Pairing: Junmyeon/Jongdae (femslash)
Summary: There's a first for everything. Jongdae makes sure of that.
|“Can we leave yet?”|
Baekhyun’s mouth draws into a line over the rim of her plastic cup half-filled with vodka and cranberry juice. “We’ve only been here for half an hour.”
Junmyeon leans against the wall of what in earlier years may have been Pi Kappa Alpha’s living room and swirls the remains of her ginger ale and whiskey. The frat’s semi-annual mixer is always one of the semester’s most highly-attended functions, and the house is packed, albeit with a slightly less hectic vibe than the usual weekend parties due to the five-dollar cover charge. “There’s too many people here.”
“I paid your cover to get in tonight, you don’t get to whine,” Baekhyun says, scanning the room for familiar faces. “If you want to go home, ask campo to take you. I told Chanyeol I’d be here tonight and I don’t intend to leave without seeing him.”
“You’re the worst friend,” Junmyeon sighs, and Baekhyun squeezes her arm, holding her now empty cup out with her free hand, a shit-eating grin on her face.
“I know. Go get me another drink.”
“Yes, highness.” Junmyeon rolls her eyes and weaves her way through the crowd to the makeshift bar the brothers had built for the occasion.
“Oh, hey Junmyeon!” Minseok is the sober brother on duty for the evening, tasked with pouring cocktails and making sure nobody gets too fucked up on Smirnoff. He looks much more lively tonight than he does during their twice-weekly 9 a.m. stats section. “What can I get you?”
“Baekhyun wants another vodka cranberry,” she says, putting one cup on the counter, “and I’ll have another whiskey and ginger ale.”
“I’m gonna have to try that, sounds good,” Minseok murmurs, getting to work on Junmyeon’s orders.
“Make one for me, too,” a voice pipes in from Junmyeon’s right, and Junmyeon turns her head to look at the newcomer, who covers her mouth and titters cutely. She’s a little shorter than Junmyeon, with brown hair trimmed into a pixie cut and lids lined with thick black ink in a truly impressive cat eye. “Sorry for interrupting, that just sounds really yummy.”
“Two whiskey gingers and a vodka cranberry,” Minseok recites, scooping ice into the cups. “Gotcha.”
“You look familiar,” the girl says to Junmyeon, eyes narrowing as she studies Junmyeon’s face. She snaps her fingers suddenly. “I’ve seen you with Baekhyun! We’re in the same practicum for Music 202.”
“Yeah, I’m actually here with her tonight,” Junmyeon says, hitching a thumb over her shoulder in the direction she’d come from. “Well, until her boy toy shows up, anyway. At which point I can blessedly go home.”
“You’re not having fun?” The girl looks a little put out by Junmyeon’s lack of enthusiasm. “You should come play with me and my friends after Baekhyun leaves!” She grins. “Or now, if you want. I’m sure Baekhyun won’t mind me borrowing you for the evening, what with her probably being preoccupied with Chanyeol’s dick and all.”
“I have to bring her drink back,” Junmyeon starts, but the girl picks up the plastic cup as soon as Minseok sets it down and wanders off into the next room. Junmyeon turns around and stares at Minseok with wide eyes. “What the hell was that?”
“That’s Jongdae for you,” Minseok laughs, dropping a swizzle stick into Junmyeon’s cocktail before serving it up. “She’s… something else, that’s for sure.”
Jongdae’s cocktail is ready by the time she returns, and she chirps her thanks as she takes the cup and loops her arm through Junmyeon’s, steering her away from the bar and toward the opposite side of the house. “Don’t worry,” she chatters animatedly, sipping her drink with a hum of approval, “Baekhyun said I could kidnap you. She’ll see you tomorrow at breakfast, she said. I’m Jongdae, by the way.”
“Junmyeon,” Junmyeon replies by way of introduction. “You’re very forward, aren’t you?”
“Maybe a little,” Jongdae says, an impish smile curling the corners of her glossy red lips. There’s something secretive about her mouth, something that makes Junmyeon curious about her. “You just looked so lost, and I’m always collecting new friends.”
“We’re friends now?” Junmyeon can’t help but smile a little bemusedly. She wonders what it’s like inside Jongdae’s head, what it’s like to not second-guess everything, what it’s like to grab a stranger’s hand and wander off with them just because they look lonely or sad.
“Well, I think we have a fair number of mutual acquaintances, so yeah.” Jongdae grins as they duck into the den. “I think that makes us friends by default.”
“Junmyeon!” Zhang Yixing, her art history study partner, kicks her heels up from her seat on the couch. “Come sit!”
Jongdae releases her arm (somewhat reluctantly, Junmyeon thinks) and Junmyeon sits down on the couch between Yixing and a girl with platinum blonde hair and lavender fringe. Jongdae plops herself in that girl’s lap and extends her legs across the length of the couch, crossing her ankles daintily in Yixing’s lap.
“Jongdae, wait--” Junmyeon reaches over to adjust Jongdae’s skirt, which is riding up her thighs just a little too much to be decent, and doesn’t notice the way Jongdae sucks her lower lip into her mouth.
“It’s okay, she’s probably wearing underwear,” the purple-haired girl says, rolling her eyes good-naturedly. Jongdae biffs her over the head like an angry kitten, and she laughs as she offers a glittery manicured hand. “I’m Lu Han, by the way.”
“It’s nice to put a face to a name,” Junmyeon says, shaking her hand. “I sit next to Minseok in stats; he’s always talking about you. I’m Junmyeon.”
Lu Han beams. “He’s so cute. I feel less mad at him for volunteering to be the bartender tonight, now.”
“She’s been sending him pouty selfies all night,” Yixing explains, “and whining. A lot.”
“If wanting to make out with my boyfriend is a crime, then lock me up and throw away the key,” Lu Han says, sticking her wrists out as if offering them to be handcuffed. “Anyway. Junmyeon, how’d you run into this one?” She tips her head in Jongdae’s direction.
“She stole me from my date,” Junmyeon says. “Do you know Byun Baekhyun? She’s my best friend, she kind of dragged me here against my will.”
“Junmyeonnie doesn’t go out much,” Yixing supplies helpfully, and Lu Han nods in understanding.
“Well, if you ever wanna come hang out at our place, you’re more than welcome,” Lu Han offers.
“I forgot to mention Yixing and Lu Han are my roommates,” Jongdae says, clearing up Junmyeon’s confusion. “Our apartment is just down the street.”
“You should totally come over next Friday,” Yixing gushes. “We can do, like, wine and apps and watch movies or something. It’ll be fun! Bring Baekhyun, we’ll have a girls’ night!”
“You’re the only one with long hair, I’m going to have to practice my French braiding skills on you,” Jongdae warns her, reaching over to twist a tendril of Junmyeon’s wavy auburn hair around her finger.
“That sounds kinda fun,” Junmyeon says, smiling. She plows onward, ignoring the way her heart jumps when Jongdae smoothes her hair. “Baekhyun has an insane collection of nail polish, I’m sure she’d bring it along and do everyone’s nails, too, if you wanted.”
“Yesssss!” Lu Han practically fistpumps. “I can’t do my right hand without getting polish all over my cuticles. This is perfect.” She digs in the couch cushions for her clutch, nearly knocking over Jongdae, who leans forward and grabs onto Junmyeon’s shoulders for support.
“Hi,” Junmyeon says, not really knowing what else to say to Jongdae’s face mere centimeters from her own. She hides her blush behind the rim of her drink, gulping down a quarter of it in one go.
Jongdae just pats her cheek with a tipsy grin. “You’re so pretty.”
“Okay, drunkface, that’s enough,” Lu Han snorts, hauling Jongdae back against the arm of the couch and popping her bag open to give her phone to Junmyeon, who’s trying her hardest to will the heat away from her cheeks. “Gimme your number, I’ll text you mine. You already have Yixing’s, right?”
“Mmhmm.” Junmyeon adds herself as a new contact and hands the phone back to Lu Han, sitting forward just enough to dig her own phone out from the back pocket of her black skinny jeans just as it begins to buzz. She opens the new message, smiling at hi, it’s lulu~ before adding her as a new contact.
“Me next!” Jongdae makes grabby hands at Junmyeon’s iPhone and rapidly taps her phone number in once Junmyeon hands it over. She sends herself a text and smiles sweetly when she gives the phone back to Junmyeon. She’s saved herself as kjd 💕, cute heart emojis and all.
“Well, now that that’s over with, I need to go get my dance on,” Yixing says, shoving Jongdae’s strappy black wedges off of her lap and clambering to her feet. “Coming with?”
Lu Han pauses for a moment, listening to the bass thumping from the next room, and then pushes Jongdae off her lap entirely. “This is my jam!”
Junmyeon reaches out to keep Jongdae from falling ass over teacups and showing the goods to everybody in the room, standing as she helps Jongdae straighten up. “I’ll go, too, I guess. Somebody’s gotta make sure you don’t break that nose of yours.”
Jongdae smiles, that nose of hers wrinkling cutely. She laces her fingers with Junmyeon’s, tugging her along after Yixing and Lu Han. “Let’s go.”
It’s not like Jongdae’s the first girl Junmyeon’s ever found attractive, or the first girl to flirt with her. But she is the first girl Junmyeon’s ever actively flirted with, the first girl she’s had any less-than-utterly-platonic thoughts about, the first girl she could ever actually see herself having a good old-fashioned college hook-up with… or at the very least a good old-fashioned makeout session.
Junmyeon stares into her bowl of oatmeal on Monday morning and feels nauseous.
It’s not like nobody knows about her proclivities. The important people do. Baekhyun knows. Junmyeon’s parents were less than thrilled at first, but they’ve come around. “As long as you still give me grandchildren,” her mother had relented after a few weeks of stony silence. Her brother had tried to set her up once with his friend’s cousin’s sister, but it was a boring, terrible date and they mutually agreed not to see each other again. After giving her brother a stern talking-to, there were no more set-ups, and that was the last time she’d been on a date.
For a while she wondered if the anxiety she felt about dating girls was a nervous closeted gay girl thing, but meeting Jongdae makes her pretty sure it’s just a Junmyeon thing. Jongdae’s so confident and comfortable with herself; Junmyeon doesn’t know how not to second-guess everything she does or thinks or feels. There’s no reason to be scared, Junmyeon tells herself over and over again: in the shower, on the way to class, during lectures, at lunch, in the middle of choir rehearsal, while drinking her after-dinner cup of tea, before falling asleep. It’s too bad her powers of persuasion have no effect on herself.
It’s not wrong to care about someone, she thinks forcefully during her human rights lecture on Tuesday. Frankly, it would be good for you. It sounds like something Baekhyun would say. Junmyeon likes to complain about Baekhyun dragging her to every party on campus each weekend, but she knows it’s just because Baekhyun wants her to meet someone and be happy.
But could I be happy with another woman? Junmyeon poses the question to herself in the middle of her stats assignment on Wednesday when her phone beeps, alerting her to another one of Jongdae’s emoji-laden text messages. It seems so obvious that life never turns out the way you expect it to, but this particular facet of herself was a detour she had never anticipated. She’d always vaguely assumed she’d get married and buy a house and have 2.5 kids someday, because that’s what people did when they grew up, but that fuzzy image of a future melted away before her eyes in high school when she realized she was paying more attention to long, hairless legs and the wondrous effects of push-up bras than the boys’ soccer team ripping their shirts off after every match. She knew plenty of guys who were funny, smart, and great to talk with, but they weren’t soft and pretty or sharp and witty like the girls she knew. They weren’t alluring, they weren’t attractive. And that was a terrifying realization. No one else could see inside her head and know that she was different, but Junmyeon knowing it was hard enough.
It’s a hard feeling to brush away, even five years down the line, even knowing that the people who care about her don’t care about this. Maybe it’s because there’s no one who can really, truly relate to her. Baekhyun will never feel ashamed for the way she feels about Chanyeol. Her brother will never re-evaluate his entire life looking for what led him to fall in love with his fiancée. Realistically, Junmyeon shouldn’t have to, either. But it doesn’t stop her from overanalyzing it until she’s sick to her stomach.
It’s just the anticipation, Junmyeon soothes herself as she rolls over in bed on Thursday night. Inexperience and apprehension make for a poor cocktail of emotions, she thinks wryly. It would be good to become close friends with Jongdae, if only to have someone to understand - to truly know - what she’s feeling. Someone to hold her hand when she’s scared and hug her when she’s sad and listen to her worries without laughing or dismissing them.
You don’t even know Jongdae, the suspicious, anxious part of her brain pipes up. What if she just wants you for your body?
“Now you’re just being ridiculous,” Junmyeon mumbles into her pillow sleepily. As if that would ever happen. Jongdae’s the one with the ideal body, after all, the very definition of gamine. Narrow waist, pert little backside, Mona Lisa smile and eyes that are in on a joke no one else knows the punchline to. If Junmyeon had a type, she’d be it. Who am I kidding? Junmyeon eyes roll back into her skull. She is my type.
Friday evening rolls around, and Junmyeon and Baekhyun pack their things and trek over to Lu Han, Yixing, and Jongdae’s apartment for their girls’ night. Junmyeon hikes her backpack up higher on her shoulders, being careful not to jostle the container of cupcakes she’s holding in the process.
“Jesus Christ, this thing’s heavy,” Baekhyun whines, switching her nail polish caddy to her other hand. “I’ve never had to carry it more than ten feet before.”
“You know there’s an easy solution to this problem,” Junmyeon says dryly. “Stop buying nail polish.”
“My hands are my best asset,” Baekhyun protests as they turn the corner onto the street where Jongdae’s apartment is located. “I’m not about to let them go naked where anyone can see my crappy nail beds!”
“Does Chanyeol even notice that stuff?” Junmyeon lifts an eyebrow, turning her head to look at Baekhyun.
“He told me I had pretty hands when he walked me home last night,” Baekhyun sighs. “We held hands and he kissed me good night and we just kinda Looked at each other and then I ran inside and oh god I wanna be the mother of his children someday, help me.”
“I mean, I think that’s kind of cute, but does he know you’re imagining cozy domestic scenarios involving him and hypothetical babies?” Junmyeon checks the house numbers against the address Jongdae had texted her; they’re still half a block away.
“God, I hope not,” Baekhyun says. She’s quiet for a minute before she blurts, “But I guess if someone really liked me I’d want to know about it…”
“What do you mean?” Junmyeon looks up from her phone, balanced precariously on top of the cupcake tray.
“Just…” Baekhyun sucks her chapped lower lip into her mouth. “You know Jongdae has a ridiculous crush on you, don’t you?”
Junmyeon’s chest seizes up, but she doesn’t stop walking. “How do you know that?”
“Uh, she told me? Last week? At the Pike party?” Baekhyun’s making that face Junmyeon hates, the one that says you’re really smart, stop acting like an idiot.
“What did you say back to her?” Junmyeon feels panicky suddenly, feels like going back to her dorm and camping out there for the rest of the semester. The weight of expectation hangs heavily on her chest and makes her feel a little nauseated.
“Just that you’re kind of shy and that you don’t date much,” Baekhyun says, her tone a little gentler now. “Or, like, ever. She seemed to understand. I don’t think she’ll make a move if you don’t. She just flirts with everyone, it’s pretty harmless.”
“Is it okay that I’m scared anyway?” Junmyeon asks, trying to mute the tremor in her voice.
“Oh, honey,” Baekhyun sighs, switching her nail polish caddy to her other hand again and linking arms with Junmyeon, pressing her cheek into Junmyeon’s shoulder. “Of course. Are you freaking out really badly right now? You wanna take a minute to chill before we go up?”
Junmyeon swallows and shakes her head. “No. No, I’m okay. I’ve-- I’ve definitely felt calmer, but I’ll be-- yeah, I’ll be okay.”
“Hey.” Baekhyun lifts her head and squeezes Junmyeon’s arm. “We’re gonna have fun. We’re gonna eat a lot of sugar and cheese and drink a lot of wine and it’s not going to be awkward or scary at all. Okay?”
“Okay.” Junmyeon sucks in a deep breath through her nose and turns into the walkway, Baekhyun in tow.
The stairwell up to the girls’ second-floor apartment is narrow and steep, but they make it up without dropping anything or falling on their faces. Baekhyun knocks on the door when they reach the top, and Yixing answers it almost immediately, opening the door with a big smile and welcoming them inside.
“Cute apron,” Junmyeon says, and Yixing twirls the frilly skirt around. “What are you making?”
“Mini quiches, bacon-wrapped scallops, and potstickers,” Yixing says, counting the appetizers off on her fingers. “And before you think I went to any trouble, we bought them out of the frozen foods case at Wal-Mart this afternoon.”
“But we did not buy the wine at Wal-Mart, so don’t be nervous,” Lu Han chirps, ducking into the kitchen. “Ooooh, what’d you bring, Junmyeon?”
“Funfetti cupcakes,” Junmyeon replies, letting Lu Han take the container from her. “We have a kitchen in our dorm and my mom always says you should bring something when you go to someone’s house, so…”
“Junmyeonnie’s going to grow up to be Martha Stewart someday,” Baekhyun laughs, squeezing her shoulder. The case of nail polish swings from her other hand. “Hey, can I put this down somewhere? It’s kinda heavy.”
“Sure, you can stash your stuff in the living room for now.” Lu Han slides the container of cupcakes onto the kitchen table and guides them into the next room, gesturing for Baekhyun and Junmyeon to unload their backpacks onto the beat-up armchair facing the coffee table.
“Where’s Jongdae?” Baekhyun asks, seeing that she’s not in the living room. She flexes her aching wrist; Junmyeon unbuttons her peacoat and drapes it over the back of the chair.
“I think she’s working on her composition homework,” Lu Han says, sucking her lower lip into her mouth thoughtfully. “Xing? Is the food almost done?”
“Yeah, maybe a couple minutes more,” Yixing calls back.
“You wanna go grab Jongdae for me, Junmyeon?” Lu Han asks, turning back to face Junmyeon. “She’s probably hungry.”
“Oh,” Junmyeon says, looking at Baekhyun briefly. “Yeah, I’ll go get her.”
Lu Han smiles brightly. “Great! Her room is at the end of the hall. Just knock, she might have her headphones on.”
Junmyeon nods and makes for the hallway, turning around to walk backwards once she’s out of Lu Han’s line of sight to shoot a wide-eyed stare at Baekhyun, mouthing What am I doing???
Baekhyun diverts Lu Han’s attention long enough to shoot Junmyeon a thumbs-up, and Junmyeon spins around, walking until she reaches Jongdae’s bedroom door. She pauses, taking a look at the decorations: a piece of cardstock acting as a name plate, JONGDAE drawn in neat calligraphy; a Safe Space sticker next to the doorknob; a few polaroids of Jongdae and her roommates stuck to the paneling at different angles. It’s difficult to see the photos with the hall light off, but the girls are smiling. Jongdae has a nice smile.
Junmyeon suddenly realizes it would be really bad to be caught lurking outside Jongdae’s door if she opens it first, so she knocks three times, rather loudly, in case Jongdae’s headphones are on.
“Come in,” Jongdae calls, and Junmyeon sucks in a breath before turning the knob and poking her head in.
“Oh!” Jongdae says, sitting back in her desk chair. She adjusts her bra strap from where it’s drooping down her shoulder beneath her cap-sleeved t-shirt and fluffs up the hair at the crown of her head. “I told Lu Han to come get me when you and Baekhyun got here.”
“She foisted the duty off on me,” Junmyeon says, smiling. Jongdae looks different in black-rimmed eyeglasses, her makeup much less dramatic than it was last weekend. Her bangs are clipped back from her face, and her eyes look a little tired from squinting at her computer screen. “What are you working on?”
“Composition midterm project,” Jongdae sighs. “It has to be one minute or longer, with at least three-part harmony. It’s a jazz piano trio right now but I hate it.” Her shoulders slump against the chair, mouth downturned in a pout.
“Can I listen?” Junmyeon asks, leaning against the door frame. “My mom made me take piano lessons all the way through elementary school, so I have something of an appreciation for the fine art of jazz piano. Those pieces were always the most fun to play, anyway.”
Jongdae beckons her into the room, rummaging on the desk until she comes up with a sturdy pair of Bose headphones. “It’s only about halfway finished, maybe thirty seconds, if that,” Jongdae says. Junmyeon tucks her hair behind her ears and takes the headphones from Jongdae, sliding them carefully over her head.
Jongdae clicks the play button after Junmyeon gives her a thumbs-up, and Junmyeon closes her eyes and leans against the desk as she listens. There’s only two pianos at first, playing a jangly harmony that’s soon joined by the third, playing in a lower register that’s meant to mimic the brass instruments. One of the pianos begins to play higher notes on the keyboard, as if it were a flute or piccolo, quarter notes splitting into eighths and sixteenths as the tune veers into swing territory. It cuts off midway through a complicated passage, and Jongdae’s laughing when Junmyeon takes off the headphones and hands them back to her.
“Your eyebrows shot up at the end there, is it bad?” Jongdae looks up at her, one fluffy-slippered ankle brushing against the cuff of Junmyeon’s jeans.
“Not at all,” Junmyeon says earnestly, shaking her head. “It’s so cool, like each piano has its own little voice, like they’re all pretending to be other instruments. I think it’ll be really cool once you finish it.” She makes a face. “Cool. Wow, I need to eliminate that word from my vocabulary.”
“Nah, it’s cool,” Jongdae says, the corners of her mouth drawing upward teasingly. She saves the Finale file and closes her laptop before standing, their bodies just a little too close for Junmyeon’s comfort.
“There’s food,” Junmyeon says, taking a step back towards the door. She grabs hold of the doorknob, like it’ll keep her safe or something. “I brought cupcakes.”
“That was sweet of you,” Jongdae says, taking Junmyeon’s free hand and tugging her out the door. She squeezes Junmyeon’s fingers lightly before dropping them and traipsing down the hallway in her t-shirt and sweatpants and furry moccasins, Junmyeon following a little more slowly.
Baekhyun, Lu Han, and Yixing are already digging into the appetizers when Jongdae and Junmyeon join them around the coffee table, everyone seated cross-legged on the floor and armed with fancy toothpicks and little paper plates.
“If you eat all the scallops I’ll kill you in your sleep,” Jongdae trills at Baekhyun, who pauses with a scallop-laden toothpick halfway to her mouth and passes it to Jongdae instead.
“Well, if you’d gotten out here when Junmyeon went in to get you, you’d have gotten first dibs,” Baekhyun says nasally, making a face. “What were you doing in there?”
“Jongdae let me listen to her composition midterm project,” Junmyeon says, covering her mouth between bites of mini quiche. “It sounds really good.” Swallowing, she makes a face back at Baekhyun. “Probably better than yours.”
“Ohhhhhh,” Yixing says, dropping her carrot stick in the vegetable dip. “Are you just gonna let her talk to you like that, Baekhyun?”
“She’s probably right, so yeah,” Baekhyun snorts, bumping Junmyeon’s shoulder with her own. “Jongdae’s got the highest grade in the class for a reason.”
“She never lets us listen to her work,” Lu Han says, a little enviously. She smirks, looking from Jongdae to Junmyeon. “She must like you a lot.”
Out of the corner of her eye Junmyeon sees Jongdae look up quickly, shooting a look at Lu Han, but then Yixing asks Baekhyun a question about her project and the mood changes. Junmyeon steadily avoids Jongdae’s eyes, cramming a dumpling into her mouth to distract herself from the occasional glances she can feel being cast in her direction.
Junmyeon sits on the floor with her back against the couch, sipping intermittently at a plastic cup of pink champagne as she waits for her nails to dry. Baekhyun had attacked her dry cuticles immediately after dinner and painted her nails a pretty shade of mint green to match the sweater she’s wearing. She’s working on Lu Han now, meticulously applying nail tape across her tips to create chevrons while Yixing attempts to style her hair with a curling iron and an arsenal of bobby pins and hairspray.
“Of course Lu Han wants something crazy and time-consuming,” Jongdae sighs, flopping down on the couch behind Junmyeon. “Mine won’t even have time to dry before bed by the time Baekhyun gets to me.”
“You already have nail polish on,” Junmyeon comments, allowing herself a little grin as she looks over her shoulder at Jongdae.
“But it’s chipped,” Jongdae whines, wiggling her fingers in Junmyeon’s face.
Junmyeon puts her champagne on the table and catches one of Jongdae’s hands to inspect. “There’s a tiny little chip on the corner of your thumb,” she laughs, letting go of Jongdae’s fingers. “It’s hardly noticeable.”
“Yes, but…” Jongdae stares sadly at her fingers, painted a shimmery orange. “I wanted them to be pink. Pink is my favorite.”
Junmyeon reaches for her champagne, offering it to Jongdae. “You might like this, then.”
Jongdae inspects the contents with a little smile and downs the last inch of André. “I guess that’ll do,” she says, giving the cup back to Junmyeon. “Hey, can I braid your hair? I’m pretty good at it but I don’t have much use for doing hair since I cut all of mine off freshman year.”
“You look pretty with short hair, though,” Junmyeon says, pulling the elastic out of her hair and running her fingers through it until it drapes neatly over her shoulders. “I’d look just like my brother if I cut mine off.”
“You’d still be cute,” Jongdae says, skritching her fingertips against Junmyeon’s scalp, fluffing the hair at her crown, “but your hair is too nice to chop off.”
Junmyeon’s almost ashamed as how much she wants to melt into Jongdae’s touch. She sighs, relaxing her head against Jongdae’s hands as she works her fingers through Junmyeon’s hair.
“What should I do, what should I do,” Jongdae murmurs, scraping the hair back from Junmyeon’s hairline. She starts to braid, following the curve of Junmyeon’s forehead back along her ear, weaving her bangs back into the twists of hair. “Mm, this will look pretty.”
“I trust your judgment,” Junmyeon says, tilting her head forward slightly so Jongdae can start plaiting behind her ear and around the back of her head. “Even though I’m probably going to look like a Swiss milkmaid.”
“Noooo, you’re going to look gorgeous,” Jongdae wheedles, tugging at a lock of hair. “I wish I had some flowers to stick in it, you’d look like a nineteenth-century painting. All rosy-cheeked with flowers in your hair, awww.”
Junmyeon covers her face, feeling her cheeks flush, heart swooping into her throat. “Stoooooooop,” she whines, shoulders curling in when Jongdae’s fingertips brush against her neck.
“Fine, fine, I won’t embarrass you by telling you how cute you’d look in one of those crazy dresses with a hoop skirt and pantaloons,” Jongdae teases.
“You are so weird,” Junmyeon bursts out laughing, the sound somewhat muffled by her hands. Baekhyun glances at her from across the room with a curious little smile, and Junmyeon bites her lip, holding back a grin.
“I’m almost done,” Jongdae says, beginning to braid down to the end of Junmyeon’s hair. She coils it up as she finishes, calling across the room to Yixing, “Hey, throw me some bobby pins!”
Yixing obliges, flinging a piece of cardboard holding a bunch of pins toward Junmyeon. She pulls a few off and passes them over her shoulder to Jongdae, who starts to work on pinning down flyaways and fixing the end of the braid to the nape of Junmyeon’s neck.
“There we go.” Jongdae smoothes Junmyeon’s hair and pats her shoulders.
Junmyeon uses her hands to scoot herself around so she’s facing Jongdae. “How do I look?”
“Adorable,” Jongdae coos, reaching forward to pinch Junmyeon’s cheeks. Junmyeon gnashes her teeth at her in protest, and Jongdae laughs, calling over to Baekhyun, “Hey, you didn’t tell me she bites!”
“The Junmyeon can be very temperamental at times,” Baekhyun says serenely, capping the bottle of topcoat she’s just finished with. “Particularly when tired or hungry.”
“Hmm…” Jongdae releases Junmyeon’s face and reaches for the tray of cupcakes on the table. “More snacks?”
Junmyeon grins, feeling more at ease with every minute that goes by. “More snacks.”
It’s well after 2 a.m. when Junmyeon’s eyes start to hurt the more she tries to keep them open, and they decide to split off to sleep - Baekhyun with Yixing, Lu Han by herself, and Junmyeon with Jongdae.
“My bed is my sanctuary,” Lu Han explains when Baekhyun asks why she didn’t offer to share her room.
“Where the hell do you and Minseok have sex, then?” Baekhyun laughs.
“The floor, the wall, the couch--” Jongdae slides onto the floor next to Junmyeon, looking traumatized. “--the shower… oh, and his place.”
“I need to call a priest to cleanse this place of sin and bodily fluids, oh my god.” Jongdae shudders and downs the rest of her pink champagne, and Yixing reaches over to pet her hair soothingly.
“Interestingly, Jongdae is a little bit of a prude,” Yixing says lightly, hushing Jongdae’s whine of protest.
“Please, Minseok is a total clean freak,” Lu Han snorts. “If you shine a blacklight on this couch, you will find nothing. I swear.”
“If you say so,” Jongdae says, pushing her head up against Yixing’s fingertips.
“Junmyeon’s about to pass out,” Baekhyun says, giving her shoulder a little shake, and Jongdae laughs. “And my eyes feel like I have sand in them. Time for bed.”
“Up we go,” Jongdae says, clambering to her feet and offering her hands to Junmyeon, who digs her feet into the carpet and pulls herself up with Jongdae’s help.
“Goodnight,” Junmyeon murmurs, waving with her free hand while Jongdae tugs her down the hall.
She’d changed into her pajama pants and a long-sleeved university t-shirt earlier in the evening, blessedly saving herself from having to take off her clothes in front of Jongdae. With Baekhyun, walking around in a bra and cotton shorts is nothing. With Jongdae, Junmyeon could be wearing a nun’s habit and she’d still feel naked. It’s bad enough that she’s not wearing a bra right now. Jongdae isn’t, either, she reminds herself, wanting to melt into the floor.
“Do you prefer the inside or outside?” Jongdae asks, interrupting her panicky internal monologue.
“What?” Junmyeon looks around, having no idea what Jongdae’s referring to.
“The bed…?” Jongdae smiles curiously. “You want the side against the wall or not?”
“Oh,” Junmyeon says, dragging her hand over her forehead. “Yeah, I like sleeping against the wall. That’s fine.”
“You first, then,” Jongdae says, tugging back the comforter. She pauses, glancing over her shoulder at Junmyeon. “I can move my pillow down to the other end if you wanna sleep head to toe. I promise my feet don’t smell.”
“What? Oh, no, no, don’t, you can just leave it where it is,” Junmyeon says, curling her toes in their socks against the throw rug on the floor.
Jongdae turns around to shut off the light, and Junmyeon crawls into bed, arranging herself as close to the wall as possible so Jongdae has enough space to sleep without the two of them touching too much. Junmyeon folds her arms over the comforter and stares up at the ceiling in the darkness as Jongdae crawls in next to her and tugs the blankets up to her neck.
“Goodnight,” she whispers, rolling onto her side away from Junmyeon. “See you in the morning.”
“‘Night,” Junmyeon replies quietly, turning her head on the pillow to watch Jongdae’s shoulders move gently with each breath she takes. Her eyelids slowly start to droop, but just when she’s about to nod off, Jongdae speaks again.
“Baekhyun told you, didn’t she.”
“Told me what?” Junmyeon asks, feigning innocence as she continues to stare at the ceiling.
“That I like you.” Jongdae rolls over, facing Junmyeon.
“Well, you told me we were friends last week, so, I mean, I hope you like me,” Junmyeon whispers, stammering.
“Junmyeon.” She sounds like Baekhyun, fondly exasperated.
Junmyeon rolls back over to face Jongdae in the darkness, seeing only the outline of her hair against the faint light coming in from beneath the window shade. “Yes. She did.”
“Okay,” Jongdae whispers, shoving her hand under her pillow to support her neck. “Is that-- Are you-- So--” She sighs, sounding irritated with herself, but when she speaks again her tone is tentative, sweet. “Do you like me?”
Junmyeon’s stomach turns itself over, running hot and cold at intervals, making her heart race. Impulsively, she reaches for Jongdae’s hand under the covers, tugging her fingers up to her pulse, pressing her fingertips to the vein thrumming beneath her skin.
“Oh my god, are you having a panic attack right now?” Jongdae whispers, moving her fingertips across Junmyeon’s neck in a way that makes her ears tingle. “I’m sorry, Baekhyun said--”
“I’m not having a panic attack,” Junmyeon cuts her off. “I just… I don’t know if this is happening because I like you or because I’m terrified about the fact that I like you. And you don’t want to be with someone who’s scared to be with you.”
“Honey…” Jongdae trails off, her hand moving upward, thumb stroking gently across Junmyeon’s cheekbone. “Why don’t you let me worry about that, and you just do what feels right for you. I know I come on a little strong, but I’m not here to drag anyone out of the closet.” Her palm flattens out against Junmyeon’s cheek, fingertips flicking her earlobe in a way that makes shivers run up and down Junmyeon’s spine. “I know that’s something you have to work through on your own, but I’m here for you, know? If you want me to be.”
“Thank you,” Junmyeon whispers even more quietly than before, because suddenly she wants to cry. “I’m sorry I’m such a basket case.”
“Shhh,” Jongdae says soothingly, curling her hand around the back of Junmyeon’s neck and using it to draw her in, tucking Junmyeon’s head under her chin and stroking her hair. “You don’t have to apologize for your feelings. Sometimes they’re beyond your control.”
Junmyeon’s nose is pressed into Jongdae’s collarbone. She even smells bright, the remaining hints of her perfume citrusy and warm. “You’re nice.”
Jongdae’s just quiet for a few moments, twirling the end of Junmyeon’s braid between her fingers. “I’ve seen you with Baekhyun before, lots of times.”
“She’s my best friend,” Junmyeon mumbles, carefully draping her arm over Jongdae’s waist to keep it from falling asleep, crushed under her own weight, “and my roommate. I’m kind of stuck with her.”
“I get that. It’s just, when I see you…” Jongdae’s hand starts rubbing slow circles across Junmyeon’s upper back. “Sometimes you just look so sad. I don’t understand why nobody else notices it. I don’t even think you realize it. But I just look at you and I think… no one should have to carry that sadness around everywhere. And maybe it’s selfish, but like…” Junmyeon feels her huff a little sigh against the crown of her head. When she speaks again, it’s in a tiny voice. “I wanted to be the person who makes it so you never make that face again.” She pauses again. “Jesus, that sounds stupid.”
Junmyeon’s ribcage is suddenly suffused with warmth. She fumbles around, pawing at Jongdae’s hand until she catches it in her own. “That’s not stupid at all,” she sniffs, feeling silly at how tears prick at the corners of her eyes. “That’s the nicest thing anyone’s ever said to me.”
“Please don’t cry,” Jongdae begs, squeezing Junmyeon’s hand a little tighter.
Junmyeon rolls back against the bed, her fingers still twined with Jongdae’s. “I’m sorry, I get emotional when I’m tired,” she says thickly, using the heel of her other hand to rub the wetness out of her eyelashes. “I’ve always been a crybaby, though. It’s so dumb, I’m too old to cry like this.”
Jongdae cuddles up to her side, her jaw brushing tentatively against Junmyeon’s shoulder. “Nobody’s too old to cry.”
Junmyeon turns her head on the pillow, her forehead close to Jongdae’s. She can feel Jongdae’s breath whistling against her cheek. “Why are you so nice to me? We don’t even really know each other that well.”
“Because I want to know you,” Jongdae says simply, tipping her head toward Junmyeon so their noses are touching. “And because I know that you deserve good things. You deserve to be happy.”
“And you think you can make me happy?” Junmyeon asks, tone lighthearted and wry even though her heart is thumping against her ribcage.
“Well...” Junmyeon can hear the crooked smile in Jongdae’s voice. “I’m not making any promises, but--”
And then their lips are touching. It’s chaste, at once tender and playful, and it’s over as soon as it starts.
“I’m up for the challenge,” Jongdae says, rolling onto her back with a final squeeze of Junmyeon’s hand. “Good night, Junmyeon.”
Junmyeon presses her fingertips to her mouth, the phantom touch of Jongdae’s lips making her heart pound. “Good night.”
When Baekhyun told Jongdae to take it slow with Junmyeon, she must have taken it to heart. They’ve seen each other a few times since the sleepover a week ago, had lunch at the campus cafe one day and texted a fair amount, but it’s not until the following Thursday that Jongdae catches Junmyeon outside of the library and asks brightly, breathlessly, “Can I take you out to dinner?”
Junmyeon drops the book she’s holding, and Jongdae ducks down to pick it up, holding it to her chest as she waits for an answer. “Uh,” Junmyeon says intelligently.
“It won’t be super fancy or anything but we can, like, dress up and share dessert and go see a movie or something after,” Jongdae says, her smile hopeful and so excited. “Are you free on Saturday night?”
Jongdae in a skirt and sky-high heels and red lipstick holding hands with her at the movies. Yes, please. “I am,” Junmyeon says.
“I was thinking Italian, is that okay with you?” Jongdae tucks a wayward strand of hair behind her ear.
“I love pasta,” Junmyeon says, and wants to slap herself upside the head. Everything that comes out of her mouth sounds so stupid.
“Yay!” Jongdae hands her the book and flings her arms around Junmyeon’s shoulders, impulsively kissing her cheek. “I’ll pick you up at seven? Wear something cute.”
“I will try my hardest,” Junmyeon says, trying not to look as shell-shocked as she feels. She fixes the Peter Pan collar of Jongdae’s shirt and smiles. It’s hard not to smile around Jongdae. “See you later?”
Jongdae looks up at her for a long moment and finally glances down, squeezing her hand. “I’ll text you tonight.”
Junmyeon squeezes her hand back and gently lets go, even though she doesn’t really want to. “Don’t work too hard.”
“I never do,” Jongdae laughs, waving Junmyeon off as she heads into the library and Junmyeon starts walking in the direction of her dorm.
“Baekhyun,” Junmyeon moans when she walks in the door, flopping onto the little Ikea couch pushed up against the wall of their two-room suite. “Help.”
“You rang?” Baekhyun shuffles into the room and sits on Junmyeon’s butt, crossing her ankles primly.
“Jongdae asked me out on a date,” Junmyeon says, pained. “You’re crushing my intestines, by the way.”
Baekhyun springs up with a little squeal. “Did you say yes?”
“Yes,” Junmyeon says, feeling her face flush. She rolls over and pushes herself up, then looks at Baekhyun. “We’re going somewhere for Italian food and then we might go see a movie, I guess? I’m a bit fuzzy on the details. She just told me to wear something cute, and she kissed me on the cheek.”
Baekhyun can’t help but let out another squeal. “Oh my god, you two are adorable! And you came to enlist my help, how precious.” She wipes an imaginary tear from her eye. “If that doesn’t warm the cockles of my heart…”
“Baekhyunnnnn,” Junmyeon whines, punching Baekhyun in the arm when she flops down onto the couch beside her and flings her arms around Junmyeon’s shoulders, making obnoxious kissy noises. She gives up and goes limp in Baekhyun’s arms, head lolling against Baekhyun’s shoulder. “Ugh, fine. Yes. I need help.”
“Never fear, Baekhyunnie’s here!” Baekhyun cheers, releasing Junmyeon and darting toward the closet.
Junmyeon heaves a long sigh. “That’s what I was afraid of.”