My way is the right way, Joohyun thinks as she presses the numbers on the keypad, the shrill tones discordant against the tendrils of violin she can hear through the door. It's been a long day of telling people what they're doing wrong, and then repeating herself because they think they know better anyway, and she's just glad to be home.
The lock clicks open, announcing her entrance as the door swings wide and she kicks her heels off in the entrance way, the sound clattering over the wood. The floor is cool beneath her feet and Joohyun sighs, taking a deep breath. Somewhere further in the apartment, the violin swoops and soars and ends in a single sour note before silence falls.
"Taehyun?" Joohyun calls, hanging her coat up in the closet and setting her bag on the hall table. The hallway, lined with framed prints of doors, is dim in the late afternoon light, but the room at the end of the corridor is bathed in dusty gold, where Taehyun sits in a chair, violin dangling from his hand, bow from the other. His head is tilted back towards the door, nose casting a deep groove of a shadow across his face, and long eyelashes trail across his cheeks.
Joohyun leans against the doorframe, settling the box into the crook of her elbow. Even though the violin hangs silent, she can still hear the echoes of the song. It tastes like sweetness in her mouth.
"Oh," Taehyun says, blinking his eyes open and staring at her, head still upside down. The sight should be unnerving but it's not. It's just comfortable, just them, as Joohyun steps across the wood, feet bare on the sun-warmed floor of this room, and nudged his face with the brown carton in her hands.
"I picked up some petits fours on the way home," she says, as though they don't both know that the small pâtisserie is in the complete opposite direction. Taehyun hums, dragging himself back up over the chair until he's no longer hanging half upside now. Now Joohyun can see that his eyes are a little puffy, and she wonders if he ever went to sleep at all.
"Come on," she says, taking the box with her as she heads for the kitchen. Behind her, she can hear the sounds of Taehyun putting his violin away carefully and she smiles. If it's back in the case, maybe I can convince him to sleep.
The kettle has just begun to sing when Taehyun walks though the archway into the kitchen where Joohyun is sitting at the counter. She looks up, aware of the guilty expression probably painted across her face because her finger is poised, hovering above the screen where she's been flicking through emails.
"Come on," Taehyun says, holding out a hand, and she sighs but surrenders her phone into his grasp. He's not mean about, just turns to plug in into the charger, snagging the kettle along the way and pouring the hot water over the coffee she's already ground and measured into the French press. They have a deal, Taehyun and her. No phones or violins in the kitchen, or after hours unless there's an emergency.
"How was your day?" Taehyun asks, and Joohyun shrugs, She doesn't really want to talk about it.
"I'm just glad it's over," she says, and Taehyun nods, stirring the coffee grounds in the water with a wood spoon, rinsing it clean again and setting it on the dish rack to dry.
"How was your day?" she continues, flipping the question as usual, but the way Taehyun tenses at the counter has her hopping off the bar stool, wrapping her arms around him and pressing her face between his shoulder blades for a short moment before she fetches a plate from the cabinet and starts setting out the petits fours. "I'll give you all the strawberry if you give me all the chocolate," she says, and she doesn't have to look to know that Taehyun is looking at her with a thankful expression.
"You know that won't work," he says, pressing the filter down. "We split the chocolate 50-50."
"Fine," Joohyun huffs, but it's more of an old routine than anything else. After two years of living together they both know when to push and when to give the other space.
The petits fours are mostly gone, just the crumbing corning of an orange square languishing on the edge of the porcelain plate, and the dregs of the coffee are cold and grainy. Outside the window, the setting sun is painting the sky with streaks of red and purple, and Joohyun thinks, not for the first time, that if she was a painter she would love to paint this picture. She's not though and she doesn't; instead Taehyun gathers the plates, she the cups, and together they wash up the few dishes.
"Are you going out tomorrow?" Joohyun asks, drying her hands on a towel. Tomorrow is Saturday and sometimes she or Taehyun have plans, but her weekend is looking blessedly empty at the moment.
"No," Taehyun says, smiling a little around his obvious lack of sleep as he takes the towel Joohyun passes him and dries his own hands before hanging it on the hook by the sink. "I might sleep in."
Joohyun hums, considering, as her gaze traces over the bags under his eyes and she evaluates the heaviness of her own limbs. They have their own bedrooms of course, it's not like they're married or dating or even together, despite what some of their distant acquaintances might think. They're not like that, and they don't need to explain it to anyone.
That doesn't mean that they can't sleep together sometimes, if they want to, and right now Joohyun wants nothing more than to slip into her comfy cotton pajamas and curl up in bed with Taehyun, press her ear to his chest and let his heartbeat lull her to sleep.
"Want to sleep together today?" she asks, and Taehyun tips his head to the side before nodding. Sometimes he asks, sometimes she asks, and they're always allowed to say no though they mostly say yes.