"this is a horrible plan," jennie huffs from the floor as she absentmindedly spins the ring adorning her left hand, a habit that she's somehow managed to pick up despite the short amount of time since she received it. above her, jisoo chuckles from her position seated on the couch with legs spread around either side of her fiancé as she equally absentmindedly braids, detangles and re-braids jennie's hair.
they're both nervous, probably the most so of the seven people currently convened into the living room of their apartment. it's not that the room isn't large enough for all of them, it most assuredly is, but most often their living room– filled with soft lighting from the white christmas lights –is for cuddle sessions with each other and the dogs after getting home late from set, for netflix marathons featuring enough popcorn to make their personal trainers cringe (or to keep them employed) and for naps when their bed seems too far away. it's not that having their close friends in the space is a bad thing, not at all, but yerim yelling the lyrics to twice's fancy as sooyoung rather violently attempts the choreography beside her is definitely not easing the panic that's rising in both of them.
well, perhaps panic isn't the right word.
guilt seems to be a little more accurate.
there's a reason that only seven people are in their apartment at the moment, even though with the karaoke session unfolding before them (as sooyoung belts her lungs out and yerim just plain screams) there might as well be half the city, judging by the decibel level.
this plan is dumb, one that's probably based more on yerim and sooyoung's entertainment than the comfort of the two people it is intended to assist (not that jisoo doesn't trust sooyoung and yerim but, they don't exactly have the greatest track record when it comes to these things, especially not with these two). they should not be infiltrating their best friends' lives, especially regarding this specific topic. still, they agreed to the plan and it seems that they're going to see it through, jisoo muses, as her fingers unlace the fishtail braid that so momentarily existed in jennie's hair. maybe guilt is a bit extreme, but it feels apropo, especially given the events that are about to occur.
the song changes and chaeyoung's angelic voice settles over the surround-sound system as sooyoung passes the mic wirelessly connected to the miniature apparatus that had been a gag gift for jennie's birthday years ago but that they still and often put into good use. jisoo can feel her fiancé relax, even if only the tiniest bit, when her hands move from jennie's hair to her shoulders and begin to apply pressure in soothing circles. jennie sinks back into the couch's base and over the top of her head, jisoo can see a soft smile replace the tight line her lips had been drawn into for most of the night and several of the nights preceding it. some song by taeyeon that jisoo can't recall the title of drifts throughout the room, wrapping the inhabitants in a hazy warmth that always seems to appear whenever chaeyoung sings. seungwan has the other microphone in hand and the heavenly combination of their voices has grins (disregarding the slightly evil one of anticipation on yerim) spreading across every face in the room.
that is until the song ends, replaced by a loud, electronic beat and a low, vaguely autotuned voice. jennie is pulled to her feet from her place on the nice, hardwood floor by an overly excited yerim to perform a thrilling rendition of fantastic baby. (yerim and seungwan, who've never seen jennie rap, seem amazed as she executes the song perfection while joohyun, chaeyoung and sooyoung all just roll their eyes at the somewhat overused party trick) (and as for jisoo? well, she's more than familiar with just how quickly and expertly jennie's tongue can move)
jennie's just collapsing back onto the couch as sooyoung and joohyun begin a downright horrible rendition of a blushing chaeyoung's latest single when jisoo's phone buzzes with a message from seulgi, stating that she and lisa have arrived. jennie looks into her fiancé's eyes and jisoo can clearly see the internal struggle occurring directly behind them. they could easily feign technical issues, sabotage the plan and salvage the rest of the night without it. sure, yerim and sooyoung might be pissed but they'd get over it. then again, they'd also probably plan something else and keep going until they've accomplished their goal. if jisoo can say one thing about them, they're undeniably persistent. jennie gives a small but certain nod and jisoo responds to the text, knowing that their plan is set now and that they can't go back. jisoo slides a battery out from under the coffee table that had been pushed aside to make more room for their guests (space that's currently being utilized to completely butcher lisa's precious choreography) and stands while jennie subtly draws the attention of everyone but chaeyoung in the room by walking to the intercom to unlock the door and let in their incoming guests. chaeyoung pays it no mind, busy burying her head in her hands due to embarrassment, which wasn't in the original plan but seems to be working in their favor. yerim shifts towards the karaoke machine, quickly changing the preset queue with the practiced ease of someone who has pulled far too many pranks on far too many people.
a new song begins simplistically, with only piano chords but ones that they all recognize, causing chaeyoung to smile at the sound (it's not only her own, but her favorite and they all know it). sooyoung tosses her mic over as joohyun slips the battery out of her own, deftly replacing it with the dead one handed to her by jisoo. her micrphone's power button flashes red and joohyun puts her acting degree into use, shrugging her shoulders and anchoring it back on it's charging stand while sliding the spare battery into her pocket. sooyoung, yerim and seungwan temporary break the softened atmosphere by searching for a remote but it's soon found and the volume on the tv increased. in the slight commotion, chaeyoung doesn't notice the click of the front door's lock unlatching and new footsteps crossing the entrance. the rest of the inhabitants of the rooms shift backward, to give space to let chaeyoung perform, just according to the plan.
[ - ]
clad in a pair of fuzzy, cartoon-character-emblazoned slippers, a nondescript white crop top and a pair of several-sizes-too-large black sweatpants without an ounce of makeup dusting her face, chaeyoung glows . if you ever asked her, lisa wouldn't be able to quite explain what it is about chaeyoung that's so enticing but she could confidentially tell you that this chaeyoung— this pink-cheeked, doe-eyed, eye-smiling chaeyoung —will always be her favorite sight.
lisa had jumped at the chance when seulgi had asked her to help oversee a dance class that she's recently taken up teaching for kids at her studio. she's always loved kids, teaching a number of classes in the same studio herself before being swept on the whirlwind that is being on chaeyoung's dance team. not that she doesn't adore her current job, she really does, but getting back to teaching a class, even if it's just for a night sounds amazing.
that being said, the kids are much younger than she's used to because she mainly used to teach more experienced dancers. as such, she was not prepared for the amount of wrangling she was about to do. she never had to deal with anyone literally clinging to her leg in the past, but one little girl either really liked her or really missed her parents. so, to say she's more than a little exhausted when seulgi all but drags her to jisoo and jennie's apartment would be a bit of an understatement. she loves her friends but she also loves her bed and one other those two options, accompanied by a hot shower is sounding more appealing at the moment. still, seulgi doesn't take no for an answer and after a quick confession that she'd really really like to see joohyun (which causes a cheshire-like grin to spread across lisa's face when seulgi flames red), they're off.
lisa doesn't question seulgi's choice to text jisoo rather than use the intercom's buzzer feature, she's well aware of how much jennie hates the "god-awful, hellish, damn noise" as she's expressed on many occasions. the atmosphere as they enter the building seems incredibly subdued, something extremely uncommon for this group specifically. usually, if it's the entire big group™ hanging out, she can hear them from all the way in the elevator, and she's particularly grateful that jisoo and jennie are kinda filthy rich and can afford an entire floor of the building. but as the elevator doors slide open, there's no noise at all, at least nothing that she can hear from the hallway. lisa rapidly runs through dates in her head, checking to see if this is some sort of a surprise party for her or someone else. but it's no one's birthday (she checked to see if it was hers twice and even calculated her half birthday just in case because her friends can get really strange sometimes) and she's sure that someone would have reminded her to buy a gift if it were necessary. still, she proceeds with caution into the apartment where, as she near it, a faint but familiar noise seems to be emulating from.
it does strike her as odd when jennie answers the door, not because it's jennie (she and jisoo pretty much own each other's phones at this point) but at the look she and seulgi share while her friend silently removes her shoes. she had initially chalked up seulgi's slightly strange behavior to nerves regarding joohyun, but now jennie's also eyeing her weirdly, like she wants to apologize or something. lisa decides not to do anything about it, just removing her shoes and entering the apartment that's practically her third home (behind only her own apartment and chaeyoung's dorm).
when she reaches the entrance to the living room, lisa is floored.
she recognized the melody about a dozen paces ago but that doesn't mean the sight of chaeyoung singing it doesn't hit her with all the weight of several tow trucks. her newly re-dyed blonde locks are framing her face, with only a section of them tied back in a way that's almost royal, even with the stray pieces that seem to have fallen out of place due to excessive jumping up and down. the apparent exercise has also tinged her cheeks pink, accompanying the light that's reflecting off of her face from the tv.
the song's chords are virtually unedited, the natural reverberations of a perfectly-tuned grand piano filling the room as soft strings eventually join in, lead by a cello, then two with a chorus of violins and violas falling into place. there's nothing quite like a live orchestra, and while this is a recording of one, the effect is the same.
and yet, lisa ignores all of the instruments entirely, focusing on one thing only. everything else fades away– the room, the music, everything. eventually, only one thing is left.
her voice is practically the same as in the video she had sent of that cover all of those years ago, albeit slightly less sleepy and in much better quality. nevertheless, it still has all of the same qualities that had initially astonished lisa, and never fails to continue to do even now. hearing it, she's soothed, comforted and refreshed. with chaeyoung, she's more at home than any other person could ever make her feel.
it doesn't hurt that they lyrics happen to be some of the most beautiful that chaeyoung has ever penned, although her personal discography isn't extremely vast (you can blame her company for that). they're from her latest mini-album —which, she hadn't been entirely pleased about being a mini- album as she expressed many times to lisa, and even several times to her bosses— but had been the first occasion that they had allowed her to contribute to the songwriting process. lisa had been shocked that they hadn't finished the b-sides before she was added to the team, but as chaeyoung had explained one night when she was feeling a little tipsy and more than a little vindictive, her comebacks always seem to be last-minute affairs. despite that, lisa was even more surprised when chaeyoung had pulled her into one of the recording studios after a particular rehearsal.
chaeyoung isn't often outward with her creative process. she prefers to write alone, to draw alone and to rehearse alone, if she can help it. if she can't, she'll try to be as private as possible, which is how lisa ended up in practice room with only chaeyoung and the speaker system night after night. it probably would have been much more enjoyable if she didn't panic from the second the dance crew disappeared to the second chaeyoung would call it quits, which was obviously ridiculous, because she and chaeyoung spent more time together than apart. but that didn't stop her heart from beating out of her chest every time she looked up from the emails she couldn't focus on to see chaeyoung (it was times like that when lisa cursed herself for including certain moves in the choreography, especially the body rolls that were very obviously her forte).
that night, they had stayed later than most, chaeyoung repeating the song's dance break over and over until the numbers she counted out didn't even sound like words anymore. lisa had basically dragged her out of the room, claiming that she'd go insane if she had to watch chaeyoung repeat the chorus another time (and with the way her hips were moving, she might've).
they had walked hand in hand down the hallways of the building, chaeyoung shuffling slightly behind her until they got to the elevator banks. lisa had hit the lobby button as chaeyoung wrapped herself around one of her arms but as soon as the doors closed, she shot forward, selecting a level of the building between the ground and the one they had just left.
"i forgot something in one of the studios when i was recording earlier," chaeyoung had explained when, as she looked up, she was met with lisa's look of confusion. when the doors opened, it was lisa's turn to be dragged along to a floor she had never been on before, intended only for music production. chaeyoung had pulled her behind one of a half dozen, identical doors into what looked like she had always assumed a recording studio should; a booth with several microphone options and pairs of headphones, a couch covered with a fluffy blanket and a table of knobs, switches and buttons that looked downright frightening. lisa had assumed that they'd be just grabbing a jacket or something but as chaeyoung flipped on a monitor and dozens of tiny lights began to illuminate in an array of colors, she realized this was something more.
she'd never heard an unfinished song from chaeyoung. actually, no one other than her management and producers probably had. her dance crew had never been called onto an unpolished project (probably because she had never been able to participate in the creations of her songs). and that was just the songs given to her, that didn't even begin to describe her attitude in regards to her own music. in fact, because of her shitty management and shy personality, lisa had never even heard a demo or read a lyric from chaeyoung, no one had. maybe that's why it seemed so significant when, after a click of a mouse, something began flowing through the speakers.
there had been no warning, no context for the song that had filtered through as chaeyoung had urgently stared into her eyes, obviously gauging her reaction. back then, there were no other layers laid down, just vocals and piano but it was like nothing lisa had ever heard before, the emotion raw and palpable in the air. chaeyoung probably hadn't expected tears, but that's what she had got, quickly grabbing lisa into a tight hug as lyrics about years of boundless and unrelenting love, thought to be unrequited and gifted without expectation of anything in return but received back regardless, surrounded them both.
that's why lisa's frozen at the sight, the sound of the first time she's heard chaeyoung perform it live. she's so enthralled, so entranced that she doesn't even see the group of her friends staring at her from the couch on the back wall or hear jennie and seulgi's approach from the front door. she's in such a state of shock that she doesn't even register her own movements as she takes quick strides toward the center of the living room.
chaeyoung barely has time to finish the final lyrics of the song before lisa's lips are on her own, one hand wrapped firmly around the small of her back and the other cradling the base of her neck, pulling her even closer. chaeyoung practically melts into her in a way that is so natural that it can't be their first kiss (and it isn't).
a collective gasp runs throughout the room as the final chords die out and their kiss deepens.
then, all hell breaks loose.
sooyoung is on her feet first, turning to joohyun and jennie as they all start yelling some sort of incoherent, high-pitched mess that drowns out the karaoke machine. yerim is fake vomiting on jisoo's brand new coffee table, screaming some undoubtedly overdramatic comment about explicit content and needing to bleach her eyes (sometime during the outburst, sooyoung hollers about her being hypocritical and that she's seen yerim and saeron in a far more compromising position, which stops the younger girl's screams instantaneously). seulgi has slipped several bills out of her wallet and hands one to jisoo and far more to seungwan, who both grin.
meanwhile, the pair that was the cause of all of this trouble are still kissing (well, making out at this point), with chaeyoung's hands having shifted to positions that match lisa's. the microphone was discarded ages ago in a burst of feedback that went unnoticed during the ruckus.
eventually, yerim throws a pillow at lisa's head, causing her to separate from chaeyoung (although not before flipping the younger woman off) and they face their friends. they've all migrated to the couches, armchairs and floor in the back of the room, making it all too convenient for everyone to see each other but a little too much like she and chaeyoung are being interviewed (or put on trial) for lisa's taste. her pinky finger unconsciously shifts sideways, bumping with chaeyoung's hand and just as naturally, chaeyoung laces them together, attempting to hide them slightly but being met with a rather unconvincing cough from her typically rather talented actor friends (it's probably either disbelief or confusion or annoyance that's impacting their performances).
"okay, what the fuck? i didn't even get to use my blackmail videos of lisa drunkenly confessing!"
of all the people in the room, lisa would have put good money on the person to finally break the silence being yerim and rather wished she did, as the small woman stands, her comment triggering a flurry of questions that then fly at the pair in the front of the room and while chaeyoung has attended a number of press conferences, this is definitely not how they usually go. the pair flounder for a few seconds before a loud bark resounds as kuma, who apparently decided to leave the comfort of his bed, trots into the room, dalgom and kai not far behind him. the dogs diverge; kai plopping himself on the floor beside jennie with his face in her lap, kuma scratching at chaeyoung's ankle until she decides to pick him up and dalgom barking twice at lisa's feet before crawling across the entire contents of the couch (garnering a cautious glare from yerim and a soft smile from seulgi) to reach jisoo.
it's an oddly tranquil moment, as everyone pauses to focus on the dogs, in between several very chaotic ones and everyone in the room can't help but take a pause.
"i've got a question," joohyun finally drawls from deep within jennie's favorite armchair, her arms firmly crossed over her chest as she tilts her chin. lisa shrinks a little, mostly because joohyun has on her scary irene face, the one that she uses when she's pretending to kill innocent pizza boys in her drama (and that makes it look like she might not hesitate to do the same to lisa) but a quick squeeze of her hand from chaeyoung brings her back to reality. it should probably make her nervous about how much security such a small action can make her feel but it's not like she's exactly got time to think over that right now.
"are y'all dating now or just making out in front of us for fun?"
the last thing anyone in the room probably would have expected was the pair in question to double over laughing, chaeyoung even bending over so far that kuma almost spills out of her arms. by the time they regain a semblance of control over themselves, sooyoung is practically fuming and it's all seungwan can do from her perch on the arm of the couch but rub small circles into the younger woman's hand while also looking up with a quizzical expression. "god, you should see your faces," lisa wheezes out and half considers pulling out her phone for a picture, if not for the downright murderous expression on jisoo's face.
"we've been seeing each other since before we left for coachella," chaeyoung reveals, her hands softly consoling an affronted kuma before she winces when the entire room breaks out into a collective chorus of "what the hell" s, "oh my god" s and "why the fuck didn't you tell me" s. that last one was from an incredibly affronted jennie, accompanied by another one of her precious throw pillows more than living up to its name as it sails toward their feet (jennie doesn't exactly have fantastic aim, or really any upper body strength either).
lisa again just ignores it all, instead settling on the floor and gazing up at chaeyoung.
they're evidently in for a long night of questioning but it's all more than worth it for the woman standing next to her.