A/N: I haven't written anything for about 2(?) years ish and have never even considered being brave enough to post something soshi related despite having loved them forever. Proofreading has never been my strong point so please let me know if you spot any outrageous grammar mistakes. Also, happy lips on lips day!
There's a roar of laughter that escapes her throat as Hyoyeon reaches the bottom of the slide and subsequently causes the puddle at the end of it to soil her cousin. Taeyeon makes a poor attempt to narrow her eyes in faux annoyance - but at the tender age of five she hasn't quite mastered the art of poker face, and it's seconds before she breaks into a grin, joining Hyoyeon in fits of giggles. The two children continue to run rings around each other for a few hours before they're called in for dinner, and Taeyeon thinks she's so lucky that Hyoyeon is her best friend and her family and her neighbour all in one. They're Kim squared, and nothing's ever going to change that.
It's a few weeks after Hyoyeon's seventh birthday that Taeyeon first meets her cousin's new neighbour. The two Kim children are lounging on the ground side by side, cloud spotting on a clear, sunny day. They're both snorting with laughter after concluding that the current cloud they're staring at loosely resembles a butt - albeit with one cheek larger than the other when Taeyeon's aunt announces that they have a guest. It's Hyoyeon that stands up first, jogging up to the newcomer with enthusiasm. Taeyeon sits up shortly after, rubbing the grogginess from staring at the sun too long from her eyes. She looks at the girl that Hyoyeon's smiling widely at, and she figures this must be "cool friend from America who speaks really good English!" that her cousin has recently been blabbering on about.
The girl's voice is shaky, and yet still obscenely loud as she greets Taeyeon, who nods and smiles back politely as she tries not to wince while wondering what's more painful - her volume or the lilted accent the new girl talks in. It's Hyoyeon, ever the social butterfly, that explains to Tiffany that they're cloud spotting and she should join them.
The three of them remain that way for some time, debating what each cloud looks most similar to. Tiffany's input begins to dwindle by the minute, because she just can't quite understand how Taeyeon is seeing a dog on a bicycle rather than an aeroplane that the cloud clearly resembles. She bites her tongue though, because she's new and the children in this city aren't like the friends she had back home and she thinks Taeyeon just might take some warming up to. It's after she's been silent for the fourth consecutive cloud that Hyoyeon turns to her eyebrows furrowed in what appears to be confusion, asking her what she sees this time. The few barely coherent words she mumbles in response don't translate fully to Taeyeon but she watches as Hyoyeon nods vigorously in agreement. Taeyeon receives a sharp pinch to her side from her cousin, which is enough to force her to (begrudgingly) formulate a verbal reply.
"Uhhh, yes. I think you're right, I can see that too."
The smile that the new girl wears in response has Taeyeon feeling like she needs to rub her eyes again, because it covers her entire face and the elder Kim isn't sure she's ever seen someone look so purely content before. Plus, she's grinning so widely that her eyes have curled up so much they kind of remind Taeyeon of toenail clippings, but maybe that's just her seven year old brain talking.
Much of their adolescence is spent similarly to that first encounter for Taeyeon and Tiffany. There’s still Kim squared, but now there’s an extra person to add to the equation. Their differences in opinion start off small, from Tiffany living and breathing pink and Taeyeon seeming to avoid the colour altogether. Tiffany doesn't understand why Taeyeon insists on calling her Miyoung because she's been so clear that she hates it and honestly how hard is it to pronounce your F's anyway? Taeyeon is still trying to figure out why Miyoung can't just do her sums silently in her head instead of damaging everyone's ear drums everytime the three of them study together because isn't that why it's called mental arithmetic?
The differences start to get slightly more problematic when they're thirteen and Tiffany decides to join the cheerleading squad, seizing the chance to forego a maths lesson, make new friends and get to wear a cute outfit all at the same time! It's only days later when Hyo announces to her cousin that she's also joining because, well - an opportunity to dance was not to be wasted. Taeyeon feels a sense of unease that she can't fully explain but she guesses it's because she can't relate to why Hyo would subject herself to any more cardio than that which is mandatory for them as students but she smiles warmly anyway, and she means it when she tells her cousin that the squad would be lucky to have her. It's after a few weeks of lunches that Hyoyeon spends chatting animatedly with Tiffany as well as Sooyoung and Yoona with whom she's become fast friends that she realises it's been a while since she's had a conversation with her cousin that lasted longer than a few minutes. There's something akin to guilt that courses through her, knowing that Taeyeon has never been overtly social and navigating early high school alone isn't what she wants for her - ever.
The thought stays with her all day, and it only seems natural to her when she voices her concerns to Tiffany as they're walking to the gym. The American girl's posture stiffens slightly as she mentions her cousin's name, and though it's a reaction that Hyoyeon's come to expect over the years, she finds herself wondering if Tiffany even knows she's doing it. Tiffany relaxes just as quickly, reasurring her friend that she has nothing to worry about when it comes to tiny, frowny Kim Taeyeon, though she leaves out her choice adjectives as she voices her opinion out loud. Hyoyeon doesn't have time to decipher the odd expression on Tiffany's face as she explains that her cousin seems to have formed a close friendship with a girl from their chemistry class, because its quickly replaced by a cheeky smile as she quips that the girl in question is even shorter than Taeyeon. Hyo finds herself laughing along while commenting that she didn't think that was possible, and she finds her worries placated for a short time.
It's at Friday night family dinner when Taeyeon's belly laughing as they rewatch What A Girl Wants that Hyoyeon finds herself fidgeting in her seat unable to focus. Ten minutes pass and Taeyeon pauses the movie and it only takes one gentle "what's wrong?" before Hyoyeon launches into a disjointed apology to Taeyeon if she's made her feel neglected. She pauses for breath when she's done, and there's a few beats of silence where Taeyeon takes a few slow blinks before doubling over in laughter once again.
"I'm not a puppy Hyo," she wheezes out between laughs. Hyoyeon can only whine in protest as her elder, smaller cousin ruffles her hair and throws an arm around her shoulders before she speaks again. There's still some amusement in her voice as she talks, but Hyoyeon knows that Taeyeon is sincere when she tells her that they're going to grow and do different things and talk to different people, but they would always be best friends and family first. Hyoyeon wants to ask why it is that Taeyeon can't seem to afford Tiffany that same courtesy, but it's not often that they get to have these heart to heart conversations, so she settles for resting her head on the other girl's small shoulder and asking her about the girl she's befriended who's name she learns is Sunny. Hyoyeon takes comfort then, knowing that they're still Kim squared and nothing has changed that.
It’s pretty much expected when the two cousins are nineteen and decide to live together when they move out for university, despite one pursuing the arts and the other a degree in medicine. It also isn’t a surprise that Tiffany chooses to attend the same university, renting a small apartment a few blocks away with Sooyoung, given that their bond with Hyoyeon seems be cemented just as strongly as Taeyeon’s familial one. Tiffany thinks it’s great that even after all these years, Hyoyeon is still her best friend and practically a neighbour too.
Their living arrangements make it impossible for Taeyeon and Tiffany to run into each other, in fact the elder girl feels like Miyoung spends more time at her apartment than the one she shares with Sooyoung. Hyo notices it too, and when she makes a light hearted jab about the American girl being homeless, the explanation is enough for even Taeyeon to sympathise. “You try living with love’s young dream without escaping at least three times a week!” She whines in reference to Sooyoung and her long time boyfriend who’s practically become the third tennant in their apartment. Taeyeon is about to open her mouth to argue that its more like six times a week, but she realises two of those run ins happen at the campus coffee shop she’s taken some part time shifts at. It makes her scrunch up her face in distaste, recounting Miyoung’s appalling and somewhat pretentious drink orders. Honestly, Taeyeon can’t even pronounce mango black tea lemonade or strawberry iced Frappuccino, let alone imagine drinking them. The thought has her craving a good old fashioned americano and so she stays quiet while Tiffany continues to rant, rising from the battered sofa that she and Hyo bought dirt cheap at an auction during the first year and entering the kitchen. The younger girl has lost count of the number of times Taeyeon seemingly chooses to vacate a room while she’s talking, but even after all these years there’s a weird pang in her chest as she watches her leave.
Tiffany is twenty one the day that she prepares herself for a evening with the man she’ll be celebrating six months with. He’s charming, their senses of humour compliment each other well and she likes that his wardrobe consists of outfits beyond the scope of washed out sweatpants, ripped jeans and oversized t shirts. A small smile makes its way onto her face as she recalls their first meeting at the campus coffee shop around a year ago. She’d been in such a rush to leave and work on meeting her upcoming deadlines that she almost painted him with her coffee if not for his quick reflexes and sturdy arms that came to steady her before she slipped on a small puddle of some beverage that she can only guess was spilled by the customer that left just before her. Tiffany thinks it was devastatingly romantic, to be literally swept off her feet by a smile and a random act of chivalry. In fact, the American girl would go as far as to say that their beginning was picture perfect, were it not for Taeyeon’s low grumblings of something akin to “how cliché” as she passed by to clean up the spillage.
With an almost completed degree in fashion and design, it would be assumed that Tiffany would breeze through outfit choice for the night. But she’s still a young woman in a new relationship, and insecurities push her reach for her phone to seek a second opinion from a friend. Hyo answers after the second ring, and she’s quick position the camera and start presenting the outfit combinations she’s prepared. She’s just slipped into a dress that’s a shade of burnt orange with some silver details at the waist when she hears a familiar voice in the background. About another minute passes before half a head of disheveled shoulder length blonde hair as well as the face of a clearly still sleepy Kim Taeyeon come into view on her screen. Hyo did mention in passing that the older girl has come down with a cold, and it honestly doesn’t surprise Tiffany with the long hours of studying and extremely poor diet she seems to run on. She’s about to suggest a cough and cold mixture from the States that works wonders for her whenever she’s sick when Taeyeon ruins the moment.
“You look like a traffic cone.” She remarks, honestly.
Taeyeon has to squint at the screen to see the other girl narrow her eyes in response before conceding and excusing herself to present an alternative option. It seems like Hyo agrees though, because she’s still chuckling when Tiffany returns in a floor length gown style dress.
“Didn’t Dumbledore die in the fifth movie?” She gives Taeyeon the middle finger in response before correcting her that it was the sixth and she’d always be a bigger potterhead than her.
Taeyeon’s quick to reject an all pink ensemble for fear that it would be disrespectful to Elle Woods, and Hyo argues that though she’s ridiculously attractive in a leather jacket, it might not suit the evening’s plans. Tiffany’s profusely regretting her need for a second opinion that’s led to her having to deal with an unwanted third, but she changes her mind when Taeyeon’s quiet as she steps out in a black dress that stops mid thigh.
“Woah, Fany! It’s stunning, right Taeng?” Hyoyeon’s quick to exclaim, but Tiffany’s eyes are trained on the smaller girl next to her who’s yet to speak. There’s something she can’t deciper swimming in the chestnut of Taeyeon’s eyes that Tiffany finds herself hoping isn’t due to the poor cellphone reception.
“That’s the one, Miyoung. He’ll love it,” is spoken quietly but there’s a sincerity dripping from her few words that startles Tiffany so much that she forgets to reprimand her for using her korean name. Taeyeon’s still looking at her with an expression she can’t read but it lines her insides with a heat that she’s sure has the potential to do some serious damage.
The older girl isn’t wrong, it's almost annoying how she's pretty much always right. When he arrives to pick her up later that evening, his eyes shine so brilliantly with obvious excitement and affection and he doesn’t even need to say the words for Tiffany to know that he loves the outfit. She smiles because it's so easy, she knows what he's thinking and feeling and his expressions are so transparent that she never has to wonder what a certain look might have meant. It’s when they’re halfway to the restaurant chatting comfortably that it dawns on her that her insides don’t feel warm at all.
A/N: to be continued! or, that's the plan anyway...