It takes awhile to get used to Jiyong.
matters of habit
What would happen if I came real clean
When every girl before has fled the scene
I guess we’ll wait and see.
Matt Wertz; The Way I Feel
It took Chaerin awhile to get used to Jiyong’s sharing nature at first, but a year into their friendship she’s no longer wondering where her newly bought ear muffs disappeared to (or her favourite cross necklace, or her old pair of checkered socks). There are a lot of things that she trades with Jiyong – her neon pink headbands for his studded belt, his slim fit blazer for her leather wrist cuffs. Her own dresser is filled with Jiyong’s trinkets – the strawberry ring he gave her, his lemon-flavoured lipgloss, half his collection of colourful, sometimes glittery hairpins. Though those hairpins could be as much hers as they are his; she doesn’t even remember which of the things she owns are hers to begin with.
They take coffee breaks in between recordings if time allows for it, the 2NE1 leader often craving caffeine for late nights. She closes her eyes and breathes into the aroma of her coffee as she waits, the Starbucks cup warm in her hand. Jiyong exits the café a few minutes later with his own cup, eyes crinkling as his shoulder brushes against hers. The warmth of his presence by her side is a comfort for the late autumn evening, and he does look comfortable – loose tank, ripped jeans and his favourite pair of Louis Vuitton shoes. His jacket is surprisingly unstylish, frayed at the ends and a little too loose on his gangly frame, but Jiyong carries it off with confidence, effortlessly chic even in the faded fleece. Chaerin follows him and holds on tightly to her cup, savouring the heat in the tremble of her fingers. It’s only when they turn the corner at the end of the block that Jiyong stops, and Chaerin almost collides into his back.
“Oppa,” she says irritably.
Jiyong drops his Starbucks cup into a trashcan, glancing over at Chaerin as he removes his old fleece jacket. Chaerin raises an eyebrow when Jiyong pulls it over her shoulders, the jacket still warm from Jiyong’s own body. It smells of old laundry and a tint of his cologne, mixed with what seemed almost like her own fruity perfume. How odd, she thinks, taking an unconscious whiff of the soft fabric. Has she borrowed this from Jiyong before?
“Don’t want you to catch a cold,” Jiyong says, and his smile is wide as always. “Better?”
Better. Chaerin nods her thanks, and they continue to walk, shoes shuffling along the gray pavement towards the recording studios where they’d both been working on a collaboration on his new solo album. They have a few more verses to the song, Chaerin thinks absently, rubbing her thumb against the softness of the jacket, and the sensation is familiar somehow. The realization only hits her when they turn another corner and stop at the traffic light; that is when she blurts, somewhat abruptly - “this is mine.”
Jiyong cranes his neck and looks at her, a slight puzzlement flickering across his features. “What?”
“This is mine,” Chaerin repeats, tugging gently at the sleeve of the too-large fleece jacket.
A beat. Jiyong blinks at her, slightly open-mouthed, then the confusion fades from his eyes and he’s kind of smiling once more.
“No,” he corrects slowly. “It’s mine.”
Chaerin stares back at him. Jiyong throws back his head and laughs, as if there’s a joke he finds hilarious that she’s not quite getting. Her fingers tighten against the warmth of her Starbucks cup, and she’s annoyed, to be honest, at how lightly he’s taking this. Not that the subject of the fleece jacket is that important, really, but this is a matter of principle.
…At least it is, to Chaerin. Jiyong had no reason to lie.
“You borrowed it,” she insists, her stubbornness refusing to be pacified by his simple argument. “Some time ago. Why didn’t you return it to me?” It’s a stupid question, in retrospect, because since when do they talk about returning the things they take from each other? But Jiyong steps closer to her and Chaerin’s thoughts come to a halt when she feels his breath tickle her cheek.
Funny, she thinks, the way he hardly ever stops smiling.
“Wrong again,” he says seriously, but she sees the amusement in his eyes, as warm as she’s starting to feel in his – her – fleece jacket. “I lent it to you a moment ago. Remember?”
The traffic lights switch from green to yellow to red. The green man flashes at them, and Jiyong throws her a roguish grin, stuffing his hands into his pockets and moving to cross the road.
It’s hers. Chaerin is thinking this even as she trails after him; she can smell the dull of her perfume within the jacket, lingering in the strains of Jiyong’s own unique scent. This is ridiculous, she tells herself. It isn’t even a men’s jacket (the tag says F21, doesn’t it? Jiyong doesn’t even like F21). How is this any argument? Jiyong turns his head then, and Chaerin almost walks right into him a second time. He only grins at this.
“I want it back,” he chirps. “Just so you know.”
Chaerin gives him a disbelieving look, but he’s off on his own again, feet light against the pavement and is he skipping? she thinks incredulously. “I don’t care-eh-eh-eh-eh-eh,” he hums, and she watches him as he leans back ever so slightly, stretching his arms out as if to reach into the night sky.
Oh, what the hell.
“Fine,” she snaps. Only because there’s no way of ever talking around Jiyong when he’s being infuriating like this (he’s smiling, smiling too much, the way he does with too much caffeine or too good music). “Then surely I get to borrow this whenever I want.”
She catches his little smirk as he slows down to fall into step beside her. “Of course,” Jiyong says, and she almost wants to smack the feigned innocence out of his expression. “What’s mine is yours, don’t you know?”
Unbelievable, Chaerin thinks in a huff. Jiyong steals the coffee cup from her (“What’s yours is mine, too”) and takes her hand in his, the previous warmth of the coffee cup now spreading into the very end of her fingertips. His clasp is gentle and firm against her own, and Chaerin feels the heat rise in her cheeks.
“Don’t push it,” she mutters, but Jiyong’s hopeful gaze meets hers and she can hardly fight the pull at the corners of her lips.
She wonders how long it will take her (this time) to get used to her hand in his, his smile pressed into her shoulder.