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Fair Weather Friends

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"I need your help."

"Well hello to you too, princess." Alice doesn't look up from her book, she's far too accustomed to Ara bursting into her room by now.

Ara bristles at the nickname and kneels beside Alice on the bed, pulls the book away from her so she's forced to look at her properly. "I'm serious."

"So am I, hello."

"Remember how I was supposed to renew my work visa?"

Alice stares blankly back at her, suspicious of where this was going. Usually it's Ara that's suspicious of anything Alice has to say or do so that makes this twice as bad.

"Since I'm only a volunteer, it doesn't actually qualify as work. And since I'm not working..." Ara wrings her hands. She's nervous, she's never nervous, at least not outwardly so. She never shows weakness and this freaks Alice out a little. 

"Then go back to school. Get a student visa! Jesus," Alice says glibly and reaches for her book. It's much easier to go on the offensive.

Ara slaps the book away. "Would you willingly go back to school?"

"I'm not the one who has to worry about getting deported."

"Alice." Ara sounds so serious and worried and it's just not okay. Ara always has a plan, always thinks of solutions and workarounds. She's Alice's rock of stability even if she'd never tell it to her face.

"What do you want me to do? I can't magically whip up a visa for you."

"Let's get married."

* * *

Alice paces around the room, occasionally glancing over at Ara who suddenly decided to find her center and become a picture of calm and zen. "You're insane," she says, "and you know it's bad when I'm the one telling you that."

"We're already living together."

"Do you have any idea how incredibly illegal your plan is?" Not that Alice is a stranger to being on the wrong side of the law, but she's pretty sure that what Ara is suggesting is at least a felony. 

"It'll be easy to work the system, people get away with this kind of thing all the time."

"Are you even listening to yourself?"

"I wouldn't be asking if I thought there was another option," Ara says quietly.

Alice drops down on a chair and sighs heavily. The things she does for her friends sometimes. "Okay," she says with a longer, more insufferable sigh, "let's get married. You're taking my last name though."

* * *

Ara doesn't take her last name, she keeps her own. Alice, of course, refuses to give up hers as well, if only to be difficult and get a rise out of Ara.

They end up hyphenating the two and Alice at least gets first billing. Ara can claim that going alphabetical was the plan all along all she wants, Alice is going to win in this marriage one way or another.

The plan has to be kept under wraps as best as possible even if they trust all their friends. Things always have a way of getting out and turning into a mess so it's better to avoid it altogether. They tell Nara because they need a witness and drag her with them to the courthouse. 

The papers get signed, they slip the cheap gold bands on each other's fingers, and Nara sneaks as many pictures of them as she can before Alice starts chasing her.

It's all terribly romantic as far as weddings go.

* * *

"So, you're married."

Okay, so, maybe Nara isn't the only person they tell.

They're friends with all the same people, it'd be weird to not tell them.

"It'll only be for a little while. Once everything is official, we can get divorced." Ara says it like she's discussing the most mundane thing in the world.

"Don't contribute to the statistic of half of all marriages ending in divorce," Yoonjo pouts at them. "I believe in you guys."

"This isn't a real marriage." Alice can't believe she has to even say that.

"Really? Because you guys are living together," Lime says from beside Yoonjo.

"We were already living together, dumbass."

"Right," Lime draws the word out and nudges Yoonjo, "isn't that how all marriages start?"

The conversation doesn't go much further once Alice throws a pillow at Lime's head and they get into it on the living floor in a mess of limbs and pulled punches.

* * *

For the most part things between them don't really change, not really. They still do their own things and go about their daily routines like it's any other day, except when Alice looks down at her keyboard at work and sees the ring shining dully on her finger, she's reminded that she's married. Married to Ara.

It does and doesn't freak her out and Alice finds herself being okay with it.

* * *

Alice starts becoming more paranoid which does nothing to help a mind that's used to copious amounts of caffeine.

Ara tells her the government has better things to do than to send secret agents out to monitor them and check in on the legitimacy of their marriage. But really, what the hell does Ara know? If she knew so much she wouldn't have had to resort to this phony marriage in the first place.

It starts out small but Alice becomes more hands on with Ara in public. She walks a little closer to her, brushes her hand against hers too often for it to be a cute coincidence, becomes nicer with the pet names all the while telling Ara that someone could be watching.

Ara doesn't say anything when Alice keeps it up even when it's just the two of them alone in their apartment.

* * *

"Did you pick up my dry cleaning?"

"Yeah, it was on my way. Figured I'd save you a trip," Ara says from under a mountain of blankets on the couch.

"Oh, thanks." Alice drops her things on the table and awkwardly fidgets to herself, unsure of whether or not she should join Ara on the couch or retreat to her room.

Ara makes the decision for her when she shifts over and pats the space next to her on the couch.

They watch a movie and the feeling of being snuggled against Ara is the exact kind of domesticity that Alice thinks all marriages are like. It's not exactly terrible and she thinks she could probably even get used to it.

* * *

It's still not terrible when Alice wakes in the morning and finds herself draped over Ara's warm body. She's so warm even though most of the blankets got kicked off the couch during the night. She tells herself that it's the remaining blankets making her burn and not the heat radiating from Ara.

Alice slowly pulls her arm back and tries to peel herself off Ara as best she can without waking her. 

"Go back to sleep," Ara murmurs and Alice nearly has a heart attack.

Ara turns in her arms and buries her face into her neck. She didn't think it was possible but Ara's even warmer from this angle.

She doesn't fall back asleep, not for lack of trying.

* * *

On their one month anniversary, they go out to dinner, just the two of them. It's not like Alice had been keeping track or even planned the thing, it just kind of happens. They go out to a normal dinner and it's doesn't even feel like they're fake married.

It's... nice. It's nice and Alice leaves it at that.

* * *

Except it doesn't stay at that, because Alice's life is cursed and everything has to be complicated.

For the most part, she blames Ara; Alice is just along for the ride after all.

* * *

"Where are my keys?" Ara asks, ruffling through the pile on the kitchen table.

"How am I supposed to know, they're your keys."

"Because you're always messing with my stuff," Ara says in a huff. 

"Yeah, well, it's your own fault for being so forgetful," Alice says and bumps Ara's hips with her own as she walks by her.

Ara grabs her by the shoulders before she can get by and pins her against the wall. "Don't talk to me about forgetful. You forgot our anniversary."

"What?" Alice isn't sure what she's more thrown off by, how fast Ara pinned her against the wall or how close she was standing.

"You forgot our anniversary," Ara repeats, moving closer with each word.

Alice doesn't know what hits her worse: feeling offended that Ara thought she forgot even though she clearly didn't or feeling like it's somehow her fault for how hurt Ara is looking at her.

There are things she wants to say, like how she didn't forget or they're not actually married, but it all gets lost in her throat as soon as Ara closes the distance between them and kisses her.

Ara's hold on her loosens and Alice can feel her start to pull back from the kiss, probably ready with an excuse about how she didn't mean it or it was an accident. Alice grips her face and holds her in place, kisses back like she means it because this—them—isn't an accident.

She flips them until Ara's the one pinned against the wall, pushes when Ara pulls, licks her way into Ara's mouth and memorizes the way it feels to breathe in someone.

* * *

There's a fruit basket outside their door the next morning with a note from the next door neighbors.

"Congratulations on finally consummating your marriage."