Title: don’t be too afraid (to me, it’s always you)
Tags: Sharing a Bed / Sleepovers / (Useless) Baby Gay Panic
She’s been waiting to watch that film with Joohyun all week, but now that the film’s about to end, a deep ball of air wells up in her and she finds that gravity has suddenly become a very powerful force. She inhales and exhales, hoping that it’ll eradicate the strange way that the very air inside her has curled to pull powerfully at her insides. It does her no good. Her nails dig into her palms – maybe she can distract herself from this… whatever this is?
Next to her, it doesn’t seem as if Joohyun’s really noticed. She’s still watching the last four minutes of the film intently, her earpiece perfectly in place. That’s good. Seulgi wouldn’t want to dislodge her earpieces simply because she can’t seem to sit still.
It doesn’t get better. In fact, her insides seem to shrink into themselves when the end credits roll.
Heavy feet, heavy heart.
This time, Joohyun hears her sigh. Or, at least, she chooses to comment about it, “Seulgi-ah, what’s wrong?”
But… is there anything wrong? Seulgi shakes her head. “No, it’s okay, unnie. Nothing’s the matter.”
“Are you sure? You seemed…” Joohyun cocks her head to the side for a few seconds, both scrutinising Seulgi and finding the correct words. “A little put off.”
Seulgi shakes her head again. “No, I’m fine. I’m just a little tired, that’s all.”
“Well…” Joohyun shuts the lid of the laptop. “If you’re tired on Fridays, just let me know and you can always come over some other time. We can always watch all these shows another day, you know.”
“No!” Panic seizes her for two seconds before she realises that it comes out a little more loudly than she intended it to. “No, no, it’s cool, I’m just extra tired this week, you know? Coach has been really stressful about the trainings lately…”
“You’d best be going off to sleep then? I’m sorry for keeping you, you must be tired—”
“No, no, no,” Seulgi cuts in. “Wait, yes? But… I… I don’t want to cancel on you.”
“It’s okay, I won’t be mad,” Joohyun’s voice is soft.
“Really, you promise?”
“Promise. Are you going to go home?” As their feet slide off Joohyun’s bed and hit the floor, she seems to puzzle over her words for a little while more before she continues, “I’ll walk you to the bus stop.”
An arm slides into Seulgi’s own. Joohyun’s warm. Her room is warm. The outside’s cold.
“Unnie, you don’t have to walk me out.”
The arm falls. “Oh?” Seulgi thinks she may see disappointment flit across Joohyun’s face. Then, playfully: “Why, do you not want me around anymore?”
Seulgi laughs. This time, the words tumble out of her mouth without her thinking, “That’s never possible.” Only when she says it aloud does she realise that it’s true. She’ll never really tire of Joohyun, can she? How could she, when all she thinks about is this one pretty girl? “I was… going to ask, if I could sleep over? Just tonight, maybe.”
Yeah, hey, sounds like a good idea. She’s tired, after all. And it’s really getting quite chilly lately.
Joohyun’s brows rise. In the dim bedside light, Seulgi’s not really sure if Joohyun’s cheeks are turning slightly pink. Is the heater turned up too high? “Sure, of course you can. Do you want to borrow some clothes to change into?”
Twenty-five minutes later, Seulgi’s blow-dried her hair and steps out of the bathroom. She’s suddenly all careful, her footsteps light and measured.
She’s not sure if she’s so sure if it’s the best of ideas.
Her parents texted her back about her last-minute request to stay over at Joohyun’s, and approximately nineteen minutes ago, she had been half hoping that her parents would say no, Seulgi, come home this instant, but they did not. Instead, they sent her smiley emojis, completely fine, altogether nonchalant.
Sure, have a good time!
Let us know whether you need a lift from us tomorrow, princess!
Appa says you can stay out till whenever tomorrow.
Oh god, she’s not feeling so well. Was it something she ate? What is it?
But if she tells Joohyun, Joohyun’s going to be worried.
It’s okay. You’ll be okay.
Inhale. Exhale. Just breathe like how they’ve taught you to. Come on, Seulgi.
“Joo…” Wait, no, try again. That didn’t come out right. “Joohyun-unnie, I’m done! Where do I put the towel?”
Instead of yelling back like a regular person, Joohyun scuttles out of her room and takes Seulgi’s towel from her. “Give me a second? I’ve got to brush my teeth too, you know. Sorry bout that.”
“Ah, y-yes. Sure.”
She goes back into Joohyun’s room and takes her place on the empty lower bunk. She wonders where she’s going to sleep tonight. Technically, they could clear the stuff Joohyun’s chucked on the upper bunk, tidy it up a little and all, and it’ll be fit for her to sleep in. It’s not even that much of a hassle. It’s just a bunch of books and a (clean) shoebox. Unlike Seulgi, Joohyun’s not one to let her room fall into squalor.
Should she clean it up then? But… where is she going to put the stuff? On the floor? On the desk? On the top of the dresser? Or does she put it underneath the bed?
Best wait for Joohyun.
But with each passing second, her heart beats a little bit faster. Even though she can hear the running tap water from here and she bets that Joohyun’s probably skipping some of her assumedly extensive face wash routine – what with the range of products on the counter and her flawless white skin – she wishes that Joohyun’s back already.
Then, oh, the thought of that makes her heart beat even faster and good god, what is wrong with her?
“Seulgi!” Joohyun bustles back into the room, closing the door after her. “Thanks for staying over tonight.”
“No, no, thanks for having me over unnie, please. I’m at your place! You lent me your towel and shampoo and clothes and—”
“Do they fit well? They’re okay right?”
Seulgi shrugs, forcing her shoulders to relax. “Yeah. We’re just about the same size, I think?”
Joohyun smiles, brightly. (Useless heart!). “Oh yeah? If you want to borrow my clothes…” Then, she laughs. It’s a bit louder than Joohyun’s already loud laughter, and Seulgi wonders if Joohyun somehow wants to retract the offer. But she doesn’t. “I mean, if you want to borrow like, training wear or something, please, help yourself to them.”
Joohyun glides next to Seulgi. “Also, you don’t mind if we just use my bed right?”
“Erm…” There’s something about Joohyun’s expression that stops Seulgi from saying that she minds. Because no, she doesn’t quite mind, per se, but it feels mildly like her body’s allergic to the very thought of sleeping in the same bed as Bae Joohyun.
But, it’s not like a bad allergy at all, is it? It’s not like she thinks that she might break out in hives. It’s just that her throat’s constricting and everything inside her still feels like they’re in the midst of rearranging themselves for the hundredth time in a single night. Or that she’s felt like this for days, mostly when she’s around Joohyun. Perhaps she should ask her dad if there’s something wrong with her – she’s so young, there can’t possibly be something wrong, right? Or maybe, is this something that’s a part of growing up? Maybe she should ask her brother when she gets home tomorrow? Or she could ask… Joohyun? But what if Joohyun thinks she’s a freak for being sick, if she is sick?
“Hello, earth to Seulgi!” Joohyun waves her hands in front of her, still smiling. Her smile is less sure now, more uncertain. “I could… I could clear the bed for you, if you’d like, you know. It’s not a huge deal—”
Seulgi determines that her neck muscles work well enough for her to shake her head. She nudges Joohyun to slide into her own bed and she joins her under the covers after turning the ceiling light off.
“How was the film, did you like it?” Joohyun asks.
“It was nice!”
(Yeah, what a liar. You didn’t even watch the film, Kang Seulgi.)
“What’s your favourite part?”
“Erm…” This, she’s not quite sure how to respond. She’s a terrible liar, so she’s not sure if she can feasibly cook something up. “I dunno.” That’s truthful enough.
(Yeah, well, how are you going to say, “I was watching you the whole time?” aloud? That’s just weird.)
“Ah, well, you must’ve been tired. I liked the songs, actually. They were good songs, weren’t they?”
“Yeah, definitely.” (She’s listened to all the soundtracks before tonight. This is the one thing she’s sure about in this movie.) “I could sing them for you, if you’d like?”
“You would?” Joohyun perks up, twisting her body to look at Seulgi fully. “That’ll be great.” And then Seulgi’s shoulders are suddenly wrapped by a warm circle of arms. “Not now, though. You’re tired, right?”
“Y…Yeah.” She hopes Joohyun chalks her stuttering down to well, her exhaustion.
(She’s not really that tired. Or maybe, she is, but with everything in her thrumming and her body too warm even on a cold night, she thinks she’s not been more awake in quite a while.)
Joohyun’s arm pulls on her. “You don’t mind, do you? I like hugging things to sleep.”
Seulgi glances down at the bolster on the ground. Fair enough. She’s displaced the bolster. It’s only fair that she replaces it, right?
“And, besides,” Joohyun continues, “you smell nice.”
“What? I smell like you, unnie!”
A giggle. “Yeah, exactly.”
Is Joohyun trying to say that she smells nice? It’s not like Joohyun doesn’t smell nice, of course. Joohyun’s hair and skin always smells great. (How does she even know this?)
Or like, is it because Joohyun thinks that Seulgi doesn’t usually smell nice? Why does she even care to know whether Joohyun thinks these things about her, surely it doesn’t matter.
And before Seulgi can quite ask what that means, Joohyun giggles again, “I can hear your thoughts through your skull. You always smell nice, dummy.” Joohyun shifts a bit. “Go to sleep. I want to go out tomorrow. Don’t worry, you can borrow more clothes from me.”
“What makes you think I want to go out tomorrow?” Then, more incredulously, “When have you ever volunteered to go out?”
She can feel Joohyun’s pout against the back of her head. “If you don’t want to…”
Seulgi flips herself around, laughing as rolls around to concede, that okay, she will go out with Joohyun tomorrow. When she does so, she realises her mistake. Because she’s now tangled them together. Joohyun’s warm breath fans her reddening neck.
Wide-eyed, she’s not quite sure whether she should stumble her way out of bed. But why should she even be running? Joohyun’s still smiling, still clearly amused by… something. Why is it so warm in here? It’s not too late to stumble her way back still. Joohyun’s just probably going to think that she’s clumsy, right?
(But will Joohyun still think that she’s cute?)
(Okay, where did that come from?)
“Just go to sleep, Seulgi. You’re tired, anyway, aren’t you?” Joohyun’s hand frees itself to pat Seulgi’s hair. “Come on. Go to sleep, Kang Seulgi. Or do you want to stare at me all night?”
(It’s not a bad idea. But, hey, Seulgi-ah, that’s creepy.)
“No, no, no, it’s okay.”
She snaps her eyes shut. Then, she realises she’s still facing Joohyun. And so, she kicks herself free and flips herself back, willing her heart to just shut up, stop racing, please. Joohyun shakes with silent laughter. She finds that not staring at Joohyun makes her heart slow, just somewhat, but only barely.
“Goodnight, unnie.” She deserves an award for not stuttering. (You did well, Kang Seulgi.)
Mirth-filled, Joohyun’s voice is soft in Seulgi’s ear, “Goodnight.”