Those Nights Held Dear in Our Hearts

August 5, 2014 in moonrise31, oneshots by moonrise31

Inspired by Sunny’s radio lament that she had to eat alone on her birthday. While the following oneshot is pure fiction, here’s hoping that the concept behind it is anything but.

Happy seventh anniversary, Girls’ Generation. My OT9 heart continues beating because of you.

The clock struck midnight. It wasn’t a loud affair, though, because they didn’t have one of those huge grandfather ones, or even one with an electric buzzer. Really, Sunny only noticed because she was sitting at the kitchen table, facing the very silent clock on the wall as its hands ticked to twelve, her fingers wrapped around her empty mug—still warm from the coffee she’d just ingested.

“Hey, Prince,” Sunny cooed as the dog padded into the kitchen, nails clacking against the linoleum. “Come to wish me a happy birthday?” She scooped him up and wrinkled her nose when he licked it. “Well, you’re the first.”

She glanced at her phone then, but the screen stayed dark. She shrugged and scratched Prince behind the ear before setting him down again. I can’t expect them to be right on time, after all.

Sunny exhaled as she grabbed her phone—still silent, of course—and then shuffled out of the kitchen and into the living room. She plopped onto the couch and felt around in the dark for the remote. Her fingers finally found the power button, and a moment later the TV screen flickered to life, casting the room in an almost fluorescent glow.

Midnight television was never the most entertaining, unless you counted the stupidly mundane sort of funny. Sunny figured she wouldn’t have to watch more than an hour, though, before the rest of her members came barging through the door to fill the dorm with the bustle she had been missing ever since the majority of the girls had moved out. Because even with Taeyeon and Tiffany consistently living with her, they didn’t cross paths as often as she had imagined they would. Take tonight, for example.

At least birthdays gave them an excuse to gather just for the sake of being together, and not because of a schedule or concert appearance. It’s been a while, Sunny thought wistfully. Nearly a month since Sica’s birthday, and even with all that time, it doesn’t seem like we’ve had that much just to ourselves.

Her lips curved into a faint smile as she diverted her attention from the television screen to glance down at her phone. The corners of her mouth abruptly turned downward when she saw the time.

1:30

And her messages stayed empty.

Prince padded up to her then, sniffing at her bare feet.

She bent down to pick him up. “No more food for you, okay? Time for bed.” She shuffled into Tiffany’s bedroom, Prince’s dog bed nestled in one corner. “Goodnight,” she whispered as she set him down.

Prince wagged his tail, turning around three times before settling into the cushions. Sunny tiptoed out of the room, quietly closing the door behind her. Then she headed back towards the TV and its mindless late night (or rather, early morning) programs.

As bored as she was, the next time she dared check her phone, it was nearing 3 AM. She hadn’t realized another hour and a half had gone by, but perhaps not looking at her inbox devoid of texts—not even one from Sooyoung complaining about how hungry she was, or from Hyoyeon asking if any of them were up for some clubbing tonight, since everyone was busy the night before, and all other nights that week—yes, not looking was much easier than having to accept that no one had seemed to remember what day today was. Something inside her chest twinged. No, they can’t have forgotten. They’re just busy, I’m sure. All eight of them…somehow.

But it was nearing “late”, even by Girls’ Generation standards. So she really couldn’t help it when her eyelids started to droop, the drone of the show she was watching luring her to sleep.

Sunny was so tired that the quiet buzzing of her phone failed to wake her. So instead, Hyoyeon’s message flashed across the screen once before the display darkened again.

[3:06] Shoot, we’re late

[3:07] Unnie, wrong chat!

Hyoyeon blinked as Seohyun’s text popped up. She smacked her forehead, cursing the fact that she couldn’t delete what she’d already sent. “I knew I’d get confused between chats. We should’ve named them different things, like, ‘This one doesn’t have Sunny in it. Type here!’ and ‘This one has Sunny. Don’t say anything stupid’.”

“I think you have to change it yourself, unnie,” Yoona informed her, amused. “It doesn’t change it for everyone in the group.”

“Don’t worry about it,” Jessica said, buckling her seat belt before placing her hands on the steering wheel. “What’s done is done. Sunny should be sleeping, anyway.”

“You don’t think unnie will be too sad, right?” Yoona leaned forward from her spot in the backseat. “I mean, we’ve missed wishing her a happy birthday by more than three hours.”

“She’ll be fine,” Hyoyeon scoffed, glancing out of the passenger-side window. “That is, if Sica actually gets us there on time. You sure you don’t want me to drive?”

“I’d rather our birthday present to her not be us getting arrested,” Jessica deadpanned. “And just because I don’t speed doesn’t mean I drive slowly.”

“Sure it doesn’t,” Hyoyeon muttered.

Jessica stuck out her tongue as she turned the key in the ignition, starting the car. “We’re late already, anyway. The five minutes I could shave off by speeding won’t do much.”

“Besides, Hyoyeon-unnie, if you hadn’t messed up the cake order, we wouldn’t be rushing so much now,” Yoona pointed out. She carefully patted the large white pastry box sitting on her lap.

“I thought Seohyun had it!” Hyoyeon protested. “Figures that the one time maknae doesn’t have things sorted out, of course I get the blame.”

“No one’s blaming you,” Jessica retorted as she turned onto a deserted street. “Soo’s late ’cause of that DOUBLE-M thing, and Seohyun’s still at the university. Taeyeon, Fany, and Yuri had to go and grab food because none of us had the time until tonight. It’s just our bad luck that we really should’ve been punctual this once.”

Yoona scrolled idly through the messages on her phone. “Maybe we should’ve at least texted Sunny-unnie? So she knows we didn’t forget her or anything.”

“That’d ruin the surprise though.” Hyoyeon grinned, rubbing her hands together. “Just think of this as a hidden camera.”

Jessica shook her head. “She is so gonna kill us all.”

“Maybe she’ll kill you unnies,” Yoona piped up. “But I have the cake. She won’t be able to resist the cake.”

“Hey, who finally got around to ordering the cake?” Hyoyeon demanded. “If anyone’s going down for this, it’s not gonna be me.”

Unnie,” Yoona whined, her pitch getting dangerously high.

Jessica groaned and resisted the urge to hit her head against the steering wheel. This was going to be a long night.

“I really don’t see why maknae always goes to Dongguk at such weird hours,” Yuri complained. “Can’t she study at home or something?”

“I think she finds it more productive on campus,” Taeyeon suggested as she turned onto the side street leading to Dongguk University’s entrance. “And she didn’t have time during regular hours of the day. It’s not like we would’ve been ready any earlier, in either case. Did you text her, Fany?”

“Yup.” Tiffany rolled down the window and stuck an arm out to wave. “Hey, Seohyun! Over here.”

“Hello, unnies,” Seohyun panted as she slipped into the back, next to Yuri. “Are we ready to go?”

“Yeah, we got the food, Yoona has the cake,” Tiffany checked each item off on her fingers. “Oh no, who’s gonna pick up Soo?”

Yuri waved her phone. “Sica said she would, ’cause she’s closer. So we can just head to the dorm and hope Sunny isn’t bawling her eyes out.”

“More like ready to throttle us alive,” Taeyeon muttered.

“A girl of action, that one is,” Tiffany agreed, not flustered in the least. She glanced down at her phone. “Oh wow, it’s almost four.”

“You’re not tired, are you, Taeyeon-unnie?” Seohyun asked worriedly. “Driving sleepy is just as bad as driving drunk.”

Taeyeon chuckled. “I had some coffee, so I think I’ll be fine. You just hug that box of chicken and make sure it doesn’t go anywhere.”

When Taeyeon finally pulled up next to their dorm building, Tiffany glanced along the street. “Jessi and the others aren’t here yet.”

“Okay, I guess we’re the ones who’ll have to face the music,” Taeyeon sighed as she locked her car.

“You first, Taeng,” Yuri said brightly.

Taeyeon rolled her eyes, but grabbed the bags Seohyun handed her. She led the other three into the building, up the elevator, and down the hall. With some difficulty, she unlocked their door and stepped inside, kicking off her shoes as she did so. “Sunny-ah?” she called softly. “Are you awake?”

The light from the TV flickered, a murmur of voices coming from the speakers; but no other sound answered. Taeyeon looked over her shoulder and gestured for the others to sneak into the kitchen to drop off their bags.

Plastic rustled and containers clunked, followed by hissed shushing. Fortunately, the person curled under the blankets on the couch made no movement. Tiffany tapped Taeyeon’s arm, shoving her phone screen in front of the oldest’s nose.

[4:01] We’re in the parking lot

Taeyeon nodded after she finished reading Jessica’s message. “Okay, I’m gonna wake her up.”

She tiptoed into the living room, the others a few paces behind. She sat gingerly down on the couch, placing a hand on the sleeping girl’s shoulder. “Hey. Sunny.”

Sunny mumbled incoherently, shifting to lie on her back.

“Sunny-ah,” Taeyeon whispered, “wake up. Today’s the big day, right?”

Sunny’s eyes slowly opened. “…Tae…Taeyeon?”

“Hey.” Taeyeon grinned. “Sleepy?”

“Mm.” Sunny nodded groggily. Then her eyes widened. She shot up. “Yah! Where’ve you been?” She shoved Taeyeon in the shoulder, almost toppling the other girl over. Sunny would normally have laughed at Taeyeon’s comical expression, the latter windmilling her arms in order to stay balanced on the edge of the couch cushion. But to say that Sunny was feeling a little miffed at her friends’ belated appearance was a gross understatement.

“Sorry, Sunny,” Tiffany cut in apologetically. “We tried to get here sooner, but…”

“Hello!” Hyoyeon hollered from the doorway. “I hear it’s someone’s birthday?”

Sunny felt something warm prickle at the corners of her eyes when Yoona walked into view, holding a cake with candles that lit up the other eight faces with a soft glow.

“You didn’t really think we’d forget or something, did you?” Sooyoung asked cheerfully.

Sunny threw an arm across her face, frantically rubbing her eyes. “I’m going to talk about this on ‘FM Date’,” she muttered. “You guys won’t ever live it down.”

Taeyeon winced. “I guess we deserve that. We really didn’t mean to be this late. It’s just…you know how it is, right?” She looked at Sunny hopefully.

Sunny sniffed, but then flashed them a brilliant smile. “Yeah, I know. I guess it doesn’t matter; as long as you guys made it here eventually.” She got up from the couch, walking towards Yoona. “So, do I blow these out now?”

“Tell us your wish, unnie,” Yoona sang with a grin, holding out the cake. “And we’ll grant it. Unless it’s something silly like ‘grow shorter’.”

Sunny stuck out her tongue, punching Yoona lightly in the arm. Then her expression became thoughtful. “Hm, I don’t think I need to tell you, though.” As the rest of the girls crowded around, she leaned forward and took a deep breath.

Whoosh.

The smoke curled from the extinguished candle tips, rising with the girls’ bubbly chatter. It swirled lazily around the room, as if taken in by the phenomenon present in every casual hug, every delighted chuckle, every playful exclamation.

The smoke dissipated, and along with it, Sunny’s wish. Because what she wanted had already begun seven years ago.

And it promised to continue for a long, long time.