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Break Through

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“If you are the shores, I am the waves begging for big moons…”

Jeongyeon sings quietly, bobbing her head to the music playing in her big headphones. The hallways are unfamiliar, but Momo had given her the proper directions to her new apartment, even if she wouldn’t be there herself for another hour. She had gotten held up at work, but as Jeongyeon had nothing better to do she had just promised to raid Momo’s fridge while waiting for her

“Okay.” Jeongyeon turns down the music and looks around. It must be somewhere around here. Apartment 413, right? Yes. Okay.

Scratching the back of her head, Jeongyeon looks down the long light grey hallway, counting the numbers until she finally finds it. 413. There isn’t a name on the door, but Momo only moved in a week ago, so who could blame her.

Jeongyeon pauses the music, trying to remember the passcode Momo gave her. Honestly she should’ve probably written it down somewhere, but in the moment she had been sure it had worked.

Tucking the black hoodie down a little and adjusting the hood (she normally never has the hood up but it was colder this morning than she had expected), Jeongyeon turns her head to crack her neck and then presses the assumed passcode.

6218.

It doesn’t work. But that was the code, right? No? Okay well maybe.. Jeongyeon bites her lip and tries again.

6217.

This time is does work, and Jeongyeon lets herself into Momo’s apartment, unpausing the music once more and starting the song over. It’s just not the same experience when you unpause halfway through.

The new apartment is bigger than Momo’s old one, and her living room still has an air of being unpacked. There are no pictures up yet and boxes are still stacked in a corner. But the furniture is there, and her new couch looks a lot better than the one she had with her ex.

Turning up the song playing in her headphones, Jeongyeon walks into the open kitchen, opening the fridge and seeing her favorite juice standing in the door. With no second thought she grabs it, closing the fridge after her. Then she raids the cupboards for glasses, noting that Momo’s ex seems to have kept all their stuff as none of this is recognizable. But in the end she finds a glass, fills it with juice and then puts the juice cartok back in the fridge. The song changes and she huls along, grabbing a piece of bread from a bag on the countertop before heading to the living room area of the big open space. She really got a good deal here, Jeongyeon thinks as she settles on the couch nonchalantly, grabbing the phone from the front of her black hoodie and pulling it out.

There wasn’t a tv set up here but if nothing else she could pass the time by playing on her phone. Momo had downloaded enough dumb games to Jeongyeon’s phone that she could spend a few hours playing around, or maybe just scroll through insta.

She just doesn’t get around to playing. Because next moment something hits her over the head, and a searing pain courses through her. Blind panic makes her scramble to her feet, and she looks around wildly, finding a girl standing in pyjamas, a heavy book held ready for an attack. Then she launches again, and Jeongyeon jumps to the side, her phone flying out of her hands. It lands on the floor between them, the screen cracking.

Loud music still plays in the big headphones, deafening Jeongyeon to whatever the girl is yelling. It’s completely disorienting, and Jeongyeon panics when the girl launches a third time. There’s a split second where Jeongyeon considers diving down to get the phone, but the girl is still trying to hit her with the book, and instinct tells her to get some distance between herself and her assailant.

The issue however is, that the door Jeongyeon heads through isn’t the front door. It’s the bathroom door. And she only notices after she’s inside. But it’s better than nothing, and she locks the door.

What in the actual hell is going on.

Jeongyeon finds her own face in the mirror and finally takes off the headphones, putting them on the sink. Music still pours from it but she can at least think now.

Okay. She’s in Momo’s apartment. She’s been hit over the head with Lord of the Rings. And some girl is outside banging on the door to Momo’s bathroom.

“I’m calling the police!” The girl yells.

Jeongyeon looks at the door. The police? But she’s just waiting for Momo? Shouldn’t Jeongyeon be calling the police on this girl for assault?

“I didn’t do anything!” Jeongyeon tries. After all she’s the one with the disadvantage here, stuck in a bathroom with no phone and a girl armed with a book.

“You’re a burglar, what the hell is your moral code for that to not be wrong?!” The girl calls.

Burglar? No. What the hell is going on? Wait, did Momo mention something about a roommate? Or is there just something she hasn’t told. But it seems that this girl might actually live here.

“I’m just waiting for Momo, I’m not a burglar!” Jeongyeon tries.

“Momo?” Something in the girl’s voice changes, and Jeongyeon tanes the cue immediately, her ears still ringing from the impact of the hit to her head.

“Yes! She gave me the code so I could get in, she got stuck at work!”

“Who the heck is Momo?!”

Jeongyeon’s brain shuts off for a good few seconds. What in the actual hell is going on.

“I- Momo! She lives here. I’m her friend, we’re supposed to-“

“There’s no Momo who lives here! I do, and you’re breaking and entering! I’m calling the police!”

Jeongyeon’s heart skips several beats. None of this makes any sense.

“But I just pressed the code Momo gave me! How could I get inside if it wasn’t Momo’s apartment?!”

“How would I know?! How do I know you didn’t just lurk and get my code from that?!” The girl sounds completely panicked. Possibly more so than Jeongyeon.

“Listen! Just- don’t call the police okay? Just give me my phone and I’ll be out of your hair. I’ll just wait in the hallway for Momo. I promise I’m not a burglar.”

“Then why are you dressed like that and sitting in my apartment?!” The threat in the girl’s voice fades for confusion and what Jeongyeon thinks might be a slight worry that she’s just hit someone over the head with a book with no real reason to.

“I told you, Momo gave me the passcode. 6217.”

“I- how is that possible?”

“I don’t know, I just did as told and next thing I know you’re hitting me over the head with ‘Fellowship of the Ring’.” Jeongyeon rubs the side of her head again, the memory making her head throb again.

“It’s ‘Return of the King’, actually.” The girl’s voice sounds suddenly shy and almost too quiet to hear.

“If I come out, will you promise not to call the police on me?” Jeongyeon asks hopefully. “I’ll just leave, I promise, I won’t do anything.”

For a moment there’s no answer, and Jeongyeon gnaws on her lip in an attempt to calm down. This is really the weirdest situation she’s ever been in.

“I still have the book, ok? So don’t try anything.” The girl sounds hesitant.

“Promise. I’m just going to take my phone and walk out.” Jeongyeon says. If she can just call Momo they can sort this out.

“I have it. I have your phone.” The girl’s voice shakes a little.

Jeongyeon nods, looking down at herself for a second before unlocking the door to the bathroom.

She’s pretty. Very, very pretty. It’s not the kind of thing Jeongyeon is supposed to start by noticing about the girl looking warily at her with a book held ready to strike and Jeongyeon’s phone outstretched to keep distance between them. But it’s hard not to notice, when her face is so impossibly perfect, with a single mole on her nose and her face framed by dark brown hair falling softly onto her shoulders. No definitely not the kind of thing Jeongyeon is supposed to notice. So she looks at the phone instead. The screen isn’t as badly cracked as Jeongyeon had feared, but it’s still bad.

She should say something. Thank you or I’m sorry or… anything. But her body is still reacting to the entire situation and all she can think about is how she wishes she had met that girl under different circumstances.

But at least she isn’t launching to hit Jeongyeon again. She just stands there, looking.

“I’ll go then.” Jeongyeon mutters, backing towards the front door. She almost trips on the little step, and fumbles with her feet to find her shoes.

“You really did think this was your friend’s apartment?” The girl asks. Her eyes are on Jeongyeon’s shoes and she lowers the book. It seems that the evidence that Jeongyeon had taken off her shoes and put them neatly by the door, proves to the girl that she really wasn’t a burglar.

Jeongyeon nods.

“Oh.” The girl’s cheeks pink and she picks at the corners of the book. It’s obvious that it has been read many times.

“I’m sorry.” Jeongyeon tries, daring to crouch to put on her shoes. “I never meant to- Momo just moved here, so with all the boxes I figured she just hadn’t unpacked yet. And you have her favorite juice in the fridge.”

“Oh. Well I’m moving out, that’s why everything is packed. I- I thought. I don’t know. You’re dressed all in black and sat on my couch like you owned it. I just freaked.”

Jeongyeon looks up at her. There’s something about the way she speaks that reminds Jeongyeon of Momo. It’s the intonation. The sentence structure.

“You’re Japanese?”

The girl seems surprised, and her grip tightens on the book. For a moment Jeongyeon fears she might strike again, thinking Jeongyeon is a stalker for knowing.

“My friend,” Jeongyeon explains hurriedly, “she’s Japanese and you talk like her. Sorry, I didn’t mean to pry, it just struck me.”

The girl deflates visibly. Then she nods.

“Anyways, I’ll go now.” Jeongyeon said. “Again, sorry for scaring you.”

The girl nods. She opens her mouth as if to speak but then closes it again.

Jeongyeon walks out.

As soon as the door closes, however, Jeongyeon remembers. Momo. If this really isn’t her apartment, then how the hell did Jeongyeon get inside? And where is her apartment? Jeongyeon shakes her still aching head, and unlocks her phone. It’s a little difficult to see the time, because of the cracks in the screen, but she chances a call.

There’s no answer.

Jeongyeon sighs, settling against the wall besides the apartment she had just exited.

 

5:10 PM [Jeongyeon]: Hey I just had a really weird encounter, and I think I may have gotten some info wrong? Your apartment is 413 right?

 

Jeongyeon sighs, waiting for the text to be read. But if she doesn’t answer a call, it’s unlikely she’ll answer a text either.

So really, there’s nothing to do but wait.

Shifting her footing, Jeongyeon puts the headphones back on, starting the album over. At least she has company that way. For a moment she considers calling Chaeyoung, just to get all the thoughts out of her body. The events of the past ten minutes are heavily buzzing in her mind. She settles for mumbling along to the lyrics instead, letting them take over for the image of the girl with the book. Jeongyeon didn’t even get her name. Not that she had a right to anyway. She was breaking and entering. And the door didn’t have a name either, or Jeongyeon would’ve noticed that it wasn’t Momo’s place.

“Turn off the lights and turn off the shyness. 'Cause all of our moves make up for the silence…” Jeongyeon joins Patrick in the song, but little does it help. The girl still shows in her mind. Maybe if they really had met under different circumstances, Jeongyeon might have really liked talking to her. It’s really only the pain from the impact of the book that keeps her from speculating.

“no I've got headaches and bad luck but they couldn't touch you, no..” Jeongyeon smiles a little at the coincidence of the lyrics. Next moment however, a tap on the shoulder sends her heart into her throat and she jumps back, pulling off the headphones. The girl’s face flashes in front of her once more and she’s sure that she’s gone mad. But she hasn’t. The girl is really standing there.

Jeongyeon holds a hand over her head as the song plays from the headphones.

“I called the super,” the girl says quietly, her cheeks and neck red as could probably be, “he said there’s a Hirai Momo in apartment 418.”

Jeongyeon looks at the girl with pure confusion surging through her body.

“I’m sorry, what?”

“I- uh, that way. Your friend lives in that apartment over there. 418.” The girl points down the hallway to the left.

It finally clicks.

“Ohh…”

The girl presses her lips together tight, her gaze shy.

“I- uh, thank you.” Jeongyeon clears her throat. She really isn’t supposed to note how cute she looks. She really, really isn’t. So instead, she walks in the direction the girl pointed, only to find the girl following her subtly.

“I felt really guilty about the book thing.” The girl explains.

Jeongyeon looks back at her, and instinctively sends her a smile. “It’s okay, I don’t think I have many brain cells to beat out anyway.”

The girl’s sheepish expression breaks for a small smile, and it’s completely disorienting. There’s a time and place for everything, and this is neither the time nor the place, so really, what is Jeongyeon’s brain coming at?

“There.” The girl says, bringing Jeongyeon back.

Jeongyeon looks in the direction the girl points, and sees the sign on the door. 418, Hirai Momo.

Jeongyeon clears her throat. She’s really a dumbass. Very clearly a dumbass who had actually just broken in to someone else’s apartment.

“I’m really sorry.” Jeongyeon scratches the back of her head.

The girl looks at the floor before meeting Jeongyeon’s gaze. “Me too.”

Why in the world does she have to be so pretty? And why does Jeongyeon keep looking at her? Notice things about her? She had seen the mole on her nose immediately, but it’s not the only one, Jeongyeon sees now. There’s two around her lips, one on the chin, and some speckled on her right cheek as well. Cheeks that are still quite red.

“I’ll just-“ Jeongyeon rubs over her face and turns away from the girl finally. “Thank you, again,”

The girl hums for answer but doesn’t walk away. Instead she watches ad Jeongyeon presses the passcode.

6218.

It doesn’t work.

6217.

No luck either.

But maybe she had gotten the code and apartment number switched?

6213.

Nope, no luck.

1362.

God, this is getting increasingly embarrassing.

Jeongyeon looks back at the girl. her expression is neutral, but her hands fiddle with the hems of sleeves on her sweater. “I’ll- you know, I’ll just wait out here.”

The girl smiles shyly. But she doesn’t walk away. Instead she opens her mouth again and closes it once more. Jeongyeon frowns.

“I feel bad that you have to wait out here.” The girl finally says, her voice so quietly that Jeongyeon has to listen carefully to understand it over the still playing music in Jeongyeon’s headphones. “And you didn’t finish the glass of juice.”

It takes a moment for Jeongyeon to realize what the girl is saying. Maybe that hit really did kill off a few of the brain cells she has left.

“Oh. Well, I- I wouldn’t want to intrude.” Jeongyeon feels dumb.

The girl shakes her head. “If I invite you in, then you won’t be.”

This is really going in a direction Jeongyeon had not expected to ask the girl about it. But at the same time, she has just been invited back in to a pretty girl’s apartment, and the more she hesitates the more likely it is that the girl will withdraw the offer.

Right as she’s about to answer though, her phone finally buzzes, and she looks at it instinctively.

5:21 PM [Momo]: Weird encounter, how? And no, it’s 418, and the passcode is 6313 just in case you forgot that too.

Jeongyeon’s cheeks warm, but she turns off the screen on the phone and looks up at the girl.

“Um, okay. Sure.” Jeongyeon tries to break the awkwardness a little by grinning.

And it works.

The girl smiles too, revealing her gums and a crinkle on her nose. Then she turns and starts walking back to her own apartment. A turn of the head back at Jeongyeon tells her to follow, and Jeongyeon has no choice but to do so. Sure, Momo will later insist that Jeongyeon had every possibility to turn down the offer, but she’s wrong. From this moment and every moment forth, Jeongyeon doesn’t have a choice when it comes to the girl with the Lord of the Rings book. When it comes to Mina (as she later learns that her name is.)

It’s free falling.