Even after making the decision to grab Tiffany’s hand and pull her away from the altar, Taeyeon found herself still in her white-cushioned seat, her insides quivering and her palms sweating in clenched fists. Her gaze was fused to Tiffany’s veiled face, trying to trace her familiar beloved features, trying to spot the tears wetting her soft skin. Taeyeon knew Tiffany was going to cry. They had talked about it three days earlier, holding each other and hoping time would no longer pass.
“I’ll be a mess,” Tiffany had said matter-of-factly. “They’ll have to scoop me out of an ocean of tears when they try to give me to him.”
Taeyeon let her eyes slip to the floor beneath Tiffany’s feet, imagining a puddle there. A small voice in the back of her mind gave a faint laugh of half-hearted amusement at the thought, and she finally admitted to herself that it was time to hurry up and do what needed to be done.
The droning voice of the preacher was muffled in Taeyeon’s ears as her heartbeat shook her whole body. She clenched her eyes shut and took deep breaths, earning some concerned glances from those around her, before her eyelids flickered open and she locked her stare on Tiffany’s face again.
Taeyeon tripped over her own chair and three others in her row, accidentally hit an old lady with the purse dangling from her flailing arm, and more or less shoved Tiffany off balance, but somehow she managed to get a grip on Tiffany’s hand – albeit it a clammy grip – and yanked her along on a stumbling, bumbling run out of the church.
Tiffany’s wedding dress rustled loudly as they ran. It was the only sound in the church besides their laboured breathing, until they heard the voice of Tiffany’s father booming “What the-” and then that was cut off as they reached the outside world. Taeyeon tried to run across the gravel in her heels without twisting her ankles, but Tiffany didn’t waste such time and kicked them off immediately, ignoring Taeyeon’s concerned look at her bare feet on the stones.
“It’s really not important right now, Taeyeon,” she gasped as they sped across the ground.
They hit the pavement, reaching the deserted street, and came to a sudden halt. Taeyeon tried to catch her breath, and Tiffany did the same while tugging her veil off her head with her free hand. Taeyeon looked down at their interlaced fingers and couldn’t stop the smile that reached her lips. It had seemed impossible to hold hands with Tiffany ever again.
Tiffany briefly attempted the impossible task of making her dress manageable for running and hurriedly glanced over her shoulder at the church. Very soon, some rather unhappy people would storm out of that small building. She turned her head and met Taeyeon’s gaze. Time seemed to slow for a moment as she saw Taeyeon’s smile and felt the gentle squeeze on her hand. She took a deep breath. For a moment, everything seemed as close to perfect as it had ever been.
Then the doors of the church slammed open. Taeyeon and Tiffany didn’t look in that direction, taking off immediately, heading to the nearest corner and skidding around it. Taeyeon let her shoes drop off her feet as she scuffled, and picked up the pace. They flew down the street, feeling the pressure on their lungs, the fluid movement of their limbs, and the strange grins that spread across their faces as they made it further and further away.
They rounded another corner and Taeyeon spotted a bus that was coming towards them. She tugged on Tiffany’s hand and pointed down the street, then waved at the bus to signal it when they were almost at the bus stop.
It was a scramble to find some money, while Tiffany continued to glance in the direction they came from, as they stood in front of the tactfully silent bus driver. Finally Taeyeon found her money squashed in the corners of her purse, and they settled down in the very back of the empty bus. Taeyeon peered through the windscreen ahead as the bus started moving, eyeing the suited men who were sprinting down the street. As the bus passed them, she kept her eyes on them through the side windows, and was very happy when they did not even spare a glance at the scuffed old bus that tottered along the street.
She met Tiffany’s stare again, and felt a feeling spread through her being that sent tingles through her nerve-endings as those warm eyes curved.
Taeyeon and Tiffany were free. Freedom involved intertwining their fingers, and holding each other in a lengthy embrace, and sharing a kiss while grinning like maniacs.
And as it turned out, freedom also involved sitting on a low wall outside of the bus centre building in their formal attire, avoiding the strange looks they received, and flicking through a map of bus routes while dipping fries into tomato sauce and swaying their bare feet back and forth.
“How about here?” Taeyeon suggested, pointing at a blue dot.
Tiffany shook her head. “Too close. And we’ve gone there before, so they might think to look there.”
Taeyeon brought the map closer to her face again, intently examining each line and dot. Tiffany watched her, a faint smile on her face, before taking another one of the fries. She dipped the tip in the tomato sauce and held it up, using it to poke at Taeyeon’s lips.
Taeyeon took a bite of it without looking away from the map, pretending to stay straight-faced when she felt like beaming. Tiffany laughed at her attempt to stay cool, which was foiled by the pleased blush that had appeared on her cheeks, and she finished the rest of the fries by herself. She leaned on Taeyeon, wrapped her arms around the petite body, and closed her eyes with a happy sigh as they shared warmth in the slowly fading sunlight.
“You know what,” Tiffany said suddenly, without opening her eyes or stirring at all, “let’s just get on any random bus going out of the city. Don’t look at the name of the route or any indication of the destination.”
Some nearby buses rumbled to life. Taeyeon considered the proposal for a moment. Then she neatly folded the map and tossed it onto the ground beside them nonchalantly.
Upon reaching their destination – a small indiscriminate town far, far away – in the middle of the night, Taeyeon and Tiffany were well aware of their bare feet, and the lack of coverage provided by their formal dresses. They stood, shivering, at the bus stop, and gazed around at the darkness that now surrounded them.
With a sigh, Taeyeon squinted down the street at some distant lit-up signs.
“Hotel Rêvasser. Well, the name is French…What does that sound like to you; shady or fancy?”
Tiffany’s teeth chattered as she followed the direction of Taeyeon’s eyes. “Could be either, really. How much money do we have?”
A brief flick through the notes and coins in Taeyeon’s collection and a grimace when presenting her credit card left them with thoughtfully pursed lips. They shared a glance.
“Shady or not, let’s take a gamble.”
“Do you think they sell socks?”
They discussed which kinds of socks they would like to get as they made their way down the street. It was a quiet night, and they held hands as they strolled, casual despite the pressing cold air and unfamiliar surrounds. They didn’t contemplate much further than that.
The hotel, as it turned out, was not shady but it was not exactly fancy either. It was small, cosy, and clearly not high-end. Taeyeon flicked out her credit card. Tiffany yawned, politely hiding her mouth with her hand. The desk clerk took half a look at the wedding dress and bare feet and popped a bubble with his gum, blinking slowly.
“Just the one night?” he asked.
Taeyeon glanced at Tiffany, who raised her eyebrows in response. They both shrugged, and turned back to the desk clerk.
“Let’s make it two nights for now,” said Taeyeon, and he nodded in response.
The mini fridge had little packets of nuts in it – mixed peanuts and almonds – and a few tiny cans of different flavoured soda. Taeyeon huffed and pouted, considering her options before grabbing a diet soda and flicking the door of the mini fridge shut while she got up. As she popped the top, the bathroom door opened and she turned to see Tiffany stepping out with her head covered by a towel.
“Should we just skip dinner? I’m exhausted and we don’t really have any money,” Tiffany said, voice muffled by the towel until she lowered it and sighed.
Taeyeon was grinning at her, soda halfway to her mouth. Tiffany raised an eyebrow.
They had decided to push the credit limit on Taeyeon’s overused card just a little more with two shirts from the souvenir shop in the hotel, which the clerk kindly opened for them without question. Tiffany’s grey extra -large was meant to cover as much of her as it could. The edge reached to just above mid-thigh, and this fact made Taeyeon very appreciative of the shirt, which also had ‘rêveur dans un rêverie’ written in the perfect position on Tiffany’s chest.
Tiffany rolled her eyes and flung the towel onto Taeyeon’s head, covering her. Taeyeon yelped and started struggling with it.
“Fany!” she whined. “I almost spilled my soda!”
“You weren’t listening,” Tiffany copied her whining voice. “I said we should skip dinner. Are there even any restaurants that deliver this late at night?”
Taeyeon tossed the towel away, shrugging, and finally took a sip of her soda. “We probably could’ve found something. But you’re right; I’m not really hungry either. Let’s just go to bed.”
“Yeah,” Tiffany yawned. She felt Taeyeon’s eyes on her again as she made her way over to the bed, and added, “Let’s sleep.”
She heard Taeyeon sigh and mumble incoherently, bringing a smile to her face as she climbed into bed. She fluffed her pillows intently before settling on her back and letting her muscles relax, sighing contentedly. Out of the corner of her half-closed eyes, she watched Taeyeon move around the room, picking up the towel she discarded and hanging it tidily on the towel rack, finishing off her soda in a quick gulp and tossing the can in the recycling bin, folding their dresses neatly over the back of the small armchair. Her new shirt, white with a charcoal-style sketch of a lion on the back, covered her a bit more than Tiffany’s, its edge almost brushing against her knees.
Finally, she was done. She turned off the main light at the switch by the door, and the room was plunged into darkness. Tiffany moved to flick on the bedside lamp, but before she got to it Taeyeon already bumped into something and hissed a curse. She limped towards the bed when the dim lamp shed some light, and her pout made Tiffany giggle.
“Don’t laugh,” Taeyeon complained. Her feet were cold against Tiffany’s legs as they tangled together under the blanket.
Tiffany just beamed at her. It didn’t take long for Taeyeon’s pout to turn into a smile, her frowning brow clearing. She reached over and turned off the lamp. They wrapped their arms around each other, pressing together, and adjusted to the warmth.
“I had a really good day today,” Tiffany mumbled into Taeyeon’s shoulder.
Taeyeon laughed briefly, muffled by Tiffany’s shirt. “You make it sound like we just went on a picnic date or something.”
Tiffany shifted her leg slightly into a more comfortable position, thigh over Taeyeon’s hip, and wiggled a little. “Well it wasn’t exactly a conventional date, no, but I quite enjoyed it in the end.”
“Good,” Taeyeon murmured. She moved her arm so that she could stroke the back of Tiffany’s neck with one hand. “I love you.”
There was silence for a while as Tiffany tried to fight off drowsiness for a while longer, and then she muttered, “I love you too,” and fell asleep. Taeyeon grinned widely, trying not to laugh out loud, and squeezed Tiffany one last time before closing her eyes. She dozed off with the smile still on her face.
Tiffany briefly woke a short while later and murmured, half-asleep, “We forgot to buy socks.”
Taeyeon just grunted, still asleep. They both settled into their dreaming again.
In the morning, Taeyeon was the first to wake. Tiffany’s soft snores hummed against her ear, and she bit back a smile. Tiffany would get annoyed if Taeyeon brought this up in conversation later, as she always did, but she did so enjoy teasing Tiffany about her snoring. While Tiffany considered it one of her unattractive traits, Taeyeon found it absolutely adorable and it made her want to squeal and squish Tiffany in a tight hug.
Tiffany snorted suddenly, turning her head away, and shifted her body. Her mouth fell open slightly, turning her snores into measured breathing. Taeyeon watched her, lips curved. The sight of Tiffany fast in a deep sleep was the best way to start the day. And she could think of a few ways to carry on the goodness, too.
She rolled her body on top of Tiffany’s, letting her muscles go loose so she pressed down onto her with all her weight. She counted down in her head – 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 – before Tiffany jerked awake and yelped, “Bwa wha? What the – Taeyeon?”
Taeyeon laughed, and pushed her palms against the mattress on both sides of Tiffany as she raised herself. She gave Tiffany a quick peck on the cheek, and then on the lips, and said, “Good morning!”
“Ugh, I told you not to wake me up like that anymore,” Tiffany whined, giving Taeyeon a slap on the butt with one hand, and then she rubbed her own face as she woke up more. “I’m gonna get a heart attack one of these days.”
“Mmm,” Taeyeon replied, kissing the soft skin just under Tiffany’s chin a few times.
Tiffany stretched a little, muscles thrumming with the move, before settling into the bed and sighing. “What time is it.”
“I dunno,” Taeyeon answered disinterestedly. Her lips brushed over Tiffany’s skin, took hold of the curve of her jaw. “It’s morning.”
“I can see that,” Tiffany stated. She circled her arms around Taeyeon’s petite waist, pulling her closer.
“Well then,” Taeyeon said.
She kissed Tiffany full on the mouth, slowly and intently stroking every millimetre of her lips with her own. The sound of their breathing was interrupted briefly by the creaking of the bed as Taeyeon shifted her hips, and it made them both giggle.
“Shall we,” Taeyeon tugged at Tiffany’s bottom lip, “dance, milady?” Her hand brushed over Tiffany’s hip, moving up along the side of her torso, stroking her ribs.
Tiffany rolled her eyes, slipped her hands under Taeyeon’s shirt and said, “That was so lame. You suck.”
They moved slightly, and Taeyeon grinned widely at her remark. “Yes, I certainly do.” She winked, causing Tiffany to burst into laughter and tug her body closer.
“Well then,” she whispered, and kissed Taeyeon.
Tiffany was dancing as she brushed her teeth when Taeyeon stepped out of the shower later. Their eyes met in the mirror and Taeyeon wore a heavily judgemental expression while Tiffany shot her a tooth-paste smirk and poked her tongue at her.
“And you call me a dork,” Taeyeon scoffed, raising her nose in the air because she was clearly more dignified. She started to wrap the towel around herself, and then she suddenly pounced on Tiffany from behind and enclosed her in the towel too, like a blanket over their shoulders.
Tiffany exclaimed, “Hey!” and immediately struggled against Taeyeon’s hold, making her laugh evilly. “You’re getting my shirt all wet!”
Taeyeon nipped at Tiffany’s earlobe and gave her a satisfied nod in the mirror’s reflection. “All is well with the world, then.”
Tiffany let out a brief laugh. She finished brushing her teeth and bent forward to wash out her mouth, Taeyeon still latched on to her back. When they straightened up again, Tiffany sighed wearily as if she was cursed forever, and Taeyeon kissed her on the neck. She pushed her chin into Tiffany’s shoulder and stared at her as if she was examining Tiffany from a hiding place.
For a while, they watched themselves in the mirror. Tiffany started to sway them side to side, leaning her head on top of Taeyeon’s.
“I can’t believe we did it,” Taeyeon murmured. “We finally got away from those people.”
Tiffany closed her eyes. “Yeah. I can’t believe it either. And what are we going to do now? We can’t go back, but we don’t have any clothes or money or a place to live. We need to tell our bosses we’re not coming back, and we need to get new jobs wherever we settle.”
Taeyeon smiled. She closed her eyes too, and she pressed her mouth against Tiffany’s shoulder. “We’re going to settle somewhere.”
“First things first,” Tiffany said, her tone professional. It was time to make things happen. “We should call our friends, and our bosses. And you should call your landlord. Let’s get things sorted out back there, and then we’ll take a look around town, shall we?”
Taeyeon let go of Tiffany, and started to dry herself with the towel. “Let’s.”
It took them half the day just to attempt the first step of the plan. Their friends were, understandably, under the impression that they had gone nuts and their plan was impossible. After much discussion, during which at one point they were asked if they were on drugs because they sounded so calm, their friends grudgingly accepted the situation and agreed to help them tie up loose ends. Taeyeon’s landlord was not impressed with her declaration of abandonment, but since she arranged to have her things moved into a storage facility by a friend, he had no choice but to let her go. Their bosses, on the other hand, were absolutely furious and threatened to sue. When those calls ended, they put the phones down – Taeyeon’s cell phone and the hotel phone for Tiffany – and decided to avoid thinking about that for the moment.
“I suppose one day we will have to go back after all,” Taeyeon mused. “I’ll need to go sell all my things in person, I can’t possibly ask anyone else to do that.”
Tiffany sighed heavily, and threw herself backwards onto the bed. “I guess. I’m kinda glad I was still living with my parents. Okay, now we need to sort out some clothes. We can’t go out in shirts or formal dresses. How are we supposed to get some clothes, and with what money?”
Taeyeon flopped down beside her, and they stared up at the ceiling.
“Let’s max out my credit card,” she suggested. “And that’s my only idea. Lol.”
Tiffany cringed. “Please don’t start speaking in text language again. It was painful enough the first time you did it.”
Taeyeon just shrugged and smiled. They lay together in silence, thoughts drifting into blissful emptiness. After a while, Tiffany’s breathing became laced with a hint of a snore, and Taeyeon turned her head to see her sleeping. She quietly got off the bed and grabbed a towel to wrap around her waist. Wearing the shirt and towel, she gave her hair a quick run-through with her fingers and snuck towards the door. Tiffany wouldn’t be keen on the idea of Taeyeon going out in just a towel and shirt, but they needed clothes so Taeyeon took her chance to look like a weirdo.
She did max out her credit card, as per suggestion, and she brought back a mediocre supply of shorts and shirts and two pairs of sandals after chickening out and ducking into the souvenir shop instead of going in search of a real clothes store like she intended to. The hotel clerk was not at all fazed by her appearance and gave her a discount on the clothes, most likely out of pity.
Tiffany was playing a game on Taeyeon’s phone when she entered the room, and she barely glanced up to acknowledge her when the clothes were dumped next to her on the bed.
“You’re going to use up all my battery,” Taeyeon observed. She slipped off the towel and grabbed a pair of shorts. “I don’t have a charger.”
Tiffany shrugged. “Least of our worries, tbh.”
Taeyeon froze with one leg still in the air. “Wow. You’re right, it is painful.”
“Ikr,” Tiffany said. She finished her game and tossed the phone onto the mattress, then started picking through the clothes. “This is what you got? You went all James Bond secret super-spy on me just to go to the souvenir shop downstairs and get unfashionable, ill-fitting atrocities with cheesy one-liners on them?”
Taeyeon zipped up her shorts and nodded. “Yep. That’s why you love me.”
Tiffany eyed the way Taeyeon’s too-big shirt was caught in the zip and sighed. “Yep. That’s why I love you.”
“Still wanna go check out the town?” Taeyeon asked over her shoulder as she went to get another soda out of the mini fridge. “Hey, wait… did you eat all the nuts while I was out?”
“Maybe,” Tiffany mumbled.
“Maybe what?” Taeyeon looked at her. “Maybe you still want to check out the town or maybe you ate all the nuts while I was out?”
“Meh,” Tiffany responded, rolling around on the bed. “What’s with all the questions, geez. Is it illegal to eat nuts now. Come on, help me choose an ugly shirt and we’ll go check out the town.”
There was a hiss as Taeyeon cracked open a can of soda. She took a sip as she stepped over to the bed. With two fingers, she picked up a shirt, draped it neatly over Tiffany’s head, and stepped back to admire the look.
“And that,” Taeyeon concluded, “is why I love you.”
They took note of the memorable points in the area around the hotel so that they didn’t get lost as they wandered idly down the street. Tiffany fidgeted with her clothes for a while, trying to make them look at least a bit cute, and laced her fingers with Taeyeon’s as they looked around.
“Let’s spend the last of my cash on ice cream,” Taeyeon suggested, eyes twinkling as she gazed at an ice cream shop further ahead. “I think it’s a good investment for our future.”
“Help, my lover is a five year old,” Tiffany muttered. “Hey, you forgot to get socks earlier. Again.”
“Meh,” Taeyeon responded, and dragged her into the ice cream store.
Taeyeon’s hands were sticky from ice cream residue when they left the store, and her pockets lighter, but they held hands anyway as they continued their exploration.
“So, what are our criteria for a settling-down place?” Taeyeon asked. “Big town, small town, nice people, mean people, many clothing stores, many options for random fun, places to work, places to sleep?”
“Big, nice, many, many, yes, yes,” Tiffany answered absently, craning her head to look further up ahead. “Does that look like an ATM to you?”
“Yeah but we can’t do anything with an ATM,” Taeyeon said.
“No, but an ATM means a bank and a bank means my bank account.”
“Uh, maybe. If it’s the right bank. And you have no identification.”
“Just watch,” Tiffany replied, and she pulled Taeyeon along to the bank.
It took some negotiating, and a phone call to the branch in their home town where Tiffany knew the branch manager personally, but eventually she was granted access and immediately transferred all of her money to Taeyeon’s bank account. They withdrew some cash and left the bank with smiles on their faces.
Tiffany swung their arms as they walked, looking undeniably pleased with herself.
“Now we can really get the plan into action,” she said happily.
“And go back for more ice cream,” Taeyeon added, steering them in that direction. “Honestly, since when is one cone enough for a fully grown adult human.”
“Fully grown adult,” Tiffany echoed blankly.
“Yes,” Taeyeon said. “Yes, fully grown. Adult. Thanks for saving us from my broke-ness, by the way. I knew having a rich girlfriend would come with some benefits once the over-controlling parents were out of the way.”
“Mmhm,” Tiffany answered. She was eyeing a nearby clothes store with perceptible eagerness. “Let’s ditch the ice cream for now and go get some real clothes.”
Hours later, they trudged back to the hotel, laden with bags and their stomachs full of junk food. They checked out the other hotels on the street, which was clearly the tourism centre of the town, as they passed, and criticized their options.
“What would you rank our current hotel?” Taeyeon asked, shifting a bag to her other hand.
“Three out of five. The mini fridge only had a few nuts and sodas in it, and they don’t even do room service. I mean hello? That’s just unacceptable.”
“I quite like it, though,” Taeyeon said. “The clerk is nice. Did I tell you he gave me a discount on the clothes? And he didn’t even check you out when you were in your dress. A man needs a lot of self-control or homosexuality to keep from openly gawking at your physical assets.”
“That’s where the three comes from – and because he didn’t check you out either – and they lose two for lack of food.”
“How about that place we saw on the corner? It looks pretty luxurious, and now that we have your piles and piles of money safely in our possession, we could totally go rock-star on their honeymoon suite.”
Tiffany snorted as she slid their hotel card key through its slot. “Somehow I can’t imagine you willingly breaking other people’s possessions for absolutely no reason.”
Taeyeon pouted, following her into their room. “I totally could. I’m really badass, you know. Well, you do know, you’ve slept with me.”
Tiffany laughed briefly. She dumped her bags onto the bed and turned to cup Taeyeon’s cheek with one hand. “Oh, honey. Let’s not go there.”
Taeyeon gasped. “What is that supposed to mean!”
Tiffany grinned and kissed her on the lips sweetly. “Hush now, baby. Let’s try on our new clothes.”
Much later, as they curled up with each other in bed, Taeyeon turned her head so that her face was no longer pressed into Tiffany’s chest and she whispered, “By the way, you snored last night.”
“I did not!”
“Did too. And that’s why I love you.”
“Pfft! Don’t even try that with me, buster. You don’t love me for my snore.” She tried to squirm away from Taeyeon, but was locked in a tight embrace.
“Yes I do,” Taeyeon whispered happily. “I love your snore very, very much.”
“Ugh, you are insufferable,” Tiffany grumbled. They cuddled closer, drifting off in their warmth and comfort with each other, and Taeyeon was almost asleep again when she heard Tiffany whisper, “And that’s why I love you.”
She turned her head again; keeping her eyes closed, and murmured, “I like this. Let’s settle here.”
“Await the results of my thorough analysis,” Tiffany said immediately. “Then we’ll talk. Now go to sleep.”
Taeyeon complied, after giving Tiffany a quick kiss in the dark.
They ended their first full day of freedom contented, as dreamers finally in the dream they had been dreaming for so long, and knowing there would be a tomorrow.