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Counting Stars on the Ceiling

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It's not until afterwards that Hyuna considers coming to the park to be a bad idea.

It's late, she aches all over, and the cats have been home alone all day. Looking out at the river does nothing to calm her—instead makes her think of just how small she is in comparison to everything.

Three years and nearly nothing to show for it.

Three years and she questions why she's stuck around for so long.




In hindsight, coming to Sera's apartment is probably an even worse idea. Her phone dangling in one hand and she wonders if she should call first just to make sure it's okay. A glance at her phone screen tells her it's after midnight.

Maybe she should just head home, alone.

The door swings open and Hyuna takes a step back in surprise.

"Hey?"

"Hey," Sera says over a yawn. She's clearly tired but her face perks up all the same. The door opens wider and Sera steps aside, motions for Hyuna to come in.

"How did you—"

"The floor outside my door creaks and I know how you fidget." Sera heads straight for her room, doesn't stop to look back and make sure Hyuna is behind her.

It feels familiar somehow. In a way, she's always kind of followed along in Sera's footsteps, even if neither of them ever acknowledge it.




"Get in," Sera murmurs from the bed when she notices Hyuna lingering by the doorway.

Not even five minutes there and Hyuna feels like she's overstayed her welcome.

"I wasn't sleeping," Sera clarifies when Hyuna still doesn't move from the doorway. "Come learn about rainforests with me," she says and pats the spot next to her on the bed.

The lush vegetation paused on Sera's laptop screen reminds her that of course, Sera never sleeps.

"Did you know there are still isolated tribes that live in rainforests?"

"That must get pretty lonely," Hyuna says, settling a safe distance away beside Sera.

"Would it, though? They have their families and other tribes, probably. All you really need in life are a few good people," she says thoughtfully.

Hyuna glances at Sera, her eyes are wide and glued to the screen as if she's never seen anything more interesting. It probably looks just like the way she looks at Sera sometimes.




When Hyuna jerks awake it's half past three and Sera is still on her laptop.

"Ants," Sera says simply and places a hand on Hyuna's arm as if to calm her.

It doesn't help, but it's a nice gesture nonetheless. Ants on the screen and the feeling of ants crawling under her skin—it's the best she's felt all week.




Sometimes, when she looks around the practice room at the other girls, she feels selfish.

They're all there for their own reasons: to perform, to use it as experience and make it to the next stepping stone, to make something of themselves, or simply because they love it. They're all valid reasons, and they're reason enough. No one should have to justify why they do what they do, it's just a given.

But then she glances over at Sera, Sera who keeps pushing and pushing, and Hyuna feels like she has to justify it.

Sera should be reason enough for anyone, but still. She feels selfish.




"Hey, wait up," Sera calls out, jogging to catch up to her. She places a key in Hyuna's hand and Hyuna looks up in confusion. "Come over whenever you can't sleep," she explains.

Hyuna wants to say always, she always can't sleep. She starts to shake her head but Sera grips her wrist.

"I mean it, come over whenever." Sera has that look on her face, the one Sera never sees on herself because she only gets it when she's singing like she thinks no one is watching her. "Actually," Sera says and digs her hand into Hyuna's front pocket, "I'll just let myself over. We all know how you hate to be away from your children."

Hyuna chokes out a laugh and doesn't stop Sera, just lets her do whatever she wants. It's not like she could even stop her if she tried.




True to her word, Sera lets herself over that very night. She shows up with a bottle of wine and toys for the cats.

"If I'm having trouble sleeping, I don't think that's going to help," Hyuna says, eyeing the bottle of pinot.

"Really? I don't think you know how to drink wine then, it always makes me sleepy."




The wine is gone before they're able to finish downloading something to watch on Hyuna's laptop.

("I'm showing up with a television for you next time I come over," Sera threatens.

"You're more than welcome to carry it all the way up here.")

Hyuna half drags and half carries Sera to her room. She's a friendly and affectionate drunk, well, more so than usual.

"You're great." Sera smiles sleepily at her and stumbles over her own feet. "I just wished you could see it like I do."

Hyuna ends up half tripping and nearly dropping Sera.

Sera recovers on her own and strolls into Hyuna's room like she owns the place.




When Hyuna wakes the next morning, the spot on the bed next to her is empty. She gets up reluctantly and heads to the kitchen where all the noise is coming from. She's not sure what she's more surprised by, the fact that Sera woke up before her or that she's trying to cook with the meager supplies she keeps in her kitchen.

"I think I'm the one that's supposed to be making you breakfast," Hyuna says and leans against the counter.

"If I had waited for you to wake up, I'd be dead of starvation," Sera says and shoves a plate of toast in her face. "Sleep well?" Sera asks as she digs through her refrigerator. "Of course there's no butter," she murmurs to herself.

"Yeah," Hyuna says and means it. "Really well actually."

"Good." Sera settles on a jar of something and stands beside Hyuna at the counter.

She's close enough that their arms are touching, so close that Hyuna can feel the soft fuzz on Sera's arm brushing against her.




Sera shows up again that night, and the next night, and the next.

Eventually Hyuna stops counting and starts wondering if her neighbors are going to judge her when she tries to put all the empty wine bottles in the recycling bin.

"I think they like me more than you now," Sera says cheekily from the couch, with Hoya in her lap and Moya lazing next to her.

Hyuna can't even find it in her to be offended, if she were them she'd probably think the same thing. She sits down on Sera's other side and gingerly pets Hoya. Sera grabs her arm and keeps her in place.

For once Hyuna doesn't feel like bolting.




"Was it true?"

Hyuna startles, figures Sera had already fallen asleep. She glances over and tries to make out Sera's face in the dark.

"What Sungah said the other day, was it true?"

Hyuna sinks in on herself, tries to feign sleep but knows it's too late. Sera knows.

Sera rolls to her side, sidles up against Hyuna and throws an arm around her stomach.

"Yeah," Hyuna murmurs, desperately trying not to shake beneath Sera. "I saw you and I knew this is what I wanted to do, what I need to do."

Sera doesn't say anything else, just presses closer and nuzzles her face into Hyuna's shoulder.

The first time she admits it, in front of Sera and Sungah and everyone, she felt her insides coil and coil like a fist trying to break itself clenching. But now, under the cover of darkness and with Sera far too close for comfort, Hyuna feels like she can breathe again.

The sinking feeling is finally starting subside and she doesn't feel so small anymore.




Going out to her own kitchen in the morning to find Sera bustling around shouldn't be anything new at this point. Sera seems to have made it a point to wake up before Hyuna just so she can have the kitchen to herself. It's a good thing Hyuna's started shopping for two.

"Morning," Sera beams at her and crowds Hyuna, moves into her personal space.

It happens so fast Hyuna's not even sure it actually does happen, figures she must still be asleep. It's over as soon as it starts and Sera bounces over to the counter once she pulls back.

Hyuna tastes a mixture of fruit on her lips and finds it difficult to move from her spot.




It becomes a pattern with Sera, just like her late night visits and early morning breakfasts.

They're alone more often than not and Sera takes advantage of it, finds every opportunity to pull Hyuna in by the nape of her neck and make Hyuna feel like she's back at square one.

It never lasts more than a few seconds, just long enough for Sera to press against her fully and pull on her bottom lip with her teeth. She never explains herself, just goes back to whatever she was doing, but makes a point to keep physical contact with Hyuna.

More nature documentaries and Hyuna's never felt more like prey than she does right now.




She plans to talk to Sera about it, wants to wait until Sera does it again to confront her.

The problem with this is her brain always shuts itself down as soon as Sera has her pinned, her lips brushing against hers lightly at first and then more insistently.

She doesn't get around to talking about it but she does grab Sera's waist and push back. Their bodies align and it's like everything falls into place the way it should, her leg drifts between Sera's thighs and it finally feels like she's running towards something instead of away.

"Good," Sera says when she pulls away with a grin, "finally."

Hyuna responds by pulling Sera back in and kissing the smug look right off her face.

She's back to feeling small and it's okay. It's the way it should be, she is small, they all are. They can be small together and it's okay.

Three years and this is why she stuck around for so long.