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Chanyoung groans into her pillow. If waking wasn’t the worst thing ever, receiving a company e-mail right after her alarm going off is living hell. She understands that they’re just doing their jobs, she really does, but that doesn’t magically cure her Writer’s Block. She stares at the e-mail for a good couple of minutes, holding the phone with both of her hands so it doesn’t fall on her face, before she looks at her room. Her room is on the verge of becoming messy: cream carpet becoming obviously dirty, clothes out of the laundry are on her desk and chair. The only thing which is not messy is her bed and her night table. She looks back at her phone. 

 

The email is reminding her of the options, about her book, not interviews. Which is something she has to get used to. 75% of her fame is from the interviews she’s done. Nothing groundbreaking, but strong enough to make a difference. Despite the huge effort she puts in, Chanyoung doesn’t want the title of Best Journalist, having her readers’ trust is better than every possible award (although she isn’t against the idea of getting awards). Not better than instant cure to writer’s block — which is the highest possible award from God — but it comes right after it, of course. 

 

This, though, is the worst case writer’s block she’s ever had. Uninspired phase, if that’s any better.

 

She opens her works’ documents, and glares at them. Her WIPs include: a three-fourth outlined fantasy novel, her top favourite; a YA novel which focuses on friendship and a collection of short stories. She was leaning more towards the fantasy novel but currently, nothing is working. In the past month or so, she’s been going through her outlines for hours together, listening to her playlists to the extent of hurting her ears, staring at character and story moodboards at night before falling asleep. 

 

Nothing’s worked, she doubts continuing it will help. She rolls over onto her stomach and dials her best friend on Skype.

 

Stereotypical Lesbian jumps on her screen for a good while before a pair of cat-like eyes greet her. Minsook remains close to the camera, fixes her hair, then smiles at her. “Hello,” she holds the phone for a better view, she’s wearing a dark blue painting apron. Her big loop earrings draw most of the attention, though. “Whine on.”

 

That would’ve been embarrassing, but the block is so bad, Chanyoung does so without a second thought. “I’m so stuck with this,” she huffs, “it’s like the characters suddenly decided to stop talking to their mother.”

 

Minsook squints at her, giving a doubtful look. “And that’s bad because...?”

 

“They’re foster kids recently out to the cruel, robot world.”

 

Minsook nods. “Right. Continue.”

 

Chanyoung gives her best friend brilliant metaphors and similes about the world she’s built, the characters, the plot, in an attempt to – something. She isn’t sure. To convince herself to write? Or to inspire herself? Or– 

 

There’s an exclamation, in French, through the phone. Chanyoung stops her monologue, suspiciously looking at her best friend. Minsook blushes, cheeks pink, ears darker. Chanyoung clicks her tongue, “And who was that?”

 

“That–” there’s another set of clothes in the view. More French. Minsook leans out of the view. Kissing noises. And she returns. “My girlfriend, Junhee.”

 

“I thought you were in Paris?”

 

“I am!” Minsook gestures to her left. “Chanyoungie, this is Junhee.”

 

The camera switches to front view, she sees a small person wearing a croptop and what seems like mom jeans. When Junhee squats a little, though, her face is clear and she  is very pretty. Definitely something different from Minsook’s general ‘type’ to be-girlfriend. Her smile is adorably crooked and she has a threatening yet gentle aura. Amazing fashion, though. “Hello,” Junhee says, her Korean is a bit accented, but it’s cute. “Sorry, it’s been a long time since I’ve spoken Korean.”

 

Chanyoung hums. “Your Korean is good, actually. But, don’t you speak Korean with her?”

 

“Ah,” Minsook tuts in the background. The view switches to Minsook again, she’s grinning. “I thought you were my best friend. Don’t you know French is like the love language?” Chanyoung holds her tongue, only chuckles, rolls her eyes. Minsook never uses the L-word around her girlfriends. She might be in love. Damn. “Anyway,” she continues, “she was whining to me in attempts to cure her writer’s block.”

 

Junhee comes next to Minsook, sits besides her, looks at her girlfriend, then at Chanyoung. “Do you take suggestions?”

 

“Please,” Chanyoung pouts, “I’m so desperate, I’m willing to make more blood sacrifices.”

 

“Oh.” Junhee giggles. Her eyes crinkle, slight wrinkles form around her eyes. Chanyoung is almost certain it was Minsook who asked her out first. “My cousin sacrifices 20 times, but I’m not sure what’s the number for you.” Has artist relatives, maybe friends, too, then. “But, you should try travelling Chanyoung-ssi. Visit a place, get your mind off of your story. Focus on something else. When I’m stuck with my art piece,” Art lesbian. She was wrong about Junhee not being Minsook’s type. “I go on dates, sketch some clothes, people – anything not related to my piece.”

 

“I have tried that–”

 

“Travelling means anything out of ten kilometres radius,” Minsook adds, looking smug because she knows Chanyoung so well. “you go to the same places over and over again, that’s useless after some time.”

 

Chanyoung groans, “Ugh. Fine. Whatever. I’ll do that.” She smiles a little. “Thanks for the help, guys.”

 

“Anytime. See you soon, Chanyoungie.”

 

“Bye, Chanyoung-ssi!”

 

She closes the app, haphazardly tosses her phone down. The sudden silence in the room is normal, for the first time ever. She’s already feeling less stressed about this. She’s going to travel now, huh?

 

***

 

Chanyoung calmly emails her tourist agency regarding the flight delay. It’s repeated again in English, clearly accented as the woman informs the passengers about their delayed flight again. It’s by two hours, because of sudden storm here, creating a nice ambiance in the airport, and she doesn’t have the patience to sit around for two whole hours. She waits around three minutes to start whining about it to Minsook. The whining is limited to two texts with hundreds of frowning emojis. 

 

The agency replies quicker than her bestfriend. The first thing Chanyoung notices is the amount of exclamation marks they’ve used. Except for the ‘we’re sorry to hear that’ in the beginning, each sentence ends with double or triple exclamation marks. It’s like they’re excited! Because things are happening! Bad things, but happening! She would be lying if it didn’t make the whole situation seem better than it is.

 

Two hours to herself, without things to think about – it’s a road to depression. She thanks the agency, ends it with a period, hoping they wouldn’t return it with another one-sided over-enthusiastic conversation.

 

[Minsookie <3] listen to my rec, get some food, flirt with someone!

 

Chanyoung grins at her phone. Minsook keeps forgetting she’s the confident flirter, or Chanyoung doesn’t give herself enough credit. Or maybe it’s both. She types out a reply quick, though.

 

[Chanyoung] I guess.

 

There’s no further replies from Minsook, so Chanyoung assumes it’s the end of the conversation. She scrolls through the chat, finds the playlist her best friend made for her. Minsook makes it very hard to ignore her recommendations, she makes it easily available, makes people feel bad for not giving her a chance. 

 

Scrolling through the playlist, Chanyoung instantly notices the common theme of this one: blooming romance. First love for one of the two, while the other’s tired of losing their loved ones to other people. Something along those lines. The playlist has various languages too, so she can’t be completely sure of it. That’s what the Korean and English ones suggest, at least. She plugs her headphones to her phone, puts it on her ears, and takes out her magazine collection. Chanyoung lets the songs play in the background as she flips through the magazine.



One of the articles reads “Have You Packed Right For Your Vacation?” which makes Chanyoung sweat under her t-shirt. She closes it instantly, likes a few songs which catches her interest on the website. This is why she chose articles on internet over these magazines, they have unnecessary titles which leaves her on the verge of crying. But her ophthalmologist made her choose: less-screen or glasses; less-screen was the only better option she’d choose out of the two. She puts the magazine back into her suitcase, and takes out a readers’ magazine. She only subscribed to this because it’s interviewing her for the next month.

 

[Chanyoung] Did I tell you? I’m getting a Q&A section next month, in a readers’ magazine! I’ll get questions!! From my readers!!

 

[Minsookie <3] you’ll get them daily if you’d reopen your askbox on your tumblr -__-

 

Chanyoung’s lips form a thin line. She’s only getting hate on that website, she ought to tell Minsook about that, but she doesn’t want to worry her (or anybody). She responds nonchalantly, ends the conversation pretty quickly.

 

***

 

With the sun making her skin hot and sweaty, Chanyoung puts her sunglasses back on again, sits on her suitcase as she waits. The tourist agency’s VIP section was expensive but that doesn’t stop Park Chanyoung. She’s earned the money to spend it, especially to help family-run companies like this. Their VIP section states they get a pickup ride, which isn’t included in their payments, and most of the travelling comes in the package. The only thing extra she’s paying for is the hotel, and the food. She considers this a win.

 

A car stops in front of her, making her squeak, she tightens her grip on her bag and holds onto her suitcase. Stranger danger , comes to her mind first, but she smiles at the lady in the car. The lady leans over, the window rolling down, and she adjusts her glasses. “Miss Park Chanyoung?” She asks, and Chanyoung shakes her head. They lady is extremely pretty, looks like she’s right out of a popular manhwa.

 

“No, sorry, you got the wrong person.”

 

The lady frowns, she goes back to her seat, and returns forward with her phone out. It shows an email, saying ‘I have arrived at the airport’ and the time stamp says it’s sent 10 minutes before. Chanyoung still shakes her head, says, “Not me!” and points at the exit behind her with her thumb. “There are few people coming out, you should stand there with a board or something.”

 

The lady’s frown deepens this time, she seems displeased. Chanyoung feels queasy, but ignores the feeling. She takes out a card, and hands it to Chanyoung. “I’m Kyungri, I’m supposed to pick you up?”

 

It’s a visiting card. It has a picture of the lady – Kyungri – and it states below “assistant manager” in front of the company’s name. Chanyoung gives it back to Kyungri, smiling sheepishly. “Sorry,” she mutters, “stranger danger, I guess. I’m Chanyoung. Nobody told me who was picking me up.”

 

Kyungri shakes her head, sighing. “I understand. Please get in. We’re sorry for the inconvenience, ma’am.”

 

The ride remains silent after that, none of them make an effort to talk. Chanyoung texts Minsook about her ride, gets an update on the projects her best friend’s been working on. Once she’s done texting, though, the silence is too much. Chanyoung feels guilty, for some reason. She has a strange urge to apologize, or explain her actions to Kyungri, so she clears her throat. Kyungri glances at her, then smiles. “Yes?”

 

“I would like to... apologize? For what happened earlier?” Chanyoung curses under her breath, she sounds unsure of herself, and it ended up being more of a question than an apology. “I’ve never visited this place, so I had my guard up.”

 

“Don’t worry about it,” Kyungri chuckles, quickly adds, “ma’am. It’s okay, really. I was a little unsure myself, you’ve done nothing wrong.” Two more minutes of silence, Kyungri stops the car, smiling prettily at Chanyoung. “Here’s your hotel.”

 

Realizing she was staring, Chanyoung nods frantically, flustered of getting caught. She rushes out of the car, clumsily taking her suitcase out of the backseat. Kyungri gets out of the car, too, and Chanyoung squints at her. “Does your company own this hotel?”

 

Kyungri shakes her head, smiling. Chanyoung wonders if Kyungri’s actually a smiley person, or she’s just being nice to her because she’s a customer. “No, no,” Kyungri takes out a card, and points at the number below. “I’m your personal guide for the tour, this is my number. We’re starting the tour tomorrow, we’ll be starting at 7!”

 

Or do I want her to be flirting with me? Chanyoung licks her lips. It’s always so hard to read if a woman is lesbian or not. God. She smiles back. “7 sounds great. Where am I supposed to meet you, though?”

 

“I’ll be waiting here!” Kyungri grins, “we’ll have an amazing breakfast at 8, and get started.”

 

Chanyoung nods. “Cool. See you tomorrow, Kyungri-ssi.”

 

“See you tomorrow, ma’am!”

 

***



Day 4 of the trip turns out awful. Their car breaks down in middle of nowhere, for no reason at all. Then, it starts raining at 10 in the morning, and the worst part of all of that is today was the visit to the Most Interesting Thing. That’s what the pamphlet says, at least. Their tickets shows the reservation at 10:30am, they’re 25 kilometers away from the venue. Chanyoung feels tears well up in her eyes, gut heavy for stupid reasons.

 

I should give up, this is useless , She thinks. I’m better of an annoying journalist who interviews people .

 

The thoughts are familiar yet alien. It’s been a long time since she’s felt this way. Felt this feeling of distraught threaten to rip her insides out. Not to mention hopelessness. Her writer’s block never lasts long - not this long. She texts Minsook about the situation, frantically deletes any ounce of emotion in the words. Chanyoung is not very good (read:  straight up sucks) at handling bad situations or emotions. Especially both of them together.

 

Kyungri is out, on the road, her back leaning against the window. She’s on the phone with someone. Most probably her brother. Or boyfriend. A male, for sure.

 

Chanyoung stares at her message on the phone, trying to detect any emotion which might give away her feelings. She doesn’t want to-

 

She flinches violently when the car door opens, she looks at the door with wide eyes, heartbeat in her ears. Kyungri’s head peeks through the small gap, her eyes equally wide but concerned, looking at Chanyoung with her eyebrows raised. “Are you okay?”

 

Chanyoung sighs. Then nods. “Yeah. I’m fine. Just startled.”

 

Glancing at Kyungri, looking at her small smile calms Chanyoung. There’s something about the guidewoman (? Is that what they’re called? She’ll google it later) which makes Chanyoung feel nice and contented. Kyungri’s hair is just past her shoulders, frames her face like she’s being looked at through a camera lens.

 

Kyungri is pretty. Gorgeous, even. Chanyoung feels something in her stomach when Kyungri smiles. 

 

Chanyoung takes a deep breath, and calls, “Kyungri?”

 

Said woman opens the door, and sits back in the driver’s seat, smiling. “Yeah?”

 

“I’m gay.” She mutters, looking down to her lap, where her fidgeting fingers rest. Her internal alarm is going off loudly, heart pushed up to her throat. The familiarity of coming out isn’t with her this time, probably because she barely knows Kyungri and developed a crush on her. This had to be done , Chanyoung thinks, I don’t want to pine over another straight girl ever again .

 

She looks back at Kyungri, who sits a little rigid, her knuckles white as she grips on the steering wheel. 

 

Kyungri breaths out. “Oh,” she says, staring at the gears between their seats.

 

The silence in the car quickens Chanyoung’s heartbeat, and as the silence prolongs, Chanyoung’s patience ticks away. She wants something. A reaction, a smile, a frown, a sentence - anything which isn’t a simple, emotionless ‘oh’.

 

“I…” Kyungri takes a deep breath, she shifts her gaze onto her hands. “Me too.”

 

Chanyoung is taken aback. She stutters. “W-what?”

 

“I’m gay, too,” Kyungri repeats, finally glancing at Chanyoung with a worried smile. “I’m only out to three people so far, including you.”

 

“That,” Chanyoung thinks for the right word for a second. “That’s great~” She sing-songs. “Congratulations!”

 

***

 

She feels horrible for everything she’s not done. For cancelling that interview two years ago, for tripping over a hamster in the kids’ section, for being so tall and clumsy. And that’s only the beginning. Chanyoung’s mind goes numb with endless bad things she’s done, she holds tight onto the gate, knuckles white. Air is knocked out of her system, her head starts pounding, and everything is too bright. Her legs are shaking and she can’t pull herself up.

 

She collapses onto the ground, the brightness around her dims, only to replaced by voices. Everywhere around her, there are limbs touching hers, and Chanyoung’s eyes sting with tears. She gasps, struggling further to breathe, headache worsening as she tries to focus on breathing. Everything is a blur behind her cascade of tears, but she can tell there are people. People surrounding her and trying to touch her, she flinches away from every touch.

 

The blurry crowd of people is broken, and a single figure squats in front of her.

 

“Breathe,” a voice says. Chanyoung recognizes the voice - it’s Kyungri. “In through your nose,” she orders, and Chanyoung doesn’t have to think anymore. Two thumbs wipe her tears, near her eyes, the collected tears fall over Kyungri’s fingers and Kyungri’s face becomes clear. “Out through your mouth. Breathe, Chanyoung-ssi, everything will be fine.”

 

Kyungri’s voice is promising, like she’s God and she can make everything fine. Kyungri physically demonstrates how to breathe, and Chanyoung copies her. Tries to, at least. Minutes tick by, and people other than Kyungri start to become clear as they leave. The crowd lessens, so does Chanyoung’s sensitive eyesight towards light. Which, she realizes a moment later, is because someone put a cap on her. The sunlight is blocked perfectly.

 

She leans against something. Kyungri moves her legs into a cross-legged position, one hand constantly on her arm, and after a while, it’s okay. Her head still throbs, nothing two painkillers can’t cure though.  A group of kids peek at her as they follow a woman, some laughing while others look worried. Their laughter feels like a kick in her gut, but Kyungri’s hand soothes it a little.

 

“Would you like some ice cream?” Kyungri asks, smiling kindly. “Or anything else which can serve as comfort food?”

 

Chanyoung breathes in, a little shaky. “C-can we leave?”



***

 

Kyungri holds onto Chanyoung’s hand as they walk to their car. The crowd meant nothing till she saw Chanyoung crying. People were trying to help her stand up, which only worsened her situation. She had rushed through the crowd, telling them to back off so it doesn’t scare the journalist anymore. Chanyoung was a mess, she was crying, flinching at every touch, folding herself into a foetus position. Kyungri couldn’t help but recall her brother in the same position. At least she could do something this time.

 

They settled in the car, windows down for better ventilation.

 

“Would you like to come to my school, Chanyoung-ssi?” Kyungri offers. Her stomach still feels funny, more so by actually asking it. “My students are practicing for an upcoming event. It’s very entertaining.”

 

Chanyoung stares at her fingers in silence. Kyungri waits patiently. It takes exactly three minutes for the journalist to make a breathy sigh, and she whispers. “If I’m not a disturbance.”

 

“You aren’t,” She assures, then carefully puts her hand on Chanyoung’s hand. “They enjoy new audience. The girls will love you.”

 

That makes Chanyoung chuckle. She clicks her tongue. “Girls do love me.”

 

“They’re highschool students,” Kyungri stifles her laughter, pressing her lips together. Chanyoung’s eyes widen comically, her head turning towards Kyungri with slight panic. “Although I would agree if you’re talking about adult women.”

 

Chanyoung nods hurriedly. “Adult women. I was talking about women. Not highschool babies.”

 

“That’s good to hear.” Kyungri giggles.

 

She starts the engine. Her school is not far away but if Chanyoung continues to stare at her, Kyungri can hear how slow the time is going to tick by. She can also feel her heart beat faster, while her stomach sinks into her abdomen with dread. Why does this crush feel like death?



***

 

Chanyoung doesn’t mention the worried glancing Kyungri does. She’s completely mesmerised by the cheerleaders, their formations are fascinating, and they take her breath away. Their practice doesn’t stop until Kyungri notices their tiredness, and says on top of the blasting music, “take a break, everyone! You’ve done well!”

 

The praise makes everyone bright, the girls giggle out a sweet thanks to their teacher. They leave their pom-poms in a distorted circle and run to the cafeteria. Watching them makes Chanyoung chuckle. “They must be hungry.”

 

“No, they want canned coffee,” Kyungri grins, “the cafeteria lady is very kind and saves some cans just for the girls.”

 

They settle on the grass. Legs crossed, knees touching, taking turns in drinking the bottled apple juice. “I sometimes miss my highschool,” Chanyoung admits randomly. Staring at the big, green field, she compares it to her old school. “We didn’t have such big field, though. Just a regular sized ground.”

 

Kyungri’s eyes widen. “How did you play sports, then?”

 

“We borrowed other schools’ fields, I think.” Chanyoung shrugs. “I never attended any sports event, so I’m not sure.” Chanyoung passes the bottle, nodding her head absently. “This is my first time seeing a cheerleaders practice.”

 

That seems to shock Kyungri. She leans back, hands on the ground, and raises her eyebrow. “Really?”

 

“Yeah.” Chanyoung nods.

 

“I was the captain of our cheer group,” Kyungri says, proud. “We were short on people but good at it.”

 

It’s Chanyoung’s turn to be shocked. Not that Kyungri can’t be a cheerleader, but… she didn’t expect it from her? She seems to be more of the studious person. Chanyoung imagines Kyungri in a cheerleader uniform, all the cheerleader-related movies flash in her head.

 

“Is it anything like the movies?”

 

Kyungri seems to snap out of her thoughts, she shakes her head. “I’m sorry?”

 

“The movies,” Chanyoung gestures vaguely at the field. “Is it anything like how the movies portray?”

 

Kyungri shrugs. “More or less. But it was a whole different thing to me, though.”

 

Something clicks in Chanyoung’s mind, and she fumbles with her purse to take out her

book, and starts writing. 

 

***

 

[Minsookie <3] the worst thing: she says no.

 

No , Chanyoung thinks, that’s the bad thing . Worst thing is Kyungri finding it weird. A bad sort of weird. Which will ruin everything between them, and they don’t have much to begin with.

 

Chanyoung starts an essay as a reply, typing away on her phone about the actual ‘worst’ possibilities so as to prove Minsook wrong. And maybe scare herself even more in the process. That’s definitely happening, but at least she’s finally winning an argument against Minsook, right? Or should she not do this? Does Minsook even care about all of this-

 

“That’s a worrying face you’re making.”

 

There’s no humour to Kyungri’s voice. Chanyoung looks at her. The food is already served, and Kyungri is smiling worriedly at her.

 

Chanyoung licks her lips. Her throat is dry. She pours water into her mouth, gulps it noisily. “Um, I’m sorry.”

 

“It’s fine,” Kyungri gestures towards the chopsticks. “Let’s start?”

 

Chanyoung nods. She picks up the chopsticks, and deletes the essay (she can definitely write it later), and bids Minsook goodbye before she starts eating. This place they’re having food in, is invisible on the internet. It’s around 1.5km deep into the maze of alleys, and it seems like only locals know its existence. The ground floor of this restaurant is jam-packed, Chanyoung was initially annoyed about it. Because the ground floor has better ventilation, but at least the food is the same. It’s delicious, the food, and the lady serving the first floor is gorgeous.

 

Chanyoung can’t help but steal glances at her. The serving lady’s hair is shoulder-length, lip gloss shining from every place she stands. She’s wearing a normal pair of jeans with mustard-yellow t-shirt.

 

“That’s Baekhee.”

 

Chanyoung makes a funny noise. She blushes, squirms in her place, embarrassed about getting caught. She chokes a little on the meat in her mouth, then clears her throat. “Sorry?”

 

“The waitress,” Kyungri clarifies with a teasing grin. It does something to Chanyoung’s stomach. And her heart. “She’s the owner’s granddaughter, and she was my senior in highschool. Would you like to meet her?”

 

“N-no, thank you.” Chanyoung takes a deep breath, drops her gaze onto the food. It’s better to look at the food. It’s not embarrassing to look at the food, right? She assumes it’s the least embarrassing thing to do in a place to eat.

 

“Did I- was that-” Kyungri sighs. “I was just teasing. I’m sorry if I hurt you Chanyoung-ssi, I didn’t mean to.”

 

“No, no, you didn’t hurt me,” Chanyoung assures, she doesn’t have the energy to muster up a smile. “We’re friends. It’s okay to tease!” She licks her lips. “It’s a new place, I got a work-related email first thing in the morning, and my book isn’t going forward. All of those things have heightened my nerves, that’s all.” There’s something heavy on her chest, something which forces her to breathe through her mouth, and dries her throat rapidly.

 

“Have some water,” Kyungri says. She refills their glasses. “And take deep breaths. It’s going to be okay, Chanyoung.”

 

Chanyoung puts her chopsticks aside and obeys. It becomes easier after a moment. She isn’t sure what to do with her hands, though. They’re just on the table, is that rude? She doesn’t want to upset the pretty waitress - Baekhee - by being rude. She puts them on her lap. No, wait, that means she’s done with her food. She’s still hungry. She puts them on her stomach. No, that’s weird-

 

“Give me your hand.”

 

Chanyoung sips some more water, and looks at Kyungri’s right hand stretched out on the table. She gives her left hand, which is shaking uncontrollably, and Kyungri twines their fingers, squeezes them together warmly. Chanyoung decides to hold the chopsticks in her other hand. Two minutes later, Chanyoung stops shaking, and they continue eating.

 

“Hello, ladies!” Baekhee greets them, a pretty smile on her face. A pretty smile from a pretty lady , Chanyoung thinks dumbly. “Can I get you anything else? Has your date been comfortable so far?”

 

Chanyoung’s eyes widen, so does Kyungri’s. They take their hands away. Baekhee rolls her eyes at that. “It can be a friendly date, too, you know?” She scoffs. “Kids these days. Think everything has to be romantic.”

 

Chanyoung chuckles nervously. “I’d like some more rice, please.”

 

“Coming right up! Anything for you, baby?” Baekhee leans on the table, tray against her chest.

 

Chanyoung tries her best not to look… something. She’s a little jealous of Kyungri, flustered even though Baekhee’s flirting isn’t directed towards her, and some part of her is possessive of Kyungri. In a ‘that’s my girlfriend you’re flirting with!’ manner, but Kyungri isn’t her girlfriend.

 

Kyungri sticks her tongue out. “No thanks. Do you flirt with all the customers? That’s unprofessional, you know.”

 

“I’m only being nice to my junior!” Baekhee lightly pinches Kyungri’s cheek, and giggles. “And what’s with the informal language? I didn’t peg you for a mannerless person, Kyungri-ah!”

 

She smiles sarcastically at Baekhee. “I’m sorry, unnie , can you please fuck off?”

 

Baekhee gwaffs at that, and slaps Kyungri’s back. She winces. “You’ll never change~ You can fuck off, too~” Baekhee sing-songs. Chanyoung has never seen someone say fuck off in such a friendly way. “Enjoy your meal! The rice is half price for you.” She says, and winks at Chanyoung as she walks away.

 

Kyungri grins wide. “She’s a friendly person.”

 

Chanyoung cups her flaming cheeks with her cold hands. “I was not ready for that.”

 

“I know, right? She was the same in highschool. And I had a huge crush on her in highschool,” Kyungri laughs. “She was my first girl crush. When I told her, she calmly turned me down, and explained why she couldn’t return my feelings.”

 

“Because she’s straight?”

 

Kyungri giggles. “You’d think so! But, no. She’s pansexual, actually. She thought of me as a friend, and already liked someone else.”

 

Chanyoung nods. “I’m glad she wasn’t a homophobic straight person, honestly.”

 

“Yeah. My younger self would’ve been traumatized.”

 

***

 

Kyungri isn’t sure how Chanyoung convinced her to stay. They’re on the hotel bed, watching a movie, which is supposed to have a healthy lesbian relationship representation. The girls in the movie are currently fighting the villains, all while they talk about their weekend places. Kyungri feels her chest swell with happiness as she watches them. She feels invincible like the girls, and wonders if she can become like them. Strong, smart, and with a girlfriend. Or maybe a wife. Kyungri blushes at the thought.

 

She glances at Chanyoung. Is she thinking about having a wife, too? Or a girlfriend?

 

Chanyoung’s eyebrows are furrowed, and lips pouted with concentration. She looks confused rather than focused, honestly, and maybe a bit angry, too. Kyungri feels an urge to smooth the wrinkles with her fingers, have Chanyoung’s cold hands on her body, and kiss the pout away. Chanyoung’s bra strap is visible, too. It’s a purple strap, and Kyugnri can’t help but wonder if she’s wearing a matching pair.

 

The explosion in the movie snaps Kyungri back to reality. Oh no. She was staring at Chanyoung. Shit. The credits start to roll up, and Kyungri pauses it. “I was wondering,” she says, to give herself a reason to stare at Chanyoung’s pretty face. “How and when did you know you’re gay?”

 

Chanyoung leans her elbow on the pillows behind them, hair falling gracefully on her face, she props her head on her palm. Her eyebrows are no longer furrowed but the lips remain in a pout. She looks at Kyungri for a good minute, before she shrugs. 

 

“I should’ve known since the beginning, actually. Like, I was a very ‘girl power’ person - I still am. I love looking at pretty things and people, and can we be honest here? Girls are so pretty! Every single girl around me! I wanted to be some of the girls’ boyfriend, too!” She chuckles. “The actual moment when I realized, though, was when I got to kiss a girl. It was supposed to be a joke, since everyone except the girl and I were drunk. We were talking about how girls are better than boys at everything.”

 

Kyungri nods, grinning wide. “Agreed.”

 

“We both pretended to be drunk, and kissed in front of everyone. And alcohol did a great job in draining their homophobia, apparently.” A cute blush rises on Chanyoung’s face. “She was my first girlfriend.”

 

“That’s adorable!” Kyungri gushes, and she asks with a dread filled gut. “Are you both still together?”

 

“No,” Chanyoung puts her free hand next to her stomach, which makes her cleavage visible.  Kyungri averts her eyes from it, but the image flashes in her mind for a while. “I’ve only ever dated one girl, though.”

 

Kyungri nods again, and closes the movie tab.

 

“What about you? When did you realize?”

 

Kyungri inhales sharply, her shoulders tense, an uneasy feeling settling in her chest.

 

“You don’t have to!” Chanyoung adds quickly, panicked. “You’re not obligated to tell me. I was just curious.”

 

“I want to,” Kyungri sighs. “It’s a bit difficult to talk about it, since I’ve never really told anyone about it.”

 

“Not even Baekhee?”

 

She shakes her head. “Not even her.”

 

“Internet?”

 

“No.”

 

“Woah,” Chanyoung sits up, crosses her legs, and leans in with genuine smile on her face. “I feel special!”

 

Kyungri chuckles. “Don’t get ahead of yourself, Chanyoung.” There’s no reply to that, so Kyungri decides to start speaking. “I developed a crush on Baekhee in the first year of highschool, the moment I looked at her. And I didn’t realize it was a crush. I just thought I wanted to be a senior’s friend really badly. And during the club openings, I got to know that she was in the cheerleading group. And I joined it!”

 

Chanyoung giggles cutely.

 

“I started hanging out with her more, and I talked about her a lot with my friends. To me, it was a given when you’re friends with the coolest senior, right? But one of my friends gave me a weird look, and casually said, ‘Why are you so obsessed with her? Are you a lesbian?’”

 

Chanyoung makes an offended noise. She pouts, and rubs Kyungri’s arm. “That’s an asshole kid.”

 

“Right?” Kyungri grins. “So I searched things on the internet, like, ‘signs you’re a lesbian’, and stuff. I was really terrified of the word. I felt like I should ask somebody who was older, and I, naturally, asked Baekhee.”

 

“That’s a little sad way to realize,” Chanyoung abruptly dives forward, her head next to Kyungri’s lap, and asks, “Can I keep my head on your lap?” And once Kyungri nods, she settles her head comfortably on Kyungri’s lap, hands clasped, resting on her stomach, and legs hanging down the bed. “How many girls have you liked so far?”

 

“Hm, around three.” It’s a white lie. She’s only liked two girls so far, and although her story is true, she didn’t admit it to herself until a few months ago. Kyungri absently caresses Chanyoung’s cheeks, her chin, and the bridge of her nose.

 

“One of them is Baekhee, right?”

 

Kyungri nods.

 

“Who are the other two?”

 

“A person in an ice cream shop, when I was sixteen.”

 

“Last one! Last one!”

 

Kyungri’s heartbeat is in her ears. She stares at Chanyoung, who stares right back at her with pure, curious eyes. Kyungri isn’t sure if she should admit it. She gulps a little, not breaking eye contact. Just because Chanyoung is gay, too, doesn’t mean she’s going to return her feelings.

 

Chanyoung licks her lips. “Hey, um, can I tell you something? Before you tell me that?”


“Sure. Go ahead.” Kyungri hums.

 

“I, uh- will you treat me differently after this?”

 

“What?” Kyungri takes Chanyoung’s hands. They’re colder now. “No, no! Of course not! I wouldn't do that, I’m not that kind of person, Chanyoung.”

 

Chanyoung is making her panicked face again, as she stares at the wall. Kyungri rubs their hands together, and once they’re warm, she proceeds to massage Chanyoung’s face gently. “You’ll get wrinkles soon if you worry so much.”

 

“You won’t run away from me, right?”

 

“No, I won’t.” Kyungri promises. She carefully pushes Chanyoung’s head up. “Sit. Look at me properly.”

 

Kyungri has noticed how easy it is to calm Chanyong down if she has prolonged eye contact with someone. And she copies their movements subconsciously, too. Kyungri takes deep breaths with Chanyoung, and a couple of minutes later, Chanyoung is calm.

 

“Thank you,” Chanyoung breathes, “and I’m very sorry, too. This isn’t part of your job-”

 

“Hey,” Kyungri cups Chanyoung’s cheeks, leaning in closer, she presses a kiss on her forehead. “I’m here as a friend. And I do it because I care about you, nothing else, okay?”

 

Chanyoung sighs. “Can I ask you something?”


“Yeah.”

 

She gulps a little, clearly nervous. “Was yesterday a date? Like a romantic date?”

 

Was it? I sure hope so . “Do you mind if- did you want it to be?”

 

“Um,” Chanyoung chuckles, her face becoming pink, while her ears are a darker shade. “I did.”

 

Kyungri sighs in relief. “Oh, thank God.”

 

“I like you a lot,” Chanyoung says, her voice is a little shaky. “I’ve wanted to ask you out for so long, but I got scared. Every time I thought of asking you to stay, I chickened out!” She chuckles, embarrassed. “Will you go out with me?”

 

Kyungri stutters. She blushes, and covers her face with the pillow nearby. God, she wasn’t ready for this. Chanyoung is so fucking cute, and she’s asking her out. “I. I like you too,” Kyungri breathes. Hopefully it’s audible enough, she doesn't have the guts to say it out loud. “Yes.”

 

Chanyoung squeals loudly.

 

***

 

“I should get going.”

 

Chanyoung whines, holding onto Kyungri’s arm tighter. They’ve been cuddling at least three hours after the confession. Her head stirs thinking about the confession, how nice it felt when Kyungri said she returned her feelings. Chanyoung is too dumb to know the line between flirting and being nice. She’s glad she didn’t read into things.

 

“We need to go out tomorrow,” Kyungri tries, looking more amused when Chanyoung pouts in response. “We have places to visit, Chanyoung.”

 

She can’t argue with that. She whines some more, clinging onto Kyungri’s arm in desperate need to keep her closer for a few more hours. Just for a few more. Kyungri is grinning at her, definitely enjoying her antics to make her stay. 

 

Chanyoung throws her leg over Kyungri’s, placing half of her body on Kyungri to trap her there. “I won’t let you go,” she announces. “You’ve got no escape.”

 

Kyungri rolls her eyes. “Come on. There must be something I could do.”

 

Chanyoung pretends to think. She grins mischievously, puckering her lips. “I’d like a kiss.”

 

Kyungri nods and cups her cheeks gently. Chanyoung feels the warmth of Kyungri’s hand mix with the blood rushing into her face, eyes widening as Kyungri leans in without a hint of hesitation. She can hear her own heartbeat. She’s sure Kyungri can, too.

 

Before she can comprehend, Kyungri pecks her nose quickly, grinning. “There.”

 

“No,” Chanyoung whines. “That’s not the kind of kiss I wanted.” Kyungri pats her cheeks, as if to say ‘your loss’. She stares at their bodies squished together with a sad little pout. There’s no gap between their bodies, sure, but it doesn’t stop her chubby stomach from being obvious. Maybe it’s better to suck it in, so it looks like she has a flat--

 

“Chanyoungie,”

 

She snaps out of her thoughts, looks at Kyungri with wide eyes. Kyungri is smiling softly, hands still on Chanyoung’s cheeks. Kyungri closes her eyes this time, leaning in carefully. Chanyoung does the same and braces herself for it.

 

She’s dated only one person, but kissed many. Kyungri is great at this. It’s just tender kissing, nothing but lips and so many emotions Chanyoung feels too many things at once. There’s her erratic heartbeat, for one. 

 

***

 

The next week feels like a week full of dates. Feels like because they didn’t really talk about it. They hold hands while walking, take a bunch of pictures together in places they visit. On Sunday, Chanyoung insists on getting a polaroid camera.

 

“The quality is low,” Kyungri warns with a serious face, it melts into a smile when Chanyoung pouts. “I’m not trying to down your spirits, Chanyoung, but the only pro in this is that it’s cheap.”

 

“I need to stick them on my wall!” she argues.

 

Kyungri sighs. “I thought you hated collecting things?” She’s been trying to make Chanyoung buy unique stuff since day one, they’re worth the money, and useful, too. Especially to a writer/journalist like her. She watches Chanyoung hold and try out a couple of cameras, each other different colours, and different features whose significance Kyungri fails to understand.

 

When Chanyoung finally likes one, she passes it to her girlfriend, saying, “Look!”

 

Kyungri nods. “It’s nice.” She says. It’s a pastel blue polaroid camera, with the pack advertising a rilakkuma keychain free with it. The whole thing looks cute with the keychain, if she’s being honest. “I’m paying!” she announces, turns her back to Chanyoung, and covers the camera in her arms, pressing it against her chest.

 

“No!” Chanyoung tries to steal it back, but fails, because Kyungri is much faster than her. She presses her stomach against Kyungri’s back, trying to get it back from some free place Kyungri might’ve left. “I won’t let you pay for this!”

 

“Come on!” Kyungri whines, moving forward to face her girlfriend. She pouts, blinking a couple of times. “Please let me buy it for you? As a gift?”

 

She is more than aware of what face works on whom. If she glares at her girlfriend and orders her, she’ll take it as an encouragement and continue, while her brother will flick her forehead and leave if she pouts at him. She knows very well how to play her cards.

Chanyoung subconsciously mimics Kyungri’s pouts, and sighs. “Fine. But on one condition.”

 

Kyungri nods. They move to counter. Chanyoung leans in, lips touching the shell of Kyungri’s ear, her hand cupping the ear as she whispers, “I get to paint your nails.”

 

That’s a lot of build up for nothing, Kyungri thinks. She whispers an okay back, and pays for the camera. As they head out, Chanyoung tugs at her arm, points at a fancy store. “Let’s get the nail polish there.”

 

“But I already have nail polishes at home.”

 

Chanyoung raises an eyebrow. It makes the blood in Kyungri’s body shoot southward. “Do you have hot pink?”

 

“Hot pink?” Kyungri narrows her eyes. “What are you going to do with me?” She doesn’t necessarily dislike hot pink, but it’s an obnoxious colour. She wouldn’t dream about hot pink nails.

 

Chanyoung gasps, seemingly offended. “You have nice nails, and I enjoy painting nails, that’s all!” She wiggles her eyebrows. “What did you think, Ms. Dirty Mind?”

 

Kyungri shrugs. She glances at her girlfriend’s fingers. Her nails are already small enough for her fingers, and she keeps them cut extremely short. Kyungri wonders why.

They buy the hot pink nail polish (it isn’t as obnoxious as Kyungri thought), and get into the car. Once they settle, Kyungri rests her fingers on the key, and asks, “Why don’t you grow your nails?”

 

“I’m a lesbian.”

 

Kyungri isn’t sure why that’s an answer. “So?”

 

Chanyoung looks at her with eyes wide. “You don’t know?”

 

She shakes her head, completely at a loss of the correlation. She starts driving. It’s an empty, straight road for a few kilometers before the stupid city-traffic starts.

“Nails hurt the vagina.”

 

Kyungri slams her foot on the break, her face burning. She stares at Chanyoung for a second, yelling, “Chanyoung!”

 

“What?!” Chanyoung yells back, startled at the sudden break. “It’s true!”

 

“Is that why you keep your nails short?”

 

Chanyoung nods. “Yeah. And it’s a subtle sign of ‘you’re hot, I will go down on you if you let me’ on dates.”

 

Kyungri stiffens. She tries to cross her legs before she realizes she’s the one driving. Why is it so hot in here? She thinks. This is going to be one hard drive for me .

 

“Kyungri,” Chanyoung calls.

 

She hums, trying to collect herself, and cool her flaming body.

 

“Do I have to rub it in your face, for you to get a hint?”

 

Kyungri looks at her girlfriend, confused. “What?”

 

Chanyoung wiggles her fingers. Kyungri flushes further.

 

***

 

Chanyoung feels like a little girl, giggling as she carefully presses her lips against the smooth neck, right where the obvious tan-line has formed. The contrast isn’t striking, yet enough to make Chanyoung giggle. She enjoys silence after sex, although she hasn’t found anything better than soft kisses.

 

Kyungri is quiet, letting Chanyoung press gentle kisses on her body. Something about her silence is unsettling. Chanyoung wraps her arm around Kyungri’s waist, squeezes her closer, naked back to stomach. “Hey,” she whispers, “Are you okay?”

 

Kyungri looks at her over her shoulder. “Yeah.” Her breathing goes barely in her before she sighs. Which clearly is not something someone who is okay would do. “I’m just thinking.”

 

“You could tell me, if you want to.” Chanyoung offers.

 

There’s a moment of hesitation from her girlfriend. Her hand slides over Chanyoung’s arm to remove it, she turns around, and places it back with a halfhearted smile. She sighs. “If I were to tell my friends about this, would I have to specify that it was with a woman? To make sure they don’t think it was a guy and his penis?”

 

It’s not something Chanyoung has ever thought about. She only shares details of her sex life with Minsook, on rare occasion, that too. Just in case something was embarrassing and she didn’t realize. Chanyoung understands the frustration of having to mention ‘not a guy’ in the conversation, though. “I suppose,” she caresses Kyungri’s back, hoping it’s a comforting gesture. “Useless you’ve come out to them.”

 

“This is going to sound weird,” Kyungri looks away for a split second, then looks at her right in the eyes, clearly worried. “Do you ever feel, um, terrible after watching porn?”

 

“I do,” She admits. It’s a topic all too familiar. She searches if it’s normal to want to rip her guts out after watching one porn clip. “Lesbian sex is a porn category to some people.” She feels the familiar heaviness back in her gut. She probably shouldn’t tell this to Kyungri, but she can’t seem to stop herself. Like it needed to get off her chest. “I’ve felt dirty for watching it, and it’s extremely inaccurate, too. Along with being clearly made for men. At least 95 percent of that shit is made for men, by men.” 

 

She sighs loudly. It’s so annoying, knowing that the statistics is more likely to be true. “I’ve questioned my genuine interest in girls because of it, you know? I thought I had to put on a show for someone who wasn’t in bed with me. I sometimes keep feeling like I need to have an audience for me to have sex with a woman, as though it’s inauthentic if I don’t have anyone to watch.”

 

Kyungri is looking at her, very worried, a small pout on her lips. She cups Chanyoung’s cheek, tears welling up in her eyes. Chanyoung finds her face oddly cute. She looks like a puppy, with the big, glistening eyes and the pout. Chanyoung combs her fingers through Kyungri’s hair, squeezing her shoulder. “Don’t cry, Kyungri.”

 

“I’m not crying,” Kyungri argues, blinking her tears away. She chuckles a little, which seems to be mixed with a sob. “That’s just so sad.”

 

“It is, huh? I guess I don’t pay attention to it, I’m busy thinking,” Chanyoung makes a peace sign with her hand, and licks the space between her fingers. Kyungri blushes instantly, eyes wide. She ends up erupting into giggles, feeling second-hand embarrassed by the action. Chanyoung chuckles with her, and shrugs. “The power of lesbians!”

 

Kyungri presses a kiss on Chanyoung’s cheek, where her hand rested before. “I wish I had known you in my highschool. I could learn lesbian things so much earlier.”

 

“No,” Chanyoung groans. “I was a baby lesbain, who uselessly pined over all the pretty girls. You do not want to know me in highschool.”

 

Kyungri hums, pressing another kiss on Chanyoung’s lips. “I definitely would’ve liked you.”

 

Chanyoung’s phone starts ringing before she can respond. She rolls over, and checks her phone. It’s Minsook, video calling. It must be an emergency. “It’s Minsook,” Chanyoung informs, “It seems urgent—”

 

“Pick it up.” Kyungri nods.

 

Chanyoung answers it, covering her chest with the blanket. Minsook comes in view, she’s clearly sweating, and taking short breaths. Chanyoung smiles a little. “Hey. What’s up?”

 

“Hi. I might’ve told Junhee I love her,” Minsook takes the deep breath, but it comes out quicker than it went in. “Over text. And I’m freaking out.”

 

Chanyoung licks her lips. “Fuck. Okay, okay. Has she seen it?”

 

Minsook shakes her head.

 

“Okay, take a deep breath, you’re not breathing properly.” She watches Minsook try her best, and then continues speaking. “Was it impulsive? Do you regret it? Do you wanna text her ‘hey, sorry it was for my mom’ now?”

 

Minsook stares at her for a while, then shakes her head. “I had it in my head for over a month now. I wanted to do something grand before, but thought ‘fuck it’ and texted her.”

 

That is very much like Minsook. Chanyoung nods. “That’s okay. What about it makes this thing scary?”

 

“Um,” Minsook sighs. She probably understands it better now. “Because it’s my first time saying it to my girlfriend. I really want her to say it back, but also don’t want her to feel pressured into returning the words.”

 

“How about you text her that it’s okay if she doesn't feel the same way?”

 

Minsook pouts, eyebrows furrowing in frustration and annoyance. “But I want her to!”

 

“Minsook-unnie,” Chanyoung says sternly. It’s a silent way of saying you’re older and should know better than that . “Junhee is also human. You didn’t want her to feel pressured, right? C’mon, text her about it.”

 

“I guess.”

 

Chanyoung waits till Minsook is done texting and sending it to Junhee. Once Minsook returns, she’s more calm, and grins. “What’s up?”

 

Chanyoung shrugs. “I was talking to Kyungri.”

 

“Oooh~ Naked? Does she know you’re naked? Or it’s highly inappropriate, and I’ll seriously call the police—”

 

Chanyoung turns to her side, Kyungri shakes her head, and she pouts. Kyungri then buries herself under the blanket, the whole body under it, only head visible. Chanyoung switches to the back camera, beaming. “Say hi!”

 

“Hello!” Kyungri squeaks. “I’m Do Kyungri. It’s nice to meet you.”

 

“Hello, I’m assuming you’re naked too?” Kyungri nods. “Cool. Cool. I’m Kim Minsook. I draw vulvas for a living, it’s nice to meet you too!”

 

Kyungri giggles a little. “I’m a teacher.”

 

Chanyoung switches to the front camera, a stupid wide grin plastered on her face. Minsook nods. “She’s very pretty.”

 

Kyungri makes a noise, and Chanyoung watches her wiggle into the blanket. Chanyoung chuckles. “And very shy, apparently. That’s news to me.”

 

“Only around new people!” Comes Kyungri’s voice, muffled under the blanket. She sits, blanket around her head, wrapped like a newborn child. Chanyoung would’ve shown Minsook how cute her girlfriend is, but her breasts are on display. “Actually, it might be because I’m a useless lesbian.” And goes back to her original position. She returns from under the blanket a moment later, her head resting on Chanyoung’s shoulder. “Did I use that right?”

 

Chanyoung thinks for a second. “I guess?”

 

Kyungri looks adorable with her big eyes staring, only her head out of the blanket like a turtle. Kyungri would make a cute turtle. Chanyoung leans in and steals a kiss. Kyungri’s eyes widen, and she retreats under the blanket, still sitting. Chanyoung and Minsook chuckle. The most adorable turtle ever.

 

Chanyoung glances at the door, and wonders if it’s because they’re closed Kyungri is so… free with her actions. When they’re touring, Kyungri stays two steps ahead, babbling away about the place and its legends. Some legends make more sense than others, but Kyungri has specifically mentioned not to question any of them, to consider them unique, and it makes the place stand out on the second or third day of their tour. When they take a break, they hold hands for two minutes in total, and only in the places where the population is ten or less.

 

“Your inner sap is showing, Chanyoungie,” Minsook teases, voice high-pitched. “You’re staring at her like she’s a dream~”

 

“She,” Chanyoung shows the ‘hill’ of blanket next to her, “is currently a pile of blankets.”

 

Kyungri chuckles from under the blanket. Chanyoung feels an urge to pull her out of the blanket and kiss her till one of them passes out.  

 

Minsook laughs. “Ah, the dream of every lesbian: blanket cocoon.”

 

***

 

Once they bid goodbye to Minsook, Kyungri slips out of the bed. It doesn’t feel awkward even with Chanyoung in the same room, mostly because she’s walked around a couple of times like this in her apartment in university. She might’ve forgotten about Chanyoung momentarily. The air is colder outside the blanket, Kyungri misses it more and more with each step. She collects her clothes (which are thrown around uncharacteristically), and dumps on the bed. That’s when she realizes Chanyoung is there, on the bed, looking at her intensely.

 

Kyungri isn’t sure if her hands should go up or down first. She ends up hurrying her underwear on, and Chanyoung isn’t looking away. She probably should ask her girlfriend to look away, as much as she is shy, she also wants to frustrate Chanyoung (in a good way), and play innocent when (if) she accuses.

 

Chanyoung  rests her head on her palm, laying sideways. “Heads up, this is going to sound very creepy,” Chanyoung announces, “is it okay if I watch you dress up?”

 

Kyungri shrugs in response. That’s the only logical reaction in her head, plus, all of this sounds movie-like. This is definitely something which might happen in a movie, with spies and their hot girlfriends and/or one night stands. It’s exciting, too, to some extent. Chanyoung shifts forward, her head on the heel of her palms, elbows pressing on the bed, hard, and covering her breasts, and the blanket pulled over her back. She looks really good like this.

 

Kyungri puts on her bra, turns around to clasp it. She doesn’t make a big scene of putting her tshirt and jeans on, but once she turns around, she finds her girlfriend staring. Chanyoung is sitting now, blanket held against her chest, and tucked firmly under her armpits. She breathes out and leans forward. “Wow,” she says, and Kyungri leans towards her, kisses her soft lips. “You’re gorgeous.”

 

Kyungri blushes. That’s not a word someone randomly uses, she’s aware, and she would’ve called Chanyoung a flatterer if her face didn’t suggest that she meant it. She sits on the edge of the bed, one leg on the floor, another folded in front of her. “It’s your turn.” She says.

 

Chanyoung stutters. “What? No!” She releases the blanket to cover her blushing face. Kyungri wants to convince her, she really does, but she doesn’t want to force her either. The boundaries are really blurry at this stage. Chanyoung suddenly shakes her shoulders, as though shaking something off of it, and looks at Kyungri with determination. “Can you get me my clothes, please?”

 

Kyungri nods, eager, and tosses Chanyoung’s clothes to her. They were more scattered than Kyungri’s, for the record. She returns to her previous position on the bed, and Chanyoung stares at her clothes.

 

“You don’t have to,” Kyungri assures, pats Chanyoung’s knee through the blanket. “I can leave if you’d like.”

 

“I want to,” Chanyoung sighs. “I’m just shy.”

 

Kyungri wants to coo at her girlfriend. Although that might make her more shy, which isn’t beneficial to the current situation.

 

As Chanyoung starts, Kyungri realizes there’s nothing dirty about this. She doesn’t feel turned on, nor does she have any thoughts about anything as she watches. Chanyoung moves her hair to one side, and stands up in her underwear, turns around. She’s doing it just like Kyungri did, and Kyungri is fascinated. Most of Chanyoung’s body is on display, it’s nothing but pleasure watching her muscles flex under the skin. There is some baby fat on her waist, but none on her back. The depressions her muscles and skin make together are… art-like. The process, Kyungri decides, is very artistic.

 

She doesn’t have any complaints when Chanyoung puts on her tshirt, it does justice to her body, the tshirt. Chanyoung pulls the jeans up till her mid-thighs and falls back on the bed, butt first, laying on her back, legs in the air. She struggles with her jeans, wiggling around on the bed. This part isn’t artistic, really, yet it’s incredibly endearing.

 

Once she is done, Chanyoung stays there, looking up with a cute smile. Kyungri leans forward, weight supported on her arms, she presses a kiss on her forehead, grinning. “Cutie.”

 

Chanyoung closes her eyes and makes an embarrassed noise. Kyungri is glad she isn’t the only one who blushes easily. Her girlfriend isn’t as pale as herself, but her pink cheeks are obvious. They sit next to each other in silence, back leaning against the headboard.

Kyungri learnt a lot from Chanyoung today, especially lesbian slangs, and how amazing it is to watch a woman dress up (after sex). She’s also aware of how awkwardly ‘lesbian’ rolls off her tongue but she supposes that’s for the bad side of it. There are many others, of course, but these are the highlights. Usually, she would flinch violently if someone said lesbian in front of her. Today, though, Minsook used it more than she uses a curse word, and she didn’t feel like it was an insult directed towards her. So that’s a win. She didn’t feel that way when Chanyoung used it, too. Double win?

 

“What comes to your mind first when you think lesbian?” She asks randomly.

 

Chanyoung has assured her it’s okay to ask questions randomly, while they drove back to her hotel, especially about lesbian things. And Chanyoung talking helps Kyungri clear her mind, since Chanyoung’s vocabulary is good, and she does an exceptional job in expressing her thoughts and emotions. Maybe because she’s a writer, Kyungri assumes.

 

“It’s just a word to me,” Chanyoung shrugs, crossing her legs. “I use it to let people know boys are not in my dating list. While some people,” she fakes a cough, “ homophobes ,” she coughs again, “think it’s an insult, or a bad word, to make people feel terrible. I try not to care too much about those people.”

 

Kyungri feels uneasiness in her stomach. That’s familiar, trying not to care. “I end up caring too much about those people,” she admits. “Especially since my brother is one of them.”

 

Chanyoung squeezes Kyungri’s hand, smiling sympathetically. “That’s okay. Sometimes you can’t help it, can you? Plus, everyone needs reminders with homophobes around. Even Minsook-unnie needs to be told she’s a lesbian even without a girlfriend.”

 

“That’s sad.” Kyungri leans her head on Chanyoung’s shoulder, pressing a kiss there before doing so. “Some people are terrible.”

 

“Yeah. Especially since emotions are so complicated, you know? They’re complex, and they tangle further and further if someone makes an effort to untangle them—” She gasps, carefully pushes Kyungri’s head from her shoulder and rushes down to her suitcase.

 

Kyungri watches her scramble with her clothes, pull out a notebook and a pen, she sits on the ground, legs crossed, and writing away on the book.



***

 

Chanyoung cancels the next three days of their tour unannounced. The email doesn’t contain any reason whatsoever. Their father tells them it’s okay, since she’s paid for it, and it was her own decision (they don’t have to refund anything, basically).

 

Kyungri wants to ask about it, but doesn’t. Mostly because she feels terrible — guilty. She feels a strong urge to turn herself to the police, say, ‘I had sex with a woman I have feelings for and enjoyed the sex.’ in the FIR. It’s highschool all over again for her, but without Baekhee to help her through the feelings.

 

She’s all alone in her room. Sitting below the window, the darkest spot in the room, she scans the place. It’s clean. Everything is where it should be, her desk is sparkly clean, and the bedsheets were ironed before she put them on. It’s a solid coloured bedsheet, too, her favourite kind. Everything is perfect in her room, and Kyungri wants to be happy about it, click a picture and post it on social media, but the terrible feeling isn’t leaving her system.

 

She grabs her phone from the bed. It’s been four days (3 days and 1 night) since she’s talked to Chanyoung, and yet excitement bubbles in her chest as she texts.

 

[Kyungri] hey

 

The reply is instant. Kyungri doesn’t realize she’s holding her breath until she sighs loudly. The weight on her chest lifts. 

 

[Park Chanyoung] Hi! I was about to text you! I’m sorry I haven't contacted you in three days, I was in an intense creative flow, I couldn’t get my hands off my work. I hope you understand.

 

Chanyoung doesn’t use emojis for some reason, it makes her hard to read. Which is ironic considering her face gives away her emotions, when they’re hanging out.

 

[Kyungri] it’s alright! :) how much did you finish?

 

Chanyoung sends her a big reply. Reading it is very entertaining. Chanyoung explains her characters’ work like they’re puppies, for one, and the story is very interesting. Chanyoung’s presence is — even through a screen — is like fresh breeze. They talk a lot, for four hours, and the subjects change constantly within seconds.

 

Kyungri jumps a little when her grandma yells from downstairs, asking her to help her in making dinner. Kyungri yells back with a, ‘in a minute!’ and puts a 15 minute timer on her phone. She informs Chanyoung about it. Chanyoung replies with an okay, and starts talking about Minsook. They’re good, the couple, and have returned back to their honeymoon phase— according to her girlfriend. Chanyoung sends a screenshot of her conversation with Minsook. 

 

Kyungri notices how strange the conversation looks. Minsook uses lots of abbreviations, while Chanyoung types like those words are going to be printed. In the screenshot, Minsook is gushing (in all capitals) about how much she loves Junhee, how amazing their sex is, and how her vulva series is going to be humungous.

 

Since the topic is women, sex, and vulvas, Kyungri hopes it’s appropriate to ask. She drops ‘can I ask you something?’ and waits with sweat wetting her top.

 

[Park Chanyoung] You seem to have a lot of question about lesbian sex.

 

Kyungri isn’t sure how she feels about the reply. She purses her lips, and waits for something else. The alarm goes off, and Kyungri sends ‘i have to go’ and doesn’t check her phone for the rest of the night.

 

***

 

Rest of the tour — the last three days — turn out to be very awkward. Kyungri’s brother, Taeil, takes her place. He tells her she’s sick, and Kyungri texts her about the change a day before, too. She feels betrayed, somehow, but doesn't show it. 

 

Taeil is nice, he knows just as much as his sister, and he doesn't flirt, keeps it very professional — Chanyoung is glad. Some part of her thinks it's her fault that Kyungri is sick — maybe she isn't really sick and is doing this just to avoid interacting. Chanyoung probably said something wrong while texting. She knows better than to agree with those thoughts, yet they seem so convincing, so obviously true, Chanyoung takes a nap to forget them for a while. 

 

After the movie, the kissing, and bidding Kyungri goodbye with another kiss, Chanyoung signed up for an online therapy session, the one which Minsook took. The sessions have helped a lot with anxiety, and yet her online therapist suggests a real-life therapist and medications for it, saying it's better even if it's a penny or two more. Minsook also agrees with the therapist, but Chanyoung is unsure. She doesn't trust herself enough for pills.

 

They stop the car at a bookstore, as per her request, after finishing the tour completely. Taeil goes straight into the store, where comic books are displayed, Chanyoung stops in her tracks to look at a book which catches her eyes. 

 

The book's cover is beautiful, plain sky-blue background with whips of maroon making it seem like the ends of fire under the sky. It's a calming view. ‘Yours Truly’ is the title, the authors name just below it. It's a book about lesbians in an apocalyptic world, written by a queer woman. Chanyoung didn't expect it to be translated to Korean. Or see it displayed in a local bookstore. She takes the book in her hands, the softcover is delicate against her skin. 

 

“Oh, what's that?” Taeil leans in curiously.

 

Chanyoung gives him a half-smile. “It's a book about a girl in the apocalyptic world,” she explains. “She has been given a mission to spy over the humans for aliens, but ends up falling in love with a fellow spy, who is betraying the aliens.”

 

Taeil's eyes widen. “Wow. That sounds awesome.”

 

“It is. You should read it sometime, it has great LGBTQ+ representation.”

 

He moves back abruptly, as though something pushed him in the chest. “It has what ?”

 

“LGBTQ+ people,” Chanyoung mumbles.

 

She clutches the book tight against her chest, feeling uncomfortable as Taeil continues to stare at her, and she decides to just buy the book and leave. She goes inside, her breath becoming shallow with every step, and Taeil's following presence isn't helping. Her hands are shaking as she pays. The grandma looks at her, concerned, asks, “Are you okay, dear,” she looks behind, “Is that man bothering you?”

 

Yes , Chanyoung wants to say, he's homophobic and I don't want to be anywhere near him . She shakes her head instead. “No, no, he's… an acquaintance. Thank you for the book.”

 

They leave the bookstore, but her breathing doesn't become normal. Her chest is tightening as seconds pass by, the book is getting sloppy with her sweat, her mind racing with millions of thoughts all at once. The book is getting weird stop sweating damn it I can't breathe my lungs feel contracted take the air deeper I need to feel my lungs there isn't enough air around me—

 

A water bottle comes in her view which is enough to stop her racing thoughts. She looks at the person holding the water bottle — Taeil, who is saying something but Chanyoung seems to have become deaf. She assumes he's offering the water and grabs it. Focusing on the bottle, Chanyoung carefully opens the cap, some of the water spills because of how bad her hands are shaking. 

 

Taeil takes the bottle away from her, and Chanyoung starts crying. It doesn’t help with her already shortened breathing. Her sobs become more and more choked, everything around her is blurred by tears, she isn’t sure where she is. 

 

A minute later, her crying reduces into sniffles, head throbbing and yet numb somehow.

 

“Chanyoung?”

 

She gasps a bit, tears welling up in her eyes again, and looks in the direction of the voice. Taeil is holding his phone near her ear, Kyungri is on the phone and the speaker is on.

 

“Chanyoung, breathe,” Kyungri says through the phone. “Everything will be okay, hon— it’ll be fine. In through your nose, out through your mouth. Keep your chest open.”

 

Chanyoung doesn’t realize she’s crouching on the ground, holding onto her shoulders, arms crossed over each other. She stands straight, and keeps her hands on her thighs. She does as she’s told. Chanyoung feels like she’s forgotten how to breathe normally, then again, she wasn’t exactly normal to begin with, was she? Too tall, a homosexual, a writer, an annoying journalist—

 

“Are you feeling better?”

 

Chanyoung looks at Taeil, then licks her dry lips. “Kind of.”

 

“Taeil oppa, switch off the speaker and give her the phone, please.”

 

Taeil obeys without any questions. Kyungri’s voice is less robotic when the speaker is off. Chanyoung holds the phone with both her hands, keeps it near her ear. “Hi.”

 

“Hi honey,” Chanyoung’s chest warms, it feels like someone is pouring a perfectly hot coffee in her chest. She likes this. Kyungri sounds more worried now. “Are you okay? Really okay? Do you want to talk about it?” She takes a deep breath. “How are you feeling?”

 

Chanyoung glances at Taeil worriedly. Taeil points at the car and walks away.

 

Chanyoung breaths better. “I was spiralling,” she admits. Saying it feels awful, but she can’t lie to Kyungri for some reason. “I couldn’t stop thinking at all.”

 

Kyungri sneezes loudly. Chanyoung winces. “What triggered it, honey?”

 

Chanyoung doesn’t want to sound like a sap, but she loves Kyungri calling her honey. If only she was brave enough to call Kyungri ‘baby’ or ‘babe’ or something to make her feel extra special.

 

“Chanyoung?”

 

Right. The question. Chanyoung thinks for a while. She was feeling fine when they came here, and even while reading the book title— oh. “I don’t think you should know,” she says, biting on her bottom lip.

 

“Please, Chanyoung.”

 

She sighs. “We’re at a bookstore right now, and I was looking at a queer book. Taeil asked me what kind of book is that, I tell him, and mention that he should read it because it has queer representation and,” she takes a deep breath. “He goes, ‘it has what?!’ and that made me really uncomfortable.”

 

“Oh god,” Kyungri sniffles.

 

“Hey, don’t cry.”

 

“I-I’m not crying. I’m really sorry Chanyoungie, I shouldn’t have sent him—”

 

“No, it’s okay, you’re sick,” Chanyoung wishes she could hold her girlfriend and kiss her forehead right now. “I understand, Kyungri-ah, please don’t blame this on yourself. I should’ve handled the comment—”

 

Kyungri cuts in with a stern, mother-like voice. “Don’t blame it on yourself, either.”

 

“Okay,” Chanyoung giggles. “Thank you.”

 

“I miss you.”

 

Chanyoung thinks of her unused polaroid camera. “I miss you too. I’m visiting you tomorrow to fill my camera roll.”

 

“Please,” Kyungri chuckles, “My daily kisses jar is also very empty. It needs to be filled so I can get better soon.”

 

“I’ll arrange it!” Chanyoung feels her chest flutter, excitement doing funny things to her stomach. She also feels a wave of panic. She checks the phone. Okay, it isn’t recording. Nobody but them heard the conversation. That’s a relief.

 

“—is that okay?”

 

Chanyoung stutters a little. “Um. Kyungri, I was… I might’ve zoned out. Can you repeat it, please?”

 

Kyungri sighs. Chanyoung feels bad. “N-no, it’s nothing. I’ll tell you that tomorrow? I don’t think I put this properly.”

 

“Okay.” She notices Taeil waving at her. “I, uh, have to go. I’ll see you tomorrow?”

 

“Yeah. Bye, Chanyoungie.”

 

She grins. “Bye, Kyungri.” She ends the call and the lockscreen appears. It’s Taeil and Kyungri, their heads squished together. Kyungri has bangs, her heart-shaped smile is obvious, she’s holding a finger heart right in front of Taeil’s nose. Taeil’s smile is almost-heart but isn’t as obvious as Kyungri’s. He seems to be holding the phone in the picture. It’s adorable. She notices the date at the bottom right corner: 5/11/15.

 

***

 

The car ride is mostly silent in the beginning. Then Taeil puts on lyricless music, which starts a conversation between them. The music is really good, Chanyoung is sure Minsook will love this. Once Taeil is done telling her the names of the artists, he glances nervously at her. “I’m sorry I couldn’t help you,” he gulps. “Back there, I mean.”

 

“It’s okay,” Chanyoung waves dismissively. “You tried.”

 

Taeil nods. “Yeah. But I don’t know how Kyungri does it, you know? She doesn’t even have any first hand experience like me.”

 

“You’ve had panic attacks?” That’s… surprising?

 

“I’ve been diagnosed with severe depressive disorder,” he nods. “Before I started going to therapy they were pretty frequent. Kyungri helped a lot.”

 

Chanyoung already knows how this conversation is going to end. “Are you better now?”

 

“Yes! And Chanyoung-ssi, I know this isn’t my place…”

 

Chanyoung braces herself. Here comes the unwanted advice.

 

“But you should consider going to a psychiatrist, or a therapist. It feels better slowly, but surely.”

 

Chanyoung has heard this a thousand times from many people, but Taeil’s words don’t sting like a poison dagger in her gut. It actually feels helpful. She wants to ask how it is, even though she already has a therapist. Maybe online therapy doesn’t count? “Do you take medications?”

 

“For a while,” Taeil make a disgusted face. “They tasted terrible, I’ve put ‘please expand your flavours for the pills’ in the recommendation box.” Both of them chuckle a little.

“They slowly lessened my dosage. And therapy can be really fun sometimes. In my last week’s session we read Winnie The Pooh books.”

 

“Cute.” Chanyoung grins.

 

Taeil blushes. She feels an urge to clarify that she isn’t flirting, but resists it by looking out of the window. Taeil sighs. “Trust me on this one, Chanyoung-ssi.”

 

She nods. “Okay.”

 

The car stops in front of the hotel. The ride seemed to be really short. “It was nice touring with you,” Chanyoung says, smiling, before she gets out of the car. Taeil follows her out, also smiling. “I hope I wasn’t a nuisance.”

 

“Not at all,” Taeil beams. “Take care of yourself, Chanyoung-ssi.”

 

“You too.” She turns around, stops, then faces Taeil again. A shy smile on her face as she asks, “Can I visit Kyungri tomorrow? I feel like I need to get your permission.”

 

“Yes, of course!” Taeil chuckles. “ You don’t have to, Chanyoung-ssi, boys do!”

 

A bunch of suggestively-lesbian jokes come to her mind, yet she keeps her mouth shut. Minsook would encourage it, definitely, but it’s not worth it. Not to him, at least. Some part of her feels cowardly. She walks away with a smile.

 

***

 

“I-I,” Kyungri sniffles, burying herself further into Chanyoung’s warmth. “It’s really hard.”

 

She hates how much it hurts. It’s the best of her options, she knows, and she also knows that Chanyoung understands, or she wouldn’t be here comforting her. Chanyoung isn’t crying like she is, but she’s clearly upset about this. It’s better than her expectations, she’ll admit that. She never thought she’d ever say this about a heartbreak or a breakup, really, but then again it’s Chanyoung one is talking about.

 

“I understand, Kyungri-ah,” Chanyoung presses a soft kiss on Kyungri’s forehead, “it’s okay. Don’t cry.”

 

Kyungri sobs. “I don’t know why I’m crying!” She chuckles, and her girlfriend— ex-girlfriend follows. Their chuckling is sadder than everything else happening, and that makes Kyungri start sobbing more. Chanyoung rubs her back in a soothing manner, muttering assurances into her ear. Kyungri smiles a little. “This is annoying. Is every break up like this? I’m not ready for a lesbian life.”

 

Chanyoung grins. “You wish. Break ups are more calm, sure, but there’s more emotional baggage than you’d expect with a man.” Her smile falters into a frown. “Honestly, I don’t

think I could do it, either.”

 

Kyungri says, “Don’t frown, you’ll get wrinkles.” She’s sure what Chanyoung is thinking about. Long distances are hard, extremely hard when the person lives five train stops away. It gets messier as time passes by. After a moment of silence, Kyungri sighs. “So… is this the end?”

 

“Not necessarily,” Chanyoung entwines their fingers together, squeezing. “We could still be friends.”

 

Kyungri smiles. “I’d like that.”

 

EPILOGUE:



Chanyoung finally returns to her apartment with two suitcases, her bones are heavier than before, each muscle aching at every step she takes forward. She abandons her suitcases at the kitchen and crashes on the couch. Her phone is filled with pictures, notes, videos, and bookmarks. She takes it out, puts a reminder to thank her readers on social media platforms tomorrow. She smiles tiredly at the reminder. Her book tour was a huge success.

 

The maid has cleaned before her arrival, no wonder it smells like lavender and roses. It isn’t her favourite scent, but she couldn’t care less at the moment. Her phone chimes, a white box popping up at the upper side of the phone.



[Kyungri <3] hi! i hope youre back safe! i have a good news: i’m moving to seoul!!! :D

 

Any other text would’ve been less scary to reply to. They’re following each other on social media, and they used to text a lot during the first three months after their break up. This particular text, for some reason, gives her the same chest flutters and stomach tingles she gets with a crush. She gets a vivid flashback of the banter, the sex, the talking, the last makeout before their break up. Although out of everything, it’s the times Kyungri coaxed her out of a panic attack that makes her feel warm.

 

Kyungri’s name is in the acknowledgements of her book. Maybe she’ll dedicate it to Kyungri next time. Her phone buzzes again.

 

[Kyungri <3] if you arent dating anyone (because its not updated on your fb!!!!!!! how will lesbians know if you are available and fall in love with you? disappointing, chanyoungie) id like to take you on a date after i’ve moved?

 

Chanyoung squeals a little.

 

[Chanyoung] A romantic date?

 

[Kyungri <3] yes!! :)

 

She types ‘I would love to!’ but it feels… incomplete.

 

[Chanyoung] I would love to!  :) <3