Tiffany is worried. She and Taeyeon have been dating for more than one year and five months, and Taeyeon has never told Tiffany she loves her.
For no reason other than a childhood dream, Tiffany has been waiting for Taeyeon to say it first, and the fact that Taeyeon still has not said it is driving her wild. She’s not sure how long she should let this go on before considering that the relationship isn’t working. But that’s what bugs her – everything else is perfect. They’re affectionate, intimate, they have deep conversations and nonsense fun, they do things together and they do their own things separately. They have trust, comfort, arguments, discussions, promises; they just don’t have those three words that Tiffany has been expecting for months.
Taeyeon has issues with commitment and opening up to others, Tiffany knows that, so she knows it’s ridiculous to expect something this huge from Taeyeon too soon in the relationship, and she keeps reminding herself of that with every month that passes. However, a year and five months seems like a stretch, even for Taeyeon.
She doesn’t want to rush it, and she doesn’t want to rush Taeyeon, because that would undoubtedly damage their relationship and that’s the last thing she wants. She wants this relationship to work, she wants it to be their last and best, she truly looks forward to spending the rest of her life with Taeyeon, but she just can’t let this go. Is it weird to never hear those three words from the love of your life? Surely it is.
Tiffany looks up when the front door opens, and Taeyeon staggers in. Her girlfriend seems exhausted, eyes bloodshot with lack of sleep and muscles almost limp. She jumps up right away from where she was sitting on the couch and goes to help Taeyeon take off her coat. The winter weather outside is becoming biting, and she knows it would have made Taeyeon’s trip home even worse than usual on the public transport.
“Hey, baby,” she coos, wrapping Taeyeon in a warm hug as soon as she’s able. “Welcome home.”
Taeyeon returns the embrace, her feeling of comfort evident in her movements and the way she let out a small sigh. “God, I’m glad you’re here.”
Tiffany smiles, feeling the familiar warm tingle in her chest at Taeyeon’s words, and she shifts to place a soft kiss on Taeyeon’s cheek. “Had a rough day?”
“Better now,” Taeyeon replies. She turns her head to nuzzle at Tiffany’s jaw. “Have you eaten?”
“Not yet. I was going to ask if you wanted pizza.”
A few moments pass without answer, as they take some time to kiss intently.
“You shouldn’t wait so long for me,” Taeyeon murmurs when they separate. “I don’t want you starving just because my manager makes me work late. Eat something.”
Tiffany rolls her eyes and grins. “You’re a dork. You do the same for me.”
Taeyeon shakes her head. “There is no equality in this household. You know I’m the boss.”
Tiffany snorts. She plants another fulfilling kiss on Taeyeon’s lips before detaching herself and practically floating to the kitchen. “You order the pizza then. I’ll go make you some hot chocolate to warm you up.”
She thinks Taeyeon is asleep before they finish eating, until she hears the soft voice muddled with tiredness.
“You can have the last slice.”
Tiffany looks at the slumped body beside her. Taeyeon’s eyes are closed and her head is falling onto the armrest of the couch. Tiffany just smiles and reaches out. She tugs Taeyeon closer by the collar of her shirt, making her flop onto Tiffany, and she wraps her up in her arms.
“You should get some sleep,” she says.
“No, you should get some sleep,” Taeyeon retorts immediately. “You need to be well rested for when you go visit your family.”
“I can sleep on the plane.” Tiffany sighs. “I just wish you were coming with me.”
“Me too… And I wish I would be here when you get back. I’ll return from my family a whole day after you, that’s hardly fair.” Taeyeon shifts to raise herself slightly and she touches her lips to the corner of Tiffany’s jaw and then to the tip of her chin.
And it isn’t until the next morning that Tiffany realizes the last slice of pizza has gone uneaten into the fridge.
But she doesn’t bother to remind Taeyeon because Taeyeon is, at that moment, fussing over her suitcase.
“Are you sure you’ve packed enough? You always get somewhere and think you should have packed clothes that are more suited to the weather.”
“That only happened once. Oh my god, are you going through my underwear?”
“You have some of mine in here!”
“Well, leave them. Oh look, my taxi is here. Hurry, come say bye!”
They try to keep most of their goodbye kisses from the taxi driver’s view, but can’t resist a few more just before Tiffany gets in. Taeyeon takes a moment to hold the door open and stare at her.
“Make sure to buckle up, okay? Here and on the plane.”
Tiffany smiles. “I will. Don’t be late for work, now. I’ll text you when I get on the plane and when I land.” They blink at each other before Tiffany reaches out and cups Taeyeon’s cheek with one hand. “I… I’ll miss you.”
Taeyeon strokes Tiffany’s hand and down her arm a bit. “Be safe.”
During the time she spends with her family celebrating the holiday, Tiffany keeps thinking. She thinks about everything Taeyeon has ever said to her, all the times when she herself has gotten close to using those three words, every feeling Taeyeon has ever made her feel. She can’t help but wonder why she places so much stock on those particular words. Sure, they would be nice, but she doesn’t feel any less loved without them being said, does she? Maybe she doesn’t even need the word ‘love’ to be spoken to feel loved. It could be considered weird to never hear those words from the love of her life, but how much does it really matter?
She ponders a bit more.
On the day she returns from her visit, she sends Taeyeon a message to let her know her plane has landed and she finds a taxi to take her home. On the way, she stares out the windows at the familiar landscape, the sensation of a place that holds memories, and a connection.
She’s barely through the front door when her phone starts to ring. She smiles, knowing it’s Taeyeon.
“Hey,” Taeyeon starts, sounding breathless as if she had bravely charged through a warzone to get a chance to call Tiffany. “Did you get home okay?”
Tiffany isn’t worried anymore. She and Taeyeon have been dating for more than one year and five months, and she has never heard Taeyeon say the words ‘I love you’, but she has heard Taeyeon tell Tiffany she loves her in a million different ways, every single day. The words telling her to eat more, to sleep more, to buckle up, to pack enough clothes, to stay safe, to have the last slice of pizza, and wanting to know if she got home okay; these words made her feel just as loved as those other three words, and being able to have Taeyeon like this was more than she could ever wish for.
“Yeah,” Tiffany replies, feeling like she was going to burst. “I got home just fine. I miss you. Have you been eating properly? I know your brother likes to steal food right off your plate.”
Taeyeon’s breathy laugh meets her words. And maybe it’s just a feeling, but Tiffany can almost tell that Taeyeon has reached the same conclusion about words as she finally has.