Chapter 1: It Will Explode
“If you add that, your mixture will explode.”
Jungeun jumps on her seat upon hearing the voice. She whips her head towards the source and sees a tall blonde girl leaning against the door frame of the room. “You scared me!” Jungeun exclaims, hand over her chest, willing her heart to calm down.
“Sorry…” the blonde says bashfully. “But I had to stop you from pouring that liquid into your mixture.” She adds, head hung slightly low and hand rubbing the back of her neck sheepishly.
Jungeun is taken aback at the sight, and she deflates slightly. “What if, in my surprise, I ended up dropping the entire thing in?” she asks, projecting her voice with a hint of playful annoyance. (She hopes the girl picks it up, for some reason.)
“Then I’m gonna have to dash over to you to pull you away and then take cover.” The blonde answers easily, without any hint of hesitation.
“Chivalrous, are we?” Jungeun responds, more to force herself to feign neutrality in light of the situation.
“Mm, I guess.” The blonde, again, answers easily. She has entered the room now and is walking towards Jungeun.
Silence fills the room as the blonde reaches Jungeun’s station. Jungeun observes the blonde as she inspects the materials laid out on the table.
“Would it really have exploded?” Jungeun, unable to bear the situation, asks shyly.
“Oh, yes,” the blonde replies, matter-of-factly, “but nothing too dramatic. The splatter would mostly just reach up to this table, with a bit of sprinkling on the floor.”
“Ah,” Jungeun says, embarrassed at the thought of what she could have caused, “that would’ve been a real trouble.” She says, scratching the side of her neck in unease. “Thank you.” She adds, after a beat, still embarrassed.
“Oh, it’s no problem at all!” the blonde, who again looks up from her inspection of the station, beams at Jungeun. Jungeun idly wonders about (and envies) how the girl could be so open and easygoing while actually housing a magnificent mind.
“Um, are you okay? Is there something on my face?”
Jungeun’s trance is broken by the very same voice that broke it earlier. Her face flushes red at the realization that she’s been staring, and has been caught staring. So she quickly turns her head away, “Uh, no, nothing… sorry, just thinking,” she manages to string together.
“Oh, you’re probably thinking of how to do this, and I’m keeping you.” Jungeun hears the blonde say. She quickly turns back and is about to tell her ‘no,’ when she sees the blonde smiling brightly at her.
“How ‘bout I help you with it as my apology?” the blonde asks, rather excitedly.
“Um, sure, if it’s not a bother.” Jungeun replies weakly, internally cursing at how useless she’s being right now.
“Oh, it’s not. I offered.” The blonde beams, and Jungeun thanks all the higher powers that she’s currently sitting right now instead of standing.
“I’m Jinsol, by the way,” the blonde – Jinsol – says, extending her hand to Jungeun.
“I’m Jungeun, and thank you… for doing this – helping me – Jinsol.” Jungeun answers, taking Jinsol’s hand in hers and shaking it. Again, she thanks the gods, but for more reasons this time.
“It’s my pleasure!” Jinsol exclaims. “Shall we get to work, Jungie?”
And, oh, “Jungie” was so not ready for that.
Chapter 2: Picnic
lip feeds soul
weird chapter summary, am i right?
Jungeun and Jinsol become fast friends after their fateful (and enjoyable) encounter at the school lab. This is despite the two being in different departments; Jungeun in arts and Jinsol in science.
Thankfully, they share the same break period, and they make sure to exploit that by meeting at the back of the school.
Jinsol usually gets there first as her building is closer. She’s, therefore, tasked with laying out the picnic blanket so that all that’s left to do when Jungeun comes with the food is to lay them out and enjoy them.
Jinsol loves these times and treasures each one dearly. For starters, she loves the food she and Jungeun share – Jungeun’s father is, after all, the best cook in the world. More importantly, though, she loves sharing the food and her time with Jungeun, because Jungeun is just so loveable a person that it’s difficult not to want to gravitate and hang around her. Yes, Jungeun is just so lovely that Jinsol thinks that she might be-
“Hello~ earth to Jinsol. Are you coming back to me anytime soon?”
Jinsol is snapped away from her musings. She then sees Jungeun waving her hand in front of her with an amused smile brightening her features.
Jinsol feels a beam spreading across her face; she does not, in any way, even try to prevent it from blooming. “I’m back now, Jungie~” she says before flashing her toothy-smile at Jungeun, whose cheeks seem to be sprinkled with rose-colored pixie dust.
“You’re blushing,” Jinsol says upon her realization. Jungeun’s face grows redder at the attention, and Jinsol feels her smile widen, despite thinking it impossible to actually happen.
“We should finish up, class is about to start soon.” Jungeun says seriously all so suddenly. She seems abashed. Jinsol ponders if it’s because she was staring earlier or because she blurted out that Jungeun was blushing. (She really needs to think things through before verbalizing them.)
Jinsol is prevented from asking, though, as Jungeun turns back to her and feeds her a slice of jokbal. “We have to hurry.” Jungeun reminds again before taking a slice of jokbal herself.
So Jinsol resolves to keep the question to herself for the moment. Besides, that way, she can think about what happened more fully and have a plan of attack that would be most appropriate to the situation. She can’t half-ass anything when it comes to Jungeun.
Chapter 3: Questions
jindori wants answers, but jindori gets more questions
in which we introduce additional characters
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Jinsol never got to bring up what transpired on her and Jungeun’s last picnic.
It’s really unfortunate that that day fell on a Friday and on the last day before the exam week. Their weekend had been spent away from each other, as they both had to study, and their only connection was through messages – Jinsol absolutely disliked the idea of bringing it up through text, feeling it a disservice to one of her most cherished persons in this world.
Jinsol also found it insensitive and selfish to bring it up during the exam week. So she decided to clear the air after their last exam, which happens to be today.
Jinsol finishes quickly, afraid she might miss Jungeun. She then rushes out of the room and towards Jungeun’s, not aware that someone called her name.
Once outside Jungeun’s room, Jinsol carefully peers inside through the window – thank heavens she’s tall – and sees Jungeun huddled on her seat. It’s then that Jinsol releases a sigh, to catch her breathing from all the running… only to have it taken from her so soon.
Jinsol all but leaps from the cry of her name. She whips her head towards the direction of the voice. “Ya! Ha Sooyoung! You scared me half to death!” Jinsol exclaims, hand over her wildly beating heart.
“Sorry! But I’ve been calling you… and you wouldn’t stop… and, damn, you’ve gotten faster!” Sooyoung offers; she, herself, out of breath.
“You have?” Jinsol asks, incredulous. “Sorry, I was in a hurry.” She adds sheepishly.
“Yeah, I noticed.” Sooyoung deadpans. “The question is ‘why?’”
“I have to meet, Jungie.” Jinsol answers simply, and she’s answered with a smack on her arm. “Ow! What the hell, Soo?”
“I’m finally gonna meet your Jungie!” Sooyoung shrieks.
“Tone down! They're still taking their exam.” Jinsol hisses, and Sooyoung slaps a hand over her mouth. “Also, she’s not my Jungie.”
“But you want her to be.” Sooyoung retorts.
Jinsol gives her a confused look and is about to respond when the classroom door opened. “Jindori?”
“Hi, Jiwoo~” Jinsol greets before skipping towards the girl and hugging her. Jiwoo hugs her back as tightly.
“Jungeuni should be out soo- oh, here she is!” Jiwoo announces excitedly.
“Jungie~” Jinsol greets, immediately moving towards the girl and pulling her in for a hug.
“Hey, Sol,” Jungeun replies quietly but melds her body with the taller girl’s. The two stay oblivious to the world for a few seconds before an excited squeal forced them to break apart.
“Soo!? Oh my God, it’s you!” Jiwoo shrieks as she jumps the taller girl.
“Hi, Jiwoo. It’s been a long time.” Sooyoung simply responds, but keeps her hold tight around Jiwoo’s waist.
“You two know each other?” Jinsol asks, baffled that she didn’t know such information concerning her best friend.
“Actually, we three know each other. We met at a dance class, which that loud kid dragged me into, last summer.” Jungeun answers for the two, who are still clinging onto each other.
“So, how come you didn’t know who Jungie was when I told you about her?” Jinsol asks Sooyoung.
“Well, you keep calling her Jungie, and I know her as Jungeun. Also, we didn’t get to know each other much because Jungeun only attended for a week.” Sooyoung explains, and Jinsol nods her head on every detail.
“Ooh! Ooh! Since exams are over, we should all hang out!” Jiwoo interjects suddenly.
The three turn to her and sees her beaming brightly at them. Jinsol and Jungeun look at each other, and a smile forms on each’s face. It’s agreed. Jinsol then looks at Sooyoung, who… has an apologetic look on her face.
“I’m sorry, guys, but I have a shoot today” she starts, and the girls pout at her. “I promise, though, when I’m free I’ll buy you guys ice cream.” She adds, hoping to pacify them. Of course, free ice cream works.
They set a date for their ice cream trip then say goodbye to Sooyoung, whose manager is already waiting at the school’s parking lot. But before the three could saunter off, Sooyoung calls Jungeun.
“You guys go ahead and get us a seat. I’ll be right with you.” Jungeun says before jogging towards Sooyoung.
“Okay, we’ll see you there!” Jiwoo chirps. She then loops her arm in Jinsol’s and tugs on the taller girl, not giving the latter a chance to say something – and Jinsol wanted to say something because she’s sure she saw a look of slight irritation on Jungie’s face. It eats Jinsol up, especially because, as Jungeun’s friend, she should have done something, said something. But she didn’t do anything.
Jinsol feels uneasy as she and Jiwoo walk out of the school. Eventually, not being able to stop herself, she thinks of a good excuse to hang back and go to Jungeun. She looks back towards where Jungeun and Sooyoung are, poor excuse already at the tip of her tongue, waiting to be let out, and stops. She stops – or more particularly, her heart stops, skips some dangerous beats – at the sight of Jungeun and Sooyoung hugging each other tightly.
‘Odd,’ Jinsol thinks, ‘it’s just a hug. I’ve seen her hug others multiple times. So… why?’ And the number of questions Jinsol has on Jungeun keep piling up that she’s unsure if she can answer, or even just bear, them all.
our swan is an idol (of course)
and our penguin is a trainee (hence, the dance class)
Chapter 4: Perceptions
jinsol is... lost
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Jinsol is smart. She’s always able to figure out a way to solve whatever matter she’s facing. Sure, sometimes it takes a while for her to formulate a solution, but, in the end, she always gets the right one and applies it to perfection.
Right now, though, it’s not the case. Right now, Jinsol is… stumped. And she finds herself sighing for the nth time.
Jinsol continues to remain wrapped inside her head that she doesn’t hear the door to her room open nor notice two figures approaching her.
“Hey, crinkle, what’s in?” a laughing voice says, accompanied by fingers flicking her forehead.
“Ow!” Jinsol cries, in time with another voice admonishing the first one, “Haseul!”
The first one just continues to laugh, clapping her hands along. “Get it? ‘What’s in?’ cos you’re ruminating.”
“You have to forgive her, she hasn’t had a wink of sleep nor anything substantial; she’s had nothing but caffeine and sugar.” Haseul’s companion shoots Jinsol an apologetic, and also very tired, look. She looks as lost as Jinsol when she gazes back at the still laughing, but now doubled over on the floor, Haseul.
She and Jinsol sigh at the sight at the same time, prompting the blonde to reach for her hand. Jinsol gives it a squeeze, “It’s okay, Kahei. I grew up with her; I know when there’s something off.” Jinsol finishes with a smile. Kahei squeezes Jinsol’s hand back and returns her smile.
“Hey! Hands off the merchandise!” Haseul declares, dashing towards the two and snatching Kahei’s hand from Jinsol’s grip. “Not yours.” She continues before sticking her tongue out to the taller girl.
Jinsol is taken aback. Kahei ducks her head (read: is blushing madly). And Haseul is… smirking?
Jinsol lets out a howl then, laughing at the top of her lungs.
Haseul laughs with her (even though she doesn’t have the slightest idea why).
Kahei eventually joins them, and the three continue to laugh, for no apparent reason, for a few more minutes.
When they start to sober up – or when Jinsol and Kahei do – Jinsol fixes her gaze at Haseul, “If only you didn’t have the capability to make my body disappear without any trace going back to you, I’d film this entire thing, post it on the internet, and make a fortune off of you.”
“Please, don’t. I don’t want to be a co-principal to a murder.” Kahei chimes in seriously, but in the end breaking out to a wide smile.
Meanwhile, the topic of their conversation has wandered off towards Jinsol’s bed.
“So, what’s up? Shouldn’t she be in bed?” Jinsol asks when she sees that Haseul has busied herself with her Dory plushie.
“She will be. I just had to return your biology notes, and I couldn’t exactly leave her alone like this,” Kahei says, stealing a glance at the girl crouched by the bed, having a staring contest with Dory.
“Ah, of course.” Jinsol could only reply, feeling the exhaustion her friend is currently experiencing.
“Anyway, here,” Kahei says, stopping herself from dallying any longer. She reaches inside her bag and retrieves a notebook, handing it to Jinsol. “Thank you again! You’re a lifesaver.”
“Don’t worry about it. Do you need any help getting her home?” Jinsol asks, placing the notebook on her desk before closing her laptop.
“No, it’s fine. I think we’ve intruded on you enough. Did one of your professors already give out another project? We just finished the exams…” Kahei asks, suddenly very worried about her friend.
“Oh, uh, I’m not doing anything, really. You’re not intruding.” Jinsol replies, slightly confused about Kahei’s query.
“Really? You were really deep in thought when we walked in. I thought you were thinking about a project or assignment.”
“Oh, that…” Jinsol mutters, laughing awkwardly at the situation. “I’m just- I was just thinking about something.” Jinsol answers, scratching at her scalp.
“Is everything okay, Sol? Haseul once told me that you scratch at your scalp or your neck when you’re anxious.” Kahei asks, looking intently at Jinsol.
‘Of course Haseul told you,’ Jinsol thinks. She shoots a look at the girl in question. It goes unnoticed.
“Kahei, Haseul’s asleep.”
The next morning, Jinsol is roused by the sound of knocking on her door. Grumbling, she gets up and opens the door with one hand, while she rubs sleep from eyes with the other. She’s greeted by Haseul wearing a bashful smile and holding a tray with two cups of coffee and a paper bag which Jinsol knows contains pastries.
“Good thinking with the coffee and pastries. Come in.” Jinsol rasps as she takes a cup and steps aside to let Haseul in.
“I came to apologize for yesterday,” Haseul immediately says, even before making herself comfortable on the chair by Jinsol’s desk.
Jinsol sits on her bed, still in the process of fully waking herself up. She takes the lid off of the cup and inhales the smell of coffee. She blows on it before sipping. God, there’s just nothing like it.
Haseul, meanwhile, patiently waits for Jinsol. She needs the blonde coherent before their conversation could continue.
“Don’t worry about it, Seul. It’s not like it’s the first time that’s happened.” Jinsol says, after a while, a smirk hidden by the cup she’s drinking from.
Haseul knows it’s there, though, but ignores it. She’s the one apologizing right now. “Still, it’s embarrassing. Kahei told me everything!” Haseul exclaims, cheeks flushed as she visibly thinks of how she must have acted the day before.
Normally, Jinsol would laugh at Haseul’s misery, but the shorter girl’s statement made her stop. ‘Kahei told her everything…’
Jinsol gives out a token chuckle, more to test her theory than to cover up her mistake.
Of course, her theory – that Haseul knows that Kahei noticed that something was troubling her – is correct because, now, Haseul is suddenly looking at her with that look, that look that mothers have when they see their children troubled by something. Jinsol can’t stand that, is too weak for that.
Jinsol sighs – the first for that day.
“How did you realize that you like Kahei as more than just a friend?”
i love goofy haseul, and i don't know why
my theory is that it's cos i just kinda love her - like, really, truly, madly, deeply love her - in general
but that's just my theory
Jungeun releases a deep breath as she sits on a kitchen stool. She lets her shoulders slump as she absently listens to the sound of the microwave cooking the popcorn.
The last hour has been chaotic, and that’s been the entirety of her stay in Jiwoo’s house.
‘Well,’ Jungeun thinks as she remembers the ruckus she’s just been in, ‘Yeojin wouldn’t be Yeojin if she didn’t do anything stupid like provoking Hyejoo.’
Jungeun sighs again as the entire ordeal replayed in her head.
“Jungeun unnie,” Yeojin called out softly.
Jungeun turned to her, and she almost cooed at the doe-eyed girl’s cuteness…
…because Yeojin opened her mouth again and continued with, “If Hyejoo has a lot of pent up rage, does that make her ‘inrageous’?
Of course, Jungeun’s cousin Hyejoo – whom Jungeun was getting more and more convinced of having superior hearing, like wolves – took exception to the statement (and, well, just suffice it to say that everybody got their fair share of exercise for the day and that Yeojin would be nursing some wounds for quite some time).
It was only when Chaewon finally showed up that Hyejoo was placated… somehow. (The girl was still staring daggers at the youngest when Jungeun escaped to the kitchen on the excuse of preparing snacks.)
‘Honestly, though,’ Jungeun thinks, ‘that was an awesome wordplay. Jinsol would’ve laughed her ass off at that.’
With that thought, Jungeun fishes out her phone from her pocket. Her fingers deftly tap on the screen, composing the message as best as she could capture the incident. ‘There,’ she says in her head.
But Jungeun can’t press the send button.
She frowns. What in the world is stopping her? And why is her heart suddenly beating so erratically?
“So, are you going to send that anytime soon?” Jiwoo’s voice comes from behind Jungeun.
“Yah! You guys really need to stop doing that!” Jungeun cries.
“Sorry. I thought you heard me come over.” Jiwoo says sheepishly.
Jungeun glares at her, and she sees that Jiwoo’s holding the bag of popcorn already. Jiwoo follows her line of sight.
“I should’ve figured that you didn’t hear me seeing as you didn’t hear the microwave ding.” Jiwoo says, her back already turned to Jungeun as she fetches a bowl to put the popcorn in. She makes a strange sound when she finds one. She turns back to Jungeun once she’s transferred the contents of the bag.
“Jinsol’s got you distracted again, huh?” Jiwoo teases, wriggling her eyebrows.
Jungeun glares harder at the girl as her response.
“Oh, come on, Jungie,” Jiwoo singsongs, “stop denying and being shy. Tell Jiwoo your worries. You can tell Jiwoo anything.”
Jungeun rolls her eyes at her friend’s use of the third person. Nonetheless, she takes the girl up on her offer. “It’s just… did you notice something off about her when we went out after the exams?”
“Ah, so it is Jinsol. Fear not, for Jiwoo will help with your heart’s woes.” Jiwoo replies as she gives Jungeun’s head a pat.
“Ugh, you’re insufferable. Give me the popcorn, so I can go back to the others.” Jungeun exclaims, grabbing the bowl and fighting for its possession.
“No, no, no! I’m just kidding. Come on! I’ll be serious; I promise!” Jiwoo backtracks.
Jungeun stops trying to yank the bowl from the other girl, but she keeps her glare fixed all the same, daring Jiwoo to go back on her word.
Jiwoo takes Jungeun’s hand off of the bowl before cradling it at her side. She laughs nervously. She’s forced to stop laughing and start speaking when she sees Jungeun raise her eyebrow threateningly.
“Well, now that I think about it, she did seem quite down that time. She was quieter than usual. But I just thought, you know, she’s Jinsol – one of our school’s top students – maybe she’s just thinking about the exams.”
“No, she only worries about exams before she takes them. Once they’re done, she doesn’t think about them until they’re given back.” Jungeun answers quickly.
“Hm, then I guess something else was bothering her.” Jiwoo replies contemplatively.
“Yeah, but what? What if I did something wrong without realizing it? That happens a lot with me.” Jungeun asks, worry dripping with every word she said.
Jiwoo looks at her, face gentle but grip on Jungeun’s arm firm, “You should ask her. As her friend, it’s your job to make sure if she’s okay, or if you guys are okay. It’s the only way, Jungeun ah.”
Jungeun deflates at the advice but concedes that it is the only way.
‘As her friend… huh’
to make things easier,
the '00-'02 kids are all of the same age as the '96-'99 unnies are,
yeojin, hyejoo, and chaewon are classmates/friends,
jungeun, hyejoo, jiwoo, and yeojin are neighbors
Chapter 6: Babysitting, with ice cream and visit to the park
(See the end of the chapter for notes.)
After having been respectively advised to talk to each other, Jinsol and Jungeun spend their respective nights thinking about how to approach the situation.
They each resolve that actually communicating with the other is the first step. What to say, though… well, that’s another matter altogether.
Jungeun ends up calling Jinsol first, on account of her restless energy and of Jinsol’s habit of mulling things over (or just straight up getting lost in her thoughts).
“Jungie~ it’s so nice to hear from you!” Jinsol says as soon as she picks up.
Jungeun flushes, thanking the heavens that the other girl can’t see her presently. “You too,” is all she can reply.
“Well, uh, we haven’t hung out in a while. Do you wanna, uh,” Jungeun clears her throat, clueless as to why her throat suddenly got dry, “hang out tomorrow, maybe?”
“Oh, I’m so sorry, Jungie. Yerim has her piano lessons tomorrow. I don’t know what time we’ll finish.” Jinsol says apologetically.
“I can pick you up once we’re finished, though! Although, that might be around dinner time or later… but I can totally go to you if you want me to.” Jinsol adds before Jungeun can get totally dejected and wallow in self-pity.
It brings a smile to Jungeun’s face, hearing Jinsol’s resolve towards her.
“No, it’s alright. I’m sure you’ll want to finish building your new model kit; you’ve been putting it off for too long.” Jungeun says fondly, releasing a quiet breath at the end.
“Are you sure? My Gundam can wait, you know?”
“I’m sure, Sol. It’s not like we’re not gonna see each other on Monday, right?” Jungeun chuckles. Jinsol concedes then. They eventually agree to just meet at their usual time and in their usual place on the next school day, and they end the call.
As fate would have it though, the next time Jinsol and Jungeun see each other comes much earlier through a happy coincidence.
Yerim’s piano lessons being over earlier than usual, Jinsol decides to indulge the younger girl and go for ice cream.
They’re about to take a seat – Jinsol taking the one facing away from the door – when Yerim squeals, “Yeojin-ah!”
An equally shrill scream of Yerim’s name is subsequently heard, and Yerim runs towards the owner of the voice.
Jinsol turns to look at who Yerim is so excited in seeing. The sight that greets her makes her stop. To be fair, the one that surprised Jinsol looks equally stunned at seeing her.
“Jungie~” Jinsol says softly as she makes her way towards the girls.
“Sol,” Jungeun breathes. She’s about to say more, but Yerim beat her to the punch.
“You’re Jinsol unnie’s ‘Jungie’!?”
Jinsol flushes at the question. She splutters as she tries to somehow explain what Yerim (might have) meant, but she’s not able to get a word out…
…or even in, as the girls hear the youngest of them whisper, “Jinsol,” as if testing the name. “Omo! You’re Jungeun unnie’s ‘Jinsol’! The one Jungeun unnie and Jiwoo unnie keep talking about!”
Now, it’s Jungeun’s turn to blush and splutter. She reflexively slaps a hand over the younger girl’s mouth, despite knowing that she’s too late.
There’s a moment of awkward silence, where the younger ones confusedly and expectantly look from their one unnie to the other and the older ones pointedly avoid everyone else’s gaze.
Jinsol is the first to clear her throat. She’s still blushing, but they have to move on, as everyone in the ice cream shop is staring at them now.
“Hi, I’m Jinsol.” The tallest girl says, extending her hand towards Yeojin, who shakes it enthusiastically.
“Hi, Jinsol unnie! I’m Yeojin. I’m Jungeun unnie’s favOriTe dongsaeng and also Yerim’s favOriTe classmate!” the youngest all but yells.
Yerim giggles at the sight before abruptly turning towards Jungeun, who has been quietly observing the tallest and the smallest girls. “Hi Jungie unnie! I’m Yerim. I’m Jinsol unnie’s favOriTe dongsaeng and also Yeojinie’s favOriTe classmate.” She copies brightly, making the older girl chuckle.
“Yeah you are!” Yeojin pipes in proudly, and she and Yerim share matching wide smiles.
“Hi Yerim. I’m Jungeun. It’s nice to finally meet you.” Jungeun answers, then tousles Yeojin’s hair, “This kid has been talking my ear off about you; I feel like I already know you.”
“Oh, trust me, it’s the same on my end.” Jinsol cuts in, ruffling Yerim’s hair, to which the younger swats at her unnie’s hand as a response.
“Yeojin-ah, Jungeun unnie, your timing is perfect! Jinsol unnie’s just about to buy me ice cream! She can buy you guys one too!” Yerim says suddenly and excitedly at the two, then sticks her tongue out at her piano teacher.
Jinsol shakes her head at the girl, ignoring the celebratory cry of Yeojin who immediately dashes to the counter to choose her treat. Yerim ignores Jinsol and skips towards Yeojin.
“Yeojin was supposed to buy me one, but this works too.” Jungeun jokes as she comes up to the taller girl.
Jinsol furrows her brows.
“It’s for saving her hide from Hyejoo.”
Jinsol frowns further.
“It’s a long story. I’ll tell you later. Let’s get that ice cream you’re paying for first.” Jungeun says, guiding Jinsol by the elbow to the counter where the younger ones are busy pointing at the assortment of toppings.
The two older ones are about to order theirs when a voice from behind them announces, “I knew it!”
The four turn towards the owner of the voice and see two girls who are about Yerim and Yeojin’s age. One has her hands on her hips, while the other is just blinking at them, face stoic.
“How come you always take Yerim out for treats and not me, unnie?” the one with hands akimbo demands. She marches towards the four. The other girl follows her lead, face still passive.
Upon reaching them, the girl sees Yeojin, who was half-hidden from her view by Jinsol, “Oh, hi Yeojin! Nice seeing you here!” she greets cheerfully, face now graced with a blinding smile, in a complete 180° turn of her earlier expression.
“Hi Heejin! Hi Hyunjin!” Yeojin greets back.
“Aeong.” Says the other girl – Hyunjin – and Jungeun notes that it must be her usual greeting, as none of the others seem to find it odd.
After the greeting, Heejin turns back to Jinsol, once again wearing her angry face. “Well, unnie?”
“Heejin! You can scold Jinsol unnie later.” Yerim pulls at Heejin and guides her to Jungeun. “This is Jungie unnie!” the bubbly girl reveals. “Jungie unnie, this is Heejin and this is Hyunjin. They’re also our classmates.” Yerim introduces, pointing at each of her friends.
“Hey, I’m Jungeun. Nice to meet you two.”
“Hi Jungeun unnie! It’s so nice to meet you!” Heejin squeals, taking Jungeun’s hand and shaking it. The girl looks at her with twinkling eyes, very much like how Yerim did earlier. Jungeun chuckles at the action.
“Hi unnie.” Hyunjin greets simply, but there’s a small smile on her face this time.
“You’re really pretty, unnie.” Heejin pronounces.
Yerim gasps, nodding frantically, “She is, isn’t she? No wonder Jinsol unnie lik-
“O-kay, let’s get those ice cream guys!” Jinsol interjects. “It’s gonna get dark soon. We don’t wanna stay out late and spoil your appetite for dinner.” She grins broadly at the others.
Heejin’s full attention reverts to her, and the girl remembers that she’s pissed at her unnie. She steps in front of the older girl and gives her a piece of her mind.
Jungeun thinks its adorable.
While Heejin is back at letting Jinsol have it for apparently playing favorites, Jungeun notices that her little neighbor has been awfully quiet. Jungeun faces the youngest and sees her on her phone. “Yeojin, what are you doing?”
“Texting Hyejoo and Chae. They’re gonna wanna see Two-Jin and also meet your Jinsol unnie. Oh, good! Heejin’s done.”
“Yeojin,” Jungeun says sternly but is not able to say more as Yeojin looks up at her and tells the group nonchalantly, “They’re on their way. Hyejoo wants mint chocolate, no toppings, and Chae wants cookie dough with candy sprinkles and a cherry on top.” The girl then walks off with Yerim to secure a table for them.
Jinsol laughs, “I guess I’m buying for eight, huh?”
“Don’t be silly. We’ll split the bill.” Jungeun quickly says, fishing out her wallet from her pocket.
“Don’t worry about it, Jungeun unnie,” Heejin remarks, hand stopping Jungeun’s. “Jinsol unnie has a lot of money. If not, we can just sell one of her toy robots.” The girl then proceeds to stare challengingly at Jinsol.
Jinsol stares squarely back into Heejin’s eyes, but she eventually relents upon realizing that it’s not worth it; she’s not gonna win anyway.
“Hi, sorry, could you please add one mint chocolate without toppings and one cookie dough with candy sprinkles and cherry on top, please?” Jinsol tells the staff the additional orders before her and Jungeun's orders, her fingers rifling for more bills in her wallet.
Heejin flashes a brilliant, victorious grin at no one in particular.
Jungeun is starting to get scared of the girl, thinking she’s unstoppable. She stops and reconsiders when she sees Heejin turn to Hyunjin, who smiles back at the former. Heejin’s smile widens impossibly, and she hops closer to Hyunjin to cling to the latter. The display brings a smile to Jungeun’s face.
“They’re sweet, aren’t they?” Jinsol comments from behind Jungeun. “They’ve been attached to the hip for as long as I’ve known them.”
“And how long has that been?” Jungeun asks, turning to Jinsol.
“Since their birth.” Jinsol smirks. “They might as well have been twins, those two.” She continues, glancing at their subject, who are busy playing something on Hyunjin’s phone.
The two continue to chat as they wait for the ice cream. They get their orders shortly, and Jinsol, Jungeun, Heejin, and Hyunjin carry two each, proceeding to where Yerim and Yeojin are.
“Nice!” Yeojin claps. “Let’s go!”
“Go… where?” Jungeun asks, feeling a whiplash from the statement.
“Oh, Hyejoo asked if we could just meet them halfway at the park. Yeojin said ‘yes.’” Yerim explains.
“That lazy as- and you said ‘yes’??” Jungeun cries out.
Yeojin simply shrugs, taking her ice cream from Heejin.
“Come on, Jungie,” Jinsol whispers to the girl, “nothing beats sitting on the grass, in the open air, while enjoying your food.”
And that’s how, despite Jungeun’s grumbling, the six of them end up at the park. Jinsol is introduced to Hyejoo and Chaewon, and the eight girls eat and chat. The kids, after finishing their ice cream, run around (read: tear down) the place, chasing each other, while their unnies watch them, exhausted.
Jinsol sighs. “I don’t get paid enough for this.”
“I don’t get paid at all for this.” Jungeun huffs.
“Aw~ don’t worry, Jungie. I’m always happy to share anything with you.” Jinsol croons, patting Jungeun’s head as she does so. And if Jungeun blushes at that, Jinsol says nothing about it, and Jungeun is thankful for that. (In any case, Jungeun doesn’t need to know that Jinsol is mentally grinning like a Cheshire cat while giving herself a pat on the back out of pride from eliciting such reaction.)
Jinsol is Yerim, Heejin, and Hyunjin's piano teacher
Chapter 7: Lunch
Jinsol, riding off of residual a high, goes to school excitedly. She greets every person (and every animal and every plant) she comes across with because, ‘Today is a good day!’
There’s a skip to her step and, as she nears her classroom, it gets higher and bubblier that she’s practically jumping upon reaching her seat.
“Someone’s in a good mood today. Fun weekend?” a sweet, melodic voice asks from beside Jinsol, and Jinsol lights up at the question. She turns to her classmate and gives her a toothy grin. “The most fun, Minnie!”
“I’m so glad for you! Did you finally assemble your latest Gundam model?” Minnie asks, stepping closer to Jinsol to chat.
“Nope,” Jinsol shakes her head, still grinning goofily.
Minnie’s brows furrow, but her natural bubbly demeanor – coupled with Jinsol’s ecstasy – keep her wide smile intact. “Then what happened?”
“Oh, the kids and I just had ice cream at the park and played until it was dinnertime. It was so fun!” Jinsol exclaims, vibrating with excitement from the memory. Minnie gets infected with it and squeals with Jinsol. But it’s cut short by a grumble from behind them.
“Kids? ‘Fun’ with kids?” the voice, a bit muffled, piped up. “How is that even possible? Kids are the worst! They’re monsters!” the slightly muffled voice grouses.
Jinsol turns to her other classmate and sees her slumped over her desk, “Miyeon-ah, are you okay?”
“Careful with her, Sol. She hasn’t had proper rest yet.” Minnie warns from her seat.
Jinsol sighs quietly, “Shuhua?”
“Yep, Shuhua came over to Miyeon’s house when she heard that Soojin’s spending the weekend there.” Minnie says, shaking her head slowly in sympathy.
“Oof,” Jinsol could only let out, she herself sympathizing with her classmate.
“Never having kids. I’ll just be Soojin’s baby,” Miyeon harps.
“Oh, come on, Miyeonnie. Not all kids are the same,” someone remarks.
Jinsol whips her head towards the door as soon as she hears the voice.
Minnie yells to confirm the identity of the voice-owner, “Hasu!”
The said girl strides towards them, “Hiya, Minnie!” Sooyoung greets, bright smile on full display. She then turns to Jinsol, flashing an even brighter smile, “Hey, Sol.”
“Well, well, well, if it isn’t our Idol-nim,” Jinsol says, by way of greeting, but walks towards Sooyoung to envelop her best friend in a hug. “It’s been a long time, Soo.”
“I know,” Sooyoung replies, hugging Jinsol back more tightly than the former. “But I have no schedule today, so I’m all yours all day. We can even go out for lunch later.” The taller girl finishes excitedly.
But Jinsol’s face falls at the statement. “Lunch?” the blonde asks.
And now Sooyoung’s face falls as well. “You’re having lunch with Jungeun, aren’t you?”
Jinsol averts her gaze and looks at the ground before nodding her head.
“You never have lunch with me anymore.” Sooyoung remarks, pouting.
The statement elicits a quick response from Jinsol, “You’re rarely here, Soo. How could I possibly have lunch with you?”
“You know what I mean.” Sooyoung returns, rather petulantly. Jinsol, incredulous, stares at her, mouth slightly agape.
“Ugh, fine. Let me just text Jungie.”
“You don’t have to cancel your lunch-date with her. We can all eat together, you know.”
“You sure? Cos we could just-”
“Sol, go ask her if she’s okay with me tagging along.”
Jinsol lets out another sigh, but one quieter this time. She brings the phone to her ear, absently listening to the dial tone as she waits for Jungeun to pick up.
“Hi, Jungie,” she greets back. “Listen, I have a question.”
“About lunch today, well… Sooyoung’s here today-
“And you don’t know how to tell me you’re taking a rain check on our lunch?” Jungeun laughs. “It’s fine, Sol. Go have lunch with her; you rarely see her, after all.”
“Yeah, actually, she wants to have lunch with the both of us.”
“Oh?” a pause, then, “Can I bring Jiwoo? I think it’d be more fun. The more the merrier, you know?”
“Yeah! That’s a great idea!”
“Great! Jiwoo says, ‘yay!’ by the way.”
“Tell her I said ‘yay!’ back.”
“No.” Jungeun says flatly. She can picture Jinsol pouting from the other end of the line. It brings a smile to her face. “You’re such a dork.”
“Hey! I’m a geek, not a dork.” Jinsol retorts, indignant.
Jungeun shakes her head, smiling fondly. “Fine, fine, whatever. I’ll see you later, nerd.”
“Again, I’m a-
Jungeun ends the call, chuckling.
Once the bell rings for lunch, Jinsol and Sooyoung sprint out of their room and towards the back of the school building. Despite their rushing, however, they’re beaten to their destination by a beaming Jiwoo and a smug-looking Jungeun.
The four set up quickly, the enthusiastic Jiwoo singing about her being famished. It doesn’t take long for them to fall into a steady rhythm of eating and chatting.
Lunch is going well… until Sooyoung asks Jungeun, “So, I’ll see you later after class?”
Chapter 8: After School Activity
Jinsol has never really joined any club since she started school. It’s not that she’s anti-social or anything; her extracurricular activities just happened to be outside of school. With that said, she’s not really familiar with how club activities take place, having had to head straight home right after her classes. So Jinsol is really relishing this experience of watching the musical theatre club go about their activities.
She’s seated at the balcony of the auditorium, where she can see the entire practice-performance. Normally, outsiders are not allowed in the auditorium when one of the performing clubs is practicing, but tutoring the club president in her weakest subject has its perks.
“Jinsol!” a voice resonates, “how was it?”
“Amazing!” Jinsol yells. It echoes, and Jinsol scrunches her nose.
“Okay, wait for me outside?” the voice yells back.
Jinsol gives two thumbs up, not wanting to hear her voice ring in the auditorium again, before exiting the building.
She doesn’t wait long before the auditorium doors open again, a group of obviously exhausted students exiting.
“Hey!” one of the exiting students says to Jinsol by way of greeting.
“Hey, Haseul,” Jinsol smiles.
“Sorry for making you wait,” Haseul says, looping her arm around Jinsol’s. “Did you like the performance? Tell me what you really thought of it.”
“It’s awesome, Seul; as with everything else you do.” Jinsol informs her.
“Well, the credit really goes to our President. She’s the genius in everything she does.”
“Except math, maybe,” Jinsol quips.
Haseul laughs, “yeah, except math. Oh! Speaking of, Chungha is still singing praises and gratitude towards you. She wanted me to thank you again for the Sejeong thing.”
“It’s nothing, really.” Jinsol chuckles.
“Honestly, though, I’m also still amazed by that. How’d you manage to make the Kim Sejeong behave and fall in line?”
“Nothing special, I just talked to her.”
Haseul squints her eyes at her, making Jinsol chuckle again. “Fine then, keep your secrets.”
“I really just talked to her,” Jinsol repeats. “By the way, why wasn’t Chungha at practice?”
“Oh, there’s a club head meeting, so I was left in-charge.”
“Then you must be extra tired,” Jinsol says, clearly wanting to say more.
Haseul cuts her off, “I’m fine, Sol. We can hang out. Besides, I’ve missed you. Your time has been pretty full recently.”
“Oh, like yours isn’t?” Jinsol retorts.
“Oh, hush, you love hanging out with Kahei.”
“That’s because Kahei’s awesome.”
Haseul gasps dramatically. “And I’m not? Wow~ so this is what ten years of friendship merits me.”
Jinsol abruptly stops and pointedly looks at her friend. “Okay, now you’re just intentionally misinterpreting my statement to suit your purpose.”
Haseul meets her gaze head on. “And what purpose would that be?”
Jinsol doesn’t back down. “Making me feel bad for seemingly victimizing you.”
Haseul smirks. “Worked, didn’t it?”
“It did?” Jinsol asked, suddenly confused.
“Yep~” Haseul singsongs, unlooping her arm from Jinsol’s and skipping ahead towards a small restaurant, “and now you’re gonna buy me food to make it up to me,” the short-haired girl tells her blonde companion.
The blonde shakes her head. “I should save Kahei; it’s not too late.”
Haseul sticks her tongue out at Jinsol, “I’d like to see you try and sever our bond.”
“Thank you for the food!” the two say, before each taking a bite. They
squeal express appreciation for the food and continue shoveling it in. When they have almost consumed everything, they slow down, and Haseul takes that chance to talk to Jinsol.
“Sooo… have you figured it out yet?” the short-haired girl asks.
Jinsol didn’t need context nor precedence to know just what her friend is asking. She sighs, “Can’t say for sure.”
“You should talk to her.” Haseul offers.
“I should,” Jinsol says, followed by an “I will,” with resolve. Then she slumps against her seat, “once I get the nerves to do so.” She sighs again.
“See, this is the reason why I’m the only one in our group who has a girlfriend.” Haseul says, not to be smug but to inform.
“Hasu might get herself one too, if not already,” Jinsol mutters to herself.
“Nothing.” Jinsol smiles. Haseul frowns at her.
“You know, I’m starting to feel like a broken record. But for your sake, I’m gonna risk it and advise you one more time: talk to her. It’s the only way to clear things up.”
“I know. I know.” Jinsol says, but Haseul has known her long enough to realize that the girl is just agreeing so as to be finished with the subject.
Haseul knows that she should do more. But this matter is totally out of her hands. Only Jinsol can do something about it, if she so chooses to. So Haseul instead says, “Well, it’s getting late. We should head home.” She stands up. “Do what I told you, Sol,” she adds, staring Jinsol in the eye. The blonde releases a quiet sigh before nodding.
They exit the restaurant, Jinsol indeed ending up buying Haseul food.