can I come in?" Nayeon is wearing a black trench coat with a tight gray turtle neck, her hair coming down in loose waves over her shoulders.
Sana doesn't answer at first, instead just steps aside and closes the door shut behind her after she allows her ex-girlfriend to enter. Something about watching Nayeon take off her coat so casually, and the way she hangs it over the back of a chair without a second thought, infuriates her.
It's been six months since they've split. And while they haven't been strangers (they keep in regular contact), it's feels a bit surreal for Sana to see her in the flesh like this.
The split was fairly amicable in comparison to how Nayeon's break-ups usually go. They talked it out, agreed on a mutual decision, and promised they wouldn't lose touch.
This is not to say it wasn't completely heartbreaking. In fact, Sana cried herself to sleep for what was almost a whole month. Nayeon stopped staying at Sana’s during her tour breaks, instead opting to visit family. Not seeing each other was one of the first rules they had agreed on when they initially decided to end their relationship. Sana was afraid that being in close physical proximity to Nayeon, being close enough to smell her perfume, seeing the slight overhang of her front teeth, would cause her to remember just how in love with this girl she really was.
She wasn't wrong.
The previously dormant butterflies in her stomach, which Sana had written off as emigrants, began to flutter as if they had never left after all. As Nayeon turns to face her once again, she curses her heartbeat for accelerating at an alarming rate.
"This is a surprise. What are you doing here?” Sana’s voice is both soft and cold. Not exactly angry, but not exactly welcoming either. She should’ve remembered that ambitious Nayeon loves a good challenge.
"Just stopping by,” Nayeon exhales as she speaks casually. She’s holding the back of the dining chair with both hands, tapping her fingers on the wood covered by her coat.
Sana is unnerved by this gesture. She had assumed she’d spend her Sunday night alone, curled up in bed, scrolling on her phone or catching up on TV shows perhaps. Trying to navigate through a surprise visit from her ex was the last thing she thought she’d be doing. This is why she’s wearing pajama shorts and a loose grey T-Shirt. Her hair is in a loose, messy, low-hanging bun she tied carelessly. Sana and Nayeon both know that Sana’s pet peeve is feeling unprepared. She briefly wonders if Nayeon didn’t call ahead on purpose. She’s more vulnerable when she’s caught off guard.
"You should've called or texted, I could've met you somewhere.”
"I was driving to meet my friend and your house was on the way back. Couldn't resist,” Nayeon admits ever so honestly.
Sana wonders how she does it, how she can express herself so casually, act so collected, seemingly without worrying about the consequences.
"Sorry, I know this is out of the blue,” Nayeon adds an apology, a sweet smile at the end as if punctuating the sentence.
Sana stands with her arms crossed, frantically calculating what to say next so she doesn't sound as off guard as she feels.
“It’s okay, I just,” she pauses, looking around the room as if to avoid making eye contact, “I would’ve appreciated the notice.” Sana realizes that sounds too harsh the second it comes out of her mouth. For good measure, she adds, “I would have worn actual clothes,” with a half-attempted smirk.
“Yeah, sorry. I know it's late,” Nayeon looks down, apologizing once again, "But I didn't come without gifts." She pulls a bottle of Sana’s favorite wine out of her large bag.
“What do you say? Wanna catch up?” Nayeon asks as if it were just a chance proposition. Like it would mean absolutely nothing. As if she's asking if she'd rather have crunchy or smooth peanut butter on her sandwich. Sana eyes the wine and is immediately tempted. It’s the look on Nayeon’s face that does her in. She looks hopeful, excited even.
Sana suddenly realizes this was not a chance encounter.
Nayeon did not just happen to be in the neighborhood. Sana’s favorite wine is much too specific for that to be the case.
The younger girl has a feeling she's in very dangerous waters. But when Nayeon smiles at her, looks at her with those big brown eyes of hers, it's all she can do to say yes. When it seems all Nayeon wants is to spend time with her, it's impossible for her to say no. She doesn’t respond, however she disappears into the kitchen, and Nayeon follows.
“Here,” is the only affirmation Sana gives, and it’s as she’s handing a cork screw over to her ex-girlfriend. As Nayeon’s opening the bottle, Sana grabs two wine glasses out of her cabinet and sets them on the counter. The wine is poured, and soon they’re heading back over to the living room, settling themselves on the couch.
Sana doesn't act without caution, however. She's careful not to hand Nayeon a wine glass with a lingering brush of her fingers. Careful not to stare when Nayeon puts her hair up. Careful not to let their knees touch as they sit on the couch.
They talk about normal things- Momo's new dog (as if two wasn’t enough), Sana's new dressing room, and even the tour. Nayeon mentions that it's gotten easier, less stressful. They've had to rehire about half of the tour staff, even though they're about 3/4 way through now, and Nayeon mentions that she's counting down the days till she’s done. She can’t help that fleeting, guilty thought of hope that Nayeon is counting down because she’s holding out for her.
Sana asks if Nayeon's eating enough, to which the older girl jokingly responds "Yes, mother," although she hopes Sana can tell she's appreciative of the concern.
There’s no talk of their ended relationship, no talk of how they’ve been doing on that front. When Nayeon asks Sana how she is, she doesn’t ask if she’s sleeping alright. Sana doesn’t tell her about the crying. When Sana tells Nayeon about Jihyo’s upcoming wedding, she doesn’t mention the fact that the invitation was actually addressed to the both of them.
A few awkward silences, a couple ridiculous stories followed by laughter, and two glasses of wine later, Nayeon breaks the ice.
"You'd tell me if you were seeing someone new, right?" Nayeon asks as if she's actually scared of the answer. She’s looks at Sana earnestly, her eyes giving way to the seriousness of the question.
Sana answers without a beat of hesitation, "I'm not seeing someone new.”
How could she? When the way she loved Nayeon was so unique, so intense and almost otherworldly- how could she possibly even think to see someone else? She now fully understands what Jihyo had meant when she said “Nayeon ruins people.”
In a way, she’s actually relieved Nayeon has brought it up. She hopes this gives her a pass to ask her the same question.
"But you'd tell me?" Nayeon pulls her wine glass to her lips, feigning nonchalance, "If you were?” She’s sipping, but she’s looking over the brim of the glass, carefully judging Sana’s reaction.
"Of course I would tell you.”
"You're not obligated to, it's not really my business anymore. But I guess I'd just,” she pauses, contemplating her words carefully. “I’d want to know.”
“Nayeonie,” Sana stops her. She doesn’t know how much longer she can keep up her detached persona if Nayeon keeps being vulnerable like this. “I would tell you."
"Okay.” Nayeon is satisfied with the conviction in Sana’s voice. If she was reluctant to believe her, it doesn’t show.
“I mean, you would tell me,” Sana comments like she’s reasoning, like she’s backing up her answer to Nayeon’s question. She finally dips her toes into the cold waters she’s been avoiding. “If you were dating someone.”
“You’d be the first person to know,” Nayeon throws her a life preserver.
“Right,” is all Sana can respond.
They’re still important to each other, that much is clear. Sana doesn’t know if that makes her feel any better. Because as much as she’d love to be friends with Nayeon, she knows it’s just not sensible. They can’t transition into friendship, simply because they were never just friends. There was chemistry, lust, affection between them from the very beginning. She doesn’t have the first clue on how to interact with Nayeon as if she was just another one of her friends. They can’t be more than friends- lovers, for lack of a better word- either, and although Sana didn’t want to accept this, she ultimately had to. It wasn’t healthy, the way she was waiting for Nayeon’s calls and texts. Their arguments never failed to leave her as a sobbing mess, and the longer they were together, the more frequent they became. It wasn’t for lack of trying, it was simply the distance. Mixed with Nayeon’s unwavering stress from the tour and Sana’s demanding shooting schedule, they had no choice but to end it.
“But it’s highly unlikely,” Nayeon interrupts Sana’s train of reflective thoughts.
“That I’d be telling you about someone new,” Nayeon leans down to the coffee table to pour herself another glass. “It’s going to be awhile.”
Sana doesn’t know if she’s trying to be reassuring, trying to give her a beacon of hope that she doesn’t want, but that’s what she’s taking it as. She knows she shouldn’t ask, but she does anyway.
“Why’s that?” Sana asks after a long pause, sipping her own glass.
Nayeon chuckles to herself before explaining, “There’s no way I could find someone that could live up to my expectations now. You set the bar pretty high.” She makes an expression of casual resignation, as if she’d already accepted the fact.
Just as Sana’s about to comment, about to make an insincere joke about finding someone else who could put up with Nayeon’s tendency to steal food off of other people’s plates, Nayeon catches her off guard once again. It seems to be the reoccurring theme of the night.
“You pretty much ruined me, Sana.” Nayeon’s voice shakes as she makes this unwarranted confession, although she had tried to make it as casual as possible.
Sana is watching her with a blank expression on her face, and not for the first time tonight, she feels truly helpless. Because she knows, she’s fully aware, that she shouldn’t allow herself to feel this way again. She shouldn’t be looking at Nayeon as if she’s the only thing tethering her to earth, as if she’s water in the desert. But she can’t help it. Not when Nayeon’s looking at her the same way.
“Ditto,” is all Sana says. It’s her last-ditch effort to remain detached from the situation, to keep inside the walls she had so carefully and painstakingly put up.
Nayeon turns away, obviously hurt by the lack of sympathy in Sana’s insincere response. She puts her half-empty wine glass on the coffee table in front of her, and for a second Sana thinks she’s going to get up and leave. Involuntary panic begins to spread through Sana’s body, alerting her to say something else, something better, to stop Nayeon from leaving. But just as she’s about to, Nayeon leans back on the couch once again, sighing deeply and staring at the ceiling. She turns her neck to look at a confused Sana, and stares intensely.
Sana puts down her wine glass as well, and turns to face the girl in question. Nayeon’s still staring, and Sana involuntarily makes an expression to urge Nayeon to voice what she’s thinking about.
Without breaking eye contact, and with an overwhelming sadness in her voice, Nayeon admits, “I miss you so much.”
With this, Sana’s walls come crashing down. Maybe it had been hopeless from the beginning, but there’s no way she can act unbothered anymore.
“All the time, I miss you,” Nayeon continues, although Sana wishes she wouldn’t. “My first thought when I wake up is to call you. And you’re always the last thing I think about before I fall asleep at night. You ruined me, Sana. It’s been half a year and I can’t get over it.”
Sana is speechless. She can’t tell if she’s relieved at Nayeon’s confession, or angry. Because of course she had been feeling the same way, of course she’s been absolutely ruined by the demise of their relationship as well. But she can’t let Nayeon know. Not if she wants to avoid the pure, relentless heartache she had felt when they first split up.
“Do you miss me?” Nayeon asks, and Sana closes her eyes tightly.
She knows if she looks at Nayeon’s sad expression for one second longer she will completely crack.
“Sana,” Nayeon is insistent and relentless, unwilling to leave this alone.
Sana sighs, opens her eyes. After a beat of silence that’s far too long, she finally cracks. “I miss you so much it hurts, Nayeon-ah. I can’t get over it either.”
Suddenly, and without any warning or notice (another reoccurring theme of the night), Nayeon is leaning in. She’s closing the gap between them, filling in the unspoken words with actions instead.
Sana’s got time, she can put a stop to it if she wants to, but she can’t move. She’s even parting her lips, and closing her eyes just as Nayeon’s inches away.
Nayeon kisses Sana firmly, solidly. It’s not a light kiss that Sana can deny the meaning behind, it’s a full-on, passionate, heartbreaking display of the emotion Nayeon’s feeling, and the intensity behind it all is overwhelming. Nayeon kisses her as if their lives depend on it, as if she’s gasping for air, and Sana receives it most willingly. She’s even kissing back for a second, before she realizes what she’s doing. She pulls away and pushes Nayeon back with her lips still parted, a gentle press of her hand to Nayeon’s shoulder.
“O-okay, okay,” she interjects, catching her breath. Nayeon is doing the same, staring at Sana with all the intensity of the moment. “We can’t do this.”
“Because we can’t. It’s not a good idea, and you know it.”
Nayeon catches Sana steal a glance of her lips, and takes that as encouragement to ignore Sana’s warning. She leans in to kiss Sana again, this time placing her fingers softly on Sana’s cheek.
Sana doesn’t move, doesn’t part her lips in response, but Nayeon continues kissing her softly.
“One more night,” she suggests in a whisper as she leans against Sana’s forehead, eyes not meeting hers, instead staring at her lips.
Sana’s, “We can’t,” is unconvincing at best, it’s also a whisper, and the expression on her face is willing Nayeon to ask once more.
“One more night. Please.”
It’s Sana that closes the distance between them this time, capturing Nayeon’s lips with fervor.
Their clothes are pulled off frantically as soon as they reach Sana’s bedroom. Despite the unwavering heat of the moment, Sana can’t help but laugh at the stark contrast between Nayeon’s expensive fitted pants and Sana’s years-old athletic shorts that she uses as sleepwear. They look so silly piled up on the floor in a crumpled mess.
Sana, who is usually quite vocal during sex as Nayeon has come to know, is biting her lip to hold back her own moans. Nayeon responds by working harder, teasing with an increased fervor until Sana has no choice but to speak up.
“Right there, Nayeonie. Yes, right there. Don’t stop.” Sana knows she doesn’t have to tell her what to do, Nayeon can get her off quite quickly without any instruction. But the fact that she’s teasing purely because she wants to hear Sana’s be vocal is so much of a turn on that Sana comes extra hard, grabbing at Nayeon’s wrists and lifting her hips off the bed as she rides it out.
“I’m coming, I’m coming, I’m coming,” a rushed string of words frantically escapes Sana as Nayeon speeds up her pace. Sana announces her climax just as she has always done, and Nayeon can’t help but smile, comforted by the familiarity of it. Nayeon kisses, nips, and sucks at Sana’s neck as she fingers her, knowing all too well how sensitive that area is for her.
After a few moments of deep breathing and recovery, Sana is suddenly up and hovering, teasing Nayeon at her entrance, rubbing her with the pad of her thumb.
“Now, please.” Nayeon kisses her as Sana enters her with one finger at first, and then two, building a steady rhythm.
Sana doesn’t understand why she can’t stop chuckling to herself. That’s the thing about Nayeon. As much as she portrays a hard exterior, she’s always been clingy, needy even, during sex. She's wrapping her arms around Sana’s body and throwing a leg over her waist. “Yes, Sana. Oh fuck.”
Maybe it’s the fact that it’s been awhile, or maybe it’s the way they almost finished the whole bottle of wine, but Sana finds herself whispering “Come for me, baby.” and it sends Nayeon over the edge.
Nayeon wakes up in the middle of the night. It takes about ten seconds for her to remember where she is, but once she does, she’s turning around and wrapping an arm around Sana to pull her closer, as if she might disappear.
Sana suddenly stirs, eyelashes flittering.
“I didn’t mean to wake you up.”
Sana’s blinking slowly and turning her neck to glance at Nayeon, a confused look on her face as if she’s trying to remember why someone else is in her bed.
“It’s okay,” she finally says, hesitating for a brief moment before resigning to the warm comfort of her ex’s girlfriend’s arms. She turns back around and scoots herself deeper into Nayeon’s hold.
Nayeon moves Sana’s hair out of the way before she kisses the back of her neck.
“What time do you have to be up tomorrow?”
“You should probably go back to sleep then.”
“Yeah,” Sana half-heartedly agrees. She’s unsure of what possesses her, but she turns around and kisses Nayeon firmly, beginning another round of passionate familiarity.
It’s Sana who’s up before Nayeon in the morning, sunlight streaming through curtains.
Her heart is immediately racing at the memory of the night before, reminded by the fact that she’s naked under her covers. She turns around to check, to make sure it’s not just a heartbreaking dream like the ones she’s had in the past. Sure enough, she's met with the sight of a sleeping brunette, back exposed. The small mole on the back of her left shoulder confirms the fact that it is Nayeon, and Sana doesn't know whether to feel unnerved or relieved.
All of the sudden she’s nervous. The effects of red wine have worn off and the steady stream of harsh sunlight is uncomfortably sobering. She slides out of bed quietly to not wake Nayeon up and gets ready for work. Nayeon is still sleeping by the time she's done.
Sana contemplates leaving a sticky note on the bed next to her, weighs the options of taking the coward’s way out. She wants it to be easy, she wants to embrace all of the so-called progress she’s made in getting over Nayeon. One night of recklessly intoxicated abandon couldn’t ruin all that, could it?
She ultimately decides that's not fair to either of them.
“Nayeonie, hey,” Sana gently whispers next to her sleeping ex-girlfriend. When that doesn't work, she gently brushes Nayeon’s hair out of her face, taps on her shoulder.
Nayeon wakes up slowly, shifting and rustling the sheets as she once again slowly realizes where she is. Sana inwardly curses the butterflies in her stomach that flutter around relentlessly. She finds it adorable, she can't look away.
"Hey, good morning,” Nayeon smiles in a sickeningly sweet way, her eyes crinkling at the corners. Sana knows she’s done for.
"I'm leaving for work, but stay as long as you want. There's food in the fridge,” Sana says before she can think about it. She’s not sure why her brain has chosen hospitality in her nervous state.
“Oh, okay. Have a good day,” Nayeon says softly, her arms peeking out from under the covers as she yawns with a big stretch.
Sana brushes just one more strand of hair from Nayeon’s face before reluctantly backing away.
Just as Sana reaches the doorway, Nayeon speaks.
Sana turns around slowly, afraid of what’s coming but also cursing herself for the silly hope that Nayeon will recklessly ask her to take the day off.
"I love you.” It’s said in the gentlest of ways, almost like an apology.
Sana is silent as she’s caught off-guard. Suddenly she can’t remember how to walk, or even think. She sighs.
"I love you, too, Nayeon.”