Namjoo’s eyes burn and her wrist stings, but she keeps writing. Three tests and two essays stand between her and a solid night’s sleep, her hell week manifesting in the middle of the semester. She’s surrounded by a small army of styrofoam coffee cups piling up next to her laptop in the only library that’s open twenty four hours a day, determined to pull herself through the week, even if it kills her.
She’s spread her books and papers out across one of the larger tables, free reign now that most of the general populace has gone to bed. There’s only two other signs of life in the quiet study area— a group of freshman with their heads ducked together working through some complex STEM nonsense, and the most gorgeous girl Namjoo has ever seen.
Namjoo has seen this girl around— they seem to have similar study habits, staying late at the library towards the beginning of the week to pack in assignments and review notes. Namjoo always forgets to breathe when the girl’s pouty lips part to blow a stream of frustrated air, pushing her choppy bangs into the air up and out of her face. The rest of her hair is piled into a spiky bun on top of her head, strands too short to be properly gripped by it but trying their best regardless, a few stragglers falling out and framing her face.
Namjoo is convinced that she’s a model, people like her just— don’t exist outside of magazine covers and idol music videos. Big brown eyes and expressive brows, completed by soft cheeks and a near permanent pout. Her ramrod straight posture makes Namjoo’s spine ache with envy and the breadth of her shoulders makes Namjoo feel pleasantly small, a rare feeling for a woman who’s six foot one.
It’s not something Namjoo does often— get crushes.
Fleeting moments of attraction, the stir of something low in her gut, the pounding of her heart around someone she admired, sure. The urge to constantly hang out with a new friend, the way her heart smiles when she’s around certain people, okay.
But a full blown crush? All of that combined and focused onto one person? She’s never let herself get that far.
She’s an all or nothing kind of girl— heart too big and too soft to trust with anybody else even for a second. She had found that out rather unfortunately with her first “girlfriend” in highschool, a whirlwind summer romance filled with flowers and fumbling and then—
Completely ghosted on a particularly hot and sticky day in early August.
But this beautiful woman makes Namjoo reconsider. She rests her face on her hands and ignores her essay, choosing instead to watch the concentrated expression on the girl’s face as she types furiously. The sleeves of her pink hoodie keep crawling down her hands and she flicks her delicate wrists to push them back up.
Namjoo eventually pulls herself back together long enough to concentrate on her essay and gets back into the flow of studying.
A thousand words later and a distinct burning in her eyes from staring at her computer screen for too long, she sighs and leans back in her chair, finally happy with the essay. She groans at the late hour, standing up and cracking her joints. The only ones left are her and the beautiful girl— now checking her phone, feet propped up on the table as she takes a break. Namjoo cracks her neck and heads towards the bathroom, finally able to take care of her bodily functions now that her work load was complete for the night.
The library is a bit of a liminal space, even at the best of times. The freshmen are long gone, the library now dead silent except for the noisy upstart of the ancient air conditioning every few minutes. If she stopped breathing for a few seconds, she could probably hear the buzzing electrics of the incandescent lights that create the purgatory-like atmosphere in the studying area.
The still, dusty air sets Namjoo’s teeth on edge, caffeine high disintegrating into a bottomless pit of anxiety in her stomach. As she walks between the stacks of books, she hums quietly to herself, some on the fly composition she doesn’t let herself latch onto to distract her from the distinct lack of noise. She opens the door to the bathroom and-
She walks directly back out and beelines back to the tables with her stuff, mind blank. She leans against one of the bookshelves and looks at her hands, turning them over to inspect them, grounding herself, making sure she’s not seeing things. She looks over at the beautiful girl and sees that she’s packing her stuff up, cute Princess Peach sticky notes neatly placed in her pencil box. Before she can stop herself, Namjoo hesitantly makes her way over to the her table.
“Hey um- sorry to bother you. And I know this will sound. Incredibly strange.” She starts, words halting and a little confused. “But, I think I just saw a cat? In the girls bathroom? And I was wondering if you would come with me to make sure I’m not having a caffeine induced psychotic break.”
The girl blinks once, twice. Opens her mouth, closes it again. Her brows are wrinkled together, likely trying to figure out if Namjoo is fucking with her or not. Something must give, because her face smooths out.
“Sounds good, lead the way.” She says decisively. Namjoo nods and walks back to the girls bathroom, in all its dingy glory, beautiful girl in tow.
“I’m Namjoo, by the way.” she says, realizing she hadn’t introduced herself. She slowly edges the door open and steps back.
“I’m Jinah.” The beautiful girl, Jinah, replies, as she immediately steps into the bathroom and comes face to face with what’s been plaguing Namjoo for the past few minutes.
“That-” Jinah begins. “That sure is a whole ass cat.” It’s beady eyes stare up at Namjoo from its perch in the middle sink, licking its paw, claws out menacingly.
“Okay, cool. I’m not going crazy then. Good to know.” It hisses a little and Jinah turns around, quietly ushering Namjoo back and closes the door gently.
“It’s kind of cute?” Namjoo says, rubbing at her arm awkwardly. They look at each other for a moment before bursting out into laughter and- nothing could have prepared Namjoo for Jinah’s squeaky laugh— belly deep and pitched like a windshield wiper. Her heart melts and she realizes she’s in way too deep for just a quiet library crush.
They glance at each other periodically, manic giggles bursting out every so often as they pack their stuff up to leave. They pile on their coats and scarves, gearing up for the chilly weather awaiting them.
“You heading home too, Namjoo-ssi?” Jinah asks, cracking her neck as she heaves her backpack onto her shoulders.
“Yeah, I have to haul ass because I have to be up in ...” Namjoo looks at her nonexistent watch and then back at Jinah “Very little time and I’m already suffering. If I don't at least pretend to be in bed my roomates going to wrap me in a blanket and she’s gonna suffocate me for not taking care of myself.” Ahhh, Jimin. What a woman.
“What a woman” Jinah replies as they climb into the elevator. Namjoo nods.
She’s getting to that point where all her responsibilities are done and the burning in her eyes and the soreness of her back are combining with the overwhelming tiredness and she’s starting to crash.
Namjoo contemplates the walk home.
She lives across campus and a fifteen minute walk into the adjacent residential area. Namjoo shudders. She doesn’t particularly feel like being on edge the whole walk back.
“I um, I live in the cluster of apartments north of campus by the river, do you by any chance want to share a taxi? Or at least walk together?” Namjoo offers, hoping to be able to cut down on the fare, her poor wallet crying out at the thought of paying the fare all by itself.
“Oh, that’s actually perfect, I live up there too.” Jinah smiles and pulls out her phone, calling the taxi service. Namjoo lets the tiny lesbian in her mind take over for a minute and stares at Jinah, the way her round cheeks peek out above her scarf, eyes a dreamy sparkle lit up by her phone screen. Namjoo is just short of enamored this close up.
They check the license plate when the car arrives and get in, quietly complaining about their respective workloads. Apparently Jinah’s a software major finessing her degree to be a video game developer, and her capstone project is a side scroller based on old Super Mario.
“That’s so cool!” Namjoo fawns, gay heart expanding one too many sizes as Jinah speaks, an undeniably proud sparkle in her eye.
“Yeah I really love it, but the code has been buggy for the past few days and I can’t figure it out. My rubber ducky is being a real useless piece of shit right now”.
“Your what now” Namjoo asks.
“My rubber ducky.” Jinah repeats. At Namjoo’s continued confused facial expression, she continues. “Programmers keep a rubber duck on their desk and we talk to the duck aloud as a sounding board, running through our code. It helps us figure out what the issue is just by hearing ourselves talk.” She smiles ruefully. “Except this little shit has been useless and I can’t figure out why my characters glitch through the floor every time they walk inside the haunted hotel. It’s getting pretty frustrating.” Namjoo nods along coasting on the soothing sounds of Jinah’s low, late night voice.
“Bold of you to assume that the ground is solid,” Namjoo muses. Jinah giggles and they smile at each other.
“Here, give me your phone so I can give you my number. Can’t have you think you’re hallucinating cats in libraries all alone.” Jinnah holds her hand out expectantly. Her pretty, manicured nails contrast cutely with the crookedness of her fingers. Namjoo’s mind is somewhere in the gutter as she hands Jinah her phone, before a question pops up in her mind.
“Wait, since you’re doing your capstone, that means you’re a senior right?” Jinah nods as she quickly types in her phone number, nails clicking gently against the screen. “That means you're a year ahead of me. Nice.”
“Ahh, you can call me unnie, then, Namjoo-ssi. We did share a traumatic bonding experience” She smiles and hands the phone back. They get out of the car and look at each other, a moment of awkward silence.
“Well, I live across the street so I guess this is where we part ways, but-” she pauses and her eyes widen. She grabs Namjoo’s shoulders, a wild look in her eyes.
“Bold of me to assume the ground isn’t solid- I forgot to write code for that!” She exclaims. “Thank you so much Namjoo-yah” With that, she kisses Namjoo’s forehead and turns around in a flurry, running across the street and into the apartment building, leaving a blushing Namjoo in the middle of the night, frozen in the middle of the street.
Namjoo’s alarm startles her out of her sleep. She grudgingly silences it and seriously considers quitting school and becoming a bog witch, sleeping in whenever she wants and answering only to her plants. Her eyes still burn, a dull throb forming behind her eyes as she struggles to latch onto consciousness, three hours of sleep not nearly enough to tide her over when that’s all she’s been getting for the past week.
She squints at the phone screen, everything still a little bleary this early in the morning. A few emails from the university, a text from Yoonji that was probably another picture of her dog, and-
I know we just met like an hour ago but i could literally marry u
U just fixed the problem i’ve been stuck on for
An entire week
Let unnie take you out for coffee sometime as a thank you
Namjoon squints her eyes and thinks for a second. If Jinah was texting her, that meant that the cat in the bathroom wasn’t a midterms season fever dream. Interesting.
No problem Jinah-Unnie! I’m glad I could help!
You really don’t have to !! I didn’t even realize I fixed anything
It’s honestly a first for me !!
Namjoo sets her phone down and groans, scrubbing her hands over her face and sits up, back protesting from the way she had twisted herself up during the night. She changes into her comfiest pair of sweatpants and her warmest sweater, unwilling to face the day and her exams in anything but her favorite outfit.
As she’s brushing her teeth, her phone pings where it lays in her tornado of a bed, half hidden under a pile of blankets. She digs it out and almost chokes on her toothpaste.
Okay but consider the following: I want to
She carries the phone with her into the bathroom as she finishes brushing her teeth, trying to make the cogs in her hazy mind work.
… I’m not going to refuse free coffee, honestly.
Here’s my schedule for the week, so whenever works for you is good!
Namjoo cringes a little bit at the screenshot of her calendar. Jimin had helped her set it up in her freshman year, spouting off the numerous benefits of having your schedule at your fingertips and it being able to yell at you when you have things to do. It’s honestly super useful, but Namjoo is also an idiot and named her classes shit like “old money bitch talks about philosophy as if he invented it” for her philosophy elective and “gurch. gender church.” for her gender and religion class.
And she had just sent Jinah physical proof.
Namjoo takes a deep breath and makes sure her backpack has everything she needs before leaving her room. Jimin is, as she usually is this early in the mornings, collapsed in one of their dining chairs, head resting miserably on the table.
“Hey Jimin-ah” Namjoo murmurs, ruffling Jimin’s short silver hair. She knows not to be too loud before Jimin’s morning run. Jimin’s still volatile and half asleep before she works out, and Namjoo has learned not to mess with her morning grouchiness. She pours Jimin a glass of water and gently sets it in front of her, holding back a grin as Jimin mumbles her way through a thank you.
Namjoo locks the door, unsure if Jimin will make it to her run or if she’s going to fall back asleep at the table (it’s always a fifty fifty chance). As she stuffs her keys into her bag, she gets another text and her heart rate speeds up.
Hey bitch where are you, prof kim has the stacks of tests out already and is scaring the underclassman
Namjoo curses and runs down the stairs, hoping to make it to her and Yoonji’s philosophy class on time for the exam.
Namjoo groans as she lays on the desk in her and Yoonji’s shared studio. They’ve been sitting there for what felt like hours, getting nothing done other than staring at the wall and trying to string words and beats together. Yoonji taps angrily at random notes on her keyboard, hoping for something to happen.
“Why can't we just like” Yoonji starts, “make music at a regular time of day? When we booked time at the studio? With real equipment? And not at three in the morning in a caffeine fueled haze”
“Artistry can’t be a nine to five, babe” Namjoo replies, face smooshed into the wood of the table.
“I mean you’re right but, god, at what cost Joo-yah” Yoonji replies. She fixes her hair for the millionth time, fluffing her bangs out of her face and scowling the entire time.
“Like… metaphysical cost… or?” Namoo asks, shit eating grin on her face as the predicted groan leaves Yoonji’s mouth.
“Why am I friends with you again?” She asks.
“I was a baby gay and you, and I quote,” Namjoo adds, practiced response to an oft asked question. “Didn’t want to leave the useless lesbian to her own devices.”
“Sounds fake but okay.” Yoonji snorts. “Since we’re not getting anything done, do you want to get lunch instead?” Namjoo’s heart sinks.
Yoonji is one of Namjoo’s best friends, helping her through some dark times with a sharp word and a comforting, solid presence. Since Yoonji’s started her senior year, though, she’s been working more on her production and has even started interning at an idol company, leaving precious little time for herself, much less for Namjoo and Jimin.
Today is the only day Jinah is able to meet, though, and she seemed really excited to see Namjoo again. They’ve been texting on and off for the past few days, random snippets of their day or pictures of the campus cats they happened to pass by. Namjoo gleaned that Jinah was a transfer, coming in during the fall with only three semester to go.
“I’m sorry unnie, but I’m having coffee with a friend in a little bit.” Namjoo confesses.
“Is this the ‘friend’ you haven’t stopped texting for the past few days?” Yoonji raises a brow. At Namjoo’s startled look Yoonji rolls her eyes. “Unnie has eyes in the back of her head, y’know. Besides, you’ve checked your phone like a billion times today- you never do that. Is there someone I should know about?”
Namjoo blushes, caught out on her secret lesbianing. She bites her lip and looks down, willing to let down her guard around Yoonji.
“I mean- maybe?” Yoonji’s eyebrows almost fly off her face, but her expression remains impassive. “I’ll let you know as it goes. She gives me big lesbian energy, but nothings confirmed, so I’m being a bit cautious. This really just is coffee, Jinah-unnie was insistent and I’m not gonna say no to free coffee.”
Yoonji hums, understanding.
“Also I um.” Yoonji starts, and then coughs. “Mayormaynotbebringingafriendtogaymovienight.”
“Excuse me, what?” Namjoo teases. “Is Min Yoonji, biggest bitch in town, bringing a friend? To gay movie night?” Yoonji’s pale face turns a splotchy red and she scrunches up her face.
“Do I know them?” Namjoo asks, gently nudging Yoonji’s leg with her toe.
“No I- I met Hoseok-ah at work.” Namjoo wiggles her eyebrows in response and gets a kick for her troubles.
“He’s super cool you guys aren’t allowed to be weird around him.” Yoonji pouts, picking at her sweater hem.
“Do you want me to invite Jinah-unnie so he’s not the only fresh meat?” Namjoo asks, voice soft. Yoonji looks up at Namjoo gratefully.
“Yeah, actually. That would be- nice”
“Do you think they can handle gay movie night?” Namjoo thinks back to Jimin and Tae’s past escapades on gay movie night that have ended in utter chaos and the fire department being called.
“I don’t know about Jinah, she’s your friend.” Yoonji shrugs. “If you say she has big lesbian energy, then she can probably handle it as long as we cut Jimin off after four drinks. Hoseok-ah has... more than enough energy to deal with everyone” Namjoo nods.
“You’re probably right.” She feels her phone buzz and grabs it, seeing the text from Jinah telling her what cafe to meet her at.
“I’ll alert the gays” Yoonji replies. Namjoo laughs and types out a quick reply to Jinah. Yoonji smiles her small, reserved smile that makes her look like a cat— eyes squished together and utterly content. She awkwardly pats Namjoo’s knee.
“Good talk Joo-yah.”
“Pact to never talk about emotions ever again?”
“Signed and mandated by law.” Yoonji replies.
chat : Gays Against STEM
Alright ladies and gays, Namjoo and I are… inviting some friends to movie night
hoseok-ah is a chaos bi, like myself
+ Jinah is an unconfirmed wlw but has big lesbian energy, so Namjoo is vouching for her to join our gays only event on a trial run
Please be nice she seems really sweet :((
Namjoo sits in the cafe on her laptop, waiting for Jinah to arrive. The cafe Jinah told her to come to was a hole in the wall cafe Namjoo had never heard of. There’s cheerful music playing on the speakers and waitstaff that doesn’t look dead inside like all the other coffee shops near campus. She scrolls through powerpoints her professor posted, quizzing herself for the next day’s test.
“Namjoo-yah?” she hears from behind her and startles. She almost knocks her laptop off the table, but saves it just in time, ignoring Jinah’s snickering. Namjoo turns around and sees Jinah in her full glory. The afternoon sun streams in through the windows and gives her a halo-ed effect, melting Namjoo’s heart just a little bit.
She realizes she’s just been staring for a solid minute when Jinah’s lip quirks up, concealing a smile.
“Hi unnie, sorry, I’m uh.. pretty tired, my sleep schedules still a little” She gestures aimlessly, but Jinah nods along anyways, understanding.
“I haven’t had a full nights sleep in a month because of this stupid game so I feel you, dude.” Jinah sets her bag down in the chair opposite of Namjoo. “So what do you want? Are you a boba bitch?” Namjoo snorts, smile cracking through any of the remaining anxiety in the pit of her stomach. It was just Jinah.
“Green milk tea with boba, please!”
“Ah, a classic. I’m gonna see if they’ll sell me a venti cup full of espresso today. Mama has a lot of work to do tonight.” Jinah winks and heads to the counter, leaving Namjoo wondering if she’s being serious or not. Namjoo closes her laptop and puts it away while she orders, listening to Jinah making ridiculous coffee puns at the cashier.
“Okay, so” Jinah starts, whispering conspiratorially at Namjoo as she sits down at their table, a twinkle in her eye. “Did you hear about the cargo ship that dumped a shit ton of laundry detergent into the South China Sea?”
“No, I didn’t. Shit, it’s already a cesspool.” She frowns.
“Unbeliebubble, am I right?” Jinah has the worst shit eating grin on her face, eyes gleaming. Namjoo opens her mouth, and closes it.
“You absolute bitch.”
Jinah throws her head back and laughs deep in her belly, incredibly pleased with her terrible pun. It really is just Jinah.
Their drinks arrive, and Namjoo gleefully rams the large straw into the slip of plastic.
“A little stabby today, huh?” Jinah asks, taking off the lid of her cup and inhaling, a content smile stretching across her lips.
“Needed to get some pent up anger out. Yoonji-unnie’s really been testing me recently.” Namjoo replies, smirk on her face. Jinah rolls her eyes.
“Yoonji is the producer right? Tiny and angry?” Namjoo nods.
“Yeah, I love her but if she tries to tell me my chords aren’t right one more time I’m going to strangle her classically trained ass.”
“A classically trained ass? Iconic. Where can I sign up?” Jinah manages with a straight face, taking a sip of her steaming coffee.
“Corner of goth and bitch, a few blocks short of lesbian city.” Namjoo retorts, words slipping off her tongue. The second she says it her eyes widen and she slaps a hand over her mouth.
Namjoo forgets sometimes, that not everyone is as accepting as her little friend group, all at least some letter in the spectrum. But with Jinah, she felt so comfortable, and forgot herself. She dares a glance at Jinah, expecting the worse and-
“I live on the corner of bitch and tired, dead center in lesbian city.” Jinah replies carefully, eyes calculating. “Problem with that?”
“N-no, not at all. I- um.” Namjoo starts, ears burning red. “I’m .. also incredibly gay. I just, forgot that I didn’t know if you were. Sorry, I didn’t mean lesbian city in a bad way, I just mean Yoonji-unnie is bi, and we always joke about how if it weren’t for Yoo Kihyun freshman year she would be a gold star lesbian and she never corrects us and-”
“Namjoo-yah,” Jinah says gently, placing a hand on Namjoo’s arm. She doesn’t hear her, though, and keeps going.
“You just give me such big lesbian energy and I’m very much also gay and I have nothing against the gays or trans people, my friend group’s groupchat name is literally ‘gays against STEM,’ I would never try and insinuate anything-”
“Namjoo.” Jinah says sternly, shaking her a little bit. “It’s fine, You don’t have to explain, I get it.” Namjoo takes a deep breath and nods, hiding her face behind her hands.
“Sorry unnie” She mumbles.
“Don’t worry about it kid, we’re all just a bunch of lesbians here.” Jinah winks, reassuring her. “Literally. I love this place, specifically because a third of the profits go to lgbt charities. You’re fine.”
“Oh,” Namjoo says, looking around with newfound wonder at the place.
“So I give you big lesbian energy huh?” Jinah says after a beat of silence, smirking. “Was it the manspreading? The puns? Do you know about my secret stash of hawaiian shirts?” Namjoo laughs and takes another sip of her drink.
“It was when I said there was a cat in the bathroom and you just… went with it.” Namjoo replies. “Also I saw some colorful pins on your backpack and I was.. Hopeful. Speaking of which! My friends are having a gay movie night on saturday night, if you’re free, and want to come.” .
“Hopeful?” Jinah asks, corners of her mouth curling into a smirk. Namjoo doesn’t even notice, too steeped in her manic embarrassment, barreling on.
“We pretty much just have dinner together and appoint a gay every week to pick a movie- with the five of us it gets pretty chaotic but it’s fun!” Namjoo is rambling again but she can’t seem to stop, nerves tingling across her skin as she hopes she doesn’t seem weird.
“That seems.. really nice.” Jinah answers, smirk melting into a gentle smile. “It's been a while since I’ve hung out with a big group of gay people. Gotta get my party hawaiian shirt out for this, then.”
“You’ll come then?” Namjoo asks, hopeful.
“Of course.” Jinah nods, smile bright on her face.
Joo there’s a bunch of freshmen sitting at my spot TT
Then who would bring u coffee, u coward
Unnie the cat is still in the bathroom
When will he be free
He comes and goes as he pleases
I think I saw him on top of one of the shelves as I was leaving this morning…. That cat is living the dream
Do u think that cat is a deity, watching over us and wishing us well on our academic plights
God i hope so
Let’s bring him some offerings just in case
i vote spicy tuna
do you think aliens are causing climate change, but only enough to get rid of humans so they can harvest the planet?
Go the fuck to sleep
they’re obviously the politicians pitting corporations and citizens against each other so we don’t see that they’re the ones actually causing the pollution
Sometimes I feel like I’m wasting my life by majoring in music and sociology, and I feel like I should be doing something that would actually help people. And not like
Just some elitist academia bullshit.
help me fulfill my dream of becoming a bog witch instead and homestead with me
Jinah 11:04 am
If you feel like you want to change the world, then you can do that through whatever avenue you choose.
Make one person’s day because they liked your song and felt touched by the lyrics?
Made a classist bitch angry?
Got your research into the hands of policy makers to make tangible change?
Gave yourself a purpose in life?
Make yourself happy?
They’re all good reasons and you shouldn’t be down on yourself because you’re not going to be a doctor or some shit
Your work doesn’t have to be global or life and death decisions to make a real impact, Namjoo-yah
but i will absolutely be a bog witch with you if you just ask
Look at how many lobsters I ordered >:-)
Namjoo barely has any brain power left for her remaining tests, but she makes it through them with as much grace as she can. She feels like an empty shell of a person by Friday— like someone took a spoon and scraped out all her insides, dumping them unceremoniously on the sidewalk. She slogs her way through her last classes of the week, the emotional toll catching up to her and numbing her to the core. The only thing that’s kept her from completely breaking down mentally is Jinah’s amusing and supportive texts and Jimin forcing her to eat whenever they cross paths.
She’s unwilling to consider the stress she’s put on her body and the amount of caffeine that’s run through her system in the past forty eight hours, and chalks up the minor migraine building up behind her left eye to mysterious forces.
On Friday night, she takes the longest shower known to man, washing off the grime and the stress of the week. After she’s done actually washing herself off, she fills their bathtub with burning hot water and indulges in one of Jimin’s bath bombs. She sinks into the too hot water and lets her mind go quiet, playing some r&b and ignoring the fact that the tub is too short for her long legs.
She lets her mind wander, slipping into the hazy line between consciousness and the dream realm, building worlds up and breaking them down. She dreams of holding Jinah’s hands, kissing her soft, squishy cheeks, stroking up and down her sides. Her chest feels soft and happy, bubbly water and warm thoughts pushing her deeper into a hazy sleep like state.
She eventually gets out of the bath and dresses herself, pleasantly noodly and tired.
Namjoo and Jimin eat dinner at their tiny coffee table, sides pressed together as they watch music shows, yelling at the screen when their preferred idols don’t win. Jimin plops into Namjoo’s lap and looks up at her, making weird faces until Namjoo gives in and laughs.
She accompanies Jimin into her room as the younger decided what to wear to the party Tae invited her to, but possibly falls asleep between outfit three and four.
“Go to bed unnie, you need some sleep” Jimin eventually says ruffling Namjoo’s hair. She gives Jimin a tired thumbs up at her current outfit and leaves, dropping herself into her own bed, squishing her Ryan plushies to her chest.
She’s out like a light before the clock strikes ten.
Namjoo rises around one in the afternoon on Saturday, unsure of what year it is and why she has a physical form. She drags herself out of bed and into the kitchen, pouring herself a tall glass of water and downing the entire thing in one go.
Her senses slowly start coming back to her, and she squints around the apartment, trying to find any signs of Jimin’s return. Finding none, she drags herself to the couch and groans, falling back asleep for a little bit.
The afternoon passes in a haze. At some point Namjoo eats a lunch comprising of a granola bar and some ramen, feeling more and more like a person as the hours drag by. She lazes around and watches some tv for a while before getting a bit restless, and goes back to her room.
It’s… not the worst her room has ever looked.
Midterms season always puts her in a hyperfocus state where all she thinks about are her classes, and her cleanliness goes out the window as she puts all her efforts into her school work. As a result, her room is a straight up goblin cave— clothes strewn across the floor and snack wrappers surrounding her already overcrowded desk. She picks up her dirty clothes and sorts them, throwing a load in the washer and feeling a hundred times better about herself. She cleans up the rest of the room as her laundry runs, clearing away the detritus and making her bed with fresh sheets.
She opens the curtains and cracks the window despite the cold, airing out the room to make it smell… less like a teenage boy’s room.
It’s a productive day, and Namjoo feels accomplished and refreshed, recharged to face the readings she’s been ignoring for the upcoming week.
Those are a problem for Sunday Namjoo, though.
Hypothetically speaking how should one… dress for gay dinner and a show?
Hypothetically, whatever you want
Something confy you can lounge in!!
I cleaned my room!!!!!
I even washed my favorite sheets!!!
Namjoo is excited. It’s been a while since the whole group has hung out together, all bogged down in midterm and performance season. Jimin has been under double the stress, spending ridiculous amounts of time at the dance studios while doubling down on studying for her business classes, determined to keep her grades high enough to qualify for college honors in both of her majors.
Namjoo herself is majoring in sociology and minoring in music production, something to keep her mind engaged and creative. She loves her research and the classes she’s taking but sometimes she needs to breathe and forget the horrors of the world and and immerse herself in beats and melodies to drown it all out. It helps sometimes, to relieve the ache she feels in her chest, when she feels helpless and overwhelmed. She can just tune everything out with a pair of headphones and Cubase and lets herself get into the flow.
Jimin, though, she wants to open her own dance studio, choreograph for idols, make a whole generation fall in love with movement the way she did at a young age. And she goes at it with fierce determination. Namjoo is always inspired by her, especially her stubbornness to succeed out of spite for those who condescend her.
They go well together, balance each other out in surprising ways— Namjoo softening out Jimin’s rough edges and Jimin pushing Namjoo’s pieces back together whenever she’s overwhelmed. They often talk late into the night, a bowl of whatever superfood Jimin is raving about that week, flitting from topic to topic, personal to political to superfluous to raunchy to incredibly stupid— they never run out of things to talk about, late night melding into early morning, sun peeking out as they lean against each other, quiet in the night.
Namjoo wouldn’t know where she’d be without Jimin, which is why she’s… a bit concerned.
Jimin’s not back yet, and she had been clubbing the previous night. Namjoo had gotten a “still alive” text around 3 in the morning, but no response to her “home safe?” when she had woken up.
She sends another one, to check in.
Hey Jimin-ah are you okay? You haven’t texted me back :((
im with Tae and gguk!!
We’re dyeing our hair >:-)
Sorry if i worried you its been… a hectic day…
We’re gonna need to have a house meeting soon because i am…
Absolutely disgusting, I’m calling the police
(glad you’re safe <33)
((I may or may not also. Be having. An emotion. But you didn’t hear it from me.))
See u in a bit unnie!!!
Something settles in her heart at Jimin’s replies. Despite Jimin’s multiple black belts, Namjoo still worries, lightning bolt strikes to her heart whenever she thinks of Jimin walking home in the dark.
This, though, is scary in its own right. Jimin’s a self proclaimed disaster bisexual, never truly settling down. She’s fast to fall in love and fast to fall out of it, attention span short in terms of romantic attachments. She’s hard to truly befriend, though, opening herself up slowly like a flower blooming at .5 speed, unfurling from its tightly wound bud into a beautiful bloom, warm and inviting to all who pass her tests. When it comes to anything approaching serious intimacy, though, she’s incredibly allergic— unwilling to process those emotions.
Which is why her friendship with Tae is a bit of an anomaly. She met Tae in her second semester of freshman year, and for all intents and purposes, Namjoo thought it was a crush: a fast to arrive, fast to leave kind of thing.
But Tae never left.
They weaseled their way into Jimin’s life, digging a spot for themselves in Jimin’s heart and staying there. While Jimin is ordinarily openly affectionate with her friends, her friendship with Tae pushes it to a next level. It’s a rare day when they can’t be found together, permanently glued to each others' side.
Jimin, though, swears up and down that they’re not dating, just pure platonic soulmates. Tae… denies it less than Jimin, but neither have given a straight answer (hah) in the three years since they met.
And lately, Jimin’s been disappearing off with Tae and Jungkook (a sophomore baby gay Yoonji accidentally adopted in one of her history classes) for hours at a time, and always comes home glowing, a gentleness about her. Namjoo doesn’t push the topic, knows Jimin is delicate. She’s too stubborn to let anyone tell her what she’s feeling, will come to the conclusion herself in her own time.
Namjoo thinks Jimin’s reached that point, calling for a house meeting. Jimin’s always found it comforting to have a Namjoo-shaped sounding board for processing her emotions out loud, and having a friend to hold your hand when voicing earth shattering realizations softens the blow.
Namjoo considers bringing up her crush on Jinah, now that she’s a confirmed lesbian and there’s even a millimeter of a hint of a chance at Namjoo being able to date her. Namjoo knows her brain is going to throw itself into anxiety overdrive. Jimin will set her straight, giving her the facts and any observations from their interactions tonight. Something aching and hopeful blooms in Namjoo’s chest as she changes into a cute outfit, lifting her spirits.
She’s putting away the last of her laundry when the ringer buzzes, alerting her to someone arriving. It must be Jinah, because everyone else either knows the passcode or would find a way to sneak in and scare the living daylights out of Namjoo.
Hmm i miscalculated how long it would take to get here but!
A lesbian is never on time so ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
That was me that just rang the buzzer, btw !!
Buzzing you up!
She gives herself one last look over, favorite sweatpants and a cute crop top hopefully not too different from her usual day wear— she doesn’t want her friends to clown her for dressing up. Her hair is starting to get long again, the time for another cut coming up, shaving the sides down to manageable lengths again. Maybe dye it a fun color— the honey brown was getting old.
She runs out of time when she hears a knock at the door and sighs, sealing her fate.
Namjoo opens the door and immediately breaks into a smile.
“So, I know you said loungewear, but as a lesbian I need you, another lesbian, to be aware of my presence.”
Oh boy is Namjoo aware of Jinah’s presence.
She’s wearing an offensively flashy hawaiian shirt, loud print battling Jinah’s beautiful face for attention. Namjoo snaps her eyes back up as they trail down Jinah’s collarbones, a few buttons left open and delicate necklaces overlapping each other, wreaking havoc on Namjoo’s brain.
“Bold of you to assume that I’m not already aware of your presence.” Namjoo retorts before her brain can catch up. “Come on in! Everyone else runs on gay standard time so they’ll probably be a while.”
Jinah giggles and walks in, slipping off her shoes and leaving them neatly by the door.
“Oh, yeah I brought some wine!” Jinah says, pulling a bottle out of her bag. Namjoo takes it from her hands and sets it in the kitchen.
“Do you want anything to drink? We have…” Namjoo looks around thinking. “Banana milk? And I think some champagne.”
“Classy,” Jinah replies, waggling her eyebrows. “Water is fine, the fun drinks can wait until... after dinner.”
She looks around at the apartment, smiling when she gets to the giant pile of blankets eating up all the couch space.
“Are we gonna build a blanket fort with all of that?” She gestures.
“Mmm Jungkook tried it once, but none of our furniture is tall enough to manage a suitable fort for five people, so he gave up.” Namjoo says handing Jinah a glass of water, and stands awkwardly, unsure of what to do now— Jimin’s usually here to play the role of graceful host.
“That’s unfortunate… maybe we should try making one for just us, see if that works” Jinah winks. Namjoo’s face heats up, but she’s saved from replying by the front door banging open. Jinah jumps a little at the noise, putting up her fists in an attempt to look tough, and Namjoo snorts.
“What’s up gays, I’m home.” Yoonji says, toeing off her shoes. “Take these bags from me, Joo-yah, my arms are suffering.” As Namjoo goes to grab the bags of takeout from her arms, she notices someone still standing outside the door behind Yoonji.
“Hoseok-ssi, right?” Namjoo asks, smiling. Hoseok nods, smiling a blinding heart shaped smile.
“Yeah! Did Yoonji-noona already tell you about me?” He asks, following Yoonji’s lead and taking off his clunky sneakers. He has a loud, bright aura around him, bouncing around as he takes in the apartment, and it pulls Namjoo in. No wonder Yoonji befriended him so quickly.
“Just that you were coming tonight and that you guys work together.” At that Hoseok breaks out into a loud laughter.
“Noona is that payback for me calling you a business acquaintance? It was like… two days after we met. I thought we were friends now, noona.” Namjoo realizes that she had left Jinah alone to deal with Yoonji, and turns back to see them locked in a staring contest. Yoonji breaks the stare, nodding at Jinah with a small, pleased smile.
“Interesting that you think I know who you are, Hoseok-ah.” She replies, turning around “Joo-yah, you never told me your Jinah was gay cafe Jinah.”
“Gay cafe Jinah?” Namjoo raises her eyebrows, looking back at Jinah with a questioning look, setting the takeout on the counter.
“Oh yeah, I work at the cafe I took you to! They sell pretty good pastries in the morning which I lose sleep to make!” She smiles. “Yoonji-yah here always comes during my shifts because I’m enough of a bitch to sell her a venti cup full of espresso! A woman after my own heart, honestly.” Yoonji and Namjoo laugh, and Hoseok looks a bit shocked.
“Noona… an entire cup” Hoseok gestures, eyes wide, mimicking the size of a venti cup of coffee. “This big full of espresso? How have you not had a heart attack!”
“You underestimate my caffeine tolerance, Seok-ah. Anyways, let’s get into the food before the gremlins arrive and eat all of it.” Namjoo grimaces.
“Remember that time Jungkook-ah ate an entire pizza by himself? How does that kid keep his abs?” Namjoo asks, opening the bags and rifling through the containers.
“I don’t even know, dude.” Yoonji replies, grabbing a fistful of chopsticks from the dishrack.
They end up taking all the containers and sitting around the coffee table, Yoonji complaining about her bad back.
“Maybe if you didn’t hunch like a goblin all the time your back wouldn’t hurt, unnie.” Namjoo retorts, digging into her noodles. Hoseok laughs.
“Man, you should have seen her trying out this dance I choreographed with some of the younger trainees it was so cute.” Hoseok replies. “Wait, let me see if I have footage.”
“Min Yoonji did what now?” Jinah asks, shock in her tone.
“Yoonji, self proclaimed rock in a past life, did what?” Namjoo asks, smirking at Yoonji, who’s glowering at her noodles.
“Ah! Here it is!” Hoseok exclaims, turning his phone around to show Namjoo and Jinah. A tiny Yoonji and Hoseok dance together on the screen in what must be a dance studio with a bunch of tiny teenage girls, Hoseok obviously leading them through the steps.
As the music stops playing, the door swings open again and Jimin walks through, hair somehow shorter than before and a soft cherry blossom pink. Tae and Jungkook follow her in, toeing off their shoes.
“What’d we miss?” Jimin asks, setting down her bag at the kitchen table.
“Oh my god you guys got here just in time-” Yoonji slaps a hand over Namjoo’s mouth before she can continue.
“You missed nothing.” Yoonji says coldly, eyes sharp. “This is Hoseok and this is Jinah. Now. We will all move on from this collective hallucination Jinah-unnie and Namjoo-yah just had and get onto gay movie night.”
At this point, Jinah is full on giggling, covering her mouth to try and keep a straight face. She waves at the newcomers, mirth radiating off her in waves. Namjoo’s in a similar state, unable to keep the smile from cracking her face open.
“I’m Jimin, this is Tae-yah, and Jungkookie.” Jimin says, pointing at each of them in turn. Jungkook notices the half empty cartons of takeout and pouts.
“Did you guys start without us? You know I’m a hungry athlete how could you do this to me” He pouts, shouldering his way between Namjoo and Yoonji and grabbing a pair of chopsticks, digging right in.
With that everyone settles in and starts eating, chaos reigning as seven people try and eat around a tiny coffee table. The conversation leads to different things, breaking off into smaller conversations. Yoonji, Jimin, Jinah, and Jungkook go off about some sport thing that Namjoo couldn’t care less about. Tae and Hoseok swap trans friendly online clothing store recommendations, talking animatedly about some fashion brand that Namjoo vaguely recognizes.
As the food starts to run out, Namjoo grabs the alcohol from the kitchen and things take a bit of a turn for the loud. Namjoo leans back against the couch, mug of wine in hand as she takes in the chaos. Something Namjoo didn’t even know was missing clicks into place.
Jinah and Hoseok both bring something bright and fun, the vivacity to the night that was only there when Jimin and Tae were feeling particularly energetic. Now the conversation just feels effortlessly clean and smooth, and Namjoo revels in the way that the gaps are filled and their friend group seems… complete.
She shares a look with Jimin, a soft, squishy smile and a quick thumbs up. They pile up around the couch as Tae sets up the movie, mumbling to themselves as they figure out how to work the ancient dvd player. Jimin stretches out on the big couch to claim it, pouting when Jungkook unceremoniously picks her legs up to sit on the couch, setting them back down on his lap. Hoseok and Yoonji settle in together on the floor, hogging the mass of blankets between them. Which leaves … the loveseat open. Namjoo considers sitting on the floor next to Yoonji, but her and Hoseok’s blanket cocoon seems too far along in construction for her to join in, and Namjoo resigns herself to her fate and settles in next to Jinah.
Their shoulders brush together every time either of them minutely shifts, and Namjoo is hyper aware of Jinah’s presence next to her. Her quiet breaths, her giggles whenever stupid shit happens on the screen. As the movie progresses, the rest of the group quiets down from the earlier chaos, mugs of alcohol in hand as they whisper their snarky comments to each other.
Namjoo gets wrapped up in the movie, some artsy piece that Tae picked out, so much so that she doesn’t notice Jinah inching closer and closer. It’s only when Jinah’s head drops onto her shoulder during the second movie that she notices that they’re pressed together from knee to hip to shoulder. Namjoo makes herself cross eyed trying to look down at Jinah’s face and is rewarded by the sight of her eyelashes laying gently on her cheeks, eyes closed and breaths even. Namjoo forgets what’s on the screen and watches her for a while.
The haze of alcohol reduces everything down to the simple tactile feelings— Jinah’s ribcage expanding against her own, the warmth radiating from every point of contact between them, Jinah’s soft breaths puffing against her collarbone at regular intervals.
Her heart beats fast, tiny lesbian brain unable to process what’s happening. She looks up with wide eyes and sees Jimin already looking at her. Jimin smiles her encouraging smile and gives her two thumbs up, smirking at the face Namjoo pulls, panicky and pleading. She wiggles her eyebrows at Namjoo and nestles further into Tae’s lap, pressing a kiss against their neck. Namjoo looks back at the screen and tries desperately to focus on the movie and not the soft breaths fanning across her neck as Jinah slumbers on.
At the end of the movie, Hoseok stands up and stretches, cracking his neck and declaring that he has to leave.
“Sorry guys, this was really fun but I gotta get home— I have an early practice tomorrow morning and my binder is fucking killing me!” He says. Yoonji stands up and agrees, gathering up her stuff and following Hoseok out the door with a quiet goodbye and a sleepy content look on her face.
“Do you guys want to sleep over? My bed’s big enough for the three of us.” Jimin says, looking at Tae and Jungkook from her position, sprawled out on top of both of them.
“Sounds good, noona.” Jungkook says quietly, rubbing his eyes. Tae nods and yawns, showing all of their teeth. They eventually retreat to Jimin’s room to sleep, tired and clinging to each other. Wine is the only type of alcohol that makes Jimin sleepy, and Namjoo’s thankful that it was her drink of choice for the night.
Which leaves Namjoo, freaking out with a slumbering Jinah still laying on top of her and snoring. Namjoo contemplates her options, and sighs, resigned, when she comes up with no other alternative.
“Unnie,” Namjoo says quietly, nudging Jinah’s arm gently. Jinah groans and digs her face closer into Namjoo’s neck and wraps an arm around Namjoo’s bicep. This is… not an improvement. A step back, possibly. “Unnie please, it’s almost two in the morning.” She tries, prodding her arm again. Jinah grumpily opens one eye, pout out in full force.
“Do I have to go?” she asks, words slurred together and quiet. Namjoo’s heart melts.
“You have to go to bed, unnie. You need some rest, you haven’t been sleeping that much lately. Gotta get it in whenever you get the chance.”
“Can I sleep in your bed? Much closer than mine…” Jinah says, pout deepening. She doesn’t seem fully awake, eyes still glazed over, bags deep and dark under her eyes. Namjoo’s resolve breaks and she lets her lizard brain make the decision. Namjoo’s tired too, and maybe she wouldn’t mind having someone to share a bed with again.
“Okay, unnie.” She takes a deep breath. “That means we have to get up though, and go to my room.” Jinah nods, but makes absolutely no move to get up. Namjoo gently nudges her upright and stands up, turning back to Jinah with her hands held out. Jinah takes them and hauls herself up, swaying on her feet. She doesn’t let go of Namjoo’s hand as she’s led back to Namjoo’s room, hand warm and lightly calloused in Namjoo’s own. She feels solid and real and Namjoo decides to turn off her brain, just let herself feel the moment.
After they brush their teeth, Namjoo convinces Jinah to borrow some pajamas, and they change in a sleepy silence. Too soon for Namjoo’s taste, Jinah pulls back the covers and climbs into Namjoo’s bed, laying on her side and beckoning Namjoo over.
She isn’t going to survive the night.
She clicks off the lights and clambers into the other side of the bed, facing Jinah’s back. Namjoo does her best to calm her racing thoughts, running through the songs her and Yoonji were working on to quiet her mind.
As she’s finally starting to drift off, the lines between consciousness and sleep blurring, Jinah turns over and faces her. She looks directly at Namjoo with bleary eyes.
“Joo-yah,” she murmurs, words slurred, “I’m gonna need you to hold this… for science reasons.”
Namjoo looks at her, confused, until Jinah digs her hand out from under the covers and lays it out, palm facing the ceiling, between them. Namjoo, in her tired state, reaches out and rests her hand on top of Jinah’s. Their fingers intertwine, and Jinah’s breathing evens out, eyes fluttering shut once more, never fully awake in the first place.
Namjoo feels the warmth of Jinah’s hand in her own, feels her bony knuckles as she gently strokes her hand, and lets herself finally drift off.
A heavy weight presses down on Namjoo, warm and solid, even across her whole body, a soft thigh between her own. She hums quietly, sleep soft and not quite awake yet. She nestles closer to the warmth, room cold. Jimin must’ve cranked up the AC to deal with two extra bodies in her bed. Which-
Didn’t Namjoo go to bed with somebody? Her tired mind tries to piece together the previous night when whatever’s on top of her moves, arms tightening around her waist.
“Stop thinking- can hear it from here.” A voice says, somewhere near her collarbones. The warm puffs of air against her neck wake her up a bit, and her brain finally processes the fact that the deep, scratchy voice is Jinah’s, and the weight blanketing her is, in fact, Jinah herself.
Ordinarily, she would panic about something like this, full body contact with the current object of her affections? Her lesbian lizard brain would be on fire trying to figure out how to proceed were she any more awake.
It’s early, the morning light not quite penetrating the curtains, and she’s tired. She slowly drifts back to sleep, lulled by the whir of the AC turning back on.
Things after that are … for lack of a better word, different. Like they’re at a tipping point, just on the edge of something bright and beautiful.
Breakfast that morning is a tired affair, Jinah whipping up a quick stir fry for the rest of them, laughing at their hungover states. She teases all of them for their haggard appearances, her own face puffy and round from a night of sodium and alcohol.
When they finished eating, Namjoo and Jimin clean up while the rest get themselves together to head home.
Namjoo’s sitting at her desk when Jinah comes out of the bathroom, freshly showered, towel wrapped around loosely around her. Namjoo makes a point to stare at her planner, trying to figure out what readings she has to do for this week’s classes.
“Joo-yah, I know we just spent… the last twenty or so hours together, but are you down to study with me?” Jinah asks, fabric rustling as she presumably gets dressed. Namjoo’s blushing to the roots of her hair, trying to get the image of water droplets rolling down Jinah’s neck out of her mind. She nods.
“Yeah, I have a lot of homework to get to. Cat library okay? I think I need to set up camp and stay for … a solid seven, eight hours.” Namjoo says, resigned to her fate of catching up in her other classes. The rustling stops behind her, and Namjoo dares a glance behind her. Jinah, now fully dressed wanders over to Namjoo’s desk and leans in close. She looks down at Namjoo’s planner, humming at the frankly ridiculous amount of assignments she has crammed into each day.
“Sounds good to me. I need to go home and grab my stuff but I’ll meet you outside in like twenty minutes?” Jinah asks. Namjoo tries to answer but her face is... very close to Jinah’s, and she smells like Namjoo’s favorite body wash. Her brain short circuits for a bit, taking in the bright citrusy scent, before she’s able to pull her eyes back to Jinah’s.
Jinah smiles coyly, and Namjoo knows she’s well and truly fucked.
Tuesday night finds Namjoo sprawled out on Jinah’s bed, fluffy pink covers enveloping her as she listens to Jinah sing in the shower. They were supposed to hang out for a bit, both finally free from midterms season with a little bit of wiggle room for each other, but Jinah’s workout had run late. Namjoo can still clearly see her long legs and tiny running shorts in her mind’s eye, the sweat dripping down Jinah’s chest as she ran towards Namjoo in the street between their apartments. She had let Namjoo into her and her roommate Moonbyul’s apartment, and told Namjoo to make herself at home while Jinah showered.
Namjoo, alone for the time being, allows her thoughts to drift. It’s a testament to the fact that she’s out of midterms season that her sex drive is back, shooting her horniness levels through the roof now that she’s not trying to survive on extreme sleep deprivation. She daydreams of what ifs, of Jinah’s face red and chest heaving for completely different reasons. Namjoo clenches her thighs together as she thinks about kissing Jinah’s sweaty chest, trailing lower and lower until-
“Ready to eat, Joo-yah?” Jinah says, coming out of the bathroom, toweling her hair dry.
“Yeah” Namjoo snaps herself out of it, sitting up slowly, shaking the heady feeling that was growing in the pit of her stomach.
Jinah rummages through the kitchen and somehow manages to produce a wonderful dinner, putting Namjoo to work by having her clean up as they go. They work in tandem, shuffling around each other in the small kitchen. Jinah skillfully chops vegetables, extremely comfortable with the big ass knife in her hand, and Namjoo’s mind starts veering back into the gutter.
“Hey Joo-yah, can you grab that dish for me?” Jinah says, pulling Namjoo out of her thoughts. She looks over to where Jinah’s pointing, a serving dish sitting on top of the cabinetry. Namjoo shuffles forward, using her minimal height advantage to stretch up and grab it, wondering why Jinah had her grab it when they’re relatively the same height. She doesn’t complain though, Jinah hadn’t moved despite standing pretty much right in front of the cabinet, so Namjoo had inadvertently plastered herself to Jinah’s side in her reach for the plate. She blushes a little as she hands Jinah the dish.
They sit on the couch, knees brushing as they play Mario Kart, Jinah pulling out her Wii after they finish dinner, a mischievous glint in her eye. They duke it out, yelling at the screen and each other, finding increasingly obnoxious ways to sabotage each other.
“Think you can beat me, Namjoo-yah? I’m the queen at this game, I’ve never lost a game in my life.”
“Tough words from someone who throws up their fists any time they’re startled.”
“Proof that I’m ready to fight anywhere at anytime, Joo-yah.”
Their trash talk escalates, elbows pushing at each other as they get rowdier and rowdier, competitive streaks jumping out. At one point, Namjoo throws herself onto Jinah’s lap during a round, trying to obstruct her view to pass her and win first place. Instead of being immediately pushed off like she expected, Jinah just wraps her arms around Namjoo’s waist and plays around her, chin hooked over her shoulder.
Jinah wins the tournament, and dances around the room laughing raucously at Namjoo’s disgruntled expression.
After a few more rounds, they get tired of the game and put on a movie, Jinah yawning widely when she turns off the lights. She drops back onto the couch, laying down and placing her feet in Namjoo’s lap.
The movie plays, neither of them really paying attention to it, too busy commenting snarkily on the ridiculous aesthetics of the early 2000s movie.
“Hey Joo-yah, are you gonna sleep over or head home?” Jinah asks as the credits roll, not moving from her place half buried into the couch cushions. “I have a pretty early morning tomorrow- lots of pastries for white day season. ”
“Uh, I can leave if you need me to.” Namjoo says, hoping that she gets to stay at least a little longer in Jinah’s presence.
“I mean- if you want, you can stay over and come with me to my shift... I’m always bored while I wait for the bread to prove, and I’m usually the only one there that early.” She offers, looking at Namjoo hopefully. “Or you can just stay over and ignore my alarm. That way you don’t have to walk all the way back home.” Jinah says lifting her head up from her side of the couch to look at Namjoo. She blushes, heart fluttering at the fact that Jinah is definitely asking her to stay over.
It’s become a bit of a thing between them in the past few weeks— despite the fact that they live across the street from each other, their hangouts always end up lasting into the early hours of the morning, and at that point they barely have enough energy to get to the bedroom, much less to their respective apartment. It’s been… unexpectedly nice sleeping in someone else’s bed again, her need for human contact rising up and making itself known after years of laying dormant.
“I’d be happy to.”
Namjoo nurses a cup of coffee in the kitchen of the cafe, sitting far away from the sharp knives and expensive equipment as Jinah works. She tells Namjoo about gluten formation and the soft feeling of a good bread dough, but all Namjoo can think about is the way Jinah’s sleeves are rolled up, exposing her strong forearms as she works.
It’s an issue, really, how horny Namjoo has become around Jinah, lately, every thought somehow becoming tainted with the idea of pressing her into the mattress and making her feel good. Instead, she just wears out her wrist at night, coming to a not wholly satisfying conclusion, thoughts wandering to a pair of hands that would make her feel feel infinitely better.
Jinah ends up putting her to work kneading, standing behind her (close, too close), showing her how to manipulate the dough with soft but insisten commands by her ear, and Namjoo lets herself drown in the feeling of Jinah.
“So I think Tae, Jungkook, and I… might be dating?” Jimin says, eating ice cream straight out of the carton. They’re both splayed out on the couch, snacks in hand as they bitch about their weeks. It’s their usual wednesday night routine: they eat too much and talk the night away since neither of them have to deal with early morning classes the next day.
“Like we haven’t said it outright… but there have been… Hints.” She says, waving the spoon in Namjoo’s direction. Namjoo nods sagely, and lets Jimin work through what she wants to say.
“But like… Jungkook is ace and Tae and I are... consistently about to jump each others bones, so I don’t really… know how that’ll factor into us… we want him to feel comfortable and not left out... we love him a lot” Jimin finishes quietly. Namjoo raises an eyebrow at her, nudging Jimin’s leg with her socked foot.
“Already throwing around the l-word, Jimin-ah?”
“Hahaha y’know, I really think unnie is into you.” Jimin laughs too loudly, eyes squinting as she changes the subject immediately. “She totally laughed at all your unfunny jokes and had big stars in her eyes when she looked at you.”
“My jokes are funny, fuck you.” Namjoo pouts, allowing the subject change for the moment. “Do you really think so?”
As dense as Namjoo knows she can be, she feels like… maybe, just maybe. This crush isn’t as one sided as she previously thought. On Sunday when they were studying together, every time Namjoo would look up, distracted by something out of the corner of her eye, Jinah would already be looking at her, smile gracing her lips. Her ears would turn red and she would look back at her laptop, but never quite seemed truly embarrassed at being caught looking.
When they ate dinner that night, at some point Namjoo had gotten food on her cheek and Jinah had leaned forward, and tenderly wiped it off, licking it off her finger afterwards. They had stared at each other for far too long, before the moment broke and Jinah laughed quietly and gone back to eating her food.
“Yeah, you’re both really gone on each other.” Jimin says, looking at her gently. “Do you think you’ll do something about it? Or wait for her to make a move maybe?”
Namjoo thinks. She feels like Jinah’s been making… pretty obvious hints, that she wants to get together. That it’s not all in Namjoo’s mind, that there really must be something there.
“I think… it might be my turn to make a move… maybe.” Namjoo says. Her heart beats fast in her chest as she makes up her mind, nervous and excited, unsure of what’s to come. Jimin reaches out, offering her hand for comfort. Namjoo takes it and marvels at how smooth her hand is and contemplates her next steps.
She is going to make a move— she will ask Kim Jinah out, and she will finally get to kiss the lips she’s been dreaming about for weeks.
“Now” Namjoo starts “Don't think I’m going to let you weasel your way out of telling me about you and Tae and Jungkook. Have you considered just talking to him about it?”
That night, Namjoo lays in bed, trying to figure out how she’s going to ask Jinah out. The other girl is… incredibly shy despite her loudness. Anytime any attention is placed on her, her ears burn a delightful red shade, and she curls into herself. Namjoo doesn’t want that, she wants to bloom with Jinah and kiss her petal pink lips.
She considers date spots, and thinks of the cherry blossoms, of taking Jinah under the pinks blooms and holding her hand, taking in the sweet scent of the flowers and the sweet sight of her possible girlfriend. Namjoo squirms a little, pressing her hands into her eyes at the thought of being able to call Jinah her girlfriend.
Her feelings for Jinah are… big. They build and crash like waves over her heart and she lets them envelop her in this new emotion— this deep fondness that Namjoo can’t escape. She thinks of Jinah’s smile and the little noises she makes whenever she’s coding. She thinks of the selfless way Jinah always asks how Namjoo is doing, how her classes are doing, does that ache in your shoulder feel better? She always knows about the inconsequential things and tries so hard to be the best version of herself there can be, and Namjoo deeply admires her. It also doesn’t hurt that Namjoo literally cannot stop thinking about her smooth skin and thick lips and soft curves, it’s- a lot for a simple lesbian like Namjoo.
She makes up her mind, and resolves to ask Jinah out the next day. They’re getting coffee, as they always do on Thursdays, and it’ll be a nice, lowkey way to do it. Not too in public where it would pressure or put any attention on Jinah, but a nice, special place where they could look back on fondly.
The thought makes Namjoo smile, and she closes her eyes, finally calm enough to rest, plan in mind.
:(( unnie I really like herrrrr
We almost kissed :(((((((
Unnie what am I going to do :(((
Namjoo stares at her phone, heart somewhere near her stomach, aching and hollow.
Namjoo wracks her brain, trying to figure out any moment that could’ve matched up to what Jinah was talking about, and can’t seem find one. They had briefly hung out yesterday afternoon, Jinah dropping by Namjoo and Yoonji’s studio for a quick chat since she was in the area. She knew Jinah went to meet a friend afterwards, something about going over some homework for a Python class.
Is that who she was talking about, then?
unnie i think you mightve sent that to the wrong person haha
Oh fuck … ignore that possibly.
There go her plans, she guesses.
Namjoo sets her phone down and turns onto her side, pulling her duvet up towards her shoulder. She takes a moment to consider her responsibilities, and makes the executive decision to skip her first class of the day. Her tests were last week and she can afford to miss a class if her heart feels like it’s being pressed steadily into a meat grinder.
She sets her phone back on the nightstand and curls up into a ball, legs pulled close to her chest. Her bed feels simultaneously too big and too small, memories of Jinah pressing up against her clouding her mind and she tries her best to shut it all out.
She takes a deep breath, closes her eyes, and wills herself to go back to sleep.
Haha no worries unnie
The afternoon creeps up on her, and she grudgingly goes to her gender and religion seminar, the class small enough that her absence would be noted.
All throughout class, her heart aches and she’s thinks back to the text, heart dropping into stomach in fear and hurt. The more she thinks about it, the stupider she feels.
Of course Jinah liked some other girl. Of course Jinah had other options. Why would she pick Namjoo, useless lesbian extraordinaire? Her mind thought of a million and one reasons immediately, mood worsening with each step out of the conference room-turned-classroom.
Her phone sits in her pocket, unread messages piling up. A few of them the gays against STEM group chat, but a few of them were also Jinah’s. Namjoo hadn’t opened them, but the preview showed that it was just her usual messages-
An update on library cat, her venti cup full of espresso, some complaint about her professors.
It was like nothing had even happened.
That bothered Namjoo. Her own world had just been upended, heart aching.
Hey Unnie, I have a pretty bad headache so coffee is gonna have to get cut short :((
She hates lying, but she doesn’t think she can handle being around Jinah too long, right now. Can't handle being around anyone, for that matter.
But is it really that big of a lie, when her whole body feels out of whack, mind in a whirlwind due to the hurt emanating from her heart?
Coffee with Jinah, is, as expected, awkward as hell. Not for lack of trying on Jinah’s part, but Namjoo just feels … out of sorts. She zones out for a bit while Jinah orders their drinks, habitual at this point, and her mind spirals.
“Namjoo-yah” Jinah says, insistently, snapping Namjoo out of her thoughts.
“I’ve been trying to get your attention, you sure you’re okay?” Jinah says, brow creased in worry.
“Yeah, it’s… fine, just a headache. Hopefully the caffeine helps.” She says, lying through her teeth.
They end up sitting there for twenty minutes, exhausting small talk and Jinah’s usual gossip rundown. Normally Namjoo would offer up her opinions on the pack of engineering majors who follow Jinah around like tiny, greasy worshippers, but instead Namjoo stares at her boba drink, watching the pearls float around in a circle.
“Joo, I think you should go home and take a nap, you’re really not looking too hot right now.” Jinah says, creased brow returning.
“Yeah, you’re probably right unnie, sorry.” Namjoo sighs and scrubs her hands over her face. “I just… still wanted to hang out, I know your schedule’s pretty packed.”
And isn’t that the worst part of it all? Despite the aching in her heart, all she wants is to bask in Jinah’s presence, regardless of if she likes her back. Jinah doesn’t owe her anything, and she’s a wonderful person and friend, and Namjoo doesn’t want to lose her.
But, she can let the aching creature in her heart take over and be sad and pitiful for at least a day or two.
She gathers her stuff and thanks Jinah for the drink, smile faltering a little as she turns around and leaves the shop to head home.
The next few days are a bit rough on Namjoo, to the point that Yoonji comments on it during their studio time.
“What happened between you and Jinah-unnie? I feel like you haven’t mentioned her once in like? A record breaking two hours?” Yoonji probes gently. “She’s not saying anything either.”
Namjoo sighs and picks at the hem of her hoodie.
“She um- she likes someone else.” Namjoo says, familiar ache making itself known again in her chest.
“What makes you think that?” Namjoo pulls out her phone and scrolls through the minimal texts, the flow having slowed down since the previous morning.
“We barely hung out that day… there’s no way she could’ve been talking about me. And I’m pretty sure she was hanging out with one of her comp sci friends later so… I don’t know.” Namjoo says, frowning.
“I’m sorry Joo-yah, that fucking sucks.” Is all she says, and Namjoo’s thankful for Yoonji. Yoonji doesn’t brush her off, tell her that it’s all in her imagination and that of course she still has a chance. Just lets her presence be known, lets Namjoo knows she’s there to listen, if she wants to talk.
“It um... It was pretty spooky timing honestly.” Namjoo says, tucking her phone back into her pocket. “I was gonna..” she takes a deep breath, finally letting the words escape her aching chest into the universe. “I was gonna ask her out that afternoon”
Yoonji winces in sympathy, scooting her rolly chair closer and pressing her knee against Namjoo’s.
“Instead I just… I just woke up to that and had my heart crushed into a bunch of tiny pieces? So that was Cool and Good I guess.” Yoonji frowns and opens her mouth to say something, then closes it again.
“Do you want to hang out with Seok-ah and I after this? I’m teaching him how to make western style noodles.” Yoonji says, instead of whatever was on her mind beforehand. Namjoo nods, and that’s that. They slowly return back to their respective computers, and work silently, Namjoo pensive and processing her thoughts.
How busy are you tonight and do you want to marathon study w/ me at the cat library?
I know its been like five (5) days but
I feel like its been… too long since I’ve seen your face :((
Sorry unnie!! I’m at yoonji unnie’s right now watching her and seok-ah be disgustingly cute together
I’m free tomorrow night to study though if you’re free then!
Tomorrow night works for me!
It has been too long, honestly.
Since they started hanging out, the longest they went without seeing each other was a day or two, capitalizing on similar study schedules to get quality face time with each other.
It’s been an exercise in masochism for the past few days to dodge these routine study dates, feigning fatigue or actually going to her professor’s office hours for once in her life.
The moment that she had read the text that Thursday morning had sent her into a self deprecating spiral, a knot of ... something settled into her throat, raw thick emotion that wouldn’t leave. As the days progressed, it dropped into her chest and unfurled into a big angry thing— angry at herself for thinking that she was entitled to Jinah’s romantic attention, angry at the fact that her crush was unrequited, a small portion angry at Jinah.
The biggest part, though, was angry at herself for caring so much and still clinging onto every word Jinah sent her over text and every minute of interaction. She agonizes over the shorter and shorter texts Jinah was sending her, fully aware that her own responses seem clipped, few and far between, holding back in case her bitterness manifests and tries to direct itself at Jinah.
By now, Namjoo has cycled through too many emotions to be completely comfortable. She’s settled on a distinct melancholic resignation, letting Jimin and Yoonji push a little closer, lets them invade her space and encourage her through her routine, to let her insides settle back into a regular configuration that doesn’t make her feel like she’s drowning on solid ground.
She feels ready to see Jinah again, misses her cute facial expressions, her deep belly laugh, the way her nose crinkles in disgust whenever Namjoo makes a particularly bitchy retort.
Oh my god Jinah-unnie
I’m really sorry I know we were supposed to study together tonight
But,,, I left my purse somewhere,,, and it has my wallet and house keys,,
So i need to go retrace my steps
Possibly freeze my bank accounts (((:
Y’know Joo, if I made you uncomfortable and you need some space, just say so
You don’t need to like
Try and make excuses or whatever
Namjoo doesn’t have time to deal with the sharp ache that blooms in her chest, instead running across campus, trying to figure out where she’s been, walking back to the park she had sat in for a while, praying to a god she didn’t believe in that in the hour or so since she’s left no one picked up her unassuming satchel.
She should be used to it, twenty one years of experience in being forgetful, but everytime it feels like a lightning strike down her spine, freezing her brain and ratcheting up her anxiety.
By the time she finds her bag under her favorite bench, situated next to the small creek that runs through the more scenic side of campus, the sky has darkened and she feels… grimy and ready for a shower. She finally allows herself to acknowledge the knot of emotions, sinking low into her gut, resolving into a ball of resignation.
As she finally makes it home and gets in the shower, she contemplates the past week. She doesn’t like how she’s treated Jinah— makes her feel gross to think about how shitty she’s been without any provocation. And apparently, Jinah knows, has somehow figured out that Namjoo is uncomfortable— that she doesn’t like that Jinah likes somebody else, thinks that Namjoo should distance herself. She takes a deep breath and tries to get over herself, washing the grime and sweat off her body.
I’m sorry i left you hanging unnie i was,, very flustered when i texted you
And i’m also sorry for being MIA it’s been…. A Week
It wasn’t you i promise, i would never judge anyone for who they like
Can i take you to dinner to make it up to you ? :((
She flops onto her bed, emotionally drained after a long search and sighs. She should probably do some homework… but it can wait.
A noise startles Namjoo, and she lifts her head off of her desk and stares at the offending noise. Her phone vibrates angrily next to her head, waking her up from her impromptu nap. She sees that it’s nearly two in the morning and groans. Another night wasted, then.
Her heart rate spikes when she realizes her phone is still vibrating, a picture of a strangely photogenic alpaca taking up most of the screen: the photo Jinah specifically said she would murder Namjoo over if she made it her contact photo.
“Unnie? Everything alright?” Namjoo asks, immediately alert.
“I um. Sorry for calling after-” she pauses, breath hitching and voice uncharacteristically quiet. “That. But, are you by any chance on campus? Possibly near the student union?” Namjoo’s brow creases in concern.
“I’m at home, but what’s wrong unnie- are you okay?” She hears Jinah take a shaky breath on the other end of the line and her anxiety mounts. She immediately gets up and puts on some pants and slips on shoes, scrambling for her keys.
“I think.” She starts, voice dropping even quieter. “I’m being followed? And I’m a little scared?”
“Fuck,” Namjoo finds her keys and leaves the apartment, taking the stairs for once in her life. “Where are you? Do you want me to come get you?”
“I’m um. By the union- the one by that japchae restaurant you like? I’m still walking home though, I don't want to give this asshole a chance to corner me” Namjoo nods before realizing Jinah can’t hear her.
“Yeah unnie, no problem, I’m already on my way.” Namjoo says, trying to keep her cool while still walking as fast as she can without straight up running. “Do you want me to stay on the line?”
Namjoo speeds down the roads, navigating the familiar campus, now ominous in the dark hour.
“Almost there unnie, I’m by the fountain with the weird sculptures.” Namjoo says, scanning the area for Jinah. She hears Jinah let out a choked sort of giggle— the one where she’s trying her hardest not to laugh but just a little bit escapes like she can’t help it. Namjoo can picture her face clearly and breaks out into almost a full run when she sees a familiar figure walking up the street towards her.
If Namjoo hadn’t been on the phone with her for the past few minutes, she wouldn’t have known how scared Jinah was— she’s standing tall, chin tilted up proudly, gait steady as she walks home, keys with pepper spray can firmly in hand.
“Unnie, I see you.” Namjoo says into the receiver, waving her arm high. The figure looks up at her and her shoulders relax an inch, barely noticeable at this distance. Namjoo sees something flicker in the distance, as Jinah gets closer, sees a silhouette turn into an alleyway a few hundred feet back.
“Hey Joo-yah” Jinah says brightly, face tight as she finally gets to where Namjoo is standing. “Let’s keep going.” She grabs Namjoo’s hand and pulls her forward.
“Okay, I think I saw them turn back, and yeah of course. You’re on your way home right?” Jinah nods. They walk silently, both tense for the same and different reasons.
Their not quite fight hangs in the air between them, thick tension hard to cut through, along with the immediate fear of whoever was following Jinah. Namjoo has her phone out, ready to dial the police in case anything happens.
Thankfully, they make it onto their street uneventfully, checking behind them every few minutes. As they near their apartment buildings, Jinah tugs on Namjoo’s hand and they cross the street to where Jinah’s apartment entrance is, and Namjoo goes without complaint, not about to leave Jinah alone after this ordeal.
It’s not until Jinah locks her front door behind them that all the tension leaves her body and she slumps against the door. Namjoo slips off her shoes, and gently tells Jinah to do the same while she takes Jinah’s backpack and sets it on the floor. Not once does Namjoo let her hand go, leading Jinah over to the couch to sit down. She takes a shaky deep breath and then finally looks at Namjoo, eyes determined.
“I um. I’m good if you want to go- fuck it’s so late, I’m sorry, You can go home if you need to “ She says jaw tense. Namjoo feels the light tremor in her hands and shakes her head.
“I’m good unnie, I’m right where I need to be.” She says softly, bringing her other hand to rest on top of Jinah’s.
“But I- you shouldn’t have to be here if you’re feeling uncomfortable, you wanted space and I should’ve.” Jinah sighs, frustrated, pulling her hand delicately from between Namjoo’s. “I’m sorry I called you.” Namjoo’s heart crumples a little, immediately missing the warmth of her hand.
“No I- even if I’m feeling a little heartbroken or whatever, absolutely do not hesitate to call me, unnie. My stupid feelings aren’t more important than your safety.” She manages to get out, embarrassed heat rising to her cheeks as she finally says the words out loud in front of Jinah.
“First of all,” Jinah starts carefully, words measured, “Your feelings are never stupid, don’t invalidate yourself like that.” Namjoo starts to open her but at the serious, look Jinah is giving her makes her shut her mouth again. She’s clearly trying to figure out what words to use, brain still out of commission from the emotionally exhausting night.
“Second of all… you’re… feeling heartbroken? Why didn’t you tell me?” Jinah says, eyes soft and pitying. Namjoo shrugs, looking down at her hands, hoping for the ground to swallow her whole.
“I mean... It’s not like I’m going to tell my crush that I’m sad she likes someone else. That’s just… rude.” As she says that, Jinah pauses. She opens her mouth, then closes it again and frowns.
“Your… crush.” She repeats, no inflection whatsoever.
“...Yeah?” Namjoo says, and in that moment the remaining color drains from her face. It dawns on Namjoo that Jinah might not have known about Namjoo’s debilitating crush on her.
“On me?” Jinah asks, eyes wide. Her ears are slowly getting more and more red.
“Yes?” Namjoo says, voice even smaller, face furiously red now. Jinah’s lips part, glossy and pink, and Namjoo hates herself for not being able to tear her eyes away from them.
“You, Kim Namjoo, have a crush on me, Kim Jinah?” She asks, pointing between them in turn, voice in disbelief.
“Yeah I- um. Yes.” Very eloquent Namjoo. “Don’t worry I wont- I won’t do anything about it, if you need some space just let me know. I won’t like- make anything weird I promise.” Before she even finishes speaking, Jinah is shaking her head.
“You- you useless lesbian!” Jinah exclaims, startling Namjoo. She stands up quickly, and starts pacing the living room. “You’re not allowed to be homophobic like this when I’m delicate!”
“I’m- that’s not nice, unnie.” She asks, defensive now, her heart is beating wildly in her chest, completely at a loss at where this conversation has run.
“I have. Literally been flirting with you. For the past three months. And you have. Not. Noticed?” She says, throwing her hands up in frustration. “I thought you were flirting back!”
Namjoo’s brain is… officially broken. She feels more and more lightheaded as Jinah continues to rant.
“That picture you sent me of your bed before I came over for the first time? I was literally so surprised we didn’t end up sleeping together! I complained to Moonbyul for weeks about the mixed signals that gave me! Which is fine, sex isn’t necessary to a relationship and if you want to go slow that is also totally fine, but ma’am. The signals you were giving me. Literally you always find any excuse to get close to me and-” Jinah turns around and points at Namjoo accusingly. “That shit at the bakery! I was ready to get kissed in the most romantic way possible what the hell!”
Namjoo slowly stands up and walks over to Jinah, placing her hands shakily onto Jinah’s cheeks, squishing them ever so slightly as she keeps rambling.
“Unnie.” Namjoo says, a fit of confidence springing out of the absolute strangeness of the moment. Jinah looks at her with bright eyes, shock clear on her face. “What you’re saying then. Is that I can just. Kiss you? On the mouth? With my mouth?” Jinah nods vigorously, all the energy drained out of her, eyes fixed on Namjoo’s lips.
Heart pounding in her chest, Namjoo slowly leans in, and lets her eyes flutter shut gently as she finally, finally presses her lips to Jinah’s.
Her lips are just as soft as Namjoo had dreamed, pink and wet and perfect against Namjoo’s own. It’s over before she’s processed, though, her knees a little weak. Jinah rests her forehead on Namjoo’s and places her hands on Namjoo’s waist, pulling her close.
“I have literally been waiting… so long for you to do that.” Jinah says quietly, lips brushing against Namjoo’s cheek as she speaks. Namjoo holds her tight and refuses to let the burning in her eyes result in actual, real tears.
“I um. Would like to apologize for the past week. I thought you didn’t like me back and I was being really emo about it.” Namjoo mumbles into Jinah’s hair.
“Yoonji has, on numerous occasions called you a useless lesbian.” Jinah laughs weakly. “I thought she was just joking but...”
“Hey!” Namjoo pouts.
“Joo-yah, I have literally been scantily clad in your room, multiple times, and you didn’t get the hint.” Namjoo shrugs, cheeks burning.
“Anyway, I’ll forgive you under one condition, Joo.” Jinah says, pulling back a little bit.
“Anything,” Namjoo replies earnestly, but hastily tacks on a “within reason” when she sees the glint in Jinah’s eyes.
“Come to bed with me” Namjoo chokes on her spit and her face burns red. Jinah cackles at the look on her face.
“I meant as in, I’m emotionally exhausted and want to sleep next to my favorite person, but okay Joo-yah, where’d your mind go? Inquiring minds want to know.”
“You’re the worst, unnie.”
Chat: Gays Against STEM
Jinah has been added to the chat
Namjoo has changed the chat name to Gays against STEM (and Jinah)
Yoonji, sweet dumpling muffin of my life who drinks more coffee than i do
You’re suffering is over now, the nonsense has been resolved
As hot as u both are…. You’re distressing the baby please never send your very tasteful nudes into this gc again
Who’s the baby