Title: I'm taller, but...?
Tags: Modern Day AU, IKEA Shopping
Notes: (I really should have just finished everything and posted parts ii and iii in one go but as it stands I'm too lazy to do that and I feel bad that I've not dumped something out in a while so yes let me just yeet this 1.6k thing at the fanfic void // i also feel ridiculously... rusty... or it might just be the fact that I don't have a deadline breathing down my neck and thus I don't actually have an excuse of not putting out something better whoops?)
It takes them more time than it should to get to the IKEA marketplace.
It’s not as if they are bad at navigating at all, really. With all the nicely drawn, huge white arrows on the ground, it’s pretty much impossible to truly get lost if you stuck to the grey pathways in the showroom area.
But of course, Seulgi doesn’t want to get to the end of the showroom.
Maybe it’s because the furniture this season’s kind of cute, or that the showrooms prepared for the upcoming festivities actually matched her sense of aesthetic, for once. And maybe it’s also because Seulgi spotted a sofa within one of the many cardboard framed boxes that was placed in front of a TV, where she promptly dragged Joohyun down onto the grey couch with her. And that they spent the next half hour watching loops of IKEA’s quirky advertisements, colourful blobs and abstract shapes all voiced by that one narrator with a vaguely Swedish accent. And no amount of, “hey, come on, we need to go before the store closes!” could get her butt off the sofa before the end of the second loop of ads.
Or, for sure: set anyone loose in IKEA and they’d fall victim to gravity, forever unwilling to get off the bed they’ve flopped onto. And even when they did get to the expanse of towering shelves, Seulgi would run to the nearest chair they assembled “for display, Kang Seulgi!” instead of proceeding to the correct row. “But Joohyun, can we stay longer? Don’t you love the smell of the wood?”
By the time they finally get around to hefting a series of brown boxes off the shelves around them onto the trolley, Joohyun lets out a yawn, making Seulgi laugh and also the receiving end of an annoyed smack.
“You know, I don’t think that we can all fit in the same car,” Seulgi points out. “There’s a lot of stuff.”
Where she worriedly nibbles on her lips, Joohyun simply shrugs as she searches for the last barcode. “I could take the bus back, you know. You could just bring the stuff to my place first? We can sort it out in the morning if you want.”
“Are you sure you’re okay taking the bus?” Seulgi plucks the handheld scanner from Joohyun’s hand as she spots the barcode first. “Isn’t it getting kind of late?”
“It’s not even ten yet, please. It’s not like my area’s a hotspot for crime or anything. And you have the audacity to tell me that ten is late?” The card reader beeps and Joohyun slides her credit card back into her wallet. “Weren’t you out until like, what, three, the night before?”
A pause. Joohyun’s brow rises.
Squirming, she adds, “I was out with the guys!”
“Who promised to protect you, right?”
Seulgi shrugs. “I did get home. Anyway, you know I don’t really care for their protection, or whatever it is, I can get home myself!”
“Wasn’t Kyuhyun there too?”
“What about him?”
“You know he’s only there—” Joohyun bites her tongue. “I shouldn’t say that.”
Seulgi looks at her curiously. “Say what?”
“Nah. Forget it.”
Seulgi laughs. “I know he likes me, Joohyun-ie. Don’t worry about him, he’s not going to try anything, I think?” Somehow, she thinks it’s important to press that she doesn’t care for them, and that Joohyun needs to know that she doesn’t favour their company over Joohyun’s. “But it doesn’t matter anyway, I don’t like him. Not that way.” She’s somewhat self-conscious that what she’s saying makes her sound a bit like she’s a middle schooler again, and that’s really something she doesn’t want to come off as, especially not in front of Joohyun. Sometimes, she wonders why it matters to her that Joohyun doesn’t immediately kid-zone her. But it does. Those thoughts can come later. (Pushing everything aside, again).
“Let me pay you for Jaehee.”
Seulgi fishes her wallet out of her bag and hands Joohyun some notes. “Here, can you take your wallet out again? I’ll pay for the dog. Pretend I paid for it so it’s like, a gift.”
Joohyun blinks, bemusedly, before she lets out a laugh. “If it makes you happy, sure. Now help me with this, will you?”
The drive to Joohyun’s place feels longer than it should without Joohyun in the car to keep her company. At least there’s no traffic by this time of the night, thank God. Boredom is staved off by humming to whatever’s playing on the radio and listening to the DJ chatter animatedly about her day. The DJ’s decided to go on some throwback indie thing, and she’s surprised at how much of four-year-old indie songs from Hyukoh and the like she remembers.
After she parks her car in the basement lots, she grabs some of the smaller boxes and hauls them into the lift with her. The other guy in the lift gives her as wide a berth as he can, carefully avoiding bumping into the pile she’s trying to balance, rather precariously, in her arms. Her neighbours are mostly a motley mix of younger people, the kind that moved out of their parents’ homes because they couldn’t stand them, the sort that had to move because commuting in and out from the outer suburbs was driving them nuts, some college kids, a bunch of hipsters reading translated versions of Pynchon and David Foster Wallace, and the former pop industry aspirants that are easily spotted in their too-tight skinny jeans or too-baggy pants.
When the lift door dings open, she narrowly avoids running into someone that Seulgi registers as ah, that neighbour. Who promptly shrieks and apologises with more intensity than anyone Seulgi’s ever seen, what with her various repeated deep bows.
“It’s okay, don’t worry about it—” Seulgi excuses herself as she steps neatly out of the way. She sets the boxes down, punches in the password to Joohyun’s apartment.
“Would you need any help?” The neighbour appears again, her footsteps stopping right behind her. “Sorry for startling you earlier – I can help you with the stuff? I have some friends over and if you need a hand with anything…” her voice trails off. “Yeah. Just. Hey. Offering!”
Seulgi shifts the stuff over the threshold and nods – of course she’s glad for any help. “Are you sure? It’s getting late, I don’t want to impose—”
“It’s okay!” The neighbour plucks herself away from Joohyun’s doorstep and runs towards her unit, calling out two names that Seulgi doesn’t recognise as she does so. Their faces are equally foreign to her.
“You’re Irene’s friend, right? Seen you around lots!”
“Oh? Yeah, Joohyun and I have been friends for a while, yeah.”
The lone guy friend whose name she didn’t catch from earlier turns to look at Seulgi, and asks, “Is Irene-ssi single?”
His voice sounded too hopeful.
Seulgi fights a frown. “Yes, but…”
There’s no buts to this, is there? Seulgi’s never been able to figure out who Joohyun liked. Whenever she asked, Joohyun would only offer a cryptic smile in return. Which is so like her to do so, but it’s urgh, pretty darn frustrating. But when has it really been her business to care about this? They’ve been friends for a really long time and Seulgi swears that she knows Joohyun, but sometimes she’s reminded of how she isn’t always privy to what goes on in Joohyun’s head.
“You don’t really pay attention to me, do you?”
What do you mean? (Seulgi knows that Joohyun abhors drinking coffee. She never orders chicken when Joohyun’s around, even when Sooyoung is clamouring for the chicken. She knows that Joohyun’s recently acquired a fondness for long walks and has splashed an unholy amount of money on those flying yoga classes even though they’re always complaining about how empty their wallets are.)
“You know, you’d always tell people the same things about me.”
That she does. But what else should she say in front of other people? (Because what Seulgi knows of Joohyun – she’s, quite admittedly, selfish about sharing any of it. Joohyun’s hard to read at the best of times, and what she’s gleaned from her is not up for grabs. It’s hers. But how does she tell her any of this?) Seulgi can only turn away, sighing.
“Seulgi-ssi?” The neighbour waves a hand in front of her.
Oh. Whoops. “Sorry, got lost in my thoughts.” She turns to look up at the guy. “No, well, she’s single.” Still, she can’t hold back a bite in her voice.
She still doesn’t know his name but decides that she doesn’t care. They don’t say another word as they take the rest of the stuff back up. She feels like an ingrate and that grates at her. Which only makes her clamp her mouth shut more tightly (petulantly).
She’s being unfair. Of course she is.
But he seems like the sort of person who thinks that his pair of oversized black glasses suits his face (which it does not). Or that wearing a brown vest over an overly crisp white shirt with its sleeves rolled up with a pair of tan Bermudas held by a brown belt is what constitutes a good idea (no). Really, does she really have to say anything about those Victorian townhouse wallpaper-esque socks, (and does it help that his shoes were, oddly enough, embroidered with golden bees)?
Meanwhile, Joohyun’s the kind of girl that would wear white tops and jeans and hoodies and sneakers. Basics. Clean lines and elegance. A guy who dresses like this wouldn’t match her fashion sense at all.
With all the stuff shifted into the apartment, she only offers a curt, “Thank you." Then she shuts the door in their faces. She doesn’t miss the faltering smile of Joohyun’s neighbour. For another moment, she feels bad.
She’s quite determined to start assembling the shelf before Joohyun gets back. Maybe she could impress her? Now, where are the instructions…?