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“Hey boss,” Juyeon leans against the edge of her cubicle, looking a little too cheerful and smiley for 9:30 AM on a Monday morning. This can’t be good.

“Not your boss,” Dawon corrects, eyes flicking back to the weekend’s unread emails. “Just because I’m older doesn’t mean I’m your boss. You’re just new.” 

“Right.”

“You look like you want something,” she continues, noting the other woman’s fidgeting hands and tapping feet. “You’re like, vibrating in place.” 

“So, you know how we have the staff party at Jiyeon’s this weekend…” Juyeon chews on the inside of her cheek when Dawon nods. “I wanted to see if I could help out with it— like, plan activities and snacks and stuff— since everyone is so busy and I’m basically a glorified intern at this point.” 

“You want to impress her that badly?” Dawon smiles wryly, watching pink dust Juyeon’s cheeks at the mention of their coworker. 

She probably shouldn’t put the new hire fresh out of college in charge of planning a “team-building” party for the entire junior staff, but she can’t help that it’s the absolute last thing in the world she wants to do. She’s way too busy. That, and the last party she was tasked to plan for was a catastrophic failure of pizza boxes left in the rain and a single bottle of whiskey with no chasers. It’s a miracle they’re giving her a second chance. 

(Hyunjung said she had a great time, though, probably because she spent the entire night playing with a cat in the other room before leaving promptly at 10:30 PM.)

“Sure, it’s all yours now,” Dawon decides, laughing at the way Juyeon’s face lights up with joy. “Saturday at 8 PM. The entire junior staff should be there, assuming no one dips last minute.” 

“Thank you, thank you, thank you!” Juyeon cheers, drawing the attention of some annoyed-looking, groggy staff on the floor.

“Don’t do anything…weird,” she lowers her voice to a whisper. “You’re not in college anymore. And our lovely host is a very classy lady.” 

Juyeon blushes and hightails it back to her cubicle. 

-

When Dawon returns from the Monday meeting Hyunjung drags her to every week, she’s greeted with Juyeon’s party announcement email (that was fast) sent to nearly fifty employees and complete with a free shitty e-card containing both the phrases “professional team-bonding exercise” and “be there or be square, losers” above the RSVP line.

She also returns to a bunch of text messages, most from the group chat of her work friends and a few from a number she doesn’t recognize.

 

[UNKNOWN NUMBER]

heyy dawon!

juyeon told me you passed on the “team-building” party responsibilities to her lolllll

i know i’m on a diff team now but she invited me

anyway, just wanted to say hi :)

i know it’s been a while! miss working with u :<

Dawon 

oh, hi!

um, who is this again? sorry i don’t have your number…

[UNKNOWN NUMBER]

ouch…you wound me dawon…

it’s luda :)) 

forgot all about me huh :<

 

Dawon feels her face heat up in embarrassment. Of course she didn’t forget her. You don’t just forget people like Luda. 

She’s funny. Quick. Sharp. So disorganized and scatterbrained that it somehow comes full circle and makes her look put together. Definitely sleeps a maximum of 20 minutes a night and lets everyone know about it. The type to roll out of bed without any semblance of a routine and still manage to look perfect. 

Dawon isn’t a liar. That last fact used to piss her off when they first started working together at the company two years ago, before being split up into different teams never to see each other again. (Unless you count watching Luda scrambling out of her car anywhere from 30 to 45 minutes after work starts from her desk on the third floor.) 

But Luda is insanely capable, and whatever she puts into that IV drip of coffee going straight to her veins every day is working, because the other teams at the company pulled her away from Dawon’s to save their failing projects, endearingly chaotic tendencies and all.

 

Dawon

oh my god hi!

of course not, it’s just been a while! 

i’ve just been so busy, i’m sorry TT

 

Has she been? Maybe she is a liar, actually. Maybe the truth is somewhere in between— you make a friend, you’re separated by some circumstance, you promise you’ll reach out, you never do, two years go by, and it feels too awkward to reach out and even attempt to make up for lost time. 

She’s gotten extremely close with her teammates since she started but Luda kind of…fell out of her circle. They didn’t even really get to know each other either, and after Dawon forgot to reply to a few texts on different occasions asking if she wanted to catch up in the months after they stopped working together, Luda stopped texting. She still feels guilty about that. She’s surprised the other woman is even texting her at all. 

She couldn’t even have responded to a text for a quick catch-up over coffee? Or lunch? What kind of friend does that? What kind of acquaintance even does that?

 

Luda

hehe don’t sweat it

i’ll see you this weekend :) 

 

Dawon sighs. Of course Luda doesn’t mind because she’s...Luda. Things always rolled off her back easily when they worked together. She remembers multiple occasions in which she showed up to the office stressed out of her mind about deadlines, only to be met half an hour later with the other woman strolling in with her favorite coffee, a snack, or a crazy story about something that could only happen to Luda to cheer her up. 

To everyone else she was the loud, chaotic girl on the floor, who always showed up late but still managed to outperform every employee on their team. She was all of those things, sure, but there was a...gentleness she saved for Dawon. A softer smile, an attention to detail, a hug when she didn’t even realize how badly she needed one. 

Something in her stomach churns uncomfortably. These clearly weren’t things she was thinking about until just now, otherwise she would have texted instead of being weird and distant. For nearly two years. Being an adult is hard.

Yet here she is, feeling too awkward to suggest a catch-up sometime this week despite being given the perfect opportunity. After a few drinks at the staff party she’ll corner Luda and apologize, she swears it.

-

There’s a commotion by the entrance of the coffee shop, the bell on the door clanging loudly back and forth and the sound of feet stumbling over the threshold when Dawon gets in line for her break. She doesn’t want to turn around and stare, of course, but when papers scatter all over the ground in her peripheral vision, she thinks that’s probably her cue to help. She hops out of line, crouching down to gather up the scattered documents into a neat stack.

“Here you go,” Dawon says, holding out the papers. When she looks up, she’s met with huge, sparkling eyes wide with surprise.

She brought this on, clearly. Something the new intern Dayoung mentioned about astrology and the powers of manifestation or whatever, because of course the second Dawon got in line at the coffee shop for her break, she showed up, which has somehow never happened before.

“Dawon?” a bright smile breaks out onto Luda’s face before she brushes long bangs out of her eyes. She stands up, reaching out a hand to help Dawon to her feet. 

Luda was always pretty, two years back when they were fresh out of college, hurtling into the real world with reckless abandon. But it’s almost unfair how gorgeous she looks right now after all this time, still in her usual untucked, wrinkled button-up shirt with the sleeves rolled up and the edges of the collar sticking haphazardly in different directions. She pulls off the messy, disheveled look so well it seems intentional, even if Dawon knows she almost certainly just rolled out of bed like that.

She zips up her open backpack, and Dawon feels the slightest bit thankful that she doesn’t have to be privy to whatever mess is inside of it. 

“Damn, you look good,” Luda says, smiling wide. 

Dawon feels her face get unexpectedly hot. Who starts a conversation like that?!

“Uh...I—”

“Oh come on, your body’s insane. Your makeup looks nice too,” she says over her shoulder, stepping to the back of the line.

“Oh, well, uh…” Dawon trails off, brain deciding now would be the perfect time to forget how to properly string together words into sentences.

“Thanks for helping pick up the papers, by the way,” Luda scratches the back of her head, looking a little embarrassed. “Running late this morning, overslept, you know how it is.”

Dawon flicks her eyes to the clock on the wall, a laugh escaping her throat before she can stop it.

“It’s 11:30…” 

“Whoops, it is huh…” she grimaces, not looking particularly bothered at all. “That’s what I get for playing ranked until 6 am, huh?” 

Is that a gaming...term?

The line moves quickly, and Luda orders first, creating some familiar, horrifyingly caffeinated monstrosity that Dawon’s surprised didn’t haunt her dreams when they were working together.

Five shots of espresso?” she says in disbelief when Luda pulls out her credit card to pay. “How tall are you again?”

“A shot for every 31 centimeters,” Luda responds pointedly. “That’s just basic science, Nam.”

“Right.”

“You don’t seem busy right now,” she continues, holding up her card. “Let’s hang out for a bit. You can’t escape me this time.”

“I’m not trying to escape from you,” Dawon pouts, feeling the guilt ebb and flow in her stomach.

“I’m just teasing,” Luda winks, and somehow it makes Dawon feel even more nauseous. “Let me grab your coffee for you, yeah?”

Before she can protest, the other woman is already handing her card back to the barista.

“Still an iced oat latte, half pump sweetener, right?”

“Y-yeah,” Dawon stutters, losing her footing more and more every second that this conversation goes on. “I’ll go grab us a table.”

Luda smiles and nods, all perfect teeth and rosy cheeks.

She still knows her coffee order? Dawon turns around, feeling the blush creep up her face. Luda always used to pick up her favorite drink before their meetings together, without Dawon even asking. She makes her way over to a table near the back of the shop, her chest feeling uncomfortably tight. Maybe she can make a break for it, escape now and avoid all the weird feelings Dawon’s messy outfit and scruffy hair and thoughtfulness are forcing onto her.

“So!” Luda approaches the table before she can eye the door again, placing her coffee right in front of her. “We have a lot to catch up on. How’s work? How are you? Are you excited for the party?”

Dawon laughs, overwhelmed with the questions.

“Scared for what Juyeon has planned, if I’m being honest…” she says, taking a sip of her drink. “But it’s out of my hands now. She’s Jiyeon’s problem.” 

“I don’t think Jiyeon will mind that too much,” Luda smiles knowingly, slumping back in her chair. “I’m going to be making my signature drink, I’m excited.”

“Oh? What is it?”

“That’s a secret, Wonnie.” 

“Wonnie?” Dawon replies incredulously. “Since when have you ever called me that?” 

“I just came up with it. Do you like it?” Luda smirks. “Two years is a long time, I was thinking I could add some new nicknames into the rotation…” 

The mention of the dreaded two years again. This is her perfect opportunity to apologize, to say Hey, I’m really sorry for ignoring your texts and then being too weird and stubborn to send another but can you maybe pretend that didn’t happen? Thanks. 

Luda’s gaze is so piercing, though, that she loses the courage to finally do it. Again. This never used to happen when she was seeing the other woman every day, pretty eyes focused at her desktop or staring vacantly out the window. She gulps. She must just…not be used to seeing her. Her brain is still processing everything.

“Um, how’s work going?” Dawon asks awkwardly, not knowing what else to talk about without clamming up. 

Fortunately Luda is still her chatty, energetic self even if Dawon is being uncharacteristically quiet. She doesn’t seem to mind leading the conversation, even if they’re only talking about work. A few minutes go by, and just as Dawon is starting to allow herself to relax as she listens to Luda’s stories, a man in a suit comes tearing into the coffee shop, looking frazzled.

“Luda! There you are!” He yells from the door, sounding angry. “You’re late. Our client meeting started ten minutes ago— hurry up!”

He slams the door and Luda rolls her eyes, chugging the rest of her coffee at an alarming rate. 

“Managers, am I right?” She groans. “Sorry, I gotta dip.” 

Luda stands up from the table, haphazardly tucking her wrinkled button-up into her skirt, running a hand through light brown locks.

“I’m glad we could talk,” she sighs, smiling genuinely even if they both know Luda was the one keeping the conversation afloat. 

She heads towards the door, turning back towards Dawon with a big smile and finger guns. God, she’s such a dork. 

“I’ll see you this weekend, don’t let Sojung work you too hard!” 

Then she’s off, and suddenly Dawon feels ten times more nervous about the staff party this weekend. Not because she’s scared to talk to Luda, fortunately that went surprisingly well today, but because of…something else she can’t place. 

Luda came barreling into the coffee shop like a tornado, and Dawon feels like she’s still spiraling in the vortex even after she's gone.

-

Upon arriving, it’s clear Juyeon took her “please don’t do anything weird at this party you’re not a college student anymore” advice to heart. And then decided to do the exact opposite. 

Jiyeon’s house is huge. Well, her parents’ house that they let her use for staff parties when they’re flying around the world for their retirement, that is. That fact combined with loud music audible even from the driveway makes it really, really feel like this is a massive college party. 

When Dawon opens the door, there are people as far as her eyes can see: taking shots in the kitchen, dancing out by the pool, and—wait, is that Juyeon setting up cups for a beer pong game? She grimaces, making her way tentatively over to the kitchen, bracing herself for Jiyeon’s rage at giving Juyeon full control over party planning. 

“Dawon!” Juyeon shouts, beckoning her over to the table and nearly tripping open a few empty boxes of cheap beer. 

“Juyeon…” she sighs, eyes watching as the other woman finishes arranging the cups like she’s done this a thousand times. “Jiyeon is going to kill—”

“Juyeon, turn around!” The woman in question smiles, appearing in the kitchen with cheeks flushed, most likely from the cup of whatever red liquid she’s holding. 

She looks positively bubbly, which was the absolute last reaction Dawon expected her to have at her childhood home being turned into a makeshift frat house. When Juyeon turns around, Jiyeon holds up a necktie and gestures for her to lean down so she can tie it around her forehead, making her look like a drunk businessman. Jiyeon tells her she looks cute and she stumbles, nearly knocking over the arrangement of half-full red plastic cups.

Dawon laughs and shakes her head, watching as Juyeon teaches Jiyeon the rules to the game. Maybe Luda was right about them. She’s an expert at the game, to no one’s surprise, and when it starts she’s single-handedly crushing Sojung and Hyunjung’s team even if Jiyeon is missing every throw.

Please help me drink these,” Hyunjung whispers out of earshot of Sojung, pushing two cups of beer into her hands. Sojung rolls up the sleeves of her shirt, mentioning something about it improving her “beer pong prowess.” 

“Oh, Luda’s here?” Hyunjung raises her eyebrows, looking over her shoulder into the kitchen. Dawon feels a lump form in her throat, swallowing it down quickly. 

“I’ll have to go catch up with her later! Let’s see if Sojung’s ‘strategy’ works out for us…” 

Hyunjung heads back to the game, leaving Dawon alone. Luda is socializing by the kitchen island, flanked by a handful of staff members catching up with their old coworker. She’s always pretty, but being faced with her like this, in a sundress and makeup expertly done, hair falling in perfect waves, Dawon doesn’t know what to do with herself. 

Luda looks very attractive, and that realization makes her want to run for the hills and pretend her heart isn’t pounding in her ears. She can’t remember the last time she felt like this. What the hell is she supposed to do now?

Everything in her body screams “go talk to her, idiot,” and before she can stop them, her legs are walking towards the kitchen. She leans against the counter, a few feet away from where Luda is telling stories and making everyone double over in laughter. Dawon smiles softly, watching the layer of foam dissolve away into the cup of shitty beer.

“Hey,” Luda smirks, sauntering over to Dawon when the crowd disperses. “Long time no see, Wonnie. Whatcha drinking?” 

Dawon grimaces, nudging her head in the direction of the beer pong table. 

“Hyunjung and Sojung are getting their asses beat by our resident frat boy.” 

“Here,” Luda says, taking another step forward until their knees touch. She plucks the red plastic cup out of Dawon’s hand, placing it on the counter.

“Can I make you a drink?”

“Your ‘signature drink’?” and Luda smiles, kicking at the floor. 

“You remembered.” 

It was only a few days ago— how would she have forgotten that? She gulps, watching Luda walk back over to the island, measuring out vodka into a shot glass. It’s only fair Luda would be surprised, she thinks. There’s a lot she didn’t remember.

“Here!” Luda says excitedly when she returns, passing Dawon the cup of red liquid and watching closely as she takes her first sip. “Well?”

It’s good— much better than that beer, anyway. The vodka could be better, but it’s nice, and familiarly fruity.

“Wait,” she starts, tilting her head to look at the alcohol and mixers lining the kitchen island. “Isn’t this just…vodka, orange juice, and cranberry juice?”

“It’s my signature drink,” Luda pouts, narrowing her eyes. “If I told you the recipe I would have to kill you.”

“Got it,” Dawon laughs as Luda moves to stand next to her. “Thank you.” 

They lean back against the edge of the counter in silence for a few minutes, observing as more people gather around to watch the game. The other team somehow managed to catch up in the last few minutes, so it’s actually close now. If Jiyeon can make this shot, they’ll win, otherwise Sojung will get another chance. 

The crowd hypes her up, and Jiyeon closes her eyes and bounces the ping pong ball and— actually makes it?  

Everyone cheers as Juyeon lifts her up into the air, spinning her around. The sight makes something twist uncomfortably in Dawon’s stomach.

“Everything alright?” Luda nudges Dawon’s arm with her shoulder. “You seem stiff. Did you want the old ladies to win?”

Dawon cracks a smile, watching as a very drunk Hyunjung comforts and even drunker Sojung in her arms.

“Oh, by the way, um…” 

This is the perfect time, and she can’t lose out on the chance to talk to her again like this, even if she knows the other woman would probably give her infinite chances. Luda deserves better than that. Deep breaths, Nam. It’s just an apology. Stop freaking out so much.

“I’m really sorry for being radio silent for, like, two years. I didn’t mean to, I just…” Dawon trails off and turns to Luda who smiles softly, patiently. “I didn't respond when you tried to message all that time ago because I was busy, and then it felt too late and I just…felt too awkward. It was stupid.”

“You look so sad!” Luda laughs, poking her cheek.

“I’m a bad friend! And I’m dumb!” 

“You’re not a bad friend,” the shorter woman says, putting her arm around her waist, and Dawon feels the blush creep up to her ears. “Maybe a little bit dumb…”

“Hey!” She snaps, but there’s no bite to her words. “Okay, yeah, I deserve that.” 

“Being an adult is weird. People lose touch, and then they come back together. Hey—” Luda turns to grab her drink, holding it up to toast. “We’re here now, right?”

They knock their cups together, Luda’s cranberry-orange vodka concoction sloshing around in the red plastic. 

“Right.” 

“It’s funny,” Luda stares at the ground and shakes her head after taking a sip. “I thought I came on a little too strong and weirded you out, that’s why I stopped texting.”

Came on too strong?

“Wait, what do you me—”

“Ladies!” Dayoung yells from the living room, interrupting everyone’s conversations. “All the weirdos have moved out to the pool! We’re playing spin the bottle!”

“Another one of your party games, Juyeon?” Luda yells across the kitchen as everyone starts to shuffle over. “Gay.” 

“Says you!”

“Wait, you’re…?” Dawon feels her feet nearly give out from underneath her. Does that mean—

“Wait. You’re not…homophobic, are you?” Luda looks at her with wide, panicked eyes.

“What? No!” Dawon shouts, voice shaky. “Like, two-thirds of this group is gay!”

“And you?” She smirks, regaining her composure instantly, probably taking note of the sheer embarrassment Dawon knows is painted all over her face. 

“Me?”

On any other day she would have given a firm no. After a few unsuccessful relationships with men she just…hadn't thought about that sort of thing for a while. She’s always been straight, not because of any forced, repressed feelings or unaccepting parents— that’s just always been the “default”, and she never really had a reason to feel uncomfortable with it.

But Luda is practically staring into her soul right now, and suddenly she isn’t so sure.

“I-I don’t know.” 

“Maybe you’ll learn something new tonight?” Luda winks, pushing off from the counter. Dawon follows her to the living room, stumbling over her feet.

-

The night is going much better than she expected, somehow. She’s pleasantly tipsy, everyone seems to be having a great time, nothing is broken, and Luda smells really good for some reason, especially when Dawon leans her head on her shoulder, close to her pulse point.

“Sleepy?” Luda turns to whisper, voice barely audible over the absurd spin the bottle game in the background. Her breath brushes past Dawon’s ear, making the other woman turn to hide her blush. 

“No,” Dawon replies, voice muffled into Luda’s shoulder. “Just relaxed.”

“Luda, you’re up!” Dayoung shouts, making the two women jump.

“Huh?”

“Pay attention! Soobin just landed on you!” Yeonjung chimes in. 

“Oh right, the game, sorry!” Luda laughs, looking sheepish. “Hey Wonnie, I gotta get up.” 

Dawon shifts her head off Luda’s shoulder, a little dazed from the sudden movement. The cheers of their friends are loud in her ears as Luda and Soobin move closer to each other. It slipped her mind that everyone playing spin the bottle also meant Luda would be playing spin the bottle, and kissing somebody. Her stomach twists in knots, brain too hazy to go down the train of thought as to why this is making her feel like an angsty teenager.

Luda leans in, like it’s no big deal— something she’s done a thousand times— and Dawon’s heart leaps up to her throat. She pulls away after the tiniest peck, both women grimacing at everyone’s screaming. Soobin slides the bottle across the floor for Luda to spin. Maybe if Dawon closes her eyes, no one will notice how red her face is or the way she can’t stop fidgeting.

The room goes quiet, aside from a few giggles, and a Dawon feels a tap on her shoulder.

“Hey, uh…” Luda smiles nervously. “We’re up.” 

“We’re up?” 

She looks down, met with the sight of the empty beer bottle, the end pointing directly at her. 

Luda spun and landed on her.

Her stomach drops. What the hell am I going to do?

“Um…” She stutters, and Luda somehow looks as shocked as Dawon feels right now. “O-okay, I can do it.” 

“You look terrified.” 

“Actually, I’m changing my mind!” Dayoung interrupts, reaching into the center of the floor to pick up the bottle. “Dawon and Luda have to play ‘7 minutes in heaven’ instead, since Dawon made me stay late this week.” 

“What?” The two women in question ask at the same time. 

“Also you look mortified. It’s funny.” 

“No,” Dawon says, voice shaky. “I’m 24 years old. I’m not playing that stupid game and I’m definitely not taking orders from an intern.”

“That intern saved your ass last month,” Hyunjung chimes in, slumped against Sojung. “Also I’m 26, and I’m telling you to get in the closet!”

“Guys, it’s okay!” Luda replies, with her hands up as everyone starts talking over each other. “She doesn’t want to, I can just spin it again.”

Spin it again? Something ugly rears up in her throat. Luda is just a friend, if she can even call her that. Dawon isn’t even into women like that. Probably. So why does she feel so…

Luda starts to stand up, and Dawon catches her wrist without thinking.

Jealous?

“Dawon?”

“Fine!” Dawon stands up, glaring at Dayoung, her hand gripping the other woman’s wrist. “I’ll do it!” 

Alarm bells sound in her brain, but she ignores them as Juyeon pries open Jiyeon’s tiny hall closet to the sound of everyone’s shrieking. 

“I’ll get back at you for this,” she points at Dayoung, and then to Hyunjung. “And you too!”

She drags Luda inside the closet, and Juyeon shuts it, the loud conversation outside starting back up again.

Then, it’s silence. Dawon feels her face heat up, the adrenaline of a moment ago fizzling away, nervousness bubbling up again in her stomach. The closet is crammed, forcing their bodies close together. Luda clears her throat.

“Nice weather we’re having, huh?”

The shorter woman’s face is at her neck, the smell of cheap vodka and fruit juice mingling with her soft floral perfume, and Dawon thinks she might faint right then and there if she doesn’t hold onto the other woman’s shoulders for purchase.

“I’m sorry,” Dawon groans, squeezing her eyes shut. “I wasn’t thinking.”

“Nervous?”

“Yeah,” she sighs. “Are you?”

“No,” Luda chuckles softly, avoiding her gaze. “If I still allowed myself to get nervous around you, I wouldn’t have made it through the first ten minutes of this party...” 

“Nervous? Around me?” Dawon raises her eyebrows. It’s almost impossible to picture the relaxed, carefree, lovable gremlin of a woman getting nervous around anyone ever.

“Yeah, when I had a crush on you back then.” 

“You…had a crush on me?” Dawon asks, incredulous. 

“Duh, I thought you knew,” Luda smiles up at her, raising an eyebrow. “What, was buying coffee for you everyday on our nothing salary not obvious enough?”

She laughs when Dawon groans, covering her eyes with her hands. 

“I really thought you knew,” she continues softly, resting her hands on Dawon’s waist, making the other woman jump. “I thought that was why you were ignoring me.” 

“Of course not,” Dawon sighs. “That’s on me. I’m sorry for not reaching out, and I’m double sorry for not responding to the texts you sent to hang out. I swear I’m not homophobic—”

“I know you’re not homophobic!” Luda laughs, hard.

“It’s all in the past, Won,” she continues, tucking a lock of hair behind Dawon’s ear. “Now you’re stuck with me in this tiny broom closet, surrounded by Jiyeon’s expensive ascots, or whatever. I think you’ve paid back whatever cosmic debt you owe the universe.” 

There's a fleeting moment where she thinks she still has yet to pay it off, staring at the pout of Luda’s lips, visibly glossy even in the darkness. She clenches her teeth, failing to settle the butterflies stirring in the pit of her stomach. What is wrong with me? 

“Your heart is beating really fast,” Luda whispers.

“Don’t say that,” Dawon whines in protest. “This isn’t funny.” 

“Okay,” she replies meekly, dropping her hands by her sides. “Did I do something wrong?”

Do something wrong? Like forgive her instantly for never reaching out? Make her feel comfortable despite the anxiety racking her brain? Manage to look sexy even in a wrinkled, messy button-up shirt? Smell like flowers and fruit and the best parts of summer? Come barreling into her life, tearing down every “keep out” sign despite years of radio silence?

A rap on the closet door shakes her from her thoughts.

“Five minutes!” Yeonjung yells.

“I have an idea. Why don’t we play a game to pass the time?” Luda changes the subject, giving Dawon a gentle smile. “I’ll ask you a question, then you ask me a question.”

Dawon nods, chewing on her bottom lip.

“Okay, I’ll start,” Luda taps her chin in thought. “Can you give me a fun fact about yourself?” 

“A fun fact?” Dawon repeats. “Hm...I have terrible handwriting.” 

“So that’s why you typed everything when we were working together!”

“Yeah,” Dawon smiles at her accusatory tone. “My turn?”

“Mhm.” 

“Why did you have a crush on me?” She slaps her forehead immediately after asking. What is she, fifteen

“Sorry, you don’t have t—”

“Easy. We were a really good team,” Luda cuts in, and Dawon swears she can see the tiniest hint of pink on her cheeks, even in the darkness. “Plus, you were drop-dead gorgeous. I mean, legs for days.” 

“What! It’s true!” She continues when Dawon hides her face again. 

“And now?” Dawon replies nervously. “Do you...still think that?”

“That you’re drop-dead gorgeous? Oh yeah,” Luda smirks, regaining her confidence easily. “Even more than you were back then, somehow.”

“How can you say stuff like that so easily!”

“Hello?” She deadpans, pulling Dawon’s hands down from her eyes, studying her face. “Have you looked at yourself?”

“Two minutes left, lovebirds!” Juyeon shouts, voice slurred, knocking on the closet door again. 

Two minutes. Dawon feels something jump inside her, like a flash of lightning, or a match struck with only a few seconds until the wind snuffs it out. 

Luda is warm against her, cheeks flushed from drinking, the smell of flowers and cranberries invading Dawon’s senses. She doesn’t know why she wants to, and it doesn’t make sense, but every cell in her body is screaming at her to kiss the other woman right now.

“Think you can make it two more minutes?” Luda teases with a sly smile and perfect teeth. 

Even if she wants to kick Dayoung into next week, she can’t deny that something about this stupid high school game is driving her crazy, and making her think about things she never would have allowed herself to think about before. But Luda is really what’s driving her crazy, if she’s being honest, all teasing eyes and glossy lips and warm skin.

“Ask me one more question,” Luda continues. 

Fuck it. Now or never. 

“Can I kiss you?”

“You want to kiss me?” she replies dumbfounded, eyes wide. 

“Yeah, I…” Dawon swallows down the nervousness constricting her throat. “I don’t know what I’m doing but…I really want to kiss you right now. Is that okay?”

“Of course it’s okay, Wonnie,” Luda whispers, looping her arms around the back of Dawon’s neck. “Let me know if you want to stop.” 

“I don’t,” she whispers, inches away from the other woman’s lips.

Luda leans in, smiling into the kiss when their lips touch, and if pure adrenaline wasn’t coursing through her body right now, Dawon would be embarrassed at the way she feels exactly like the protagonist of a shitty high school movie who just got the girl. She can practically hear fireworks going off in her head when Luda deepens the kiss, pulling Dawon’s lip softly between her teeth.

Just as she feels her foot pop to complete every stupid teenage romance stereotype, the closet door flies open, sending them tumbling onto the floor.

“I lied,” Luda smiles, intertwining their hands while they lay on the floor in each other’s arms, their friends way too drunk to pay them any mind. “I definitely still have a huge crush on you.”

Dawon leans in this time, matching the smile on Luda’s lips.