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Posted originally on the Archive of Our Own at


Rating: Teen And Up Audiences

Archive Warning: Choose Not To Use Archive Warnings
Category: F/F
Fandom: TWICE (Band)
Relationship: Im Nayeon/Yoo Jeongyeon, Minatozaki Sana/Yoo Jeongyeon
Character: Twice (except Kim Dahyun)
Stats: Published: 2017-08-20 Chapters: 11/? Words: 48667

Soaring Through The Breeze

by Khouza


Jeongyeon tries to reconnect with her childhood friends after spending five years away
from them. After arriving and meeting up with the group, she finds out a lot has changed
in an emotional level.

Feeling distant, and different, she tries her best to adjust from how their group used to be.

For better or for worse.

With a school that she barely rememberes, new faces, and a part time job, how will she
adjust to all these changes.

A story of memories, friendship, and, of course, love.

Day 1

Day 1 - Thursday

"Are you comfortable?", the man in his late forties asked for the fourth time in the past hour.

"I am, uncle", Jeongyeon smiled, "Thank you again for doing this for me".

"It's nothing, kid. And besides, I'm the one who's gaining something here in exchange for just a

"A seven hour drive", Jeongyeon corrected, ending with a light chuckle. Her uncle just brushed it
off and returned a small laugh of his own.

They were coming from the center of Busan and their destination, Seongpa, Seoul.

Jeongyeon had lived in Busan for the past five years when she had just graduated from primary
school. They had to move from Seoul when her father got transferred there and was assigned to be
the head chef at a well known Korean restaurant in Busan. Being a minor, the Yoo family could
not risk leaving Jeongyeon alone in the city. They had no family living in the area at the time. Her
uncle had only moved and set up shop a few months after they have left.

She hated the idea of leaving, putting up a fight with her parents before finally succumbing to an
ultimatum of "hating her forever" if she doesn't come quietly. She was young and gullible back
then and she just couldn't bear the thought of her family hating her. Thinking back now, she
realizes how stupid she was for losing like a total kid back then.

Now, after her second year of high school, she had just turned 18. Close to being of Korean legal
age, she requested her family to let her continue her studies back in Seoul. Her parents were very
understanding and decided to let her. She was also very insistent that she be driven there instead of
taking a plane or train, claiming she wanted to feel the wind on her face, soaring through the
streets with an open window. They called her uncle to fetch her in Busan and help her move to
Seoul in exchange for her working part time for her uncle at his local Korean Japanese restaurant,
which Jeongyeon had no problem agreeing to. She likes food, therefore she likes to cook, in her
logic. She wanted to work part time too even though her family is rich enough to support her until
college, declining saying that a place to stay and tuition was more than enough and wanted to
make her own allowance.

She misses her friends. She had formed a tight bond with her classmates and neighbours since she
was in her first grade of primary school. It was a group of four, all from the same neighbourhood.

Nayeon is the eldest of the four, only months older than Jeongyeon, and her closest friend. They
first got to know each other on the first day of primary school, being assigned together as
seatmates. Their establishment has one of those two-in-one students to a table, and to make matters
better, or for worse, the school lets you be in the same section all throughout their primary school.
Jeongyeon practically grew up with Nayeon literally beside her, and they lived only a few houses
apart in the same block too. They bickered a lot, like most of time, but never had a serious fight
and that only tightened their friendship further.

Jihyo, the self-proclaimed leader of the group and how she likes to remind everyone "You guys
would be dead without me", is a year younger than the two. They met her in their neighbourhood
family park that houses a small playground for the kids. Jeongyeon had this crazy idea that it was
more fun to go down the slide while sitting backwards. It was indeed thrilling than normal.
Nayeon attempted the same. But as one could guess it, she had no control of her balance resulting
in countless backward somersaults through her entire trip down. It was amazing how she managed
to roll her way down in a straight line and avoided falling off the edges, at least she had some sort
of balance, but at the same time it was terrifying how the sounds were brutally loud as she
snowballed her way to the ground. Like any normal kid of age eight, Nayeon sat upright with
both legs spread flat on the dirt as she cried her way through the pain. Jeongyeon stood there in
guilt and was on the brink of crying herself, looking around for a grown up for help.

Fortunately, there was one. A female that looked like she was in her early thirties was
accompanying her daughter on a nearby swing when the events took place. She rushed towards
Nayeon and did a small check up, asking her some questions in the process. After she was done,
she smiled like a loving mother would at Nayeon and told her that she wasn't seriously injured,
just a few scratches and maybe a small bruise that will pop out in a couple of hours. They later
found out she was a really busy doctor, playing and spending what little time she could afford
with her only daughter. She beckoned her kid to come over to them and told her to "Look after
them", while she gets her car to drop them off their places.

"Hi! I'm Jihyo", the kid said. She eyes Nayeon, who has dialled down her crying into sniffles by
then, and said with a straight face, "You two are stupid".

Jeongyeon gave her an offended stink-eye while Nayeon was about to cry again for calling her a
'bad name'. That was, until Jihyo spoke again.
"Good thing my mom told me to look after you."

And she did. The next year she unknowingly managed to enter the same school as the two,
bumping into each other during lunch break with her first greeting being, "Hey! It's the two sliding
idiots!", and a huge grin plastered on her face. The bickering duo became a bickering trio since
then especially after finding out that Jihyo lived only a couple of blocks away from them.

The last person to be added to their group was Chaeyoung, who was younger than Jihyo by a
year. It was just a few months after Jihyo attached herself to Jeongyeon and Nayeon when a single
mom and her only daughter moved next door to Jeongyeon's place. The first thing that mother did
after settling in was to ask the Yoo's if she can leave her kid with them every now and then.

Apparently, the mother is a childhood friend of Jeongyeon's own mom and a famous wildlife
photographer. It's an occupation that requires constant moving around the country, and later
around the world. But she didn't want to hinder her daughter's social life and education. She
decided to leave Chaeyoung in the hands of the Yoo family when she was about to start her first
year in primary school, promising to visit at least twice a year.

Jeongyeon felt really bad for Chaeyoung, being alone without a family, and decided to be her
older sister then and there. Unfortunately, seven year old Chaeyoung thought for a whole year that
Jeongyeon was a boy and called her hyung the whole time. When she eventually found out that
'he' was a 'she', it was too late. Calling her anything besides hyung really felt uncomfortable by

Chaeyoung, who enrolled in the same school the next year, easily got into her hyung's group of
friends, Nayeon especially since she had wanted a baby sister all her life. She even kissed the
newcomer on the lips a few times saying they were so beautiful and kissable, and that the mole
below her lower left lip 'asked her to'. They were innocent then but eventually matured out of that
habit and has been a consistent inside joke among the four with the title "Nayeon and
Chaeyoung's first kiss" for the four of them since then. Chaeyoung was actually traumatised by it.

Since Chaeyoung's home was always empty, the older three had decided to make it their after
school clubhouse. Chaeyoung always showed annoyance at the constant nagging and lack of
private space but deep down, they all knew she was really happy for the company they provided.
Something that her own mother could not. She's just too proud to admit it but what matters was
the others knew. Plus, she had a Play Station 3 and almost all of her games were two player
fighters, which she uses an excuse whenever she feels lonely and ask them to come over during
the weekends or school breaks.

The four of them were inseparable. They would go to school together, visit each other's
classrooms during break time, go home and play around at the park where they first met Jihyo,
have dinner at the Yoo's because her dad was a god damn awesome cook, and end the day at
Chaeyoung's every time to play video games or watch movies while they rest their full bellies.

When the news of the Yoo family's moving came up during Jeongyeon and Nayeon's last year of
primary, all four of them cried their eyeballs out. Saying goodbye to a best friend, or in
Chaeyoung's case, a family member, was and will never be easy.

All of them spent the last day together reminiscing the places they've been together.

They went to the class room where the two eldest met for the first time when it was empty, sharing
stories and arguments they've had that the other two missed out on. Nayeon pointed out a spot
behind their desk where Jeongyeon secretly carved 'Im with Yoo 4ever', earning a shy blush from

"You were my only friend back then!” Jeongyeon defended herself from Jihyo and Chaeyoung's
upcoming mockery.

They went to the playground where they first met Jihyo. Chaeyoung surprisingly got tangled up at
a rope ladder, even though she could very well fit through the gaps, causing all of them to laugh.
Nayeon reattempted to slide backwards the slide after successfully persuading Jihyo that she's old
enough to do it. She still couldn't and landed painfully on her butt giving Jihyo a mini heart attack.
But Nayeon just laughed it off this time.

Jeongyeon's father prepared a farewell banquet for dinner containing all of her favorite dishes,
which mostly consisted of something spicy. Chaeyoung didn't like spicy food but ate happily
anyways for her hyung. Just after a couple of bites she would turn dangerously red from the
burning sensation, failing to hold back her tears and cried while the others laughed.

At the youngest’s place, Chaeyoung surprised Jeongyeon with a bundle of superhero comic book
volumes as a farewell gift. The two sisters started reading through it while Nayeon and Jihyo
decided to watch a movie having no interests in comic books.

"What super power would you like to have if you get to choose?” Chaeyoung asked out of the
blue, "pick just one!"

"To fly!” Jeongyeon answered without hesitation.

"Why? I thought for sure you would pick something like super strength with your demeanour",
"Why? I thought for sure you would pick something like super strength with your demeanour",
Chaeyoung mocked.

"Because don't you think it will feel good? Soaring up the sky, the breeze hitting your face as you
do, falling endlessly without fear of hitting the ground, sleeping peacefully on the clouds".

"Sleeping peacefully on the clouds?!” Chaeyoung laughingly jeered.

"Oh shut up!", Jeongyeon retorted. "Plus, that would mean I would get to see you guys anytime I

Nayeon and Jihyo overheard the answer despite the reaching climax of the movie and hugged
Jeongyeon from behind, which Chaeyoung eventually joined in as well. They stayed like that for
a significant moment, trying to memorize Jeongyeon's everything.

"But why not teleportation instead?” asked Chaeyoung.

"Don't ruin the moment you ass!” Jihyo hissed.

After talking to the Im family if they could take care of Chaeyoung in their stead, being the next
closest family and with Nayeon's persistent nagging, the Yoo's left.

They would still keep in contact afterwards. Texts, video calls, and the occasional hand written
letters from the youngest. Chaeyoung was a hidden old fashioned romantic and threatened
Jeongyeon to burn her comic book collection there in Busan herself if she ever tells either Nayeon
or Jihyo that she sends her letters.

But their contact eventually died out after a couple of years, both sides being busy with school and
family matters.

Last she heard, Nayeon had become a volleyball varsity and was busy all year round with the
school's sports events. Jihyo became a volunteer at an orphanage center saying she missed taking
care of the group that she decided to look someone else to take care of. Chaeyoung decided to
follow her mother, whenever summer vacation starts and spends the whole time with her, going
back only to Seoul every time school starts again.
That was five years ago.

Now, she's back.

After the stiffening seven hour ride, she's back in her hometown.

Unfortunately, some other family had already purchased her previous home. Jeongyeon's parents
told her they can buy her a new one somewhere near but politely declined stating that she doesn't
need a whole house just for herself. She had found a decent apartment on the other side of town
that fits her needs perfectly. The layout was a simple and neat straight line. A small standard
kitchen next to the entrance, a moderately spaced living room in the middle that could fit a small
group of friends, and a single bedroom behind the living room.

It was only about a thirty minute walk from their old neighbourhood or a five minute bicycle ride.
And it was also on the same block as her uncle's restaurant so it was really convenient for her.

"You start working on Monday next week okay?” her uncle said after moving all of their furniture
and accessories inside. "Spend this week catching up with your friends and getting ready for
school first", he smiled.

"Yes uncle! Thank you so much again for helping me!", and hugged him goodbye.

After he left, Jeongyeon has yet to have the patience to start unboxing her things and furnish the
place. She wanted to see at least one of her missed friends tonight. Opening one of her luggage,
she took out a black long sleeved sweater, denim ripped jeans, and a pair of sugar brown boots,
wearing them after a quick shower.

She took her bike and pedalled her way through the familiar neighbourhood, never forgetting to
appreciate the breeze against her. She looks around, stopping for a while next to the nostalgic park
and smiles widely seeing the playground is still there with little to none changes.

She resumed her pedalling until she cycled next to her previous home. Calming yellow lights are
visible on the outside and laughter from a toddler can be heard. She's enlightened to find out that a
happy family is now living the house that she used to live in.

Locking her bike next to a street lamp, she strides her way towards the all too familiar house next
to the one she just reminisced. She lifted one of the potted plants next to the doorway and smiled
finding the hidden key was still there. Silently, Jeongyeon opened the door and tiptoed her way
inside. She spots a small person sitting crossed legged on the couch wearing matching pink
pyjamas with a lion similar to Simba printed all over, button smashing her controller in frustration.

Oh she cut her hair, Jeongyeon took note eyeing the length of her hair that ended just above the
upper half of her ear from the hallway.

After more sneaking, she observed the petite girl from behind the couch now, noticing the game
console had been replaced by a Play Station 4 that was currently running the latest Mortal Kombat

"You lose", the game announced.

"Fuck you!” the person resembling an immature kid hissed as she threw her controller on the side
of the couch.

"Still a sore loser huh?” Jeongyeon announced, finally giving herself away.

The younger yelled inaudible, well, practically audible, mostly cussing, words as she recoiled
away from the voice, standing and turning about face to eye the foreign presence.

After a few seconds of figuring out who the intruder is, she finally found her voice.


"Hey Chae, I'm back"

Day 2
Chapter Summary

Old Town, New Girl

Night 1 / Day 2 - Friday


"Hey Chae, I'm back."

For a brief moment, Chaeyoung just stood there, letting her consciousness sink in the fact that
Jeongyeon is indeed there, standing in front of her. Finally believing that her eyes were not
decieving her, she ran over the couch that seperated them with her arms spread to envelop her
visitor with a hug. But Chaeyoung was a really proud person. At the last possible second, she
halted her advance and stopped a couple of feet away awkwardly.

"We-welcome back hyung", she half whispered and stretched her hand for a shake.

Jeongyeon eyes the girl in pyjamas’ outstretched hand in mockery. She firmly grabs it and pulls
her into a tight headlock and ruffled the victim's hair violently.

"What is this?", Jeongyeon asked in sarcasm. "Where's the foul mouthed bean I remember?"

"Ya! Let go of me you fucking brute!"

"There she is!” the older girl exclaimed happily.

After a little struggle, and a lot of squirming, Chaeyoung decided to raise her foot closest to
Jeongyeon and stomped it down with all her might, crushing the bully's toes.
"Motherfu-!", Jeongyeon tried to say after letting go of Chaeyoung. But as quick as she released
her, she soon finds herself enveloped in a squeezing hug from the defender.

"I haven't talked like that in a while", Chaeyoung admits. "I-I missed you hyung."

Forcefully ignoring the stinging pain on her foot, Jeongyeon returns the hug as tight as her
headlock earlier.

"I missed you too 'lil sis"

"Are you just visiting or... are you back for good?"

"I'm staying."

"I can't believe the first thing I'm doing right after meeting you is playing video
games," Jeongyeon half complained.

"Sub Zero wins! Fatality!” the television announced.

"And I can still kick your ass!” Jeongyeon exclaimed, standing up from the couch and victory
danced in front of Chaeyoung. The victory dance is choreographed with legs wobbling apart,
head banging, arm flailing, and hip side thrusts.

"Oh shut up!” Chaeyoung retorted as she stood and lightly shoved the winner back to the couch.
She walked towards her fridge and asked "You want a beer?"

"Beer? Hey, you're still underage!” Jeongyeon protested.

"I've lived alone ever since I moved here. Who's to stop me?” Chaeyoung reasoned as she reached
the fridge. "So? You want one or not?"

"Alright, I'll have one."

Chaeyoung plopped down to her spot on the couch earlier and handed a can to her visitor before
opening her own and took a chug.

"When did you start drinking?” Jeongyeon asked after taking a gulp of her own.

"Last year, I think? Nayeon wanted to celebrate when she got her driver's license after failing a
couple of times. I swear her instructor only let her pass because he was afraid of her coming back
again and endanger his life once more." Chaeyoung started chuckling after her short story, trying
to remember how the instructor panicked most of the time. "Ever since then, we always have a
supply here."

"Speaking of Nayeon, have you told her or Jihyo you're back yet?" Chaeyoung stared at
Jeongyeon, peak curiosity clearly visible on face.

"Not yet, you're the first." Jeongyeon answered. "I was actually going to ask you to gather them
here. But seeing your sorry face spitting indecency was priceless!" Uncontrollable laughter
erupted from her while she tried to mimic Chaeyoung's face and (bad) choice of words at their first
meeting that night.

"I see you haven't changed one bit hyung." Chaeyoung, not getting offended at Jeongyeon's bad
acting, was amused to see her mockery again after all these years.

I can't say the same for the rest us...

"Well, there are a few things." Jeongyeon stood once again and walked towards the window in
the living room, reached in to her back pocket, and scooped a box cigarette, "Example." She
shook the box so that the younger girl would see before inserting the last stick, which she realizes
only now, between her lips.

"You smoke now?"

"I started around the time you guys stopped contacting me," she confessed.


"Don't worry, now that I get to see you guys again I'm planning on quitting." Jeongyeon took a
drag and blew through the window. "It's just hard to if you do it so suddenly once you're used to

Chaeyoung felt a tad bit guilty hearing that they were the cause of her smoking and tried to divert
the topic. "So when are you going to tell them?"

"I'm thinking about surprising them when school starts." Jeongyeon blew another lungful through
the window.

Jeongyeon had actually talked to the school principal and requested to be transferred in the same
class of Nayeon. Being an ex-student, the principal smoothly agreed to the request.

After a few more games of Mortal Kombat, twelve to three in Jeongyeon's favor, and a few more
cans of beer, Jeongyeon bid goodnight to a now knocked out Chaeyoung. She wanted to stay the
night but an internal debate told her to get back to her apartment and begin unpacking her stuff.

The ride back was calming. Cars were close to nonexistent, pedestrians can be seen walking
passively every few seconds, and the chilly night gale breathing against her face as her heart beat
faster than normal with the alcohol in her system. She closes her eyes frequently throughout the
ride, let go of the handles and spread her arms wide.

No matter how many times she says it, it'll never be quenched. She really missed this place.

She nears her place, just another block away, when she notices a convenience store approaching
her line of sight. Remembering that she lit her last smoke earlier, she stops abruptly and loosely
chained her bicycle to the nearest pole. She might as well stock up on a few things while she's

"Good evening!" the girl at the counter greeted.

Jeongyeon picks up a carry basket heads straight towards the back area of the store where the
drinks are located and grabs a 6-pack beer and a couple cartons of fruit juices. She picks up a few
bags of junk snacks and toiletries too before heading for the counter.

"A pack of Marlboro too please." Jeongyeon requested the girl while she places her items on the

"You having a party tonight?" The girl asked to initiate small talk.

Jeongyeon looked up to the girl when she finished placing her items.

"Nah, just filling my empty supply."

The girl has her back turned against Jeongyeon, canvassing the shelves for the inquired brand of
cigarettes. She is wearing a creamy white sweat shirt and a pair of black leggings under her green
convenience store apron with her black hair that has hints of a dark red shade highlights towards
the ends tied up in a low ponytail. She seemed like she was having a hard time finding the pack.
Must be new working here.

"Over there." Jeongyeon points at the second shelf to her right.

The girl tilts her head a little for Jeongyeon's finger to enter her peripheral.

"Found it!” she announced quite excitedly.

The girl faces her customer with a huge refreshing grin plastered on her face that shows her
perfectly clean white teeth. The front half of her hair isn't tied, resting just below her collar. Her
cheeks have a certain form to it that makes one want to poke them. And her pupils seem to be
darker than normal which only compliments the rest of her facial features.
"Sorry, is this not the right one?" A worried look replaces her face, with her mouth forming a
small circle.

She must have been staring. "No, that's the right one." Jeongyeon reassures.

The girl starts scanning the items, looking up a few times to peek at her customer.

"Aren't you too young to be smoking and drinking?" The way she asked it can be heard with
genuine curiosity. Her tone had no hint of judgement at all.

Jeongyeon knows the girl didn't mean any harm. But she doesn't want to talk about her vices
much, especially to a stranger.

"Aren't you too young to be working this late shift?” She playfully banters. Answering a question
with another question usually does the trick.

"I live nearby. Just a couple of minutes walk actually."

She's quite an open book huh?

"Do you usually give out dangerous information like that to strangers?" Jeongyeon asked with a

"Oh!" The girl stopped scanning suddenly, frozen in place with a hand covering her mouth and
eyes widened. "You're not a kidnapper or anything are you?"

"What?" Jeongyeon herself was shocked at the girl's blunt innocence. But she quickly turned her
shock into amusement, laughing at their conversation, and waved a hand to brush off her question.
"No I'm not."

She likes this girl. She feels like they can be friends easily. It wouldn't hurt to try right?

She lets her laugh die down to a stable smile and stretches out an arm with an open palm. "I'm
Jeongyeon. I just moved in the area actually, just a few hours ago."

"Do you usually give out dangerous information like that to strangers?" The girl had a serious
look on her face.

This wasn't a good idea, Jeongyeon thought, feeling the sudden tension in the air. Everything
stopped and their eyes locked on each other. But the tension only lasted for a solid second when
the girl suddenly laughs at her own attempt of mimicking Jeongyeon.

"You should've seen the look on your face." Her refreshing grin reappears, takes her hand and
shakes it a few times. "I'm Sana."

"Damn, you scared me." She admitted and released a nervous laugh. "That was pretty good
though, I must admit. You got me good."

After the amount was paid, Jeongyeon waved goodbye at the girl. "See you around."

"Sure! Come back anytime!” Sana chirped and waved back.

"You just came back and you're already bothering me." Chaeyoung complained.

"It's not like you have anything better to do." Jeongyeon argued.

"School starts in two days and I still haven't beaten Shinnok!"

"That's just because you suck at games! We both know you just bought that thing so that we
would keep coming over at your place."
"Whatever. I thought you said you were going to do this last night?"

"I was tired! I just lay down on the bed for a while and the next thing I knew the sun had already

They let go of the 3-seater sofa a few feet in front of the television, making a loud thud.
Jeongyeon has been sweating for a while and wiped her forehead with the sleeve of her sweater.
Chaeyoung plopped down on the newly placed furniture, exhausted.

Since nine o'clock in the morning, they have been carrying and pushing furnitures that are meant
to be done by more than just two people. Most of which were brought from Jeongyeon's home in
Busan. She and her uncle stored them in a vacant room on the ground floor, which they asked
permission to use for a couple of nights. Her apartment is on the second floor which meant a lot of
carrying had to be done. Some of the wooden ones, like the coffee table and dining chairs, were
assembled on the spot which meant a few blisters appearing on their fingers.

Sometime along the middle of the assembly, Chaeyoung blurted out along the lines of "Everyone
knows I love you. But right now, I hate you so much."

The sofa was the last of the biggest furnitures to be placed. It took them past eight hours to get
everything to its current state, skipping lunch in the process.

"Are we done yet?" the smaller girl asked, fixing her posture to occupy the whole sofa for herself.

"Yeah, I can take care of the rest myself."

Everything practically done. Only the small things like decoration arrangements, organizing
clothes, and kitchen supplies were left. But she can handle the rest of them at any later date.

"You wanna get something to eat?" The mention of eating spurred a hidden energy in Chaeyoung
as she stood from the couch wearing a happy smile.

"Let's go! You're buying. I have the right to demand that after this shit you've made me went
through." She said giddily.
"Sure, sure."

Jeongyeon decided to take her to the place where she would eventually work, partly so she could
show off to Chaeyoung that she works now. Her uncle's restaurant, Annyeonghaseyo
Kon'nichiwa or AnKon for short, is in the same block as her apartment so it only took a meager
two minute walk to reach the place.

The property is a single floor restaurant and is a mix of Japanese and Korean architecture. From
the outside, the front entrance is composed with a sliding door made of white translucent paper
with wooden frames, also called a Shōji, and a set of white drapes, called a Noren, attached on the
edge of the roof covering the upper half of the door with the characters and こんにちは,
'hello' in Japanese and Korean respectively, written in the middle of the drapes on top of each

"Is this place new?", Chaeyoung asked. "I haven't seen this place before."

"This just proves that you're a couch potato. They set this place up a year and half after I
left." Jeongyeon answered confidently. "My uncle owns the place."

"Your uncle?!" Jeongyeon's childhood friends loved her parent's food. They sometimes hear
stories how Mr. Yoo and his siblings were all amazing chefs in their own rights. When the word
uncle slipped inside Chaeyoung's ear, her tummy suddenly started growling from hunger. "Hurry!
Let's go inside!"

Once inside, the interior continues to radiant the mix of the two Asian cultures. Smack in the
middle of the place stands an artificial cherry blossom tree as tall as the ceiling with paper lanterns
hanging on the branches. The flooring is built from Mahogany planks that leads from the entrance
and divides the area in half, with each of the table flooring is made up of Tatami mats with red
cushions for seats. Hanging on the walls are faded traditional paintings of each culture that range
from mystical dragon images to colorful flower pictures. At first glance, it would be difficulty to
guess which painting belonged to which culture. Each table has its own metallic cylinder vents
that can be pulled down for customers wanting to have a barbeque. At the far edge of the place,
past the cherry blossom tree, is a seven-seat horizontal counter where customers can watch over
the kitchen's side of restaurant while the chefs do their jobs through the drapes. The place itself
isn't that big. Only eight knee-high tables, four on each sides of the wall that can fit around six
people each. Nonetheless, the establishment has a certain elegance in its own way.

"This place looks great!” Chaeyoung exclaimed.

This was actually Jeongyeon's first time entering as well. Her first impression has really gotten her
hopes up and she couldn't wait to start working here in a few days.

There are only two tables occupied at the moment, three customers on one and a couple on

The two girls went and sat on the oak stools in the middle of the counter when Jeongyeon's uncle
noticed her niece on the opposite side of the counter.

"Oh! Jeongyeon! You're not up here until a few more days. What're you doing here?" Her uncle
conversed in a rush while he places three slices of pork belly on top a freshly made ramen bowl.
He places the bowl near the edge of the counter and gestured to a young girl that was cleaning a
table. "Sowon! Table 3!"

A tall girl, about 5'6" in height, appears from the back room wearing a white apron over her white
sleeved dark blue casual dress that waves just above her knees and marches her way with the tray
carrying the ramen. No restaurant uniform huh?

"I just wanted to show my friend where I'm going to work." Jeongyeon gives a smile aimed at her
uncle and gestured to her companion. "This is Chaeyoung, the girl that moved next to us before
dad took us to Busan, and my somewhat adopted little sister", she introduced as she ruffled the
younger's hair quite violently.

"Ah! I've heard a few stories about you. You're the one that can't keep up with spicy stuff right?"

Chaeyoung nods yes.

"Don't worry, I'll prepare something you can handle. First meal is on the house for Jeongyeon's
childhood friends." He announces, with a smile that radiates family love before he disappeared
back into the kitchen.

"You knew we were going to get free food here!" Chaeyoung punched Jeongyeon in the shoulder
with average force. "I'm holding on to that demand. You still owe me something and you have to
actually take money out."

"Ouch! Fine, I will!" Jeongyeon rubbed her arm and grimaced at the surfacing pain. "You little
shit head monster."
"You're going to work here?” Chaeyoung asked, ignoring the insult. "With that barbaric
demeanor of yours, you'll only scare the customers away!"

"You have such a dirty mouth you know that?" Jeongyeon bantered.

That statement caught Chaeyoung off-guard. A dejected expression could be seen surfacing. "S-

"Woah! What's with that reaction?" Jeongyeon awkwardly laughed, trying to lighten the sudden
gloomy vibe coming from her friend. "It was joke!"

"I know." Chaeyoung laughed back.

"Bitch, don't scare me like that", Jeongyeon warned earning Chaeyoung another irritating hair

They both read the menu to decide what they would get. Chaeyoung didn't take that long. The
appetizing aroma from the ramen that the earlier customer ordered still lingered her area. She
decided that she would just have the same bowl as that one, but making sure to ask uncle Yoo not
to make it with even a hint of spiciness. Jeongyeon took a little longer to decide. She was more of
studying it actually, preparing herself mentally which dishes she could make and which she should
try researching.

They ate there for about an hour, slowly catching up on what they missed. Chaeyoung followed
her mother's footsteps and has taken quite the passion for photography. Jeongyeon told
Chaeyoung how she's also slowly trying out her dad's path of the Culinary Arts. But they didn't
want to report much to each other since they thought it would be unfair to leave Nayeon and Jihyo
out on the 'Welcome back! How have you been?' phase. So they decided to just divulge onto
random topics. Comics, games, movies, and the occasional immature sex jokes.

They bid their goodbyes and walked their separate paths from the restaurant.

Chaeyoung's ecstatic that Jeongyeon's is back. She reminisces back to five years ago where
everything was just chill. There was no other word for it. Hanging out, goofing around, cussing
and playful bickering. She couldn't wait to get the group back together like the old days.
But deep down, she knew she was only trying to fool herself. You don't just go back to the past as
if those five years had not happened at all.

You have such a dirty mouth you know that?

She places a finger on her bottom lip and loses herself to a certain memory caused by Jeongyeon's

"Yeah... They are dirty."

Day 5

Day 5 - Monday

The weekend went by without her noticing. Jeongyeon spent the last two days doing the final
touches with her apartment.

Within her bedroom, three layers of four feet Oak shelves mounted the east side of the wall where
her comic book collection, ranging from Marvel and DC to manhwas (Korean comics) such as
Noblesse and Tower of God, took the entirety of it.

The kitchenette has passed her personal requirements of including a small oven for baking, a
mandatory refrigerator filled with fruit juices, a dozen bottles of beer, packs of frozen meat and
assorted vegetables, and a pantry fully stocked with unhealthy snacks.

The living room has white plastic bowls positioned in the middle of every table - a pair of ceramic
accent tables and a Mahogany dining table, with varieties of hard candies for guests. Well, mostly
for her.

Jeongyeon grabs her apartment keys from a metal chrome hook she mounted on her front door
and stared back into her apartment admiring her new home.

Today is officially her first day of a life she returned to after five years.

Brisk walking through the school halls dawns nostalgia all over Jeongyeon. Same marble flooring,
same creamy white walls, and same matte deep brown sliding doors.

School had already started and she could see teachers roll calling for attendance in every room.
She passed by the primary grade section of the school on her way to her assigned room with the
guidance counsellor at her side and stumbled upon the room when she first met Nayeon.

I wonder if those are still the same set of tables they use.

They passed an enclosed bridge connecting to the high school building of the campus. She's never
stepped one foot in this area. She never saw the need to back then when she was oblivious to the
whole moving thing.

They have made their way on the third floor of the building and passed a few rooms before
stopping to her assigned section.

"Are you ready?" Mister Park, the counsellor, asked.

After a deep breath, Jeongyeon wears her best smile. "I am".

Mister Park knocked on the door lightly a few times. The door opens and closes, and introduces
her to their homeroom advisor.

"Ms Yoo, this is-"

"Seungyeon?” Jeongyeon cuts her counsellor off when she had a good look on her adviser's face.

Around the same height with her, she sported a khaki blazer over her white button up blouse, a
pair of black palazzo pants, and finishing off with a pair of black 3-inch closed toe heels.

"Do you two know each other?" Mister Park asked.

"Do I?" Seungyeon inquired confusingly as well.

"I'm Nayeon's best friend back in primary school. You were scolding us for a whole year for
fighting most of the time when you got assigned to our class."
Seungyeon was assigned as their homeroom during her fourth year in primary. An older sister
figure that everyone can relate to. She was this literature and arts teacher that favors doing skits for
activities rather than the typical "sit and draw or make something" kind of class.

Every time Jeongyeon and Nayeon perform they would always go off script and start bickering in
front of class mid-show. Nayeon likes to play as a princess, Jeongyeon as a savior. In context it
would work well. But when a medieval high born girl is kidnapped and locked inside an
impossibly high tower made of stacks of paper and tape, and a flying hero with laser beams
swooping in and wrecks everything with her super strength, it was chaos.

Annoyed, and entertained, Seungyeon would step in and stop the two from pulling the other's hair
off and send them back to their seats. Until a few minutes later, the two would start throwing
paper balls and erasers at each other for ruining their fantasy.

Deep inside, Seungyeon knew their fights were never serious and would only step in when class
is disturbed.

"I remember! Your hair's so much short now I didn't recognise you." Seungyeon clapped her
hands together as she refreshes her memory. "I'm glad you're back! That girl's been constantly
getting out of control. It's time someone to keep her in check again."

Out of control? What did she mean by that?

"So I'll leave her in your care now Miss Gong". Mister Park bid them both farewell and
disappeared through the corridors.

"Let's go in now shall we."

Seungyeon opens the door and announced my presence.

"Class! We have a new student." Seungyeon gestures for Jeongyeon to enter and introduce

She walked steadily until she reached the middle of the mini podium before turning to face the rest
of the class. She scans the room for familiar faces - there was none.
"Hi! I'm Yoo Jeongyeon. I used to go to school here until five years ago. Please take care of me!"
She ended with a fast bow.

"Is he a boy?" a guy whispers that Jeongyeon managed to pick up.

"I think so? I don't know. She's confusing me" another, a girl this time, replied.

I'm wearing a skirt, dumbasses.

"Go sit over there." Seungyeon points towards the corner most of the room next to the windows.

Of course. The new student always gets the corner seat.

"Go wake Nayeon up too while you get settled." Jeongyeon scans the area again after hearing the
familiar name. She distinguishes a slouching figure next to her assigned seat, her arms crossed on
the desk, head leaning uncomfortably on top, sleeping without a care. So that's why she couldn't
recognise Nayeon. For a moment, she was worried that she was assigned to a wrong class.

Confidently, she walked to her assigned spot and sits without making a noise, making sure not to
wake her seatmate. She wanted to make a list. Ideas she could try as a reunion prank. But her
thoughts never became a list. The first idea that popped in her head is the best already.

"Princess, wake up." Jeongyeon coos soothingly as she rubbed Nayeon’s vulnerable back.

Nayeon adjusts her head half asleep so that she could eye where the voice came from. When she
could name the owner of the voice, she smiled. "Hey Jeongie," she coos back.

"You have to wake up before the monster comes," Jeongyeon said with the same calming and
soothing tone.

"I'm not scared. You're here," Nayeon confidently replied. "Just punch the monster like you
always do".
Jeongyeon bows and does a circle motion with her hand in between them. "As you will milady".
She faces up again and smiles when their eyes reconnected.

Then Jeongyeon punches Nayeon's shoulder with just enough force for her to lose her balance.

Nayeon stands upright, regaining her balance, eyes widening to the brim, and backs away from
her attacking hero until her back presses against the wall, tumbling her chair in the process. She
blinks rapidly to test if her vision isn't decieving her.

All pair of eyes that filled the classroom dawned on her but she could only see one - Jeongyeon's.

"J-Jeongyeon?” she asked more to herself than the person beside her seat.

Jeongyeon is hiding her mouth with her hand, trying and failing not to laugh like a huge idiotic
dork that she is.

"Nayeon! Jeongyeon!" Both owners of the pair of names called shifted their attention to
Seungyeon. "It's the first day of school. On your last year of high school. First period hasn't even
started yet. Do not make me break the record for Sending Students to Guidance the Fastest, which
I also currently hold, unproudly mind you, with your support."

"Sorry!” Jeongyeon answers, still grinning and holding back her laughter.

Seungyeon returns to the board and continues writing basic guidelines and reminders as well as
the rest of the students.

Jeongyeon grabs a leg of the fallen chair and places it back properly. She eyes Nayeon and re-
enacts her bow and circling hand gesture. "Your seat milady".

Now fully awake, and fully embarrassed, Nayeon awkwardly returns to her seat without changing
the direction of her vision.

"Did you miss me?” the short haired girl teased.

Nayeon doesn't reply and continues to study the other girl's new but familiar features.

"Did you?"

Her hair is short now with blondish grey, dangling between her earlobes and her jaw line. It
looked like she's been growing them after cutting it too short. It suits her 'hero' personification.

"Helloooo~" Waving a hand on her face, Jeongyeon tries to get an answer again.

Her grin is still the same as she remembers. Mischievous and alluring, happy and contagious.

"Are you sleep walking?"

Her small face didn't seem to grow as she matured. She herself wonders if she is still indeed asleep
as she extends her arm and gently cups Jeongyeon's cheek.

"You're creeping me out"

"Are you real?" Nayeon asked as she rubs the younger's skin.

"Uh? Yes? I'm re - YAAAAA!"

Nayeon is still in denial that her long lost friend is sitting in front of her that she just had to make
sure. She pinched the flesh she was caressing like she released some pent up frustration in one full

"Jeongyeon! Nayeon! Guidance counsellor! Now!"

Seungyeon broke her own record after all.

"What happened to your face?" Chaeyoung arrived with her tray of beef rice bowl, orange juice,
and a cup of yogurt. "Don't tell me you have HIV already? You've only been back half a week for
fuck's sake."

"This is Nayeon's doing," Jeongyeon took a spoonful of her Kimchi soup and winced at her
stinging cheek.

"You gave her HIV?” Chaeyoung asked the other girl in the table as she settled herself.

"One, symptoms don't show in a few days". Nayeon raises a finger. "Two, I don't have them".
She raises a second finger. "And three," Nayeon leans over the table and grabs the youngest by
the collar, "how dare you keep her to yourself?"

"As much as I wanted to tell you," Chaeyoung replied as she swipes Nayeon's hand from her grip,
"which I don't, it was her idea".

Nayeon slouches back to her seat and takes a bite from her ham and egg sandwich before she
looks at Jeongyeon in disgust. "I can't believe you told her first".

"Oh? Jealous are we?” Jeongyeon teases.

"In your dreams," Nayeon retorts and shoves Jeongyeon by the shoulder.

"No. In your dreams." Jeongyeon teases which earnerd her with Nayeon's palms sliding over her

"I'm going to the restroom," Nayeon announces after messing Jeongyeon's face. She gets up and
starts walking. But after a few steps she glances back to the table and meets Jeongyeon's gaze.
The short haired girl just smiles at her as if she's saying I'm not going anywhere.
Nayeon resumes her walk smiling widely as if she's an only kid who found her lost puppy.

"Where's Jihyo?" Jeongyeon asks Chaeyoung while slurping her cooling stew.

"At the orphanage." Chaeyoung mumbles with her mouth full of rice.

"You're disgusting." Jeongyeon complained. She forgot that her own mouth was full of Kimchi
and a piece flew to the middle of the table.

Chaeyoung saw everything and tried to control her laughter. She succeeded only after spraying a
few grains of rice, mixing with the piece of Kimchi on the table.

Muffled snickering echoes around their table as they try to calm themselves down, both turning
tomato red at their embarrassing display in public.

"Anyway," Jeongyeon continues after wiping a tear, "why is Jihyo there?"

"She reasoned it's only the first day of school," Chaeyoung explains. "Said her time is better spent
with the kids."

"Always the mom huh?"

"Want me to bring the two later at AnKon?"

"Sure. My shift's five to nine."

After the classes ended, and an hour of lecture for causing disruption on her first day, Jeongyeon
is pedalling through the streets. Her marine blue blazer and cement gray skirt, flapping wildly
against the gale.

It's past four in the afternoon and she's running a little late for her part time job.

No time to go home and get changed.

Then for a second, she loses balance and swerves to the sidewalk, almost colliding with a street
light. All the exhaustion from unpacking and decorating in the last couple of days was gaining on
Jeongyeon. She didn't notice the soreness had already crept up her limbs due to the adrenaline of
her new life.

She arrived at her block with a few minutes to spare and stops by at the convenience store to rest
and rehydrate. She picks up a bottle of Pocari Sweat and a pack of gum and proceeds to the

"Good afternoon Jeongyeon!" the cashier greeted giddily.

"Hey Sana!" Jeongyeon greeted back as she sets the couple of items on the counter.

"How's first day of school?" Sana asks when she punched in the pack of gum.

Jeongyeon looks up and to her surprise; Sana is wearing the exact same uniform as her under her
store apron.

"Oh! You go to the same school!" Jeongyeon couldn't hide being happy for some reason and
flashed a grin. It must be the fact that there's someone living near her that is also working that goes
to the same school. "It was fun. Even though I got sent to guidance on the first day."

"A bad girl are we?" Sana said and winked after she finished inserting the items into a paper bag.

Jeongyeon felt a tad awkward and nervous at the way Sana spoke. She lingered at the bad girl
part, using a sultry tone.
That sounded like flirting.

She replied with an uneasy laugh and grabs her items.

"What year are you?" she asked while she waits for her change.

"On my last." Sana answered.

"We're in the same year then!"

"Why are you so happy about it?" Sana asked quite happily herself.

Jeongyeon rubs the back of her neck, a typical sign if nervousness, before answering. "I guess it
just kind of feels good that I know someone near here that also works part time and goes to the
same school as me."

"Where do you work!" the black haired girl asked that sounded more like a demand.

"At AnKon, the restaurant just over the next block."

"I love that place!" Sana clapped her hands together and bounced excitedly. "I'll come visit you
sometime! Change our roles," Sana laughs. It sounds like an infectious hiccup, in an enlightening

"See you soon," Jeongyeon bid farewell.

"I will!"
For the first hour, Jeongyeon learned how to man the cashier, waiting on tables, memorizing the
menu, and the easiest of recipes to make. Mostly noodle bowls as she just needed to place the
premade ingredients in a certain order. She's eager to learn what working in a restaurant feels like.

Back in Busan, as much as her father wanted her to experience restaurant life, she wasn't allowed
to. A reputable and strict working environment her father said.

Here in AnKon, her uncle is very lenient. Apron over any clothing, breaks if there are little to
none customers, and a free meal every shift.

Jeongyeon went outside after serving the only table occupied in the restaurant. Leaning on a wall
opposite the restaurant, she started smoking. She had limited her cancer sticks to a maximum of
two per day. One in the late afternoon and another before ending the day.

She had just taken her third drag when her hand holding the stick was slapped out of nowhere.

"What the fuck is this?" The slapper asked aggressively.

"A wasted lollipop," Jeongyeon answered sarcastically. She could hear Chaeyoung snickering
somewhere behind the assaulter.

"You return after five years and the first thing I see is you smoking. Please tell me this is the only
bad news you have for me."

"I missed you too Jihyo." Jeongyeon embraced the caring girl as tight as her sore arms can exert
which Jihyo returned with a suffocating hug of her own. "And yes, that's the only bad news I
have. Besides, it's not like I'm drinking underage."

Jihyo releases Jeongyeon, or shoved from third person perspective, and grabs Chaeyoung by the
collar of her shirt. "You drank again?"

Everybody just loves to grabe the youngest by the collar. Just like how cubs get dragged around
by their parents.
"Hyung!" The youngest exclaims as if she is blaming Jeongyeon for snitching.

"You never told me it was a secret." This time, Jeongyeon is the one snickering.

"Sorry I'm late!" Nayeon enters the restaurant running and settles herself at an empty seat beside
Jeongyeon. "Nice place," She studies the interior for a brief moment before facing her group of

"Want anything? First meal is on the house for being friends with me." Jeongyeon proudly

"Just the first?" Jihyo said, yelled if you're not familiar with her voice. "I should've gotten the most
expensive one then!"

"Not my fault you chose one of the cheapest ramen here." Jeongyeon defended. She picks up her
own bowl and slurps the last remnants of her Shoyu soup.

"So, I just had shower sex before coming here," Nayeon began to tell a story.

But when the word sex escaped Nayeon's lips, Jeongyeon was caught off guard at the sudden
personal topic and choked on her soup. Her gag reflex started to act up and pump all the contents
outward resulting in a powerful Shoyu full on facial spray for Chaeyoung who was unfortunately
sitting in front of her.

"WHAT THE FUCKING HELL!" The youngest wailed as she got up from her seat.

"Who's the unlucky person this time?" Jihyo asked which Nayeon just grinned to.

"Are you guys seriously ignoring what just happened to me?" Chaeyoung complained, the heat of
the mess traveling towards her patience.
"Wait, this is a normal thing?" Jeongyeon curiously asked from Jihyo's "used to it" tone.

"Me getting a fucking facial shower with soup coming from your fucking mouth in the fucking
middle of a restaurant is definitely new!"

"Language Chae," Jeongyeon answered fast as if shushing her so that Nayeon could start her

"MANNERS JEONG!" Chaeyoung fired back as she went to the restroom to try and fix herself.

"So? Who was it?" Jihyo asked again.

"Just someone from the team. Jennie from our year."

"The one that looks like a cat?"

"Yeah! That one!" Nayeon points at Jihyo.

"Jennie? A girl?" Jeongyeon butts in.

"Problem?" Nayeon shoots a death glare.

She didn't mean to sound judgemental. Jeongyeon was just surprised and never expected Nayeon
to be into women. It just wasn't in her character. Well, the character she knew of five years ago.

"No!" Jeongyeon apologizes without actually apologizing. "I was just surprised. I have nothing
against gender preferences."

Before things get awkward, Chaeyoung returned just in time with uncle Yoo in tow.

"Jeongyeon, did you really cause this?" He asked and motioned a hand to the youngest girl.

Jeongyeon just nods, a little afraid what will happen.

"A free meal next time you visit," Uncle Yoo turns to face Chaeyoung, "from Jeongyeon's pay
this time". He then walks back to the kitchen, but not before muffling his own snickering.

"You're taking me to your place." Chaeyoung demanded of Jeongyeon. "I'm taking a shower. I
feel like shit."

"You're over reacting," Jihyo commented.

"No. I literally feel like shit since it came from hyung's vile mouth." And then Chaeyoung heard
something fired towards her, failing to take a reflexive dodge. Whatever was fired landed on her
chest, smack in the middle of it.


"Three meals on Jeongyeon!" The man shouted back from the counter.

"I'm going to get you so broke." Chaeyoung smirked at Jeongyeon as if she did all the taunting on

"You two are seriously disgusting." Nayeon says behind Jeongyeon.

Jihyo was laughing too much in the corner that she had to stop herself from shedding a tear. The
three who weren't laughing all stared at Jihyo as if they're waiting for an explanation at her humor.

"I just, you know" Jihyo does a horizontal circular motion with a finger, "I missed this. Us. Jeong
and Chae having their love-hate sibling relationship, me worrying about you three, and Nayeon
showing disgust at you two but deep down she's envious for leaving her out."
Jeongyeon and Chaeyoung snap their head at Nayeon's direction at a frightening speed and
smirked devilishly at the same time.

"Don't you dare spit on me you uncivilized monkeys!" Nayeon warned, getting up and backing
away from her seat for safety.

The two short haired girls sat there unmoving. Their gazes telling Nayeon that they can't make any

"I'm leaving. See you two jerks tomorrow." Nayeon spins on her heel and left.

"I better follow her," Jihyo says as she stood up. "Goodnight you two." She sends an I really
missed you flying kiss at Jeongyeon on her way out.

The chilly air blows constantly, making the two girls’ walk a shivering one.

They are accompanied by silence. Neither girl talked to each other as if the hilarious spit fest
moment did not happen just a few minutes ago.

Tapping from the pavement with their shoes, the gale cutting through the rustling trees and their
chilled breaths are the only sounds the two could hear.

Someone had to start talking.

"So", the girl started, finally breaking the deafening silence, "when are you going to tell her? Or
rather, are you going to tell her?"

"I - I don't know."

And then another walk of silence.

When they have reached the cross roads where they have to go their separate ways, one of them
talked again.

"You have to, you know. You're lucky Chaeyoung hasn't told her yet."

"I know. I just-" she pauses and releases a sigh." I just don't think dropping this on her after she
moved back would be a good idea."

"Neither is not telling her the truth."

Both stared at each other, telling the other that their view on the matter is the right one. They stood
there for a full minute before one started walking again.

"I will."

"Don't take too long."

Day 9

Day 9 - Friday

First school week ended with nothing special transpiring. Chaeyoung went somewhere
immediately every after the last bell, Jihyo would head straight to the orphanage and Nayeon was
busy with her volleyball practices. Everyone had something to do right after school except for
Jeongyeon who just go to work and head straight home. She expected clingy catching-up time at
least for the first few weeks of her return but wallows in disappointment. She would still try.

"You guys want to hangout after school?" she asks during their usual lunch together.

"Practice," Nayeon excused in monotone.

"Orphanage," Jihyo followed.

"I have to do something," Chaeyoung ends.

"Okay." As much as Jeongyeon tries to hide her growing disappointment, she could not stop her
sulking reflex.

Nayeon notices this and places a hand on top of Jeongyeon's. "Tomorrow, at Chae's place. We
have time on weekends. Promise," she says soothingly.

"I'll also kick your ass at Mortal Kombat this time," Chaeyoung adds. "Promise."

"Can we not play that thing the whole day?" Jihyo places a palm on her forehead and sighs in
advanced frustration.

"We're just really busy on weekdays," Nayeon ends, feeling guilty for the lack of attention they
are offering Jeongyeon.
We had to keep ourselves busy.

In her peripheral, Jeongyeon spots a familiar black with red highlights hairdo leaving the cafeteria
with a few friends.

"Do you guys know someone named Sana?" she asks when the person in question has left her

"The Japanese girl with the colorful hair that hangs out with the other foreigners in school?" Jihyo
answers when the other two wouldn't. "What about her?"

"Nothing," Jeongyeon answers back, not noticing the discomfort of Nayeon at the sudden topic.
"Just wondered if any of you are friends with her."

What should I do today?

The same question has repeatedly infiltrated Jeongyeon's mind throughout the school hours. She
had already cleaned her apartment from the aftermath of furnishing, memorized the menu of
AnKon, shopped extra pillows in advanced if ever her friends would sleep over (seems to be in
vain), reread some of her comics, and cleaned her apartment a second time out of boredom.

Her first week passed by agonizingly slow. She could not even blame her friends since she did
come back unannounced.

She knew beforehand that Nayeon is with the volleyball team and Jihyo is with a volunteer group,
but she has no idea what Chaeyoung was doing. It did not even occur to her to ask that midget
sister of hers.

"Jeongyeon," the history teacher called out.

"Yes sir?"

"Wake your seatmate up. And tell her that being in a sports team is not an excuse to sleep during
classes." He orders and resumes writing facts about how The Great Wall of China was
constructed and how difficult it was to cross at the time.

The last bell rang just before Jeongyeon could attempt waking her seatmate up.

"Remember class, we have a quiz next week!" The teacher left after his announcement just as
eager as the students.

For a moment, Jeongyeon was tempted not to wake Nayeon up as a prank but was not in the
mood and decided against it.

"Hey, class is finished," she lightly nudged Nayeon.

As they exit the classroom, Jeongyeon noticed a quote scribbled on a notebook of one of her

The most difficult wall to cross is a wall you cannot see.

The bicycle rack was close to deserted. Only four bikes were visibly lined up. Jeongyeon
unlatches hers and rolls it at her side towards the school exit when she spots the same familiar dark
red highlight flowing along with the wind. Her choice of hair color stands out too much for
Jeongyeon to ignore. She jogs fervently, catching up in a few seconds by the exit.

"Hey Sana!" Jeongyeon taps the girl on the shoulder.

The Japanese girl twirls on spot, quite surprised at the sudden greeting. "Oh, hello Jeongyeon."
"Are you headed to work?" Jeongyeon couldn't point her finger on it but it seemed like she was
quite taken aback. It was as if she doesn't take talking to strangers well, which is in contrary with
her part time personality.

Sana nods yes and smiles shyly.

"Want to hitch a ride?" Jeongyeon pats the back seat of her bicycle as she offers her service.

"Oh, no thanks!" Sana raises both of her hands and waves them sideways. "I wouldn't want to be
a bother."

"You're not." Jeongyeon gets on her seat and readies her hands on the handles. "Get on."

Sana hesitates and takes a quick look at her surroundings. She complies after a few seconds and
sits behind Jeongyeon with both feet dangling on one side. "I'm not good at balancing things,
especially myself."

"Put your arms around me" Jeongyeon places a foot on one of the pedals.


"Why are you so shy?" Jeongyeon teases. "Here." She catches Sana's hands from her back and
wraps them around her waist as if it's the most natural thing to do (which it is whenever riding a
bike). "Hold on!"

Sana tightens her grip and presses her head against Jeongyeon's back, eyes closed as she felt the
two-wheeled contraption accelerate.

"Hey, relax a little." Jeongyeon says when she felt difficulty in breathing from Sana's grip. "Is this
your first time riding a bicycle?"

"First time riding behind one!" Sana yells, a little terrified.

Jeongyeon laughs and exerts more effort.

"Are you trying to kill us?!" Sana yells again.

"Stick your head out," Jeongyeon orders, ignoring the last comment.

"What?" Sana asked, unsure of what she heard against the sharp wind.

"Get your face out of my back and stick your head out!"

Sana is being cautious. Inch by inch, she moves her head backwards until it is a few feet away
from Jeongyeon's. She opens her eyes and takes in the ever changing view. Buildings and houses,
old and new, fly past as if they're being sucked by a black hole behind them. The tree lines appear
and dart around them in a kaleidoscope. People swish in a blur with the speed of the bicycle as if
she's in The Flash's vision.

"Feels great right?" Jeongyeon interrupts her passenger's reverie.

"Yes," Sana confirms, her grip around Jeongyeon adjusting from being tense to a relaxed and
embracing state, "yes it does."

"Hey Sana, we're here."

Sana hadn't notice that the bicycle has already become stationary, tilting on their left on
Jeongyeon's foot. As much as she's scared to admit - due to the thrill of the speed, she truly
enjoyed the instant five minute ride.

"Oh!" Sana hops off and fiddles with her fingers. "Thank you for the ride!"
"Anytime," Jeongyeon bows her head and waves her right, landing on her chest as if she's a
chivalric knight. Typical dorky Jeongyeon. "Don't hesitate next time."

"I won't." Sana grins from ear to ear and starts skipping backwards towards the store. "See you!"

"Bye!" Jeongyeon kicks the ground and starts cycling again.

She let Sana linger in her thoughts for a few more moments. She notices a huge change of attitude
the farther they got away from school. Back at the school exit, Sana was obviously looking
around before riding the bicycle like she didn't want people to see. Here at the store, she's back to
the way she first met her, energetic and all smiles.

Is she going through something?

But then again, she's just assuming things.

"Jeongyeon! Two orders of Lava Ttoekbokki Ramen for table 2!"

"Coming up!"

Today has been the busiest shift this week with the first weekend of school. Students from
different grades and schools mostly occupy the restaurant, but none were from hers based on the

"Sowon! Salmon Rolls and Katsudon Set for counter 6!"

"On the way!" Sowon yells back beside Jeongyeon.

Sowon usually works the shift before Jeongyeon's. But on Fridays she has to help cover double
the shift due to customer demand.

They've been working for the past three hours but Jeongyeon hasn't been able to hold a proper
conversation with her as both are busy moving around the kitchen, serving tables, and yelling
back order confirmations.

At half past 8pm, the flow of customers had decreased, occupying only a fourth of the tables.
Their shift ends at 9pm. Sowon asked and got permission from Uncle Yoo if she could leave a
few minutes before her actual time.

"See you Jeongyeon!" Sowon stops for a moment and waves a hand in front of her co-worker.
"Hope we can actually have a conversation next time."

"I was thinking about that too." Jeongyeon smiles and waves back. "Take care!"

"Jeongyeon," her uncle pops out from the drapes, "take your dinner and you can go. I can handle
the rest."

She thanks him and sat at one of the empty tables near the entrance with her bowl of Shoyu

After a single slurp, an intruder abruptly sits in front if her.

"Are you on a break?" Sana asks, smiling giddily.

"Actually, my shift just ended." Jeongyeon resumes eating, being adjusted around Sana despite
only meeting her three times.

Sana places both her elbows upright on the table, resting her head on her palms. "Too bad. You
get to see me work but I couldn't see you."

"Here you go Sana." Uncle Yoo places a crab dish cautiously in front of the girl. "Don't spill it
this time." He says before disappearing behind the counter.

"I didn't even notice you ordered." Jeongyeon blankly stares at the dish.

"I didn't," the Japanese girl says, showing off. "I'm a regular."

"You order this all the time? Isn't that expensive?"

"It is. This is the only luxury I pamper myself once a month."

"And you spilt it the last time?" Jeongyeon raised an eyebrow.

"I was tilting it for a decent selfie angle!" Sana defends herself, giggling.

"Food selfies are still a thing?" Jeongyeon chuckles a little as she's getting infected by Sana's

"Yes, they're still a thing. Judger." Sana playfully slaps Jeongyeon's arm across the table. "As a
matter of fact," she brings out her phone and stretcher her arm, "let's take one!"

Jeongyeon complies and leans closer to the middle of the table, forming a V with her fingers
below her chin.

"Tilt your bowl for a better angle," Sana orders as she tilts her own plate.

"Hey," Jeongyeon places a hand on top of Sana's to stabilize the plate better, "you might spill it
again. Let me."

She raises her own bowl too, as ordered, and smiled at the camera. A few seconds passed but
Sana's thumb over the camera button remain unmoving. She catches Sana on the screen just -
staring at her. So she returns the gaze, engaging eye contact.
"Are you going to take the shot or what?" Jeongyeon asks, catching her off guard.

Then the clicking sound echoes through the crowded restaurant.

"Do you even know how to do a selfie?" Jeongyeon teases, releasing her suffocating-like laugh.
"You have to look at the camera."

"Ah! Let's take it now!" Sana says, shifting her view towards her straining arm.

"You blank out a lot huh?" Jeongyeon voices out before returning her eyes on the screen.

Walking on the sidewalks with a new friend felt very refreshing for Jeongyeon. The whole time,
she kept thinking how her life would return to the way it used to be with her small group of
mischievous friends - which she kept on waiting impatiently. But not once, did the thought of
meeting and gaining a new one entered her mind.

Neither of them wanted to go home yet. It's an early Friday night and both of them had nothing
else to do at their places. So they decided to just walk aimlessly, shoulder to shoulder, crossing
block by block.

"Want to play a Get-To-Know game?" Sana suggests for a conversation.

"Sure. Rules?"

Sana hops in front of Jeongyeon with a grin and walks backwards. A cute habit. "We take turns
asking questions and we both answer them, honestly of course, starting with the one who asked."

"I'm game. You start." Jeongyeon returns the smile.

"Let's go with an easy one first. Any siblings? I'm an only child."

"Me too. Well, I have some kind of an adopted sister." An image of Chaeyoung flashes and
makes a disgusted face.


"One question at a time." Jeongyeon teases. "We're playing a game remember? And it's my turn."

"Fine." Sana laughs. "Ask."

"Hobby? And please don't answer selfies." Sana dramatically gasps and lightly slaps her in the
shoulder. "Mine's cooking and comic books. But my favorite is just biking around town a few
hours at a time."

"I kind of understand after earlier." The edges of Sana's hair are slightly pointing horizontally,
Jeongyeon notices. Maybe due to the ride. "Tasting new things. I'm not a heavy eater but I want to
try all sorts of stuff." Sana points a finger at Jeongyeon, an idea hatching in her head. "When you
experiment cook, let me be the tester!"

"I'll come find you then. Your turn."

"Any fears? I can't stand whenever thunder strikes." Sana embraces herself and fakes a shiver.
"Literally, by the way."

"Mine's not a fear, I think. I just get really nervous when all eyes are on me in a crowded place."

They reached a dead end and started walking back where they came from.

"Want to up the questions a little?" Jeongyeon asks and receives a nod.


"You just asked a question so it's my turn!" Sana interrupts with a smirk.

"No fair! That counts as one?" Jeongyeon chuckles at the girl's childish reasoning. "Fine. Go

"Single? Single."


Both of them laugh at each of their emotionless answer as if neither wants to dwell on the topic at

"Any regrets? Mine's this," Jeongyeon inserts a stick between her lips and lights it. "I'm already
lessening it but I just can't completely stop."

Sana taps her chin every few seconds, thinking of her answer carefully. "It's not a regret, but I am
sad about it." She pauses for a moment, tilting her head upwards and stares at the night sky.
"Something happened before and I got stuck in making a decision between my friends or making
a lot of new friends." She returns her sight to Jeongyeon's. "Of course, I chose my original friends
but I still wanted to make new ones too."

Is that why she looked around the school earlier?

"Hi, I'm Jeongyeon." She raises a hand midway between them. "Can I be your friend?"

"Very funny." Sana mimics Jeongyeon, raising her hand for a handshake. "And yes, you can be
my friend."

Her stare was deep. There was a pull eminating from her orbs that felt like you're being sucked in
as Jeongyeon maintains eye contact. She notices a glow in Sana's eyes, kinda like a twinking
star, that felt like she wanted to hear those words for a very long time.
"My turn." Hands let go, their attention returning to the game at hand. "Do you have friends in
school? Since you just moved here and all. I was wondering if you were doing okay." Sana waits
for an answer but Jeongyeon just stared at her. "What is it? Is it too personal?" she asks, panic
showing on her face.

"You're a cute ditz you know." Jeongyeon laughs again before taking another drag of her stick.
"This is the second time you forgot the rules of your own game. The one asking answers first."

"Ah! Sorry," Sana exclaims in relief, giggling alongside Jeongyeon. "So, there's Momo in the
same year as us and my classmate and my bestfriend. Mina, a year below us. And Tzuyu, two
years below us. We're all foreigners."

The one that hangs out with the other foreigners in school. Jeongyeon remembers hearing about
that from Jihyo.

"Your turn."

"Actually, I lived here five years ago so I do have friends in school."

"Oh~" Sana lingers her articulation with the single syllable, amazed at the fun fact.

"I have my best friend Nayeon, also in the same year and classmate. Jihyo, a year below us. And
the adopted sister I mentioned earlier, Chaeyoung, two years below. I saved that girl from eternal
boredom, just so you know."

"I know that group!" Sana states. "And we're also evenly distributed in year levels too!"

"Oh!" Jeongyeon claps twice at the surprise knowledge. "You're right! Our two groups should
hangout sometime."

Jeongyeon spins to look at Sana for agreement but didn't receive any. Sana is just smiling blankly
at her.
"Yeah," a tone of unsurety clearly visible, "sometime."

Did I say something wrong?

"So," Sana speaks again, waving her hand at the apartment beside them. "This is my place."

Jeongyeon did not even notice that they had already walked back past AnKon already.

"I had a really fun time getting to know you Jeongyeon." Sana smiles at her direction before she
starts to walk backwards into the apartment entrance, waving goodbye. "We should play the game
agains sometime. Goodnight! See you soon."

"Yeah," Jeongyeon replies and returns the wave. "See you." Sana disappears into the doorways.

Jeongyeon sits on the sidewalk, finishing the remnants of her cigarette, and ponders why Sana
seemed upset during the last round of the game. With all the information and small talks she has
heard, only one topic question comes into mind. Is their group being bullied? Shunned? Outcasts?

It only took Jeongyeon one more puff before the stick reached the brim. She gets up after
throwing the butt in a nearby trash can when she realizes something.

"Wait a minute." She turns about face, slowly, just like how in a horror movie when the ghost
makes its presence known to the characters.

She runs inside the building that Sana disappeared into and climbs the stairs, taking two steps at a
time until, reaching the third floor of the apartment in no time. She turns in the corner of the hall
and stops to catch her breath.

"What are you doing here?" Sana asks, bewildered, in the middle of tuning her key inside her
doorknob. "I did say see you soon but this is too soon."

Jeongyeon walks cautiously towards Sana, stopping right behind her.

"Yo-," Sana stutters, body unmoving. "You're scaring me."

Jeongyeon inserts her hand in one of her pockets, fiddling inside it. Metal clinking sounds can be

"Were you lying to me back then? Are you really a kidnapper?" Sana opens her door in
centimeters at a time, thinking if she can run in and lock herself fast enough.

She's preparing herself to do so. Counting mentally One, Two, Thr-

The clattering of a set of keys rattled behind her, substituting her escape plan with sudden
curiosity. She turns around and finds Jeongyeon with a half opened door behind her, a hand on
the knob while the rest of her body still facing Sana.

No way, both of them thought.

We live across each other?

"Hey babe, wake up! It's almost midnight. My parents will be home any minute now."

"A few more minutes Jeongie", Nayeon blabs half asleep.

"Jeongie?" the sleep intruder asks.

"Jennie! I said Jennie!" Nayeon pries her eyes open, stands up and starts gathers her things in a
hurry. "Bye babe!" She places a quick peck on Jennie's lips then storms out of the house before
Jennie's parents arrive - or before she blurts another Jeongie.
I'm dreaming about Jeongyeon again…
Day 10

Day 10 - Saturday

"What are you doing here?" Chaeyoung asked as she leaned on the doorway, not even bothering
to hide her irritation at the sudden visit.

"We're hanging out here after lunch, remember?" Jeongyeon answered, smiling brightly as the

"After lunch", the smaller girl repeated. "It's freakin nine in the morning."

The Such A Small World We Live In moment discovery last night immensely troubled Jeongyeon.
At one point, she panicked. Someone whom she just met a week ago had invaded her space.
Legally. Well, technically she's the one who moved into Sana's life but in her defence, Sana talked
to her first. Then at one point, she was ecstatic. A Friendly Girl Next Door setting. She thought of
getting chummy with Sana that would eventually turn into a friend with Problems-Solved-with-
just-a-Knock-Away kind of relationship. She's not replacing her old friends, but getting a new one
isn't so bad.

But then it got her thinking again when the word friend came up. What kind of situation forced
Sana to make such a decision about either sticking with her old friends or making new ones?

She couldn't take a chance bumping into Sana today as she might make a rash decision and
question her past. So she decided to leave as soon as she woke up, thus ended up in Chaeyoung's
place hours earlier than planned with nothing but her knee ripped jeans and plain white shirt.

"Ah~!" A refreshed sigh escaped Jeongyeon after taking a gulp of orange juice that Chaeyoung
offered. "It feels great to drink fresh fruit juice in the morning."
"You still haven't answered my question." Chaeyoung stated as she sat on her black leather couch,
lifting both her feet on top of her coffee table.

"I did." The older girl argued, sitting on the other side of the couch and mimics the owner, placing
both of her feet on the table. "I lost track of time."

"That was obviously fake. Try again."

Jeongyeon sighs in mock frustration. "I wanted to play with you earlier so that we won't bore
Nayeon and Jihyo later."

"Better." Chaeyoung crossed her arms, liking the older girl's answer. "But I still don't believe you.
Next excuse."

"What makes you think that was an excuse?" Jeongyeon glares.

"Because I grew up with you and you mostly haven't changed." Chaeyoung confidently
answered. "Besides, you love it when we disgust them with our hobbies."

"Fine. I just missed you so much I wanted to hangout as much as I can." Jeongyeon answered
again, avoiding eye contact due to her embarrassing excuse.

Chaeyoung leans forward and studies her guest's facial features and body language carefully,
letting the ticking sounds of her wall clock echo within the living room.

"I believe you." Chaeyoung said, leaning back on her most comforting corner of the couch.

Got you, Jeongyeon mentally cheered.

"But I still don't believe that's the real answer to my question." Chaeyoung smirks to irritate
Jeongyeon as she takes a sip from her tea.
"Sana lives across my apartment and I'm avoiding her." Jeongyeon finally admits.

"And you're avoiding her because...?"

"That's it?" Jeongyeon expected loads of teasing from her foul mouthed friend or some sort of
shocked reaction.

"What? I have no idea what's wrong about that. I've only heard you say her name one other time
back in school."

She's right. Jeongyeon forgot that they have no idea the two of them are friends yet.

"Did you do something that you have to avoid her?"

"No." Jeongyeon had no idea, actually. She then just realized that maybe it's just simple
awkwardness that compelled her to do so.

"Then what is it?"

"It's just... awkward, I guess?" Jeongyeon shrugs.

Not noticing her own excitement, she tells a quick summary how, since she and Sana live next to
each other, the possibility is huge that they'll become friends in no time.

"Ew..." Chaeyoung grimaces. "You're being all cute and girly. Time for a bloody Mortal Kombat

Jeongyeon punches the other girl in the shoulder as she fetches the controllers from across the

"By the way, do you know someone named Tzuyu?"

"I sit next to her." Chaeyoung answers after pressing the power button. "I don't talk to her though.

"She's friends with Sana. Maybe you could befriend her and our two groups could hangout."

"That's gonna be hard." Chaeyoung replies, plopping back on the couch. "Nobody really talks to
her or their group."

So they are really being shunned.

"They're being bullied?"

"Not really." Chaeyoung hands a controller to Jeongyeon. "They just stick to their own. I wasn't
in highschool yet when they became isolated so you should ask Nayeon or Jihyo about it.

"So you're not going to talk to Tzuyu?"

"I said it was going to be hard. I didn't say no. She's the silent type. And when I say silent it's like
she's mute or something." Chaeyoung starts the Versus Mode. "I don't really talk to others too
either besides you three so it's not a bad idea."

"Thanks Chae," Jeongyeon said with a bright smile, "but I should apologize in advance."

"What for?"

"For shattering your pride when my Sub Zero murders your Scorpion."

"Oh it's on!"

"So, Jeongie," Nayeon asks while chewing her slice of pizza, "did you meet anyone special when
you were Busan?"

Nayeon arrived at around 1pm carrying three boxes of pizza and two dozen chicken wings for
lunch. Jihyo arrived shortly after with three 1.5-liters of various sodas. The both of them begged
the short haired girls to stop playing video games, which the two were reluctant to agree with their
score being 17-19 in Jeongyeon's favor, and start a movie instead.

Nayeon sat at one end of the couch while Jeongyeon took the other end. Jihyo found herself
settled at the maroon padded recliner on the couch's left that is angled towards the center coffee
table. Chaeyoung sat on the floor, elbows resting on the coffee table, munching on her wings with
her back turned against the television that is currently playing 500 Days of Summer.

"Nah," Jeongyeon waves her hands in dismissal. "I didn't have thoughts of things like that

"Before?" Chaeyoung chimes in. "So you do now?"

"Just thoughts. It is my last year before college after all."

"Oh~," Nayeon lingers. "Is it someone from our class?"

"Just thoughts about it, Nayeon." Jeongyeon glares. "I don't have a crush on someone if that's
what you're implying. What about you and that girl you were talking about?"

"Jennie?" Jihyo answers for Nayeon. "She's just a phase. Nayeon doesn't stick to anyone that

"How can you say that!?" Nayeon elbows Jihyo playfully.

"Tell me I'm lying then." Jihyo challenges the eldest, smiling confidently. "You have never gone
past three months with anyone yet."
Nayeon covers her heart dramatically, delaying while she thinks of a comeback. But she couldn't
think of any.

"So my best friend is a player now." Jeongyeon guesses, smirking awkwardly. She isn't used to
these kinds of topics yet especially with the girl she grew up with. It felt strange that Nayeon
changed dramatically without her witnessing it.

"I am not!" Nayeon defends, launching a kick at Jeongyeon's hips. "I just haven't found the right

"Ow!" Jeongyeon rubs her side. "No need to be violent."

"But it's alright to be violent if it's Chaeyoung?" For a moment, Nayeon let out a tone of jealousy
that Jeongyeon noticed.

"She's a hobbit. She's harmless."

"Hey!" Chaeyoung whines. "You attacked my height and my strength out of nowhere! I'm just
eating here."

"Ah! I'm sorry Chae!" Jeongyeon puts on a worried face. "Please. Don't mind us and continue
eating so that you may continue to grow taller and dazzle us with your might in the near future!"

"You're an asshole, you know that?" No matter how hard Chaeyoung tried to hide it, the corner of
her lip rose and a dimple surfaced at Jeongyeon's sarcastic remark.

"It seriously amazes me that you two failed to mature the slightest bit." Jihyo interrupts happily,
clapping repeatedly.

"Ouch!" Jeongyeon and Chaeyoung react at the same time.

Nayeon releases her high pitched laugh at the two's reaction that everyone is sure it can be heard
outside the house. "We can never really win against our Goddess Jihyo."
Who the hell can?

Hours went and passed. Lunch finished hours ago. And dinner ended as well with their assorted
Chinese delivery. Four more movies were played after 500 Days of Summer but none of them
really watched. Just background dialogues while the four talk about random topics.

Sometime around after dinner, Chaeyoung brought out three different brands of vodka from her
hidden stash which Jeongyeon questioned the point of having a hidden stash at all.

"I'm underage. Cops might come for me."

"So you're hiding them from cops that have no reason to raid this place?" Jeongyeon raises an
eyebrow. "It's more believable if you had told me you're hiding them from your mom."

"She's the one who gave me these, actually." Chaeyoung proudly confessed, grinning with her
deep dimples. "Said that it's part of growing up and better if she knew instead of going behind her

"What the fuck?" Jeongyeon laughs like and idiot at the logic.

There are times that Jeongyeon envies Chaeyoung's carefree mom. The youngest girl had little to
none rules that bind her. Total freedom one might say. But at the cost of rarely seeing your only
parent satiates that jealousy. She would rather have her parents around and live with normal
parenting limitations. But ironically, she did leave them to live on her own now. The difference is,
hers are still within the country. So in a way, she has both freedom and her parents in reach.

"Come on!" Nayeon shouts, passing the brim filled shot glasses to the others. "Let's start this
reunion party already!"

"To Jeongyeon's return!" Jihyo announces, competing with Nayeon's volume as she raises her
glass to initiate a toast. The other three raised theirs as well and clink them together in the air,
spilling a few drops on the wooden surface before downing the alcohol in unison.

This went on for three more rounds within ten minutes as Nayeon reasoned she wants to reach a
decent buzz level instantaneously. She actually wanted to go for a fifth round but Jihyo took
control of the situation before someone gets drunk just as the party started and blasted music from
Chaeyoung's speakers instead.

Nayeon didn't complain though. In fact, She stood up on the couch as soon as Jihyo pressed the
play button and started jumping repeatedly, waving an arm in the air.

"Careful!" Jihyo instinctively warns.

Chaeyoung stands up as well and starts spinning in place, arms flailing without pattern in her short
perimeter. She bumps the coffee table, almost falling on it but ignored it, continuing to spin and
flail mindlessly.

Jihyo gave up caring for the moment as she as well started looking dumb, speed walking around
the living room with arms popping upwards and head side banging alternately. Jeongyeon
mentally compared her with a lizard running in water.

"Come on!" The eldest of the group hopped onto the empty seat between her and Jeongyeon and
grabbed the latter's arms, prompting her to get up and dance as well.

"It's okay. I'm not good at dancing." Jeongyeon leans back into her corner of the couch, shyly
rejecting Nayeon's demand.

"Are you blind?" Nayeon points to the couple idiots spinning and running around the living room.
"You can't be that bad." Nayeon attempts to pull Jeongyeon up a second time. She didn't need a

The returnee stood erect all of a sudden. It seemed like she was only being shy for a second out of
humbleness but is the most excited to dance deep down.

Nayeon grins at her successful persuasion only to be dismayed as she witnesses how Jeongyeon
dances. For some bizarre reason, she actually combined the other two's dance, running around the
room with Jihyo, flailing her arms like a tornado. She bumped into Jihyo within ten seconds and
fell flat against the floor, laughing hysterically the momentary pain off.
fell flat against the floor, laughing hysterically the momentary pain off.

"I take back what I said." Nayeon mutters under her breath.

Becoming serious all of a sudden, Chaeyoung stopped whatever childish act she was doing and
actually followed the beat of the music. Combining a mixture of arm and shoulder popping with
upper body krumping, she actually looked pretty badass which earned applause from Jeongyeon.
Jihyo stood beside Chaeyoung a few torso pops later, synchronizing her popping act with her own
puppet isolation gimmick.

Nayeon helped Jeongyeon up on her feet and took both her hands, pumping them repeatedly
upwards with the beat. "How about dancing seriously now?" She smiles.

Jeongyeon follows, trying not to embarrass herself now that the rest aren't making fools of
themselves anymore.

After the second song, they drank another couple of rounds.

After the fourth song, the alcohol had invaded into their systems, slightly blurring Jeongyeon's

During the sixth song, she noticed Nayeon grinding her back to her front. She was having fun
with her friends after such a long time so she grinded along, bending her knees to match Nayeon's

The seventh song was a tad bit slower than the earlier ones. Nayeon has her arms wrapped
around Jeongyeon's neck and Jeongyeon has hers around Nayeon's waist as they dance through
the beat. If they were seen in a bar, anyone would think they're flirting with each other. But they're
just really close friends.

Just friends.

"I'm getting tired." Jihyo kneels near the speakers and scanned for a relatively slow paced song
while Jeongyeon and Chaeyoung takes a breather on the couch and Nayeon prepares their
miniscule glasses for another round.
"I'm jealous of Nayeon," Chaeyoung confesses to Jeongyeon in a way only they can hear.

"Jealous?" Jeongyeon asks, facing Chaeyoung.

"I wonder what it feels like having a girlfriend."

"You must be drunk." Jeongyeon laughs at the younger girl's misuse of words. "You said girl

Chaeyoung locks eyes with Jeongyeon, half expecting this kind of reaction. "I meant what I said."

Jeongyeon's vision straightened, sobering her system. "Oh... I-I'm sorry. I wasn't judging I
promise." Jeongyeon stutters a little. "I really thought you misused your words."

"It's okay."

"But," the older girl pauses, choosing her words carefully, "since when?"

"Since the beginning I guess?" Chaeyoung answers without thinking as if she had prepared
a script to the topic. "Haven't you ever wondered why I've been calling you hyung all this time?"

"Wasn't it because you thought I was a guy?"

"That's true." Chaeyoung nods. "But I call you hyung, not oppa. Get it yet?"

To add to Jeongyeon's eyes being wide open, her jaw dropped at the mind blowing realization.

"Here," Nayeon interrupts Jeongyeon's information processing, handing her two glasses filled
with alcohol. "I think you need to refill your system after hearing that."

Jeongyeon downs the glasses in a split second, grimacing at the strong unhindered flavor. "Wait,
don't tell me Jihyo's one too?" She asks the two.

"I don't have preferences if that's what you're asking." The second youngest answers before
downing a glass. "Male or female, I don't care."

"You said you won't judge." Nayeon’s speaks up again. "Your face is showing otherwise."

"No!" Jeongyeon protests. "I'm not! I'm just... shocked."

"We know." Nayeon laughs hard at Jeongyeon's defensive reaction. "You're not that kind of
person." She stands up again and pulls Jeongyeon and Chaeyoung up. "Now let's dance again!"

Twelve songs and three empty bottles later, Chaeyoung and Nayeon are passed out with half their
bodies on the couch and half dangling on the floor.

Midway during the night, Jeongyeon decided to fake her drinking by throwing the contents of her
glass in one of Chaeyoung's potted plants. She doesn't like getting drunk at all so she avoids
passing her perfect buzz threshold at all costs.

Only Jihyo noticed her trick being the only other one who isn't completely intoxicated. She
stopped drinking sometime in the middle for this exact situation she says to Jeongyeon.
"Somebody had to clean up the mess. I just happen to volunteer every time."

The two lightly tipsy girls managed to clean the surprisingly minimal mess they caused in less than
fifteen minutes. Just a few spills and candy wrappers lay on the floor.

Jeongyeon popped open a bag of Cheetos she found in the pantry and settled on the dinner table
beside Jihyo and munched a piece. "Why an orphanage?"

"I mean, you could've volunteered in an elderly home or for the disabled. Why specifically an

Hovering her head over the bag of Cheetos, Jihyo selectively picked a few pieces that are darker
than the rest. "Mom's always busy at the hospital," biting a piece of the orange brittle stick in half,
"we don't spend time together anymore. I see her barely once a month and the rare times I do she's
exhausted so she sleeps as soon as she gets home. I don't want my future kid to experience that.
I'm learning how to raise kids there."

"Oh, sorry..." Jeongyeon didn't know what to say back. She's always teased her for her motherly
attitude that she's forgotten her mom's occupation.

And here she was on the other side of the country, left her parents just so she could have her
friends back. Making a choice between two things you love will never be a breeze.

"Why are you making that face?" Jihyo laughs, dropping crumbs on the table as she does. "You
don't need to say anything. I may be lonely but I still love her and I know she loves me too."

"So," Jeongyeon points at the two sleeping figures on the couch, changing the subject, "when did
you find out they were into girls?"

"You're the only one who was oblivious about Chaeyoung."

Jeongyeon's eyes widen for a second time that night, "You two knew from the start?!"

"And Nayeon just randomly spewed out sex stories one day just like how you found out."

In her imagination, there were minimal changes to her friends' lives. Boy was she off the mark.

"How many partners has she had?"

Jihyo raises her fingers one by one, withdrew one after a moment, then raised it back and
continued raising until she needed her other hand. "Six, I think. But none went passed the three
month mark."

"Damn..." Third time that night that Jeongyeon widened her eyes.

"Anyways, it's getting pretty late." Jihyo yawns before ravishing the last remnants of their shared
junk food. "I'll wake Nayeon up."

Jeongyeon walks out the front door and sits on the cold concrete steps. She pops a stick from her
pack and bit one, burning the open end of tobacco. Smoking for Jeongyeon felt like the low tide
of the ocean, ebbing and flowing as the moon vanishes beyond. It calms her down. Lets her think
clearly and sort things out. Others would say otherwise of course, understandably due to health
reasons. It's a nasty habit, but it works for her.

Drag. Exhale.

Nayeon is gay. Chaeyoung is gay. Jihyo is bi (she thinks). She contemplates whether this is all of
it? Is there more to discover? She herself has no stories to tell that are as big as what they've
revealed to her. It felt a little being left out.

Drag. Exhale.

Sometimes when she smokes to think clearly, she thinks too much. She visualizes her thoughts
within her puffs of smoke, jumbling them all up together. Because at one moment she was
thinking about her friends' sexualities, the next moment she's thinking about Sana.

Drag. Exhale.

Chaeyoung was right this morning. Why was she nervous just by the fact that it was a small
world? Her friend just so happens to live across her. That's all. It wouldn't be bad having a
gorgeous girl living next to you. It would be great waking up in the morning to be greeted with
Sana's blinding smile and piercing eyes. There's nothing wrong with complimenting her physical
beauty too. She is really pretty after all.

Drag. Exhale.
Then she randomly changes her train of thoughts once again back to Nayeon.

I just had shower sex.

Recalling what Nayeon said the other day, she involuntarily imagines it.

"What the fuck?! No! No no no no!" Jeongyeon leans back, fanning the visualizing puff of smoke
in front of her as she tries not to think about Nayeon and sex.

But the human brain is trickier to control. The more you don't want to think about something, the
more you actually do.

There she is. Nayeon under the shower head, her body glistening wet, and long auburn hair
sticking together forming sharp edges on her back. Her slender fingers massaging her scalp when
a second person enters the shower.

Jeongyeon has no idea what her partner looks like. Only her name, which is unimportant right
now. So her cerebrum imagined the next best thing. Herself.

She wraps her hands around Nayeon's back, tracing every outline that curves smoothly across her
body. She leans her head forward, smelling the shampoo that covered Nayeon's scalp. Then she
spins Nayeon in place to face her before pushing her onto the wall and lock their lips together
ravishing her soft skin as her hands caress Nayeon's brea -

"Fuck!" Jeongyeon stood up abruptly and hissed in guilt and denial. "What the hell was that?!"
She tells herself.

First she was thinking about how sweet Sana is to the eyes. Then she thought of Nayeon taking a
shower just before she- No! She doesn't even want to say it in her head.

Am I gay too? It never crossed her mind. She never questioned her own sexuality. But actually,
the possibility of being gay isn't even a concern for her. The problem with this is that she
fantasized having shower sex with her best friend.

Drag. Exha -
"Can you please not smoke around us?" Nayeon stood beside her, yanking and pitching the
cancer stick across the street. "Penny for your thoughts?" she blinks repeatedly at Jeongyeon.

Speechless at the sudden appearance of Nayeon, she just blinked at her. She couldn't say, of
course for obvious reasons, that she was just thinking of being naked together with her.

"I was thinking who this Jennie was." That was kind of random. She is, a matter of fact, related to
the mental topic.

Nayeon's face grimaced at the mention of her girlfriend(?). She reaches out for Jeongyeon's
shoulders but looses balance, landing on her knees. Jeongyeon was a second late in catching her
and dropped down on one knee instead.

"Are you okay?" she asked worriedly, firmly holding Nayeon on both arms to steady her.

"She's no... ...om... t... y...," Nayeon mumbles under her alcoholic breath.


"I said," Nayeon places a palm on Jeongyeon's face and caressed it gently, "she's no one
compared to you."

Before the short haired girl could even begin to process what she just heard, she could see
Nayeon, closed eyes and mouth slightly agape, steadily closing in on her.

Reflexively avoiding Nayeon's advance, she staggered backwards landing on her butt with both
hands planted on the concrete to support her. "What are you doing?!"

Just as fast as Jeongyeon fell, Nayeon has already planted herself on top of Jeongyeon, perfectly
straddling her.

"I'm trying to kiss you, dummy." Nayeon answers smiling like it was a normal thing to do.

"Shhh..." Nayeon places a finger on Jeongyeon's mouth. "I missed you so much. Let me have

The tone in Nayeon's voice, albeit drunk, is genuine and sincere. Jeongyeon is confused whether
it was the alcohol talking or Nayeon herself. Maybe it was both?

She couldn't escape; neither can she move her arms to defend herself since she was supporting
both her and Nayeon's weight.

Nayeon leans closer and closer and all Jeongyeon could do was close her eyes. Is this how her
first kiss gets taken away? By her drunk best friend? Maybe it wouldn't be too bad. Based on the
stories that she has heard, Nayeon must be a good kissed based on experience.

So Jeongyeon started to relax, unmoving but not resisting either, closing her eyes too as she waits
for her first kiss.

"Okay that's enough!" Jihyo pinched Nayeon's ear, forcing her to get off the cornered girl. "Don't
do stuff that you'll forget the next morning. It's unfair to the one who actually remembers."

"Ow ow ow!" Nayeon yells in pain. "I was so close!"

"I need to go..." Jeongyeon tries to regain her composure and headed to where she left her bike.
"Take care on your way home!" She waves while getting on her seat and propels forward waving
back. "Goodnight!"

There are only two ways Jeongyeon can hear herself think. The first way is while she smokes,
which clearly backfired on her a few minutes ago. The second way is when she's on her bicycle
running full speed into the wind.
One of her hands lets go of the handles and lands flat on her chest. She could feel the dangerous
beating of her heart.

That almost kiss has her thoughts pinned down. The worst of which is that she had started to
accept the advance during the last centimetres. What would've happened if Jihyo didn't show up in
the last minute? Would they have really made out until they were stopped?

I wonder what her lips tastes like.

The last of her questions ambushed her like they were asked by a complete stranger.

Would she have treated me like her other partners and throw me away after three months?


Shit shit shit!

She never could have pictured coming back to something like this.

Nearing her apartment, she started slowing down to relax her brain (and heart) for a few moments
as they are exhausted from over thinking.

Coming in to view, there she was, the girl that she avoided this morning, sitting on the front steps
of their apartment.

"What are you doing out here?" Jeongyeon asks gently when her bicycle went to a complete stop.

"Just went to get some fresh air," Sana grins, beaming her unbelievable white teeth at Jeongyeon.
"Want one?" she asks, raising a bottle of beer from behind her.

With what happened earlier, she was in dire need of a bottle (or two) of alcohol. "Yes, please."
Jeongyeon accepts the offer, laid her bicycle on the ground, and sat beside Sana.

The steps they are sitting on have three feet high rails on both sides leading to the entrance of the
apartment and is only wide enough for a two people side by side at best. In other words, they are
thigh-touching-thigh squeezed next to each other. Jeongyeon thanked her decision of wearing
pants today or she would've been feeling awkward with Sana's thigh next to her.

It was calmingly quiet. The two just sat there, staring at the clear night sky, gulping at their bottles
every now and then.

"Do you mind?" Sana asks after she tilts her head in Jeongyeon's direction. "I'm feeling kind of

"Go ahead." Sana rests her head on Jeongyeon's shoulder and closes her eyes.

"Do you usually drink out here alone?"

The leaning girl motioned her head no in place. "Me and my friends usually hangout at each
other's places every Saturday. Today's my turn. I think they're all passed out in my room."

Jeongyeon hums in response.

"How was your day?"

My best friend tried to kiss me.

"Same with yours, probably. Hanged out at Chaeyoung's place and partied a little."

Sana, too, hums in response.

"You need another one?" she asked after hearing the empty bottle placed on the concrete step and
felt Jeongyeon nod yes.
"So that's Tzuyu," Sana points at her tall sleeping friend on the couch.

How could someone that tall sleep so straight in a small couch? It defies geometry.

"She's pretty." Jeongyeon comments, taking a swig from her second bottle. She can already
picture mocking Chaeyoung next to Tzuyu with their massive height difference.

"Pedo," Sana teases, "she's underage."

Jeongyeon raises her hands in mock defence. "Just saying."

"And over here," the two stops at the bedroom door, "that's Mina," Sana points to the girl sleeping
on the bed just as straight as Tzuyu, "and that's Momo," pointing towards the girl who is hugging
Mina like her own personal pillow.

With the abnormal introduction of her Sana's friends, did only Jeongyeon comprehend that she
had forgotten to ask Nayeon or Jihyo what the real deal was with these foreign group. A priority
task for another time.

"And where are you supposed to sleep?"

"On the dining table," Sana waves her hands in both directions of the living room and bedroom,
"when this happens."

All the cushioned surfaces are occupied. Pillows and blankets are selfishly taken. She imagines
Sana arching forward on a chair, uncomfortably resting her head on top of her crossed arms on the
dining table. Having no idea why she suddenly cares this much for Sana, she wasn’t going to
allow that.
"No you're not." Maybe she hasn't fully recovered from the previous rounds just as she thought.
She is quite sure this is the intoxication speaking. Just blame the alcohol. "You're sleeping on my

Sana stiffens and studies Jeongyeon, debating if this is a just a flirty joke or if she really meant
what she had just said. She depicted it's the latter, not knowing what to answer back. Unaware
what coerced her to, she nods in acceptance.

Jeongyeon takes Sana's hand, intertwining their fingers, and led the way across the hall. She opens
her bedroom door and ushered her guest beside her bed. "I'll go sleep on the couch."

She set off back to the living room and loosened her hold on Sana's hand.

"Wait!" Sana had different intentions and locked their fingers again, yanking Jeongyeon in place.
"I, uhm... get cold easily." It was obvious, by the way she stated, that she wasn't asking for a

No one in their right mind would offer a person she has barely known for a week a bed to sleep
on, not to mention having to share it together. Only, neither of them was in the right state of mind

No one knew who laid down first. It wasn't important. What's important is they now lay on their
sides, backs facing each other, in a single person mattress, immersed in each other's warmth.

Only the rapid beating sound of her own heart can Jeongyeon pick up. She does not even dare
find out if the the girl behind her has fallen asleep. Her eyes shut tight, creating wrinkles near her
temples, forcing the entity of sleep to accompany her.

It took around an hour for the combination if palpitation and drowsiness to arrive. She's finally
drifting off into sleep. But some unknown force enjoys playing with the timing.

A new found warmth found its way wrapped across her stomach. Uneven puffs of breath drift at
the back of her neck. And her back is even warmer than before as the foreign body completely
diminishes the space between them, matching the arching angle at which Jeongyeon lay.

Surprisingly and truthfully, she enjoys this state of warmth and tenderness. The initial panic of
getting literally too close only lasted a second. Now, she welcomes this fresh fervid act of

Acting boldly, Jeongyeon set her own arm on top of Sana's, sandwiching the limb between her
midriffs, and laced their fingers together which Sana reciprocates.

For the first time in her life, she is now considering where her true sexuality lies.

But was it because of Nayeon? Or Sana? (Even though Sana has yet to mention hers). Both most

Wouldn't it be funny to find out that every single person in their group of friends turned out to be

Such A Small World We Live In.

Day 12

Day 12 - Monday

Early mornings were never Chaeyoung's moments. Especially damn Mondays. She has set alarms
for hours with five minute intervals and still find difficulties to even notice the alarm going off.
There were days where she would wake up in the height of noon, completely missing all of her
morning classes. A parentless home can do that to you.

Waking up in an empty home is horrifying. No one to greet good morning to. No one to say
goodbye for the daily routine. No one to welcome you back after your tiring activities.

That's where Jeongyeon comes in. Or at least, before.

Jeongyeon would wake up earlier than her usual waking time just so she could pass by the
younger's home and be the alarm that coos (hits) her from deep slumber.

But after Jeongyeon left, her morning solution went with her. She couldn't rely on Jihyo because it
was out of her way to school. She couldn't rely on Nayeon neither because she has the same
problem as her. (She has parents to rely on waking her at least).

Today is no exception. It took her alarm exactly two hours and twenty five minutes for
Chaeyoung to finally acknowledge its presence. Twenty five minutes since first period started.

Groaning, like a disturbed lion in its den, she drags her feet on the side of her bed and takes her
time stretching her stiff muscles.

The school staff didn’t mind, or doesn't care more likely, about her at all. All of them took pity on
the underage kid who lives alone, granting her exemption from tardiness.

A good chunk of the kids are unsubtly jealous of that right, getting a little bit more of sleep and all.
Chaeyoung would gladly give it away in exchange for getting to see her mom again every
She animatedly does her morning ceremony, from brushing her teeth to putting on her uniform
and giving her hair a few swipes backwards with her fingers.

Gathering her things for the day is another obstacle she has to cross every morning. She could
never seem to memorize what classes she has for the day. Not feeling up for further thinking, she
just grabs all the books visible on her desk.

She catches sight of her SLR camera peeking behind her doodle notebooks, unconsciously
stopping all her movements. A hand moves slowly towards it, grazing the rim of the lens before

Maybe next time.

Chaeyoung wears her favorite green hoodie before leaving the front door, tucks her earphones in
place, and hops on her skateboard.

The school wasn't that far. An average of fifteen minute walk. But just like her hyung, she enjoys
nature's gift, closing her eyes through the ride and accepting the entirety of the wind against her as
she kicks her board forward.

Skate boarding was one of the few skills Jeongyeon had taught her before her teens. They would
go to school often, side by side, with her skating and a biking Jeongyeon. Most of the time, racing
against each other and competing which wheeled contraption was a faster (it was the bicycle).

The school guard catches sight of her nearing and doesn't even bother attempting to send her to
the disciplinary office.

Convenient as it may be, she misses being scolded, or being told what's right, or being a fucking
normal teenager.

She turns the knob to her room casually and heads directly to her seat. Her teacher glances for a
second, confirms the presence to be Chaeyoung, and returns to reading a passage from Macbeth
since her being late is “completely normal”.
Hm, so Monday's first period is Literature. (She'll surely forget it again when weekend comes.)

This is how Chaeyoung spends most of her morning classes. Either she's sleeping through all the
lectures while wearing her full hoodie on, or she fills her books and notes with doodles of varying
shapes and creatures. Both, however, are completely ignored by the teachers. Nobody simply
cares about her.

She wakes up in the middle of third period when the whole class cracks up at the teacher's
spontaneous joke that she completely missed.

She wasn't an outcast or anything. Students still talk to her, but most of the time it was school
related and nothing casual. Well, she's partly to blame for not making an effort to befriend anyone.

She leans back on her desk, her left temple carrying the weight of her head and eyes her tall
seatmate, unaffected by whatever cracked up the class.

"Why aren't you laughing with them?" Chaeyoung asked just so only the two of them can hear.

"Why are you always asleep?" Her seatmate asks back with only her lips moving.

Answering a question with another question. It was a favorite habit of Jeongyeon whenever she
tries to avoid something.

"Chou Tzuyu, at least look in my direction when we finally talk to each other for the first time."

With a lingering sigh, Tzuyu complies and turns her head an exact ninety degrees to her left,
because she loves geometry so much, to face her height lacking seatmate. "What do you want
from me Son Chaeyoung?"

She's friends with Sana. Maybe you could befriend her and our two groups could hangout.
"Wanna be friends with me?"

Although antisocial, Chaeyoung is a natural when it comes to deducing reactions. Tzuyu's facial
features remain a rock. Creepily still. But there was a glow in her eyes that felt like she wanted
someone to say those words to her for a very long time.

"Who are you?! Are you bullying our Tzuyu?!" The girl with a pointy nose accused.

That was the most interesting hello Chaeyoung has ever heard. Second only to Nayeon's "can I
kiss you?" back when they first met.

Chaeyoung, wanting to skip the awkward stages of being acquaintances, went to lunch with
Tzuyu. There are three girls on the table. Two of which are staring at her like they're ready to
pounce and the other one seems to be doing the opposite, looking everywhere but her direction,
hiding half of her face with her shoulder length hair.

"I'm Tzuyu's seatmate slash new friend."

The one who accused her instantly changed her aura from ready-to-swing-fists hostile to a very
happy older sister like some sort of crazy split personality. "Hi! I'm Sana!" Sana, suddenly all
hyper, forces Chaeyoung into a hand shake. "You are?" She doesn't even apologize for calling her
a bully.

So this is Jeongyeon's neighbor. She could already tell that she's going to be a handful.

"Chaeyoung," she simply said, arms getting numb from the shaking.

"So you're Chaeyoung!" Sana releases her hold on Chaeyoung and claps her palms together.
"Jeongyeon told me she basically saved you from life-long boredom."
"Sana," Tzuyu interrupts, "play nice."

"That's first class irony right there coming from you staTzu."

Chaeyoung fails to hold a grin from appearing. The nickname suited Tzuyu's stone cold presence.

"Sit, sit!" Sana scoots over to the edge of the table.

Chaeyoung follows suit, sliding her butt across the bench parallel to the table with Tzuyu
sandwiching her between Sana.

"You're not eating anything?" One of the two girls that was also prepared to raise fists sitting
across them asks. "I'm Momo by the way."

"I'm not hungry."

"It's lunch time and you're not hungry?" Momo scrunches up her nose and furrows her brows
together. "I don't think we can get along."

"Think of it this way." Sana leans on the table towards Momo. "The next time you have lunch
with her and she happens to actually have food with her then all of a sudden she isn't hungry, you
get to eat the rest."

With renewed vitality, Momo stands from her seat and sandwiches Chaeyoung's hand between
her own, forcing another handshake. "Hi! I'm Momo!" A completely different introduction from
earlier. "We should have lunch sometime, just the two of us." That's two of them having some
kind of split personalities now. This one triggers when it comes to food. "I can tell we will get
along just fine!"

"You should eat more if you want to grow taller." Tzuyu chides in.

"Are we heading straight to the teasing stage of our friendship already?" Chaeyoung faces her,
letting go of her second forced hand shake. "I can go with that, Tzubacca."
"At least I don't need to stand on my seat whenever we have to copy notes, midgChaet."

"Awww! That's so cute!" Sana has this sparkle in her eyes that reads I'm so proud Tzuyu finally
has a friend. "Tzubacca and the midgChaet."

Chaeyoung has had worse things call her. Midget is at the entrance level. And the way these girls
called her that, have no speck of offensiveness at all. Just an innocent tease which is normal
between friends.


Sana and Momo were laughing at the new combination, Tzuyu was smiling genuinely, which
surprised Chaeyoung, but the last girl that has yet to introduce herself has been busying herself
with her phone, ignoring the newcomer's welcome.

"Hey," Momo, might be a mind reader, elbows the girl beside her lightly, "don't be rude."

The girl in question hits pause on her app and raises her head to face Chaeyoung. "Mina," she
simply says (whispered) before returning to her phone.

"She's just shy." Sana whispers, her lips almost having contact with the shell of Chaeyoung's ear,
making the latter flinch away. "Ah sorry! Too close?"

Chaeyoung nods once. "Yeah, um, I don't like being... intimate."

Invasion of personal space frightens her.

Or what's left of it.

This, however, caught the interest of the silent Mina as she casually hid her phone back in her
pocket, pretending to be tired of the game she was playing. "How come?"
A hot seat. A process that is inevitable when one suddenly enters the lives of a group of friends.
Chaeyoung knew this was a given when she decided to follow Tzuyu to lunch, but when the
moment came, it still ambushed her.

She shares eye contact with the foreigners, gauging their current looks for any signs of
judgemental outcome. There wasn't any, just pure curiosity.

Well, she couldn't see Mina's. She was like an untouched canvas. It is completely blank and the
artist can't envision the piece that was about to be created. But nonetheless, she had to say
something to quench the interest of these girls.

"I just feel... gross," Chaeyoung wraps her arms around herself and shivered.

And just as if on cue, an arm appeared around her neck, strangling her from behind, choking her
playfully (for real).

"You left me alone on our table!" It was Jeongyeon. "Nayeon skipped school and Jihyo's MIA

Chaeyoung elbows the assaulter in the gut, releasing herself from the hold. "Can you be gentle
around me for once in your life!"

"I thought you don't like being... intimate." Momo asks. "That's considered being intimate right?"
She whispers to Mina but wasn't quiet enough to be considered as a whisper.

"I don't!"

"Then why are you smiling?" It was Tzuyu this time.

I was?

"She's different. She's family."

"Ey, aren't you embarrassed admitting that?" Jeongyeon teasingly said, ruffling Chaeyoung's hair.

"You and embarrassment go together. I've accepted it a long time ago."

"Ehem," Sana clears her throat, indicating the two to stop from further bickering, "so guys, this is
Jeongyeon." She raises a hand, gesturing the girl standing behind her row. "My new neighbor I
told you about last Saturday."

"The one you ditched us for?" Momo snitched nonchalantly.

"Huh?" Chaeyoung looks up to Jeongyeon, entering into a state of confusion. "We were together

"I went home after you passed out." Jeongyeon rubbed the back of her head. Another clear sign of
discomfort or nervousness.

"And stole Sana from us." Chaeyoung wasn't sure anymore who was talking. It was either Momo
or Tzuyu. It hasn't been long enough for her to memorize their voices yet.

"Excuse me!" Sana starts to defend herself, not used to being teased with her new friend. "The
three of you left me hanging and slept all over my apartment!"

"So you decided to leave us and sleep with her instead." Tzuyu said with a straight face.

Chaeyoung decided then and there that befriending Tzuyu was the one of the greatest decisions
she had made. The tall girl is pretty savage and it amuses her how she can say stuff with an
emotionless look. But back to the topic at hand. "You slept together?"

"No!" Jeongyeon and Sana said at the same time. They exchanged looks before following,

"But just sleeping!" Sana looked away.

"Oh hey, look at the time." Jeongyeon looks to her wrist with her nonexistent watch, dropping it
down instantly, hoping they didn't notice. "I'm going to be late for class."

Chaeyoung slapped her own forehead at the pathetic excuse.

We all have the same schedules dimwit.

"Nice to meet you Tzuyu," Jeongyeon nods in her direction and each at the other two, "Momo,

"Wait, Jeongyeon. Is it okay if I ride you again later?" Sana could feel a lot of eyes landing on her.
Not just from her table. "Oh my god! With! With yo - I'm going to the restroom!"

Momo, Chaeyoung, and Tzuyu couldn't help but snicker suggestively at the bubbly girl's blunder.
Even Mina showed an amused reaction for the first time since Chaeyoung joined the table.

Gaining new friends is a fresh experience for her. It's better most probably because she likes their
attitudes. She never tried before since she was constantly moving places with her mom. In her
belief, having friends would only tether an anchor that would drag her down every time she
relocates. It didn't cross her mind that this town would be the place she would actually grow up in.

That's where Jeongyeon comes in.

Thanks to her, she had a pretty decent childhood.

Thanks to her, she gave being friends with Tzuyu a shot.

Thanks to her, she's living a some what normal life.

"It's almost time for class." Momo announces after a while and heads to the plate receptacle.
Tzuyu and Mina follows suit. "Nice to meet you Chaeyoung." Chaeyoung likes the way how soft
Momo smiles. "We should have lunch again together next time."
Chaeyoung nods at Momo. "I would like that." Yes, this is what a high schooler life should be.
Having lunch with friends, harmless bickers, see you agains. A generally normal life.


On their way out of the cafeteria, Chaeyoung couldn't help but notice the piercing stares being
aimed at them. She had noticed this the moment she walked in with Tzuyu, amplified when she
reached the foreigners' table. Even more so when Jeongyeon joined them briefly.

Some weren't even trying to hide their judgemental looks and gossips.

The foreigners. The loner. The new girl.

But they aren't important. None of them are. Only her friends matters.

Ignore them.

"You aren't working today?" Strawberry flavored candies are Chaeyoung's favorite dental
weakness. The white plastic bowl sitting on the middle of the coffee table is full of them, taunting
her to have one.

"Sowon went overtime, taking an hour off my shift." Jeongyeon adds two more bowls beside the
strawberry filled one. Lemon and grapes. She unwraps one of the lemon ones and threw it above
her, landing it easily in her open mouth. "So what's up? Dropping by unannounced is my thing."

"Is Sana riding you your thing now too?"

The candy almost went down Jeongyeon's wrong pipe with its size barely melted. "I'm not going
to hear the end of this anytime soon aren't I?"
"Not in your lifetime." Chaeyoung succumbs to the sweets and pops a strawberry candy, sucking
the sugariness from it. "So tell me, what did happen between you two the other night?" she asked,
wiggling her eyebrows up and down.

"So you came here to interrogate me?" Jeongyeon laid her head on the back rest of sofa, arms
sprawled. "It was seriously nothing. I came back from your place, saw her in front of the
apartment, introduced me to her sleeping friends, offered her a bed since they all took the soft
places in her place, and when I woke up, she was gone."

"I feel like you skipped a juicy detailed."

"There were," Jeongyeon hesitates and closes her eyes, "some cuddling..."

Chaeyoung laughs creepily that sounds like hee hee hee, pointing at the other girl. "You're into
girls too~"

Jeongyeon doesn't bite, ignoring Chaeyoung's tease. "You done?"

"Just one more thing." Chaeyoung yanks her backpack from the floor and retrieved a sketchbook
from within. "Stay still for half an hour."

"Huh?" Jeongyeon looks up to her, eyes blinking in confusion.

"I want to draw you."

"Huh?" Jeongyeon repeats.

"What's so hard to understand?" Irritation noticeable in her tone. "You can sleep for all I care. Just
stay still."

"And I'm the weird one." Jeongyeon follows the suggestion and lays her head back on that couch,
eyes closed.
It didn't take long for Jeongyeon's breathing to turn even. Chaeyoung's scribbling with her
Staedtler pencil set slightly echoes the apartment.

The blue checkered plaid polo over her plain white shirt compliments Jeongyeon's peaceful state.
Her defined jaw line drawn perfectly against the grain. Sketching the strands and flow of hair was
also done with ease.

Thirty minutes was all Chaeyoung needed to capture the still Jeongyeon. Drawing from the side
helps speed up the process. Even easier since she was drawing a sleeping person. Eyes closed and
all, lesser details.

She tidies up her materials and shoved a handful of strawberry candies in her pocket before she
exits the apartment without waking her model up.

"See you tomorrow hyung."

Kicking on her skateboard through the streets, she stops by an alleyway a couple of blocks away
from her place. She is a frequent visitor in this specific claustrophobic road. This is where she
usually spends her time after school.

It is barely lit and cramped. The sunlight touches the area only a couple of hours everyday. Two
people have to squeeze in if they walk side by side.

Only Chaeyoung knows about this place.

You would never think that someone who is mostly alone in her own home would want to hang
out in another isolated spot. This is different if you asked her. Here, she can touch the walls while
barely raising an arm. At home, there is just too much space which, ironically, suffocates her.

The two walls sandwiching the path is over flowed with her graffiti. A coconut tree, she wants to
visit Hawaii. A pair of sneakers, she thinks she can design her own footwear brand. Even a
portrait of Justin Bieber is randomly sprayed, she's a hidden fan. The middle of the wall has the
biggest picture of them all. Her very first creation. A tiger cub and a baby ostrich beside each
other, a small bunny riding on the back of the ostrich, and an owl on top of the ostrich's head.

Every single one of which is her doing. It has no theme. She would create things that just pop in
her mind, usually what happened within the day.

Today, she decides to make strawberry candies.

Various colored spray paints are scattered along the way. She picks a half empty red can and
walks to an empty wall and proceeds to do her magic.

The last breaths of the can blew just enough for Chaeyoung to finish all the red parts. Picking up a
black can next, she applies few sprays for the shadowing details.

"You made all these?"

Surprised at the intruding voice, she drops the can and ran a step towards the opposite way,
thinking it was a cop, before turning her head to see who it was. She stopped running even before
her second stride.

"You scared the fuck out of me!" Chaeyoung placed a hand on her chest, trying to calm her
panicked heartbeat.

"Sorry." Her face is calm, emotionless. Like she isn't the tiniest bit apologetic at all. "So, did you
make all these?"

"What if I did?" Chaeyoung folds her arms, trying to be intimidating.

"You show up all friendly on our table and then all of a sudden you're being rude."

Chaeyoung softens at the accusation. "I, uh... I'm sorry." She looks away. "It's just that, I'm not
used seeing anyone here." She faces the intruder again, friendlier this time. "So what brings you to
this sketchy alley Miss Myoui Mina?"
Mina studies the wall art as she further walks in the alley. "I pass by here everyday on my way
home." She turns around and studies the other side of the wall. "And almost everyday I see a new
one beautifully added on the wall."

"You like them?" Chaeyoung picks up the black can she dropped earlier.

"I do." Mina touches one, a camera graffiti with a crack embedded smack in the middle of the
lens. "And it feels like there's a story behind each one of them."

"You a detective or something?"

Mina ignores the rhetorical question and stands behind Chaeyoung. "Can I watch you?"

"Uh, I guess..." Chaeyoung stands beside her current work in progress and continues detailing the
picture. She felt uncomfortable with the pair of eyes burning from behind.

"Why a candy today?"

Chaeyoung sighs, distracted at her artwork. "Jeongyeon, the one your friend Sana slept with,
came back in town just before school started after leaving me for five years. I visited her before
going here and I just can't stop missing her. I took some strawberry candies before leaving her
apartment and I just felt like drawing them." Which reminds her. She picks out a couple wrapped
objects from her pocket and reached one out to Mina. "Want one?"

Mina thanks her and pops the hard sweet in her mouth.

They stood there in silence as Chaeyoung finished her work. It felt strange being stared at but
surprisingly, she adjusted well. Mina's aura is calming unlike earlier, like she genuinely
appreciates Chaeyoung's paintings.

Chaeyoung finished after a few more minutes, grinning at her latest addition to the long canvas.
"Hey," Mina taps Chaeyoung's shoulder hesitantly which Chaeyoung noticed, "can I come here
with you next time you do your thing?"

This alleyway is Chaeyoung's special place. She goes here to think and draw her stories.

A personalized wall diary.

Only Chaeyoung knows about this place.


Walking back to her front door is another thing Chaeyoung does not look forward to. The large
space suffocates her. It reminds her that she's alone again.

She kicks her shoes near the front door and drops her backpack along with it, thinking what she
would do to end her day. Maybe just sleep a bit early to end the night faster.

"Hey," Chaeyoung stands still, recognizing the voice instantly, "I've been waiting for you."

"What are you doing here Nayeon?"

Nayeon approaches Chaeyoung, trapping her against the front door. "I need you."

"Nayeon..." Chaeyoung looks away, feeling her knees tremble. "You promised you would stop
doing this."

"I know," Nayeon places a finger below Chaeyoung's chin, guiding her to face her, "but seeing
her back here is harder than I thought."
Chaeyoung lost her voice and just closes her eyes. Her body, still too used to Nayeon's "visits".

"Just one more time." Nayeon says before placing a peck on the younger's lips. "Okay?"

Chaeyoung doesn't answer. Just stood silent like she always had whenever she's alone with

Nayeon cups Chaeyoung's cheek, making soothing circles where her dimples normally shows up
and kisses her again softly.

"This is the last time. Promise."

Chaeyoung loves Nayeon so much. As a friend. But is also terrified when being alone with her.

She tells herself it’s okay. This has been happening for years now. This is normal for her.


Chaeyoung cried herself to sleep that night.

Early mornings were never Chaeyoung's moments.

"Wake up already!" Chaeyoung feels the weight of a person sitting on her stomach.

"What the fuck!" Chaeyoung sits straight, her hair too haggard from sleep, shoving the asshole
Waking up in an empty home is horrifying.

"Tzuyu told Sana and Sana told me that you're always late at school." The intruder grins at the
successful wake up. "Let's race to school again! Meet you outside in ten!" She leaves
Chaeyoung’s room after raising her middle finger as a morning greeting, making Chaeyoung smile
first thing, technically second, in the morning.

That's where Jeongyeon comes in.

Day 14

A/N: I'm sorry for being late :( I got stuck writing most of the scenes...

Day 14 - Wednesday

"Well, I didn't know this was going to be awkward." Jeongyeon states the obvious silence
lingering atop their lunch table, which was extended so that now eight people can sit together.

Jihyo and Nayeon walked in to their usual lunch table only to find out it had been modified by
Jeongyeon and Chaeyoung. The four foreigners were coerced to sit with them, Sana being the
only excited one. Mina at one edge, followed by Tzuyu, Chaeyoung, and Jihyo, then Momo in
front of Mina, followed by Sana, Jeongyeon, and finally Nayeon.

"You saying that doesn't help." Chaeyoung sips from her strawberry juice.

"So how's volleyball, Nayeon?" Jeongyeon nudges her shoulder to the right, trying to dispel the

"Really? It took you two weeks to ask how I'm doing with what I do every day after class?"
Nayeon scoffs. "I'm doing okay, by the way."

"Nice talk, Nayeon! Let's do that again sometime!"

"I hate you." Her smile says otherwise.

Jeongyeon shifts to her left, "How 'bout you Sana? How's work?"

"Great! It's less tiring now that you drop me off these past few days." Jeongyeon wonders how
perfectly even Sana's smile is. "Thanks again!"
"No problem," Jeongyeon replies with a smile of her own as she felt the girl to her right shifting
uncomfortably in her seat.

"...and that's how you find X." Tzuyu underlines her answer on Chaeyoung's notebook.

"Three days in and you're already asking her for lessons. Have you no shame?" Jeongyeon takes a
spiteful jab at Chaeyoung.

"Shut up," Chaeyoung says, eyes rolling before grinning, wiggling a finger between Jeongyeon
and Sana, "It's not like I'm sleeping with her."

With some impeccable timing, Nayeon, Jihyo, Sana, and Momo (even though the latter two have
already heard it before) choked on their meal at the same time. Jeongyeon felt good a little to see
Nayeon have a taste of her own medicine. Only a little.

"Aren't you over using that joke too much already?" Jeongyeon massages her forehead from a
sudden headache.

"But," Chaeyoung places a hand flat on her chest in mock defense, dimples popping out as her
smile grew wider, "it was not a joke."

With two sets of eyes (and gaping mouths) on her, Jeongyeon turned to her two oldest friends to
explain, again, before their imaginations start to get wild. "We didn’t sleep sleep together. We just
slept together. Literally."

"How did you two meet again?" Nayeon leans toward the table, adjusting her view so she can
fully see Sana.

"We're neighbors." Sana answered.

"And you shared the same bed?"

For the third consecutive time, Jeongyeon had to make clear that it was only a caring gesture at the
right time. It didn't mean anything to neither one of them, she thinks.

Nayeon scoffs at the explanation, clearly uncomfortable with it.

"Someone's jealous." An attempt to clear the awkwardness by Jihyo.

"Am not!"

"Typical jealous reply."

Then another moment of silence. Jihyo's efforts only made the uneasy atmosphere worse. You
could practically hear cricket sounds through the loud cafeteria.

"This has been a fun lunch," Chaeyoung starts with every bit of sarcasm spewing, "but me and
Tzuyu have to drop by the library before class starts. See ya losers." The shortest and tallest girls
rose from their seats leaving the others with their uncomfortable atmosphere.

"I'm coming with." Mina stands up as well, all eyes on her. "I also need something from the

Jeongyeon saw a shy exchange of glances between Mina and Chaeyoung before the three left.
She made a mental note to ask the imp next time what that was all about.

Jihyo, left alone in her row, scoots over towards the middle. "Is your group always this quiet?" A
question directed at Sana. "Except you, I mean. You're decently talkative."

"Yeah they're really like that. You have to really listen to them when they talk. Momo here on the
other hand," she wraps an arm around her best friend, "is just really shy around strangers."

Momo confirms with a hum.

"Don't worry," Jihyo uses her motherly tone, "I'll treat you girls well. Be comfortable around me.
Take note I'm using 'I' here. I have no second thoughts that Jeongyeon and the others will drag
you into trouble."

"What's that supposed to mean?" Jeongyeon fakes hurt.

"Oh please, you and Nayeon had countless of bruises when I met you two. Chaeyoung almost
broke a leg when you taught her that accident prone board."

"Tell me more!" Sana giggles.

"One time, I walked in on the three of them, each with a leg behind their necks, all crying because
none of them can bring it back down. I was really tempted to leave them like that for a whole day
just to teach them a lesson."

Sana went on and on asking about their childhood which Jihyo enthusiastically shared. Nayeon
even pitched in, warming up to the idea of letting them in their circle. Momo eventually warmed
up too, sharing a couple stories of her own, mostly her adventures exploring Korean street food
which Jeongyeon vowed to help widen her taste buds experience.

"Hey Jeongyeon, can you give me a ride to the orphanage later?" Jihyo asked, calmed down from
their story sharing. "I woke up in a weird position this morning. My knees hurt."

Jeongyeon gave Sana a look.

"It's okay," Sana reassures. "I'll walk like usual. We can go home together tomorrow."

Again, Nayeon shifted uncomfortably in her seat.

The library is supposed to be a place of quietness, hushed whispers and page flipping from books
as the only acceptable sounds. An area where you could focus your studies or just simply rest in
peace. But it was too quiet. Way too quiet as only the three of them and the librarian are in the
area. Chaeyoung wanted to scream just to check if she was unexpectedly deaf.

"Are you even trying to help me with this research?" Tzuyu asked behind her book, beside

"Yeah, sorry. I just dazed off for a second." Chaeyoung replied, pretending to scan the withered
literature book in front of her.

It's because of Mina. She can't get a read on her. With Tzuyu, it was kind of easy. You only talk
when you need to. With Sana, you let her do all the talking. With Momo, well, she has no idea so
far but her aura is soft, like you don't have to think about anything when hanging out with her. But
with Mina, it's a thick unending fog. Chaeyoung has absolutely no clue how to act around her.

What is she doing here anyway?

Chaeyoung agreed to help Tzuyu understand more about Macbeth for literature, in exchange,
Tzuyu helps Chaeyoung in math, thus the reason for the library visit. Mina was, is, just staring at
them. Across the two younger's seat. Just like back in the alley. Is it her hobby to stare at people?

She catches Mina's eyes at one point. Most people would look away when caught. But not Mina.

"I thought you said you had to do something too?" Chaeyoung finally asks the third wheeler.

"I remembered I finished it already last night." Mina's face was stoic, as usual.

"So what are you doing here?"

"Do you want me to leave?"


"Am I being a bother?"

"N-no!" Again, Chaeyoung's composure disintegrates.

"Then what's the problem?"

"Nothing." Chaeyoung returns her eyes on the pages in front of her. "Just not used at someone
staring at me."

"Alright," Mina pushes herself up the table, "I'll find a book to keep myself busy." She disappears
behind one of the shelves a few seconds later.

Chaeyoung sighs, emptying her pent up unease.

"You seem really uncomfortable around her." Tzuyu whispered, without looking away from her

"Does she always stare?" Unlike Tzuyu, Chaeyoung tilts her head, seeking some eye contact.

"Nope." Tzuyu left it at that.

"At least help me understand your friend a little." Chaeyoung pushes on.

With a tired sigh, Tzuyu close her book and returns the smaller girl's eye contact. "What's really
bothering you?"

"I just can't read her." Chaeyoung didn't even consider restraining her thoughts around Tzuyu,
whom she just started talking to two days ago. It just felt they had that special friend connection.
"She's like a blank book," she adds a library metaphor because why not? They're in a library after

"But you can read me?" Tzuyu deadpans.

"Sort of." Chaeyoung shrugs. "I mean, we’re doing fine so far right?”

"Why don't you think of it this way," Tzuyu breathes deeply as if the need to explain is such a
bother, “maybe she can't read you too."

Possible, Chaeyoung thought.

"Or maybe," Tzuyu adds with a smirk, "you can't resist the urge to fill her blank pages."

Chaeyoung's eyelids got hurt from opening them too much at what she heard. Tzuyu obviously
placed an innuendo with that comment, already testing the borders of their fresh friendship. But
before she could retort (or get all David and Goliath), Mina returns with a book in hand.

I'll get you next time.

"So this is where you disappear to." Jeongyeon looks up at the faded white two story building;
cracks randomly spotted to show off its maturity. "What exactly do you volunteer here?"

"A lot of play time." Jihyo reaches for the door knob. "Sometimes we do sing-alongs. Generally
taking care of them, you know. Like feeding, bathing, cleaning up, and the like."

"Unnie! Noona!" Fourteen kids, Jeongyeon assumes they're around the age of six to eight, ran
towards Jihyo the moment she step foot inside the building, arms spread for a hug and swarming
her in multiple direction.

"Right on time as always, Jihyo." A woman in her mid forties behind an office desk nods in her
direction with a gentle smile. "Would you please watch over them for a while? I have to sort these
papers out. Someone's getting adopted."

"No problem ma'am!" Jihyo salutes as the kids mimic her.

"Who's the boy, unnie?" A girl wearing a salmon pink dress too large for her asked.

Is my school skirt invisible to everyone?

"This handsome oppa is Jeongyeon." Jeongyeon shoved Jihyo playfully. "I'm kidding. He's not

"If they grow up actually thinking I'm a dude, it's on you."

Jihyo took the kids outside for playtime as Jeongyeon watched from the sidelines, mentioning "I'm
not good with kids," as an excuse. Most were playing tag while a few are drawing on the ground
with fallen tree branches.

"Do the two come here too?" Jeongyeon asks, elbows supporting her on a wooden fence.

"I drag Chaeyoung occasionally for art activities. Or when she's cooped up at her house for too

"And Nayeon?"

"I banned her from coming here."

Jeongyeon faced Jihyo, smiling and curious all of a sudden. "What'd she do?"

"You know how she is with kids." Jihyo rolls her head and eyes at the memory. "She took
everyone's first kiss. I’m not even joking here. I turn my back one moment and find out they all
have lipstick all of a sudden."

"I can actually imagine it," Jeongyeon said, recalling the first time she introduced seven year old
Chaeyoung to her. "How long have you been volunteering?"
Jihyo leans down and picks up a fallen lily flower. "A little over four years by now."

"Wow... Are they my substitutes for being absent?" Jeongyeon half mocks. "Not that I mind being
exchanged for cute kids."

"Don't be presumptuous." Jihyo approaches one of the girls, inserting the lily between her ears
and said "you're pretty!" before returning to Jeongyeon's side.

"Hey, I've been meaning to ask this for a while now." Jeongyeon starts. "Is there something going
on with Sana and her group?"

It was like Jihyo was expecting this question for some time now. She didn't react a millimeter,
staying calm and smiling at the kids playing a few meters ahead of them. "I don't think it's my
story to tell. But if it's any help, it's something that started small and made big deal out of by some
students. It's really juvenile actually." A disgusted look appears on her face.

"Something juvenile got them isolated from other students?"

"Tell you what; I've been wanting to be friends with them for some time too. I was just so busy
watching out the orphanage that I couldn't get the chance to."

"Hey Jihy-" Jeongyeon's interruption was interrupted.

"Let me finish. But you've been making attempts with them so I'll be helping out from now on
too. So just ignore the other students. It's not worth the effort. Okay?" She bumps her fist on
Jeongyeon's shoulder.

"I appreciate that Jihyo but, uh..." Ambushed at the sudden situation, Jeongyeon had a loss of
words. "...I think one of the kids is missing..."

As if she just heard one of the scariest sentence in her life (well, it is), Jihyo stood alert, counting
each kid in her head. She had always imagined that the first time her heart should ever skip a beat
was supposed to be related to love. "Jeongyeon! The one that has a flower on her ear!"

The two older girls started scrambling in opposite directions, not going too far to also keep an eye
on the remaining kids, running around in search of the missing orphan.

"Anything?" The volunteer asks her friend.

Jeongyeon motions her head no, hands supporting her by the knees, tired from the sudden run.

"Fuck... I'm gonna call the cops."

"Um, excuse me," a restrained voice invades their panic state, "does she belong to you?" The two
stare at the tall newcomer for a while before acknowledging the previously missing girl being
guided by the back.

"Jihyo unnie!" The small girl has her hands up high, balancing an immeasurable amount of lilies
on her head. "Am I even more pretty now?"

"Yes!" Jihyo dashes towards her and engulfs her with a tight hug. "Yes, you're the prettiest one
ever! But don't go running around without me next time okay?" She carries her back to where the
other kids are, oblivious of the short emergency they just had.

"You're a real life saver there Tzuyu." Jeongyeon pats the tall girl on the back. "I was never so
scared before in my life."

"I was just passing by."

"And good thing you did!" Jihyo returns, surprising Tzuyu with a tight hug. "Thank you so

Jeongyeon notices the disturbed expression Tzuyu is making, clearly uncomfortable with the
intimate gesture. "Let her breathe, Jihyo."

"I won't," she said through Tzuyu's shoulder. "She saved one of my kids; I'm going to protect her
as long as I live."
"No new graffiti?"

Chaeyoung looks up from her sketch book, adjusting her eyes from the sun. "Just sketching

"What are you drawing?" Mina sits beside Chaeyoung and leans her back against the dusty alley

The current page is full of doodles of a small girl taking down a certain bigfoot with a number of
ways. One was drawn barraging with rocks, one was throwing a ball of fire, and another one
could be seen standing on its body in triumph. She flips it onto a clean page before Mina could see
any of it. "Just doodling stuff."

Mina hums in response, hugging her knees as she gets comfortable (while the other feels the

Maybe she can't read you too. Tzuyu's perspective echoed behind Chaeyoung's ears like an
infinite taunt. If you can't find a different method, might as well go with a direct one. "Are you
really interested in my drawings?" She shifts in her seat to get a better view of Mina, making eye
contact. "Or me?"

It was only a millisecond but Chaeyoung swears she saw Mina stiffens at the added question.

"I am." Mina closes her eyes.

It was her first time losing in a staring contest, Chaeyoung thought. "At which one?"

"Both, I guess."

This time, it was Chaeyoung who hummed in response. It was weird, a good kind of weird,
hearing someone admit she's interested in you. And hearing it lets her admit to herself that she is
indeed interested in Mina too.

Chaeyoung jolts up too abruptly, surprising Mina in the process, and reaches out to one of the
canisters lying around. "Do you want to try?"

"Try what?" Mina stands up too, but with grace and elegance.

"Drawing an entry." Chaeyoung extends her arm, the bottom of the blue can directed at Mina.

Reluctantly, Mina retrieves the can from Chaeyoung, holding it tight on her chest. "I don't really
know how to draw."

"You can doodle as a start. You've seen some of my doodles here. Some are even stick figures."
Chaeyoung combines pride and awkwardness with a laugh.

Mina breaths in before moving to the entrance of the alley where most of Chaeyoung's work looks
like from her kindergarten days.

"Shake it vertically first before you start spraying."

She does what is told and takes off the cap, a finger ready to press the nuzzle.

Chaeyoung is a couple of steps behind Mina, observing what she's about to create.

Mina starts with half of a vertical oblong about the size of an average person's head with the
bottom end open, two circles right next to each other in the middle with a smaller circle inside
each of them, and a diamond just below the circles. Mina closes the can before dropping it on the

"What's that?"

"You can't tell?" Mina's pupils look around before stopping at the ground. "It's uh... you know..."
Her voice lower to a whisper as she raises both her arms sideways a little and let's them fall to
gravity repeatedly.

Chaeyoung reflexively covered her mouth, confused as to where her oxygen went. Did she just
literally steal her breath at that imitation? "A penguin?"

Mina nods, still looking everywhere besides the younger’s eyes.

"Can I?" Chaeyoung picks up the spray can.

"Go ahead." They switch places with Chaeyoung doing the spraying this time.

She adds a line dividing the diamond (beak), a smaller half oblong below the beak, and a line
curving upwards on both sides for hands.

Chaeyoung look behind her for a couple of seconds before returning to the penguin doodle. She
adds a small dot inside the beak.

"What's that?"

Chaeyoung faces Mina again. "A mole. I'm assuming this is you?"

They stared at each other for a moment as a gust of wind gushes through them. At the same time,
they both erupted into a burst of laughter.

"You can draw here anytime if you want." Chaeyoung said after they cooled down.

"Are you sure?"

Chaeyoung shrugs. "It's not like I actually own this alley."

"Okay," Mina smiles.

"One condition; we split buying the paint."

"I feel like you're using me to get free supplies." Mina jokes.

"Maybe," Chaeyoung grins.

"I'm okay with maybe."

"Took you long enough!"

Jeongyeon had just gotten off work and ready to go home, wiping her forehead from sweat with
her sleeve. "What are you doing here, Nayeon?"

"Waiting for you obviously." Nayeon scoffs.

"You know what I mean." Jeongyeon inserts a cigarette between her lips and raises her lighter.
"Do you mind?"

"I do mind," Nayeon rolls her eyes.

"Too bad I don't." Jeongyeon snickers as she lit the tip. "Seriously, why are you here?"

Nayeon flaps her hand in front of her face to redirect the puff of smoke coming out from her
opposite. "I was bored. So I want you to accompany me."
"Don't I have a say in this?"

Nayeon throws a gaze at Jeongyeon before grabbing her hand. "You don't."

And just like that, Jeongyeon got dragged to ride a bus while she whined the whole walk for

"Stop whining! You're frustrating me."

"StOP wHiNiNg YoU'rE fRuStRaTiNg Me." Sometimes, when someone asks you to stop doing
something you end up doing it more just for the heck of it.

"God! You're annoying!" Nayeon hits Jeongyeon's shoulder.

Jeongyeon laughs it off, feeling better for successfully aggravating Nayeon. "So where are we
going again?"

"To the night market. I'm hungry."

"I could've just made you something back at AnKon you know."

"I don't feel like it tonight."


Honestly, Jeongyeon is looking forward to it. This is one of the things she imagined when she
returned to the city. Impromptu late night adventures with her friends – singular noun in this case.
It was just pride making her to not admit to it. But she knows that Nayeon knows that anyways
even if she doesn't say it.

"Isn't Jennie going to be jealous when she hears about this?" Jeongyeon teases, nudging Nayeon
on the shoulder.
"I broke up with her a few hours ago actually." Nayeon deadpans.

Good thing Jeongyeon wasn't eating anything because she swears she was going to spit out
everything and have to go bankrupt for paying the expensive looking dress the woman in front of
her is wearing. "What the fuck? I've only heard two things about her. One was you fucking her
and now you breaking up with her."

"Louder Jeong, I think the bus driver didn’t hear it clearly." Nayeon stomps her foor on top of
Jeongyeon’s. "She took it okay actually." Nayeon points a finger on her chin. "Said as long as we
stay friends, she's okay."

"So Jihyo wasn't kidding when she said your girlfriends come and go?" Jeongyeon puts pressure
on her toe.

"When has Jihyo ever joked something like that?" Nayeon laughs. "She doesn’t even go close to
crossing the line whenever she makes a joke."

"Yeah you're right." Jeongyeon leans back on her seat. "She's too pure to lie."

"Let's just enjoy tonight like when we were kids." Nayeon slaps Jeongyeon's knee. "Just the two
of us."

"I remember your mom getting mad at me for going out late at night." Jeongyeon said with a

"You don’t have to worry about that anymore." Nayeon reassures. "Here's our stop!"

They walked around the stalls, surveying the variety of street food on display. The mixed
fragrance of numerous spices collaborated with frying oils and boiling steam flowed their nostrils
with each stall passed. It was tempting to stop immediately at the first shop but decided against it
to look around first.

"I want this one!" Nayeon points a finger at a dangerously red rice cake stall. "And this one too.
And this one too. And, oh my god! There are one foot ice creams here too!"
"I have a feeling I'm going to have to eat a lot of your leftovers with your overestimating appetite."
Jeongyeon scratches her forehead.

Nayeon faces Jeongyeon with a grin. "You know me," ending with a giggle. She grabs
Jeongyeon by the hand and yanked her after finally deciding to get the tall sundae cone first (she
likes to have dessert first because why not).

"Cheers!" Nayeon exclaimed as she clinks her and Jeongyeon's cone together, mixing the green
tea and vanilla flavors at one side.

"What are you? A kid?" Jeongyeon protests, slightly embarrassed at her loud friend.

"Tonight, I am." Nayeon chomps the tip of her sundae before sticking her tongue out at

"Aish!" Jeongyeon eats the top of her cone to suppress her smile.

"Come on! Eat faster so we can get more before it gets too late." With that, Nayeon intakes almost
half of her sundae in a matter of seconds. "Ah!" She scrunches her face due to a sudden pain.

"You got brain freeze?" Nayeon nods silently. "Serves you right," Jeongyeon chuckles.

They went for the rice cakes and scorched scallops with cheese next, one of each on each one’s

"These taste so good!" Nayeon hums ecstatically at the explosion of flavors.

"You have sauce on your cheek." Jeongyeon sets her paper plates on the bench beside her and
wipes Nayeon face with her thumb. "I swear me and Chaeyoung maybe immature most of the
time, but you're definitely the kid when it comes to taking care of yourself." Jeongyeon sucks the
sauce from her thumb. "I have to take care of you every time."

"And that's why I love you."

Jeongyeon grimaced at the joke. "You tell me that a lot back then too."

Because I really do...

"Let's go. I want to try that fried squid I saw on the way." Jeongyeon interlaced her fingers with
Nayeon's to lead her.

Nayeon holds it tight, afraid of letting go.

They returned to their neighbourhood past midnight, belies full of delight. Wanting to take a rest
and let their stomachs digest, they stopped over at the park that is filled with their memories.

"We don't fit here anymore." Jeongyeon complains.

"Just force your butt in here!" Nayeon yells.

"Alright, jeez!"

With gravity and weight combined, Jeongyeon managed to squeeze herself beside Nayeon on the
entrance of the metal slide, the same slide where Nayeon acrobatically slid backwards down on.
One of their legs rested on the curve while the other dangles off the rim of the slide.

"We used to go here every night," Nayeon reminisces.

"Remember that time when you fought that kid for using this slide when we arrived?" Jeongyeon
starts to laugh hard. "What was that you said?"
"Shoo! This is my and Jeongyeon's only!" Nayeon re-enacts her seven year old self.

"You were always been a bitch."

"Hey!" Nayeon slaps Jeongyeon on the shoulder, not even trying to restrain her strength.

"Now that I think about it," Jeongyeon ignores her stinging shoulder, "that kid looked a lot like
Jihyo before we became friends."

"You're right, that was Jihyo." Nayeon laughs in a mean manner.

"Seriously!?" Jeongyeon's face showed shock and amusement at the small possibility. "How'd
you know?"

"How can I forget the terrified face she made when I lashed out on her? I knew it instantly since
the slide flipping incident. But she doesn't remember so don't you dare tell her!"

"I have something to blackmail you now." Jeongyeon does her best to do a devil's laugh.

Nayeon leans her head on Jeongyeon's shoulder, fitting the nook of her neck flawlessly and takes
in the silence the calm night gave. Her body itself might be reminiscing because she doesn't
remember locking arms with Jeongyeon, fingers intertwined perfectly with each other. The owner
of the other hand doesn't seem to mind because she can feel the sweat collecting between their
palms. Nayeon tightens her grip and surprisingly, Jeongyeon tightened it as well.

"You have no idea how much I've missed you Jeongie." Nayeon says through the other's

"Show me," Jeongyeon taunts, oblivious to the sincere tone Nayeon used.

Nayeon tilts her head to face Jeongyeon who was staring up the night sky. She breathes in deeply,
pushing down her nervousness down to the void as she throttles a soft kiss on Jeongyeon's cheek.
Instead of recoiling, Jeongyeon sat still. She was surprised, of course, but her stillness was for
another reason. She suddenly remembers the drunken Nayeon last weekend. The Nayeon who
she almost kissed on the lips.

Like a shared connection, Nayeon also remembers herself on that particular memory, guilt
suddenly rising from the pits of her stomach.

"I have to go." Nayeon stands and climbs down the stairs, leaving a still frozen Jeongyeon.

Jeongyeon slowly places a finger on her warm cheek before turning her head at Nayeon's
retreating figure. "Goodnight..," she whispers.

"Chaeyoung," Nayeon shakes her gently. "Chaeyoung, wake up."

"Na-Nayeon!" Chaeyoung startles awake, her body stiffens at the realization of her visitor.

"Relax," Nayeon kneels a few steps away from the bed. "I'm not here to... I'm not here to..." She
covers her face with both palms and started to sob. "I can't even say it..."

Feeling calm at Nayeon's genuine tone, Chaeyoung gets up and kneels next to Nayeon. "Don't
say it then. It's okay." She slides her hand on Nayeon's back, trying to calm her down.

"I'm sorry Chae." Nayeon manages to say between her weeps. "I'm so sorry! I'm so so so sorry!"
She has broken down at this point, tears sliding down her palms and dropping on her thighs.

"Shhh," Chaeyoung lets out soothingly, embracing the older girl tenderly. "It's okay, Nayeon. It's

"I don't deserve to be friends with you! Or Jihyo! And especially Jeongyeon!" Nayeon wailed.
Chaeyoung shushes again gently. "I've already forgiven you. I don't hate you." Nayeon freezes.
"Jihyo too, honestly. She's just waiting for you to tell her. You have to forgive yourself too."

Nayeon begins to get composed at the younger's reassuring words. "I have to tell her don't I?"

Chaeyoung doesn't reply and continues to pat Nayeon on the back.

"I'm taking that silence as a yes." Nayeon releases herself from Chaeyoung's embrace and laughs
sarcastically. "This is going to get awkward." Nayeon bids Chaeyoung goodnight and leaves the

Chaeyoung stands up and approaches her desk. She reaches out to her SLR, grasping it by the
rim. "If she can do it, maybe I can too."
Day 16

Day 16 - Friday

"Good morning Jeongie!" It was a bright day with a clear weather, rays of sun filling the class
room with radiance as Nayeon herself soaked in it. Jeongyeon winces at her with perplexity as the
older takes the seat beside her. "How's your day?"

"The day just started. And what's wrong with you? You've been weird since yesterday."

"What ever are you talking about?" Nayeon smiles an exploding star. "Your hair looks fantastic
by the way."

Jeongyeon didn't have any time to fix her hair this morning. It literally came straight out of bed
with strands sticking out unorthodoxly. "This is what I'm talking about." Jeongyeon motions her
hand in between their small space, encircling Nayeon's upper body. "You never talk this way to
me, not to mention you adding compliments too."

"I've always been nice," Nayeon said, ignoring the subtle way of being called a badmouth.

"What are you after?" Jeongyeon asked, eyebrows raised, still weirded out at this different

"You have a nice smile-"

"Do I look like I'm smiling right now?" Jeongyeon straightens her back.

"-and you smell go-"

"I didn't take a shower this morning."

"-and you're so good manne-"

"I'm interrupting you righ-"


Nayeon kicks the leg of Jeongyeon's chair, causing the other to flinch for balance.

"There you are Nayeon!" Jeongyeon takes the other girl's hand into a shake. "I've been looking all
over for you! Get this, there was someone who looks exactly like you but she was just so nice and
all and it was so weird!"

"You're such an asshole," Nayeon squints as she bops her head, "you know that?"

"Okay lovebirds," Seungyeon claps her hands together, "you can continue you lover's quarrel
during break. It's class time."

Being a teacher, sometimes you can't help notice how the students glare at you for giving home
works or reports. Seungyeon is used to it by now, ignoring them all. But she swears that the two
glares given to her by the "lovebirds" were the most life threatening of them all.

"She said I had a nice smile, smell good, and have good manners," Jeongyeon said, doing her best
to mimic Nayeon earlier today, gagging after the bad attempt.

"Maybe she really is just complimenting you, simple as that." Chaeyoung reaches up for the book,
her pride getting lacerated by her height. "A little help please?" She whispered.

"You're taking her side?" Jeongyeon pulls the old paperback book and hands it over to her small
friend. "Drawing For Dummies? Aren't you already good?"
"See?" Chaeyoung smiles as a perfect example was handed to her in a silver platter. "You're
complimenting me right now. That wasn't so hard was it?"

"You're not getting the point here," Jeongyeon puts a hand on her hip, the other massages her
forehead. "She never does that."

Chaeyoung huffs. She can't remember a time when she conversed with Jeongyeon and not get
annoyed even for a minute. "People can change Jeong. It's not that hard to believe."

"Wow, look at you being all mature."

"Don't let my baby appearance fool you," Chaeyoung said as she took a seat in an open cubicle.
"I have more experience than you think." She ended with a wink.

"What's that supposed to mean?" Cross-armed, Jeongyeon waited for an answer. But Chaeyoung
was now in the middle of her own world as she scanned the table of contents, which Jeongyeon is
now curious again. "So why the book?" That seemed to catch her interest.

"I'm reviewing the basics." Chaeyoung fiddles with the pages.

"You told me before that you can tell when I'm lying. What makes you think that doesn't work the
other way around?" Jeongyeon teases.

Not wanting to delay her reading any further, Chaeyoung answered honestly, albeit reluctantly.
"I'm teaching someone."

"Oooh~" Jeongyeon leaned on the table with piqued intrusiveness. "Who's the unlucky person?"


"We both know I'm not leaving you alone 'til you answer me." Jeongyeon quirks her eyebrows.

"Mina." Chaeyoung replied in monotone. "Can you leave me now?"

"Mina." Jeongyeon repeats, feeling triumphant at successfully prying Chaeyoung open. "A quiet
person is what you need with your foul mouth."

"And a quiet moment is what I need right now. Scram you prick." Chaeyoung waves a hand
aggressively, shooing the older girl away.

"Fine," Jeongyeon heads for the exit. "I'll bother someone else then."

When she said bother someone else, she didn't really meant it. She walked outside towards the
hexagonal wooden gazebo for some fresh air and coincidentally, Jihyo was there. With the same
enthusiasm (or disgust, depends on your perspective) Jeongyeon repeated her story.

"What's wrong with that?" Jihyo shows a look of confusion. "Nayeon's nice."

"Ugh..." Jeongyeon stomps her foot on the wooden floor. "You too?"

"Hey, a lot can happen in five years." Jihyo points out.

"And the stories you guys have told me about her during that five years were only about her sex
life. Literally."

"Ha, lol!" Jihyo actually said the word lol instead of laughing.

"Am I not worthy of hearing your real laugh?" Jeongyeon deadpanned. "What are you doing here

"Waiting for a reply from our tall baby." Jihyo brings up her phone with no new notifications.
"Our tall baby? Tzuyu?"

"Uh huh," Jihyo nods.

"But she's just in the cafeteria. Why not just go talk to her there?"

"Are you going to complain about me too?" Jihyo said in a serious manner. People tend to forget
that even the God has a scary side. "Let me have this. I don't have a lot of contacts on my phone."

Jeongyeon backed away dramatically with both hands in defense. "You looked like you were
about to unleash your wrath upon me." Jeongyeon leaned towards Jihyo after her act. "I'm glad
you and Chaeyoung are getting close with them." She says before heading back to class.

"Shouldn't you be heading to work?" Sana asked chirpily after tying her store apron around her.

"It's my day off." Jeongyeon stands across Sana, the counter between them, as she fidgets on the
items on display.

"You seem to have a lot of free time off from your work." Sana slides the purple band off her
wrist and ties her hair into a low ponytail.

"Perks of being related to the owner."

"So are you just gonna stand there and watch me all night?" Sana teases, leaning over the counter.

Jeongyeon knew Sana was joking, but it wasn't such a bad idea with nothing to do at home
anyways. "If you'll have me."
"You're serious?" Sana straightens up. "What are you gonna do here for four hours?"

Jeongyeon shrugs. "Watch you, like you said."


"I'm joking," she laughs by herself. "Need help with anything? I've never seen anyone around
here besides you."

"No, it's okay. I can handle things on my own."

"So you'll let me just stare at you then?"

"Ugh," Sana rolls her eyes before giggling. "Fine! But you're not getting any cut from my pay."

Sana leads Jeongyeon to the back room where it was messily stockpiled with opened and closed
boxes. Each box is a little over a foot high and each stack has three to four boxes. A single plastic
chair is set on one of the corners with a simple white table next to it.

"It feels so lonely in here." Jeongyeon said after scanning the dreary room.

"You’ll get used to it."

Jeongyeon wanted to believe her but in no way did her tone matched with her words. "So what do
you want me to do?"

"Organizing and restocking the shelves outside." Sana said as she lifted one of the boxes that were
filled with instant noodles.

"Consider it done 'mam!" Jeongyeon playfully salutes her.

"Dork," Sana strides to the door before saluting back.

It took barely half an hour for Jeongyeon to accomplish her menial task. Not wanting to step over
the line teasing Sana, she returned to the small cramped room and decided to get her homework
done instead. It was a nice change of scenery, or lack of, technically. No distractions aside from
the occasional "good evening" and "come again" greetings of Sana to the customers. Like how
some find it melancholic with rain drops, it was calming to the ears.

"What a nice student." Sana peeks halfway through the door. She looks like your imaginary
conscience, complimenting you for being diligent.

"Have to. Assignments are piling up. You wouldn't think it's only the first month of school."
Jeongyeon writes an answer on her book.

"Tell me about it. Plus, we have jobs too." Sana enters fully into the room and leaned against the
wall beside Jeongyeon. "That's a wrong answer by the way."

"Smarty pants." Jeongyeon scribbles over the fresh ink.

"Hey," Sana shifts her weight on one foot, alternating. "This might sound weird..."

"What is it?" Jeongyeon closes her book, giving her full attention to her friend.

"Last week," Sana plants her eyes towards the roof as she plays with her fingers, tapping them
against each other with nervousness.

"Yeah? What about last week?" Jeongyeon furrows her brows together.

"It was... uh..." Sana mutters the rest of her thoughts.

"I didn't get that. What did you say?"

"It was one of the best sleeps I ever had."

"What are you talking about?" As soon as the last word exited Jeongyeon's lips, only did she
realize what the other girl implied. "Oh..."

Feeling embarrassed, Sana exited the room fully blushed and returned to her station leaving a
baffled Jeongyeon.

A few moments were required for Jeongyeon to reflexively skim her memory bank in her deepest
parts of her brain and replay the event that took place the other night. And she had to admit;
sleeping beside Sana did feel astonishingly comfortable. An arm, draped over your midriff beneath
the blanket for an extra layer of warmth, a pair of bodies against each other, securing them for the
night, and the even breathing to save you from the silence of the night.

Jeongyeon took baby steps towards the front counter after realizing she was standing in the
stockroom with her reverie for ten full minutes. Upon reaching the only other person in this ghost
town of a store, she stood side by side as if she's manning the cash register too (because two
people operating a single device is totally normal).

"I'm sorry for suddenly saying that out of the blue..."

"Want to sleep with me tonight?"

The two just experienced their longest five minute walk of their lives. Neither is any closer than a
couple of feet apart. Eye contact and communication skills seemed to vanish from their
capabilities. It was only upon reaching their hallway did their abilities to acknowledge each other

"I'm going to freshen up first," Sana fiddles with her keys. "See you in a few?"

Jeongyeon nods as her soon to be guest enters her apartment.

"What am I doing...?" She mutters, suddenly feeling self-conscious of the whole sleeping together
idea. Back then, it was unplanned and just felt right, and they were under the influence too which
made things easier. Much, much easier. She isn't regretting the invitation; it’s just that her heart is
pounding like it was never before. It's very new to her.

Her hand reaches for the knob and then all her nervousness are suddenly replaced with an
unrelated fear. "Why is my door unlocked?" Slowly, she turns the bronze sphere before slamming
it inwards and assumed a fighting stance like how Sub Zero would look. Playing that damn game
too much should be of help in the real world, right?

"Yes, that's exactly the look we imagined." Nayeon sarcastically said. Jihyo was supposed to
capture with her phone a surprised Jeongyeon but instead gets a serious impersonation of a
fighting game character (which is much better in her opinion).

"Holy shit you look stupid!" Chaeyoung places a hand on her stomach as the other slaps her thigh
repeatedly, roaring with amusement. "Wait! Stay like that for a few more seconds." She nears
Jeongyeon and assumes a fighting stance of her own before yelling Scorpion's iconic "Get over

Jeongyeon actually tackles her opponent to the ground, successfully mounting her as she pinches
both cheeks hard. "I'm going to give you extra dimples so stay still!" As Chaeyoung struggles
with no merit, Jeongyeon looks up to the other girls. "Explain. What and how."

"For the 'what'," Nayeon holds up a plastic bag from the ground, that Jeongyeon didn't notice was
there earlier, and shakes them a little with a devious grin, enough for the contents to clank together
and obviously giving away the alcoholic bottles inside. "And as for the 'how', you're subduing the
lock picker right now."

"I don't even want to know how you learned to lock pick." Jeongyeon pulls Chaeyoung up after
forcing a tomato color on her cheeks.

"From Skyrim, actually." Chaeyoung rubs both sides of her visage to dull the stinging pain.

"From a game? I don't believe you." It's not like they teach you to pick locks in the real world.

"Yet here we are."

"And you two," Jeongyeon pivots to Nayeon and Jihyo, "the first time you guys visit is with
breaking and entering?"

"Loosen up," Nayeon brushes her shoulder against Jeongyeon on her way to the kitchenette as
she searches for some glasses, "help me set your coffee table up. We have another surprise for

And on cue, the doorbell rang. Jeongyeon, for a while, forgot that she invited Sana over. She
rushes to the door as she tries to come up of a better way of saying 'rain check on sleeping

"That's them already!" Jihyo hops beside Jeongyeon, placing her hand on the knob.


"Welcome to Jeongyeon's!" Jihyo bellows like she owns the place.

Jeongyeon had expected Sana to be at the door. What she did not expect was her group to be
behind her.

"I see they ambushed you too." Sana giggles shyly. "You wouldn't expect them to suddenly
arrange a party."

"Me neither, honestly." Tzuyu deadpanned. "But that one's a pest." She points at Jihyo. "Wouldn't
stop texting and calling me to drag all of you here."

"Come in! Come in!" Jihyo swerves behind the guests and leads them by the shoulders, leaving
Jeongyeon and Sana by the door.

"Another time?" Sana whispers as she fixes strands of hair behind her ear.

"Another time." Jeongyeon smiles.

It was definitely disappointing for their plan to be ruined; just when they both had the courage to
bring up the intimate topic and act upon it. She swears that her friends are really going to get some
from her when this is all over.

But over to the brighter side of things. She's also glad that their friends are now mingling together,
even if it was rudely unannounced, to the point that her disappointment was greatly short lived and
is enjoying the gathering whole heartedly.

She spots Mina and Tzuyu, full attention at Chaeyoung who was mixing her own concoction
with, she has to admit, breath taking charisma as she twirls her wrists fluidly, mixing the contents
and ending into their glasses. Just how many more hidden talents does the girl have? And only as
the mini show ended did Jeongyeon notice what Chaeyoung used to mix and flip. One of her
expensive glass decanters that was solely placed for decoration and nothing more.

I swear if these people weren't here she'd already be knocked cold.

Distracting herself from the violent thought, she examines the other guests in the room.

Momo is standing near the window, mouth agape and eyes brightly shinning towards Jihyo next
to her after hearing she was ordering midnight snacks for them.

Sana is helping Nayeon clear the coffee table from anything fragile and placing the couch
cushions around for everyone. She doesn't notice them talking to each other though. Shy perhaps?

It was a warming sight to behold and she can (wants) to get used to this foreign atmosphere.

"I know we did this unannounced and all but you could help out you know." Jihyo said through
the room after ending her call.

Jeongyeon picks up some snacks she had stored in the pantry, which she horded two weeks ago
for this exact situation, and placed them in plastic bowls, spreading them on the coffee table.
Everyone finds a comfortable spot around the said furniture while Chaeyoung hands a glass to

"To new friends!" Jihyo raises her glass, beckoning the others to do the same.

"To new friends," the rest said, but noticed how louder Jihyo's was compared to theirs combined.

It went smooth as the minutes go on as far as the alcohol intake and small talk are concerned.
Chaeyoung kept wowing everyone with her mysterious bartending skills despite giving
Jeongyeon mini heart attacks from fear of dropping her decanter. Their delivery arrived just a few
minutes after their order, with Momo also wowing Jeongyeon's group with her bottomless pit of
an appetite.

"Do you even breathe?" Nayeon asked.

Momo ignores the question and focuses on Chaeyoung's plate, remembering her (I'm not hungry)
introduction earlier that week. "Are you gonna finish that?"

"N-" Only the starting sound was required for Momo to snatch the plate from her as if it was the
last edible entity on Earth.

The real party began when the delivery has finished its purpose with Sana bringing up the Never
Have I Ever game. The game itself gets boring after a few turns, but it's a whole different concept
when you practically don't know half of the people in the room; although the rest of Sana's group
doesn't seem to be eager as much as her. They still have their guard up.

"Shouldn't we talk about what kinds of questions are over the line?" It was Mina, who was
fidgeting uncomfortably at the end of the couch.

"That's no fun," Jihyo complained. "You can trust us, I promise."

They decided unanimously to mix Spin the Bottle to see who gets to ask.

"Since I suggested it, I'll spin first!" Sana eagerly chirped. She spins the bottle with enthusiasm
that it almost fell of the table, stopping at Chaeyoung.

"Alright," Chaeyoung sits straight on the couch, "never have I ever been in a relationship."

Nayeon drinks alone. "Seriously? None of you?"

Chaeyoung spins the bottle next and lands on Mina. "Uh... Never have I ever made out with

This time, Chaeyoung, Momo, and Sana joins Nayeon.

"Explain," Jeongyeon demanded, eyes scrutinizing the youngest loser of the round.

"Explanations aren't part of the game Jeong."

Jeongyeon maintains her looks, signalling Chaeyoung an I'll talk to you later to her.

"You care so much about her huh?" Sana happily asked.

"She's my baby sister and always will be." Usually, Chaeyoung would feel cringey and gag at the
said mushy words, a retort or some kind of violent reaction expected. She showed none of these
and Jeongyeon wonders for a moment.

Jihyo clears her throat, patting Mina by her knee. "Spin."

Next was Nayeon. "I'm going to sacrifice myself for this question. Never have I ever been into
guys," downing her own glass.
Jihyo was expected since she's bi, Chaeyoung followed suit, but what Jeongyeon choked on air
from was that all four foreigners also downed their drinks, earning enlarged eyes from her.

"Wow," Jihyo took the reaction from Jeongyeon.

"I don't think you're straight though," Chaeyoung says to Jeongyeon before the silence crept in. "I
think you're just confused."

"What makes you think that?"

"Intuition," the younger smirks.

It was Jeongyeon's turn to ask. "Alright!" She stands up with a grin. Now, she's really curious
because of the previous question. "Never have I had an interest with a person in this room!"

It instantly muted the atmosphere. Only Tzuyu accompanied her from reaching out for their drink.
It was a game but they were all too honest with it.

"I think we should dial down the questions." Mina leans back after finishing her shot, glancing at
Momo and Tzuyu for back up.

"Nope," Tzuyu grins. "I'm actually having fun now that I see all of you being awkward." The
silent types are always the scariest. Sometimes, they're also the wildest when touched with
alcohol. And now it was that person's turn. "Never have I ever wanted to sleep with someone

Before Jeongyeon could process what the tall minor said, Sana drank her cup eagerly. Way too
eagerly. Then Nayeon and Momo drank theirs simultaneously. She hesitates to reach for her drink
because sleep can literally mean just sleep right? Before the thought of technicalities bother her
even further, she finally decides to just shut her mind off and chug the damn sin of a drink.

"Okay, I'm out of the game." Mina stands to refill her glass and leans on the counter to watch from
the sidelines. "It's getting too uncomfortable for me."
Everyone took that as a cue to be more subtle for the rest of the night. And it was successful. The
games shifted to be more as simple drinking games, no personal thresholds crossed. At one point,
Chaeyoung setup her Playstation 4 to the television, running a 4-player game of Tetris Ultimate
(and of course, loser has to take a shot). Where did she even hide that thing in the first place? And
there was a Tetris game for the PS4? Mina started to loosen up at that point, engrossing herself at
the new game, and consistently challenged everyone in the room.

It's past 2 am when Jeongyeon entered her room for a quick break. It was quiet here, repressed
noises can still be heard in the living room but it was still decently quiet in her bedroom. Sliding
her window open, she lights a stick as she leans on the frame. The night started wobbly with their
intrusive questions but all in all, it was a great night of bonding. She remembers Sana saying they
have get togethers every weekend, taking turns to host the night and wonders if her group could
be included in their pattern.

For a second, the active party was clearly heard before being suppressed again by the door,
indicating someone followed her.

"I heard you smoke." Momo takes the remaining window space beside Jeongyeon, leaning both
elbows on the frame. "Can I have one?"

"Sure," Jeongyeon reaches for her box, handing the open end to Momo. "As long as your friends
don't kill me."

"Our." Momo lights her cigarette up. "Our friends."

Among the eight of them, Jeongyeon and Momo are the only ones who are far from being drunk,
apart from Jihyo's guardian attitude that is. Taste is a very important factor according to Momo and
alcohol burns her taste buds. After the games ended, she has yet to touch her cup again.

The two stayed there by the window, letting the night chill run past them as the tobacco slowly
disintegrates between their fingers. It was comfortable and Jeongyeon feels at ease beside Momo.
So much so that she begins to ask her her number one concern towards her group.
"Why is your group shunned by everyone in school?"

Momo puffs the last residues of her stick before sticking it in the ashtray Jeongyeon brought out a
moment ago. She takes another one from the box and lights it again between her lips and takes a
long chest full drag.

"Sorry for asking, it's okay if you don't want to tell me." This was out of politeness. Of course it's
not okay.

"Nah, it's alright." Momo releases another puff, quickly dissipating through the air. "Where do I
start?" She asks herself as she rubs her chin.

"Back in Japan, Sana's family went bankrupt, and the people they work with are a fuck-ton of
sketchy people. With the last of their savings and fear of their only kid being sold to the black
market or something, her parents forced her to move here to start a new life. She hasn't heard from
them since."

"How long ago was this?" Jeongyeon couldn't wait to ask a question after hearing that.

"About five years ago?" Momo shifts so that her back is leaning on the frame. "Anyway, me, her
best friend, followed her because she can't lose everything in one go. It was kinda rash and
irresponsible but hey, I don't regret it a bit."

"Then we met Mina and Tzuyu on our first day of school here. Coincidently, we all transferred at
the same time. Mina initially migrated for ballet school but quit shortly after. Said it was feeling
more of a hobby than her calling. Tzuyu... Tzuyu's situation is kinda messed up." Momo scratches
her head, unsure if she was to continue. "She was adopted by a politician here... For political
purposes. A selfless politician adopts an orphan kind of gimmick." She scoffs, making a disgusted
face. "They've never even met each other."

"Okay, so naturally, being the only foreigners in school, we stuck together since orientation.
Learnt how to live in a foreign country by ourselves. It was all good, really. We were making
friends and all. Until someone found out about Sana and Tzuyu's dirt. Then, it was a typical
bullying period you see in dramas because being poor and a political target are just and reasonable
means for bullying, right?" She says the last part in the most sarcastic way she can. "I'm talking
about verbal and public embarrassment bullying here. But there was one group who we think
legitimately liked Sana, being the social butterfly she is. But the catch was to cut ties with the rest
of us."
"What happened?" Jeongyeon interjected. "I haven't seen any bullying."

Suddenly, Momo laughs, placing her stick on the tray before putting pressure on her stomach.
"You'll have a hard time believing the answer to that."

Jeongyeon shrugs. "I've had no reason not to believe you yet."

Momo starts to relax but still maintained her amused smile. "Months after it started, we were in the
cafeteria having lunch. By then we learned to keep to ourselves. Then this kid, Yugyeom, one of
the students who started the bullying, was dissing us in public. We were somehow used to it by
then so we just flat out ignored him. And it pissed him off so much that we showed no reaction.
That was the first time anything physical was done to us. He flipped our trays, spilling everything
on us."

"What happened?" Jeongyeon asks again.

"Mina broke his arm."

Jeongyeon laughs, coughed a couple of times too. "No really, what happened?"

"I told you, you wouldn't believe it."

"Seriously?" Jeongyeon became solemn, eyes enlarged as she imagines a barely teenager Mina
breaking someone's arm.

"Seriously. Turns out her dad taught her Aikido and she reacted to self defense. No one
approached us since that incident." Momo laughs again at the memory. "Honestly, I don't think it
was self defense. It felt really more like she wanted to rip the dude's arm off." Momo elbows
Jeongyeon lightly, "Don't tell her I said that."

Earlier, she was scared of Tzuyu during the game. Mina overtook her just now and is leaving the
others way behind. "I won't."

"Now that I look back at it, I kind of can't believe that the cause of everything was immaturity."
Momo takes a deep breath, feeling relaxed as she finished the story. "Sure we were kids back
then, but just because a group of other kids bullied us, it left a permanent effect years after."

It was juvenile. She remembers Jihyo's words.

"Lucky I ran into Sana huh?" Jeongyeon tries to say something random, not knowing how to
reply to such a story.

"Really lucky." Momo finishes her second stick. "Take care of Sana, okay?"

"W-was that supposed to mean something?" Jeongyeon baffles yet again. She seems to stutter a
lot whenever Sana was involved.

"I didn't mean anything in particular." Momo shrugs. "You live next to each other, you go home
together. I meant it in a general sense." She tugs Jeongyeon by the wrist, pulling her towards
where everybody else was. "Now come on before they get any perverted ideas. We've been gone
for too long."

"Are you..." Jeongyeon suddenly recalls that Momo was among who said yes to the interested
with someone in the room. "... In me?"

"Huh?" Momo poses a blank expression. "Oh. Relax. I am interested in you but not in the way
you're thinking." She can't help but giggle at the silly idea, Jeongyeon matches her laugh shortly
after. It was hard not to think like that when you just recently find out everyone in your group of
friends was either bi or gay.

It was amazing how someone can hide an absolutely different personality under specific situations.
She never imagined Momo to be a serious and gentle talker under her passive and slow public
figure. Another reason never to judge anyone from the outside.

It's 3 am and the party had died down to the cleaning phase. But of course, only the able ones
were actually cleaning. Momo was carrying Sana, Mina, and Tzuyu into Sana's room one after the
other. Chaeyoung is gulping down an excessive amount of water, forcing herself to sober up.
Jihyo's helping Nayeon do so too, forcing her to sit upright.

When all is almost done and "good nights" were bid to Momo and gang, Jeongyeon plops down
next to Nayeon on the couch, stretching the exhaustion away.

"I'm just going to take the thrash out." Jihyo announces, leaving the room.

Chaeyoung is detaching her console from the television when Nayeon leans her head on
Jeongyeon's shoulder.

"Hey, Jeong."


"You'll never leave us again, right?"

"What's this all of sudden?" Jeongyeon slightly jerks her shoulder, teasing a groggy Nayeon.

"Just answer me."

Drunk or sober, she could tell when Nayeon is serious. "Never."

Nayeon hums through her shoulder as she breathes in pattern. After a few seconds, she envelopes
the short haired girl in a side hug, holding her ever so tight. Jeongyeon might us well fall asleep
like this. Closing her eyes, she felt constricted, yet comfortable.

"I forced Chaeyoung to sleep with me."

Jeongyeon didn't see it, but Chaeyoung stiffened and dropped a controller abruptly.
"The fuck are you talking about?" Jeongyeon laughs, not understanding the punch line. "That's
kind of a sick joke you know."

Nayeon doesn't move, only tightening her grip onto Jeongyeon. "It wasn't one."

"Hey Nayeon, let’s go." Chaeyoung was startlingly standing in front of them now, prying Nayeon
off from her encasement.

With the sudden change of atmosphere, Jeongyeon was starting to think that it really was not a
joke. "What's she talking about?" She said, refusing to believe it.

"It's nothing, hyung," Chaeyoung managed to get one arm off, "she's just drunk."

"But you're clearly sober and you're definitely panicking." Jeongyeon stood up, towering over
Chaeyoung. "What. Is she. Talking. About."

"It's really nothing, hyung." But her eyes are giving her away, filling up with fear.

"Three years ago," Nayeon spoke, stealing Jeongyeon's attention, "I visited her one night,
forcefully took off her clothes, and had sex with her." Nayeon's gaze was directed at Jeongyeon's
previous seat, not having the courage to look at her directly.

Chaeyoung was slowly backing away, step by step.

"You’re kidding, right?" She asks again. "She’s kidding, right?" Asking Chaeyoung too.

"She was crying, but I still continued." Nayeon was sobbing by now, guilt overtook her wholly in
an instant. "And I didn't do that just one time. I often came back to her room in the middle of the
night and I've done it to her again and again and I couldn't stop." Nayeon finally looks up,
matching Jeongyeon's eyes. "I'm sorry..."

"You're sorry?" Jeongyeon grimaces, unsure of how to comprehend such information. "Fuck,
Nayeon! You said 3 years ago? She was a minor then! And still is!" Her voice, loud and
uncontrollable with anger. "Are you telling me," she pauses, feeling disgust at the tip of her
tongue, "you raped her?"
Slowly, Nayeon nods, confirming Jeongyeon's beliefs that this really is not a practical joke.
"You're sick."

"Hyung," Chaeyoung gently reaches out for Jeongyeon, attempting to calm her down. "Take it

"And you!" Shifting her gaze to the victim, "why do you look like you're okay with it?"

"I-I felt sorry for her." Chaeyoung mumbles as she averts her eyes elsewhere.

"You felt sorry?" Jeongyeon strides towards Chaeyoung, positioning her head in front of
Chaeyoung, forcing eye contact. "You were raped and you felt sorry?"

"Jeong, stop! Don't blame her." Nayeon manages to get up, contents of alcohol were long gone
from her system, as she holds Jeongyeon by the arm.

"Don't touch me!" Jeongyeon aggressively flings her arm, tossing Nayeon to the floor. She squats
in front of Nayeon, maintaining a small distance as she questions her. "Tell me. Why?"

With her face covered by both hands, Nayeon forcefully wipes her tears away as she whiffs in
dismay. "She reminds me of you." She whispers, having a hard time to produce a clearer voice.


"I missed you so much," she said, clearer this time, "and she reminds me so much of you."

"So I'm to blame?!" Jeongyeon couldn't believe what she just heard. She stands up, and walks
around the room, trying to sink all the information.

Jihyo walks in with Chaeyoung standing in a corner while Nayeon is still on the floor saying "I'm
sorry" repetitively. It didn't take long for Jihyo to comprehend what was happening the few
minutes she was gone.
"You like me?" Jeongyeon said across the room. She connected the dots that she didn't even
know were there. Nayeon, almost kissing her last week, Nayeon's lingering touch the other night,
Nayeon breaking up with her girlfriend, Nayeon's interest in the room, Nayeon saying that
Chaeyoung reminds her of Jeongyeon. "You like me?"

She strides towards Nayeon, looking like she was about to get physical, but Jihyo blocked her
before she could reach her. "Jeong, calm down."

"You like me so you decided to rape her?!" Jeongyeon shouts as she points a finger to the crying
girl on the ground. "What kind of fucked up logic do you even have to reach that kind of

All Jeongyeon got for a reply was Nayeon's consistent crying words of apology.

"Who are you?" That line struck a deep blow, bringing Nayeon down to quiet sobs as her body
shakes uncontrollably.

"Jeong, please calm down."

"You knew didn't you?" Jeongyeon meets Jihyo's eyes. "Why didn't you stop them?"

"It was too late when I found out..."

"Then why didn't you tell me, huh?"

"Would it have been better if you heard it from me?"

Maybe, she thinks. Certainly not by being ambushed like this just after she had one of the best
drinking sessions she's ever had.

"Get out." Jeongyeon walks to the kitchen, filling a glass of water. "All of you, get out!"
"Everyone makes bad choices, Jeong. And it takes a change of heart to admit them." Jihyo says
before she helps Chaeyoung getting Nayeon up and assist her towards the front door without
exchanging anymore glances. With a click of the knob and hearing one last "I'm sorry," they were

Jeongyeon gulps down her drink before throwing it across the room, shattering the glass into

For the past two weeks she's been back, she kept telling herself numerous times how she never
imagined certain things to be the way they are. But this, this was just seriously fucked up.

She walks towards the bedroom and opens the window again, quickly lighting a cigarette between
her lips. From there, she looks down to the streets and sees her friends turn a corner, vanishing
from sight. She does a long sigh before taking another inhale of nicotine. Although minimal,
smoking still helps clear her thoughts and calm her down.


She turns around, an unanticipated voice catching her off guard. "How'd you get in?"

"It wasn't locked." She scratches her arm awkwardly after taking a step further inside the room. "I
didn't mean to, but, uh... I heard everything from my door."

Jeongyeon extinguishes her stick into the ashtray and closed the windows before lying sideways
on her bed, back towards her visitor. "I'm not in the mood, Sana."

With quiet steps, Sana brings herself next to Jeongyeon as she starts to gently play with her hair.

"Didn't you hear me?"

"I heard you."

Jeongyeon stays silent for a moment, the warmth of another body behind her, calming her more
effectively than the cigarette. Sana hums a lullaby, maintaining her gentle caress.
"Then why are you still here?"

"You haven't asked me to leave yet."

Not long after, they fall asleep next to each other, just like they said they would earlier that night.
Day 45

Day 45 - Saturday

"Jeong! Hurry up!"

"It's okay," Jeongyeon tells herself in a mantra. "I promised. I told her I'd do this."

"Stop talking to yourself. You sound crazy." Momo grabs her by the hem of her shirt, pulling her
towards the restaurant within the fish market.

"Are you even close to getting tired?"

"You know my motto."

"Ugh," Jeongyeon sighs, rolling her eyes. "Yeah, yeah. Work hard, eat hard."

"Work hard! Eat hard!" Momo repeats with enthusiasm. "Besides, you promised this date since
the first time we met."

"I know, and I'm close to regretting it now."

Jeongyeon vaguely remembers the promise she had made. Who was she kidding? She completely
forgot about making a vow to take her exploring other Korean food the day they were introduced
to each other. That was until Momo came knocking that slow early morning on her door.

"I pegged you for a girl who keeps her promises," Momo jibes.

"I'm not breaking it. I'm kind of regretting it."

"Why are you even tired?" A bell rings above them as Momo opens the door, earning a loud
Welcome! from a waiter. "The afternoon just started."

"And yet this is our fourth restaurant." Jeongyeon was like a lifeless body, being dragged around
town forcefully, her spirit faded as it floats away in the past hour. "I knew you were a heavy eater
but god, how can you still gobble everything up like you've been fasting for days?"

"Work hard! Eat hard!"

Jeongyeon gives up complaining and just patiently waits for the day with the glutton to end.

The two take their seats next to one of the walls facing each other as they wait for their orders to
arrive. Momo's eyes shine towards the table next to theirs, observing the silky surface of the
delicacy in the middle of the wooden square.

"Are you sure about this?" Jeongyeon raises her head after resting a little. "Most foreigners don't
look forward eating this."

"I love sashimi." Momo snaps her head at Jeongyeon. "It's not that different right?"

"It's raw octopus."

"And sashimi is raw fish."

"Whatever floats your mind, I guess."

Over the past few weeks, Jeongyeon has gotten pretty close with Momo. She wasn't exactly sure
how but Momo transitioned from the quiet and shy version of herself to the open and free spirited
girl she sees before her. At first they spent time as smoking buddies whenever she hangs out with
the foreigner group and overtime they just felt comfortable around each other.

One thing Jeongyeon observed and loved about her is she knows when to shift her attitude.
Wacky when happy, sensitive when need be.
"Hey Jeong." And lo and behold, here comes the sensitive side. "When are you going to talk to
them again?"

Whenever she tries to bring the topic up, Jeongyeon instantly mood swings into discomfort. She
leans back on her seat, arms hanging on either side as the lifeless state she’s in. "Not this again

With all the time they've spent together, Jeongyeon has yet to tell Momo, or anybody for that
matter, what happened that dreaded night. Sana was kind enough not to spill either even without
Jeongyeon asking her to keep quiet about it.

"It's been a month, Jeong."


"So?" Momo emphasizes with enlarged eyes. "They're your best friends!"

Jeongyeon scoffs with arms crossed, looking in a different direction as she tries to ignore Momo.

"Look, I'm not telling you to forgive them for whatever it is they did to you. I'm just asking you to
talk to them."

How? How can someone talk to their "friends" after knowing something sickening happened
because of her? It was inexcusable and hardly a valid reason - hell, no reason is valid at all to do
that kind of thing. But that was Nayeon's basis. She did that because she left. As much as she
blames Nayeon, a part of her blames herself even though she knows she's done absolutely nothing

"I can't. Okay? I just can't."

"You have to." Momo reaches for Jeongyeon’s hands, cupping them gently. "I may not have the
best childhood, but I had it with Sana, Mina, and Tzuyu. And I would never let a fight get in
between any of us."
Their orders arrive but the atmosphere had already become gloomy. Momo didn't even pay
attention when the dishes were lowered right before her, focusing all her concentration to her short
haired buddy.

"I'm not trying to sound selfish here, but it's affecting us too." Momo picks up her chopsticks and
repositions the plates to her preferences, all the while still looking at her friend. "Our groups
became friends and it was something entirely new and refreshing to us. Then immediately the
week after we had to adjust to a crack in between."

Jeongyeon knows and feels responsible for that aspect too. She wasn't exactly subtle whenever
she avoids the others, resulting in one or two of the foreigners (Sana and Momo most of the time)
to accompany her elsewhere.

"You're making me lose my appetite," Momo spoke once again when she couldn't get a reply
from Jeongyeon. "Let's finish this quick. I'm itching for drag after seeing you mope around."

"You're the one who brought it up." Jeongyeon takes her chopsticks as well, dipping a piece of
tentacle with an orange sauce.

"And you're the one who's not doing anything about it." Momo takes a bite size as well. It was on
reflex but as soon as the slimy object in her mouth, Momo scrunches up her face in pure delight,
instantly forgetting everything else - a little too literal. "Oh. My. God."

Jeongyeon smiles, feeling relaxed at the satisfied face Momo made. "Oh? Momo likes it?"

"Who's Momo?" Momo takes another piece, ready to be eaten as soon as she swallows the
previous one. "Who are you? Don't talk to me, stranger. I'm busy falling in love."

"I thought you were in love with Jokbal?"

One exchange of words has transpired but by then, Momo had already gobbled a third of her
plate. "What's Jokbal?"

Momo had memory loss the whole meal, returning to her usual self only after the two had gotten
out of the place with smoking as their first thought.
Much to Jeongyeon's show of annoyance and regret earlier, she certainly has taken a liking to
Momo's eating show, which she will never admit, promising (forced herself to) her to take her out
on another food adventure sometime again.

A loud barking noise echoes the room in a rhythm from her phone. The half asleep girl sprawls on
the bed, trying to find her device buried somewhere on the soft mattress. She finds it near the edge
of her bed and swipes the alarm off aggressively.

It's two in the afternoon but her room still shows sign of slumber. Cool air from the AC, curtains
covering the windows, and a dim yellow aura from a nightlight. She sits upright and stretches her
arms up, cracking her stiff back bones in the process as she yawns, filling her lungs with cold air.

Getting up from bed on a lazy weekend is an obstacle and going down the stairs for a meal is a
lonely maze. She makes her way down the steps towards the dining area where her lunch is
already prepared covered by an aluminium cover. Eating clean and fast, she returns to her room
shortly after.

This has been her routine since the day she was adopted and moved to Korea. No one to have
greetings with, no one to eat lunch with, and no one to have a conversation with. She wants to say
that she's has gotten used to it after living like this for countless of years, but of course it's still so

She can't remember her birth parents. Doesn't even know if they're alive. Being the mature kid that
she is, she didn't dwell about them, completely moving on when she understood what an orphan

When she heard news of her getting adopted, a little spark infused within her. She'll get to
experience what having parents would feel, she told herself. Reality played a cruel joke on her,
making her a house trophy instead of a daughter. But again, she didn't dwell on it. Nothing is fair
in this world.

The only comfort she had experience throughout her life was when she got to meet Sana, Momo,
and Mina. Three other girls, living a somewhat similar life to her. A little family of sisters that has
rarely failed to meet at least once a day. And over the past few weeks, that small family welcomed
another group for the first time. Sana and Momo were the firsts to open up to them while Mina is
slowly doing so as well. But Tzuyu? She still has her guard up. Especially with how an episode
sprung up within that new group out of nowhere.

Tzuyu lies down back on her bed when her phone buzzes for a second. With that simple
distraction, she knew instantly who caused it.

From Jihyo

Afternoon sleepy head! Eaten yet?

Tzuyu drops her phone on her side, having no intentions of replying. Once she replies, the texts
will not stop. She learned that the hard way. Because to Tzuyu, texting about nonsense is a bother.

It amazes Tzuyu, however, how Jihyo's tenacity to send her texts every single day ever since they
exchanged numbers has kept up even though she rarely replies. And whenever they meet up in
person, Jihyo doesn't bring it up or urges her to reply at all. It's ironic, really, how she both tries to
intrude and respect her privacy.

A knock on her door breaks her day dreaming, before a middle aged woman takes a step inside.

"Miss Tzuyu, your guest is here."

"Tell her to come in please. Thank you."

After a few seconds, Chaeyoung walks in with an armful of books that consists of different
versions and guides of Shakespeare’s works. The guest drops the heavy stack to the nearest table
before sitting flat on floor with her legs sprawled. "This is like the fourth time I've been here and it
still creeps me out how empty your place is. Reminds me of mine."

Among her new friends, Chaeyoung is the most comfortable to be with. Tzuyu noticed how
different she talks and acts depending on who she is with making her the most sensible among her
group, in Tzuyu's opinion.
"Come on, we can finish this project by today." Tzuyu walks over to her desk and boots her
laptop, bringing out a few notebooks and pens as well.

The two spent their afternoon in silence, only talking to each other when needed which is mostly
about their project. It was progressive as any other day and Tzuyu wouldn't have it any other way.

In about two hours, they were close to wrapping up their work, only a few paragraphs and a
conclusion were left.

All they did whenever they were together was work on their school project but for Tzuyu, it was a
fun experience, bonding with the smaller girl.

Her phone buzzes again when Tzuyu took a short break.

From Jihyo

You're with the imp right? Tell her not to go home too late okay? Thanks!! :D

"Hey," Tzuyu lifts her phone up in front of Chaeyoung's eyes. "I don't understand why she
doesn't just text you directly."

"Bear with her." Chaeyoung resumes writing on her notebook, uninterested with the topic. "I
think she's just happy that a new baby joined the family."

"But I'm not a baby."

"Awww, a typical baby reply." Chaeyoung reaches an arm out to pinch the other girl's cheek but
was successfully avoided. "Like I said, bear with her. She's really like a second mom."

Tzuyu sighs a tired one. Second mom? She never even had a first one.

Trying to change to subject, Tzuyu asked the most recent issue she can remember. "Have you
talked to Jeongyeon yet?"
This time, it was Chaeyoung who releases a sigh in an exhausted manner. "Not yet. She's still
avoiding us."

"It's Mina's turn to host tonight. Wanna come with me?"

"But Jeong's gonna be there." She mumbles.

"And she doesn't have a say on who we invite."

"I dunno Tzu..."

"C'mon. It's been a month since you guys talked. I don't know how grave your fault is but I think
a month of silence is enough."

Like Momo, Tzuyu still has no idea what really happened. All she got was a warning from Sana
not to pry it off any of them.

"But what if it gets awkward?" Chaeyoung looks down, tapping her index fingers against each

"We'll be there. And it's just you for now. No Nayeon, and no Jihyo." Tzuyu places a hand on
Chaeyoung's shoulder, giving it a gentle squeeze. "You let us in your lives, or rather, you forced
yourselves in our lives." A giggle escapes Tzuyu, finding her own tease amusing. "Let us help fix

After a little pondering, and rapid tapping of both feet, Chaeyoung reluctantly agrees.

"Great!" Tzuyu smiles, more at herself for a successful persuasion. "And don't worry, whenever
it's Mina's turn we usually just play her video games or watch movies. I heard you and Jeongyeon
were competitive."

"Yeah..." Chaeyoung laughs an awkward one. "By the way, it felt like you were happier when
you said Jihyo wasn't coming." She throws a taunt, feeling woozy from being emotional for a

"I am." Tzuyu squeezes her forehead with a hand, massaging widely up to her temples. "I don't
hate her, don't get me wrong. I know she's kind and all. It's just she nags me every single day."

"Nags?" Chaeyoung quirks an eyebrow.

"Every. Single. Day. How are you? Have you had lunch? Home yet? Are you sleeping?" Like a
boomerang, it was Tzuyu's turn to make a strenuous sigh again. "It's just kind of exhausting."

"Huh," Chaeyoung lets out a small laugh, genuine this time. "The one person I want to talk to is
avoiding me while the one person you want to avoid is talking to you. Ironic."

"If someone else was here, she would've jabbed our height ironic as well." Tzuyu brings her
palms together and showed a mischievous smile. "Oh look! I just did."

"Hahaha," Chaeyoung mocks. "Realy funny."

After a few more minutes, they were done with their school project. Chaeyoung left first, telling
Tzuyu she had to do some stuff before the hangout tonight.

For countless times today, Tzuyu is back on her bed, contemplating about what she or the other
can do to mend the hidden wound that was left untouched for a month.

Just as she began forming a plan, her phone buzzes yet again.

Tzuyu groans, lifting her phone up to her eyes as she prepares for the incoming cringe that Jihyo
spouted this time. But it wasn't Jihyo.

From Chaeyoung

Are you home?

"Huh?" It hasn't been five minutes since she left, which leaves Tzuyu in a state of confusion. Why
was she asking if she was home?

And another buzz.

From Chaeyoung

Have you eaten yet?


From Chaeyoung

Did you sleep well?


From Chaeyoung

How are you?

Okay, now she knows what she was up to. "This little cunt." Tzuyu was supposed to be annoyed
yet surprisingly, the harassment made her laugh. And she doesn't laugh easily.

To Chaeyoung

Ha. Ha. Ha. Real. Funny.

It really was funny to her. But she wasn't going to admit that.
Chaeyoung really is the most comfortable to be with.

"Remind me never to promise your best friend eating out alone again." Jeongyeon was walking
backwards with her palms together up to her chest in a begging look. "I almost used up this
week's pay trying to fill her abnormal pit of a stomach."

"How many restaurants did she drag you into?" Sana was smiling of amusement, clearly
entertained at the other girl's dilemma with Momo.

"Six," she groans, gripping her own hair with disbelief. "Six fucking restaurants! I swear I was
about to throw up and I was seriously thinking of aiming it at her."

Sana laughs, a little too dramatic at that, with one hand covering her mouth elegantly. "Don't
worry about it. We all learned it the hard way."

It is half past seven in the evening and the two were on their way to Mina's for their traditional
weekly gathering. Since Jeongyeon's incident, she had been tagging along with them where she
was fully accepted by the rest of the gang. Tonight was the first time she was going to experience
Mina's turn and she was practically jumping on her bed like a kid when Sana told her that Mina
has every existing gaming console you could name, both modern and classic ones. A dream come
true for a dork like her.

Yet, that uplifting mood was only temporary since when it comes to video games, it greatly
reminds her of Chaeyoung. She misses her. She misses all three of her childhood friends. But
despite that, she's also still mad at them. She wants to forgive them, she really does, and when she
does, whenever that is, she knows everything wouldn't be the same anymore.

"Speaking of promises, you haven't fulfilled mine yet."

"What promise?" Jeongyeon tactlessly asked.

Sana whines in distraught, roughly shoving Jeongyeon by the shoulder. "You forgot!"

"Please don't make me feel guilty," she pleaded, palms meeting again for forgiveness, her face
filled with worry. "Remind me."

Ignoring the other girl's looks of remorse, Sana crossed her arms while habitably puffing her

Jeongyeon overtakes Sana again, walking backwards, and reached out both hands to hold Sana's.
"Please, please, please. I hate this feeling."

Maybe it was Sana's cheerful and kind side, or maybe it wasn't that much of a big deal, or maybe
because it was Jeongyeon. Her motive for conceding doesn't matter really. "Experiment and tester.
Ring any bells?"

"Ah!" With enlightenment and recollection, Jeongyeon replaced her worried look of that with
clarity. She does remember making such promise back when they just recently acquainted.

Sana smiles in relief, knowing that her companion hasn't completely forgot about it.

"But you might have to wait a few more weeks. Like I said, I spent most of my cash with Momo."

Noticing only now that they're still holding hands, Sana firmly tightens her clasp and shoots a
toothy grin, "No worries!"

Sometime along the way, the night air became chilly and Jeongyeon notices Sana shake from the
cold. Like their first night together, and the succeeding ones, Jeongyeon finds it a mystery who did
it first, but they continued their pace with half of her behind Sana, an arm around her to protect
themselves from the breeze, all whilst holding hands.

It's for warmth, a platonic voice says somewhere in the world.

The hall of the condominium looks especially creepy when deserted, something that would be
used as a scene in a horror movie. Mina even pranked them one time, sticking only her head on
one of the corners with her hair covering most of her face, mimicking that girl from The Ring.
Tzuyu remembers almost needing to resuscitate Momo from her delusion of having a third eye.

She knocks on the white painted door thrice and in a few seconds, she is greeted with a stoic faced
Mina and a screeching roar from within that is Momo.

"Aaaagh!" Momo was standing amongst Sana and Jeongyeon in the living room, pointing a
threatening finger at the latter. "You're cheating!"

"Just accept defeat, Momo." Jeongyeon replies with a victorious laugh and a fist pump into the air.

"No!" Momo leaps towards Mina and grabs her by the wrist. "Hey Tzuyu," she gives a soft smile
before dragging the host to the arena (couch). "Team up with me!"

"Calling for reinforcements huh?" Jeongyeon jibes.

"You were cheating. I know it. These old games have codes or patterns that give you a handicap."

Momo's intuition was actually on the dot. They were playing Super Bros Melee, the one from the
GameCube console, and Jeongyeon was, a matter of fact, cheating by using glitches she found on
the net.

It's a new round with Momo teaming up with Mina, and Jeongyeon with Sana.

Tzuyu, who had just ordered for pizza delivery, plopped on the couch beside Mina just in time for
the action to begin.

Personally, she finds the classic games entertaining the most. Stuff like Tetris, Snake, Pacman,
you know, the pixelated kinds. She finds it too much of a headache learning how complicated
they've evolved in the modern time.

What she finds interesting about them though, is how her friends duke it out and verbally assault
each other, sometimes even ending with a ridiculous I win pose. Since Jeongyeon is here, Tzuyu
doesn't have to be player number four anymore thus, maximizing her judgemental observation of
the group.

The round ends with Momo yanking Mina's arm straight up like a puppet, serving Jeongyeon in
her exact winning pose earlier. "Your cheats have nothing on Mina!" This only strengthens
Jeongyeon's claim of scary quiet people.

They continued like this, playing four player games, for about an hour with Tzuyu just laying
back, waiting for a certain someone to come knocking on the door.

To Chaeyoung

Where are you?

It didn't take long for her to receive a simple reply.

From Chaeyoung


To Chaeyoung

Scared? Want me to come get you?

Must be really nervous, Tzuyu thought. "Hey Sana, Momo, can you come with me for a bit?" She
taps their shoulders, cocking her head towards the door. "I think the delivery guy got lost on the
way here."

"Sure," Sana and Momo stands, oblivious of the lie they just heard.
"Sure," Sana and Momo stands, oblivious of the lie they just heard.

Before the three reached the door, Tzuyu gave Mina a distract her look, which Mina understood
without a hesitation.

"Let's play this for now," Mina holds out an old cassette shaped cartridge, showing off its retro

"Mario Bros!" Jeongyeon swiped it off from the owner, gawking out her dorkiness. "Damn! My
dad used to play this with me when I was a kid!"

With that, Tzuyu left the two of them and dragged the other two outside. She stopped just right
when she closed the door and placed a finger on her lips. "Okay," she whispers, "I lied."

"No delivery?!" Momo whispered (hissed).

"Not about that. I persuaded Chaeyoung to come here."

Sana's look showed signs of worry, clearly uncomfortable at the sudden variable. Opposite her,
Momo seemed ecstatic. "Good! About time they talk."

"I don't know..." Sana inserts both hands into her pockets, swaying her weight sideways.

"Where is she?" Momo asked.

"Outside the condo."

"Let's go get our delivery then." Momo makes her way towards the elevator with a grin, as the
other two trail behind her.

Reaching the lobby, they find the dwarf sitting uncomfortably on one of the lounge chairs and all
three could have sworn her uneasy aura is making the passersby question themselves if they were
in someone's wake.
"Let's get this over it with, shall we?"

"Damn, that was a good run Mina." Jeongyeon leans back on the couch, stretching either arm
sideways until it popped a sound. "I never reached that far with my dad."

"You're pretty good yourself."

"Nah," she brushes it off with a hand slap into the air. "I'm a better player when it's against other
players. Chaeng's better at playing coop games."

"You miss playing with her, don't you?" Mina asks, only getting a nod and a small smile in return.

"C'mon, one more round ‘til the others return." Jeongyeon starts a new game, only to be paused a
second after it started.

"Wait, I need to go to the restroom."

Jeongyeon is left alone in the room for the time being. This is the first time she was left alone (in a
room which is not hers) since her confrontation, and she doesn't like it one bit. One of the reasons
why she helped herself to attending these gatherings was for her to distract herself from realizing
that she's alone. That she currently cut ties from her friends, maybe for good. And she's scared,
terrified even. They're the reason she even moved back here in the first place. Now it felt kind of

As much as she didn't want to, she tries to find solace with her new friends. But it isn't the same.
Momo's no Chaeyoung. Sure they're both loud and obnoxious, even having great chemistry with
them, but it just feels different. Jihyo and Tzuyu are polar opposites. Don't even get her started
with Nayeon and Sana. Their only similarities are their excessive need of skinship.

It guilts her, that she's even having thoughts of replacing them. She's decided. Tomorrow, she'll
make an effort talking to them, and she’ll blame Momo for talking her into it.

Maybe being alone for a while was a good thing after all. Having time to reflect and all that mushy

She feels the couch lower on her side and the game starts abruptly, almost causing Jeongyeon to
drop her controller from surprise.

"At least give me a heads up Myoui," Jeongyeon turns to do a light push on the shoulder but stops
midway when she realizes that she has a different playing partner this time.

"Hey hyung..." Chaeyoung gives her a short glance, and then turns back to the screen. Jeongyeon
becomes silent as she tilts her head back to the screen too.

It was, for a lot of reasons, certainly an awkward situation. Jeongyeon could only take a number
of confrontational ambushes before her emotional switch gets fried.

They stay like that for minutes, playing the game in silence as the button taps serve as background

"Why aren't they talking?" Momo whispers.

"Quiet!" Sana whispers back, tapping Momo's head from above.

"Let them take their time," Tzuyu whispered as well.

After shoving Chaeyoung inside, the four foreigners scurried into the restroom and started peeking
from the small gap they made with the door. Tzuyu was on her toes to peek at her highest, Mina
just below Tzuyu, standing normally, Sana was crouching a little below Mina, and finally, on her
knees, Momo's head is at the bottom.

Because Momo's obviously a bottom.

This has been the longest that the two have spent time together with no actual conversation
transpiring between.

"On your right." Jeongyeon warned with no emotion.

"I got it." Replied Chaeyoung with a similar tone.

"Above you."


The 8-bit Mario and Luigi jumps in sync as a corresponding background music plays, indicating
the victory of the round.

Jeongyeon leans back on the couch for a few seconds, and then shifts her weight from her left to
her right, and then leans forward again towards the screen while crossing her legs. In other words,
she’s fidgety in all the obvious ways. Chaeyoung wasn’t at her best either, her legs taps against the
floor while her fingers tap the controller as well.

The atmosphere is crazy and chaotic in the most silent way. And when Jeongyeon was about to
stand up and leave, the other girl speaks.

"I miss you, hyung..."

Jeongyeon pauses the game, dropping her controller between her thighs afterwards. She stares at
the screen and if you squint a little, you could see its reflection. She could see Chaeyoung tearing
up and that's when she finally had it. Momo was right. A month of silence was too much of a
torture for any of them.

She practically jumps on her seat, scooting over to her friend and enveloped her in a side hug. "I
miss you too, you fucker."

Chaeyoung hugs back with a little giggle escaping her. "Isn't it too soon to call me that?"
"Uh... Right... Sorry." Jeongyeon tightens her fold, grasping tightly at the other's shoulders.

"Nah, it's okay. Wouldn't have you any other way."

No more words or actions were needed. That is how things work for them, an unspoken way
between the two showing each other that they're good and anything that needs forgiving has
already been pardoned.

"Before I forget," Chaeyoung reaches on her side of the couch, exposing a middle sized paper
bag. "I got this for you." She says, handing it over to Jeongyeon.

"What's this?"

"A gift, obviously."

"I know, but what for?"

"I was supposed to give you this when we were supposed to meet again after you left."
Chaeyoung shifts her vision to the side, avoiding eye contact. "But you messed it up and came
back unannounced."

Jeongyeon brings it up to her thighs, unclasping the staple on top. She inserts her arm, pulling it
out not long after, revealing a deep blue fabric the size of her full torso shaped somewhat like a
trapezoid with a couple of strings hanging on one end. "What's this supposed to be?"

"Uh... Remember that time I asked you what super power you wanted?" Chaeyoung reminisced,
never looking at the other. "And you said you wanted to fly."

"You got me a cape?"

Chaeyoung nods, getting flustered all over.

"This is so stupid," Jeongyeon comments, "immature and embarrassing."

Regret and disappointment crept on the younger's face, her composure lost in unknown guilt.

"I like it." Jeongyeon follows up a grin. "It's so like you do to this." She pats Chaeyoung's
shoulders repeatedly with a little force.

"That was so mean!" Chaeyoung whined as she smiled with the emotional teasing, shoving her
hyung to the opposite end of the couch.

"This is so like you. Making a kind gesture but never failing to put in a little mocking aspect

"You're an ass."

"And you're a cunt."

The two laugh it off, having achieved tranquillity between them. They're ecstatic, knowing they're
back to normal with each other. The trash talking, the sibling fights, and their immature antics.
They wouldn't have it any other way.

"That's it?" Tzuyu bellows from the foyer. "I was expecting shouting or even a long talk or some

Sana covers Tzuyu's mouth from behind, successfully silencing her. "What she means is, we're
glad that you two are okay again."

"You had this all planned didn't you?" Jeongyeon jokingly accuses the four who had just returned.

Momo raises her hands in defense. "We had no idea, I swear. It was all Tzuyu."

"And I'm disappointed that there was no action."

"Hey Chae! You have to fight against Mina!" Jeongyeon walks around the living room, pushing
Mina by the shoulders as she ushers her to sit beside Chaeyoung. "She's a better gamer than any
of us and I know she'll crush you pathetic."

"Oh?" Chaeyoung raises an eyebrow at Mina. "Are you now?"

Mina gives her a shy smile, tucking a few strands of hair behind her ear as she positions herself
with the controller. But that was all on the outside. Chaeyoung sees the fire behind Mina's eyes as
if a hidden beast was about to be released.

The others watch in amusement as they bore witness to a one sided slaughter. Sana hugs
Chaeyoung from behind the couch while Tzuyu taps her shoulder as the two comfort her with her
anticlimactic loss against Mina who was all smug at her win, puffing her cheeks as she looks at the
loser from the corner of her eyes.

Jeongyeon stood at the back, organizing the delivery that finally arrived not too long ago, glancing
back to the living room regularly as she takes in the cheerful environment.

"Told you a month was enough." Momo appears beside Jeongyeon, making a sudden mess of the
latter's work as she furiously grabs what she sees on the table.

"I just arranged these!"

"So," Momo ignores Jeongyeon's cry of displeasure, "when are you gonna talk to the other two?"

"Let's not push it Mo," Jeongyeon takes a slice of pizza, chewing the tip with dangling strands of
molten cheese. "One at a time. One at a time."

One down, two more to go.

Day 47

Day 47 - Monday

She thought she was prepared. Just last night, she had a list of points to tackle ready for when she
meets either Nayeon or Jihyo. Yet, this morning during class, the moment she saw Nayeon, the
suppressed anger seeped all over her and decided to continue her silent treatment, which consists
of total ignorance and a stack of books placed as a wall in the middle of their table, barricading her
from lashing out.

At first Seungyeon made a fool of it, dubbing yet again a love birds spat, but overtime she realized
it was something serious and just left them alone, scared that she might add fuel to the fire, one
that can burn her too.

"Jeongyeon...," her seatmate tries to get her attention again today. None was received. Nayeon
crosses her arms on the table and laid her head, forcing herself to sleep like she has done for the
past month.

Jeongyeon peeks over the hard bound wall, observing the back of Nayeon's head. Bed hair was
sticking out, uniform unkempt, and her back slightly shaking. She's crying again.

She's conflicted, honestly. She never wanted to make any of her friends cry. The part of her that
wants to forgive her best friend (or what used to be) is growing, but still not big enough to do so.

Baby steps, she tells herself.

Nayeon has been in despair the whole month. She had no appetite, she couldn't sleep, and she
couldn't even find the tiniest bit of comfort with her other friends.
The only reason she still attends school was because her parents were going to kill her if she
doesn't. That and the smallest chance that Jeongyeon will finally acknowledge her presence.

She walks in class and forces herself to sit beside the person she couldn't live without, even if
there is a wall of books on her desk.

Attempting to break the wall, both metaphorically and literally, between them, she calls out,
"Jeongyeon...," but still the same. Not even a glance or any sort of acceptance was given. But she
still tries everyday.

Understanding not to push it, she tries to sleep on her desk, knowing how unforgivable her sin
was, it'll take a long time for her to be forgiven, or maybe even never. But deep down, she had
above normal hopes today when Chaeyoung told her they had made up.

She closes her eyes, forcing her tears not to escape her lids. Yet she knows too well how
unsuccessful that was as it comes dripping down on her desk a few seconds later.

But as soon as the first wave of tears has fallen, she feels her table shake a little for a few seconds.
When the miniscule vibrations stopped, she slowly turns her head to peek at her seatmate. Surprise
was an understatement because now, she can actually see her seatmate, appearing to listen
attentively to the lecture.

The wall of books is gone.

Nayeon sits straight as she wipes a few droplets from her cheeks with a finger, and tries to listen to
class for the first time in weeks.

A small smile appears on her lips, feeling a spark of enlightenment, as it dawns on her that the
physical wall had disappeared. But it's just a tiny itty bitty spark. She shouldn't get too ahead of
herself, she mentally reminds.

Baby steps, she tells herself.

"Hey there Myo-ui-Mi-na!" Skipping giddily beside her.

"Someone's in a happy mood today." Raising an eye brow at the different vibe the other girl is

"How can I not be? Hyung's talking to me again." Chaeyoung smiles, letting out her crooked

The past month that Jeongyeon was ignoring them, as Sana and Momo to Jeongyeon, Mina was
the one who usually accompanied Chaeyoung if Tzuyu could not. Over their time together, they
grew somewhat closer and more open. Mina had since abandoned her cold attitude from their first
meeting, and has even been initiating their conversations and extra activities.

Chaeyoung had also adjusted to the Japanese's presence, albeit only a little. She's still a bit
awkward around her, keeping to her belief towards Mina's blank book character.

"So, what are we making today?" Mina points to an empty side of the wall with her thumb in a
hitch hiker fashion, and a can of scarlet red paint on one hand.

They're at Chaeyoung's wall diary again (well, now it's partly Mina's too) making their first mural
of the week. It has been getting filled pretty fast now that there were two of them, and may have to
find a new alleyway to mark as their own soon.

Chaeyoung got hers done in a few minutes, smiling at her work. Honestly, it looked more like a
tattoo than a mural with the word HYUNG written in Old English script.

She walks over to Mina's side as the Japanese was shaking her can.

Maybe it was her emotions that were acting up, maybe it was the toxic particles in the air (they
really need masks). Either way, one thing she learned recently was that the truth can hurt or be
enlightening. Can also be a mix of both. She wants to be at the receiving end this time. So she
takes a deep breath (sucking up more of the paint particles) and asks without further delay.

"Why are you here?" Chaeyoung questions, earning a confused (and hurt) expression. "Don't get
me wrong, I appreciate your company. It's just that you never really told me what makes you do

Mina bites the bottom of her lip with thought. "If I have to be honest, you intrigue me." She takes
a swing at the wall, making an effort on detailing her illustration. "You're different," Mina glances
at her.

"Is that a good different or a bad different?" Chaeyoung asks as her eyebrows quirk upwards,
unsure of what to feel.

"I'm not so sure myself," she smiles a teasing one.

"Care to elaborate?" Chaeyoung crosses her arms. "How am I different?"

"You," Mina sways an hand, encircling an area in front of Chaeyoung, "act different depending
on who you are with. Wait, no. Not act." Her forehead scrunches, showing wrinkled lines in
between. "You just are. It's like you have multiple split personalities but it is still all you."

"Sorry," Chaeyoung scratches the side of her temple, "but I still don't get it."

"You're a brat whenever you're with Jeong."


"Quiet with Tzuyu, soft with Momo, caring with Jihyo, mature with Sana, careful with Nayeon,
and gentle with me."

"How'd you get all that?" Chaeyoung grimaced. "We don't even spend as much time together."
"I'm very observant."

She doesn't know what to feel about that.

Slowly, Chaeyoung had started to understand what the other girl was saying, but not fully there
yet. "Don't other people also adjust their ways with a certain person?"

Mina nods. "But you're not faking any of it. That's the difference."

Even though Mina said she wasn't sure if it was a good or a bad thing, Chaeyoung definitely took
it in a positive light. "Thanks."

"I wasn't complimenting you though."

"Whatever you say Myoui." She smirks out of Mina's view.

Having Mina around really was a nice change of atmosphere, even when it’s awkward most of the

The past couple of days were the happiest Chaeyoung has been in a while. And will even be more
so once everyone in the group comes back together. She couldn't wait for more smartass
conversations, more ridiculous food banters with Momo and Jeongyeon, and getting to know the
foreigners more. Surely they're still hiding more fun stuff about them.

"Add black spots with even spacing," she says, pointing in the middle of the picture in progress
which she assumes is a strawberry.

"I was about to." Mina takes a black canister, aiming at the wall.

"Here too, and there, and here." Chaeyoung directs.

"I know, I know."

To Chaeyoung, it was a moment of confidence from all her returned happiness, to the point of
becoming tactless of her nagging for that brief moment.

"And here."

Which led to Mina's sudden outburst.

"I know!" She raises her voice, masking Chaeyoung's hand with the black paint.


"Oops," Mina smirks. "Your hand was in the way."

"Oh?" Chaeyoung smirks back. "That's how you want to play it?"

Suddenly frowning, Mina takes a step back while pointing a finger at her smaller companion.
"You wouldn't dare."

And she had just told her she was gentle around her.

In a swift motion, Chaeyoung grabbed the nearest canister and sprayed sideways across Mina's
legs, causing them to have a striped aqua blue layer on her shins. "Ah!" Mina squeals, jumping
away a whole second too late.

"You started it."

With that comment, only one thing echoed within Mina's mentality; retaliation. She squatted down
briefly to pick up a second can and stood up with both arms pointed towards Chaeyoung as if she
were wielding dual pistols in a pirate showdown. "Your move."

"Wait!" The logical part of Chaeyoung told her this wasn't a good idea. That this was neither a
food fight nor a pillow fight, that these were real acrylic spray paint and that these can be toxic
when inhaled in great quantities. But still, the playful side of her was already lit, burning with
competitiveness especially with her humiliating defeat against Mina during the weekend. So she
smiles, one of her corners slightly higher than the other. "Not on the face."

And the chaos proceeded, in the matter of colored air particles and rainbows over their skin.

They didn't care whether their uniforms were ruined, they didn't care that some of their murals
were painted over, they didn't care that they're all sweaty and filthy from the fight.

All they cared about was how much each one added color to the other's life.

The happy yells and blissful chirps of the children playing tag across the greenery are helping
Jeongyeon calm herself. It reminds her of her childhood. Playing all day with friends without
much care of the world. Sometimes, she wishes she had stayed as a kid, never growing up just like
The Lost Boys from Neverland. It would be fun wearing animal pyjamas all day long.

She walks across the grass, greeting some of the children along the way that recognized her.
Arriving at the front door, she knocks twice before turning the knob and pushes the door inwards.

She is greeted by the same middle aged woman she saw last month behind the desk, still having a
warm smile on her face.

"Is Jihyo here?" Jeongyeon asked nervously.

"Jeongyeon, right?" The young girl nods. "She's down the hall, third door on your right."

"Thank you," Jeongyeon replied.

Forgiving the victim is easy. The culprit? That will take more time.
The witness? The one who knew all this time and did nothing? In another perspective, that is
worse than being the offender. But this is Jihyo. Jeongyeon has known her growing up and if you
think of one thing that Jihyo is best at, is that she knows what she's doing. She has to find out why
she exactly did that, which is doing nothing at all.

Hi Jihyo.

Hi? Or hey?

No, no. Be more casual.

'Sup Jihyo?

'Sup? Seriously?

Yo Jihyo!

Damn, can I do any worse?

Stopping just in front of the green door with crayon doodles scribbled on the lower half, she raises
her knuckles to knock but stops midway. She's contemplating, again, just like this morning.
Facing confrontations is really never easy. Maybe she needed to be ambushed again like with
what happened with Chaeyoung.

"Jeongyeon?" The door opens without Jeongyeon noticing, replaced with a very confused and
shocked Jihyo.

She wished for an ambush and she got it.

Come on, come on! Greet her!

"Hey yo, wassup Jihyo?"

I'm going to kill myself.

They stared at each other for a few seconds, neither was moving. Jeongyeon would like to believe
that they've both turned into statues because of her work of art of a greeting, but she knows that's
not the reason why. So she decided to break the silence first.

"I'm sorry."

Jihyo cocks her head backwards, wrinkling her forehead in the process. "You're sorry? What

"For ignoring you this whole time." Jeongyeon inserts the tips of her finger inside her pockets
while rocking herself back and forth.

"I'm sorry too," Jihyo mimics Jeongyeon's posture, "for keeping you in the dark."

"I kind of understood why you did it though," she replies, scratching the back of her head. "It
wasn't yours to tell."

"But you were also right. It was too important to keep a secret."

"We live in a ridiculous time huh?" Jeongyeon laughs awkwardly. "There are too many
contradicting social etiquettes now, you don't know which ones to follow."

"Right," Jihyo laughs along with Jeongyeon. "How 'bout we just promise not to keep any more

"Deal," Jeongyeon lifts an open hand between them. Jihyo catches hers, shaking it up and down a
couple of times.

That was surprisingly easy, Jeongyeon thought. But she's still not through yet. She still has
something to know.

"I have to confess something to you." Jihyo's eyes were shaking, as well as her jaw.

Reluctantly, Jeongyeon asks. "What?"

"I was nervous earlier, you showing up out of nowhere so I didn't get to react right." Jihyo bursts
into giggles all of a sudden. "Hey yo, wassup?! Seriously?"

"Of course," Jeongyeon squeezes the bridge of her nose in self frustration. "Should've known you
were going to bring that up."

"Jihyo unnie!" One of the kids came running. It was the same girl who got lost the last time she
was here. "Play tag with us!"

"Okay sweetie." Jihyo kneels, giving the girl a loving pat on the head. "I'll be there in a sec." The
girl smiles before running off again. "Wanna join us?" She offered Jeongyeon.

Having reconciled was okay for now. And the orphanage is not a place for another discomforting
tension. She'll just have to ask another time.


This is the first time that someone outside her family, which includes her childhood friends, has
step foot inside her home. And it's compelling to say that she feels at unease with it.

She was offered (insisted) that she come home with Chaeyoung. She couldn't let her walk home
with the messy state she was in, a walking rainbow she said (as much as they avoided it, some
were smudged on their faces as well), so she persuaded Mina to borrow some of her clothes. Even
though Mina teased they might not fit her.
Mina, and the three other girls, has done their basic background checks with their new friends.
They all knew where each other lived and their family circumstances. In other words, Mina knew
the house would be empty, leaving her all alone with Chaeyoung. Unless one of their friends pop
out unannounced (which seems to happen quite often).

And here they are. Just past the front door with a gawking Mina.

"If you were somebody else, they would've already made a joke about a dwarf living in a giant's

"Hey," Mina grins, "those words came out from your mouth."

"But you're thinking about it."

"You're deluded."

The two laugh as they made their way inside, dropping their school bags on a table by the door.

"Make yourself at home. I'll go get your clothes." She made her way to the stairs, already mentally
picking out which of her wardrobe to lend. Maybe a hoodie will do? She hears steps behind her
mid climb through the stairway. "Why are you following me?"

"I'm making myself at home." Mina says with straight lips.

Chaeyoung doesn't reply, feeling a mix of comfort and discomfort, as the two went for the
bedroom. Once there, she headed straight to her closet rummaging the insides. She peeks at Mina
who was busying herself peering the room.

"Find anything interesting?"

"Yeah," Mina stops by the bed, looking up on the wall behind it. "You really love to draw don't
It's her collection. One of her collections. From pencils to markers, from paint to charcoal, from
papers to canvases. Spread out through the whole wall by the bedside are Chaeyoung's lifelong

Chaeyoung walks to her desk and grabs a perfume, spraying a puff on the hoodie she was holding
while Mina was facing elsewhere. "Isn't that obvious by now?"

"But I didn't know it was to the point of obsession." Malice was absent from the way she said that.
Only a friendly hit to the younger's pride.

"Here you go." Chaeyoung appears beside Mina, handing her the promised change of clothes.

"Aren't they weirded out?" Mina points the collection with her thumb. "That you seem like some
sort of sick stalker?"

Chaeyoung's said gems, although vary in medium, all have the same subject; her friends, which
had accumulated over the years. From still drawings to candid paintings. One has a portrait of
Jihyo on it, a pure smile across her face like the angel she is. Another has a side profile of Nayeon
with her stuffed bunnies, seemingly ignorant that she was being drawn. But unlike the two,
Jeongyeon's only pictures are of when she was still a kid. Except a sleeping one near the corner
that seems a pretty recent sketch.

"They're used to it." Chaeyoung simply says.

"Do you take pictures of them to copy from? Because wow, the candid ones look so detailed."
Mina said, still studying the other's obsession.

"They're all from memory."

"Why not though?"

"Why not what?"

"Take pictures instead." Mina walks to the other side of the room, finishing her survey of the place
when she found something that caught her interest, peeking out behind books on one of the desks.
She reaches out while saying, "You even have a camera right her-"

"Don't touch that!" Chaeyoung blocks Mina, positioning herself between her and it. She reacted
on reflex, feeling a tad bit guilty but stands her ground.

"Sorry," was all Mina could say. She tightens her grip on the hoodie, slightly bowing to its owner.
"I should go. Thank you for the hoodie."

The next thing Chaeyoung knew was hearing the series of rapid steps resonating her deserted

She got back one friend and scared another one off.

This was supposed to be a happy day.

She was never a kid person. She doesn't look forward playing with them, let alone spend time
with the energy booming organisms. But that doesn't mean she dislikes kids. If something, she's

It was fun playing tag though. Made her remember of her preteen years. But it was tiring after an
hour. Still, her languor was worth it. After all, she's in talking terms with the mom of the group

She wanted to tell someone, finding herself close to eruption if she kept this happiness to herself.
At times like these, it is damn lucky to have someone to rant to. Specifically, her friendly next
door Sana.

"Sana!" She calls after retrieving the spare key she was given from the knob. Because that's how
they roll. Barely past a month, the two had already exchange keys to their places. It's funny, now
that she recalls, how their first conversation involved sensitive information and kidnappings. "You

"In the bedroom!" Sana yells back.

A little overdramatic, Jeongyeon races to the half open door within the place and slams it even
further upon entry. "Guess wha - Why are most of you naked?!" She turns around instantly, eyes

On the bed is a fully dressed Tzuyu, a clean white bra and blue shorts clad Sana, and a black laced
bra and panties Momo, cross legged facing each other whilst holding up sets of cards.

"Because Tzuyu's still underage," Momo flatly replies.

"That's not what I meant!"

"Strip Poker!" Sana howls. "Wanna join?"

"I'd rather not." Jeongyeon remains unmoving.

"Why aren't you facing us?" Momo notices. "Don't tell me you're shy?"

"Aren't you?!" Jeongyeon's hands are on the door frame, holding for balance, maybe even to
propel herself for a quick getaway.

Sana lays her cards down with a quick satisfying yelp, winning the round.

"Jeongyeon, Jeongyeon." Momo coos, unclasping her bra. "We're born in Japan. We've seen
countless of naked women in public baths."

"And Tzuyu!?" Jeongyeon reddens as she heard the piece of clothing land near her feet.
"Jeong, I've been with them for five years." Tzuyu explains. "Believe me, they can get weirder."

"Anyway," Sana drapes her comforter over her and Momo, "what's up, Jeongyeon? You can look
now too."

Hesitantly, Jeongyeon looks over her shoulder and sighs in relief, thankful for the make shift cover
wrapped around the two. "I just wanted to share that Jihyo and I are talking again. Visited her
before dropping here."

"We know." Tzuyu breaks Jeongyeon's already shattered momentum. "She called me just before
you got embarrassed all over there."

"Oh." Someone beating you to the punch always leaves a bad taste. "Then I should go then." She

"Join us already!" Momo slides from the bed, along with her cover which forces Jeongyeon to
turn around again. "Let's bond some more."

"If your idea of bonding is taking my clothes of then I'm really leaving."

Momo picks up her bra as she rubbed a circle on Jeongyeon's back. "Fine. Take care then."

"Enjoy your game." Jeongyeon takes a step outside until Momo calls her again.

"Hey Jeong," she says, a little too happily for Jeongyeon's liking.


"Yo! Wassup?"

A slam on door, almost hitting Momo square on the face, a couple of loud giggles coming from
the room, and Jeongyeon's gone.
This is the first time Jeongyeon has ever thought of punching Jihyo.

It's colder than normal tonight. Her somewhat thick school vest doesn't help isolate her body
warmth enough. It's one of the things she doesn't like about Korea. No matter what season it is,
the night is just as chilly.

Momo's very useful though, clinging on to her from the side to share their heat. At least that's what
she thinks. Maybe it's more believable that Momo's just really clingy.

"I really like Jeongyeon."

"I like her too," Momo says through Tzuyu's arm, snuggling her face like usual.

"She's really honest," Tzuyu says, eyes straight ahead, "and easily flustered." She feels Momo
humming and nodding in agreement. "I just really wish she would become happier."

"We're here to help you know. Just like how you did with Chaeng."

"But Nayeon's more difficult." The two turn a corner, passing by the store where Sana works.
"None of us had really spent much time with her."

Momo raises her head from Tzuyu's shoulder, her numb cheek needing some air. She fixes their
fingers, intertwining them before she swings them along as they walk. "We'll figure out a way."

They stayed like that, palms against each other, forearms and shoulders brushing, walking in
comfortable silence. It's a nightly pattern, except Mina isn't with them tonight. Probably with
Chaeyoung, Tzuyu thought.
The wind suddenly picks up, jetting against them causing shivers throughout their bodies. Momo
returns her wrap around the taller friend, burying her face along Tzuyu's exposed neck line for

"Let's go there, Momo." Tzuyu points to an abandoned playground. They ran, or what looks like
a light jog due to their stiffening muscles, squeezing inside a tube where kids use as a maze.

"Huh," Momo scoffs amusingly, rubbing her shoulders for what friction she can manage. "If
someone saw us they might think we're going to do something kinky in here."

"You would," Tzuyu defends. "I'm keeping my virginity 'til I get married."

"Just your virginity?" Momo raises an eyebrow. "What about your first kiss?"

"What makes you think I haven't had mine yet?"

"Because you have no alibi. We're literally with each other all the time." Momo playfully punches
Tzuyu's shoulder, giving out a heartfelt laugh. The Taiwanese giggles as well, hitting Momo back
with equal force.

Another breeze whistles outside, some managing to find its way inside the tube. Momo shifts,
snuggling again against the younger. If this goes on for a few more minutes they might have to
call Sana and head back to her place to stay for the night.

"Hey," a voice from the outside echoes. Momo and Tzuyu straighten at the sudden variable.
"Mind if I join you?"

"Who's there?" Tzuyu calls.

"It's Nayeon." Said girl comes into view, crawling slowly towards them. She's trembling, from the
weather too, most likely.

"Come in," Momo invites.

Nayeon slowly settles down beside Momo, blowing hot air into her palms with her teeth gritting.

"What were you doing out there?" Tzuyu asks.

"I was here first actually," Nayeon forces a laugh. "I was sleeping on the slide. Heard you two run

"You were sleeping outside? Alone?" Momo asks, beating Tzuyu with the same questions.

"Yeah, well, this place is special to me."

"Let me guess, you and Jeong spent time here as kids?" Tzuyu asked tactlessly, earning a
strengthened hit from Momo.

Nayeon only nods in response. "Did," she stutters, "did she tell you what happened to us?"

"Nope," Momo answers nonchalantly. "Nor do I care. We just want you guys to go back to how
things were before this drama." It was Tzuyu this time who hits Momo, again with equal force as
the one she received, gesturing how insensitive she said things.

"How is she?"

"She’s doing okay." Momo places a gentle hand on Nayeon's bent knee. "She just got back to
talking with Jihyo earlier today."

"Good." Nayeon bends, covering her face from the two. "I miss her."

Nayeon tries to hide her sobs from the pretence of freezing but Momo knows otherwise. She
wraps an arm around the oldest, comforting her both from the cold and the sadness. "If it makes
you feel any better, me and Tzuyu are actually thinking of ways to help you two fix things."

Nayeon lets out a small laugh. A genuine one and she felt like it's been ages since she's done so.
Being the captain of the cheerleading team, she made it a rule to know everyone in school to some
extent. She had heard of the foreigners and their predicaments even before Jeongyeon attempted to
form a bond with them. The one thing she was told about Momo was that she's the warmest
person you'll ever get to know. And she's got to experience it first hand, even in the physical
aspect as she leans in to the lent arm around her.

"Thank you."

"No problem."

She chases after her, not caring for leaving the front door unlocked. It took a couple of minutes for
her to realize that keeping secrets are a burden from keeping friends. Of course, secrets are a part
of everyone. It's a privilege of one's individuality. But she doesn't care for privileges as much as
she cared for her friends.

"Mina!" Chaeyoung calls out when she caught up to her.

The Japanese halts, turning around to meet the younger's eyes. "Chae?"

Chaeyoung stops in front of the other, panting on her bent knees. She really needed to work on
her cardio. She hasn't ran like that since she played tag with Jeongyeon and the others years ago.

"I'm sorry for suddenly yelling like that. Please, let me explain." Chaeyoung notices her hoodie is
serving its purpose.

"You don't have to." Mina replies. "I was over stepping myself."

Many times has Chaeyoung wondered what it is with Mina that she can be not be herself and be
herself at the same time. She's kept this secret even from the others yet the moment Mina ran off,
she breaks her morals, wanting to share it for the first time in her life. "Remember that one mural
on the wall? The one with the camera?"

Mina nods. "Yes. The one with the crack on the lens. It looked exactly like the one in your room,
except that it wasn't broken. You really don't have to tell me, Chaeyoung."

"I want to." Chaeyoung sits on the sidewalk, brushing away Mina's last sentence. "My dad gave it
to me."

Mina sits as well upon the mention of her father, gripping the wrist-end of the hoodie to cover her
hands from the night cold.

"He gave it to me even before I met Jeong and the others." Chaeyoung looks up to the stars, hands
behind on the pavement supporting herself.

Mina is silent, gazing upon the other's side features as she listens attentively.

"It's the only thing I have of him. He was smiling like a love struck fool when I showed how
much I loved the gift."

"Then why aren't you using it?" Mina cracked her voice, unsure if it was a good time to talk.

"I did." Chaeyoung smiles sadly before turning to face her friend. "Once."

Mina furrows her brows, confused how to take the story and where it's leading. "Why?"

"I took a picture of dad the minute we opened the box together."

Something caught Mina's eye: a sudden and consistent movement. She looked down and saw
Chaeyoung's hands were shaking. She reached out, pulling them inside her sleeves to share their

Only, Chaeyoung wasn't shaking due to the cold.

"He got into a car crash that same night."

Mina freezes, whipping her head to face the younger girl, her cheeks wet from the recollection.

"That was the last time I ever saw him."

Day 59

Day 59 - Saturday

It's been a while since she received a text from Jihyo. From anyone, actually.

From Jihyo

You awake? Come to the orphanage in half an hour. We're doing a show for the kids. Let's
have lunch with everyone after.

Nayeon sits on her bed, stretching and letting out a yawn before she replied.

To Jihyo

I thought I was banned?

She was planning on washing up, not wanting to wait for a reply. But it only took Jihyo four
seconds to type her piece and sending it instantly. (Since when has she been so proficient with her

From Jihyo

You known as well as I do that was your fault!

She could practically hear Jihyo's raised voice from wherever she is. Nayeon's never going to
forget the terrified and offended look Jihyo gave her when she walked in on the kids, all wearing
her crimson lipstick.
Jihyo managed to send another message before she could reply.

From Jihyo

I hoped you learned your lesson and never do that again.

To Jihyo

The kids? Or Chaeyoung?

She regrets sending that text. It was uncalled for.

To Jihyo

Sorry... I'll be there.

Saturdays are what Jeongyeon looks forward to the most. It's her day off, the day when she
relaxes from the burden of school and its affairs and most importantly, the night when they have
their usual get-togethers with her friends. It's Momo's turn to host and she can't wait to ransack her
place to even out the food damage on their friendly date a few weeks back.

But this morning, she found herself in a peculiar situation.

"Stop right there evil doer!" Jeongyeon stood erect, arm pointing straight at the small hooded
figure across the lawn, donned in her deep blue cape that Chaeyoung gave her and a custom eye
mask Jihyo prepared for the occasion. "Your time is up for it is I, Yoopergirl, has come to stop
your menacing plan!"
The audience cheer at her entrance, jumping in excitement while others swing their fists in the air.
They roar her name, "Yoopergirl! Yoopergirl!"

Jeongyeon glances to the kids, fighting to suppress a smirk to not break character. She sees Jihyo
arm crossed in a smug next to Tzuyu and Momo who are in a burst of giggles. She could already
tell what's going on in their heads. (Most probably an ocean of dorks and losers). Sana's standing
in the middle of the kids cheering along them with raised arms and a full smile, easily mistaken as
a kid herself. Behind them, she spots Nayeon holding a smile - a sad one. She's surprised to even
see her here. Well, it's not like she was being avoided by everyone. Sharing the same group of
friends with someone you're at odds with is awkward. (Awkward is too much of an
understatement. Even calling it an understatement is an understatement). Mina's with her -
probably so that she wouldn't feel all left alone.

Jeongyeon returns her gaze towards the hooded figure just in time as she flips her black cape and
turned around to face her intruder, covering everything below her eyes as she squints, pointing
back at Yoopergirl. "You dare challenge me?" Raising her sleeveless arm, she flexed her bicep to
show off its toned cut. "Me? The ferocious beast, the overly underestimated, the small but terrible,
Young Son!"

(Jeongyeon really thinks it's more of a rapper name than a villain one.)

They could both hear Momo crying of laughter at their attempted impersonations, taking
ROFLMAO literally as she rolls on the grass as if she's burning from something she shouldn't have

It's always literal when it comes to Momo.

Without missing a beat, they battle each other, punching, kicking, and dodging in slow motion.
Even making their own sound effects with puckered lips of vroom, swoosh, and the like. At one
point, Chaeyoung managed to climb on Jeongyeon's back, wrapping her legs along the other's
waist as she forcefully scrunches up the hero's face for the kids to watch which accumulated a
mixture of boos and giggles.

"Get her good Young Son!" Momo bellows from the back. “Put your fingers in her nostrils!
Yeah! That’s the way!"

After a good couple of minutes of amateur theatrics and messy choreography, Young Son gives
out a dramatic cry, "Nooooo!" from receiving Yoopergirl's finishing blow - which was a tackle
from an excessively weird stance calling it the Yoostrich Charge. Momo's laughter got louder and
Jeongyeon swears Momo's actually dying. (It doesn't even sound like a laugh anymore.
Screeching from pain is closer to call).

Young Son lie still on the grass for a while before getting up again and held Jeongyeon's hand as
they bow together, ending their impromptu stage with hopping ovation.

"Thanks for doing this," Jihyo says, patting the two on their shoulders. "The kids really had a fun

Jeongyeon points at Momo with unease. "I think that one had too much fun." Momo's on her
knees leaning on Tzuyu's thighs, panting and exhausted, as Tzuyu rubs Momo's back for comfort.
Her cheeks are wet and red too. (She really was crying).

"I just don't get why I had to be the bad guy." Chaeyoung protests, snapping Jeongyeon from
being astonished at Momo's predicament. "I clearly have the hero vibe compared to this ape."

"It's simple really," Jeongyeon answers. "I have a blue cape, you have a black one," pointing to
their backs. "Plus, my name's easier to tinker into a hero's. I'm super."

Chaeyoung had a finger up to protest again but was caught into an invasive hug along with
Jeongyeon by - none from their friends are this touchy - Sana. "You two were amazing!" She
practically breathes down their faces. "I was really enjoying the show. You should plan for a part

"Unless I'm the hero next time," Chaeyoung squirms free to leave Jeongyeon trapped alone - who
wasn't resisting at all, "no thanks."

Momo appears, seemingly recovered from her gag attack. "Please don't. I don't think I could
handle any more of that."

"Too bad," Tzuyu speaks nonchalantly, but with her usual apathetic attitude, it felt like they were
being blackmailed already. "I caught it all with my phone."

"Send me a copy!" Sana jumps across, clinging from Jeongyeon to Tzuyu just like how flying
squirrels spread their limbs travelling between trees.
It's a warm sight how close the group has gotten in a matter of weeks. It seemed the awkward
phase just passed through them like a speeding car. You notice it but forget it not long after.

"Come on," Jihyo says, "let's go have lunch." Momo suddenly stands straight, recovering from
whatever she caught from the show. "There's this new Thai restaurant near my place that I've been
wanting to try."

"Great! Let's go!" Momo slings her arms around Mina and Chaeyoung, leading them towards the
main street. Tzuyu does the same to Sana and Jihyo, leaving Jeongyeon and Nayeon behind.

(They couldn't be more subtle could they?)

Jeongyeon knows Momo and Tzuyu are the ones mending the group the most. Tzuyu got
Chaeyoung to talk, and Momo got Jeongyeon to listen. She couldn't blame them, though. They're
oblivious to the severity of the situation they're dealing with.

Sana spares Jeongyeon a glance, mouthing a good luck to her with a matching thumbs up.

Now, she's walking behind the group with Nayeon just within arm's reach. If anyone takes a
second to look back, they would see just how uncomfortable she is with her grimacing face. She
can't help but feel like getting stung by a thorn on her side. Metaphorically? She's not quite sure.

"You were pretty good out there." Nayeon whispers.

Jeongyeon considers replying, but decided it's easier not to. It's always easier to ignore your
problems. (Maybe that's why Jihyo didn't do anything.)

"Where'd you learn to act?"

Years worth of role playing with Chaeng, she wanted to say. You should've known that. You grew
up with us.

"There's a volleyball game next week. You and the others should come."
(Shut up! Shut up, shut up, shut up!)

"Jeong," Nayeon reaches out for the edge of Jeongyeon's cape, pulling her in place.

"What?" Jeongyeon let out sternly, her eyes narrowed and piercing, recoiling Nayeon and her
hold. She's pissed and she can't properly explain why. Just the mere presence of Nayeon gets her
all boiled up.

Nayeon grips the fabric tighter, visibly trembling at the hostility Jeongyeon is emitting but
maintains her ground. Because if she let’s go, she might never get to hold her again.

Jeongyeon stares at Nayeon's hand that was gripping the fabric for a brief moment before harshly
pulling it out, severing the closest physical connection they'd had the past month. Nayeon sinks
deeper and Jeongyeon chooses not to see it. "What is it, Nayeon?"

"Will you ever talk to me again?" Nayeon's voice is weak and shaking. Jeongyeon can tell that
she's fighting the urge to cry in front of her. "Please, Jeong, tell me." Her palms balled into fists,
knuckles turning white, suppressing her unstable nerves. "Tell me," Nayeon chokes, "so that I
know if I should even hope for a hello from you or anything at all. I want to talk to my best friend
again, Jeongyeon."

Jeongyeon just stares at her, only now realizing what Nayeon's eyes look like. Her beautiful
brown spheres that were once filled with energy and confidence and happiness are now fogged
with depression and anxiety. It all started with Nayeon but Jeongyeon's the one refusing to end it.

"Can't you at least give me that?" Nayeon's gates shatters and tears fall, ruining what little makeup
she managed to apply that morning.

It's ironic how she's impersonating a superhero with her getup while someone is crying for help
right in front of her. Her cape, a symbol of hope and security, tarnished into doubt and distress.
Her mask, supposedly used to hide their identities and protect their loved ones turned into mask
she could simply hide behind.

Nayeon needed the one behind the costume.

Heroes help everyone. Friends, enemies, strangers.

But Nayeon's just that now. A stranger.

Jeongyeon's no hero. Heroes don't walk away.

Maybe coming back here was a bad idea after all.

It wasn't the best, but she had a good life back in Busan. Her family is there, she has nice friends,
jobs were easily acquirable. There was no drama there either.

"No. No. No." Jeongyeon says out loud.

I can't be thinking like this.

She despises herself momentarily for suddenly thinking of regret. This is her choice with her
family supporting her in every way they can and she has to live with her decisions.

The cold metal brings comfort to her back as she lies down on the top of the slide, crumpling her
cape by way of disregard. With minimal effort, she pushes herself down the slope, enjoying the
feeling of letting go. It was only for a brief moment as her feet touch the ground with lust for
another round of climbing back up and falling once again. Her hands find their way back on the
ladder, her feet started climbing the steps, and she finds herself standing at the top again finding
herself in a loop.

She wishes her life was just like this. Straight and true, knowing where she starts and where her
path will lead with small railings on either side to prevent her from going off course. She’s wished
a lot of thinks but life really is a bitch.

There's a small platform next to the slide. A rope ladder that leads to its entrance with plastic walls
and tiny windows and a slide in a corner that's half the length of the one she's standing on.

She sees pre-teen Chaeyoung getting tangled up on the rope when she attempted to climb it,
whining how wobbly they were. Jihyo stands next to her within seconds, trying to save a human
knot from getting permanently fused. Nayeon's at the top staring down at the two, laughing
hysterically at the scene, satisfied at not being the victim of the playground for a change.

Jeongyeon smiles involuntarily at the memory, only to fade just a second later. Because she sees
herself next to Nayeon, holding her hand, laughing next to her with pureness. Their hold with
each other is firm and strong, and gentle and reassuring.

The same person she walked away from, who stood by her side since the beginning.

That memory was the last day she had with them before she had to move.

She sits back on the slide, exhaling a compressed sigh as she hugs her legs up and rests her
forehead on her knees.

I wonder where Never Land is.

"I knew I'd find you here."

It didn't come as a surprise that Jihyo chased after her. That she knew exactly where she would be.
Jihyo's always been like that. Like she's some sort of guardian angel hovering over you from the

"How'd you do it, Jihyo?" Jeongyeon doesn't look up, staying still behind her knees. "How'd you
ignore what she did let alone forgive her?"

(How could anyone?) She had already lost count how many times she's asked this question.

Jihyo makes her way to the front of the slide and settled herself on the swings. It started squeaking
with age as it carried her weight, momentum began calmly back and forth. She doesn't talk for a
while, studying the elephant between them delicately.
"If anything," Jihyo says with care, "I did anything but nothing. You may or may not understand
but what you perceive as me ignoring them is more of me letting them."

Jeongyeon looks up and focuses on Jihyo's eyes, looking for something inside that could help her
understand what she had meant. It was useless and confused her even more. "You let Nayeon
rape her?"

Jihyo gives herself a push, moderately letting the swing do its magic of physics and gravity.
"Contrary to what you all believe, including Nayeon, it wasn't rape."

"What the fuck did you say?" Jeongyeon sharpens her stare and mouth agape with the absurdity
she just heard.

"You heard me." Jihyo voices with subtle confidence. "It wasn't rape."

"Then what was it?" Jeongyeon started fuming and it doesn’t help how Jihyo’s innocently rocking
on the swing like she is being taunted by the truth.

"It was mutual."

Jeongyeon gets up, runs fluidly down the slide, and stares Jihyo down. "Do you even hear
yourself? You're telling me Chaeyoung wanted to sleep with her?"

Unflinching from Jeongyeon's sudden charge and gawk of aggressiveness, Jihyo evens up from
the swing so that they're on the same eye level. "That's exactly what I'm saying."

Furrowed brows got deeper and mouth opened wider as her confusion escalates. "Is this all a
schadenfreude to you?"

"No Jeong, it isn't." Jihyo crosses her arms with a wisp of tired breath. "Let me ask you
something. Have you ever even bothered asking Chaeyoung's side in all of this?" Jeongyeon
freezes for a split second, but that was enough for Jihyo. "I thought so. You were so busy getting
mad at Nayeon that you had one plus one equal to zero. Chaeyoung might not be vocal about it
but not once did she try to distance herself from Nayeon. Nor did she refuse her."
"You know what Chaeyoung said to me, when I found out what they were doing?" Jihyo
scratches her head, seemingly also troubled believing with what she's stating. "She told me not to
interfere. That she had something that Nayeon really needed." By now, Jihyo's also tearing up at
the memory. She takes a moment to breathe, relaxing herself from getting too carried away.
Fighting fire with fire only incinerates everything. "Of course I was furious too! Like you said,
who wouldn't be?"

"Should I even be a little bit comforted by this? It's still wrong!" Jeongyeon raises her voice,
embers fuming out of the flame. She can't help but feel that this has turned into a logic versus
feelings argument at this point. All she's thinking is that this was improper no matter how you see
it. That she's debating a useless case against Jihyo's unique point of view.

"And I'm not saying this is right either!" Jihyo wipes her cheek with the bottom of her palm; her
eyes turn red at the contact. "I'm just saying to try and have an open mind about this. Don't shut
Nayeon out just because what you think is something wrong, was something right to her. To the
both of them."

For the second time that day, the third time in her life, Jeongyeon walks away.

But Jihyo wouldn't easily allow her to.

"Is that how you're gonna play it?" Jihyo runs in front of Jeongyeon, blocking her path. "You're
leaving because you can't handle things?"

Jeongyeon slightly loses it and shoves Jihyo by the shoulders, jerking her a few feet apart. "I came
back to this city to be with my friends again! I don't even recognize you guys anymore." It stung
her how those words slid through her tongue, like poison she herself is not immune to.

"Grow up Jeong!" Jihyo cries out, frustration ostensibly overtook her. "We're different than what
you remember, oh boohoo!"

Jeongyeon looks up to the sky with a higher level of aggravation. Her knuckles turn white from
attempted control of her shaking.

"Stop living in the past." Jihyo says softly like she wasn't yelling just a few seconds ago. "Your
friends need you in the now."
Her childhood fantasy had always been wanting to have the ability to fly. She knows it's a fantasy
but this is the most serious she's ever wanted something so unreal. She just wants to fly out of here
and stay unhinged in the sky forever.

This time, Jeongyeon doesn’t walk away. She runs instead.

Calling Tzuyu


“I failed.” Jihyo unsuccessfully hides a sniff and she could hear her sobbing echoing through the
other line.


“Can I-“, Jihyo pauses as another round of snivelling ran its course, “can I hang out with you? Just
for a little while.”


“Sorry,” Jihyo closes her eyes with her thumb prepped to end the call. “You must be busy with

“(Does the Thai place you mentioned earlier sound good?)”

Tzuyu is the most innocent person Jihyo could think of. A snob and a little bit rude, but innocent
nonetheless. And innocence is what Jihyo absolutely needs right now.
“Yes. That would be great.”

“(You… didn’t send me a text this time.)”

“I was afraid you might ignore me again.” The innocence is already giving Jihyo a light push
forward with a small smile.

“(It’s because you’re a spammer!)” Jihyo laughs a beat too hard and it mixes with her crying,
letting out an ugly combination of a smiling frown. “(Anyways, see you in a while.)”

“See you...”

The empty box flies in an arc with practiced precision, landing smoothly in the can without
touching the rims. A puff of prolonged death litters her room with its foul odor as she sucks her
last stick dry.

The first night she spent with Chaeyoung after coming back here she had said to herself that she
would slowly quit her habit of damaging her lungs - and her life. Except the total opposite
underwent as her weekly budget contributed more into buying these wretched cancer sticks.

She wished Momo was here sharing her cigarettes even though she would be all over her,
persuading her to fix things. She'd rather Momo do it instead of Jihyo. Momo's softer and knows
when to back down. Jihyo's just too much of a pressure.

It was too hard to believe, what Jihyo said. She had no reason to think that it was a lie but she
wanted it to be.

Your best friend and your sister hooking up? It might be funny if you watched it on television but
in real life? Jeongyeon's not liberated enough to see that in a positive light.
It's lonely, isolating herself from everyone. Then it hit her that Nayeon has been doing that for

I wonder if they went through with tonight's plan.

It was only half past six in the evening but before she could start having thoughts of regret and self
loathe again, she lie down on her bed and shut her eyes, fast-forwarding what tomorrow might
have in store.

Jeongyeon purposely didn't turn on the air conditioner since it was pretty cold. But she woke up in
the middle of the night suddenly feeling the sweat compiling around her body, specifically, around
her midriff up to her back, outer thighs, and the back of her neck. Which she finds weird why the
rest of her body seemed perfectly fine.

Then she quickly put two and two together and found herself being used as a pillow and body
heat by none other than Sana with only a white shirt that is three sizes bigger than her.

She's surprised not because Sana's cuddling - this wasn't the first time she woke up to Sana locked
behind her - but because she's here even though Jeongyeon stormed off on them.

Her stomach started grumbling, remembering she skipped dinner - the reason why she woke up
aside from the sudden sweating. With utmost care, Jeongyeon frees herself from her entanglement
but fails as Sana riles up from her slumber.

"Jeongyeon," Sana mumbles with eyes still unopened, "what time is it?"

"Around midnight, I think?" Jeongyeon replies as she stood up stretching her arms aloft.

"Why are you up?" Sana finds herself a replacement pillow - an actual pillow.
"I'm hungry. Didn't have dinner."

"Oh?" Sana sits up, finally opening her eyes. "You cooking?"

Of all the people she knew, Momo takes the number one spot for being the glutton. Being together
for a long time must have rubbed some off on Sana. "Yeah. You wanna eat too?"

"Yes!" Sleep forgotten, Sana whizzes past Jeongyeon, racing her towards the kitchen. "After
getting to know you I finally have the chance of tasting your cooking!"

"You're still on that?" Jeongyeon can't help but laugh at the girl's perseverance.

"Of course!" Sana settles herself on the counter, swinging her bare feet back and forth. "I'm never
letting you off how you made a promise to me but fulfilled Momo's first."

"Don't tell me you were jealous?" Jeongyeon preheats the pan and drizzles a right amount of oil
before setting up her chopping board, placing different amounts of garlic, onions, peas, carrots,
and a few sticks of chorizos.

"What if I was?" Sana taunts, inching her face close to Jeongyeon's. But she's having none of it as
she went full on cook mode, paying her respects to her practice. "You're no fun." Sana retreats,
standing beside Jeongyeon. "What're you making?"

"Just fried rice. I don't have much. Forgot to restock this month." Jeongyeon minces everything to
similar sizes, tossing them to the pan afterwards with some left over rice she stored in the fridge.
"Aren't you mad at me?"

"For what?" Sana sits back on the counter, seemingly lost interest at the process.

"For ditching you guys." The contents start to sizzle as Jeongyeon stir-fries with a spatula,
occasionally tossing the pan as if she were flipping pancakes.

"It's okay. We cancelled it." Sana leans in, resting her chin on her shoulder with curiosity filled
eyes. She looked like she gained interest again when Jeongyeon started tossing. "That smells good
by the way."

"You guys cancelled?"

"Well, Jihyo ran after you. Momo went after Nayeon too. Tzuyu disappeared all of a sudden. And
I felt like something was going on between Mina and Chaeyoung so no thanks."

"Mina and Chaeyoung?" Jeongyeon voices with a hint of surprise.

"Pay attention to your surroundings." Sana giggles.

Making dinner - midnight snack - was finished in a flash like the cooking part didn’t even happen.
Jeongyeon placed a clean rag on the table and mounted the pan on it. (Yes, the pan. Less stuff to
clean up.)

Sana moans as she took her first spoonful, closing her eyes with delight.

"Come on, it's not that great." Jeongyeon says after taking a bite as well. "Anyone can chop and

"Last time I tried cooking I almost went homeless." Sana replies after taking in another.

"Surely someone else knows how to do basic cooking, right? Mina looks like a good house wife."

"Do not ever let Mina anywhere near the kitchen!" Sana goes off like she just heard something so
offending. "I might burn stuff but she bleeds them."

Jeongyeon furrows her brows, not getting the point. "Bleeds?"

"She uses ketchup to boil her pasta. I shit you not." Jeongyeon always liked how Sana's eyes
were. But seeing it enlarged like this with disbelief, she couldn't help but laugh at it more than the
actual story Sana was telling. "Waste of a whole bottle, right?"
It was comforting having someone to eat dinner with. Usually she would be alone with the scent
of nicotine lingering around. Even though it's her home, she wouldn't want Sana getting
suffocated with second hand smoke.

Their conversation died down to a comforting muteness, replaced with clinking sounds made from
their spoons hitting the pan.

At a certain point when there was only a handful amount left, Sana initiated some sort of kung fu
fight with their utensils like what you would see in a martial arts movie. What was supposed to be
a midnight snack turned into a childish show of who had better hand control. Jeongyeon lost with
a smile on both of their faces as Sana ate the last remnants.

If Jeongyeon learned anything from their first eating session, it was that Sana had excellent finger

Jeongyeon scraped the remains into the trash and set the pan in the sink, queuing it with the rest of
the unwashed kitchenware.

"Do you want to watch a movie or something before with hit the hay again?" She asks as she
turned on her heel. Then Jeongyeon finds herself rushing to Sana on reflex before kneeling down
and cupping her face. "Hey, hey, hey! Why are you crying? Was it really that good?" Jeongyeon
attempts a joke to lighten Sana up.

Sana was wiping her eyes with her palms before Jeongyeon took notice. "Sorry," she giggled and
sniffed like a child at the same time. "I just couldn't remember the last home cooked meal I had."
Sana takes Jeongyeon's hands into her own, squeezing them ever so tenderly. "I may be
overreacting but really, Jeongyeon, thank you for the food."

Knowing it was tears of joy, Jeongyeon smiles and relaxes from her initial panic and squeezes
Sana's hands back. "It was really nothing, Sana."

Jeongyeon never really took her promise with Sana seriously; the experiment and tester thing. But
seeing how such a simple act can bring intense happiness to Sana, she would gladly take any
chance she can get to cook for her.

They didn't do much afterwards. They just lay back on Jeongyeon's bed while they shared stories
of their childhood. Mostly it was Sana sharing because Jeongyeon still didn't want to talk about
her childhood friends.

Sana told of how she became best friends with Momo, or more accurately, the earliest memory she
could rack because they were practically fetus besties.

Their parents brought them to an amusement park when they were just six. Sana wanted to ride a
children's roller coaster but Momo's scared to ride anything. So when they got home, Sana wanted
to cure her fear. By riding an imaginary roller coaster made out of pillows Sana made. But even an
imagination can trigger her phobia as Momo never let go of her seatbelt - a blanket over their legs.

"We have to go to one if we ever get the time!" Jeongyeon commented. "I'm sure bribing her with
food will work."

"I never thought of that but that may really work." Sana reassures her idea.

Jeongyeon shifts to her side so that she's facing the other girl with only what little space a single
bed can offer two people. "Hey, what should I do with," Jeongyeon pauses, unsure why, "with
Nayeon?" She really wonders how come Sana’s never given any advice before.

Sana shifts as well so the two are now face to face with only the moon, beaming from the window
as light. "Do you like rainbows?"

"Um," Jeongyeon, taken by surprise with Sana’s randomness, just went with it, "yeah, I guess."

"Can you explain why you like them?" Sana blinks and Jeongyeon feels like she’s staring into an
exploding star.

"They're always up in the air and connected to the ground at the same time, like they're gliding by
just standing still.” Jeongyeon tries to explain with messy hand gestures. “I envy them."

"They make you happy?" Sana asks, her eyes intensely connected to Jeongyeon's. At this close of
proximity, Jeongyeon's heart skips a beat. It wasn't anything about as cliché as falling in love. It
was just that two friends with their faces too close for friends that she got nervous. And Jeongyeon
can't help but think if Sana really sees them as just that. Friends.
Pay attention to your surroundings. She could hear Sana giggling in her head.

"Yes," Jeongyeon replies. "They do make me happy."

The blanket moves with Sana's hand underneath and finds Jeongyeon's, holding it tight again as
earlier and Jeongyeon thinks that everything about Sana is just so gentle and caring. "Jeong, you
can't have rainbows without a little bit of rain."

Sana inches her head towards Jeongyeon and she could only stare. She feels her forehead turn soft
with Sana's peck and if she could be honest with herself, she felt so safe with Sana that she could
fly in a storm without fear of getting struck down.

"So go through the rain and make your rainbow with her."

And Jeongyeon decides then and there that she will. She's going to find her happily ever after one
way or another. With every single one of her friends by her side.

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