acatwhowrites: (L.Joe♡salute)
A Cat Who Writes ([personal profile] acatwhowrites) wrote2016-09-21 02:47 pm

Girls Like Girls Like Boys Do

title: Girls Like Girls Like Boys Do
players: Byun Baekhyun (Baekhee), Kim Jongdae/Chen (Jungdae), Park Chanyeol (Chanmi), Do Kyungsoo/D.O. (Kyungsoon), Kim Jongin/Kai, Oh Sehun
rating: PG-13
word count: 9,290w
summary: Who better to teach Kyungsoon the ins and outs of female fashion than best friend and bane of her existence, Byun Baekhee?
a/n: My only experience with being asked/asking someone else out was when a girl presented the idea hypothetically, like "What if I asked you to be my girlfriend," and I was literally like "Meh. I guess I wouldn't mind," and then I fell asleep. It was very anticlimactic.

Written for Takostation.
Read on: AFF || AO3 || LJ

Every Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday evening, Kyungsoon waits on the front steps of the rather ugly, too-modern building that hosts martial arts and performing arts practices. Her judo instructor works the class until they pretty much sweat through their judogi and dismisses them before the time slot officially ends, but she'll stay for the students who want to practice more. Sometimes Kyungsoon stays, especially on days she had a big test in school or just really wants to feel the burn in her muscles rewarded with a particularly sharp takedown.

Even staying the full time, she's often waiting for her friends' dance class to let out. Sehun and Jongin both stay behind to practice more, although Sehun's admitted it's mostly Jongin losing track of time while Sehun plays games on his phone.

In elementary school, Kyungsoon and Baekhee, her best friend pretty much since forever, would walk to and from practice. The summer before starting high school, Baekhee suddenly quit hapkido. Three years later, she's still never told Kyungsoon why.

The doors open behind her, cooling her neck with a burst of air conditioning.

"Hey, noona," Sehun greets. "I finally distracted Narcissus enough to get him out the door." Jongin whacks his arm but apologises.

"It's okay. You've got a recital coming up, right?" It's a big, public event to showcase the dance studio's talent. Scouts notoriously mingle in the crowd, parents bring extra SD cards for their cameras, and everyone digs out their nicest suits and dresses. Kyungsoon's never gone before; her friends are only in the advanced classes this year. She's excited for them; she knows how hard they've been working, because Sehun never hides how sore he is after hours of working out and practising and how thankful everyone else should be that they have the free time to have fun and an actual social life. He's whiny, but he's just hiding the pride of being where he is and seeing the improvement with each passing session. Kyungsoon brushes off the seat of her jeans and hefts the duffel bag rivalling her in size over a shoulder. "You need the practice. Especially you, Sehun." She hops off the steps and ambles down the sidewalk.

"Hey!" Sehun cries, ready to defend himself. Even with a headstart, the boys easily catch up with Kyungsoon. For every step they take, she takes two or three. Jongin's tallest of the three of them, but she's sure Sehun will catch up. Boys grow like weeds and pop up all over. Come summer, they'll both be giants, and Kyungsoon will really have to utilise her sharp elbows when walking anywhere.

"How was your practice, noona?" Jongin asks. He walks on the other side of Sehun, still harbouring a bit of unease despite dating Kyungsoon's best friend.

"It was good. I threw one of the new kids. Kinda deserved it," she justifies. The kid bragged a lot. Apparently, he started martial arts as a Kindergartener. Big whoop. It was obvious that he was not endearing himself to his classmates in the least, but being thrown flat on his back seems to have dislodged the stick up his butt. He actually complimented Kyungsoon and asked her to break down the technique.

"Boy or girl?" Sehun asks.

"Boy, why?"

Sehun shrugs. "It's just kind of scary. You're not much to look at—?!" He dodges the raised fist and pushes Jongin forward as a human shield. "See?! What kind of girl does that?"

Jongin just laughs. He knows Kyungsoon through Baekhee before he knew Sehun was a friend as well, and he's not as scared as he used to be. The girl's just...intense? She's actually really nice but tries to hide it. He caught the tail-end of a tirade when meeting up with Baekhee one afternoon, about how girls are supposed to be soft and meek and sweet but Kyungsoon just really wants to choke the misogyny out of the population but fuck men and their fucking wife-seeking expectations. Her fingers were actually clawed, and she breathed heavily for a few beats before Baekhee noticed Jongin and smiled. It took just a gentle touch to Kyungsoon's hip to draw her into a hug, and that seemed to do the trick. Jongin was able to approach without facing surrogate justice.

Kyungsoon scowls at Sehun's cowardly escape but lowers her fist, stuffing it into her hoodie pocket. "Not all girls are fragile dolls, Oh."

"Obviously, although I swear you're actually a boy who just likes wearing skirts." Kyungsoon really does punch him this time, catching his noodly bicep with a sharp jab.

She hates skirts. They're very comfortable, for the most part, and she'll wear them at home, but the assumptions and expectations put on a single article of clothing is just ridiculous.

Someone giggles, and Jongin pulls his phone from his back pocket.

"Is that your girlfriend's giggle?" Sehun judges loudly, rubbing his sore arm.

Jongin shrugs and shakes his head a little to hide behind his bangs. "It's cute," he mumbles.

Sehun scoffs and mumbles something sounding very close to "whipped." Kyungsoon thinks it's kind of adorable, but Baekhee is a serial texter. That one clip of her sweet giggle can get old really really fast. Apparently, love is deaf as well as blind.

They stop at a crosswalk. Sehun grabs the back of Jongin's shirt to keep him from walking into traffic, but the boy remains attached to his phone until they've crossed with a crowd of adults heading home or to bars for drinks after work. It's still bright out, but fall's starting to whisper through the city, bringing cooler air and browning leaves from the parks.

On the train, Sehun and Jongin automatically flank Kyungsoon. It's part of why they walk together. The working assumption is that a girl as small as Kyungsoon is an easy target for perverts, especially in her high school uniform. Personally, she thinks of it as the boys protecting whatever poor soul would dare try to take a picture up her skirt—she wears shorts, anyway, so joke's on them—or touch her, because she will fuck them up without mercy.

Kyungsoon keeps a loose grip on the metal pole. It's still kind of warm from previous commuters, and she tries not to think about where their hands have been. She rubs her itchy nose on her shoulder, eyes downcast. Over her shoulder, she sees brightly painted toenails peeking out of peep-toed heels; there's a backpack as well as purse by the woman's feet, so maybe she's a student. Keeping her head down, Kyungsoon stealthily looks up the young woman's long, long dark-denim legs and over her loose, silky-looking blouse. Long, dark brown hair is pulled over one shoulder and falls in pretty beach waves. She's looking at her phone, held in a slender-fingered hand that's maybe a bit too big to be considered very feminine, but the polish on the fingernails matches the toenails, which actually match the cream colour of her blouse. She's well put together and rather pretty, with a smile that shows off large teeth.

Kyungsoon shifts a little so her duffel bag hides her more.

"Noona?" Jongin leans over a little to see her face. "You okay?"

She nods. Her hair is long enough, now, to hide her pink ears and reddened cheeks. Thankfully, she's pretty sure she's easily overlooked in her hand-me-down hoodie that hangs nearly to her knees. "Yeah. There's just a pretty girl behind us." Jongin turns and looks, which is endearing and stupid, but subtlety isn't his strong point. He just hums.

"She is pretty." Not his type, but whatever. "Looks kind of tall, too."

"I don't think I'd want to date a girl taller than me," Sehun chimes in, breaking his sullen silence.

"So don't, if your ego can't handle it," Kyungsoon snaps waspishly. She doesn't care much about height. Being shorter than the average girl, anyone she dates will probably be taller than her, so there's no point.

"I don't think I'd mind," Jongin says. "Her height isn't as interesting as her personality or heart."

Kyungsoon reaches up and pats his hand. He's a good guy.

The speakers crackle, announcing their stop. The trio move as a unit and head to the surface. Jongin's texting again, so Sehun plays guide dog and only leads him into one deep crack in the sidewalk, but he puts his phone back in his pocket when they reach the crossroads they usually part at.

"You know, noona," Jongin says softly, "if it's something you're concerned about, I'm pretty sure Baekhee noona would help you."

She tilts her head, round eyes widened. Concerned about what? She's not concerned about anything. There's nothing to even be concerned about.

"Jongin!" Sehun sings like the pest he is. "C'mon!"

"Not-not that you're not cute, because you are!" He holds his hands up in front of him, as though anticipating an attack. "I just noticed that after seeing pretty women like the lady on the train that you get kind of quiet..." It's hard not to get quiet when she gets lost in the comparisons.

Sehun leans over and hooks his chin on Jongin's shoulder. "Do I need to tell Baekhee noona that you're flirting with her best friend, or can we go now?"

"You're such a pest, Sehun," Kyungsoon says, a blush heating her ears.

"Yeah, well, excuse me for wanting to be on time for our show. Re-runs will not do a live show justice."

The girl rolls her eyes but bids her friends goodbye. "I'll see you guys tomorrow."

"Seriously, noona. If it's important to you, Baekhee will help." Jongin lets himself be turned around and syncs his pace with Sehun's determined marching. Kyungsoon watches them until they've crossed the last street to their block, unaware of her automatic smile. She chews her lips, then, and heads home.

Her mom greets her with a smile and points to the leftovers on the stove. She's on the phone with her husband, working late at his restaurant. Kyungsoon drops her duffel and rolls up her sleeves to wash her hands in the kitchen sink; she takes the warmed food and sits at the kitchen table, idly eavesdropping and making faces when her mom gets gross with her husband.

It's only after she finishes eating, washes her bowls, and showers upstairs that she stares at her phone.

She could text Baekhee right now, or she could call. The older girl's always up late; she'd answer right away.

Kyungsoon looks at the full-length mirror on the back of her bedroom door. She looks tiny, dwarfed in the fluffy beige towel, and kind of pathetic with how her black hair hangs messily around her face. Her shoulders are narrow, even after a few years of judo, but her arms are curvy with muscle. She covers her arms with her hands, but they're too small to really hide anything.

Sighing, she unwraps her towel, pulls on clean underwear and pajamas, and covers her pillows with the towel. Reaching with her foot, she grabs the pull cord of her ceiling light between her toes and turns off the light.

She'll talk to Baekhee tomorrow. Probably.

The next morning, Kyungsoon meets Sehun and Jongin—practically asleep on his feet, as per usual—at the crossroads and head to school. They pass other students wearing the same uniform, and others, and wave at some familiar classmates and friends.

Jongin jumps when hands suddenly grab his sides. He hits Taemin, who just laughs and hooks an arm around his neck. "What did you think of the stage last night?" he asks, and it sets the three boys off on a discussion of whatever show Sehun wanted to be home in time for last night. Kyungsoon didn't watch it; she tunes them out and watches the feet of the students around her.

"Jungdae noona!" Sehun calls, and Kyungsoon freezes. Jongin looks sleepily curious, but he doesn't say anything when she zips behind him and hides.

She has a good reason. Over five and a half feet of good reason and possibly bad future choices. Wherever Jungdae goes, Chanmi's sure to follow. Or lead. They're very close. And they're super nice; they're friends with Baekhee through music classes as well as being in the same year, so Kyungsoon knows them both, as well. She likes them, in moderation. They're both smiley and friendly and out-going and pretty much adored by everyone but can get rather noisy, especially with Baekhee. Jungdae's a super talented singer and overall sweetheart; Chanmi is athletic and passionate and tall and effortlessly pretty and is basically sunshine in a human shell. And because she is like the sun, Kyungsoon wants to stay a few million miles away and live.

"Hi!" Jungdae chirps. Even standing behind Jongin, to whom Kyungsoon stands about eye-level with his shoulder blade, she can see Chanmi's bright smile and the twin braids hanging over her shoulders.

While everyone's distracted chatting about popular music and media, Kyungsoon takes refuge in a cluster of students heading into the building and slips around potential danger unnoticed.

She thinks so, anyway, but when she glances over her shoulder, she sees both Jongin and Sehun watching her. Putting a finger to her lips, she dodges a big upperclassman and just about runs to her homeroom.

For the first half of the day, Kyungsoon forces herself to pay attention in her classes. She takes meticulous notes, ignores the shuffling and breathing of the surrounding classmates, and only looks back at the wall clock when the teacher has left. With each passing hour, anticipation settles in her gut beside the anxiety she always carries.

Lunch time, she determines. I'll ask her during lunch.

Kyungsoon approaches Baekhee's desk almost shyly, hands folded before her and narrow shoulders bowed. "Unni...could you help me with something?"

Baekhee blinks twice, as if making sure she heard right. "Sure! What is it?" Kyungsoon rarely asks for help. With anything. Even advanced classwork, which Baekhee would never be able to help with, but it's an example of just how capable the girl is. to Baekhee, Kyunsoon is a darker, smaller version of Wonder Woman.

Looking left and right, Kyungsoon folded her skirt over her butt and crouched down, fingers holding Baekhee's desk. "If I tell you, promise you won't laugh."


"Promise, unni!"

Baekhee twists so she's fully facing her friend and nods solemnly. "I promise."

"Okay." Kyungsoon swallows. This shouldn't be this hard, but she blames her trepidation on the weight of Baekhee's stare. She isn't even blinking. "I kind of.... I really like someone, but I don't think they even notice me, because I'm not feminine enough." She shakes her head at Baekhun's confused head tilt and slaps a hand to her chest. "I'm not girly!" Her chin drops onto her hands, clutching the desktop. "They're really sweet and fashionable and always look good, and I just... don't." Her idea of 'getting ready' in the morning is brushing her teeth, washing her face, and maybe combing her hair. It's only recently she's tried growing it out and it barely tickles her chin and back of her neck—usually, she gets a cropped style that's easy to maintain and won't get in the way during practice. Honestly, it's annoying, because it's too short to be back in a ponytail unless she makes multiple little ones and uses a lot of bobby pins, so she's adopted the soft headbands she'd wear to keep her bangs off her face during practice.

Baekhee's eyes light up, and Kyungsoon gets ready for the delighted squeal that's building up in her friend's chest, but she simply bounces forward and grabs Kyungsoon's hands with a happy huff of a sigh. "Is it Chanmi?" She lowers her voice. "Tell me it's Chanmi. Ohhh my God," she sings. Kyungsoon can't get a word in edgewise and nervously looks around the room, but no one's paying attention to them. "I have been waiting for this day! I will teach you everything I know."

"And you won't tell anyone?"

Brown curls bouncing, Baekhyun nods solemnly. "Of course."

The liar.

At least it's only Jongin, Kyungsoon muses, but still. He is a person and falls under the 'anyone' Kungsoo didn't want to know, even if it was partly—mostly—his fault Kyungsoon had approached Baekhee in the first place. He seems just as awkward being there as Kyungsoon is, though, but it could just be his natural shyness.

When Baekhee had flounced into Kyungsoon's room that morning—Mrs Do has long since accepted Baekhee as her own—and pushed her into the shower and raided her closet, Kyungsoon just went with it. She drew the line at being dressed and having her arm manually moved back and forth to hurry her tooth brushing, however, and kicked Baekhee into the hall. Even so, the girl's surprised when Kyungsoon walks out of her room not five minutes later, ready to go.

It takes Baekhee much longer to feel remotely presentable. Art takes time.

In that time, Jongin took the bus to meet them at the mall, offering an apologetic smile to Kyungsoon when Baekhee looped her arm through his and declared that "Today will be a productive day, or so help me!"

They begin at a clothing store popular with the younger population as well as those wishing they were younger. Designer jeans and T-shirts mock Kyungsoon with their outrageous prices, and she forces Baekhee out and away from a rack of leather skirts, because there must be cheaper, just as fashionable stores. Kyungsoon's only out on an allowance. Baekhee actually gets a paycheck every two weeks and spoils Jongin, who's in the same boat as Kyungsoon.

Baekhee grudgingly leads the way to a few department stores her mom likes. They carry everything from washing machines to bed skirts to light-up sneakers and more, but Kyungsoon does actually leave with a couple bags of skirts, dresses, blouses, and other girly things she usually doesn't pay attention to.

They take a break for lunch. Baekhee and Jongin share their food, which is cute as well as surprising. Kyungsoon always saw Jongin as a bit of a bear when it came to food and sleep.

Jongin breaks away from the girls to browse a video game store, having no interest in a brightly-lit store exclusively for makeup and beauty products. Kyungsoon tries to follow along as the woman behind the counter goes over foundation, highlighter, primer, concealer, sponge versus brush, but she tunes the woman out and stares at the products under the counter.

Suddenly, she's being pushed onto a tall swivel chair. Baekhee has her phone out, grinning, and there's no warning. Kyungsoon's attacked by brushes and sponges and some kind of spray. Her head is forced still, but she really needs to sneeze and apologises profusely as the powder blows out of its little plastic container all over the woman trying to apply it to Kyungsoon's cheeks.

Baekhee uploads the video while Kyungsoon wipes the mess from her face and bows one final time.

"Could you help me, instead?" Kyungsoon asks as they leave. She bought a small compact mirror/concealer out of shame, but it has Luhan's smiling face on the cover, so it's not all shame. "I have no idea what she was saying."

"Of course!" Baekhee links their arms together. It pulls on Kyungsoon's shoulder. Her friend's wedge heeled boots elevate her almost a full head taller than Kyungsoon. "I'll link you to some of my earlier makeup videos. They're more the basic stuff."

Kyungsoon sighs, relieved, and raises her hand of bags when she sees Jongin walking towards them, carrying a plastic bag of books.

"More manga?" Baekhee asks, wrinkling her nose. "Don't you have enough?" She doesn't give him a chance to reply, hooking a finger in the top of the bag to peek inside. "Can I borrow them?" Jongin laughs and offers to carry Kyungsoon's bags.

"I'm fine. Thank you, though."

"Just let him, Soonie," Baekhee says. "It implies daintiness and delicateness."

"I think it implies weakness," Kyungsoon scoffs. "I'm perfectly capable carrying my own shit." Baekhee shrugs and tries to lead them into a lingerie store. Jongin speedwalks a few stores down; Kyungsoon grabs Baekhee's arm again and follows him. "I swear, shopping with you is like dealing with a three-year-old. No impulse control."

"Kyungsoon," the girl drawls, "I've been through your closet and dresser. Getting you new clothes will do nothing if you don't have the underwear to back it up. Trust me, a good bra can make or break a sheer blouse."

"I'll trust you on a few things but not that." She nudges Baekhee with her shoulder. "I'm getting tired, anyway. I still have practice tonight."

"About that... Have you ever considered quitting?"

That stops Kyungsoon in her tracks. A woman pushing a stroller scoffs and steers around her sharply. Quit judo?

She finds her voice, hiding in her lungs. "Why?"

Baekhee pulls her shoulder to her ear and shakes her head a little. "Just wondering." It's an inconceivable thing to Kyungsoon. She loves judo. It's thrilling to feel her muscles work and to prove that size does not matter. Baekhee's not done fucking with her mind, though. She bites at her fingers a little and quietly says, "I stopped hapkido for Jongin."



Once upon a time, Baekhee was just as passionate about throwing people around. In grade school, they were like the powerhouse girl couple that beat down the kids who picked on the others. Baekhee was really popular on the playground for how she could jump and flip in mid-air. She once said that performing flips and jumps felt like flying, because she found such a deep peace that it was like time slowed way down. Quiting was unexpected, but she said she just didn't have the time; she wanted to try new things.

It wasn't too long after that that she started dating Jongin, though.

"Unni... Baekhee."

She drops her hand to her side, smiling brightly. "But that was just me. You're not as shallow. It's one of the many things I love about you." She dances a few paces ahead, where Jongin's waiting, and takes Kyungsoon's free hand between both of hers. "Forget about it! Let's go look at shoes!"

Kyungsoon allows herself to be pulled along but watches Baekhee with a new perspective. The hand around hers is still the same warm hand with pretty fingers made for piano or curling around the microphone at karaoke, but the arm its attached to, and the body that houses the brain and heart...they're a little bit different. Skewed. When did Byun Baekhee let a boy change who she is? From going home nearly every day with a new bruise or scrape from jumping off the swings or falling off her skateboard or being thrown to the mats to a fashion-conscious young woman who spent more on makeup and shoes than food.

Maybe it's just the natural progression of things, Kyungsoon muses. She smiles as Baekhee nudges Jongin's arm with her head, rubbing into him and whining like a neglected puppy while he's trying to text Sehun and Taemin. Her neediness and hunger for attention, affection, and affirmation that she is worthwhile. Something about being in a relationship gives her that. More than Kyungsoon can.

The shoe store smells like leather and sweaty feet. Kyungsoon grimaces but follows Baekhee, even when she releases her hand and makes a beeline for a display of new heels. "Kyungsoon, we wear the same size, right?"

"I think so—"

"Great!" Baekhee starts rifling through boxes for their size, picking out styles that Kyungsoon can't even begin to describe. She ambles down the aisle, stopping to browse sneakers. The next time she looks up, Baekhee has disappeared and left Jongin awkwardly leaning against a column in the middle of the women's section.

Jongin settles his bag at his feet and crosses his arms. "Hey, noona..." Kyungsoon hums, checking sizes of a pair of black running shoes. "What are you trying to do?"

"What do you mean?" Her sneakers have seen better days. They're more dirt than white, now, but she can fix that with some baking soda, so she resists the impulse buy.

"Baekhee noona said you wanted to change how you look for someone. What if, like," he shrugs, bangs falling over his face, "they don't care? I-I mean, like, they already like you how you already are?"

Kyungsoon's considered it. Briefly. Chanmi's never made any disparaging remarks about her personality or anything, just pointing out that she's so short she's easily lost in a crowd. Stuff like that. Otherwise, it seems pretty neutral. No special reactions or anything. They're just friends. Kyungsoon shakes her head and puts the shoes back. "I don't think so. I mean, look at me." Her jeans are plain. They fit, but they're nothing remarkable like the ripped knees and thighs and dazzling embellishments that are in style. Her T-shirt is one from band camp a couple years ago, worn thin and soft. She tucked a couple barrettes in her hair to keep it off her face and hopefully out of the hinges of her glasses, which are plain black plastic frames.

Jongin frowns, a sort of considerately frustrated-and-or-confused pout, and looks ready to say something more when his girlfriend prances down the aisle with a stack of boxes.

"Okay," she says. "We'll start small." She situates the boxes on top of a low shelf and sets a pair of shoes at Kyungsoon's feet.

"This is small!?" Kyungsoon obediently sits on the thinly padded bench and tries them on. They fit well enough, but the heel is easily four inches long, and thin straps criss-cross over her feet and zip up the back..

"I don't think they suit you, noona," Jongin comments. He lifts the lids of the other boxes with a finger, doesn't look impressed, and meanders away, saying nothing more and leaving Kyungsoon to suffer alone.

"I agree..." She stands and immediately falls into Baekhee. "I think they're more your taste, unni." Gripping her forearms, she gets her feet under her and stands shakily. "I feel like I'm going to break my ankle."

Baekheen grabs her waist and pinches, making Kyungsoon jump. "Hips straight. Shoulders back. Tits out—"


"C'mon," Baekhee wheedles. "If you can walk in these, you can walk in anything."

"Sure, but then this should be a sign I can't, because I think I'm getting light-headed from being up so high." She carefully backs up and falls to the cushioned bench.

Baekhee rolls her eyes and takes the shoes as Kyungsoon takes them off and stretches her toes.

"How about the sling backs?"

Kyungsoon cautiously tries to walk and twists her ankle.


"There's practically nothing holding them on," Kyungsoon grumbles. "Just let me be barefoot."

"Quit whining and try the booties."

"Unni, these are really not my style." She ties the skinny laces and kicks her legs out in front of her. They really do not suit her at all. "You're just looking at what you can wear, because we're the same size."

"I," the girl emphasises with a hand over her chest, "am trying to get you to be adventurous. If you stick with your own 'style,' college jock chic, you won't stand out. You said you wanted to be more girly. These," she holds up a pair of peep-toe shoes with a floral pattern, "are girly. No self-respecting college jock would wear them unless he lost a bet."

Kyungsoon tries not to get mad, because Baekhee has a point. Kyungsoon does want to be girlier. More feminine. That shouldn't come at the cost of her personal safety, though. "I can't even walk in these."

"You'll learn. Trust me. We've got a couple weeks until your big debut at the recital."

Jongin returns just as Baekhee's trying to pull Kyungsoon to her feet, bearing a box of much more modest black, heeled Oxfords. With two older sisters, plus his mom, he's used to the ins and outs of women's shopping. He was bored stupid most of the time, but whenever someone asked for his opinion on this dress or these shoes or maybe those other shorts, Jongin answered honestly. It's obvious Kyungsoon is not used to shopping like this, and Baekhee's finding more and more outrageous shoes for the poor girl to try on.

He wordlessly passes the shoebox to Kyungsoon, not meeting Baekhee's eyes. He can imagine her wearing Oxfords, but he knows she would rather cut off her feet, first.

"These are cute!" Kyungsoon exclaims. She slips them on her feet, stands easily, and even manages to walk—with her arms out and Jongin catching her twice, but still walk. "I don't think I'm as likely to kill myself in these."

"I guess they're good enough to start with," Baekhee consents. She stacks up the discarded shoe boxes and hands them off to a waiting employee, who sighs but thanks her.

Kyungsoon continues to walk up and down the aisle, slowly finding her equilibrium and lowering her arms until she's walking automatically. "I think I could get used to this."

Baekhee beams proudly.

She can't get used to it.

At first, it's fine, well, and good. She's upright and walking, jogging a little to catch the train that evening, deciding to wear the heels if she has errands to run or practice to go to. She manages to sit and stand without falling over, and when Sehun tries to be a little shit and trip her, she hops over his foot and lands without breaking anyone's ankle. She's already making progress.

But by the end of the day, after a hard practice and seemingly-longer-than-usual train ride, her feet ache. Her mom's sympathetic—and curious, but Kyungsoon's not revealing the reason behind her newfound feminine interests—and provides lavender Epsom salts to soak her feet in. Mrs Do was young and foolish, once, and while she was young and foolish, platform shoes were in style. Chunky, heavy, and the taller the batter. She understands her child's pain. Her arthritis flares up even thinking about the young women somehow walking around in high heels without the heels.

Kyungsoon goes to bed each night that week with aching feet and legs and heart, because is this seriously worth it? There's no guarantee that even wearing heels and a skirt and mascara and carrying a purse will make her any more desirable as a girl or person. She sits up some nights at her desk, bent over homework but staring at her Luhan poster, wondering if her crush even likes girls, because wouldn't that be awful? She gets all dolled up, works up the balls to approach them, and is rejected because her balls are only metaphorical. In all their years of friendship, Kyungsoon can't recall Chanmi ever showing an interest in another girl. Nothing beyond a compliment to an outfit or new hairstyle. She never indulged their group of friends when they would get together and gossip about crushes and idols. She'd always divert attention.

Kind of like Kyungsoon did, before coming out to everyone. She told Baekhee first, and they both cried. Baekhee cried because she was so happy Kyungsoon felt comfortable enough to tell her and so bad for trying to point out guys Kyungsoon might like; Kyungsoon cried because she had been so relieved. The rest of their little group—Sehun, Jongin, Jungdae, and Chanmi—were cool with it, too. No crying. Chanmi did make some joke, though.

You don't have a secret lesbian crush on me, do you?

She denied it. In your dreams, Park. She'd had enough soul-bearing revelations. And in a week's time, she'd put on a dress and makeup, trade her glasses for contacts, mingle with the crowd while trying not to sprain her ankle, and tell Park Chanmi that she lied. Technically, I don't have a secret lesbian crush, because Baekhee knows, but I like you a lot. Please go out with me. It sounds a bit desperate, even in her head, but she's at that point where she just lays it down and goes with whatever happens. If Chanmi says yes, awesome. If she says no, not so awesome, but Kyungsoon can go a few rounds on the practice dummy and come out okay. She can handle rejection.

It'd just be really nice if she didn't have to.

But even if she does, Chanmi's not vicious. She's too nice and considerate. Maybe a poorly timed joke, but she won't just break Kyungsoon's heart and crush it to a fine powder.

When she starts following this thread of thought, she can't stop. It's like Alice following that damn rabbit. Just turn around and go home. Look at something else. Take a break. Relax. But, also like Alice, Kyungsoon gives herself very good advice; she very seldom follows it.

She rolls onto her back with a tired groan and fishes for her phone in the dark. Baekhee had sent a few links to her makeup videos, and Kyungsoon likes to watch them, because they put her to sleep. As video-Baekhee goes over the differences between liquid and powder concealer, Kyungsoon sighs, "It's tough being a girl."

Fate has to be a little bitch, then, because her guts lurch and twist in the telltale pain of monthly misery. "It sucks being a girl!"

The next morning, Kyungsoon cannot be arsed to even try. She pulls on her uniform and biggest, comfiest sweater he brother left behind when he went to college and stuffs her feet into her ratty old sneakers on the way out the door. Her mom makes her sit for a couple of hot tea, but she only passes over a packed lunch and doesn't force the girl to eat breakfast.

Jongin and Sehun catch on that something's wrong when they meet up with her. She scowls at the ground and hugs her backpack, straps over her shoulders kind of looking like a weird baby carrier. Jongin texts Baekhee, who swoops in and whisks Kyungsoon away once they reach school.

"What is this? What are you even wearing?" She picks at the sleeve of the sweater, jerking back when Kyungsoon swats at her. "You didn't even brush your hair!"

"Shut up. I don't want to be here."

Her friend's expression melts to sympathy. "That bad, huh?" Kyungsoon nods and whines into her folded arms. "Okay, I'll let you off the hook. One bad day, but tomorrow, you're going to wake up, drink some tea, brush your hair, and hide those awful panda eyes." She pulls a comb from the pocket of her skirt and gently untangles Kyungsoon's hair. It's nice. Kyungsoon could almost fall asleep like this, if her uterus would stop screaming about how its hard work to make a nice spot for a baby is going to waste.

Peace is lost, however, when Chanmi's big laugh crashes through the door. She follows, a cackling Jungdae right on her heels. "Hi, Baek!" Their smiles fall at the sight of Kyungsoon's miserable lump of a body at Baekhee's desk.

"Uh oh. Do you need anything?" Jungdae crouches beside the underclassman and rubs her back. "I have Midol, if you want." Kyungsoon's not big into pills; her mom is very into holistic healing, but sometimes drugs are just necessary. She nods and mumbles something that Jungdae takes to mean yes, please. When Jungdae goes to her desk, Chanmi takes her spot and crosses her arms by Kyungsoon's.

"At least it won't last," she says. Small comfort. "You can take a nap during lunch." Kyungsoon's too tired and grumpy to even blush when Chanmi pets her hair, and maybe she pets it longer than necessary, but it feels even nicer than Baekhee combing her hair, so she doesn't say anything.

The Midol helps. A few minutes before classes start, Kyungsoon heads to her own classroom and manages to sit through the lectures and quizzes and not cry. She naps at her desk after wolfing down her lunch, somehow makes it through the rest of school, and texts her judo instructor that she's feeling too sick to come in. If it's once in a blue moon, she justifies, no big deal. The first day is always roughest, so she can make her other practices.

Her own personal shark week swims by with few tears. They're mostly Sehun's, who doesn't take the hint and pushes Kyungsoon's buttons until she pushes back. With her fist. She manages to wear the heels and gain some confidence in her new balance.

And if she can walk in heels, even while cramping, she can confess to Park Chanmi.

She can't confess to Park Chanmi.

This is ridiculous. What was she even thinking?

That Sunday, six in the afternoon, Kyungsoon's sitting on her bed in her underwear and having a staring contest with herself in the mirror. It's just over an hour until the recital, and she promised the boys she would be there. It's a big deal for them; she wants to support them and see their routines that she's only heard about. But afterwards, when everyone's mingling and networking and eating those little hor d'oeuvres and never feeling full, she's supposed to find Chanmi.

Just because she's wearing a skirt and contacts, the girl's supposed to like her more? What kind of flawed logic is that? This is a terrible idea. It was from the start. Why didn't she see this?

Mrs Do knocks on her door. "Honey? You almost ready?" She could tell her mom she changed her mind. Or, she could just find something nice in her closet, something she didn't just buy because Baekhee piled it into her arms, and tell Baekhee that she's changed her mind.

"Yeah, Mom. I'll be down, soon." Facing her mother is easier than facing Baekhee. Her mother is actually forgiving.

She slips a dress over her arms and pulls it down. It falls off her shoulders until she zips the back. It's black, simple, just about reaches her knees and is set off with a simple white Peter Pan collar. She pulls on a pair of shorts from her brief career as a volleyball player, because she feels too naked, otherwise. No amount of friendly threats is going to change that.

Her contacts take a big longer to put in. She can't stop flinching. The familiar glasses sit in their rarely-used case and go to the bottom of her little black purse. Makeup is the longest, but she keeps it as simple as possible, mostly covering up the blemishes on her chin and at her hairline, which are mostly hidden by her bangs, anyway. The mascara brush still terrifies her, one too many pokes to the eye leaving smudges of black on her eyeball and scars on her soul. Eyeliner is a little less scary but no less forgiving, so even if its a bit uneven, it's not a huge mess, which Kyungsoon considers a success. She takes a moment to wonder at just how much bigger eyes looked, and she has round, wide eyes to begin with. Maybe if she holds her head a certain way, they'll look more doe-eyed and less terrified-rabbit.

Mrs Do has to fuss over her daughter for a little bit, not hiding her delighted smile. "You look so pretty, Kyunsoon," she croons, smoothing the girl's hair. "You should dress like this more often." Kyungsoon just smiles, laces up her shoes, grabs a jacket, and promises not to stay out too late but to at least text if she does.

It feels like everyone's staring at her on the way to the studio. Her legs feel more exposed than usual, and she grabs the first available seat on the train, folding her jacket over her lap. She ignores the looks she does catch in the window reflections, texting her friends that she's on her way and wishes the boys good luck, since she won't see them before their routines.

Getting off the train is like a clear breath of air. She breathes easier the closer she gets to the studio, although her heart is beating harder, as though she'd run the whole way rather than taking the train.

There's a different door to get to the big ballroom set up for recitals and rehearsals, on the front of the building. Kyungsoon rarely uses it, since her judo classes are right next to the side door. Baekhee's waiting for her, biting at her fingers and staring at her phone. She notices Kyungsoon and smiles, big and bright. Her makeup is heavier than usual, all smoky eyes and sharp eyeliner than give a fiercer look to her puppy eyes. "Well, don't you look nice!"

"My legs are cold." Kyungsoon accepts the hug and feels Baekhee's laughter.

"You'll live. C'mon. The dancers are all backstage, already, but Jungdae's saving us seats." She glances at a wall clock and suddenly takes Kyungsoon's wrist to run down the hall. Kyungsoon trots after her, leaning back to keep her balance.

"Unni!? What're you doing? I can't go that fast!"

They enter the women's bathroom; Baekhee checks each stall before bolting the door and shrugging off her jacket. "Trade with me," she says breathlessly.


"Your clothes! Switch!"

"Unni...I don't think your outfit suits me." She eyes the studs warily.

"Just do it! Trust me. We've been too conservative. You're super cute—everyone knows that—but we need to make it so Chanmi can't take her eyes off you and wants to put hands on you. This Wednesday Addams getup is cute but not doing that." Baekhee takes both of Kyungsoon's hands. "Trust me?"

Kyungsoon nods, resigned, and moves to a stall.

"What're you doing? The door's locked." Baekhee's dress falls around her ankles, and she swats at Kyungsoon. "Don't tell me you're shy! We have no time for that!"

Kyungsoon whines softly but unzips her dress. She notices Baekhee's critical gaze and self-consciously crosses her arms. "Not that."

"Why not? Like I said before, the bra can make the outfit. We're about the same size."

"No, we are not." She dodges Baekhee's grabby hands.

"You sure? They look about right." She cups a hand over her breast. "Although Jongin's hands would be a more accurate measurement—"

"No!" Kyungsoon shrieks. She throws her clothes at Baekhee, kicks off her shoes, and dashes to the handicap stall with Baekhee's dress and jacket.

It takes a minute to figure out the straps and cutouts of the dress, but she gets it on and is grateful for the jacket. She rarely wears sleeveless, and the dress only reaches mid-thigh. Her legs have goosebumps. So much for shaving.

"Kyungsoon," Baekhee calls. "You done? May I see?" She's deceptvely polite. Kyungsoon slaps her palm on the door. Baekhee jumps and laughs. "Come out so I can do your hair!"

"You're changing my hair, too?" Kyungsoon asks miserably.

"Agh, what're you doing!?" Baekhee unbuttons the jacket and pushes it back. The dress plunges, black material and bra blending neatly. "Very nice! Come by the sinks. I'll just keep it simple." She takes a couple pins from her purse and pins some hair back from Kyungsoon's face and lets the rest hang. "Just like that. Your makeup's good—nice job, seriously. Are your eyes bothering you at all?"

"Only because I see you."

Baekhee ignores her and sets her heeled boots at Kyungsoon's feet. "Okay. Up you go!"

"...I don't think I can."

"Sure you can!" She grabs the girl by the shoulders. "You have worked too hard to give up, now, and I refuse to see my dress with your shoes, so just put these on." She nudges the ankle boots closer and promises, "I won't let you fall."

"Alright." Time to take the bull by the horns. Put herself out there. "If you let me fall and break my ankle, I'm coming after you, though."

Baekhee ignores the threat and kisses Kyungsoon's cheek, igniting a blush. "You're beautiful, Kyungsoon. You always have been. If Chanmi doesn't fall head over heels, she's dead or blind." She beams and offers Kyungsoon her arm.

Practicing really did help. After a few steps, Kyungsoon finds her balance again and doesn't need to cling to her friend's arm. She still does, though, because she'll fidget, otherwise.

The ballroom is brightly lit for the time being, rows of chairs set up facing a low stage. Big doors stand open to allow the crowd of spectators to mingle and come and go freely, tiny plates of tiny food and drinks in hand. Jungdae's talking to someone Kyungsoon's only seen in photos, an upperclassman named Yixing who graduated when Baekhee, Jungdae, and Chanmi were freshman. She looks completely taken in with whatever he's saying, but she catches Baekhee's wave and smiles.

"I am going to see what Jungdae's talking about." Baekhee's a nosy little cuss. "How about you...go mingle?"

Kyungsoon's heart slams against her ribs. "By myself?"

"I was thinking with that tall drink of something special awkwardly standing by the food." Baekhee quickly spins away with a "Ta!" over her shoulder, abandoning Kyungsoon in the middle of the room. Some friend.

She looks towards the collection of food and picks out Chanmi standing awkwardly. Her shoulders are tight, as is her smile, and it just looks wrong on her. Some kid Kyungsoon doesn't know is chatting animatedly, blocking Chanmi's escape, and the girl is too polite to just brush him off.

There's a strange notion in her head that's saying Chanmi's like a damsel, and Kyungsoon is the knight who can save her from dying on her feet from boredom. She whips through the throng, heels clicking smartly, and taps the boy's shoulder. "Ms Kim asked to see you." Ms Kim is the organiser of the whole event; it's as good a lie as any, and she doesn't want to be mean to the kid. He looks surprised, put out, and nervous, but he follows Kyungsoon's vague gesture toward the doors after a brief goodbye to Chanmi.

She watches him go and becomes increasingly aware of eyes on her back. Ears aflame, she faces the sun, fidgeting with the hem of Baekhee's dress. "You didn't look too happy to talk to him. Sorry."

"No! God, no, thank you. He's in my music class, friends with a lot of the dancers here, and he's really nice, but he's just kind of...awkward? He's sweet, but he's just...." She sighs. "Yeah." Kyungsoon nods, chews her bottom lip, and nods again.

At least now they can be awkward together.

"You look really pretty." Kyungsoon stares at Chanmi, wide-eyed. Definitenly more terrified bunny. The girl grins and rubs the back of her neck, scanning Kyungsoon up and down. They both blush. "I like your hair like this. Where are your glasses?"

"Purse." She's losing her ability to word. Language is too advanced for her brain, because Chanmi just called her pretty. "I like your suit." Chanmi is unfairly beautiful and downright ethereal in a suit. Black on black with a scarlet tie and matching pocket square and heels. A girl her height wearing heels and owning the look. Even her hair, pulled back in a low ponytail, suggests elegance. Kyungsoon feels positively tiny, but it's a nice sort of tiny, like sitting under a shady tree.

"Yeah? I wanted to do something different, but my mom was really against it." She pitches her voice higher to mimic her mom. "You'd be such a beautiful girl, Chanmi, if you dressed like it."

Huh. Sounds like Kyungsoon's mom.

"As much as I like skirts, I think they look weird on me." She smooths her hands down the thighs of her pants. "And I actually really liked this."

"It suits you," Kyungsoon compliments warmly. She's looking at her feet and wishes she'd painted her toenails. She misses the deep red of Chanmi's ears.

They stand near the food together, avoiding everyone else and kind of just soaking up the other's presence. It's not really loud in the ballroom to begin with, but it all sounds like a murmur to the girls. Like they're in a bubble apart from everyone else. It's nice. Kyungsoon's heart isn't abusing itself anymore, but it's fluttering like it's going to take flight at any loud noise.

A string of words suddenly leave Chanmi's mouth, and she blushes at Kyungsoon's wide-eyed surprise. "Sorry. Nervous." She has nothing to be nervous about. If anyone should be nervous, it's Kyungsoon, because she's had a crush on her friend for so long, and a confession is right there, on the tip of her tongue. "I said that if you don't have anything else to do after the show, or whatever, maybe we could hang out?"

"Oh." It's no scenario she ever dreamed of, but she didn't think she'd be so completely unprepared and say oh like a monosyllabic idiot. "Sure. That sounds nice. Baekhee's abandoned me, anyway." She tosses a glare into the crowd, but her friend is blissfully unaware or blissfully ignoring her.

"I know how that is," Chanmi commiserates. "Jungdae dropped me pretty much when we stepped in the door. She's had a crush on Yixing oppa since forever, but I think she's actually here to cheer on Sehun. Has a thing for dancers, I guess."

"You're kidding." Kyungsoon pities the soul that tries to date Sehun. He's a complete brat. "Is she looking to adopt him, because I don't think he knows what flirting even is...?"

Chanmi shrugs, eyes wide and beautiful. "I have no idea. I honestly thought she liked girls—" She seems to almost choke on her words, turning to Kyungsoon fast with her hands raised. "Not that that's a bad thing! I-I-I don't have anything against girls who like girls, because girls are great. I just meant that Jungdae kind of acts like a lesbian a lot, so being interested in a boy is unusual." She rubs the back of her neck. Kyungsoon thinks she may be blushing under her makeup, because her ears are positively burning.

"It's okay. I get it. I think girls are pretty great, too."

That catches Chanmi's attention. She blinks, rubs her neck once more, and braids her fingers together. "I don't mean to be nosy or anything, but does that, are you.." She groans, frustrated with herself. "Do you like girls who like girls like boys do?"

Kyungsoon smiles at the floor. "I don't have the greatest opinion of myself, but since I am one of those girls, yeah." She jumps at Chanmi's excited Really!? and looks around the room, but only a handful of people are casting annoyed looks their way, and Chanmi quickly calms herself. She's biting her lips and playing with her fingers again.

"This is kind of backwards, and I'm sorry I'm so awkward, but I had to find out before I totally crashed and burned after asking you out out of nowhere."

The noise in the room dulls to a buzz, white noise that is unassuming and makes everything Chanmi says and does all the louder. She's certain she heard what she thinks she heard, but it's like it's taking a long time to make it from her ears to her brain to be processed and understood.

"What?" she asks eloquently.

Chanmi sheepishly pulls her shoulders up to her ears. Kyungsoon wants to point out that she's wrinkling her jacket. "I've had a crush on you for a while, now, and I've wanted to ask you on a date, but I didn't know if you'd be interested or even open to it, because you're always, like, super cool and kind of aloof, and I was so freakin' excited when you told us you liked girls, but that didn't mean you'd like me—okay, I'm honestly so scared like now, please blink or something—" Kyungsoon blinks stupidly. She can't keep up with this girl, but she's cute while she's rambling. "Baekhee kind of told me that I was on my own, but she supported me? Or something?" Baekhee would giggle whenever Chanmi would sigh, saying something like Kyungsoon?, which would set off a tirade of how she's so freakin' cute! I want to pick her up and keep her in my pocket forever and feed her amazing food and take care of her... but Baekhee never revealed anything substantial, like Yes, Do Kyungsoon is not only gay, but she has a giant lesbian crush on you.

Some friend.

Kyungsoon loves her, though.

When the older girl lapses into silence, Kyungsoon frowns a little and cocks her head. Her hair falls over her shoulder and against her neck. She's getting used to it and actually kind of like how soft and feathery it feels on her skin.

Chanmi makes a weird grunting sound in her throat. "God, you're so cute."

"Just call me Kyungsoon." Ugh. Dad jokes? Why is she so lame?

Chanmi throws her head back and laughs, boisterous and bright. Nerves break it into a string of giggles, but she finally wipes the tears from her eye and pushes off the wall to face Kyungsoon directly. "Kyungsoon, would you go out with me? Maybe catch a movie, eat some real food?"

She could scream. It's gotta be a dream, but dreams wouldn't make her suffer in high heels. "Now?"

"Well, no, like, after the recital, but," she offers her hand, and Kyungsoon takes it delicately, but when long, warm fingers curl around her hand, she gives it a squeeze, "Joonmyun oppa should be working tonight. We can see any movie super cheap."

"Okay. That sounds nice."

"Really?" Chanmi perks up like a dog that's heard treat?.

Kyungsoon smiles. "Yes. I'd love to go out with you. I've had a crush on you for a long time, too."

They just stare at each other for a while. All of a sudden, Chanmi's eyes are glassy, and she covers her mouth with her hands. Kyungsoon pulls a tiny package of tissues from her purse and ignores the weird looks they're getting, carefully rubbing Chanmi's arm. The older girl takes the tissue but crumples it in her fist.

"Sorry," she apologises. Her shoulders shake, and Kyungsoon wonders if they should migrate to the restroom. Chanmi's breath hitches, and then she's laughing and pulling Kyungsoon into a hug. She's so tall Kyungsoon's face is mostly mashed into her boobs, but it's not such a bad place to be. If she turns her head, she can breathe and hear the fast pounding of Chanmi's heart. "I'm just really happy."

Kyungsoon's lips twitch up into a small smile. She's content, now. It's not a dream. Chanmi likes her, too, even without the heels and makeup. "Me, too."

Twisted in her seat, Baekhee sighs at her friends hugging by the table of food. It's kind of romantic, she thinks with a happy sigh. "My baby's all grown up."

"It's about time," Jungdae adds. "If I had to listen to Chanmi mooning over Kyungsoon's adorable eyes or tiny hands or anything one more time... I would've asked her out, just to shut Chanmi up."

Baekhee faces forward again and loops her arm with Jungdae's. "We're such good friends. They totally owe us."

"Let the honeymoon phase last a little bit, then we can torture them." Yixing's brow creases in concern, but the girls just cackle and laugh.

They're happy for their friends.

It's been a long time coming.