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It's (Not) a Date

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1

Exams week is fast approaching. Seungwan is up to her neck in readings and hellish final revisions. She busily scrawls through pages upon pages with her mess of a handwriting, silently irritated at the amount of coursework she has to pore through.

A gentle clink on the table distracts her momentarily. She frowns. Seungwan raises her head, ready to deliver the mother of all lectures to whomever dared to intrude on her study time only for her scowl to melt into a tiny smile of relief.

"Hyun."

Joohyun sends her a smile back, calmly placing the snacks and the cup of coffee she got for Seungwan. She sits beside the busy girl who doesn't hesitate to lean back and place her head on the older's shoulder.

"I'm sooo stressed out," she whines.

Seungwan receives a gentle pat on the head in acknowledgement. Joohyun doesn't remove her hand, however. It stays, opting to lightly scratch at Seungwan's scalp.

"You know, I get sleepy if you do that," Seungwan says.

Joohyun removes her hand this time and digs through the bag that she brought. Predictably, Seungwan frowns and starts whining. She starts to playfully rub her forehead on the older girl's neck.

"I didn't say you should stop."

"Calm down, I'm just looking for my book."

"What for?"

"So I can read while you go back to your studies," Joohyun says pointedly. Her eyebrow rises up when she talks like this, Seungwan notes before catching herself. She averts her eyes. She's not staring, of course.

"Studying sucks."

Joohyun nudges the cup of coffee closer to the sulking girl in response, an offer duly and expressively appreciated.

"Drink."

Seungwan dutifuly takes a sip.

"Tastes even better because you bought it for me," came her greasy remark.

The older girl chuckles. She finally pulls out a book from her bag and flips through the pages until she finds her bookmarked page.

Joohyun shuffles closer to put a comforting hand on Seungwan's back. Even though the younger girl is hunching back to hard work, she could feel her tense muscles gradually relax.

They stay like that for some time. Seungwan diligently working through her studies while Joohyun takes it easy, occasionally offering the younger girl a snack when she gets particularly stressed out.

Yerim, one of the part timers, wrinkles her nose at the display.

"Can you like, stop shoving your relationship in everyone's throats? We get it. You're disgustingly in love. Eww."

Seungwan rolls her eyes at the part timer.

"We're bestfriends."

Joohyun nods her head once in agreement. She doesn't even bother looking up from her book.

Yerim snorts, "sure," and then leaves.

 

2

Exams week is finally over. Seungwan could just about explode with relief. She dashes from her classroom to Joohyun's dorm room with excitement.

Three loud knocks and Seungwan opens the unlocked door to see Joohyun clutching her chest in surprise. The younger doesn't even look the least bit remorseful with the stupid smile on her face.

"Unnie! Let's get ice cream!"

Sooyoung, one of Joohyun's roommates, looks up from her bed.

"Hey Seungwan," she greets. She has that look in her eyes again as she sweeps her gaze from Seungwan to Joohyun. But then again, she always has that gaze. Seungwan chooses not to comment on it.

"Hey Sooyoung-ie!" she greets back.

Seungwan walks inside and sits on Joohyun's bed where said girl is resting.

"Unnie, let's get ice cream."

"I heard you the first time."

"Then why didn't you get up?"

Joohyun rolls to her stomach and buries her face on a pillow and mumbles into it, the sound muffled.

"She's just cranky because of the upcoming showcase competition," Sooyoung interprets. "They started practicing right after the exams."

"All the more reason to get something sweet then!" exclaims Seungwan.

Joohyun groans.

"Come on, unnie. I just finished my exams and you still have time before you get busy again."

Joohyun wants to say no. She's tired and all she wants to do is bury herself under her blankets and never come out. But then she also knows Seungwan has worked hard these past few days. She deserves ice cream at the very least.

"Fine."

The younger girl beams her brilliant smile and jumps to her feet. She grabs Joohyun by the hand and they make their way out.

"Bye Sooyoung-ie! We'll buy you something when we get back."

"Bring her home before midnight! Stay safe, kids!" Sooyoung teasingly yells after them.

Seungwan only laughs heartily.

Seungwan drags her to their favorite ice cream place and buys her two scoops of her favorite flavor. They take them to go, deciding the weather was nice enough for a stroll in the nearby park.

"I take it your exams went well?"

Seungwan licks some ice cream off her lips only for Joohyun to reach out and wipe the mess away with her thumb.

"I don't know how the results will be but I feel confident I did pretty okay."

"You better. I did not apend all my money on coffee just to see you get less than okay. I don't even drink that stuff," Joohyun says wrinkling her nose.

"I know," Seungwan laughs. "Thank you for staying with me all through that, Hyun. I wouldn't have made it without you."

Seungwan gives Joohyun's cheek a chaste and quick kiss. Joohyun pretends the warmth on her cheek is because of the ice cream.

 

3

"The park sure was a good idea!"

Seungwan lays down a blanket on the grass right by the shade of a tree. It was the middle of the afternoon. Joohyun had been stressed out about dance rehearsals so Seungwan dragged her out of the studio and into some fresh air.

"You're just saying that because this was your idea."

"Breathe in the not sweaty, not airconditioned air, Hyun. It will help you relax."

Joohyun rolls her eyes and moves to sit on the blanket. Might as well enjoy her time away from practice. Seungwan plops down beside her, backpack on her lap.

"I didn't have time to cook because Surgery was hell this morning but I bought some convenience store food. Here."

Seungwan takes them out one by one and places them in front of Joohyun. The older girl looks at her with her lips pulled.

"You're touching that with surgery hands?"

"Hey! We sanitize!" scoffs the younger. "And we weren't practicing on dead animals this time, I swear."

Joohyun still pretends to be disgusted. Seungwan pouts and clings onto Joohyun's arm.

"Unnieeeee," she whines.

The older girl laughs, loud and open. Seungwan hits her shoulder lightly, making her only laugh louder.

"What's so funny?"

Joohyun only shakes her head. She picks up one of the triangle kimbap and opens it, offering the first bite to Seungwan. The younger girl doesn't hesitate to take up the offer.

Honestly, Joohyun doesn't understand why she laughed either. It could be the stress finally taking its toll on her. She's been spending way too much time in the studio that she's finally gone crazy. Seungwan's adorable and Joohyun is crazy.

A poke on her shoulder brings her back to the present. Seungwan pats at her leg and Joohyun repositions herself. It's almost second nature how they understand each other with the smallest of cues. Seungwan lays down with her head on Joohyun's lap, expected and welcomed.

"This is nice," Seungwan says.

Joohyun hums in agreement. She extends her arms and scratches lightly at Seungwan's shirt covered tummy. The younger girl giggles and puts her hands on top of Joohyun's.

"That tickles, Hyun."

Joohyun only smiles and slowly retracts her hand only for Seungwan to hold them steady.

"This is nice," Seungwan says again.

 

4

When Joohyun mentioned she has never gone camping before, it was intended as something she says offhandedly. Just a little fact about herself. Seungwan didn't comment on it and the conversation moved along.

On a free Saturday afternoon, she finds herself inside Seungwan's car as the younger girl rambles on about her day. She's asked the younger where they were headed and has been brushed off all four times.

"We're here!" Seungwan announces.

"We're where, exactly?"

They're in what looks to be a relatively peaceful suburban neighborhood. Several brick houses lined up by the streets adorned with decorated lawns. The grass is green and the streets are empty.

For a second, Joohyun panics. Seungwan, at her worst, can be as impulsive as much as she is indicisive. What if she bought a house—

Seungwan knocks on her side of the window from the outside.

"Let's go, Hyun!"

Joohyun reluctantly comes out of the car. The coolness of the afternoon breeze greets her, makes her shiver. She quickly attaches herself to Seungwan who, for some reason, is always warm.

Seungwan knocks on the door of one of the brick houses. A few seconds later, a smiling girl with sharp eyes and soft everything else opens the door.

"Seulgom-ah!"

"Seungwannie!"

Great. Another enthusiastic person. Joohyun forces herself to smile, a hard feat considering she's concentrating on not freezing her ass off.

Seungwan introduces them to each other. It turns out, the girl's name is Seulgi and not... whatever Seungwan called her earlier.

"Come on in! Everything's ready."

Joohyun was glad they're finally entering the house. She has never been, and probably will never be, a fan of cold weather.

Her happiness is shortlived, however, when they pass through the hallway and straight to the backyard.

"Ta-dah!"

Joohyun looks towards where Seungwan is gesturing with her jazz hands.

There's a tent. And blankets. And fairy lights. In the middle of some girl's backyard.

"...Yey?"

Seungwan, of course has an explanation ready.

"You said you've never been camping before so I thought, hey! Maybe we should go camping! And then I tried to look for campsites but they were either booked or too far so I contacted my friend Seulgi here and asked if I could borrow her girlfriend's house—"

"Seungwan-ah, breathe."

Seungwan takes a deep breath and smiles, almost as if she was embarassed. She raises her hand to scratch at her nape and tilts her head slightly.

"I wanted to take you camping but this was the best I could come up with."

Joohyun smiles, takes that hand and holds it with both of her own.

"Thank you, really. It's very sweet of you and it looks very pretty."

"But?"

Joohyun exhales and squeezes Seungwan's hand momentarily.

"But it's too cold outside, Seungwan-ah."

Seungwan brightens up and tugs Joohyun towards the tent.

"I know you're not good with the cold so I got us some heating pads under the comforters. I also got a bunch of pillows and blankets to keep you comfortable."

Joohyun can only laugh. Seungwan, always thoughtful.

"I've never been camping but I'm pretty sure people don't bring half as many of the stuff inside that tent."

Seungwan pushes Joohyun playfully. "It's the experience that counts, Hyun. We're still sleeping under the stars."

"Guess we are."

Seungwan beams positively. The younger girl might be a little impulsive but her heart is always at the right place.

At least Seungwan isn't buying a house, Joohyun thinks to herself.

"Oh, we're eating dinner in the house by the way. Seulgi said I'm not allowed to make a firepit in the backyard."

Seungwan makes a face. Joohyun laughs.

It's dark outside when they get cleaned up after dinner. Seungwan slathers her with insect repellent before ushering her towards their makeshift campsite.

The nights goes well. They chat about everything under the night sky. Seungwan sings her a song with the guitar borrowed from Seulgi. Joohyun showers her with compliments and sings with her on some of the songs that follow.

It's fun and warm and perfect. Just as it always is with Seungwan.

That night, Joohyun holds Seungwan in her arms and tells her.

Seungwan burrows her head on Joohyun's neck and blames her burning ears on the heating pads.

 

5

Seungwan invites her over for dinner in her apartment. Joohyun feels a little nervous. It's not that she hasn't been there before. Just that they usually spend time in Joohyun's shared dorm room than in Seungwan's very expensive place.

The door is unlocked as soon as she rings the doorbell. The smell of something delicious greets her when she enters.

"I'm in the kitchen, Hyun!"

Joohyun takes off her shoes and makes her way into where the younger girl is. She finds Seungwan with a spatula in one hand and an oven mitt on the other.

"You're early."

"Yeah."

Seungwan chuckles and tells her to come closer. Joohyun leaves the bottle of wine she brought on one of the kitchen counters.

"Here, taste. Ahhh~"

Joohyun opens her mouth to Seungwan's prompting.

"It's good. What is it?"

"It's my special sauce. I made tteokbokki from scratch."

"That's a lot of work. You know they have store-made ones, right?"

"I know but you like tteokbokki so I thought I'd make it myself."

Joohyun smiles and calls her an idiot affectionately.

"I'm your idiot, what does that say about you?" Seungwan sticks out her tongue and goes back to cooking.

Joohyun settles herself on a barstool. She watches Seungwan rush around the kitchen in amusement.

"Was it cold outside?"

"Very. I left my coat on your couch, by the way."

Seungwan waves her spatula around to say it's fine. The oven dings and Seungwan rushes again to take out whatever she baked.

"I also made some Saltimbocca since you told me you were bringing wine."

Joohyun scrunches her eyebrows.

"Why did you make tteokbokki if you already had that?"

Seungwan rolls her eyes. "Because you like it. I told you this already. Geez, Hyun."

Joohyun shakes her head at the younger one whose attention is already back on her cooking. She'd offer to help but Seungwan does not like anyone touching her kitchen. Joohyun's already lucky enough to be allowed to enter her domain.

Instead, Joohyun sits there and looks around. Seungwan is regaling her with one of her surely incredible misadventures but Joohyun's eyes remains locked on the dining table.

Seungwan, now free of oven mitt and spatula, settles comfortably behind her and wraps her in a hug.

"Like it?"

The table is covered in a white cloth. Two sets of eating utensils are already in place. There's a vase of pretty flowers as a centerpiece.

"I figured since it's almost the holidays and we're both going back to our hometowns, we can have an early holiday dinner here."

Joohyun turns her head and smiles at Seungwan. The younger girl takes it as a yes.

Seungwan sets the table and Joohyun gets the wine ready inside a bucket of ice. The younger girl owns a lot of things so she's not even surprised she has a bucket of all things.

They settle down on the table facing each other. The lights are set on low and an LP plays softly in the background.

For a moment, Seungwan thought Joohyun looks exceptionally pretty tonight. She's always been beautiful, of course.

It's not the way the dim light bounces off her face or the way she holds her fork or the way her hair cascades down to her neck. It's just that... there's something different about Joohyun tonight.

Neither of them speak. Only the sounds of forks on plates mix through the gentle music. It was almost silent until Seungwan clears her throat.

"You're uhh... sweater looks... nice." She cringes at her own words. Joohyun only looks at her with an eywbrow raised.

"Why are you being nervous all of the sudden?"

Seungwan laughs unsurely and takes a sip of her wine. "I don't know. It's just weird."

"What's weird?"

"I don't know. I feel weird."

Joohyun reaches out to cup her forehead. "Your face is a little warm."

"Must be from all the cooking."

"Your cooking tastes great, as usual. What was that, sage?"

Seungwan gives her a thankful smile. Aside from music, food is something she can talk about confidently.

They finish dinner on a happier note. Joohyun helps Seungwan bring some tteokbokki towards the living room. Something to snack on while they watch a movie, the younger had said.

"What do you want to watch, Hyun?"

"Anything that isn't Dumbo."

"Aww, but whyyy~"

"Seungwan, we've watched that a hundred times and I'm not going to watch you cry over animals in a movie. Again."

Seungwan pouts.

They end up watching Dumbo.

Seungwan ends up curled over Joohyun's chest sometime in the middle of the movie. Johyun has her arm wrapped under the younger one, gently drawing random shapes on her sides.

"This feels a lot like getting lucky after a date," Seungwan muses.

Joohyun laughs and Seungwan feels the vibration from her ears settling heavily on her tummy. It's... different.

"Sure, Seungwan-ah."

"No, I'm serious!"

Seungwan gets up from her position and face Joohyun fully.

"We just had dinner with food that I personally cooked for you."

"What do you mean? You always cook for me."

"Yeah but this time, it feels different. Kind of." Seungwan blows out a frustrated breath. "I don't know, something's different."

Joohyun looks at the younger girl. She seems to be deep in thought, intent on dissecting the events of a night that is yet to be over.

"You mean, our dinner feels like a date?"

"Yes!" Seungwan exclaims. "Which is weird because we're not doing anything new. It's just dinner."

"But it feels like a date."

"Yes, it does."

Joohyun presses her lips tightly and takes a look at the other girl.

"Would it be so weird if it were?"

Seungwan's eyes widen for a fraction of a second. She seems to think it through before sighing and settling back next to Joohyun, leaning her head on the older girl's chest.

"Guess not."

Joohyun's hand wraps around Seungwan and they readjust to a more comfortable position.

"Hyun?"

"Yes, Seungwan-ah?"

"Have we been dating this whole time without us knowing it?"

Joohyun chuckles lightly and brings her other arm to embrace the girl.

"I guess we have."