Toujours Belle XIV

Taeyeon thought it was the best morning of her life. Waking up with Tiffany in her arms, Taeyeon inhaled and pulled the brunette closer.

“Morning,” Taeyeon whispered and Tiffany wrapped her arms tighter around the slender waist.

“Do you want breakfast?”

“Yes please,” Tiffany mumbled against her neck and snuggled closer.

“What about pancakes?”

“Pancakes?” Tiffany asked with her eyes still closed and a lazy smile stretched on her lips “Pancakes.”

Taeyeon laughed and nudged her nose against the drowsy brunette affectionately. She untangled herself from the blankets and limbs, slide her cold feet into a pair of home slippers and slipped out of the bedroom. Taeyeon hummed a little tune all the way to Tiffany’s kitchen.

Taeyeon was removing the last pancake from the pan when a pair of arms snaked around her waist. She let out a cry in surprise.

“Don’t do that,” she said in mock anger, “Take this out.”

“Yes dear,” Tiffany teased in a sing-song voice.

Taeyeon found herself observing the beautiful woman before her throughout the whole morning. Tiffany grinned at her and doused the pancakes with a generous portion of maple syrup. Taeyeon watched Tiffany devoured the stacked of pancakes in awe.

“Can you take a day off today?” Taeyeon broke the silence. Tiffany nosily smacked her lips and grinned, satisfied.

“I can do that,” she said. Taeyeon nodded.

“Why? Are you asking me out on a date?” Tiffany teased.

“Yes. Can I?” Taeyeon stated matter-of-a-factly and Tiffany blushed.

“Yes. Okay. Date. Yes. Wait, where are we going?”

“Where do you want to go?” Taeyeon sipped on her cup of coffee, hiding her own red cheeks. Tiffany thought hard.
“Everland.”

“Everland it is.” Taeyeon flashed a rueful smile.

//////////

“Taeyeon unnie,” she greeted with her with a polite bow.

“Juhyun,” Taeyeon reciprocated and handed her a cup of coffee she held in her hand.

“Thank you for all your help,” Taeyeon started walking with Juhyun beside her.

“I didn’t do much unnie, I just looked after that troublesome girl.”

“That is a whole lot to handle.”

“Well, I guess I can’t argue with that.” They laughed.

“You look great, unnie.”

“I guess I do,” Taeyeon chuckled. “I learn to open my heart again and I quit smoking.”

“That’s good to hear,” Juhyun said honestly, “I’m happy for you.” They walked in silence.

“Have you settled everything?”

“I have, more or less.”

“You…” Juhyun paused. “You won’t be telling her?”

“That’s when you step into the picture again, Juhyun.” Taeyeon reached into her bag to pull out a book.

“Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince?”

“She said it is her favorite book.” Taeyeon smiled fondly.

“What a liar,” Juhyun chuckled, “I’ve never seen her pick up a book.”

Taeyeon laughed.

“Make sure she is okay.”

“I will, don’t worry. You take care too.” Juhyun said, shaking Taeyeon’s hand.

“Sorry for causing you inconvenience again,” Taeyeon gratefully said, “and thank you.”

//////////

“Halmoni, tteokbokki please.” The ahjumma stared at her with a unreadable expression. She scooped a plate full with the red spicy snack and carefully selected a few fried fritters to complete the pile. Taeyeon chuckled to see her plate threatening to spill, overwhelming with delicious delicacies as usual.

“Halmoni, tteokbokki for me too,” Taeyeon smiled at the blonde beside her and immediately burst into chortles when the ahjumma started mumbling unpleasant comments about the two ladies under her breath. The blonde giggled.

“Stop laughing and eat!”

“Yes Halmoni,” The blonde and Taeyeon mockingly replied, sending another wave of uncontrolled laughter in the air.

“Are you ready?”

“I think so,” Taeyeon’s mumbled with a mouthful of rice cake, chewing unceasingly. “Not now, then when?”

“I’m happy for you.”

“I’m happy too.” Taeyeon replied. “And grateful for you and Halmoni.”

The blonde shook her head in reply. Taeyeon poked at the fried fishcake and generously coated it with the red concoction.

“Yoong,” Taeyeon said with a tearful smile. “Thank you, thank you for everything you have done for me.”

“I think it’s time I call you unnie,” Yoona said with a small laugh. “Omma wants to adopt you into the family.”

The ahjumma waved her hand to brushed it off and Taeyeon saw that she too, had tears in her eyes.

“Call me anytime, Taeyeon unnie.” Yoona said tearfully. “It may be far, but we will help in any ways that we can. We are a family now.”

“Thank you,” Taeyeon sniffed. Yoona gave Taeyeon a hug and gently pat her on the back soothingly.

“You are a good person, Taeyeon unnie. You deserve much more but it is only this much we can do. The rest is up to you.”

Taeyeon buried her face in Yoona’s hair as she tightened her grip. She gained more than care and love- she found a family.

//////////

Taeyeon placed the lids on the remaining vials and boxed it. That was the last of her belongings. She straightened up, groaning as her back protested with a loud crack.

The brunette strolled along the small confines of her little bookstore. The shelves that were once breaming with books were now bare and they creak when Taeyeon leaned against it, as though sharing her sentiments.

Taeyeon missed running her fingers down the dog eared pages, the rusty bell hanging by the door, the smell of coffee and tobacco.

Taeyeon dearly ached to sit on the chair with a novel, letting the warmth of the day caress her face through the little window and wait for the door to chime.

Taeyeon’s gaze was averted to the little stool with chipped legs and rough finishing that was chucked at a corner. Taeyeon laughed a little at how lonely it looked. She spent the afternoon in the shop, reminiscing the little dents, stains and flaws on every nook and cranny before deciding it’s time to leave.

There was hesitation as Taeyeon took a step out of the comfortable space. Taeyeon carefully inserted the key and locked it with a click. Reluctantly, she flattened her palm on the wooden door.

“Farewell,” Taeyeon bid the life she had lived till now an ending. “And thank you for being my home.”

“I’ll learn to live better now.”

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