There’s this girl, in Yoonji’s theory class. This really brilliantly beautiful bold girl.
“Tell us about The Girl again.” Jimin coos, falling beside Yoonji with a careful oof and a grace that Yoonji does not possess— Jimin’s balancing three glasses and somehow doesn’t spill a drop. It’s amazing and outlandish because Yoonji has also seen Jimin hit herself in the face with her own leg and fall off of so many chairs and couches it wouldn’t even be fair to try to keep count.
Jimin is unreal.
Tae curls up next to Jimin with a hum, squishing Yoonji a little farther back. All three of them are on their favorite bench in the back of their favorite bar around the tiny round table that they’ve claimed as their own.
“Tell us, tell us, tell us,” Tae chants, pushing Yoonji’s wine toward her, chewing at the straw of their ginger ale, “Yoonji unnie, your like-clockwork music-theory-girl-meltdowns are my favorite parts of the week.
Yoonji wrinkles her nose at Tae. Tae wrinkles their nose back. Yoonji wrinkles her nose a bit more.
Jimin sighs after a few seconds of the stand-off and lifts her hands, squeezes both of their cheeks, pressing their mouths into little pouts.
“My most beautiful humans,” she presses a kiss to Yoonji’s forehead before she releases her and one to Tae’s pursed lips before she releases them. “Speak, unnie. You’ll feel better once you wax poetic.”
Tae nods and rests their head on Jimin’s shoulder, snuggling in. “Tell us, tell us, tell us, did she have an umbrella this week? A colorful hat? Did she reference another obscure track from 1972 that literally no one but the two of you have listened to? Was she reading Foucault?”
She was reading Foucault actually but Yoonji doesn’t dignify that with an answer.
Music theory girl is—
She’s named Namjoo and she’s not in Yoonji’s cohort. Yoonji hadn’t seen her before this semester and Yoonji would have noticed, so she must still be in her first year of the master’s program. Yoonji’s pretty sure Namjoo could run circles around Yoonji’s entire cohort though. She’s smart and quick, answers questions easily, but also like she’s waiting for someone to try and tell her that she’s wrong. Like she’s had to defend her opinions before. She’s got a rainbow pin on her bag. She’s always reading different books. Her hair is pinned back constantly but little wisps escape the clips and Yoonji wants to tuck them behind her ears for her. Yoonji wants to unpin her hair and tell her she’s pretty. Yoonji wants to find out why she’s always reading books that have nothing to do with music theory and everything to do with being human, which is what Yoonji thinks music is anyway.
The semester has been going for two months and they’ve only met like eight times, but classes are long and there’s lots of discussion and Namjoo speaks up. Her voice is mesmerizing. What she says is mesmerizing. On top of that, Yoonji has caught Namjoo staring intently at her while Yoonji is talking, like she’s parsing over the words and really hearing them, not just formulating her own response in her head. When they have to split into groups or partners, from the first time the professor said to, they’ve gravitated toward each other and Yoonji is—
“You could, like, talk to her you know.” Jimin admonishes lightly, which Yoonji has been and Jimin knows this, but Yoonji also knows Jimin means, like, not just for class things.
“And say what,” Yoonji mumbles into her wine glass, “hello?” She scoffs.
“Well,” Jimin says, “you say that like it’s a terrible opener but yeah, I might suggest it. ‘Hi’ even, go for casual, you know?”
“Go totally wild,” Tae suggests, their eyes wide, “say ‘hey, I’m Yoonji, want to grab coffee?’”
“Too bold,” Jimin hisses, “too bold, too forward, Tae, pull it back, pull it back! What if she says yes, then what would unnie do, make small talk?”
“Not that!” Tae shrieks, “anything but that!” They collapse into giggles, poking and prodding at her around Jimin, the both of them muttering things that sound suspiciously like talk to her, ask her out, live your dreams and Yoonji knows and she wants to, she’s going to maybe try to, it’s just—
When she and Namjoo had first started talking it had just been coursework, but then the conversation had drifted. Similar tastes in music, styles, bands, lyrical leanings, authors— and differing tastes too. Ones that made Namjoo’s eyes spark and Yoonji want to know more more more, but it’s all been captured in these tiny fragments of conversation.
Yoonji wants more than that.
She wants to hear Namjoo really go into detail about the books she’s been reading, all bright eyed and hair escaping her ponytail, and not have her get cut off by the professor entering or group time ending. Yoonji wants to challenge Namjoo's opinions and have her opinions challenged and end up at the same place from different sides. It’s, like, infuriating how much she wants to talk to Namjoo. It’s infuriating how smart Namjoo is.
It’s also infuriating how effortlessly ridiculously hot Namjoo is, like, all the time. Like sometimes it maybe looks like she forgot to brush her hair, but somehow in a cute way instead of Yoonji’s patented angry-poodle-that-needs-a-haircut morning look.
Today, Namjoo was wearing this oversized t-shirt tucked into high waisted skinny jeans and a blazer and these utterly ridiculous hiking books and she had rings on like all of her fingers and the tiniest dusting of sparkles on her eyelids and she’s so gorgeous and strong and Yoonji wants to climb her like a tree and listen to her talk forever and—
“You know we can hear you, yes?” Jimin queries, poking at the fruit in her sangria. “Do you think we can eat this, Taetae?”
“I love that we can hear her.” Tae opines. “Maybe not but can we try to anyway? I love fruit."
Music theory girl/Namjoo is actually not as much of an enigma as Yoonji is making it sound, in terms of them having had a real uninterrupted conversation. But she’s only making her sound slightly enigmatic because she knows Jimin and Tae will tell her to do something terrible like casually ask Namjoo on a real date or something, as though Yoonji isn’t totally head over heels and hasn’t already planned a first road trip playlist for them in her head based on the conversations they’ve had.
(Yoonji totally hasn’t.)
((Yoonji totally has.))
See, during class on Tuesday someone had decided to test if Namjoo like really knew about music, tried to catch her out, and then fucking cut her off when she was answering.
Yoonji, regardless of anything even related to her total casual gay love spiral, felt her blood boil.
When she was younger, she had let people do that to her, let men do that to her, let boys do that to her. She had let people do that to her and tell her who she was supposed to be and like and how and when and how much until one day when she had just sort of snapped. Realized fuck that. Which makes it sound much easier than it was, to remember to stand up for herself and when guys cut her off to not apologize for speaking back up, but she does.
So it’s not even really conscious at this point, it’s more of just a thing Yoonji does, because she was talking, Namjoo was literally fucking talking—
“She was in the middle of a sentence, jackass,”
is what Yoonji says, really loudly, in the middle of their theory class, effectively cutting off said jackass and—
Oh, everyone is looking at her now, including Namjoo who literally has her mouth open, probably to cut that guy off because she’s a perfectly capable adult woman who was probably going to stand up for herself but—
There is a pause.
“Though the method was a bit coarse, that’s a good point, Yoonji. Namjoo, would you like to finish your thought?” The professor says, which is a double win because now the guy looks double shamed and Yoonji is not in trouble in a course she needs to graduate.
“Thank you.” Namjoo says, looking at Yoonji and not the professor, looking at Yoonji like she genuinely means it.
And she must because, after class, she comes over when Yoonji is gathering up her stuff and Namjoo’s literally dripping things, pens and notebooks and books and her bag and a scarf and she’s this bumbling totally in control little windstorm when she says,
“Hey, about what happened during class?”
Yoonji feels embarrassment burn in her cheeks.
“Sorry, I know you could have dealt with him, I just hate when guys do that—”
“No,” Namjoo waves her hands, drops a pen, picks it up again nearly dropping a bunch of other things in a flurry of motion that leaves her closer to Yoonji than she was. Yoonji’s heart does a fluttery beat at Namjoo’s smile this up-close. “No, I wanted to say thank you again, I really appreciated that. It’s so easy to get flustered when guys do that and I just. Appreciate you.”
“Oh.” Yoonji says, because she’s eloquent and casual. “Yeah, no, it’s fine.”
Namjoo smiles and there’s this little pause where someone needs to say something or the conversation is going to end. Namjoo nods and does one of those apologetic smiles like she’s going to go away, so Yoonji just blurts,
“That guy is a jackass. Like three classes in and you could already tell he was gonna be, you know? But it could be worse is what I always tell myself. We could be film studies majors. Now those guys— those guys are jackasses.”
Namjoo starts to laugh, this pretty uncontained thing that ends on a squeak and it’s so freaking cute that Yoonji has to bite at her lips so she doesn’t smile her big gummy smile that she doesn’t quite like, only she can’t stop it and Namjoo’s smile slips into something sweet when she sees it like she does.
Yoonji’s heart does that fluttery thing again.
“Let me buy you a coffee as thanks?” Namjoo offers, rocking forward in her brogues and Yoonji—
doesn’t want her to feel obligated.
“It’s fine.” Yoonji tries to wave it off, “you don’t have to do that, it’s fine.”
Namjoo’s face falls nearly instantly and Yoonji feels so so so so bad.
“I would like to get a coffee with you,” she amends much too quick, “just you don’t have to pay or—it doesn’t have to be for thanks, it can just be coffee or—”
“Coffee.” Namjoo smiles. “I want to get coffee with you.”
This is probably a friend thing, Yoonji cautions her heart.
“Do you have time now?” Namjoo asks, a little nervous sounding, tucking a stray strand of hair behind her ear.
“Okay,” she says to Tae and Jimin, “okay, okay, what if I have talked to her,”
“Oh my god,” Tae says.
“and we maybe grabbed coffee after class on Tuesday,”
“Oh my god,” Jimin says,
“and then today maybe I was, you know, trying to subtly be like ‘hey I’m gay’ so I wore my ‘hey I’m gay’ bracelet,”
“I wish it really said that,” Tae bemoans, “I mean it’s cute as it is with the double Venus, but just ‘hey I'm gay’— that would be a great bracelet.”
“—and when she came into class today, she sat next to me and after we said hi I put my chin in my hand to show off my bracelet, right,”
“You’re subtle,” Jimin interjects, “that’s what I like about you.”
“So, what happens next?” Tae asks and that—
is the question.
“She didn’t notice.” Yoonji whispers miserably.
“Were you obvious about it though.” Jimin deadpans.
Yoonji sticks out her arm in her defense and she and Tae and Jimin peer at the tangle of bracelets Yoonji is wearing.
“How did you mess that up?” Jimin queries, untangling the bracelets to try and find the one Yoonji means.
“I didn’t want to be too obvious and make it seem like I was just like ‘hi I’m gay and you’re hot as fuck and that’s all my interest is,’” Yoonji explains, “because, yes, she’s hot as fuck, but also she’s really funny and kind and I saw her feeding a stray kitten before class today and she squeaked when the kitten came over to her and we spent like five hours discussing producing and our goals on Tuesday in the café and today we were talking about our final project,”
“Oh, I see,” Jimin says sweetly,
“Yes, I see,” Tae echoes,
“And we were saying like we should use famous quotations as the theme for our lyrics, you know like expand on the idea, and Joo—”
“—mentioned this Murakami quote that she liked about seas and deserts and then I was like ‘anything but Murakami I thought you had taste’ and she was like ‘play nice’ and I was like ‘never’,”
“What is happening,”
“And I was like ‘here, if you want Murakami, let’s do Murakami’ and pulled up that passage about vaginas and ears and so on and said she should use that as the lyrics for her final project—”
“God, I’m still scarred from you reading that. I couldn’t look at Jimin-ah’s ears for, like, a whole day without flashbacks,” Tae mumbles, “and usually I kiss them like twice an hour.”
“—and then she started rapping the quote like it was lyrics in this really low whispered voice,” Yoonji continues miserably, “until she started giggling, and then she freestyled off of it and,”
“Oh sweetheart.” Jimin says. “Oh unnie, there there, it’s okay, come here.”
“Jimin-ah,” Yoonji says miserably, “Taetae-yah,”
“We know, we know,” Tae says comfortingly, wrapping their arms around Jimin and Yoonji, “you want to marry her.”
“Don’t be silly,” Yoonji sniffs, finding Taehyung’s hand to hold and clutching Jimin’s with her other hand, “I mean, maybe. Yeah. Yes. It would be nice.”
“You could have children.” Jimin nods.
“Children who cherry-pick quotes to both defend for and argue against Murakami.” Tae adds.
“Aw,” Jimin says, “that’s horrible, they’ll be so awful together, I love it.”
“What do I do.” Yoonji whines.
“Well,” Jimin says, “again, just a thought, just spit-balling here, but you could talk to her. Or even like. Ask her out.”
Yoonji decides to try the bracelet thing again.
First though, on the way home from the bar, she texts Namjoo.
Because today, after class, Namjoo had asked if Yoonji wanted to grab coffee again, looking down shyly while she was adjusting her blazer and Yoonji wanted to, but had already promised Jimin that they were meeting for study time so she couldn’t. She had asked for Namjoo’s number and Namjoo had typed it in for her and said text me! all bright and cheery like she hadn’t just typed Yoonji’s downfall into Yoonji’s phone and it’s Thursday and, yes, they just saw each other at class but next class isn’t until Tuesday so maybe—
Yoonji’s tipsy and it’s cold and Namjoo is sweet and their conversation about Foucault got cut off earlier so maybe she wants to talk to Namjoo again.
She says, going for cool and then she regrets it because there’s no way that was cool.
Only Namjoo responds, like, nearly instantly,
how are you?
Yoonji types and sends and regrets, oh the regret.
Yoonji stomps her feet in protest.
was out with friends
do you like wine, joo?
let unnie take you out next time
Namjoo’s little typing bubbles appear and then disappear and then appear and then disappear. Yoonji feels a slow sinking regret spread through her and tries to figure out a way to backtrack, but then Namjoo sends a message and then another and then another.
i would like that but
i don’t know a lot about wine
or alcohol, honestly
i drink, like, Heineken
Yoonji both types and says, much to the surprise of the man standing beside her at the bus stop.
unnie will have to teach me ^^
i would like to teach you
Yoonji says because, apparently, she no longer believes in self-preservation as a skill or a thing she should be, like, doing for herself.
this weekend? Namjoo asks because apparently, she’s not interested in the Preservation of Yoonji either, are you free, we could go out
yeah, Yoonji says, that sounds perfect, maybe Saturday?
Namjoo says, and Yoonji is so fucked.
“Do you think it’s a date?” Yoonji asks Jimin and Tae because, without these two, she wouldn’t have made it as far as she has. Her younger adopted cousin who Yoonji is pretty sure is mostly some sort of fae creature and their beautiful girlfriend who has been through more shit in her years than Yoonji has. Not that it’s a competition or anything, and Yoonji knows she’s been through some shit too, it’s just— sometimes Jimin tells stories that make Yoonji’s heart ache so bad. Jimin is so strong. Yoonji’s actually always surprised when people tell her she’s strong. She doesn’t think she does much that’s too special, just figures you have to keep carrying on. It actually took her a little bit to learn to say no that’s too much, this is too much for my heart to take right now.
“It’s very obviously a date.” Jimin says from Yoonji’s closet where she is searching for something she described as a more colorful black.
“Noona, it’s a date.” Tae rolls over on the bed and on top of Yoonji where she is curled, and they bicker fight for a few minutes until they are wrapped around each other correctly.
“Wait, I want to cuddle too.” Jimin jumps on top of both of them and there’s a bit more shuffling until Yoonji is warm and safe in between her two best people.
“It’s a date,” Jimin says and kisses the top of Yoonji’s head, “and you are gonna have a lovely time and stare into each other’s eyes and listen to the entire Epik High discography and discuss the relentless encroachment of the west and talk about colonization and it’s widespread impacts and then make out and drink red wine and wake up and have sleepy bubble bath sex and then go to the studio to very literally make music for, like, 29 hours straight subsisting only on americano and shitty convenience store ramen.”
“The dream.” Yoonji mumbles.
“The dream is here.” Tae waves their arm toward the ceiling and lets it crash down on all of them again. “The dream is arrived.”
So, it’s a date.
Yoonji shows up at 1:30PM at the station because that is what they had decided on. Somehow their wine talk had turned into debating what time and then deciding afternoon and something before wine and there was an exhibit that Namjoo really wanted to go to, an artist she followed on instagram, and did Yoonji want to go with her?
Yoonji’s pretty sure Namjoo could have said can we meet at the soccer stadium at 3 to play in the game and Yoonji would have said sure sounds good even though literally the only sport she is good at is basketball. She is great at basketball though.
She shifts from one foot to the other, then stabilizes herself. She’s wearing, in fact, a lighter shade of black. Well, a black shift dress with a giant red flannel over it and her ‘hey im gay’ bracelet and a soft giant blue beanie that is her comfort object. She did her eyeliner and got her wings even and used her reddest best most kissable-and-it’s-still-there lip tint and she really wants this to be a date because she’s having horrible thoughts about, like, how it would be cute to wake Namjoo up late on Sunday morning by drawing her a bath and curling into the tub with her to talk about the farmer’s market trip they need to take and then ending up spending half the day listening to old records and arguing about lo-fi vs. hi-fi and then eating chicken and making out on the living room floor in a pile of blankets.
“Unnie!” Namjoo shouts and Yoonji flicks some dust off her stocking, knocks her toes together in her trusty boots, and lifts a hand in greeting.
Namjoo is taking her to a gallery, a small one, by the river. It's cold out, but nice. They talk as they walk, but there’s a gentle quiet interspersed too, none of the overly forced conversation that makes Yoonji uneasy. They talk about their classes and then not their classes, Namjoo's eyes intent like she's really interested in what Yoonji has to say. Yoonji feels delicately bare to the world and safe, despite that.
Namjoo is layered up under tweed and plaid and all sorts of fabrics like some sort of forest fairy who moonlights as a professor, and Yoonji is sort of casually desperately falling for her, especially when they get to the gallery and she walks around like she's trying to find something, peering at each piece.
Yoonji's fond of galleries in one way, not so fond in another. She tends toward architecture, structures, the delicate inlays of how people make buildings into places and houses into homes. She likes this gallery, worn around the edges with love and art and carefully chosen pieces. She likes the pictures on the walls and she likes the way Namjoo whispers airy words in Yoonji's ear like she doesn't want to disturb the gentle peace this place holds.
They look at paintings of women who are sad and who are happy and who are holding hands and who are caught, in between so many worlds that demand so many things of them. They look at paintings that are smears of color made into feeling, a feeling Yoonji knows well. They look and whisper and wander away from each other and back to each other and, at one point, Namjoo finds Yoonji's hand and holds it, just for a second, but a second Yoonji can't come back from.
Namjoo is looking at a picture like it hurts her and holding Yoonji's hand like it's keeping her stable and Yoonji rubs her thumb down the side of Namjoo's hand, squeezes tight. She’s rewarded with a smile from Namjoo, a small one, one through the hair that's falling out of her clip. Yoonji tucks the strands of hair behind Namjoo's ear for her when Namjoo turns toward her and then Yoonji doesn't drop her hand from Namjoo's cheek even though she probably should.
"Sorry," Namjoo says but her voice wavers like an earth tremor and she's tilting her face into Yoonji's hand. Yoonji strokes her cheek and lets her hand fall to adjust the lapels of Namjoo's jacket, lift back up to brush away the one tear that falls.
"Don't have to be sorry," she says and hopes it doesn't sound gruff, she never means to sound gruff or brusque— she's just better at saying what she's thinking than hiding it, "come on, Joo. Let unnie buy you some tea?"
Namjoo doesn't drop Yoonji’s hand when they start to walk so Yoonji doesn't let go either. They walk out of the gallery and into late fall and down the river a little bit and don't say much of anything at all and it's gentle, really quiet and nice and Yoonji feels safe.
Namjoo is doing measured breathing, like she's getting her feet back under her. Yoonji figures this is bigger than just a painting and probably also in some ways nothing at all, like when the world just hits you sideways and you can't tell what you have to do to make up up and down down again.
"Let's go here," Yoonji points with their linked hands, off the path a little bit, a small cafe covered in vines and surrounded by trees. The café looks cute and also like it accidentally got dropped through a time warp to here from a hundred years ago.
They have to let go of each other’s hands when they enter the shop, tugging at the door and peeling off jackets and scarves while they look around the mostly empty café. It's warm and cozy, one or two people writing, gentle music playing. Namjoo points toward a table the corner, by the window, and they wander over together.
The table is small and, when they sit down, their knees knock.
The elderly grandma running the shop brings them jujube tea without them asking, small pretty rice cakes by the side.
"Thank you." Yoonji says and Namjoo echoes the words, and then it's just the two of them, cuddled at their table and Yoonji breathes, lets her hands fall to the table, bare of Namjoo's.
Namjoo leans against the window and smiles sort of soft, sort of small, fiddles with her cup.
"Sorry," she says.
"You don't have to be sorry," Yoonji repeats, "it's okay."
Namjoo bites her lower lip and chews at it, nervous. Yoonji reaches out, touches her hand where it's resting against the table. Namjoo looks up at her a little desperately.
“Can you tell me about something you like?” She asks, like it means a lot to her, like Yoonji’s answer matters.
“You.” Yoonji says, as cheesily and dramatically as she can. She’s rewarded with Namjoo wrinkling her nose and pushing Yoonji’s hand away, breaking into giggles, reaching out and grabbing Yoonji’s hand again at Yoonji’s pout. “The Alchemist,” Yoonji says, “and I know it’s overplayed, but wait and listen why,”
And Namjoo does.
Namjoo listens to her talk and her rosebud mouth falls open and she starts to talk too.
They talk about the books they are reading and finish their tea.
Yoonji talks with her hands, she knows this, waves her arms and taps her fingers and fiddles with hangnails always has, probably always will, especially when she’s excited about what she’s talking about and she is, right now, because she’s talking about how—
(subtlety is truly your greatest strength, unnie, jimin says sweetly in her head)
—for their final project she’s going to use fragments of Sappho, the new translation, with the gaps and the parenthesis and the missing word-breathes of thoughts, and Yoonji is going to use those and add her own words in to make them into lyrics.
Namjoo catches one of Yoonji's hands when it's close and bends over it, looks at her nail polish. Simple and dark varnish, smooth and matte.
"I like this color," Namjoo says.
"Thank you," Yoonji breathes because Namjoo is not letting go of her hand, tangling their fingers, tapping Yoonji's against the table, "Tae-yah did it. They’re, like, one of my favorite little humans. They’re significantly taller than me, it’s fine, I’m not bitter."
Namjoo smiles down at Yoonji's wrist and then up at Yoonji's eyes, her fingers caught on Yoonji's bracelet, her words caught on Yoonji's tongue.
"Like your bracelet," she says, soft and shy and sort of like she's testing something.
It's always a little scary somehow, saying it to someone for the first time, especially when it’s new words. For Yoonji saying it to herself had felt like a relief the first time, a gentle understanding, things clicking into place, but saying it to other people was scary. Even to Tae, even though she knew Tae would have never ever ever have done anything but exactly what they did—wrap Yoonji up into a hug and say my beautiful brave Yoonji-noona.
Yoonji wonders if it's new words for Namjoo or words that have found their way to home in her mouth and fit there now.
"Thanks," Yoonji says, "I'm lesbian so— yeah."
"Me too." Namjoo says, not too quiet and not overly loud, just gentle and there.
The words sound calm.
Namjoo smiles and drops her gaze like that's breaking the moment, whatever moment this is, but it's just exacerbating the moment in Yoonji's head because this pretty delicate strong girl, this girl who just cried over art and also likes girls and is gentle and smart and kind and smells like lavender and cotton is holding her hand and playing with her fingers and Yoonji—
"I've never liked my hands." She says, her fingers nervously fidgeting in Namjoo's palm, wrapping around her fingers.
"Why not?" Namjoo asks, a little frown settling into her face, starting from her eyes, travelling down to the corners of her mouth and then the very center of her pursed lips. "You have pretty hands."
Yoonji doesn't think she does.
She has hands that relatives use to tease her about. Fingers long and lean, bony, veins and knuckles and everything under the skin prominent. She bites at her nails, chews her thumb when she's nervous or thinking or writing or anxious or— all the time, really.
"They're not pretty." Yoonji says after a moment. “Just, I don’t know, my hands aren’t pretty.”
"I think they're pretty." Namjoo responds, turns Yoonji’s hand over and traces the lines of her palm, flips it back and lets Yoonji's fingers rest gently against hers. "You're pretty." She says, half-whispered, like it’s to herself, and Yoonji can't think, can't even think, because Namjoo is holding her hand and telling her that she’s pretty and—
"You’re pretty too." Yoonji says.
Namjoo smiles like lightning strikes, just that quick, just that bright, just that deadly, and then Namjoo—
starts to talk.
They talk for another hour and then there's just the dregs of tea left and it's raining outside, a flash storm, and neither of them have umbrellas. They order another pot of tea and Namjoo tells Yoonji about the differing concepts of loneliness and this artist who depicts queer women in their work and how alone Namjoo felt for a very long time and then she stutter skips to a stop, laughs sort of nervously.
"Sorry, I talk too much sometimes, I just—"
"It's interesting." Yoonji says and means it. "What you're talking about, because you like it, it's interesting."
And it is.
They don't end up going to get wine, not really. The end up talking at the cafe until it closes and then they go to get food because it's dinnertime and they're both hungry and they're currently in a very specific and drawn out discussion about if musical genre is more of a concept at this point and Yoonji is pretty sure they're both arguing both sides but it's fun, she's having so much fun. After dinner they sit in their little corner booth at this teeny-tiny tapas restaurant down some alleyway up by their university and lock their ankles together under the table and talk for so long and until so late that the bartender actually comes over and gently leaves their tab on the table with a whispered, we're closing up soon.
"Unnie will have to teach you about wine next time, and also how to drink whiskey some time because you did that poorly too." Yoonji says, swaying at the intersection where they part because Namjoo's efficiency studio is up closer to campus and Yoonji's apartment with Tae and Jimin is down the road the other way. It's only after she says it that she realizes all the hope she put into those words.
"Is that one time or two times?" Namjoo queries, eyes bright.
"Depends." Yoonji says.
"Two." Namjoo muses and leans in, sways so close for one second, and then back on her heels with a shy smile. "I had fun, unnie. Thank you for taking me out."
"You took me out." Yoonji retorts gruffly, holding her hand out and catching Namjoo's to squeeze. "Get home quick okay, it's cold. Text me when you're safe."
And Namjoo does, when Yoonji's still a few blocks away from her house, a little smiling emoji and sparkling stars and safe at home :) are you home safe, yoonji-unnie?
Yoonji texts almost and then runs the next few blocks because it's cold, so cold, and then texts home and im so cold and im getting under all my blankets immediately
and Namjoo texts back
sleep well and have good dreams please
and Yoonji texts back the moon and the stars and the moon one more time, because Namjoo had said she liked it best.
"Okay, so," Yoonji says, explanation done, coffee mug refilled and in hand. She leans against the kitchen counter and adjusts her sleep shirt, "so what I'm asking—"
"I swear to god if you ask me if that was a fucking date," Jimin says, "unnie, if you ask me if that was a date I will just eat you alive."
There's a long long silence which is only broken by Tae crunching into their toast.
"Well—" Yoonji says.
"You held hands." Jimin says like she's speaking to a small child, but one Jimin is not fond of which is ridiculous because Jimin is, like, a baby whisperer and loves all children. "You brushed her hair tenderly out of her eyes. You drank tea curled in a corner of a cafe and whispered song lyrics at each other. You squeezed hands farewell."
"Right." Yoonji says. "Yeah, no, of course."
"Mm," Jimin takes a sip of her coffee and smiles, reaches out to Tae who is covered in toast crumbs. "Hey sleepy bear, come here for a se—"
"So, you do think it was a date?" Yoonji queries, unable to contain herself. "Or had date-like features at least?"
Jimin shrieks pretty loud for, like, 10 in the morning.
They talk all weekend, texting and then Namjoo facetimes her and Yoonji wants to be, like, irritated because sometimes that seems like an imposition, given how communication works in this century, but with Namjoo it doesn’t really.
Namjoo is calling to tell Yoonji about these squirrels she saw in the park today and this book she is reading and this band called offonoff whose music is all hazy good and she thought Yoonji might like. Yoonji does. Yoonji props her phone up and plays on her keyboard and Namjoo hums along like she’s making up words or reading snippets of things she has already written that fit.
Yoonji thinks class on Tuesday might be awkward maybe, that long afternoon spent together on Saturday and then all this talking without seeing each other, like expectations built up that she won’t be able to live up to, but it’s not.
In fact, it’s easy.
Namjoo slips into the seat beside Yoonji and Yoonji is leaning over and offering her a piece of a tangerine and asking her about the book she’s carrying practically before she realizes what she’s doing.
It’s just that it’s so fun, to hear Namjoo talk. It’s so interesting and she talks with such excitement, her eyes going wide. Yoonji finds each syllable engaging.
After class they wander to the quad together and it’s warm enough out that they get coffee from a kiosk and then just sit on a bench and talk. And sometimes don’t talk. It’s interesting to Yoonji that she can be with Namjoo and be not talking and it feels okay. It feels good. She can root around in her bag for her pen and her notebook and Namjoo doesn’t even seem bothered and doesn’t ask to see, just shuffles a little closer and draws her legs up and wrinkles her nose at her book and reads something she doesn’t like aloud and they’re off, arguing back and forth, and then sinking back into quiet.
When Yoonji's phone starts buzzing they realize that a few hours have passed and Namjoo’s eyes go comically wide as she says that she has to get to a meeting, like, now. She’s off in a dash with Yoonji shouting after her to please make sure she gets something to eat and to not run too fast or she’ll fall down and get hurt.
Namjoo pauses at the other side of the quad and lifts her hands above her head, waves wildly as she shouts bye unnie see you tomorrow and they don’t even have plans for tomorrow and there’s no class together tomorrow and everyone turns and looks at Yoonji because Namjoo is shrieking at her and it’s so hopelessly endearing Yoonji has to bury her face in scarf because otherwise everyone everyone everyone will be able to read on her face just how much she likes Namjoo.
Namjoo texts Yoonji that night,
just realized i skipped a step
come out with me tomorrow?
there’s a place i think you’ll like
Yoonji doesn’t even stop to think before she’s texting back,
just tell me when, joo
“When” turns out to be around dinner, because their schedules on Wednesday match up pretty exactly opposite during the day.
They get off the metro and they’re walking down twisting alleyways and side streets and Yoonji is giving Namjoo her best steely-eyed suspicious glare and Namjoo is laughing and saying I swear it’s just here, it’s right here and then it is.
Around the corner there’s a teeny tiny teeny tiny café. The tables have glass tops and under the glass is coffee beans. There’s an old man behind the counter who greets them and a sign that says no electronics and a giant aquarium filled with content looking fish flitting around.
There’s boxes of records, like, everywhere.
There are boxes of records and Yoonji starts browsing almost automatically, which makes Namjoo laugh, prop her chin on Yoonji’s shoulder to watch as Yoonji flicks through. She make noises of assent or dissent to albums that Yoonji pauses at and they wrinkle their noses at each other when they disagree.
It’s cute, how Namjoo wanders away to her own box and then scampers back when Yoonji calls for her, how she hesitates, like she wants to put her chin on Yoonji’s shoulder again. It’s like she wants to touch but isn’t sure how to go about it. Yoonji had noticed it, even on their first dat—friend hangout with date-like features. Namjoo had been impulsive with her grabs for Yoonji’s hands. Hesitant in a strange way like she would make commitments and go for it and then halfway through be unsure.
“C’mere.” Yoonji says, tapping her shoulder, and Namjoo snuggles in. Yoonji holds up an album of a band she doesn’t know but that looks modern, like someone who just released an album and decided to also release it on vinyl. “Do you know?”
Namjoo shakes her head.
“Intriguing.” Yoonji says.
The café owner puts on the unknown album and they listen to it and it’s pretty good, simple, like sinking into a bath. It’s soft and gentle and a little sad and a little bit about falling in love and a little bit about being scared.
“I like it.” Namjoo offers halfway through, her eyes sort of far away, and Yoonji leans against the wall of the cafe and watches her listen and thinks,
I like you.
They stay until they have to go.
It’s cold outside and Yoonji pouts reflexively, wraps her arms around herself because her leather jacket is warm, but the dress she’s wearing under it isn’t thick enough to buffer against the wind.
“Here.” Namjoo says, shuffling with stuff and then she’s peeling Yoonji’s jacket off which is absolutely the wrong way around. Yoonji is about to protest, is already making sounds of protest, when Namjoo shoves her hoodie in Yoonji’s hands. “My jacket is warm?” Namjoo says like it’s a question when Yoonji just totally stops. “I had this in case I got cold, but my jacket is warm enough so put it on, unnie.”
It smells like lilac and Namjoo, warm and soft and safe. She feels like she’s being hugged. She pulls her jacket on over the hoodie and lets Namjoo fuss over the hood and give her sweater paws out the sleeves and—
“Better?” Namjoo asks, eyes earnest as she pulls the hood up for Yoonji.
“Yes.” Yoonji answers. “Thank you, Namjoo-yah.”
Namjoo rocks forward again. Yoonji reaches out and fits her arms around Namjoo’s waist and pulls her in and Namjoo stiffens in surprise and then relaxes so quick, wrapping her arms tight around Yoonji’s shoulders and tucking herself in like she’s trying to be small. Her cold nose presses cutely into the side of Yoonji’s neck, somehow finding the gap in Yoonji’s hoodie and jacket. Namjoo says something that’s muffled but sounds like get home safe
“You too.” Yoonji says and ruffles Namjoo’s hair because she can and it makes Namjoo make a little affronted sound and they part and Yoonji is so cold.
She gets home and whines to Jimin and Tae about how cold she is and how warm Namjoo was and Tae coos at her and Jimin says why don’t you tell Namjoo about it and Yoonji says maybe I will and Jimin says well great and Tae says who’s hoodie is that? and Yoonji says no ones, mine, I stole it from a store as the preferable response to the cooing noises that now both Jimin and Tae are making, get away from me, don’t pinch my cheeks you animals—
She texts Namjoo when she escapes the grip of Jimin and Tae.
thank you for the hoodie, joo
it’s super warm
i can bring it to class tomorrow
to give back to you
it’s okay, whenever is fine ^^
i was glad i had it u looked so cold
are you going to bed unnie?
going to work on a composition a bit
get some sleep, okay?
Yoonji works for a bit and then checks her phone and Namjoo has sent her a text and a song link, lullaby for unnie, so Yoonji puts on her softest silkiest pajamas and cozy socks and curls up under the covers and listens to someone sing to her about witchcraft and thinks of Namjoo and falls asleep, warm and content.
At class the next day Yoonji watches Namjoo take out her (lucky, she said) Ryan pen and she looks at the Ryan keychain Namjoo has and squints her eyes and considers and then pulls up Naver’s search engine.
“Let unnie take you somewhere this weekend? Saturday?” She offers Namjoo when they’re parting ways.
“Okay,” Namjoo says easily, “does like 1 work? I have dinner with my parents that night, so I’ve got to be back by like 7. Oh, also, I wanted to ask if you wanted to go get drinks with me on Sunday night. You don’t have anything Monday morning, right? There’s this wine bar I want to try and you,” she pokes at Yoonji, “are supposed to teach me how to drink wine.”
Yoonji feels warm inside, fuzzy and bubbly like champagne, just like she always does around Namjoo, but the fact that Namjoo wants to see her not just Saturday this weekend but also Sunday makes her feel like she’s spilling over.
“Okay,” she tells Namjoo, “sounds good, Joo.”
Where Yoonji wants to take Namjoo isn’t that far away from where they go to uni, just a train ride where they sit, side by side, and listen to Yoonji’s playlist for Saturday afternoons.
It’s cold out, so Namjoo huddles close as they walk and talks endlessly about what she is reading for class and then stutters to a stop, freezing where she stands when they get to the Ryan café.
“Well, come on.” Yoonji says and tugs at her wrist, but Namjoo doesn't move and it makes Yoonji almost a little nervous, like she did something wrong. “Look, I know you've probably been here before, but I still thought it would be fun,” she starts to say before Namjoo cuts her off.
"I haven't, actually. Been here, I mean. I wanted to come but no one wanted to come with me so I. I haven't actually." There’s something else in what she’s saying but Yoonji can’t quite figure it out.
"Oh." Yoonji says. “Well, I hope it’s okay that you’re going with me?” Namjoo is looking at her with these really warm eyes, "I thought you would like it, so I wanted to take you—"
"I do." Namjoo nods and bounces once, twice on her toes, "um, I know it's childish but I—"
"It's not childish to like things." Yoonji blinks at Namjoo.
"Right." Namjoo says. She looks at her feet and then looks up at Yoonji and smiles. "Right." She says again, but more firmly this time. "Well, come on then, unnie, come on, look they have goods." The joy in her voice is infectious.
Even though Yoonji feels nominal about Ryan— he's a cute enough character but she feels no deep emotional connection like she does with that sleepy-existential-crisis egg thing— she likes the way Namjoo gets excited.
Yoonji finds herself dragging Namjoo around to poke at different magnets and stickers and pins and glasses and strangely expensive kettles and furniture that are all adorned with Ryan and his friends.
"Oh my god, it's so cute," Namjoo practically whines, clutching a Ryan mug close to her nose, "it's so cute," she says again, "but it's so expensive, too expensive" she's bouncing on the balls of her feet again as she speaks, and Yoonji is finding that hopelessly endeared might just be her default state with Namjoo because, oh god, she is hopelessly endeared. “Gonna get this keychain though.” Namjoo mutters to herself and then thrusts it at Yoonji’s face. “Innit cute?”
It is. Namjoo is. Yoonji lets herself be pulled to the cash register and peers at the café menu while Namjoo buys the keychain, an almost triumphant glee in her eyes.
"Joojoo," Yoonji says which, wow, okay Yoonji was a little forward there, but Namjoo just turns around with wide happy eyes and tilted head, “they have Ryan waffles, let unnie buy you some."
The waffles are too sweet for Yoonji, drenched with syrup and whipped cream and a pat of real butter and honey on a spoon. They’re sweet and expensive and totally worth it because they make Namjoo literally flutter with excitement, taking one too many pictures for instagram, including one that Yoonji gets roped into, Namjoo leaning into her, head on Yoonji's shoulder. Namjoo smells like violets and honey and Yoonji texts Tae
god I am so gay
and Tae texts back,
heck yeah u r
Yoonji and Namjoo lose track of time a little bit, talking, working through the waffles that even Namjoo eventually admits are sweet, and suddenly Namjoo's phone is buzzing, a reminder popping up about dinner and her eyes go wide.
"Oh shit," she says, "unnie, we gotta head back.” She looks sorry, a little disappointed, even though Yoonji knows that Namjoo is excited for dinner and gets along really well with her parents, that she and her mom are close. "'M gonna run to the restroom," Namjoo says, piling their silverware and napkins onto their tray to drop back off at the counter, pausing to wipe a drop off honey off the corner of Yoonji’s mouth.
Yoonji nods very belatedly, like Namjoo-is-already-gone belatedly, because she’s stuck on the warmth of Namjoo’s fingers by the curve of her lip. She wanders the gift store, grabs the Ryan mug. She’s finishing paying for it when Namjoo comes back, shuffling up to her and peering into the goods bag with interest.
"What did you get?" She asks, seemingly confused, "did you finally see how great Ryan is?"
"I mean, I see how great Ryan is, you showed me the light," Yoonji nods seriously, "but also it's for you." She holds the bag out to Namjoo who blinks earnest eyes at her. "You wanted it." Yoonji states because Namjoo had been very clear about that, not like she wanted Yoonji to buy it for her, just like she wanted it real bad but wasn't going to justify it to herself. Yoonji wants her to have it.
"It was expensive, it's too expensive!" Namjoo shrieks, batting at the bag, at Yoonji.
"Oh, they gave me a free sticker. Nice." Yoonji says, peering into the bag and fishing out the sticker. "Maybe I'll put it on my phone. Here, take your mug, we gotta go, Joo."
"Unnie, no," Namjoo wails, as Yoonji pointedly ignores her and drags them toward the door.
"Take it," Yoonji says,
"You didn't have to, I didn't mean for you to," Namjoo whines, clutching at the bag handles.
"Then you can pay for half of it and we'll share,” Yoonji says, “I’ll come use it sometimes.” She's finished the sentence before she realizes she's inviting herself over to Namjoo's, expecting Namjoo to invite her over, for Yoonji to be in Namjoo's house drinking from her mugs.
Namjoo smiles and it's cute but her eyes are a little dark like she’s thinking about something.
"Yeah?" She says, falling into step with Yoonji, linking arms with her, looking at her with eyes that say a thousand things, "you can have it to drink your morning coffee,” she adds, voice low, sending shivers up Yoonji’s spine. Morning coffee means nights with Namjoo and— “if you wanted to stay over sometimes that is," Namjoo pauses, "I would like that," she says, “would you like that?”
She's offering something, but it feels like more than just tumble you into bed and make you feel how soft my sheets are and how good I can make you feel. She's offering something that feels like that yes, her hand tight on Yoonji’s arm and her eyes dark, but also something that feels like coffee in bed and comfy socks and unwashed faces and morning breath kisses and being on each other’s team.
Namjoo's not looking where they're walking, just looking at Yoonji, letting Yoonji lead her.
Yoonji takes her up on it.
“I would like that a lot, Namjoo-yah.”
On the train ride they don't talk much, just curl up in one of the corners and Namjoo pulls Yoonji's legs onto her lap and strokes the inseam of her jeans and the skin that she can touch through the rips and listens to the music Yoonji plays for her, one song then two, yearning and open and most of Yoonji's heart laid bare.
“See you tomorrow, right?” Namjoo says, holding onto Yoonji’s hand tightly.
“Yeah, Joo.” Yoonji wants to kiss Namjoo, but that’s for another day because Namjoo is waving at someone behind Yoonji.
“My dad.” She says and then ducks her head in and kisses Yoonji’s cheek really quick, missing, kissing her ear more than anything. “Um.” She says.
“I’ll pick you up at 7 tomorrow?” Yoonji asks, kisses Namjoo’s cheek firmly. When she pulls back Namjoo is flushed pink and she nods once, twice, three times. "It's a date." Yoonji says.
“Yeah, unnie.” Namjoo says and looks a bit desperate. “Yes, please.”
Yoonji doesn’t even bother asking Jimin and Tae if tomorrow’s a date just runs in and does her emergency screech sound and they are there in half a second, Tae in a flannel shirt and maybe underwear but it’s a toss-up, Jimin in her boxers and a really elaborate neon lace bra.
“Did she kiss your nose?” Tae shrieks, when they see Yoonji’s face.
“She kissed my ear.” Yoonji says.
“Murakami.” Tae says.
“No,” Yoonji says, “what should I wear tomorrow?”
“Just lingerie.” Tae says at the same time Jimin says,
“A silk slip and thigh highs.”
“Okay, thank you for your help,” Yoonji says and then barrel hugs them both onto the couch in a mass of squirming giggling lovely lovely human.
Yoonji goes to pick Namjoo up the next night, shivering against the wind because it’s cold even though Yoonji's wearing her giant fluffy coat that she knows makes her look like an alpaca but Tae says a cute one so that works for Yoonji.
She's got on her thigh high boots, because maybe Jimin had a point, and thigh high stockings underneath, because maybe Yoonji thinks Jimin had a point, and a slouchy sweater dress that is comfy and cozy and falls off her collarbones and one shoulder and makes Jimin whistle at her. Tae gave her a choker with a moon hanging off of it and Jimin put two sparkles at the corner of each of her eyes right where Yoonji’s wing ends and Yoonji feels pretty and her lipstick is blood red and glossy and her lips look kissable and she feels kissable and she hopes Namjoo thinks she's kissable too.
Namjoo comes running down to meet her wearing a big scarf and tweed and she has a daisy in her hand and pearls in her ears and her hair is down down down, fluttering around her face like how Yoonji loves.
"Hi unnie." Namjoo says.
Yoonji does not say can I kiss you because that's not a greeting and instead tries not to blush, can tell she's blushing, especially when Namjoo's fingers graze and linger on Yoonji’s cheek as she fixes the flower in Yoonji’s hair.
"Hey 'Joo." Yoonji says and holds out a hand that Namjoo takes, "let's go."
The bar is warm and Namjoo unwinds her scarf and takes off her jacket and, okay, Namjoo definitely got the it's a date memo because her yellow button-up is not, so much, buttoned-up. It’s buttoned halfway up and her lacy bralette is peeking out and Yoonji can see the curve of her breasts and, when she leans forward a little, the dip down to her stomach and—
Yoonji tries very hard not to whine high in her throat and instead focuses on taking off her own jacket and bundling it up on the bench beside her.
When she looks back up Namjoo is looking at her very intently, her eyes catching and tripping on where Yoonji’s shoulder is showing. She visibly shakes herself out of it and smiles at Yoonji.
“You look pretty,” and before Yoonji can respond, “I got you something.”
“You already got me a flower?” Yoonji says and taps the daisy that she still has tucked behind her ear. “Also, you didn’t have to get me anything.”
“But,” Namjoo says, “I saw it when I was out last night and it’s perfect and I had to get it for you,” she’s rooting around her bag and then she brings her hand back out triumphantly.
In her palm is a little pin, a cat, the words I’m fine etched into the box the cat is sitting in, the cats face caught in a sleepy adorable pout.
“It looks like you.” Namjoo says and she sounds so happy and Yoonji, like, can’t move.
There’s a pause that’s too long and Yoonji wants to say that she likes it, she likes it so much, but she’s so taken aback by the sweet soft way Namjoo is offering it, by Namjoo seeing something that made her think of Yoonji and getting it for her, not just taking a picture to show her and,
“Sorry”, Namjoo says, sounding uncertain, “sorry, is this weird, I didn’t—” and she’s stumbling over words in a way that she hasn’t in a while, “I just—I saw it and I thought of you and I—,” she sounds so confused and Yoonji’s heart is breaking.
She opens her mouth and what comes out is soft and whispery, airier than she means it to be.
“You got me this?” She puts one finger on Namjoo’s wrist to still her as she speaks, slides fingers down so she can examine the pin in Namjoo’s hand.
“Yeah,” Namjoo whispers, “yeah, I saw it and it reminded me of unnie so.”
“Thank you.” Yoonji mumbles, blinks fast, looks up at Namjoo and is so taken back with how much she likes this sweet, kind woman sitting in front of her. “Thank you.” She says again, looking down at the pin when she can’t look at Namjoo any longer. “I don’t know why it reminded you of me.” Yoonji deadpans, flicking her eyes up to Namjoo’s face again, the dusting of blush high on her cheekbones. “It looks nothing like me.” She continues, even as she takes the pin and holds it up next to her face. She lets her mouth fall into a little pout, imitates that cat as best she can. “We’re nothing alike.” She says.
When she opens her eyes Namjoo is smiling that really wide smile, the one that stretches across all her features and crests like a wave, breaks over the edges of her and spills out.
“Do you like it?” Namjoo asks, a hurried whisper.
“It’s fine.” Yoonji says, sticks out her tongue. She doesn’t miss the way Namjoo’s eyes flick down and then back up, the way her flush goes from dried petal soft to arching cotton candy across her skin. “I love it, Joo. Thank you, you didn’t have to do that for me but—thank you. I really like it.”
Namjoo reaches across the table and snatches the pin back, seemingly startled by her own boldness as well but committed to the motion. She frowns at Yoonji’s outfit then sighs.
“It won’t go on your sweater,” she tells Yoonji, seemingly distressed, “I was gonna pin it on for you, but it won’t go on your sweater dress.”
Yoonji holds out the strap of her bag and Namjoo very carefully pins the little badge on for her.
"There." She says when she's finished. She taps the cat on the nose and then taps Yoonji on the nose and then seems to realize what she's done, and her eyes go wide.
"Yeah,” Yoonji says like she’s answering a question, “I really want to kiss you right now."
Namjoo blinks and then a slow smile spreads across her face. She's leaning in even as she says yes please and there's a table in between them and Namjoo is raised up a little on her hands and Yoonji's perched precariously on a stool with her hands stuck between them holding the handle of her bag and it's sort of perfect, the way Namjoo kisses her once twice, sweet and gentle and then tilts in more, when Yoonji lifts one hand, one finger, touches under her chin just gently.
"Hey." Namjoo says when she pulls back.
"Hey." Yoonji says.
"Hi." Namjoo says.
Yoonji kisses her again and then again and then settles back and smiles at the way Namjoo chases the touch a little before she settles back onto her stool.
"You look really fucking hot." Yoonji tells her because she wants to make sure Namjoo knows.
"So do you." Namjoo says and she's looking at Yoonji intently when she speaks, looking at her like she wants her, and Yoonji finds it's nice, to be wanted by Namjoo.
They sink into themselves easy after that, legs tangled under the table, Namjoo's hand on Yoonji's wrist, Yoonji's other hand moving as she talks, them tilting closer and closer across the table.
Namjoo shuffles her stool closer and then Yoonji does, and then her crossed legs are next to Namjoo's, across Namjoo's when she feels bold, and then Namjoo is stroking her thigh, fingers warm against the slip of skin above her boots and stockings, under the hem of her dress.
Namjoo picks at the top of Yoonji's stocking and makes a low sound, surges forward and kisses Yoonji again, tastes like wine and honey chapstick and Yoonji wants to take her home and take her apart and get taken apart by her.
"Want to come home with me?" Namjoo breathes into Yoonji’s mouth, nudging at Yoonji’s nose with her own button one, " I know that sounds extremely sexual, but it doesn't have to be, if you don’t want it to be. More just that it's late and I don't want to go home without you. I want to kiss you more and talk to you more and—"
"I want to go home with you." Yoonji says and smiles, kisses Namjoo again.
Namjoo's studio is small and very Namjoo.
Everything is made of wood and there's ferns everywhere, like it's Namjoo's favorite sort of plant. There’s a whole row of succulents right by the window, all potted in small earthenware, and three bonsai trees that Yoonji just knows have names. There's a kettle for tea and a stack of records and an elaborate stereo system and so many books that the whole place seems alive with them. She has her bed pushed into one corner and there are gauzy curtains all around it, sectioning it off from the rest of the place. There’s a threadbare old couch with a table in front of it that clearly serves for coffee/dinner/study/music. There's no TV but two laptops and Yoonji knows that one is for music producing probably entirely.
“Come in, come in,” Namjoo ushers, so Yoonji does.
She tugs off her boots and unwinds her scarf and hangs up her jacket and settles onto the couch that’s as comfy as it looks, rummages around for the speaker's on button. Namjoo giggles and tells Yoonji to pick good music, shuffles around in her socked feet, turning on lights and fairy lights and the heater.
"I don't have wine glasses,” she calls from the kitchen area, “but I do have wine. Well. I have Prosecco because it's bubbly and I love it.”
That feels very Namjoo.
It feels very Namjoo the way she climbs over the back of the couch with the two mugs and the bottle of wine and her eyes bright and wine-tipsy.
“Ryan mug.” Yoonji says happily, pointing at one of the mugs Namjoo is holding.
“I like it, thank you, unnie.” Namjoo uncorks the prosecco with her tongue caught between her teeth and both of them shriek, when the cork pops off. She pours them each half a mug and they clink and Namjoo squints and cuddles into the back of the couch, smiling soft at Yoonji, looking at her like she’s precious.
"What playlist is this?" She asks Yoonji after a moment, one hand drifting forward to trace figure 8’s on Yoonji’s knee.
"Come and kiss me?" Yoonji says.
“Playlist name or request?” Namjoo asks, even as she leans in, placing her mug off to the side on the table.
“Both.” Yoonji says.
It’s nice, making out with Namjoo. Namjoo takes Yoonji’s mug out of her hands and puts it aside, pushes her back against the arm of the couch and crawls on top of her, kissing her languid and slow like each kiss is special. After a bit she falls back and tugs, hands tight on Yoonji’s hips, thumbs stroking her waist, and Yoonji crawls happily into Namjoo’s lap. She licks into Namjoo’s mouth and enjoys the little sounds Namjoo makes, the way her hands tighten on Yoonji’s waist when Yoonji tilts her head up with firm fingers. Namjoo’s hands roam, up over Yoonji’s chest to the back of her neck, back down her body, cupping her ass and pulling her closer.
“Joo-yah,” Yoonji says, when Namjoo is kiss-dazed under her, lips bee-stung pink and cheeks flushed and breathing heavy and Yoonji doesn’t know when she starting moving her hips in Namjoo’s lap, trying to get closer, get pressure, but she doesn’t want to stop. Her dress is hiked up and she can almost see the lace of her panties and Namjoo looks down at their laps and groans, head falling back, “do you want to stop or—?” Yoonji tries to ask, mostly gasps.
“If you’re into it,” Namjoo murmurs, arching up into Yoonji’s body and Yoonji trails a hand down Namjoo’s chest, feels the lace of her bra, thumbs over the peak where her nipple is and enjoys the sound Namjoo makes, “god, if you’re into it, I’m so very into it, into you,”
“Yes please.” Yoonji says and presses their mouths together again.
She was expecting Namjoo to let her hands roam a little more, up under Yoonji’s sweater maybe to take it off, but she wasn’t quite expecting the way Namjoo gets a firm grip on her ass, strokes the lace of her panty line, and then pushes up, picks Yoonji up like she doesn’t weigh that much at all. Yoonji knows she’s not heavy, slight of frame, and she’s well aware that Namjoo does pilates and is, like, fit, but it’s something else to have Namjoo just pick her up like that.
“Fuck,” Yoonji whispers and bites Namjoo’s lip, tugs at it, enjoys the way Namjoo stumbles as she makes it the few feet to her bed.
Yoonji bats at the curtains hanging down around them, the wispy white of them, trying to get them out of the way and it makes Namjoo giggle into her mouth, nearly drop her on the bed.
“Don’t say it,” Yoonji threatens.
“Kitten.” Namjoo teases, eyes dark, and Yoonji likes that maybe more than she wants to admit, Namjoo’s low teasing voice, the way she’s crawling toward Yoonji on the bed.
Her eyes are tracing Yoonji’s body as she does and Yoonji feels pretty, arches her back and lets her head fall to the side and Namjoo presses soft lips to her neck, pushes her back on the pillows. Yoonji winds legs around her hips, pull their bodies flush as they kiss.
Yoonji feels so safe and warm, with Namjoo on top of her, kissing her like she means it, the edges of their kisses bleeding together, her skin warm under Yoonji’s hands, the silk of her shirt, the way she whispers and gasps, the way her hair looks, unpinned and falling into her eyes, into Yoonji’s face.
Sometimes it takes Yoonji a little bit to get turned on, but she’s finding that how safe she feels here is helping, adding something to it, the gentle warmth of Namjoo’s body and the hominess of it all, mugs of wine and fragments of poetry stuck to the wall and the gentle quiet way Namjoo seems to really enjoy learning Yoonji’s body slow. It feels like somewhere Yoonji had left a while ago and always meant to come back to but only found the way back to just now.
It’s good, really good. Namjoo is soft in all the right places against her and under her hands and tilts into all of Yoonji’s touches with little whispered gasps, says what she likes, asks Yoonji to do that again, Yoonji’s thigh between her legs now, her thigh between Yoonji’s.
Yoonji’s aching somewhere low in her core and she wants more pressure, more touch, more Namjoo.
“Want more, is more okay?” Yoonji gasps, pressing her mouth to Namjoo’s pulse point as it careens fast, pressing her lips to Namjoo’s collarbone, the dip in her clavicle, back to her mouth to taste the sweet red wine cream of her, “is more okay, Joo?"
“Yes,” Namjoo breathes, “god, yes,” running her hands up and down Yoonji’s body and pausing to drag slow whenever it makes Yoonji gasp, “you have no idea how okay, unnie.”
“Can you please take this off,” Yoonji mumbles into Namjoo’s mouth, tugging at her shirt, “wanna feel you, want—”
“Shit,” Namjoo murmurs, leaning back. Her fingers skim over her buttons that barely need to be undone and untie the knot at the bottom so that she can pull her shirt off over her head.
“You’re so hot,” Yoonji murmurs as soon as she can see Namjoo’s face again, her hair mussed, cheeks flushed. She lets her eyes trace over the lace of Namjoo’s bra, black and stark against her tan skin, the lace of her panties peeking out over the line of her jeans, not matching, adorably Namjoo.
Namjoo whines and Yoonji arches up almost immediately, grabbing Namjoo close for another kiss, tracing the lines of her bra with gentle feather light fingers because it makes Namjoo shiver.
“God,” Namjoo whispers, leaning back and reaching for the bottom of Yoonji’s sweater dress, hiked above Yoonji’s hips, “you’re the hot one.” Yoonji closes her eyes as Namjoo helps her pull the dress off entirely, falling back on the bed after and looking up at Namjoo looking down at her, trying not to blush at the intent hungry look in Namjoo’s eyes, the way she’s tracing the edge of Yoonji’s stocking with a thumb. “Fuck,” Namjoo breathes, peeling one stocking down Yoonji’s leg, rubbing over the skin of her thigh, then her calf as it’s exposed, “I feel like I’m dreaming, you’re so hot, I was trying to figure out how to talk to you, how to get you to notice me after, like, our first lecture together,” she slides her hands up Yoonji’s body after taking off the other stocking slow, like she wants to touch every inch of Yoonji’s exposed skin, “so fucking smart too, driving me crazy in class, the things you say, the way you say them, your bored pout when the boys think they know something, the calm fucking way you dismantle their arguments,”
Yoonji whines and wriggles under her, reaching out until Namjoo crests back into her like a wave, their mouths meeting, Namjoo’s skin fever-flush hot under Yoonji’s fingertips. Yoonji twists against her sheets and lets Namjoo kiss down her collarbones, her clavicle, the straps of her bra, ghosting over her nipple through the lace of her bralette, kissing down her ribcage, her hands sliding up Yoonji’s sides, fingers splayed wide over her tits. Yoonji arches up so Namjoo can reach under her and undo her bra.
“God,” Namjoo says empathetically, like it’s a whole sentence, and Yoonji just whines until Namjoo tilts into her again, presses all their soft angles together.
They kiss like that for a while, Yoonji wrapping her legs around Namjoo’s hips and arching up into her, Namjoo’s groaning when Yoonji reaches between them and unbuttons her jeans, touches her gently.
Yoonji wants more more more, can feel how wet she is and wants Namjoo to feel it too, wants to be able to feel Namjoo too, touch her and make her gasp.
She gets Namjoo to wriggle out of her jeans, a fumbled affair because of how tight they are, one that ends with giggles and Yoonji reaching for Namjoo, squeezing her thick strong thighs, sliding hands up her back. She's proud of herself for not fumbling with the clasp of Namjoo's bra when Namjoo kisses her neck wet and with a hint of teeth just right. Yoonji palms Namjoo’s breasts, throws Namjoo’s bra to the side.
“Love your tits,” she tells Namjoo, lifting up so she can press a kiss to the swell of one, enjoying the way Namjoo’s breath stutters at the touch of Yoonji’s mouth, the flick of her tongue.
Namjoo props herself up with her elbows by Yoonji’s head, fingers playing with Yoonji’s hair and kisses her soft as Yoonji slides a thigh between Namjoo’s legs and presses up, makes Namjoo’s breath hitch. She’s wet through her panties which makes Yoonji moan, makes Namjoo grind down, gasps into Yoonji’s mouth.
“Pretty Joo,” Yoonji murmurs, ducking her head to press open-mouthed kisses to Namjoo’s neck, touching wherever she can reach, squeezing Namjoo’s ass, up in between them to thumb and then pinch her nipples lightly because it makes Namjoo shake against her with a little moan, and then Namjoo is sliding back down Yoonji’s body all warm mouth and soft scrapes of teeth.
“Is it okay?” She asks, from somewhere around Yoonji’s hipbones, resting her head against the flat soft of Yoonji’s tummy. Her hands stroke up Yoonji’s ribcage and then back down, make Yoonji shiver as they move to her open thighs. “Unnie, it this okay?”
Yoonji reaches out a hand and brushes Namjoo’s hair back from her face, smiles at the way Namjoo kisses the heel of her hand and then the top of her thumb.
“More than okay.” She tells Namjoo who smiles up at her with a deviously innocent grin.
Namjoo sits back on her heels as Yoonji brings her knees together and lifts her hips up, lets Namjoo pull off her underwear.
She feels herself flush because Namjoo is spreading Yoonji’s thighs and looking like she's never seen anything prettier and it makes Yoonji whine, toss an arm over her eyes. She’s hot and wet and everything good aches and she wants Namjoo to touch her.
"You okay?" Namjoo murmurs, thumbs gentle by Yoonji's knees, "hey, let me see you," she’s reaching for Yoonji’s arm and getting it all backwards because what Yoonji wants is more more more.
She throws her arms down and finds Namjoo's hands, pushes them down her inner thighs, lifts her hips up toward Namjoo, grinning at the way it makes Namjoo gasp.
"Joo," Yoonji says, because she wants Namjoo's hands on her, wants Namjoo's mouth, “touch me?”
"Shit, " Namjoo says emphatically leaning up so she can press a frantic kiss to Yoonji’s mouth, "I got you," whispered as she moves back down on the bed.
Yoonji’s never been particular enamored with or hated her thighs, always though they were maybe a little too skinny, but she likes the way they look under Namjoo’s hands, likes the way they look when Namjoo spreads them open careful and settles between them, wraps her hands around them, tugs Yoonji closer to her mouth, her breath warm and teasing, so close to where Yoonji wants to feel her.
Namjoo looks at her and bites her lower lip and then turns her head and presses a kiss to the inside of Yoonji’s thigh, dragging kisses that have Yoonji whining and trying not to say please please please until she figures fuck it.
"Namjoo, please," Yoonji pushes her hands through Namjoo's hair, tucks it back from her face, and she's going wild because Namjoo is licking and biting at her own lips, nibbling at Yoonji’s thighs, her fingers digging into the seam of Yoonji’s hip. She's teasing Yoonji, spreading her open slow with gentle fingers, and then she stops teasing, licks broad and wet with the flat of her tongue, up all the way to Yoonji's clit.
Yoonji arches into the touch that’s gone as soon as it was there with a moan.
Namjoo does it again, slower this time.
“You taste good, unnie,” Namjoo murmurs and Yoonji’s going to lose her entire grip on reality probably, but that’s fine because Namjoo is— really good at reading body language, Yoonji decides, before she completely stops thinking.
Yoonji’s gasping out words in response to Namjoo’s whispered tell me what you like, unnie and that feels good, right? but Yoonji lets her words slip into a moan because Namjoo's picking up on what she likes easy. Yoonji likes things slow and wet, more teasing pressure than anything else, likes it shallow and dragging, and Namjoo figures that out quick. When Namjoo uses a finger it’s just one, just past her first knuckle, crooked just right, her tongue moving in these maddening circles that hit the side of Yoonji’s clit where she’s most sensitive and make her gasp.
Every time Yoonji manages to look down Namjoo’s eyes are pinned on her face like she doesn’t want to miss a second, like she wants to see every possible way she can make Yoonji twist against the sheets. Yooni can’t keep eye contact too long without feeling like she’s going to fall off the edge entirely, Namjoo is too pretty, looks too pretty between her legs, looks like she wants to stay there, keep her mouth wet with Yoonji.
“You sound so pretty, unnie, taste so good.” Namjoo whispers.
“Namjoo,” Yoonji whines, as Namjoo goes slow slow slow, now two fingers inside Yoonji just barely and her free hand on Yoonji’s hips to hold her down and it’s so much and Yoonji doesn’t know if it’s been fifteen minutes or fifty but she never wants it to stop and also she wants to come so bad, is so close. She needs more, just a little more, her hips jerking up into Namjoo’s tongue, her mouth, her little giggle. “I want— I’m going to—"
“Yeah?” Namjoo breathes out, sounding as turned on as Yoonji feels, “okay, I got you, unnie,” Namjoo stops any semblance of teasing, steady repeating pressure, steady movements, and then Yoonji’s coming hard. She doesn’t actually know when she got a hold of Namjoo’s free hand, but she clings to it as her legs shake and her body tightens and freezes before she lets everything go in one shuddery gasp.
“Oh fuck,” she manages after a few seconds. Namjoo presses soft kisses to her inner thigh, traces nonsense shapes on her hipbone, while Yoonji lets the shivers course through her body, tries to control her breathing. “Oh, fuck, Namjoo come here, need to kiss you, want to touch you,” Yoonji manages to mumble when she feels like she can mostly form words again.
Namjoo lifts up and kisses Yoonji desperate, her mouth wet with Yoonji, her chin wet with Yoonji. She’s shaking a little, pressing their bodies together, trying to be careful because Yoonji’s sensitive, “unnie, want you to touch me, please, you’re so hot, fuck, I’m so— I—”
Yoonji rolls them over, presses kisses to Namjoo’s sternum, her chest, sucking a nipple into her mouth to tease with her tongue while her hands skate down to help Namjoo out of her underwear.
“You’re so pretty,” Yoonji breathes as Namjoo kicks off her underwear. Yoonji rests her hand against Namjoo’s lower stomach, stroking at the coarse hairs, the seam of her thigh and her hip.
“Oh, oh, oh,” Namjoo breathes when Yoonji brushes fingers over her, whines so soft when Yoonji touches, traces feather light fingers, entranced by the jerks of Namjoo’s hips, the feeling of her nipple hard under Yoonji’s tongue. “What do you want?” She asks as she rubs slow, not quite teasing, not quite not.
“Just need—your fingers, please and more—” Namjoo gasps and Yoonji doesn’t tease any more.
“Want to make you come, Joo,” she whispers, lifting up so that Namjoo can kiss her, try to kiss her, open-mouthed and panting, turning her head so that Yoonji can press bruising kisses into her neck, her hands tight in Yoonji’s hair, on her waist.
Namjoo gets off like that, grinding her clit against the heel of Yoonji’s hand, the base of her thumb, two of Yoonji’s fingers inside her. She’s so tight and hot and wet and Yoonji tells her, tells her because it seems to get Namjoo off even more— Yoonji telling her how pretty she is, how good she looks, how good she feels, how much Yoonji fucking wants her.
“Gonna come,” Namjoo gasps out and so Yoonji keeps the pressure consistent, the rhythm consistent, and whispers come on, baby and Namjoo does, with a pretty little cry, her short fingernails digging into Yoonji’s shoulder.
When Namjoo’s stopped shaking, Yoonji pulls her fingers out careful, leaves her hand there for Namjoo to shiver against, aftershocks working through her body in little jerks of her hips. Eventually Namjoo reaches down and finds Yoonji’s hand, intertwines their fingers brings them up to her mouth to kiss. Yoonji’s had partners that didn’t like that, always cleaned up quick, seemed to think it was sticky or gross, but it’s not to Yoonji, not at all. She likes it. Likes this. Likes that Namjoo doesn’t seem to think those things either, likes the way Namjoo kisses Yoonji’s fingers again then the back of her hand. She likes that Namjoo wriggles closer and wraps herself around Yoonji more tightly, throwing a leg over Yoonji’s hips and pulling her whole body close with a groan.
Once they both calm down and Yoonji’s started to cold-shiver, Namjoo presses Yoonji back into the bed, tugging the sheets down around her and then up over them until they are curled together under blankets.
“We can,” she waves a hand lazily, “shower,” trailing a kiss down Yoonji’s neck, tracing fingers down her chest.
“Mmm,” Yoonji agrees, pulling Namjoo’s mouth back to hers, sliding her hand down to fit around Namjoo’s waist, throwing a leg over her hips to slide their bodies together, “in just a minute, ‘Joo”
And she means to, they mean to, but kissing leads to touching leads to gasping leads to more touching, leads to cuddling, leads to Yoonji waking up, blinking confusedly in the bright light of Namjoo’s studio, drapes not fully drawn, morning sun peeking in.
Namjoo snuffles adorably in her sleep and whines when Yoonji wriggles out of the blanket nest they’ve made for themselves to try to find her phone.
“Come back?” Namjoo says following Yoonji’s body to half off the bed where Yoonji’s digging her clothes before realizing her phone is in her purse which is over by the couch and much too far away. “Come back, unnie,” pressing a kiss to the small of Yoonji’s back, “where are you going, why are you— oh, it’s morning.”
Yoonji can’t help but laugh.
Namjoo’s shower is tiny, for the two of them, and there’s more giggles than anything else, soft touches and Namjoo gasping Yoonji’s name in a way that Yoonji definitely wants to hear again again again, and then Namjoo is offering her a giant hoodie, one that falls to just above Yoonji’s knees.
“I have no coffee right now,” Namjoo says, “and I know you need coffee so let’s go get coffee and also scones because I am hungry and then—” she pauses and seems to flutter stop, her eyes going to Yoonji in the mirror where Yoonji is adjusting her blown-dry hair and patting pockets before she realizes her lipstick won’t be in her pocket because this is Namjoo’s hoodie not her own.
“Huh?” She says, rooting through her purse to find her lipstick. Her phone is charging so she can respond to the 3,000 (conservative estimate) winky faces that Jimin and Tae have sent her since Yoonji sent a midnight won’t be home tonight, staying at joo’s text.
“Um,” Namjoo says, “if you would like to that is?"
“Namjoo,” Yoonji doesn’t give herself any room to second-guess or rephrase, just says what she is thinking as plainly as she can because she’s good at that, “I would really like to go get breakfast with you. Honestly, I would like to skip the societal agreed upon three dates or whatever before we have the define the relationship talk. I want you to be my girlfriend so I can take you out for scones all the time. I really like you. Like, genuinely. I think would forgo coffee if you asked me to but please don’t do that—”
“Please don’t, I need coffee.” Yoonji adds before she realizes that’s maybe not why Namjoo made that noise, “um, I mean, if you wanted to be my girlfriend, that is.” She can see the face Jimin is undoubtedly making right now, honestly probably waking up at home out of a dead sleep and pushing Tae in the shoulder until they wake up and then going yoonji-sshi is doing something ridiculous
“You wanna be my girlfriend?” Namjoo whispers and there’s this little pause, where Namjoo is just bouncing on the balls of her feet and her face is overcrowded with her smile and Yoonji is so so so hopelessly endeared with this beautiful creature in front of her.
“Yeah.” Yoonji says, breathless and happy.
“Yeah?” Namjoo asks and makes her way across the room to where Yoonji is, crowds her up against the mirror in way that Yoonji is very into.
“I’m very into this.” Yoonji tells Namjoo because apparently somewhere around 2AM and Namjoo’s fingers she must have lost her brain to mouth filter permanently.
“Yeah?” Namjoo asks.
“Yeah,” Yoonji breathes, “yeah and yes.”
“That would be fine.” Namjoo giggles and Yoonji pouts, her best pout, but it just makes Namjoo giggle harder, “I wanna be your girlfriend, Yoonji-unnie,” Namjoo says, “wanna be with you,” and then her mouth is on Yoonji’s and she tastes just like she sounds—