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take pains, be perfect (lord, what fools these mortals be!)

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Heejin sat on the bus, pointedly staring out of the window and contemplating the endless grey buildings that it passed everyday on their way to school, just to not be subjected to the sight of her younger sister, Hyejoo, and her newfound soulmate, a blonde with an entirely princess-y aura called Chaewon, being obnoxiously cute right next to her.

Sometimes she wondered how exactly those two came to be an item (not that she’d ever ask) - they seemed to be polar opposites, after all, with Hyejoo always acting much tougher than she actually was and having a permanent bitch face. But, only sometimes. Her younger sister having a loving girlfriend, as repulsive as that sounded, also meant that now Heejin often had the house to herself, which resulted in maybe too many drunken karaoke renditions of the Evangelion opening during the summer with Jinsol and Jiwoo. Heejin couldn’t complain, really, despite the almost constant reminders that she was painfully single herself.

With her left leg bouncing, she kept looking at her phone, unlocking the screen and locking it again in three-second intervals. It was only their third day of school after the summer holidays had ended, and the first meeting of the drama club was scheduled later that day. Jiwoo had sent a very excited “OMG storage room VERY important!!!!!” to their groupchat this morning, but Jinsol’s immediate “??????” and Heejin’s “wait what already what’s going on?” went unanswered, and Jiwoo’s icon was marked as offline. Heejin was left staring at her lockscreen, a fanart of Romeo and Juliet from the 1996 movie as two girls right until she felt a hand on her arm.

“Are you in a coma or something?” It was Hyejoo. With Chaewon looking ethereal in her lavender dress at her side, she picked up her sports bag from the dirty bus floor and motioned at the open door, the bus having reached their stop. Right, Hyejoo had football practice that day, Heejin remembered while looking at the beat-down adidas bag.

The three of them jumped off the bus, Heejin looking at her phone and lagging behind the couple while they headed towards the school’s enormous building. They were always just a bit earlier before the first big wave of students started flooding in, for which Heejin would always be eternally grateful. Before they parted ways, she asked Hyejoo:

“You want me to wait for you after practice? Since I have, uh, the drama club.”

Really, she couldn’t care less about waiting for Hyejoo so that they could go back home together, and Hyejoo knew that - she didn’t need her big sister to pick her up after school, either. But Heejin had a particular weakness for the school’s girls football team, and when Hyejoo finally landed herself a position in attack, she just couldn’t not indulge in it sometimes. And, despite the sheer improbability of her hopeless crush ever becoming something more than just that, when have a few minutes of looking in awe from a safe distance hurt anybody?

Hyejoo rolled her eyes, but she said yes nonetheless before she walked off god knows where with Chaewon.

As Heejin watched her younger sister turn right and disappear around the corner, wondering when exactly Hyejoo got taller than her, her phone vibrated in the backpocket of her jeans. It was Jiwoo.

“i said it was an emergency where r u???”

This time, it was Jungeun that was the quickest to reply.

“what’s the emergency
stop being so dramatic
i’m on my way though”

Heejin just typed a quick “omw” and, pushing her phone back into her pocket, rushed to her locker. If she remembered correctly, she had maths that day and needed to get her textbook. The locker itself was nothing special - their school had a strict no decorating policy, and they made them change their lockers every year to prevent it. Not counting a few poorly drawn doodles of dicks and weed leaves, it’d proven quite successful. She rummaged through her stuff - and wow, how could it have got so messy after only three days? - and then she heard a few voices accompanied with uneven steps. She recognized the voice right away (at that point, she was pretty sure that it was imprinted in her memory, anyway), and she felt an immediate rush of heat in her whole face. Right there, just a few steps away, Shin Ryujin was taking out some books from her locker, with a few friends chatting mindlessly about being back to school.

Heejin quickly averted her eyes and took a deep breath. Calm down, she thought to herself, it’s not like you’ve never seen her before, well, maybe not with this new haircut, which makes her smile look even better than before the summer but…

She quickly grabbed the maths textbook and stuffed it into her backpack. She gripped at the straps while throwing it over her right arm. She tried really hard not to eavesdrop, she really did, but even then she could not block out the words:

“...yeah, and coach was being weird yesterday, said something about a surprise or something…anyway...”

Then the locker snapped, and the girls, with Shin Ryujin at the front, started walking towards Heejin. The girl, feeling physically frozen, just stood there, staring at the inside of her locker, hoping that the death grip she had on her backpack was not noticeable.

“Oh, hey...Heejin?” She heard just as she thought that they would pass right next to her. At that moment, Heejin would swear that she could feel the blood stop circulating in her veins for a split second. Ryujin, with her stupidly charming smile and her slightly awkwardly raised brow, must have decided to give Heejin a sudden heart attack. The girl could basically feel her eyes bulge out of her skull as she put all of her willpower into not looking at Ryujin’s bare arms.

“Uhhh...ee… he-ey.” Heejin smiled at the other girl, although she just knew that she would have an existential crisis over stuttering like that for the next week. Ryujin nodded in acknowledgment, and just like that, they were gone, and Heejin felt like banging her head on the metal lockers repeatedly. Instead, she slammed her locker shut and went off in the direction of the storage room, biting her lip and mentally cringing at herself.

Heejin’s crush on Shin Ryujin was a long story. It all started on one very significant evening in first year, when Jiwoo and Jungeun had practically dragged her to watch the school’s football match with them. Of course, it wasn’t about her friends’ - about the least athletic people that Heejin knew - newfound passion for the sport, no way. It turned out that they both just wanted to leer at one of the players, the already infamous midfielder Ha Sooyoung. Not really wanting to be the third (fourth?) wheel, Heejin only agreed after they promised to never complain when she would choose naruto openings during their karaoke nights ever again.

It wasn’t like any of them had any clue about football - in Heejin’s mind, it was very simple: “no goal bad, goal good”, so she was fully prepared to munch on popcorn that was too expensive, bored out of her mind and with horny friends at her side, but she was taken by surprise as soon as their school’s team ran out on the field. She quickly noticed a girl with shoulder-length pink hair and just this inexplicable aura around her, and her heart skipped a beat.

“Who’s that?” Nudging Jiwoo she asked, trying to look as nonchalant as ever, passing the popcorn over to Jungeun.

“Oh! Her?” Jiwoo pointed at the field, interest apparent in her eyes. She slightly raised her eyebrows.

“Hey, don’t point!” Heejin smacked Jiwoo’s hand at what could only be the speed of light.

“You really don’t know anything, do you?” She heard Jungeun sigh, her stare fixed on the tall figure of Sooyoung passing the ball to some nameless, dark-haired girl.

“She’s the captain! Shin Ryujin!” Jiwoo finally answered, her lips in a wide smile. “Well, co-captain.”

“And who’s the other one?” Asked Jungeun.
“Kim Hyunjin. I heard that she transferred a month into the school year, but still got the position…”

At that, Heejin felt herself drift off, blocking out her friends’ banter and occasional comments about how “hot Sooyoung looked while drinking water during the time-out.” She really wanted to be above her friends (she still couldn’t believe that they paid, like, at least three after school meals at KFC each just to sit on uncomfortable plastic seats and be useless lesbians about some girl that they were never going to talk to), but as she saw the pink-haired girl - Ryujin, she reminded herself - lift up her white shirt to wipe sweat off of her face just enough to show her abs and Heejin knew that she was done for. Swallowing, she leaned back into her seat and watched the rest of the game without a word. She was no better than Jiwoo or Jungeun, after all.

It was even worse when Heejin realized that she actually shared some of her classes with Ryujin. Over time, after hours of staring at the girl’s back in biology and building up the courage to talk to her (which, somehow, never happened, as Heejin had a bad habit of either making a fool of herself or chickening out last minute, and she would rather die than risk saying something stupid), she had a pretty clear image of the other girl in her mind. Heejin knew that Ryujin wasn’t good at biology. She was shit at it, really. She knew that Ryujin was good friends with Son Chaeyoung, the same girl that triggered many lesbian awakenings when she cut her hair short in middle school. She knew that despite her popularity, Ryujin was very nice, which she actually witnessed first-hand, as one time when some guy walking over to the whiteboard knocked her books off the desk, Ryujin was the first to jump and help Heejin gather them from the floor. Safe to say, their proximity then, and Ryujin’s hand momentarily brushing her own while passing her the biology textbook, made Heejin feel as if she were having an honest to god stroke. But she also knew that Ryujin was popular, out of Heejin’s league and had girls lining up to her everywhere she went, just like every member of the football team. And so, Heejin never mustered up the strength, even though she knew that the girl probably wouldn’t laugh at her, and that they would actually maybe even become… acquaintances. Either way, she stuck to annoying Jinsol everytime that she deemed necessary, with her best friend dutifully hearing her out in every state she would reach due to the hopeless crush, be it gushy, horny or depressed.

The worst of all was that nothing seemed to help - it was their last year of high school, and despite being in two pretty short-lived relationships, where Heejin was almost sure that this stupid crush had passed and the only thing on her mind was her girlfriends at the time, it came back right after every break-up. She wondered if she would ever actually dare to make a move. Probably not, and then she would just annoy her friends about this right until they all died.

___

“Finally!” Jiwoo sighed when Heejin shut the door to their base after herself.

Nobody ever came there - it was a small storage room next to the drama club’s own room. The doors were never locked, and apart from one desk leaning against the dirty dark-green wall and plastic chairs that looked like they were made for a family barbecue, there was nothing inside. It was perfect, and they took to meeting there every time that there would be an emergency. Or not. Sometimes, the emergency was just a lack of free seats in the cafeteria during lunch. Either way, it’s been their place ever since Jiwoo had stumbled inside by accident when they were still in their first year.

Heejin flung herself on one of the chairs, slinging her backpack off of her shoulders and letting it hit the floor. She leaned against it with a deep sigh and ran her hand through her hair.

“Oh god, no, I know this face.” Said Jinsol, not lifting her eyes from her phone screen. “That’s your Ryujin face.”

Jungeun groaned while climbing on top of the desk to open the only window in the whole room.

“Ugh, what did you do, Heejin?”

“Nothing!” Heejin protested, feeling the heat rush to her cheeks. Then, she sighed again. “I’m just an idiot. She said “hi” and I was like… uhhhhhhhh…..hhhh...hey…”

Jungeun snorted. She sat down on the desk, right beside Jiwoo. Jinsol just smirked.

“That seems like a good start, no?”

Heejin groaned.

“Can we please get to the emergency?”

“Yes!” Jiwoo’s eyes lit up. “I finally saw miss Kim today.”

“Nooo, did you really call an emergency over Drama Club?” Jungeun rubbed her eyes and stifled a yawn.

“Just listen!” It was apparent that Jiwoo was struggling not to smile. That girl was like a walking ray of sunshine, no matter what was happening. “She said that there was a surprise in store for this year! Connected to our end-of-the-year play! I hope it means that we’ll be doing a musical this year…”

“God, I hope you’re wrong.” Said Jinsol, finally shoving her phone into her pocket and looking up. “I don’t want to be tasked with taking care of the music as well as the stage decor.”

“Oh come on!” Jiwoo insisted. “It would be fun!”

“Nope, I’m not dancing. No way.” Jungeun protested, leaning against the wall. “I hope we do something gay, like… Romeo and Juliet again or something.”

“Everything we do is gay, Jungeun.” Heejin pointed out. “There are no guys in the club.”

“Well, true, but let’s be explicit! It’s great! We could do West Side Story.” Jiwoo chimed in, clearly still caught up in the idea that the surprise that Miss Kim had in store for them would be to prepare a musical. “Imagine the power! Heejin, you could be Tony and I could be Maria!”

Heejin quickly pointed her finger guns at Jiwoo, winking. She wasn’t completely against the idea. Maybe landing the lead would finally give a long-awaited boost to her popularity.

“Nooo, no musicals!” Jinsol whined. “Either way, we will find out today, won’t we?”

They all nodded in agreement, and Heejin muttered a quiet “I guess so”. The bell rang, and they quickly gathered their things and split up to get to class.

Heejin thought that it was only a bit strange that they were not the only club whose teacher was acting suspiciously, but she brushed off the thought as she walked beside Jungeun to their first hour of english.

___

The lessons passed by in a blur. The only thing that Heejin really cared about was Drama Club, anyway. It was what she had been doing ever since the discovery of her talent in kindergarten, when she got the role of one of the shepherds that visited baby Jesus in the christmas special. Needless to say, she played it so convincingly (despite only having one or two lines because, well, she was a shepherd after all) that every year after that, right until the end of kindergarten, Heejin got promoted to the role of Mary.

That was, however, only the beginning. When in primary school, she was chosen as the lead for every school play that her class was supposed to prepare for special events, parent days and end of the year assemblies. Then, when she met the biggest drama enabler of all time, Kim Jiwoo, a kid with a smile too big for her face, who would sleep over at her house and sing made-up words to english musical songs with a little too much enthusiasm, she knew that THAT was what she wanted to do, really.

Heejin liked it. She liked how, when on stage, she was someone else entirely, and not just Jeon Heejin. When the primary school’s assembly hall went silent and Heejin cradled little baby doll Jesus in her arms, it was as if she’d undergone a transformation, that was quick to be reversed as soon as she stepped off the stage. On stage, she had the strength and freedom to express whatever it was that she had to express, and it seemed to captivate the audience as well - as captivated as an audience of bored students and their parents during a school assembly could be.

But it changed in high school. In high school, drama club became serious, and filled with people like Heejin, who actually cared. In high school, they met Jungeun, and by dragging her to the first drama club meeting and practically forcing her to stay, their trio became an inseparable quartet. Jinsol, despite being a horrible actress, quickly found a way to get involved with club: the endless hours of her forcing Heejin to inhale paint fumes as Jinsol would paint her gundams finally paid off, and she and a few other people became the team responsible for stage decor.

With the guidance of miss Kim, a former broadway aspiring hippie, Heejin practically devoured every Shakespeare play in the span of the first two months, to finally, finally make a serious debut as Tybalt in their school’s rendition of Romeo and Juliet. It was fun pretend-killing Jungeun, who got cast as Mercutio, despite ending up a part of the club by accident.

It was all fun and games, until one drama club outing. Haseul, their senior member, was the host, and she gathered all of them around in a circle, a horrible mix of vodka and orange juice sloshing around the red solo cup she clutched in her right hand, her words just a little bit slurred and her laugh just a little bit louder than usual.

“Hey, so like… this isn’t official, or anything, but…” She began, giggling and covering her mouth with her free hand. “You know, we don’t go to football games.”

Heejin, her vision a bit blurry already from too much drinking and Mariah Carey, just furrowed her brows. They were at the football game like three weeks ago, and nothing happened, so what was Haseul getting onto?

Seeing the new members’ puzzled expression she leaned in, as if sharing a secret of utmost importance.

“The first rule of drama club…”

Jungeun rolled her eyes.

“Please, no one makes Fight Club jokes anymore.”

Haseul’s expression remained unchanged, a smile still on her lips despite Jungeun’s snarkiness.

“It’s a principle! They pump all the money into sports, and none is left for us, so. It’s like, an unspoken rule.” She said. “I mean, it’s not like any of you would be into sports anyway.”

“Oh my god, is this like Glee?” Jiwoo’s eyes widened.

Heejin snorted.

“You wish it were.”

Jiwoo just shrugged, neither denying nor confirming.

“And they don’t go to our plays either, so you know…”

“Is there a backstory or is this purely... economical?” Jungeun asked, seemingly mulling something over with furrowed brows. Heejin wondered, if they had the same thing on their minds. Probably. It wasn’t that Haseul was wrong - probably none of the theater kids was into sports. But people who play sports? That’s another issue entirely. “Are you excommunicated if you so much as breathe in their direction?”

“No, no!” Haseul shook her head. “It’s just tradition, that’s all. But really…” She leaned in again. “I heard that a pretty nasty thing happened, like, 10 years ago. One girl from the football team played a drama club girl horribly. I don’t know the details, but well. I’m pretty sure it happened. Do you want more to drink or are you good?”

Heejin, Jiwoo and Jungeun all looked at each other simultaneously, suspiciousness painted all over their faces. Jungeun’s voice cracked as she said:

“Uhh, I could use some more, and you?”

Heejin and Jiwoo nodded, and Haseul disappeared in the kitchen, swaying a bit as she opened the door.

Jiwoo ran her fingers through her hair.

“So, we’re gonna be hiding under the bleachers from now on.”

Jungeun groaned and Heejin sighed.

“Where is Jinsol?” And, not receiving any response, she quickly downed the drink that Haseul set down on the table in front of them. “Come on, I need to, like… dance to something horrible. Right now.”

Jungeun took the red cup and nodded. The opening notes of Justin Bieber’s “As Long As You Love Me” and a few eager screams could be heard from the living room.

“We can do this!” Jiwoo said as they began swaying in the middle of the room with all the other theater kids in various states of drunkenness.

___

As she was approaching the drama club room, feeling jittery all over from excitement, Heejin could already tell that something was… wrong. The doors were already open, and no voices were coming from the room, which was unusual to say the least. It was always, always chaotically loud in the drama classroom.

The first thing she saw was Miss Kim, standing awkwardly in the middle of the room, leaning against the teacher’s desk. She was looking pointedly at the floor, her green-framed glasses sliding to the very tip of her nose. With her arms crossed, one of her fingers was tapping against her forearm. It wasn’t rocket science to tell that Miss Kim was nervous. Or excited. Or both.

Everybody else was already sat on the plastic chairs arranged in five rows in front of the makeshift stage. Heejin saw Jiwoo and Jinsol, and with furrowed brows made her way over to sit next to them in the far-left corner of the room.

“What’s going on?” She whispered as she set her backpack on the floor. “Why are we sitting like this? And whispering?”

Jiwoo made a confused face, while Jinsol raised her hands as if in defeat.

“I don’t know…” Started Jiwoo. “Miss Kim told us to wait until everyone comes and she’s…” At that, her voice became almost comically high in her whisper, “she’s being so… weird!”

“Is she having stage fright or something?” Heejin asked, leaning in. She looked around to see everybody else talk in hushed voices. Miss Kim stood, unmoving.

“Who knows… “ Said Jinsol. “Hey, where’s Jungeun?”

“She had to get some stuff from her locker or something. Told me to go ahead.” Heejin answered.

As if on cue, Jungeun’s hoodie-and-ripped jeans-clad silhouette appeared at the door. Throwing Miss Kim a weirded-out glare, she quickly made her way over to the other three.

Her eyes wide and her grip on the backpack’s stripes deadly, she gestured ambiguously with her right hand. She plopped down on the seat next to Heejin and immediately leaned in.

“Alright y’all, you won’t belie-”

But her whisper was cut off by Miss Kim coughing and adjusting her glasses.

“Are we all present now? That’s great.” She said.

Nobody replied, nobody said anything. The whole drama club was just looking at Miss Kim as if she were an ancient oracle about to reveal some life-changing prophecy.

“Some of you probably know that… there will be a surprise in how the drama club works this year.”

Heejin could practically feel Jiwoo straighten up next to her.

“Together with Byu… I mean, coach Moon, we’ve decided that the drama club and the football team will unite their forces to present an end of the year spectacle like never before!”

Heejin was pretty sure that she was having a stroke right then and there. She felt heat creeping up her neck and her eyes bulging out of their sockets. Did she hear that right? Was that a fever dream? She looked at Jiwoo, and then at Jungeun, both in a very similar state to the one she found herself in then. Jiwoo’s hand clutching at her arm was all the more assuring that they were, in fact, not dreaming.

“What? But aren’t they, like… completely inexperienced actors? How is this supposed to work?” A freshman, whose name Heejin faintly remembered to be Yuna, asked from the very end of the room, baffled.

Miss Kim took a deep breath.

“You are all good kids, so I’ll tell you the truth. Well, most of it. We’re underfunded.” She raised her hand dramatically. “By getting the football kids to act, we will sell out all the tickets! Plus! This is a great socialising exercise. Both you and them will get out of your comfort zone!”

“But that still doesn’t solve them being… not good at acting?” Chimed in Yerim, a girl from Hyejoo’s class, whose energy levels could match only Jiwoo.

“That’s why you’re pairing up! This will be fun.” Miss Kim clapped. “I’ll explain more when they actually get here. Oh, here you go!”

Coach Moon strutted through the door, leading twenty confused girls behind her. As coach made her way to Miss Kim and they started quietly whispering about god knows what, the football team still stood in the middle of the room, in their workout clothes, entirely confused by the whole situation.

Heejin caught Hyejoo’s questioning stare, but the only thing she could do was shrug. They probably knew the same amount. Hyejoo rolled her eyes.

“What is happening right now? God, pinch me or something.” Heejin muttered, running her hands through her hair. “What the fuck? Not for real, that’s a figure of speech!”

“That’s what I was trying to tell you when I came!” If anyone could screech while whispering, it was Jungeun. “I overheard coach Moon telling them about this in the locker room. You know my shitty locker is right next to the field.”

“This is crazy!” Jiwoo looked panicked. Her eyes shifted from looking at the floor to looking at Sooyoung at least ten times in the past five seconds. It could not be healthy, Heejin thought. And then she allowed herself to look at the football team more closely.

Ryujin was there, exchanging confused glances with her teammates. Heejin didn’t know how it was humanly possible to be confused in such a cool way, but Ryujin could probably look cool while doing anything. She let her eyes fall on the girl’s lips, curled up into a smirk, and on her neck, and then she turned a bit and Heejin had a full view of her back, covered only by a plain white shirt, and her hair spilling right above her shoulder looked so good, Heejin wondered what it would be like if there was no white shirt at all-

“Dude, you’re staring.” Jinsol nudged her knee, brutally tearing Heejin away from her world of daydreams.

Jiwoo had her hands pursed on her lap, and she was biting her lip, trying not to smile as she was undoubtedly having the same kind of daydreams as Heejin, her eyes still wandering, albeit not as rapidly. Jungeun leaned against the chair, and Heejin knew that she would try to act all cool and disaffected, despite sneaking under the bleachers for three years to catch a glimpse of the girl both her and Jiwoo were too scared to talk to. Come to think of it, this couldn’t end well for the both of them in the long run. But, Heejin guessed, she herself was actually no better.

“Alright!” Miss Kim began again, showing her teeth in a wide smile. “Come on, kids, sit down.”

“Yeah, go, the chairs don’t bite.” Said Coach Moon to her team, her hands in her pockets. She was leaning against the desk right next to Miss Kim.

The football team looked around awkwardly and sat down. Now, the class was divided in half, with drama club kids on the left, and the football team on the right. Coach Moon sighed at this predicament, but didn’t comment on it.

“I know that this is a surprise to both of you, but this is a very good initiative. The credits you will earn for this are off the charts, and we will make our teamwork better. It’s important to do something different once in a while!” Said Coach Moon with an encouraging smile.

“But, coach, shouldn’t we actually train? And not waste time?” A girl with long, dark hair asked almost immediately. Kim Hyunjin. Heejin could feel her nose scrunch in annoyance at her words. Drama Club was far from being a waste of time.

“Oh, we will train, Hyunjin. This is just two hours a week, and it will be a great experience. Plus, our teamwork could actually use a little… boost.” Kim Hyunjin didn’t say anything after that, just pursed her lips. “Great, can we begin?”

“Hey, guys, isn’t coach Moon kinda hot?” Yerim leaned forward to whisper to the four. Jinsol stared at the older woman’s figure for a while, pensively rubbing her chin.

“Hm. Yeah.”

Heejin just nodded. It was true, coach Moon did have something extremely charming about her, but she was also pretty sure that her and Miss Kim were banging, which properly turned her off at the mere thought. Not that Miss Kim was repulsive, gods, no, but at this point, she was every drama club kid’s mother figure.

“Well, here are two little pouches. Inside, there are 21 little notes with numbers on them. Football team takes a number from one pouch, then drama club takes from another and voila. You check whose number is the same as yours, and you’re paired up for the year. This is so that nobody is left without a pair. Of course, it’s not that you will have to be joined at the hip, we can’t really require that of you, but a little guidance for the players from the drama club members will be greatly appreciated. And, let me announce without any more delays, the play that we will be doing this year is “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”! Now, can we begin?” Miss Kim took the little woolen pouches from the desk and passed one to coach Moon.

“Oh my god, dude, what if-” Heejin’s eyes widened, as she spoke in unison with Jinsol.

“Maybe you’ll finally stop being so useless!”

“Or I’ll die right at the spot!”

But still, her eyes unwillingly shot in the direction of the football team, and in the direction of Ryujin, who was just taking her note out of the pouch. Oh, if only she had worn glasses, maybe she could have seen what number was written on it, Heejin thought.

The pouch was passed over to Jinsol, who didn’t take a number, as she wasn’t technically part of the club, and passed it to Jiwoo, who passed it to Heejin, and who passed it to Jungeun.

“What did you get?”

Heejin unwrapped her note.

“A 1…”

“Well, 6.” Replied Jungeun.

Jiwoo just showed them a round 10 written in Miss Kim’s handwriting.

“Please, pray for me.” Heejin said to no one in particular as she made a half assed cross sign over her chest.

“Done!” Yelled Yuna, who was the last to get her number.

“Alright, so… to change things up a bit, we will go from last to first!” Announced Miss Kim. Her initial awkwardness seemed long gone. “Now go, 21, come sit next to each other, learn each other’s names, you will need it!”

The first people to stand to stand up were Yerim and an extremely short blonde who, just guessing by her size, must have been a first year. They both smiled as they sat next to each other and hugged instead of shaking hands. Yerim was the best person to go first. And the possibility of Heejin having the same number as Ryujin just rose from 1 in 21 to 1 in 20.

After that, it was all a bit of a blur - the only pair Heejin actually remembered were Hyejoo and Yuna, because she just knows the hyper freshman was going to make her younger sister go insane and she couldn't wait to see it.

When Jiwoo’s time cae, and she got paired up with a short-haired girl called Yubin, her smile dropped a little, and Heejin was actually kind of disappointed at the universe for letting this girl down. But maybe it was for the best that neither Jiwoo nor Jungeun get paired up with Sooyoung. However, Jiwoo quickly recovered, and extended her arm to Yubin as they sat next to each other. Now, the chance was 1 in 9.

The numbers go by, and Heejin didn't really catch them, or would forget as soon as she didn't see Ryujin getting up from her seat. And then, Jungeun’s turn came. And she was actually paired with Sooyoung. Heejin heard the other girl gulp as she was getting up from her seat, but as expected, she didn't let anything show. Her eyes flicked to Jiwoo, who kept talking to Yubin with furrowed brows. Jungeun sat down next to Sooyoung, and they shook hands. Heejin thought it was kinda funny how they had the exact same posture while sitting - leaning against the chair, seemingly relaxed. Maybe Sooyoung was dying inside as much as Heejin just knew Jungeun had to be?

She bit her lip. When observing Jungeun and Sooyoung, three more people passed, and now the only ones left from the football team were Ryujin, Kim Hyunjin and Son Chaeyoung. Heejin’s eyes lit up. She was practically sure that this was the day that the universe would finally be kind to her. The day her life changes, and she stops being a useless lesbian.

It all shattered rather quickly when Yoohyeon showed her note with a little 3, and Ryujin got up with that wide smile that reaches her eyes. She felt Jinsol’s hand on her knee as she looked longingly and thought about how she was only centimetres away from being the direct recipient of the other girl’s smirk and actually getting to sit next to her, and… hold on.

Son Chaeyoung had already gone on to sit with Minji, which only meant that who Heejin was left with was none other than Kim Hyunjin. She caught the dark-haired girl’s stare from the other side of the room, and stood up without actually feeling her body. Her only chance at love was gone, and she was stuck with someone who clearly didn’t want to be there and deemed theater worthless. As if kicking a ball for 90 minutes was so much better.

“You got it, Heekkie.” Jinsol whispered, as she made her way to the last row.

Heejin could swear that she died a little bit inside that day.

Chapter Text

Heejin was surprised when the plastic chair didn’t crumble underneath her as she was sitting down in the last row next to Kim Hyunjin. What difference would one tragedy in a poor girl’s life make to the universe at large, anyway?

She took a quick glance at Hyunjin, and let herself look at the other girl properly for the first time ever. She’d always just thought of her as “the other captain” and she never paid much attention to her during matches for obvious reasons. It was only sometimes that she would notice a silhouette with the name Kim and number 2 on the back of her jersey sprinting from one end of the football field to another and scoring. From such a close distance, Hyunjin looked much more… delicate than Heejin thought. Her black hair spilled past her shoulders, contrasting with the white shirt that every football team member wore to practice and her skin seemed almost annoyingly clear. Heejin couldn’t deny that she was pretty. Her dark eyes, focused on something before her, were like a doe’s. Maybe it wouldn’t be so bad, working with her. Maybe she just jumped to conclusions because she got played by higher powers. And this was pretty random, it wasn’t that difficult to understand why someone might not be that into suddenly preparing a play for all the school to see. As long as Heejin doesn’t dwell on how cruelly the universe had played her-

“Why are you staring?” Suddenly Kim Hyunjin was facing her, face scrunched and brows furrowed. “Something wrong?”

Okay, so maybe the girl was actually unpleasant.

“No. But.” Heejin started, taking a deep breath. Getting caught staring was never a nice experience, and the heat of embarrassment clawing its way up her neck annoyed her. Hyunjin just raised her brows, a slight smirk appearing on her lips at the other girl’s reaction. Yeah, she was definitely unpleasant to deal with. “I wanted to ask if you’ve read it.”

“What?”

“The play…?” Heejin almost whined, her eyes widening.

“No. Why?” There was no irony dripping from Hyunjin’s voice, or maybe she just masked it extremely well, because there was simply no way she was for real.

“Why? We have to prepare it for the end of the year!”

“Are you for real?”

“What?”

“I just hope I get stuck as, like, a tree or something and don’t have to think about it.” Hyunjin shrugged. “What’s your name, by the way?”

“Jeon Heejin. And you?” Heejin asked, despite knowing full-well who she was. She didn’t let her gaze falter, holding eye contact with Hyunjin.

“Kim Hyunjin.”

Heejin could swear that the girl was a bit surprised Heejin didn’t know her name, and made a mental note that Kim Hyunjin probably had a huge ego. Good. She could use it later. How, she didn’t know yet.

“What, Kim Hyunjin, do you think reading a play will somehow make you worse at kicking a ball?” Heejin couldn’t contain herself. She didn’t like the condescending tone in Hyunjin’s voice when she spoke about something that was practically her whole life.

Hyunjin snorted.

“No, I’d just… rather not? I don’t get how reciting a few lines can get you going or something.”

Heejin opened her mouth, as if to say something, and then closed it, sighing. She averted her eyes from Hyunjin, and caught sight of Ryujin laughing and talking animatedly with Yoohyeon. That could have been Heejin. She could have been in Yoohyeon’s place, and it could have been her that Ryujin lightly tapped on the arm as she said something particularly funny. If she managed to stop herself from spontaneously combusting in the first place. Mentally groaning and turning away from Hyunjin, Heejin remembered Jinsol’s blue betta that she got last year as a birthday gift from Yerim. She envied its inability to form complex thoughts and a memory that lasted three seconds. Or maybe less. It was an incredibly stupid fish, but at least its life was easier.

“Are you all settled, familiar with each other?” Coach Moon’s voice promptly shut the 20 pairs up.

Heejin and Hyunjin eyed each other. The thought that this was about as familiar as it would get crossed both their minds.

“Now, be good guides. Everything stays more or less the same as every year.” Miss Kim began. “The auditions will be in November as always, and now you will have time to read the play, think what role you would like to audition for and prepare during those… almost two months. Think of it simply as the drama club growing in members. Good luck, even though I know we will crush it!”

Heejin caught Jinsol’s eyes, both of them a bit weirded out by miss Kim’s enthusiasm.

“What’s even going on?” Mouthed Jinsol motioning at their teacher’s grin about as subtly as if she were an elephant turning around in a porcelain store.

Heejin just raised her hands in defeat and shook her head.

What pissed Heejin off was that she had an internal drive to do well and strive for perfection. She was dedicated and ambitious and always gave her all when she wanted to get something, and that was what drama club has always been about for her - apart from having fun with her best friends, Heejin was determined. Everyone - her parents, teachers, miss Kim, Jiwoo, Jungeun, Jinsol and Heejin herself knew that she was a natural and that was what she was destined to do. Right from that very first leading role as Mary she got back in kindergarten, anything that could be considered less than exceptional in her performances made Heejin uneasy and broody. It wasn’t that Heejin didn’t know she was talented, no. But she knew that she wasn’t perfect, and couldn’t be, however she was ready to work her ass off to get as close to it as possible. And somehow, she felt that Kim Hyunjin’s unwillingness and general lack of interest in theater not changing and the football player really getting stuck playing a tree or making background noises would be Heejin’s personal failure, both as the poster child of their school’s drama club (at least now that Haseul was gone), and as a decent, dedicated human being.

“Okay, guys! Actually, you are dismissed. It’s only the first week, so enjoy the last few actually free days, because then your life will basically turn into one big training session!” Coach Moon said with a devilish smirk. “This year, we will win the championship AND the tickets to the play will sell out! Let’s give it our all!”

The faint, awkward clapping that lasted two seconds was probably not the applause that coach Moon was hoping for, but one she appreciated nonetheless.

___

The sun was already half hidden beneath the horizon, painting the sky purple and orange. Heat was radiating off the pavement as Heejin and Hyejoo were making their way home. It wasn’t often that they did that, the bus, as old and dirty as it was, was much faster than walking on foot, but as they were dismissed by coach Moon, the usual bus just passed and the next one wouldn’t come for another hour. It would be a waste of time to sit idly at the bus stop and wait for it.

Heejin walked with her hands in her pockets, mindlessly biting on the stick left from the popsicle that she bought in the store right in front of their high school. She listened to Hyejoo rhythmically kick a stone down the deserted street and wondered what it was exactly that she did in her past life (she was sure that it couldn’t have been this one) to be subjected to such an extreme case of karmic retribution. Jungeun would have probably said it was because she had weeb tendencies and it was finally catching up to her.

“Shit.” Hyejoo swore as she accidentally kicked her stone under someone’s fence. She looked over at Heejin, her eyes as expressionless as ever, but a faint smirk on her lips. “Not as shit as your luck, though.”

Heejin groaned.

“God, shut up. You spend one afternoon without Chaewon and you’re insufferable.”

Hyejoo shrugged.

“That’s how love is.” She said, not without a hint of pride and fondness. Heejin could swear that she had just vomited a little bit in her mouth. “Now at least we know why you’re insufferable all the time.”

“You better run, or else…” Heejin threatened, biting just a bit too hard on the popsicle stick, breaking it. She threw it in the nearest bin.

“You stopped growing in middle school, I’m not afraid.” Hyejoo looked at her sister. Heejin looked as if she were on the brink of a nervous breakdown, so she slowed down so that they walked side by side, and found another stone to kick, this time more carefully. “For real though, this is weird as hell.”

“I’m not the only person in the world that doesn’t have the guts to talk to their crush, it’s not that unusual!” Heejin shrieked defensively.

Hyejoo sighed.

“I meant. The whole team joining the drama club thing. But whatever.”

Oh.

“Oh...Yeah.” Heejin nodded. “I don’t really get it. Is the drama club really that broke?”

“With you as the lead star? I wouldn’t be surprised.”

Heejin pushed her younger sister so hard she ended up involuntarily swerving to the other side of the narrow street, a small laugh escaping from her chest.

“Does the team really have that many problems with actually working together?” She asked when Hyejoo recovered and returned to the space next to her, her sports bag clinking with every step that she took. Heejin looked at her sister and for the first time she appeared serious as she stared forward and thought about the answer.

“I don’t know. I only joined last year, and this year we have some new people as well, but…”

“But?” Now Heejin was curious.

“Being as cool as we are, it gets in your head, I suppose. Not mine, of course, I stay humble.”

Heejin rolled her eyes at Hyejoo’s unnecessary antics, but said nothing. She knew that the football team, or at least the original squad, were the absolute top of the high school food chain. They were invited to every party, being invited to their parties was an honor, everybody knew their names, cheered for them and vyed for their attention. The main squad of the football team were practically their school's own small scale celebrities. Of course, it was an exaggeration, as they were just normal teenagers at the end of the day, but the popularity of the football team was unquestionable either way. But, apart from a few (or well, maybe many) broken hearts over the years (courtesy of Sooyoung, as Heejin was very diligently informed by Jiwoo, who had a way of getting just the information that she wanted to get), she hadn’t heard of anything particularly excessive. As far as she knew, and apart from the tradition of the drama club not supporting the football team over some petty bitch that nobody was actually sure even existed in the first place, they all (well, maybe besides Kim Hyunjin) seemed nice enough. And some of them even more than just plain nice. Heejin sighed.

“You know how they fucked up last year, right? Coach Moon probably really wants to stop that from happening again.” Hyejoo shrugged with a blank expression.

Heejin furrowed her brows.

“How would I know?”

“With your raging boner I supposed that you did. Anyway.” She doesn’t give Heejin time to protest. “Remember when I was stuck with that weird ass fever and couldn’t play in the finals?”

“Yeah, and what?”

“I was pissed because I couldn’t go to the party before the game. I mean, everyone was sure that we had the trophy in our hands already, so they decided that we could have two parties, right before and right after.”

Wait, Heejin thought, but didn’t they lose in the end?

“It was supposed to be, like, a light gathering or something, nothing major, but in the end they pulled an all nighter and got drunk as shit. Lost in the run-off, because they were hungover- so, yeah. That, probably.”

That was brand new information to Heejin. She had only know that their team ended up losing, but she always thought the other team was just simply better.

“So what, like… they all got drunk and lost because of stupidity?”

“Yeah, basically. All of them, Ryujin, Hyunjin, Sooyoung, Yubin… The physical hangover is gone, but the moral one is probably still going strong, I guess.”

“God, that’s so dumb!”

“Well, to be fair, we really were much better than them…”

“Jesus, I have the worst luck ever! And I’m stuck with someone so… irresponsible.” Heejin whined.

“Meh. It wasn’t only Hyunjin that partied, but the whole team, you know. Ryujin too.” Hyejoo defended one of her captains.

Heejin’s shoulder sagged as she sighed.

“You know her, though. How is she, really?” She asked.

Hyejoo just made a vague gesture with her free hand.

“Weird as fuck and annoying. There’s a 1 in 10 chance what she says is actually funny.” Hyejoo smirked smugly, the corners of her mouth turning upwards at Heejin’s lightning-shooting gaze. “Well, she’s really hard-working. And she’s the best attack player besides me. I mean, she managed to become captain even after she transferred, not that I was there to see it. But yeah, she probably feels the worst about that… incident last year. Ready to get on the field and shit like that, as if we aren’t the best already.”

Heejin furrowed her brows. So far, the image of Hyunjin that she had in her head was not at all like what Hyejoo had just said, but she supposes that only time could tell, even if she was having her doubts.

“And you? How are you and Yuna getting along?” Heejin asked, knowing exactly what her sister would think of the freshman and in desperate need to change the subject.

Hyejoo groaned and her shoulders sagged at the mere thought.

“Now you shut up. I have never heard anyone speak so many words in so little time. I want to die.”

It was Heejin’s turn to chuckle mercilessly.

By the time they came home, the orange hue disappeared from the sky completely .

___

The school cafeteria was buzzing with the students’ mindless chatter as always. The weekend had passed uneventfully, the only thing that Heejin managed to accomplish was dropping in rank in some moba game that Jinsol got her to play.

Jinsol, Jungeun, Jiwoo and Heejin were sitting at a table in the corner of the enormous hall, with Jinsol with her phone in one hand and holding a half eaten apple in the other, seemingly unaffected by the heated talk of the other three.

“What the hell, Lippie, don’t say you aren’t actually dying inside!” Heejin teased the blonde.

“I’m not! She’s actually really normal!” Jungeun defended herself, but her mouth got enormously big as she was saying it, so Heejin knew that she was lying.

“I know I would be dying! God, I can’t believe you’re so lucky!” Jiwoo sighed, biting down on her peanut butter sandwich.

“I know, I know. Alright.” Jungeun took a deep breath and spread her palms on the table. “She actually keeps flirting with me all the time and I swear my brain is short-circuiting and I’ll get a stroke and early dementia if this keeps up.”

Heejin clapped her hands with a wide grin. Frustrated and embarrassed Jungeun was the best Jungeun.

“Wait, what?!” Jinsol slapped her phone down on the table. “What are you going to do about it?! Are you doing something about it?!”

“Are you, Jungeun?” Asked Jiwoo. She had a smile on her face, but it didn’t quite reach her eyes. “Just know that I fully support it. Maybe at least one of us will lose their virginity before high school ends!”

Jungeun’s face was full of terror as she shrieked: “I’m not a virgin!” causing some guys that were just walking past them with their trays look at them in confusion. Heejin could swear that she heard one of them mutter: “Good for her.”

“Wait, what?! You’re not?!” Jiwoo holds her hands to her forehead.

Now it was Heejin’s turn for terror to overtake her face. She couldn’t help but groan and hide it in her palms.

“God, I always forget you two used to be together.” Jinsol waved her hand dismissively. Heejin had told her all about it right after it happened, and she had just purged it from her memory, as a good friend should.

“Am I the only one that didn’t know about this?! Now I feel terribly excluded!” Jiwoo crossed her arms over her chest and huffed.

“Please let’s not talk about it. Please.” Jungeun and Heejin said in unison.

They were a couple for about three months right after high school had started. Heejin met Jungeun in english class, the only one that she didn’t share with neither Jinsol nor Jiwoo, and made friends with Jungeun, which quickly became something more, and then dissolved even quicker. It was as Heejin’s awkward friend and then girlfriend that Jungeun had joined their little group. But even though they were exes, there was no animosity - they just decided one day that they would be better as friends, there was no drama and no crying when they broke up. Both of them were alright with the way things were, and glad that they could experience most firsts with someone that they trusted and liked, but at this point, it felt like it had happened so long ago, they couldn’t help but cringe just a tiny bit.

“You still haven’t answered, though.” Jinsol said, pointedly staring at Jungeun.

“And what am I supposed to do?” She asked.

“I don’t know, flirt back or something? Haven’t you been thirsting over her for the last 2 years?” Said Heejin, taking out her lunch, a chicken sandwich that she bought earlier that day in the cafeteria.

“But fantasies don’t translate well into real life!”

“Doesn’t she like, flirt with every breathing girl that she sees?” Jinsol chimed in.

“She absolutely does.” Jiwoo, their resident stalker, confirmed. “And then she follows up on it.”

“You know, I’m actually not going to ask how you know that.” Jungeun pursed her lips together. “Actually, I’m not going to do anything. And I’m not going to speak to her ever. Or something.”

“Yeah, yeah. Just don’t combust spontaneously when she texts you.” Jinsol deadpanned, not buying any of Jungeun’s declarations.

“How are yours, though?” Jungeun asked Heejin and Jiwoo, promptly ignoring Jinsol’s comment.

“Oh!” Jiwoo perked up at the question immediately. “Yubin is really cool! We texted some during the weekend and she’s actually pretty excited about the play? And she turned out to like books? I’ve never thought I could be someone’s guru!”

“Come on, you’re the Yoda of drama or something. Just remember that not everyone can remember the whole history of musicals in a three day period.” Jinsol chuckled a bit seeing Jiwoo’s excitement. It was no surprise that she was getting along with her designated partner, even though none of them really knew much about Yubin. Jiwoo could get along with the Grim Reaper if she tried.

“And you, Heekkie?” Jungeun leaned back and propped her head up on her arm, a smug smile on her face.

Heejin rolled her eyes.

“God, not again. I actually can’t believe you two talked to yours.” She said, dreading the memories of the first drama club meeting this year that come back to her.

“Wait, you haven’t?” Jiwoo asked, mouth agape.

“Was I supposed to?”

“You don’t even have her number?”

“Uh… no?” Heejin answered, puzzled. Was she really supposed to get Hyunjin’s number? Would Hyunjin even give it to her? Why did it have to be Hyunjin?

“Ha, you’re even worse than I thought! I know that not being paired up with Ryujin is tragic, but still!” Jinsol snickered.

Heejin’s gaze dropped.

“I mean, I don’t know? It’s not that I’m pissed I didn’t get paired up with Ryujin-” She was met with three stares full of disbelief. “Alright, so maybe I am, but me not talking to Hyunjin is because of her disregard for the art of acting and not petty feelings! Not entirely!”

“I guess, it’s not like you have to, right? If she doesn’t want to get involved.” Jungeun shrugged.

Heejin had a sinking feeling deep in her stomach at the realization that she didn’t do anything to make Hyunjin actually want to get involved, didn't even try, and absolutely hated this sensation of not doing her best. Maybe Hyunjin was someone that only cared about parties and kicking a ball, but she at least had to try.

“And also, isn’t she co-captains with Ryujin? I mean, they have to at least be civil.” Jiwoo suggested, leaning over the table to get closer to Heejin.

Now, Heejin was set.

“Alright, point taken. I’m getting her number.”

___

“I would like you to consider the two characters that we have just now covered as not only perfect psychological portraits of derangement, but also as mirrors of what the main character could have become if he hadn’t…” Miss Park’s monotonous voice went on and on about their summer required reading as Heejin sat in the last row right next to Jinsol and an open window, the sun rays making striped patterns on the desk.

Despite the fairly interesting topic, nobody in the 30-person class was paying any attention. It has always been this way - as long as they didn’t make any noise, miss Park would just go on with her lecture and never ask anything. It was like an unwritten rule. Jinsol was playing some game on her phone under the desk, and Heejin was doodling bunny-mecha hybrids in her notebook, sometimes writing down the words that miss Park put more emphasis on without any reflection on what they actually meant. So far, the ones she had were “pawnbroker” “repentance” and now “derangement” in the same pink ink she would draw with.

“Jindollie?” Heejin whispered to the girl sitting next to her when one of the eyes of the second mecha bunny came out too big.

Jinsol looked up at her and put her phone away, brushing a few strand hairs from her forehead.

“Hm?”

“I should at least try to be a decent guide, right?”

“What you should have done is giving this one bigger guns.” Jinsol said when she noticed the drawings in Heejin’s notebook, pointing at the first one, the one that had normal eyes. “But honestly, is that whole thing that serious?”

“What do you mean?”

“I mean, basically what Yerim said. They aren’t actors or anything, so they probably won’t even get the leads. Unless we will discover a hidden talent or something. My bet’s on that girl that got paired up with Jiwoo.”

Heejin leaned back on the chair.

“You think so?”

“Yeah, it’s not that serious I guess.” Jinsol shrugged. “But…”

The brunette raised her brows.

“But what?”

“But knowing you, you’ll try anyway, so…”

“You say that like it’s a bad thing! And… I don’t know, I just…”

“You’re just heartbroken and horny and need to do something, I know. Still, you know that you could just… talk to Ryujin? You know, like a normal person?” Suggested Jinsol, her eyebrows raised even higher than Heejin’s as if it were some sort of competition.

“No, no way?! You just say that because you’re never that into anyone!” Heejin protested. “And I don’t mean it just so that I might finally have an excuse to talk to her. I just… really don’t want to let miss Kim down.”

Jinsol’s gaze softened at that.

“Well then. You know what to do.”

The bell rang. Miss Park stopped mid-sentence and began gathering her things without even a word. Students rose from their seats, most of them still in a slumber induced by the monotonous lecture, the classroom now filled with sounds of chairs scratching the floor and bags being zipped up.

“Alright, let’s go then.” Heejin said, pushing her chair back and slinging her backpack over her shoulder. Jinsol’s eyes widened at the determination in the younger girl’s voice.

“What, now?”

“Yeah, now. It’s the longer pause. Come on, get your shit.”

Jinsol quickly gathered her things and started zipping her backpack up as she scrambled after Heejin, already out of the classroom.

“Where are we even going?” She asked as she finally caught up to her.

“The cafeteria.” Heejin answered calmly.

“And how do you know that Hyunjin will be there?”

“Because we’re the only freaks that don’t eat lunch during the long pause?”

“The cafeteria is literally always full.”

“Gut feeling, then.” Heejin groaned. “Come on, go along with it before I freak out and change my mind.”

Jinsol shook her head and followed the other girl wordlessly. As they arrived in the cafeteria, she noticed that actually, Heejin was right. When they were looking over the hall full of students with trays, she pointed at one of the tables on the other side of the room. There was that small blonde girl with two cute buns on her head that got paired up with Yerim chatting away happily as she nibbled on her food, with Ha Sooyoung in one of her infamous crop tops next to her and Kim Hyunjin facing them on the opposite side, her back turned to the two girls.

“There.” Jinsol said, nudging Heejin’s arm. The girl quickly followed her gaze, her expression hardening when she saw her target.

“Alright, buy me a banana or something.” She said, pushing some change in Jinsol’s hand. The blonde looked at her in bewilderment. “I won’t be long.”

“This isn’t Mission Impossible, Heekkie!” She shouted weakly after Heejin just before she disappeared in the crowd. With a resigned sigh, Jinsol put the coins in her pocket and walked off to stand at the end of the queue.

Heejin pushed her way through the crowd with a bit more apologizing to and elbowing complete strangers than she would have liked. She didn’t really think about what she would say to Hyunjin when she actually approached her, and so, as she finally reached the football players’ table and stood there for a bit too long with the three girls looking at her expectantly, she only mustered up a:

“Uhhh...Hey?...” Directed at no one in particular.

“Hey! You’re from the drama club, right???” The short girl immediately asked, staring intently at Heejin. "I'm Yeojin!"

“Um, yeah…Nice to meet you?” She said, and then turned to Hyunjin, whose face was as blank as ever. “I actually wanted to talk to-”

“Aren’t you my girl Jungeun’s friend?” She was interrupted by Ha Sooyound. And, hold on, why was Sooyoung calling Jungeun “her girl”? Ugh, Heejin didn’t want to know. That seemed excessive, even to her.

“Yeah, she said you guys were… getting along well.”

“Amazingly well, if you ask me.” Sooyoung confirmed with a sly smirk, wrapping her hands behind her head.

“You disgust me.” Hyunjin spoke directly to Sooyoung. Her expression didn’t change a bit, but there was no bite in her words.

“Please, if anything, it’s the opposite.” Sooyoung’s eyes crinkled in a smile.

Now they were kinda getting side tracked here, Heejin thought. She had to get to the point.

“I want your number.” She blurted out, looking down at Hyunjin laughing at something with Sooyoung.

Hyunjin raised her eyebrows and tried to fight back a smirk.

“Wow, you’re direct.”

Heejin rolled her eyes. She was starting to regret coming here.

“It’s for drama club. So that we can, I don’t know, talk about the play or something.”

“You’re on a mission, girl.” Sooyoung commented, stealing a piece of bread from the short girl’s tray.

“Hey! It was mine!” The girl, Yeojin, punched Sooyoung’s shoulder, the older girl only laughing.

“Not anymore!”

“Okay.” Hyunjin said calmly.

Heejin’s eyes widened.

“Wait, what?” She asked.

“Okay. Give me your phone.”

“Just like that?”

“Yeah, so that you can finally relax or something.”

Holding back a groan, Heejin pulled her phone out of her back pocket, unlocked it and practically shoved it into Hyunjin’s hands. She quickly typed in her number and called herself so that she would have Heejin’s number as well.

“Here, done. You can teach me how to be a convincing tree now.” She said, giving the phone back to the girl. Heejin really wished that she could wipe that annoying smirk from her face.

“You will be the best tree this school has ever seen.” She said through gritted teeth with a forced smile, ignoring the fact that schools above kindergarten didn’t have students playing inanimate objects, ever. “Alright, uh, bye, I guess, see you later.”

“Yeah…” Hyunjin shrugged and got back to the food on her own tray.

As Heejin was walking away to get Jinsol and save her from standing in the line any longer (she didn’t even want a goddamn banana), she heard Sooyoung shout after her: “Hey, tell Jungeunnie that I said hi!”

___

“Is your sister even coming home today?” Heejin heard her mom shout from the kitchen. She was currently sprawled on the couch, losing to Jinsol in one too many 1v1 Overwatch matches.

“How should I know?” She shouted back when Jinsol killed her again. “Probably!”

“Come, I warmed up the lasagna.”

Heejin quickly shot Jinsol a text that she had to go and promptly ignored the response that she was just chickening out because she kept dying over and over again.

She passed next to her mom in the kitchen and climbed up on her toes to grab the plates form the cupboard.

“Take one for that horrible child as well.” Her mom said with a hint of affection in her voice, taking the lasagna to the table. Heejin pushed her glasses a bit higher on her nose and set the plates down. She quickly filled her own and, phone in hand, started devouring the meal. Who knew death made one so hungry.

She scrolled through her instagram feed, nothing particularly new popping up. Yerim uploaded a pic of her freshly-arrived Jeffree Star palette. Heejin clicked on it twice, despite deeming the guy trash. Jiwoo put Rita Moreno on her story. She scrolled more through videos of quick cooking that had to be extremely unhealthy and adorable dogs, and stopped for a moment when the “recommended accounts” bar popped up. The fact that Kim Hyunjin was there was only proof that the government was spying on them all, because Heejin was sure she’d never seen it before. Out of pure curiosity, she clicked on the icon only to find that the @aeonggie69 account was private. And of course Hyunjin had more than a thousand followers. Heejin was starting to become worried that her slightly lazy eye would become even more noticeable with the amount of eye rolling she had performed over the last week alone.

Swallowing the lasagna, she came to the conclusion that enough time has passed for her to text the other girl. She hasn’t checked what Hyunjin had saved her number as, and her nose scrunched upon seeing “haha bread”. What the fuck? This had to be Hyunjin, as she quickly ruled out randomly changing someone else’s contact name to “haha bread” while drunk. That would be stupid, even for her.

to: haha bread, 20:27
have you read the play yet

She set her phone down on the table, not really expecting an immediate response. Not really expecting any response yet. She was pretty sure it was Jinsol or their group chat when it vibrated almost immediately.

from: haha bread, 20:27
no
willy shakes doesn’t even exist

Heejin didn't really know how to respond to this. She shoveled a piece of lasagna in her mouth to give herself time to think. Her mom turned on the TV to watch the news as she ate on the other side of the table.

to: haha bread, 20:29
how do you know

from: haha bread, 20:29
he told me

to: haha bread, 20:30
how could he have told you if he doesn’t exist

from: haha bread, 20:31
astral projection.

Heejin snorted at the sheer nonsensity of this conversation. Her mom looked away from the TV, chewing on the lasagna.

“What are you laughing at?” She asked.

“I’m not laughing, mom! Just… texting.” Heejin shrugged.

“Don’t you know your body doesn’t digest food if you’re looking at a screen?” Heejin’s mom raised her eyebrows.

“That’s just nonsense you read on internet sites for old people.” Heejin retorted. “And you’re watching TV right now.”

Her mom just chuckled and raised her hands in defeat. Heejin went back to her phone.

to: haha bread, 20:34
...anyway
we need to meet to talk about it because i’m not half-assing anything

from: haha bread, 20:35
bold
when?

to: haha bread, 20:35
idk, when are you free?

from: haha bread, 20:36
weekend?
sunday

to: haha bread, 20:36
okay
in that cafe close to our school

from: haha bread, 20:37
are you really making me go anywhere near school on the weekend

to: haha bread, 20:38
yes
read the summary on wikipedia at least

from: haha bread, 20:39
maybe
i’ll let it be a surprise

Heejin decided not to reply to that. Better not to push her luck any more that she already has.

She heard the key clinking from the staircase and then the door to their flat opening and closing. A lifeless “Hey” came from the corridor, and soon Hyejoo appeared in the room, dressed in a plain white shirt and sweatpants, plopping down on the chair. She seemed even more energy-less than usual. Right, she had practice.
“The lasagna has gone cold already, you know.” Their mom said to Hyejoo, putting some on her plate nonetheless. The younger girl just muttered a tired “thanks” and began inhaling the food.

Heejin took her own, empty plate to the kitchen and put it in the washing machine. With the TV playing in the background and the occasional sound of Hyejoo’s fork hitting the plate, she retreated to her room.

Chapter Text

Their flat was always quiet when Heejin would wake up on the weekends. With Hyejoo spending basically every breathing second with Chaewon, she slept over at her girlfriend’s house as many nights as she could, and their father… he has been working overseas for quite some time now, and would only came back home for two months right before summer holidays. At this point, both Heejin and Hyejoo were used to their dad not being around much. He would call them on facetime every other week and speak with his funny, exaggerated accent to make them smile, but it made Heejin uneasy to think that the two months he would be at home felt less normal than the other ten, when it was just her, Hyejoo and mom.

Usually, the only sound that Heejin could hear in the morning was the faint clicking of the keyboard as her mom would drink coffee and browse the internet and Heejin rolled around in her bed still half asleep, taking her time to properly wake up. So, the sounds of a drill and then a hammer coming through the ceiling from the flat above at 8 in the morning meant surely that some natural order of the universe must have been shaken, if not entirely broken.

She quickly sat up on the bed, her head spinning a bit from the sudden motion. The drill was turned on again, and it was as if Heejin could feel it in her brain. The hammer followed soon after the drill got quiet again. Sighing, she made eye contact with Kristen Stewart on the Twilight poster that her and Jinsol accidentally stole from the cinema that one time a few years ago and decided that it was time to get up.

Grabbing her phone from the floor and unplugging it, Heejin dragged herself to the living room, still in the paint-stained sweatpants and an oversized counterfeit Gucci-Peppa Pig t-shirt that Jungeun had bought on their school trip for spare change and then left at her place that posed as her pyjamas.

“What’s going on, Mom?” She asked, stifling a yawn and covering her mouth with her right hand. Her mom was, predictably, sitting on the couch with the laptop on her lap, looking at offers of kettles on sale. “Are they bulldozing a wall or something?”

“Oh, Heejin, morning.” The older woman said while taking a sip of her coffee from the “I love my mom” mug that Hyejoo had made her in kindergarten and that had to be at least ten years old. “No, Myunghee and Jaesun said something about installing a crib for their baby. That must be it.”

“So there’s going to be a baby right above me?!” Heejin screeched. “A crying, noisy baby?”

“You know, you were a crying, noisy baby once, too.” Her mom shut her down. “Go on, I bought cereal.”

Heejin left the living room without a word. Her bare feet felt uncomfortable on the cold tiles of the kitchen floor as she waited for the bowl of milk to heat up in the microwave, but she still chose to eat it standing up by the kitchen counter instead of just walking to the table.

Fishing out the last lone cereals floating in the bowl, already soggy and a bit disgusting, she started checking all the notifications that she got overnight. Jinsol had spammed her overnight about how she regretted spontaneously buying three funko pops out of boredom and how she somehow wasn’t able to cancel the order and how her mom was going to kill her when she found out, the same story repeated with less detail on the groupchat with Jungeun’s absolutely useless advice to not even pick them up, some cat memes from Yerim and, as she noticed dreadfully, a solitary text from Hyunjin, asking about the exact hour that Heejin wanted them to meet. Right, she remembered, it was Sunday after all.

She quickly sent a “HAHA” and another cat meme back to Yerim, deciding to tackle the issues at hand in order of potential difficulty with solving them. Jinsol was entirely more difficult. First, she didn’t even mention which figures she actually got, so how was Heejin supposed to judge her choices and how poor they were? That was the first thing she asked, and suggested maybe selling them immediately after they came. Or just taking her mom’s wrath like a grown-up.

Running a hand through her messy hair, she clicked on the chat with Hyunjin. They haven’t texted at all since that one time, and Heejin was honestly surprised that the other girl had shown even the faintest hint of initiative by asking about the hour. Even if it was in her usual manner.

from: haha bread, 06:43
are we meeting at some specific hour
or should i just wing it and go when i feel like it

What kind of a fucked up person was awake at 6 on a sunday anyway?

to: haha bread, 08:27
so never?
lol
i dont know im free the whole day, so 12 or something?

The response, again, was almost immediate.

from: haha bread, 08:28
or something
alright
[pic]

It was a picture of a cat with its eyebrows raised, a horribly photoshopped human smile and a thumbs up. Heejin rolled her eyes and shut the screen off. She put the bowl in the dishwasher on her way out of the kitchen and headed straight for the shower, the occasional sounds of a drill and hammer reaching her ears even when the warm stream of water finally hit her back.

___

Getting to the cafe near the school took at least 10 minutes, and Heejin was absolutely sure that she would die before she reached her destination. With no trees in sight, the last dying waves of the summer heat were radiating off the pavement and making Heejin sweat in the loose tee and jeans she had scrambled out of the closet this morning as she was heading to what she was sure was just about to be the most awkward meeting in her whole life.

Shielding her eyes and the phone screen from the sun with her hand (she still could barely see anything despite the brightness being disgustingly turned up to maximum) Heejin shot Hyunjin a text.

to: haha bread, 12:03
are you there yet

When Hyunjin read the message and the three dots appeared immediately, Heejin was weirded out. Was the girl literally walking with her phone right before her eyes at all times or something?

from: haha bread, 12:03
maybe

Heejin could just feel the groan dying to escape from her lips.

to: haha bread, 12:04

from: haha bread, 12:04
yeah i am
waiting outside

Her hand still making a minuscule roof over her eyes, Heejin sped up. She couldn’t wait to get to a room with air conditioning, even if it meant spending time with Kim Hyunjin.

Just like she said, Hyunjin was already there, leaning against the wall of the cafe and staring at her phone. She probably didn’t hear Heejin coming. She was wearing a clear navy blue shirt and wide jeans, which made Heejin wonder if she has actually ever seen Hyunjin wear anything with a print.

“Hey.” She greeted as she walked up to her, making Hyunjin look up.

The corners of the girl’s lips turned up in a smirk.

“Hey. You’re late.” She said.

“It’s literally 12:07.” Heejin protested with raised eyebrows. They didn’t even know each other, so why was Hyunjin already complaining instead of just saying hello like a normal person?

“Well, you said 12:00.” Hyunjin stared her down. Heejin raised her head, suddenly uncomfortable with the fact that the other girl had 1 or 2 inches on her.

“And you said or something, so…” Heejin trailed off. She wasn’t about to back down.

Hyunjin just stared at her for a while with her dark eyes, her expression unreadable, only for her to nod her head after a moment and look up at Heejin with a small smile.

“Touche.”

Heejin couldn’t help but feel the corners of her mouth jerk upwards, even if slightly.

“Are we gonna go in or not?” She asked, clearing her throat to mask it.

Hyunjin shrugged and made a vague gesture in the direction of the door. Heejin pushed it and soon they were seated facing each other at a small, light brown table, waiting to order.

The cafe was kind of a safe bet with its extremely neutral interior design. The main room was small, and the tables could support maybe four people around them. With pastel blue walls and checkered black and white tablecloths, the only thing that was missing was a big “live, laugh, love” sign at the bar. But thankfully, it was cheap and they made god tier snacks, so it was no surprise that literally everyone from their school flocked to Blockberry Cafe if whatever was served for lunch at the cafeteria turned out to be too disgusting. On the weekends, though, not many people frequented it.

Apart from Heejin and Hyunjin, there was only a disgustingly obnoxious couple making out in the only booth in the far right corner (and of course Hyunjin took the seat that made Heejin look directly at them whenever she would look up, and, ugh) and a few university students typing away on their laptops, probably preparing for some classes or exams.

“Hello, what will it be?” A waitress, dressed in casual clothes, asked them. She had a little notebook and a pen in her hands. Heejin went first.

“Um, an iced coffee.”

“Will that be all?” The waitress’ voice displayed absolutely no emotion.

“Yes.”

And for you?” She turned to Hyunjin.

“Banana bread. And… cola.” Hyunjin said, double-checking the one-page menu.

Heejin wanted to bite her lip right after she said it, but as the waitress trailed off, she asked:

“What’s with all the bread?”

Hyunjin looked at her with disbelief.

“I’m a connoisseur.” She shrugged, as if Heejin was supposed to know that.

“Of bread?” Heejin raised her eyebrows.

“Yes?”

“Isn’t it just bread?”

Hyunjin’s eyes widened.

“No, no, no!” She protested, crossing her arms over her chest. “Bread has so much variety…”

“This seems... unhealthy?”

“Absolutely. I’m a bread addict.” Hyunjin’s lips widened in a minuscule smile, and Heejin couldn’t help but notice how her weirdly sharp canines stuck out a bit and grazed her lips.

Shaking her head, she decided to ignore that thought. This was not a vampire fanfiction, this was real life, and real-life Heejin had a mission to complete.

They sat enveloped in awkward silence for a few seconds when the waitress was setting down their orders on the table. Hyunjin pushed the bread in Heejin’s direction, taking a piece for herself.

“Tell me this is just bread.” She challenged.

“Alright, connoisseur.” Heejin took the smallest slice and took a bite. She purposefully chewed it longer than necessary just to make Hyunjin, who was staring at her expectantly with smugly raised eyebrows, as if she already knew what the other girl was going to say, wait a bit longer. And, okay, she had never had this bread before, and she could practically feel it deliciously melt on her tongue, but there was no way in hell that she would say it out loud. She just cursed at herself internally for taking the smallest slice. “I’m pretty sure that it still is just bread.”

With a sigh, Hyunjin shook her head and finally took a bite of her own slice. She made an exaggerated “mmmmm” sound and rolled her eyes, as if in ecstasy, chuckling at her own little display. Heejin rolled her eyes and finished her slice. The iced coffee tasted bitter.

“So, have you read it?” She asked, watching Hyunjin basically devour the banana bread in front of her, her own mouth watering.

“Guess.” She said, covering her still half-full mouth with her hand.

“...Yes?” Heejin said, although she knew it was more her manifesting her wishes out loud rather than a truly educated guess.

“Of course not.” Hyunjin smiled sweetly. “So you have to tell me what it is about.”

“Have you really not read it in middle school? Or heard of it? At all?” Heejin said through gritted teeth.

“Maybe? Who knows.”

Heejin took a breath, ready to say something, but then decided against it before she could be forcibly removed from the cafe for any disturbance caused. Instead, she sighed and began summarizing the play to the amused Hyunjin.

“So, it’s kind of like… there’s this greek king who’s about to get married, and another guy comes to him because he wants his daughter, Hermia, to marry a guy who’s in love with her, but she’s actually in love with another guy, Lysander, and so they decide to run away to the forest, but the guy that she’s supposed to marry, Demetrius, goes after them, and after him goes Helena, who’s in love with him. Does that ring a bell?”

Hyunjin shrugged.

“Is that the one with the guy that turns into a donkey?”

“Yes!” Heejin clapped her hands together. Hyunjin wasn’t a totally lost cause yet, then. “That’s Nick Bottom, he’s part of a group of actors that are preparing a play for the king’s wedding. They are, like, 16th century comic relief.”

Taking a sip of her coffee, she went on.

“And then there are the fairies, the king Oberon, the queen Titania and Puck, that kinda gets the plot started. Basically, Oberon wants Titania to give him some boy as knight, which she doesn’t want to do, so he tasks Puck with giving her a love potion, so that she won’t refuse him anything anymore. But Puck fucks up and gives the potion to Lysander, who is woken up in the woods by Helena, and of course he falls in love with her. Then Demetrius is also given the potion, Hermia is mad, the two guys want to duel for Helena’s love, and so it goes, but anyway he also gives the potion to Titania, who sees Bottom first after she wakes up. When Oberon learns about this, he goes to turn it back, as he succeeded in getting that boy. In the end the couples are reunited and the charm is reversed, well, apart from Demetrius, who stays in love with Helena. The play goes extremely well and then everyone goes to sleep, the end. Basically.” Heejin said in almost one breath.

“Wow. That was a lot of words.” Hyunjin commented. “Look at this.”

And she showed her another terribly photoshopped picture of a cat.

“Were you even listening?!” Heejin whined, slamming her hands down on the table.

“Yeah. But I remembered that we actually saw this in theatre in middle school.”

“And you just let me talk anyway?” Heejin asked, eyes widened in disbelief.

“Yeah, you got really into it.” Hyunjin shrugged, trying not to laugh.

Heejin wondered how difficult it would be to kill someone with a coffee spoon. Taking a long breath, she asked:

“So, is there anyone you would like to audition for?”

“No…? I guess.” Hyunjin stopped chewing her bread. “But I know you’re going for Hermia or Helena.”

Heejin was almost offended at this point.

“Yes, I am, what about it?” She asked, a challenging tone to her voice. Of course she wanted the serious lead role, why was Hyunjin making it sound bad?

“Absolutely nothing.” Hyunjin snorted. “Are there really no trees?”

“No!”

___

 

“What the hell are you saying?” Jungeun screeched, smacking at Jiwoo’s shoulder.

The four of them were splayed in various positions across Jiwoo’s room, with Jungeun laying on the bed, Jiwoo sitting on the fluffy carpet with her back leaning against it, her head at the level of Jungeun’s, Heejin at the foot of the bed with Jungeun’s legs on her lap and Jinsol spinning on Jiwoo’s desk chair.

Jiwoo’s room was a perfect mirror of the girl’s bubbly personality. Posters of great vocal divas belting out high notes were neatly hanged on the faint pink walls, and her collection of cute pens was strewn across the light beige desk. The sun illuminated the room through an open window. Jiwoo lived the closest to their high school, and so her flat became a meeting point for the four.

“I just think your blonde hair suits you better, oh my god!” Jiwoo whined, rubbing her shoulder.

Jinsol let out a short “HA!”.

“But do you actually remember this?!” She asked and showed the other three a picture on her phone.

“I hate it! I HATE IT!!!” Jungeun screamed, lifting herself up on her elbows and waving her hand in Jinsol’s direction as if she were scaring away an annoying mosquito.

“I love it!” Heejin exclaimed, laughter bubbling in her chest.

It was that one legendary photo that always resurfaced every now and then. It was actually a screenshot from a video that Jiwoo took on their first year field trip, and it featured Jungeun in her worst outfit ever, standing with her hands on her hips like a tired soccer mom. Jungeun would gladly burn every hard drive and database that had this photo, but the other three were always delighted when anyone would bring it up.

“Fucking take it from my sight! Ah!” Jungeun protested, holding a hand over her eyes until Jinsol promised that she didn’t have the photo on display anymore. “I swear, one more time and my eyes are going to melt and pour out of my skull.”

“But I thought you wanted to discourage us from showing it again?” Jinsol snickered.

“What the hell happened to you that day, Jungeunnie?” Heejin asked, feigning innocence. “That is the most horrid thing anybody’s ever seen you in.”

“You’re one to talk!” Jinsol laughed before Jungeun could even say anything. “At least she isn’t guilty of stress-buying counterfeit skater clothes on aliexpress!”

“Thank you, finally-” Started Jungeun.

“-But that outfit was absolutely horrible, don’t let it happen again.”

“What have you got against my cloth-”

“Alright, but can we focus please?” Jiwoo interrupted them in her high-pitched voice and looked over to Heejin, as if she hadn't started their previous discussion and roasted Jungeun herself. “I actually want to hear the rest of the story???”

Heejin ran her hand through her hair. She had been telling them about the meeting with Hyunjin on Sunday, but they got sidetracked first with Jinsol panicking about the funko pops having already been shipped and then with criticizing Jungeun’s fashion choices.

“There’s nothing to tell, really. She’s weird as fuck and I still don’t really know who she wants to audition for. Probably some shitty ass role that doesn’t have many lines.” She shrugged. “But next time we go to Blockberry, we need to get banana bread.”

“How weird? Still-likes-twilight-obsessively weird or medieval-themed-sex-dungeon-in-the-basement weird?” Jungeun asked with raised eyebrows.

“Hey, I like Twilight!” Jiwoo exclaimed, puffing out her cheeks. “What Bella and Edward had was real love!”

“Like hell it was.” Jinsol deadpanned.

“I would like to experience it!” Jiwoo didn’t give up. “It’s like a fairytale or something! And they were destined to be together from the start!”

“With whom though, Edward or Bella?” A shade of red crept up on Jiwoo’s cheeks at Jungeun’s question.

“Please, we all know it’s Bella.” Said Heejin, eyes on the ceiling. “Who wouldn’t want to experience THAT with Krist-”

“No!” Jinsol shouted, interrupting Heejin. “Intervention. If we start talking about Kristen Stewart we are literally never going to talk about anything else until we go home. So as the voice of reason-”

“Dare to dream, Jindollie.” Jungeun smirked at the other blonde.

“- I’m proposing we stop now. What kind of weird, Heejin?” She finished, ignoring the snarky comment.

“I don’t know, neither? I don’t ever want to know if she has a sex dungeon.” Heejin gagged. “She just. Sends strange pics of photoshopped cats and doesn’t seem to care about anything apart from pissing me off, that kind of weird. Random as hell.”

“Aw, but you like a challenge, don’t you, Heekkie?” Jungeun shifted so that she was laying on her back.

“Well…” Heejin smirked and slapped the girl’s knee that was still on her lap. “I was with you, wasn’t I?”

Jungeun’s eyes almost bulged out of her skull as she tried to hold back a wave of laughter.

“Oh my god!” Jinsol clutched at her forehead as she snickered in disbelief.

“She has a point!” Jiwoo chirped.

“You guys…” Jinsol said as her phone chimed. “Oh my fucking god, the figures arrived. My mom got them. I’m dead. I’m fucking deceased.”

___

“This is the moment that we were born for, guys.” Jiwoo muttered as she was pacing around their storage room.

It was a thursday, and the first drama club meeting with the football team members was set to start in less than ten minutes. Both Heejin and Jiwoo were properly freaking out, but the one that had it the worst was probably Jungeun.

The blonde was currently standing on the wobbly table with her head sticking out the small window, puffing out clouds of smoke in an attempt to relax. She was acting cool, but she was dying at the perspective of spending two hours in a closed space right next to Sooyoung.

Heejin just stood in the middle of the room, hands resting on her waist, and stared at the wall. She was biting her lip and repeating some lines in her head.

“Guys, you know it’s just the first meeting and not the day of the showing, right? Like, we're not even going to do anything connected to the play.” Jinsol asked from the comfort of one of the plastic chairs in the corner of the storage room. “And also, it’s obvious that you are going to get Hermia, and you, Jiwoo, are going to land Helena-”

“Shut up!” Jiwoo and Heejin growled at the blonde in unison.

Rationally, Heejin knew that she had nothing to be anxious over. Jinsol was right, it was only the first meeting, and they still had more than a month until the auditions. But this was their last year. It needed to be special. She would skim over the lines on the pdf she had saved on her phone and she would recite them in her head sometimes. She wouldn’t be ready to act on stage, hell, she probably didn’t even memorise a solid ⅘ of them, but a little special preparation never hurt nobody, and this had to be the best performance Heejin had given yet. She was sure that Jiwoo was thinking the same. Not to mention, she would get to stare at Ryujin for two whole, uninterrupted hours.

“Lippie, you know what - give me that.” She said, hopping on the table and making it wobble even more.

“What? But you don’t smoke?” Jungeun furrowed her brows, but Heejin was determined.

“So? Neither do you.” She said, pointing at the smoke.

“I’m a social smoker, I’m allowed! Have you ever even done it before?”

“No, but it can’t be that hard!”

Jungeun gave her the cigarette with a sigh. Their two heads barely fit through the window and it was uncomfortable as hell, but she knew that Heejin would be down on the floor soon anyway.

Heejin grabbed it with her thumb and index finger and took a hit. She inhaled, her eyes widening, and soon erupted in a coughing fit. Quickly shoving it in Jungeun’s hand, she stumbled down from the table to cough her lungs out.

“Damn, that’s disgusting!” She whined when she could finally stand up straight.

“That was real dumb of you, to be fair, Heekkie.” Jinsol pointed out. “We should go.”

With a small cough, Jungeun slammed the window shut and slid off the table.

“Let’s go, I’m ready to die.”

As they entered the practice room, miss Kim wasn’t there yet, but they were immediately greeted by Yerim and that short girl, Yeojin.

“Hey guys!” Yerim waved to them with a warm smile. The both of them quickly came up to the four. “How is it going?”

“I’m Yeojin! Oh, we know each other.” Yeojin said with a laugh when she saw Heejin.

The other three introduced themselves hurriedly.

“Oh god, are you THAT Jungeun?” Yeojin asked, smirking mischievously. “The one that was paired with Sooyoung?”

Jungeun groaned, raising her palm up to her forehead, which only confirmed Yeojin’s assumptions.

Heejin felt a hand sneak up on her arm, immediately followed by:

“You talking about me?”

It was Sooyoung herself, who shamelessly entered their small circle and inserted herself in between Heejin and Jungeun. And while the hand from her arm disappeared almost immediately, the one that she had put on Jungeun’s stayed. With Sooyoung came Yubin and, to Heejin’s dismay, Hyunjin, though they didn’t say anything and just quietly stood there.

On the one day that Ha Sooyoung wasn’t wearing a crop top, she would wear a low-cut tank top that didn’t leave much to imagination. How she was never told off for inappropriate conduct and violating the dress code was a mystery.

Heejin saw how Jungeun had gone stiff beside the taller girl and how Jiwoo’s eyes immediately bolted to the exposed pieces of her skin, despite her trying really hard to maintain a serious face.

Yubin naturally stood right next to Jiwoo and muttered a small and polite “Hey”, while Hyunjin practically shoved herself in between Sooyoung and Heejin.

“You wish, Soo.” Yeojin was quick to reply, sticking out her tongue at the older girl.

“I don’t have to wish.” Sooyoung replied, winking. Hyunjin made a gagging noise.

“Isn’t it kind of weird, though?” Yerim asked, not directing the question at anyone in particular. “How we just randomly have to… do this? I’m not complaining, of course!”

“It’s weird as hell, man.” Yubin replied, shrugging. She looked at Jiwoo with a soft expression. “But I’m not complaining either.”

Jiwoo shot Yubin a finger heart with a warm smile and, although nobody else probably noticed, Heejin saw Sooyoung first scrunch her eyebrows as if in realization and then a hint of a smile appear on her lips just for a tiny fraction of a second at Jiwoo’s antics.

“I always wanted to ask this, though!” Yerim began again. “Did you guys have, like, this tradition to not go to our plays?”

“What, how do you know?” Hyunjin finally spoke. Heejin was surprised when she heard the girl’s soft voice speak a perfectly normal sentence from beside her.

“Because we can’t go to your games either!” Yerim exclaimed, gesturing wildly.

It was Sooyoung’s turn to be confused. She looked at Heejin, Jiwoo and Jungeun vaguely.
“Wait, but didn’t you guys-”

“Absolutely not!” Jungeun smiled broadly, her eyes widening as she lightly elbowed Sooyoung and prayed to the higher powers that it was unnoticeable. Thankfully, Sooyoung shut up. Jungeun turned to face Yerim. “What were you saying?”

“Basically, this girl, Haseul, told us about this story from 10 years ago…” Yerim trailed off.

“Yeah, yeah, I know!” Sooyoung said, excited. “Some girl from the drama club was horrible to a girl from the football team that was in love with her. I remember.”

“Wait, what?” Every drama club girl widened her eyes, but it was Heejin that spoke. “It was some football team girl that played horribly with a drama club girl!”

“Whaaat? Which version is true then?”

“I don’t know, does anybody even know the names of those girls?”

“Did this actually happen? Like for real?”

“If Haseul said so…”

“She’s literally one year older, there’s no way she would know for sure.”

“Hey, what are you guys talking about?” A deep voice interrupted their chaotic exchange, making Heejin almost turn on her heels.

Yoohyeon and Ryujin just marched into the practice room. Heejin felt as if her breath was knocked out of her at the sight of the girl. She was dressed in a fairly tight, black shirt with some minimalistic print tucked into light jeans. Heejin had to mentally collect herself, because there was no one at her side that would elbow her out of her haze.

“How life doesn’t make sense.” Hyunjin replied calmly while Ryujin and Yoohyeon made their way over to the circle. It didn’t help at all when Ryujin stood right in front of Heejin, just a few steps apart, and greeted everyone with a short bow of her head.

She looked at Jinsol trying to hold in her laughter while seeing her friend’s reaction, her eyes unusually big as she stared at the floor and swayed on her feet with her cheeks puffed. The blonde would be of no help, and neither would Jiwoo nor Jungeun.

“We’ve been fed literally the same story!” Sooyoung exclaimed, gesturing vaguely.

“What?” Ryujin asked, furrowing her brows slightly.

“That petty bitch from the drama club? They know her as the petty bitch from the football team!”

“And I still don’t know what story you guys are talking about!” Yeojin shouted over Sooyoung.

“Shut up, you’re too young.” Hyunjin stared the girl down.

“Whaaat?”

“Yes, we’re debating whether they exist now!” Jiwoo offered a piece of insight. “And we’re actually not sure!”

“Alright, who told you the story?” Ryujin asked no one in particular, rubbing her chin.

Before Heejin could think, she heard her own voice.

“Haseul.” As she realized that she just indirectly addressed the girl that she’s been crushing on for almost two years, she felt like a fish taken out of water and suffocating on the land. “The… eee...hmm… she graduated, though.”

“Oh, the student council president?” Ryujin asked further, a smile on her lips, but now she was looking only at Heejin.

“Yeah! Yeah, her.” Heejin nodded, hoping that the heat burning her neck and cheeks wasn’t visible.

“Ha… It was Jeongyeon who told us. Alright, let’s talk to them, this whole lowkey feud is kinda stupid.” She said, grinning.

It amazed Heejin how Ryujin had only appeared in the classroom a few minutes ago, didn’t know anyone from the drama club personally, and yet their whole circle was attentively listening to her ideas, nodding and proposing their own options. Ryujin just had to stand there, relaxed, hands in her pockets and everyone knew who was in charge. Everyone except Hyunjin who, although quiet, didn’t change her demeanor.

Their theorizing was cut short by miss Kim walking into the room and clapping her hands for them to gather around. They flocked closer to her.

“Hello!” She greeted them, and 40-something voices greeted her back. At the back of the classroom, Heejin noticed Hyejoo sitting next to Yuna. Her sister only shot her a murderous glare. “To start, I hope that we have a great year. For today, we’re just going to do some light acting exercises, let’s have fun and get better acquainted with each other.”

“Oh, I certainly hope so…” Heejin heard Sooyoung snicker next to Jungeun. She couldn’t help but chuckle.

“For starters, let’s just do the mirroring exercise in the pairs that you were chosen to be in last meeting.”

Heejin looked over at Hyunjin with raised eyebrows, and caught the other girl staring back at her with the exact same expression.

“Find some space in the classroom and stand in front of each other. One person takes the lead and does something - it can be literally anything - and the other has to mirror it, hence the name.” Miss Kim explained the task. “I’ll be walking around and giving you some tips!”

As she was walking over with Hyunjin to the corner of the room, she caught Jungeun’s panicked stare when they were finding their own place with Sooyoung, the taller girl’s hand still resting on the blonde’s arm. She shot her friend an equally painful look.

“Alright, can I do it?” She heard Hyunjin ask and snapped back to reality.

“Huh, do what?”

“Lead?”

“You actua- Yes.” Heejin decided not to comment. It was good that Hyunjin had shown at least some initiative, and it would be even better if it stayed that way.

“So you’ll do anything that I do?” The taller girl clarified.

“Basically.”

Heejin took a quick glance at Sooyoung and Jungeun. It was apparent who took the lead, as Sooyoung was standing relaxed with her hand on Jungeun’s waist, and Jungeun looked as if the touch of the other girl’s waist was burning her palm alive.

“Alright.” And Hyunjin jumped.

That’s kinda basic, Heejin thought when she jumped as well.

“With the face too?”

“Yeah.”

Hyunjin started slowly twisting her face and rolling her eyes back, and alright, Heejin really wasn’t prepared to look THAT stupid, but what wouldn’t she do for the art of acting?

When Hyunjin dropped to the floor and pretended she was a ghost, Heejin thought that it was becoming just a bit too much, but that was when she heard miss Kim’s praise from the other side of the room:

“Good job, Heejin and… Hyunjin? Sorry, I’m not super familiar with the names yet, but keep it up!”

Then, Hyunjin rose from the floor, Heejin following suit.

“You looked so stupid on the floor.” Hyunjin laughed.

Heejin raised her eyebrows.

“I was literally mirroring you! Ugh, alright, let’s switch.”

Hyunjin just nodded, a smirk still on her lips.

Heejin really, really tried to focus on doing the stupidest faces possible to get back at Hyunjin for making her crawl on the floor, but she couldn’t help but feel her heart sink just a tiny bit when she looked to the side and saw Ryujin and Yoohyeon laughing in each other’s faces as they did some over exaggerated 2000s choreography moves in perfect sync.

“Are we going to be standing still now?” Hyunjin’s voice shook her from her thoughts, and she immediately turned her head to face the other girl.

“Yeah, haven’t you heard? It’s performance art.” She replied, but changed the pose, extending her arms and lifting up one leg. She could have done the hand seals for the water dragon jutsu and completely obliterate the other girl, but this wasn’t what it all was about, so she decided to spare her.

It was even kind of fun, in a masochistic type of way. She only had to avoid looking left.

And of course that was what Hyunjin, even if she had no clue and did it unconsciously, made her do when they switched roles yet again.

Chapter Text

Yerim and Yeojin have unofficially become the two links that, although subconsciously, started slowly but surely pulling the drama club and the football team together. It was only natural, with Yerim being able to make friends wherever she went, and Yeojin didn't seem much different in that regard either.

Now, it wasn’t unusual to see the two of them goofing off at lunch - those two fit so well together, they had to be at least platonic soulmates. But Yeojin, as the youngest and smallest member of the football team, always had at least one of the older players sit with her as well, even if they pretended to be annoyed by her endless amounts of energy.

With Yerim’s ever-present positivity and the cheerful way she carried herself, it was no surprise that soon she was friends with almost the whole team. Yubin and Sooyoung would shoot her a smiley “Hi” in the corridor during breaks, and she was practically adopted as an honorary member.

Sometimes, she would get some of the drama club members to sit with them as well - she considered them all her friends, so why not?

However, they were still not friends with each other, not by a long shot, but after having a few drama club meetings and having sat with them for three or four times during the lunch break (did Jiwoo convince them to start eating lunch during the designated pause just to have this opportunity? Knowing her, yes.), Heejin knew that Yeojin was bad at maths and that it was Hyunjin of all people that helped her with it, that apart from obnoxiously flirting with anything that moved she set her her eyes on, Sooyoung would crack funny jokes to dissolve any awkward silence that would fall over their table (though, to be fair, it was a pretty rare occurence), how Yubin was mostly quiet but always calm and when asked, she would never just reply mindlessly, or how Ryujin made sure that Yeojin ate her veggies and would give her her own pieces of meat if the younger girl’s had any fat in them, which Heejin honestly didn’t even know how to process.

They were not friends, but they’ve gone from strangers who couldn’t really go past it to acquaintances in less than two months, and there were no signs of that process stopping. In fact, it only seemed to be going even further.

Even though it was progressing rather fast in Heejin’s opinion (and when she shared that with Jinsol, the other girl nodded her head in agreement, so she wasn’t the only one with that sentiment), with her, Jiwoo, Jungeun and occasionally Jinsol having to sneak under the bleachers to indulge themselves and their hopeless crushes for the past two years just to uphold some stupid tradition that everybody now decided they would ignore randomly because the story behind it was probably a big load of bullshit.

Haseul wasn’t of much help. Jiwoo had scheduled a video call with the older girl some days ago, and after the five of them had finally exchanged hello’s and how are you’s, updating Haseul on every little thing that happened in their lives, from Jinsol’s funko pop situation to Jungeun’s new habit of stress-smoking, for which Haseul scolded the blonde terribly.

“You’re going to lose your voice and get cancer!” She scowled at the screen, her eyes trained on the blonde, who avoided her gaze.

“I’ve been telling her the same thing!” Jiwoo nodded, her voice rising in pitch with the excitement of finally speaking to Haseul.

Jungeun crossed her arms over her chest and avoided looking at the phone screen.

“I literally smoke, like, one every four days! You don’t get cancer from that!” She protested.

“What are you so stressed about, Jungeunnie? You know, you should talk about it instead of reacting that way!” Haseul suggested.

The four eyed each other. It was time to finally break the news to the older girl.

“WHAT?” Haseul held her palm up to her forehead in shock after they finished telling her about the predicament that the drama club was caught up in with the football team. “I can’t believe it! On one hand it seems like such a great teamwork exercise, I really can’t believe it! But on another… what about the tradition?”
“Honey, please don’t scream!” A soft voice could be heard from behind Haseul, making her blush. They could see it even with the poor quality of the video call.

“MISS HASEUL!” Jinsol exclaimed, her eyes wide. “EXPLAIN YOURSELF RIGHT NOW!”

Haseul just smiled sheepishly, her gaze lowering.

“Come here.” She said, directed to someone behind the camera. “This is my girlfriend, Kahei.”

A beautiful girl with red hair walked over to their Haseul and leaned down so that her face would be visible. She waved shyly and said:

“Um, hi. I need to… wash the dishes, but it’s nice meeting you all.”

And as suddenly as she appeared, she disappeared.

“Jo Haseul!” Heejin whined. “Why didn’t you say you had a girlfriend!?”

“She’s gorgeous…” Jiwoo whispered.

“I know, right?” Haseul giggled like a schoolgirl.

“Alright, we’re letting you off the hook now, but this conversation isn’t over.” Jungeun stared pointedly at the screen. “Now, tell us everything you know about the tradition.”

Haseul furrowed her brows.

“But I already told you everything?”

“No, it has to be some bull.” Jinsol shook her head. Despite being the one least affected by it in general, she got invested in it and wanted to find out what had really happened. “The football team… they literally know the same story, except with the drama club as the bad guys. Do we know who those girls were?”

“I don’t know.” Haseul bit her lip pensively. “It’s… hm… strange… Now I’m curious! You could look through the school registers to see who was in the drama club then.”

“Like hell are we going to look through some dusty-ass old books.” Jungeun scoffed.

“Come on, Jungeunnie, why not! I’m going to ask some people that I knew in my first year that graduated.”

“Who even told you about that?”

“Park Sooyoung.”

“Wait, are you saying you used to be friends with THE Park Sooyoung and you never mentioned it?” Jiwoo, who kept up with local theatre news and knew that Park Sooyoung was the rising star of the national theater, gaped at their friend.

“I’m mentioning it now, am I not?”

“I feel like you’re not the Haseul I knew back then anymore!” Jiwoo said, a hint of desperation in her voice. “Secret relationships and incredible connections!”

“No, no!” Haseul protested, waving her hand. “It’s not like that! But I’m going to ask her, of course. She probably won’t know, though, we need to dig into the past more.”

“You better!” Heejin nodded her head.

“Now go... wash the dishes... with your absolutely hot, non-secret girlfriend.” Jungeun said, making it obvious she raised her voice.

“Oh my god, shut up!” Haseul whined, but still waved at them with a warm smile as she was saying her goodbyes.

When the screen went black, the four looked at each other with raised eyebrows, and promptly burst out into laughter.

___

Jungeun, Heejin, Jiwoo and Jinsol were sitting outside during the longer pause, sneaking around the bleachers far enough from the school building so that no teacher could catch Jungeun puffing out clouds of smoke from the juul she had stolen from her older brother’s “dank stash”, as he called a tiny box with weed, parts for e-cigarettes and cheap lighters with naked women that he hid under his bed. The name barely got through Jungeun’s throat, and Jinsol fake-gagged as soon as she heard it, but the blonde had to try it nonetheless, exploding in a fit of coughs as soon as the smoke entered her mouth.

“Fuck, is this really supposed to be pineapple?” Jinsol wheezed, her hands on her knees as she stood coughing her lungs out. Jungeun eyed her with her brows raised.

“It does kinda smell like it, though.” Jiwoo shrugged, sniffing the air where the cloud of smoke had dissolved not so long ago and clapping Jinsol’s back.

Heejin chuckled at her best friend suffering just like she had a while back due to only their own stupidity.

She was sitting on the rusting bar holding the bleachers up, the stiff and narrow metal kind of uncomfortable, but at least that way she could be shielded from the sun. Her phone vibrated in her pocket. To take it out and not touch the nasty orange piece of rust right next to her, she had to twist her body in a weird angle, but succeeded nonetheless.
It was just a notification from instagram (still better than a text from mom asking to pick up groceries on the way back home that Heejin had expected), but it made her scrunch her nose in surprise.

@aeonggie69 asked to follow you

That girl was a mystery to Heejin. From barely noting each other's existence for the past two years, it suddenly seemed as if the other girl was everywhere. She would send her random cat memes in russian at the weirdest hours every other day or so (to which Heejin responded with “how would i even understand this?” and Hyunjin just said: “that’s the point”, so Heejin resolved to making one-word comments about the cats and mentally stopping herself from opening google translate), would start talking about random shit whenever Heejin mentioned the drama club and the auditions that were approaching fast (and Heejin was almost sure that she still hasn’t read the play, despite it being only 100 pages long at best), miss Kim was almost dead set on making them work in pairs at every drama club meeting and, to top it all of, the drama club and the football team have been steadily growing closer and closer.

A bit begrudgingly, she accepted the request and immediately sent it to the other girl as well. Maybe now she would finally get to see what was so worth those 1679 followers. Hyunjin accepted immediately as well.

Her instagram only made Heejin more and more annoyed with every photo. There were lots of selfies with Sooyoung (the comments, surprisingly, were equally thirsty for them both), random pictures like that one of a cabbage with human legs, a few photos of the whole squad, sometimes sober and sometimes not (Heejin totally did not zoom in on Ryujin posing sexily with a beer bottle on one of them). It was, honestly, infuriating how odd Hyunjin seemed compared to everyone else, but also how painfully normal she appeared nonetheless.

She thought badly photoshopped pictures were funny and her only purpose in life seemed to be pissing Heejin off, and she just sent her another cat meme on instagram, this time in chinese, which was honestly starting to get old really fast- Yeah, she was definitely annoying.

So why did she chuckle seeing the cat’s scrunched up little face?

“You guys, quick!” Jinsol whisper-shouted. “Act cool!”

“Wha-” Heejin asked as she felt Jungeun sit down next to her, right on the rusty spot, and making the metal bar shake.

She covered her mouth with her hand and, with a small cough, smoke that she didn't exhale escaped her lips. She looked extremely uncomfortable, trying not to move a bit to not make the situation even worse.

Jiwoo stood unnaturally straight even for her and plastered her biggest, most cheerful smile on her face, while Jinsol quickly pointed for Heejin to see what was going on and went back to put her hands in her pockets.
There, clearly on their way to the four, like a scene straight out of “Mean Girls” or “Charlie’s Angels” (or maybe a crossover of the two?), with their hair floating in the light breeze of october, were Ryujin, Sooyoung, Chaeyoung and Yeojin.

“Why are they walking over to us?” Heejin whispered barely moving her lips, panicked.

“Just don’t do anything stupid!” Jungeun slapped her on the thigh, the movement lightning-fast. It stung.

“H-hi!” Jiwoo was the first one to greet them, her internal struggle masked perfectly for those that didn’t know her as well as the other three. Her voice only went THAT high if she was stressed about something.

“Hey!” Ryujin nodded her head with a smirk, showing her perfectly white teeth.

Heejin gripped the metal bar so hard her knuckles probably turned white, rust be damned. Both her and Jungeun just nodded back awkwardly.

“So, we’re kinda going around to-” Ryujin began, the confident smirk not leaving her face.

“We’re inviting people to the first match of the year!” Yeojin couldn’t contain herself, bouncing from one leg to the other.

Heejin realized that it must have been the first match ever for the younger girl, and couldn’t help but giggle at Yeojin’s excitement.

“Exactly.” Ryujin confirmed.

“Hey, next time you’ll be the one in charge of our PR campaign.” Chaeyoung shoved the small girl playfully.

Even though her hair has grown past her shoulders, she could still cause an exponentially large number of lesbian awakenings whenever she went, which was not helping any of the four.

“So, since that feud is… over, we wanted to invite the whole drama club!” Ryujin continued, her hands in her pockets and her shoulders a bit slouched.

“Wow, that’s so great!” Jiwoo finally spoke up, her eyes lighting up.

“Yes, please cheer us on!” Ryujin bowed her head jokingly and Heejin could swear that she caught her eye just for a split second.

“We’ll bring a banner, how big can it be?” Jiwoo asked, brows furrowed.

“It doesn't matter as long as it has my name on it.” Sooyoung finally spoke, winking playfully at Jiwoo.

The girl quickly lowered her gaze to the ground, blushing profusely.

“Yeah, yeah, whatever.” Chaeyoung waved her hand at Sooyoung.

Heejin felt like something was missing, until she realized that no one had made a disgusted noise at Sooyoung's greasiness.

“It’s on the 1st of November, so… in two weeks?” Ryujin added, even though the schedule of the football matches was plastered at the school’s front door.

“Please come! Yerimie will, so you should too!” Yeojin said, gesturing wildly.

“We will, we will.” Heejin calmed the girl down.

“That’s cool. Now we just need to go around the whole yard, no biggie.” Sooyoung joked as they were walking away. “And, Jungeunnie?”

The blonde next to Heejin stiffened at being addressed directly.

“The smoke from your Juul can be seen from literally a mile away.”

Jinsol snorted.

When the football team members finally got out of hearing distance, Jungeun jumped up from the bar as if it had burned her.

“Oh and, Jungeunnie?” Jinsol said, running her hand through her hair sexily, clearly mocking Sooyoung from just a while before. Jungeun stared at her with a tired expression. “You have a giant orange stain on your ass.”

___

“More expression, more expression!” Miss Kim urged them on as she was making her way from one pair to another in her flowy, green dress. “Yes, express yourselves!”

They were tasked with doing improv emotion-themed conversations that day. Every ten minutes or so, one person from the pair would draw a note with an abstract emotion written on it, and the two had to come up with a dialogue built around it. Heejin and Hyunjin were currently on “betrayal”.

Hyunjin, with her right arm extended and her eyes almost bulging out of her skull, whined:

“How could you have brought the wrong kimchi?!”

Heejin’s mind was honestly beginning to feel like it was being fried in the oven after half an hour of having to come up with original comebacks to Hyunjin’s ideas.

“Why is it wrong?!” She crossed her arms over her chest.

Hyunjin fake-bawled, her exaggerated expression making it extremely unbelievable and extremely hard for Heejin to maintain a straight face.

“I thought we were partners!” She said, clutching her hair. “And you don’t even remember that I…”

“You what?” Heejin feigned annoyance.

“That I…” Hyunjin took a deep breath. “I… am allergic to gluten!”

Heejin wanted to protest that kimchi was gluten-free because, what the fuck, it was literally cabbage, but she felt a tap on her shoulder, so, holding her hand up to signalize a quick break, she spun on her heels to come face to face with Yubin.

“Hey, is it true that it’s yours and Jiwoo’s birthday this weekend?”

Behind her, she caught Jiwoo smiling and flashing her a thumbs up.

“Yeah, why?”

But Yubin couldn’t answer her, as miss Kim clapped her hands together and shouted a loaded:

“Alright, everyone, great job, although we could use less talking and more acting! Now take a quick break.”

Yubin motioned Heejin and Hyunjin to stand in a circle as they drank their water and talked freely for the five minute break.

“Hey, so I kinda got this info from Yerim.” Yeojin started, her voice bubbling with excitement, pointing at Heejin and Jiwoo. Yerim just bowed her head in acknowledgement and smiled warmly at the shorter girl. “But since it’s your birthday soon, we should totally have a party!”

“It’s your birthday?” Chaeyoung furrowed her brows, looking at Heejin. “Why didn’t you say anything?”

Heejin shrugged, suddenly kind of uneasy as now everybody’s attention was on her.

“Hey, it’s not only my birthday. Mine is on friday and Jiwoo’s is on saturday.” She said.

“Ooo, so you take the celebration and she takes the hangover?” Hyunjin joked in her usual, emotionless voice.

Heejin rolled her eyes.

“If you guys want to, then I think this is great.” It was Ryujin’s turn to talk.

“Yes, I think so too!” Yerim nodded vigorously. “I mean, this way we could get to know each other better!”

“Well, sign me up.” Sooyoung shrugged. “It can be at my place, my parents are out this weekend. I’ll make a groupchat or something and send you the details.”

Heejin and Jinsol looked at each other. A silent question of “is getting wasted around Shin Ryujin a thing that you want to do?” was apparent on the blonde’s face. Heejin nodded, an “absolutely yes” in her eyes.

“Alright, great!” Ryujin commanded, seemingly noticing how the two girls were really quiet in a conversation about them. “It doesn’t even have to be like, a birthday party, just a party.”

"Alright!" Jiwoo nodded with a warm smile. "Heejin?"

"Yeah, let's go!" Heejin agreed, suddenly feeling an unusual amount of confidence mixed with determination. Or maybe desperation, she really couldn't decide.

“Are you sure you can fit 40 people in your house, Sooyoungie?” Yeojin asked with furrowed brows.

“Man, I had one hundred in there. This is nothing.” Sooyoung bragged.

“And you didn’t invite me?!” The short girl whined, arching her head to look up at Sooyoung.

“That was last year. Weren’t you in kindergarten then?”

Chapter Text

“God, Jindollie, the party hasn’t even started yet!” Jiwoo smacked the blonde’s arm with a pout when she was raising the already half-empty beer bottle to her lips, effectively making her spill it on Heejin’s sheets.

Wiping her mouth with her hand and setting the bottle on the nightstand, Jinsol hoped that Heejin, currently checking herself out in the mirror, didn’t see her ruining the sheets. What the eyes don’t see doesn’t hurt the heart, after all. Jungeun threw her a pack of tissues and she quickly wiped at it, not really reducing the damage, but at least the stain wasn’t as visible on the dark blue cover as before.

“Shit, man, it’s literally the weakest beer ever and I saw you three drinking vodka when you think nobody’s looking!” She protested, taking the beer again and leaning away from Jiwoo’s reach.

“I’m not!” Jiwoo crossed her arms over her chest, but her eyes drifted away from Jinsol’s face with guilt.

“I am, give it to me.” Heejin sighed, her voice deep. She extended her arm for Jungeun to give her the juice carton filled with vodka that they were supposed to bring to the party. So much for being good guests. “I’m freaking the fuck out.”

“Honestly, if you wanna go dressed like that, you should.” Jungeun raised her brows and snatched the carton away from Heejin and put it in her bag. “I hate to say this, but Jinsol is right.”

“Are you drunk already??? What?” Jinsol widened her eyes, surprised that the other blonde agreed with her for once.

“What, I can’t be sensible for once?!” Jungeun shrieked. Then she shrugged. “I just figured it was kinda stupid.”

“What do you mean, Jungeunnie?” Jiwoo asked, her brows furrowed.

Jungeun leaned back on Heejin’s worn out desk chair, putting her legs up on the bed between Jinsol and Jiwoo.

“I just mean that, like… we’re freaking out and they are just normal people.” It was clear she was only getting to the point. “And Sooyoung, she’s not even serious.”

“I know. I saw it.” Jiwoo confessed. “It’s different when she became real, isn’t it? Like a real person that you talk to instead of just someone you watch from afar.”

“Yeah…” Jungeun trailed off, scratching at her cheek.

“She just seems so careless!” Jiwoo pouted.

Jinsol and Heejin both watched this exchange in bewilderment, afraid to even utter a single word. This was something new.

“Yeah, I think…” Jungeun started, but was cut off by Jiwoo.

“I don’t think I like her anymore.” She stated matter-of-factly, her hands in her lap.

“It’s just not worth it, I guess?” Jungeun shrugged.

In truth, neither of them meant it. Jungeun, however annoyed she might have appeared, liked the attention she was getting from Sooyoung, even if she knew it was nothing serious (was Sooyoung even capable of being serious about anything?) and just the football player being her usual self, and Jiwoo couldn’t help but blush whenever the dark-haired girl was endeared by her usual cuteness. But neither of them wanted to risk their friendship for something like that, at least not when the actual opportunity presented itself right in front of them both. So, although with a heavy heart, both Jiwoo and Jungeun knew where their priorities lied.

“Great that you two solved your problems, but I’m still freaking out!” Heejin whined. “And you won’t even let me drink.”

A chaos broke out then.

“The fuck, do you want to be puking by the time we arrive?”

“You should be freaking out if you want to go in that.”

“We can’t bring an empty bottle-”

“What the hell do you suggest I wear then?!” Heejin raised her arms above her head and screeched. “And what’s wrong with my outfit?”

“Honey, look at yourself.” Jinsol sighed, shaking her head.

Heejin glanced at herself in the big mirror propped up against the closet that she never had the time to hang properly. She was wearing a massively oversized white t-shirt with an abstract tree drawing and ripped, light blue jeans. She thought she would just add her vans and she would be set.

“Yeah, what about it?”

Jinsol stood behind her, both hands on her arms, like a mentor and a protegee. She looked over at Jiwoo.

“Jiwoo, would you want to fuck her?”

Jiwoo almost choked on the beer that Jinsol left on the nightstand while she stood up.

“No, that would be like incest! Bad!” She quickly declined.

“Jungeun?” Jinsol looked hopefully at the blonde.

“God, don’t make this weird!” Jungeun groaned, covering her eyes.

Jinsol sighed and pinched her forehead.

“Okay, um, wrong crowd, I get it. No more questions. But.” She stared pointedly at Heejin. “I know how desperate you are, I’ve been hearing you spill everything over the past two years, so at least show how desperate you are!”

“Isn’t desperation unsexy?” Jiwoo chimed in.

“That was a metaphor.” Jinsol waved her hand as she opened the closet and started looking through Heejin’s clothes. Jungeun snorted.

“For what?”

“Didn’t I say no more questions?” Jinsol’s voice came muffled from the closet.

Jungeun, Jiwoo and Heejin shot each other a glance.
“Alright, look at this. Come on. When have I ever given you bad advice?” Jinsol practically shoved a set of clothes into Heejin’s arms.

Heejin stared her down.

“Always, all the time?”

“Alright, but not this time!”

With a groan, Heejin quickly changed out of her clothes and went to look in the mirror.

The clothes that Jinsol had picked out were plain, but had more style than the previous set nonetheless. Heejin had the clear white t-shirt tucked into black skinny jeans, ready to put on her brown jacket as soon as they stepped out of the flat.

“Alright, it DOES look better.” She admitted while Jiwoo clapped her hands. Jungeun was just nodding her head in approval.

“Told you. That’s desperation, baby.” Jinsol snapped her fingers two times.

“Ugh, I still need to get drunk.”

“We haven’t been to a party this year at all, you’ll get drunk in no time.” Jungeun reminded.

“God, and it’s my birthday-”

“Please, let’s not talk about how much of a loser squad we are!” Jinsol commanded. “I bought a second bottle just in case. 1 liter, baby.”

The door to Heejin’s room swung open before any of them could yell at Jinsol for concealing such an important fact.

“Chae is here.” Hyejoo announced, her brow slightly arched at the three girls frozen in poses that could only be described as “animals in a wildlife documentary in the middle of a vicious attack”.

The four quickly gathered themselves, Jinsol checking herself out in the mirror and pointing finger guns when she deemed her reflection satisfying.

They were waiting for Hyejoo’s girlfriend to arrive so that they could make their way to the party. As soon as the three came over, Hyejoo had shut herself in her room, not answering Jinsol’s questions about her nickname in Overwatch. The blonde had made it her mission to find out what it was a long time ago, but to no avail, as Heejin was pretty sure her sister would rather die than play with any of them. Something about them lowering the general level or something.

“God, please don’t be embarrassing for once.” Hyejoo groaned hiding her hands in the sleeves of her oversized black hoodie when they were making their way down the staircase, the five pairs of feet echoing with every step they took, the bottle of vodka clinking in Jinsol’s bag.

“God, please don’t sound like a 40 year old that’s tired of their 9 to 5 job for once.” Jungeun mocked the younger girl, eliciting a snort from Heejin. Hyejoo just rolled her eyes.

“Come on, she’s more like a kindergartener that’s having her first emo phase.” Jinsol laughed, nudging Hyejoo’s shoulder.

The girl stared back at her, shooting her a murderous glare. Ever since her and Heejin had become best friends, the blonde would always treat Hyejoo like a little kid despite her being only one year younger than them. She was sure that Jinsol should be legally forbidden from ever becoming an aunt.

“I’m pretty sure kindergarteners don’t have emo phases, Jindollie!” Jiwoo chimed in.

“You say that because you didn’t know Heejin in kindergarten.” Jinsol retorted.

“Hey, I’ve never had an emo phase!” Heejin protested.

Jungeun couldn’t help but cackle.

“You literally talked to me in english because I had a Paramore t-shirt!”

“That doesn’t- Oh, hey, Chaewon.” Heejin greeted the girl standing in front of their block of flats immediately after the five of them stumbled out of the staircase.

“Hey.” Chaewon said to the four of them, her voice airy and barely audible. The fact that she had a habit of not even moving her lips much while talking didn’t help that, either. Maybe that’s why her and Hyejoo had to be up each other’s asses all the time or otherwise they could physically not communicate.

Hyejoo immediately walked over to her girlfriend, kissing her on the cheek with a lazy grin only reserved for her. Chaewon flashed her perfectly white teeth and blushed at the greeting, wrapping her arm around Hyejoo’s waist.

“Alright, lovebirds, can we go now?” Jinsol interrupted the scene.

It was already beginning to get dark, the neighbourhood lampposts lit up, even though the sun hasn’t disappeared behind the horizon completely. By the time they got to Sooyoung’s house on the other side of the town, though, the night would fall.

The walk to the metro was quiet save for Jiwoo humming some song happily and Hyejoo and Chaewon talking in hushed voices and occasionally laughing as they walked with their fingers laced together before the four.

The perfectly tranquil mood was disrupted when they had to run for their dear life because the metro decided to arrive one minute early. When they were jumping inside, the corner of Jiwoo’s penguin bag got caught up in between the closing doors, and it took the mercy of Hyejoo, who decided to end their misery after she saw Heejin, Jungeun and Jiwoo pulling on it with all their force and not making it budge even a bit. Needless to say, Hyejoo pulled it once and managed to free Jiwoo, her expression not even changing.

Then, she purposefully tugged at Chaewon and motioned for them to sit in the double seat, a few meters away from where the four of them rested, the chairs squeaking when sat on. Typical.

“Fuck, I’m still freaking out.” Heejin breathed out, running her one hand through her hair and propping herself against the window with another.

“You know, what, Heekkie-” Jinsol unceremoniously took out the carton from Jungeun’s bag and was just about to hand it over to Heejin, when she stopped half-motion. “Actually…”

And she brought the carton to her own lips, taking a gulp and wincing horribly at the taste, making the older woman taking up the four seats next to them with her bags look at them with disgust.
“Here you go.” She shoved the carton in Heejin’s lap and fished through her own bag for an actual juice to chase the burning away from her throat.

Heejin took a large gulp, wiping her mouth with her hand and coughing, but waving her hand when Jinsol offered her her apple juice.

“No, it did me good.”

“Ah, what the hell. Give it.” Jungeun motioned at the bottle, and Jinsol looked at her warily, afraid that the other blonde might try to steal it and hide it for later yet again.

All her worries washed away when Jungeun swallowed the liquid with a disgusted face and a scrunched up nose, and passed it wordlessly to Jiwoo.

“Alright, guys, this is gonna be great!” Jinsol clapped Heejin and Chuu on their thighs.

“I hope there’s a karaoke.” Jiwoo quickly caught on to Jinsol’s excitement.

“I hope the fuck not.” A monotonous but loud voice could be heard from a few seats over.

Heejin snorted at her sister’s comment, her leg bouncing up and down as she looked out the window and watched the metro speed through the dark tunnel.

___

The bass of “Boom Boom Pow” by Black Eyed Peas flowing through a portable JBL speaker (courtesy of Yubin) and turned up to the maximum volume that also didn’t make talking impossible was positively making Sooyoung’s desk shake from the sheer power.

“Come on, this is THE shit, you just can’t handle it.” Hyunjin said in a monotonous voice, bopping her head to the song, with her arms crossed over her chest, leaning against the windowsill.

The brunette was currently donning a black and white striped sweater that was fashionably just a size or two too big, which she tucked into her black skinny jeans.

“This is the most questionable thing I’ve heard you say ever.” Chaeyoung rolled her eyes. “And that says something.”

Sooyoung, Chaeyoung, Hyunjin, Yubin and Ryujin have decided to hang out at Sooyoung’s before the party started. They were sharing a joint, passing it in a circle in Sooyoung’s room, sitting on every flat surface available.

“Is it just me or are you not feeling anything either?” Ryujin asked, exhaling the smoke.

“I don’t know, madame Sunmi here seems to be a bit tilted, or is it just me?” Yubin pointed at the giant poster of Sunmi biting her lip that Sooyoung had over her bed.

“No, she is like that after some bitches got in here at that one summer party and almost tore her to pieces. She’s literally hanging on a string so don’t even breathe in her direction.” Sooyoung threatened and Yubin just raised her hands with a chuckle. “But I’m not feeling anything either.”

“Why did you have to bang our last dealer, man?” Chaeyoung whined. “Now we’re stuck with this shit.”

“Weren’t you literally banging her the entire time? Why am I the one to blame?” Sooyoung furrowed her eyebrows.

“Because she started avoiding all of us after you did it?” Ryujin suggested from her seat on the carpet.

Sooyoung shrugged. Maybe it was true.

“Whatever. How are we feeling about the birthday girls?” She asked, taking a hit and purposefully holding it longer than normally supposed to.

“Ugh, are you getting onto something?” Hyunjin scowled, shaking her head.

“No, though the one that you’re paired with, Heejin? She’s kinda hot.” Sooyoung waved dismissively. “But I can’t wait until I can annoy Jungeun more. She knows she can’t resist all this.”

Chaeyoung rolled her eyes.

“You find literally every girl hot, Soo.” Ryujin snorted. “Doesn’t she seem like, kind of stressed all the time?”

“Who?”

“Heejin.”

Chaeyoung shrugged.

“Dunno. Not really. Hyun, you should know.”

Hyunjin waved dismissively.

“Less stressed and more pissed.” She grinned. “She doesn’t like my cat memes. It’s funny how annoyed she is by everything I say.”

“Nobody does.” Sooyoung shoved Hyunjin playfully.

“Um… Jiwoo is cool, though.” Yubin finally spoke up.

Ryujin immediately sensed some affection in her teammate’s words and jumped at the opportunity to tease her.

“Yeah? How cool?” She asked, winking.

“No, not like that!” Yubin waved her hands to deny.

“She’s cute!” Sooyoung jumped in defense of the other girl. “Like, just honest to god cute.”

“Please, focus on one at least.”

It was Sooyoung’s turn to furiously wave her hands.

“No, I didn’t mean it like that!” And after she regained her composure, she added. “But you know well enough that I can do more than two at once.”

“Ugh, stop before I vomit, please.” Hyunjin rolled her eyes with a smirk.

“It’s funny as fuck though.” Chaeyoung mumbled, rubbing her eyes. “Old enemies, forced to work together for a better good. The ancient clans of the football team and the drama club united towards one end goal. Shit’s like a fanfic, I tell you.”

Yubin chuckled.

“Top ten crossovers in history.”

“Maybe the weed did work, after all.” Hyunjin commented, looking at her friends, even though she seemed unfazed herself, and none of them was high by any means.

Then, they heard the doorbell ring. Sooyoung quickly put out the joint, Hyunjin opened the window and the five of them rushed downstairs to let the first guests start flooding in and get the party started.

___

“No, all I’m saying is Sooyoung looks like someone that would absolutely jam out to Eminem!” Jinsol yelled, flailing her arms around as their group was making its way to Sooyoung’s nice suburban home.

The neighbourhood seemed nice with its family houses and neat gardens, almost like it was taken straight out of an american movie. Almost all of the lights inside the houses were switched off or dimmed, the whole area tranquil, the peace only disrupted by the already buzzed, screaming teenagers. As soon as they stepped out of the metro, Hyejoo grabbed the carton and drank, with only a snide “I don’t know how else to tolerate your presence.” Her and Chaewon were walking a few steps before the four (“So that we won’t be associated with each other”, as Hyejoo had put it), the yellow street lights reflecting off of Chaewon’s silver scalp. The girl had her hand in the backpocket of Hyejoo’s black skinny jeans. If it weren’t for the alcohol that already got to her head a bit, Heejin would have gagged.

“Stop shouting, you’re gonna have a sore throat.” Jungeun put her hand on the blonde’s arm, stopping her mid-sentence. Jinsol was saying that she was ready to take bets, because she was sure some white trash music would be playing right when they entered Sooyoung’s house.

“Aww, are you worried?” Jiwoo skipped over to latch onto Jungeun’s shoulder.

Jungeun’s eyes narrowed.

“No!” She protested. “But she complains like a little bitch, I’m preventing that!”

“Not if she screams enough to lose her voice!” Heejin added, holding her fingers to her forehead.

“Ugh, your mind.” Hyejoo turned around and deadpanned. “We’re here, losers.”

It wasn’t hard to guess which house was Sooyoung’s. There were rainbow lights coming out of every window, a few people were already talking animatedly, smoking and chasing each other around in the spacious garden, Yeojin amongst them. To top that off, the whole house seemed to shake with the thumping of the bass of some song that Heejin didn’t know.

Jinsol held her hand up to stop them from entering as she fished her phone out of her pocket and held it up.

“Wha-” Jiwoo began asking, but Jinsol shushed her.

Finally, with a victorious smile, she showed them the screen, opened on the Shazam app and displaying, in bold letters, “CURRENTLY PLAYING - BERZERK, EMINEM”. Heejin and Jungeun groaned at the blonde’s smug expression.

“I knew it! This is peak white trash!” She exclaimed. “Fucking jackpot!”

“But we’re korean! What does this even mean!” Jiwoo protested.

“Hey, where is Hyejoo?” Jungeun nudged Heejin’s shoulder.

The younger girls have both disappeared from their sight, nowhere to be found. Heejin waved her hand and Jungeun just shrugged at that.

“Are we going in or not?” Jinsol asked them, taking out the vodka bottle and putting on her battle face.

They made their way through the garden, stopping to say hi to Yeojin, who seemed drunk already, running around and lipsyncing to whatever song was playing. Later, Yerim informed them that Sooyoung had given the small girl a non-alcoholic beer, and what they were seeing were just placebo effects. One could only tremble at the thought of what Yeojin would be like if she were drunk for real.

“Heeeey, you guys came!” Sooyoung immediately sweeped them at the entrance, somehow hugging all four of them at once and then taking both Jiwoo and Heejin under her arms. “Happy birthday, let’s do shots.”

“Did somebody say shots?” Jinsol perked up and grabbed the vodka bottle with one hand, and Jungeun’s hand with another, dragging her to the modern kitchen after Sooyoung.

“Oh my god, it’s Fifth Harmony!” Jiwoo shrieked as she heard the sax in the beginning of “Worth It” coming from the living room.

“Hell yes, what a taste!” Sooyoung commented, bopping her head to the rhythm. She couldn’t catch Jiwoo looking down to hide her gummy smile.

“Who hasn’t stanned Fifth Harmony, really?” Chaeyoung said, leaning against the counter. “Hey, y’all.”

A chorus of “hey”s and “hello”s rang through the kitchen as more and more people came inside, having learned that the birthday girls have arrived, everybody ready to drink more. Heejin’s head felt like it was spinning after she saw Ryujin and the girl had wished her a happy birthday and hugged her warmly, Heejin’s mind lingering just a bit too long on how her back felt under her palms and how her hands wrapped around her for a second.

Hyunjin was there too, of course. They hugged awkwardly, Heejin still caught up on how good Ryujin’s hair had felt brushing her cheek, but the tension dissipated as soon as Hyunjin opened her mouth. She said something that sounded like absolute gibberish.

Heejin furrowed her brows.

“What?”

“It means “happy birthday” in russian.” Hyunjin explained with a wide smile. She was probably buzzed too.

Heejin scoffed and rolled her eyes, but couldn’t help the chuckle that escaped her lips.

“Wait, what, do you know russian?” Sooyoung asked with a shot glass filled to the brim already in her hand, looking at Heejin in bewilderment.

Heejin was just opening her mouth to deny, but Hyunjin was quicker.

“Of course, her grandma was russian.” She said, no hint of doubt in her voice.

“What, really?” Ryujin gaped. “That’s kinda cool.”

Heejin absolutely hated Hyunjin in that moment. The last thing she wanted was… whatever this was.

“I can absolutely see it!” Sooyoung exclaimed, nodding her head in understanding. “That side profile is no joke. ”

“WHAT?” A chorus of confused voices shouted at their host.

“My grandma wasn’t russian, can we drink now please?” Heejin shouted over the crowd, smacking Hyunjin on the arm unceremoniously. The girl pretended to be deeply wounded.

“Yes!” Jinsol exclaimed.

“Anybody up for body shots? Not yet? Okay, just checking.” Sooyoung said with a cackle and raised her glass. The fifteen or so people cramped up in the kitchen followed suit.

“Now, let’s celebrate and get wasted!” She toasted and swallowed her shot without chasing it.

The opening notes of 7 rings by Ariana Grande coming from the living room, Jinsol laughing right next to her, Hyunjin’s face twisting as she drank, Ryujin’s usual charming smirk and the alcohol burning her throat were all making Heejin feel a spark of unbridled confidence rise up to her chest.

___

It didn’t take long for the party to go all out in full swing. The classy living room with an honest to god small-scale chandelier was full of people either dancing and screaming their lungs out or lounging on the couches and puffing out smoke. Someone brought a hookah and was making a show of the top ten vape tricks from some horrible youtube channel.

Jiwoo had requested Alejandro by Lady Gaga and Sooyoung was happy to oblige, watching the girl REALLY sing as she lipsync-battled with Yeojin in the middle of the room with an endeared smile. Jungeun observed the spectacle practically glued to her Juul, occasionally sipping on the beer that someone had left on the stool. Hyejoo and Chaewon were making out on the porch, undeterred by people coming out to smoke.

When the song finished, even the hookah people clapped and cheered for the two girls. Yeojin bowed, running her hand through her hair and thanking everyone jokingly with a hand to her chest.

“Can we play truth or dare now?” She shouted, taking advantage of the music not blasting for a hot minute.

Heejin’s eyes widened. She didn’t know if she was excited for a chance (however dim it actually was) or anxious about it.

“What, who plays truth or dare?” Chaeyoung smirked at the younger girl in disbelief.

“Come on, I want to have the high school experience, so don’t be old!” The freshman protested, stomping her leg.

“Alright, alright, everyone gather round!” Ryujin clapped her hands. “Chae, don’t be old!”

The brunette just groaned, but she took a pillow from the couch and plopped down on the floor right next to Ryujin.

In that moment, Sooyoung came up to Jungeun and with a smug smile, she asked:

“Hey, Jungeunnie, can you come to the store with me? We need more alcohol.”

Jungeun knitted her brows together, looking at the football player’s wide smile and an entirely uncovered abdomen.

“What, why?” She asked, just to say something. She had a feeling that she shouldn’t.

“Because you’ve been sitting with that Juul this whole time, and while I think girls who smoke are hot, you need some movement.” Sooyoung stated matter of factly.

“Ugh, alright.” Jungeun rolled her eyes, avoiding Sooyoung’s and Heejin’s gaze. She lifted herself up from the couch and followed the bouncy Sooyoung out of the living room.

“Heekkie, come!” Jiwoo yelled from the other side of the room, seated on the floor and waving at her.

She quickly made her way over to her friends, hoping that Jungeun wouldn't make any bad decisions and inserting herself in between Jiwoo and Jinsol. With a rapid glance she noticed that she was sitting right in front of Ryujin.

“Hey, where’s Jung-” Jinsol leaned over and started whispering to them, but was cut off by Yeojin.

“Alright y’all, I downloaded an app and watched a shitty thirty second porn ad for the spicy version, so let’s get this party started.” The short girl commanded.

“Are we spinning the bottle or something?” Hyunjin asked with her brows raised.

Yeojin wasn’t prepared for that question, but she still shouted for someone to hand her one of the many empty beer bottles littering the whole living room.

“Great, I’m starting!” She announced, spinning the bottle so hard it stopped after a solid 15 seconds, landing on Jiwoo.

“Truth or dare?”

“Ah, um, truth for now.” She replied, her cheeks red from all the alcohol consumed.

“Lame.” Yeojin commented, reading the question. “Alright, that’s not really spicy, but if you could date one person from here, who would it be?”

Jiwoo took a deep breath, blushing furiously and looking around, her eyes not stopping at anyone in particular.

“Ahh, hm… I… Uh… Heejin?” She turned to Heejin, her eyes wide.

“Wow, that was unexpected! Get it.” Yeojin commented, not hearing any protests from Jiwoo how “it was not like THAT!”. “Next, spin.”

The game went on after that, with a few entirely too intimate questions and horribly embarrassing dares. Jinsol had to sit on Yerim’s lap FACING HER for three whole rounds, Chaeyoung had to perform a slut drop with an absolutely ecstatic Yeojin acting as the stripper pole in the middle of the circle and everyone yelling in excitement, Hyunjin had to act like a sexy cat for 20 seconds (to everyone’s surprise, she made it sickeningly convincing, Yoohyeon commenting how she didn’t sign up for being involuntarily turned into a furry), Ryujin had refused to do a body shot off of Shin Yuna because she was not a pedophile and in turn had to drink as a punishment while everybody egged her on, Yeojin revealed that she absolutely wouldn’t mind having a sugar mommy and Jinsol admitted to having watched gundam porn.

The first time that the bottle stopped on Heejin was already well into the game, with everyone happily drunk and excited to hear about or witness any debauchery they could.

“Heejin, truth or dare?”

“Truth, truth.”

“Whoopsie, I clicked on dare by accident.” Yeojin cackled. “But it’s okay, this is pussy level. Rate everyone out of 10.”

“Everyone?!”

“Just go fast!”

“Alright, alright! So, um…Jinsol, 7.” She started.

“Frankly, I’m offended.” The girl snorted, shoving Heejin playfully so that she leaned against Jiwoo.

She went around the circle, mostly making up random numbers and not paying them much mind (only deliberately giving Chaeyoung a high 8, which was met with excited hollers) until her eyes met Hyunjin’s.

This was the first time that she allowed herself to look at Hyunjin this way. The girl’s delicate face was in stark contrast with the rest of her body, athletic and well-built, probably from years of playing football. Her eyes crinkled when she smiled, showing her unusually sharp canines that Heejin had caught herself describing as kind of cute in her mind, much to her bewilderment. And due to the heat, Hyunjin had rolled the sleeves of her sweater up, and wow, were her hands always that big and slim-

“Hallo, earth to Heejin!” Yeojin flailed her arms in front of Heejin’s face.

Heejin gulped.

“Uhhhhh…” She mumbled, shaken out of whatever haze she got caught up in. “A… 9...?”

“Finally it’s getting exciting!” Yeojin put on her best MC voice as the circle roared.

Heejin swears she caught Hyunjin smirking at her smugly, but she had to go on with rating everyone. She gave Ryujin a 9 as well because she didn’t want to blow her cover, and then when she was finally done, she realized what she involuntarily did and cursed at herself for giving the same, highest score to both Hyunjin and Ryujin.

“Ohhh yes, IT’S BRITNEY BITCH!” Jinsol shouted along with Britney at the beginning of Gimme More, eliciting ecstatic yelling from the drama club as she pumped her hand to the beat.

“With this soundtrack I hope this shitty game does something good finally!” Yeojin yelled at her phone.

Heejin spun the bottle weakly, feeling a buzz in her head. It did three whole circles and stopped at Ryujin.

“Bring it on, MC, dare!” Ryujin crossed her arms over her chest leaning against the cabinet with expensive-looking bottles, her words a little slurred.

“Alright! Oooh shit, this is the best one yet!” Yeojin hollered, waving her hand.

“Well, what is it, genius?”

“Kiss the person in front of you. We’re getting some action!”

Heejin froze in place. Her mind was working considerably slower due to the heavy alcohol intake, but she could still distinguish directions and she KNEW that the person right in front of Ryujin was no one other than her. Which meant-

“Oh shit dude.” Jinsol wheezed, slapping her on the arm.

Heejin gulped, ignoring the drunken mess of a friend that Jinsol was at the moment, and looked up to meet Ryujin’s stare.

“Is it alright?” The girl asked, the left corner of her mouth turned upwards, but her stare considerably sober and soft.

Heejin took a deep breath and stared Ryujin up and down, maybe not as sneakily as she had intended to. Her hair was a little messy from the girl running her hand through it the whole night, the dark blue giving way to black at the roots already and her brows arching slightly in a silent question, and honestly, when else was she going to get a chance like that, even if that was a once-in-a-lifetime type of thing? It was better to regret doing something than not doing it at all. She nodded her head wordlessly.

The excited whoops and cheers seemed to fade away as Ryujin made her way to sit right in front of Heejin, so that their knees were touching. Heejin smacked away the hand that Jiwoo had put on her thigh, undoubtedly as a silent gesture of encouragement, but a rather unwelcome one in this case.

Ryujin, the smirk not disappearing from her face, lowered her gaze to Heejin’s lips and that was all it took for Heejin to start leaning in, albeit with a hint of uncertainty. Ryujin raised her arm and grazed Heejin’s cheek with her thumb, the touch soft and the girl’s smile reassuring. They met halfway.

It was not at all like Heejin had envisioned it in her dreams. None of her fantasies included one of Britney’s sluttiest songs pounding away in the background and her two best friends less than 10 centimetres away, but when Ryujin’s lips touched hers, none of it really mattered.

Ryujin’s lips were soft on hers, her slender fingers grazing her jaw and making her shiver despite how tame the kiss really was, Heejin confident enough to rest her hand on the football player’s arm. She felt enveloped in Ryujin, in the way she smelled like the party, of smoke and alcohol but of something unmistakably her underneath that and the way her shirt feels under her fingers, her head spinning in the best way possible.

And it was over way too soon, much sooner than she’d have liked, and Ryujin was backing away slowly, a relaxed grin plastered on her face as she held eye contact with Heejin, who only remembered to close her mouth after a few hot seconds. Then, Ryujin chuckled and she couldn’t help but chuckle too.

“A round of applause everyone!” Yeojin’s voice fills the room again, breaking the atmosphere. “Though next time please make it less PG!”

“Hey, you were PG not that long ago, so shut up!” Ryujin remarked, teasing the short girl as she stood up and walked over to her usual place.

The warm smile didn’t leave her face when she looked over at Heejin again, her brows slightly raised in question as she pretended to disassociate herself from Yeojin. Heejin chuckled, leaning against Jinsol, who was too drunk to mind, for the first time that night feeling herself relax, her mind still in a bit of a Ryujin-induced haze.

___

The night was uncharacteristically hot for late October. As Jungeun was making her way after Sooyoung to the alcohol store, she felt comfortable in just her black denim jacket thrown over a t-shirt. The neighbourhood was quiet save for the faint sounds of music coming from their party that faded away a few blocks away.

“Why did you want me to go?” Jungeun asked, taking a hit from her Juul.

“What, I can’t ask my favorite girl to go to the alcohol store with me?” Sooyoung shot her a smug smirk.

“Ha, ha.” Jungeun deadpanned, her steps steady.

“I knew you wanted to get me alone so I gave you a chance.” Sooyoung said, turning around to face her when they were walking through a tunnel under a bridge.

Jungeun rolled her eyes, but couldn’t keep her gaze off of Sooyoung, especially in that moment. Everyone knew that the girl had a body to die for, and this time it was no different, with Sooyoung in a leather jacket over a green crop top and black skinny jeans, Jungeun found herself staring at the exposed piece of skin right above the girl’s belt when she was walking ahead of her just one too many times.

But what was really getting to her this night was Sooyoung’s face and her bright smile whenever she looked at her, hoop earrings adorning her ears and matching with everything else perfectly. And just right then, when Sooyoung turned around mid-step, her hand on the tunnel’s wall and her smirk mischievous, she could feel her legs almost giving up under her. That was definitely not good.

“And we’re the only ones that don’t look like toddlers, so. That gives. Though I’m sure the woman at the counter is into me.” She clarified.

“Aren’t you sure that just everybody is into you?” Jungeun asked, just to say something. She knew that they were, especially because she was one of them.

“Duh, because they are.” Sooyoung waved dismissively.

“God, you’re insufferable.”

“Now that’s blasphemous, but I forgive you.”

“This was your weakest line to date, you know that?” Jungeun exhaled the smoke, looking at the other girl with a smirk. She only felt a bit buzzed, and she was sure Sooyoung was too.

“We could quit the talking, then.” Sooyoung eyed her seductively and Jungeun almost jumped.

“Is that literally the only thing you talk about, ever?” Jungeun asked as she faintly noticed the green neon sign with 24/7 written on it in the distance.

Sooyoung didn’t answer right away. They walked in silence for a while, a distant smile dancing on Sooyoung’s lips as she stared at the pavement. Jungeun felt something tug at her chest while observing the other girl, completely unreadable and so unlike every other time Jungeun has had the chance to witness. She didn’t want anything more than to know what was on the girl’s mind at that moment, her black hair pulled back by the wind and her hoop earrings bouncing slightly with every step, only making her even more breathtaking.

“I can be serious, you know.” Sooyoung finally broke the silence, shrugging slightly. “It’s just easier not to.”

Jungeun didn’t know how to respond to that. She opened her mouth to say something, anything, but was cut off by Sooyoung stopping.

Right. The store.

“Alright, now you stay here, because now that there’s more light you actually look like a high schooler. A sexy one, but still a highschooler.” She said, dragging Jungeun out of the view of the woman at the counter, and effectively making her groan.

Sooyoung pulled at her leather jacket and entered the store.

Jungeun hid her face in her hands and propped her forehead up on them. Sooyoung was making her want to rip her hair out violently with the way she was acting, but she still felt incredibly drawn to her for some reason. She looked at Sooyoung leaning over the counter with a charming smile while the woman, looking as bored as only a night shift retail worker could be, was reaching for a bottle of whatever she had decided to buy. Jungeun took a long hit, the smoke dissipating in the air and leaving a faint pineapple smell behind.

“Yo, success. Told you she couldn’t resist me.” She heard excitement in Sooyoung’s voice not long after the door slammed shut.

“Mhm, surely.” Jungeun shook her head when they started walking back. “Ah, what the hell, unscrew it.”

“Now this is more like it!” Sooyoung approved and passed the bottle to Jungeun. “Nothing to chase it, though.”

Jungeun shrugged and took a swig, wincing at the taste but swallowing it nonetheless. She passed it back to Sooyoung, who took one as well.

“Alright, alright, I might be able to dial it down a bit.” Sooyoung admitted begrudgingly, much to Jungeun’s surprise. “There’s no need to point out what is true anyway, and everybody knows they want this.”

With a snicker, Jungeun took the bottle again.

“Fuck, this got to my head.” Sooyoung said with a wince, closing the bottle.

“Do you want a hit?” Jungeun asked, motioning at her Juul with a grin.

“Why not?” Sooyoung shrugged and took it, exhaling a cloud of smoke effortlessly. Jungeun had to admit she let her stare linger on the other girl’s lips longer than necessary.

“I’m feeling those two sips.”

“Well, those weren’t sips, to be fair.” Sooyoung laughed. “But still, weak.”

Something in Jungeun broke seeing Sooyoung throw her head back in a laugh, showing her perfectly white teeth in a wide smile, her eyes crinkling up when she looked back at her.

The rest of the way was quiet, with them only passing Jungeun’s Juul and taking hits, Sooyoung even managing to blow a circle once, earning her an applause from Jungeun in the form of one clap. When they finally arrive on the already familiar street with the house flashing all colors of the rainbow and almost shaking from the low thumping of the bass (Jungeun is pretty sure she can hear Gimme More by Britney Spears, but she’s not absolutely certain) right at the end of it, that’s when Jungeun feels it. That sinking feeling in her stomach as she realized she didn’t want that moment with Sooyoung to end, she’d rather walk through the whole neighbourhood until her feet hurt rather than walk inside and lose whatever it was that they had now. Which was stupid, because it wasn’t like this was actually something.

With a heavy heart, she drags her feet after Sooyoung right until they are standing in front of the house, Jungeun frozen in place and clutching at her Juul. She could hear the rowdy hollers from inside the house (the door was, predictably, wide open) and she could practically sense the confusion vibrating off of Sooyoung as they stood beside the fence, Jungeun seemingly mulling something over, but she couldn’t bring herself to take a step inside the garden.

“Uh, what’s going on, are you si-” Sooyoung began to ask, her voice unsure.

Jungeun cut her off by pressing their lips together.

“Don’t say anything.” She breathed out against Sooyoung’s lips, the brunette’s eyes confused for a second, before they crashed together for the second time, now meeting halfway, Jungeun feeling Sooyoung’s smug smirk, and suddenly not finding it as irritating when it was against her lips.

Jungeun threw her arms around the taller girl’s neck and let her fingers tangle in her smooth hair when she felt Sooyoung’s hands slither over her waist and pull her closer. In that instant, feeling Sooyoung’s hands on her body, she felt as if all the want that she had stored away was unleashed.

She nipped at her lower lip and kissed her as if her life had depended on it, wanting to feel all of it at once, wanting Sooyoung closer, so, so much closer. Sooyoung had responded in kindly, running her hands up and down Jungeun’s sides and back, and maybe it was the alcohol, but Jungeun dragged Sooyoung back with her, so that she was pressed in between Sooyoung and the fence, the cold metal uncomfortable on her back, but she couldn’t care less.

She let Sooyoung take control and soon felt her tongue licking at her lips and brushing against her own, their breaths mixing together. Jungeun had never felt so hot, had never felt this much want in her life, and she wanted, needed Sooyoung to swallow her whole.

It was only when Sooyoung started making her way down to Jungeun’s neck to nip and suck on it sinfully that she realized they were in the middle of an entirely public street and the thought that this was getting too far flashed in her mind and she lightly pushed Sooyoung’s chest, signalizing for her to stop.

The brunette rested her forehead against Jungeun’s and chuckled.

“We should probably get back, no?”

Jungeun chuckled, shaking her head. She pulled herself together, but still could feel the sudden emptiness hit her when Sooyoung took a step back.

Another feeling settled in her stomach as she walked inside the house with Sooyoung, and although they laughed all the way through the garden, there was another thing at the back of her mind, ready to materialize at any moment.

“Soo, finally! What took you so long?” Chaeyoung greeted them at the door, ready to take the bottle.

Sooyoung looked over at Jungeun, and she must have sensed something in the air, because she just said:

“Oh, fuck off, it was closed so we had to walk to the one near the metro, you know which one.”

Jungeun felt as if a weight had been lifted off of her shoulders now that Sooyoung decided not to say anything suggestive for the one time in her life. On wobbly legs, she made her way to the living room, not waiting for Sooyoung, only to see everyone sitting down in a giant circle.

“Jungeunnie! Finally, here!” Her chest tightened at hearing Jiwoo’s cheerful voice call to her and seeing the girl wave at her enthusiastically.

With a small smile, she plopped down next to her and Heejin, and as Jiwoo was whispering to her how Heejin and Ryujin had to kiss as a dare, not really registering what the other girl was saying, she noticed the sinking feeling in her belly as guilt.

“Alright y’all, we have some more alcohol.” Sooyoung announced walking over to the circle with a few bottles in her hands. “Although this shit was actually in the fucking fridge, so whoever told me we were out could have looked better.”

“Whoopsie!” Yerim raised her hands in defeat. “I didn’t want to intrude, so I didn't check the fridge!”

“Whatever!” Yeojin interrupted them. “We’re playing, so get your ass in here!”

Sooyoung looked over to Jungeun, the girl not raising her stare even once, as she was sitting down next to Hyunjin and leaned against her.

The familiar hook of Justin Timberlake’s “SexyBack” had most of them humming, and Yeojin smiled devilishly.

“Great, I watched another absolutely goddamn traumatizing ad, so we can get serious now!”

The bottle kept being spun for at least another hour, after which the circle had quietly dissolved to either smoke, play beer pong or dance indecently in the center of the living room, the party absolutely refusing to die down.

Chapter Text

The mornings after a party always bring with them some sort of a haze. People take long to get up, their heads still slow and more often than not feeling as if they are being split open with an axe, violently. Everybody gets up, ready to kill for a mere cup of water, and sometimes they will be nice enough to half-assedly pick up some bottles off the floor and throw them in the bin on their way out. So when at 9 AM sharp Sooyoung marched into the living room clapping her hands, the dry sound unpleasant to the ears, and screaming, Heejin found herself opening her eyes in shock.

People were strewn all over the room, and she suddenly felt how uncomfortable her own position was. Her head was on someone's shin, the bone digging strangely into her cheek, the denim stiff, one of her hands resting on the fluffy carpet and the rest of her body sprawled on the wooden floor. It was going to bite her in the ass, she could tell, as she could already feel her bones scream in agony at the slightest movement.

With a groan she lifted herself up from the stray leg on her elbow and rubbed her eyes, stifling a yawn. Her tongue felt like a foreign object in her mouth, dry as the Sahara desert. Sooyoung was making her way around the room and waking up the less-willing personally. Slowly, she turned her head, trying not to make the ache any worse by any sudden movements, to find out whose legs served her as a pillow that night, and was met face to face with none other than Hyunjin.

"Ugh, my leg is dead." The girl greeted Heejin with a complaint.

Heejin shrugged, not even having any response. Her whole BODY was dying. Hyunjin seemed to be in about as good of a disposistion as Heejin, though, rubbing her leg with one hand and her head with another, her hair messy and all over her face.

"Come on, come on, get up!" Sooyoung's voice filled the whole room once again, and Heejin saw most of the football team getting up at once, albeit with curses muttered under their breaths and groans escaping their lips.

"Literally what is going on?" She heard Jinsol's voice and noticed the girl almost wrapped around a giant-ass flowerpot, home to Ha family's pet, a pilodendron named, predictably, Phil.

"My parents will be back in around an hour or so, so y'all need to scramble. But before that, we need to clean all this shit up!" Sooyoung replied, as energetic as if she hasn't slept two hours after a night of binge drinking.

Jinsol groaned, slumping against the flower pot but then leaning against it with her hand and lifting herself up.

"How are you this... not dead?" She asked, life gone from her voice.

"What?" The brunette arched her eyebrows. "I just don't get hangovers. Usually. Now come on."

And she threw a roll of trash bags to Jinsol, the blonde flailing her arms around as if she were trying to get rid of an extremely annoying fly to catch it and then looking at Sooyoung, unsure what to do with it.

"Just pick the trash up, it can look like there was a party, just not a cool party." Sooyoung instrued and started distributing the bags to every other person. Heejin got one as well.

"Ready to pick up trash at your own birthday party?" She heard from beside her. Hyunjin picked up three beer bottles from the floor and threw them into the bag unceremoniously.

Heejin groaned mentally. It was too early and she was definitely too hungover to deal with this.

"Technically, isn't it Jiwoo's part today?" Another voice said, and a few more bottles clinked as they were thrown into the bag in Heejin's hands.

She came face to face with Ryujin, the girl's eyes still narrow from sleeping, but the same smirk that she saw on her face last night already on her lips.

"True, I said that." Hyunjin waved.

Heejin looked around as the two co-captains were picking up trash with groans coming from everywhere around them. Jungeun was holding up a bag with Jiwoo as they watched Jinsol carefully pick up the pieces of a shattered bowl from the floor, Sooyoung coming up to them and joking about not being able to remember when that happened, Jiwoo's bright laugh so loud it was as if she were standing right next to Heejin. Jungeun then let go of the bag, looking around the room, and went over to help Yerim and Yeojin, who struggled to keep the bag in her hands, her eyes practically closing on their own and her cute buns completely messy and loose.

"Come on, let's go to the garden, it has to be full of shit." Ryujin suggested and Heejin and and Hyunjin followed her wordlessly.

Empty cigarette packs, bottles and a few cartons of pizza (which was weird, because she was almost sure she couldn't remember anyone ordering pizza) littered the lawn. Hyunjin put her hands on her hips and sighed at the tragic sight.

"Animals." She commented, shaking her head with a disappointed expression. Ryujin snickered.

They made their way down the stairs, the morning air a bit chilly, making Heejin properly wake up, various items finding their way into the bag, making it heavier. Ryujin turned her head to look at Heejin, her hair bouncing with the motion.

"So, what did you think?" She asked.

"Could have used more Black Eyed Peas." Hyunjin yelled from where she was crouched picking up cans of Red Bull before Heejin could even register the fact that she was asked a question.

Ryujin chuckled.

"It was really cool, honestly." Heejin said, making it a point to hold eye contact with Ryujin and purposefully keeping her voice low, a bit surprised by her newfound confidence, but she definitely wasn't about to complain.

"Did you like it?"

Heejin stopped in her tracks seeing Ryujin's slighty raised eyebrow as another question slipped effortlessly past her lips, nothing in her tone signalizing some subliminal message, but Heejin's mind was already on overdrive looking for hidden meanings and hoping that her imagination going wild and inventing various scenarios wasn't JUST her imagination.

She found it in herself to raise a corner of her mouth.

"Yeah. Yeah, I liked it." She said.

"Pretty sure Miss Cunt over there didn't." Hyunjin's voice brought her back to reality. The girl was motioning at the house right next to Sooyoung's with a lazy grin.

"God, wonder how she is doing." Ryujin slapped her thigh and shook her head, cackling.

"Maybe she's dead." Hyunjin added with a snicker, eliciting another laught from the other co-captain.

It was the first time that Heejin had seen them interact like that, and it was like she was a spectator witnessing wild animals in their natural habitat. They made their way through the garden to the back of the house, and as much as Heejin wanted to look at Ryujin losing her mind while laughing, pretty sure it was the best sound to grace her ears, she also didn't like not being in on the joke.

"Wait, who's this... Miss... Cunt...?" She asked, her voice unsure. It shocked her how unlike an intruder she felt interrupting the two's banter.

Ryujin snickered even more, but Hyunjin straightened up.

"Miss Cunt is a long story." She said.

"We have time, this lawn is fucked." Ryujin motioned around, a wide grin on her face. "Go tell it, I could listen to it forever."

Heejin nodded, encouraging Hyunjin to begin spilling the tea.

"Okay, so we are traveling back in time to the first year of high school." She started, looking dramatically into the distance. Heejin caught Ryujin's stare as she tried to stifle a laugh. "It was the first party that Sooyoungie has ever hosted, right after I transferred and it was... what, 150 people?"

"Yeah, something like that." Ryujin confirmed.

They were having parties like that in first year? Heejin was feeling wild when she could get drunk with the drama club on cheap vodka mixed with juice to numb the taste at Haseul's "thespian gatherings", as she so fondly called them.

"So anyway, the music is loud, everybody is already drunk off their ass, but Sooyoung the most probably. So me, Sooyoungie, Ryujin and Jeongyeon, her old ass rest in peace-"

"She's dead?!" Heejin interrupted her, faintly remembering the brunette with a bowl cut that graduated two years ago.

"No, she went to college." Hyunjin shrugged. "We went to the store to get even more alcohol and when we were coming back, we see this old ass grandma yelling and waving her cane in front of the gate. Sooyoung's neighbour. And so, as soon as she saw her, she goes: "miss, if you do not dial it down i will take measures." And Sooyoung was already drunk as fuck, so she just laughed in her face and asked what measures. The grandma goes, "I'll tell your parents, young lady." But Sooyoung is like whatever, bitch, they know I'm having a lit ass party and there's nothing you can do about it. But the woman is like, I won't let you pass until you dial it down, this dry-ass grandma, three heads shorter than Sooyoung and in like, an apron or something, and she starts threatening how ONE DAY they will find shit all over their lawn and they WILL know but won't be able to prove anything, so Sooyoung is like, get out of the way, you crazy cunt, because the threats were getting kinda wild." Ryujin stifled a chuckle at the memory and Heejin couldn't believe her ears. "So anyway, the hag goes like, ballistic "YOU WILL ADDRESS ME PROPERLY, YOUNG LADY" and Sooyoung goes, completely plastered and with a grin because the woman finally unblocked the gate in her rage-induced fit, "don't lose your breath, MISS Cunt" and practically slamming the door in her face."

"God, what the fuck were we thinking then?" Ryujin asked, shaking her head and Hyunjin shrugged, a faint smile on her lips.

"Don't talk like we're old." Hyunjin said, her expression serious. "You know my mind has just "Gee" by Girls Generation on repeat over and over again, always has, always will."

For the first time, Heejin didn't find herself stifling the laugh bubbling in her chest at Hyunjin's nonsense.

___

"I think you should play it cool, ya know." Jinsol was gesturing wildly as the four were whispering conspiraciously while making their way down the school corridor.

"But didn't you tell her to be desperate last time?" Jiwoo leaned more to the blonde in confusion. "AND it worked!"

Jinsol slammed her palm on her forehead with a sigh.

"It's a change of strategy, Jiwooming! Hot and cold, like in that Katy Perry song!"

"But the song is her complai-" Jiwoo's protest was cut short.

"I know what to do, I got this." Heejin exclaimed with a smirk. "It's all good. I'm, like, not afraid to talk to her anymore, I told you we had a moment right after the party and I didn't shit myself!"

"Yeah, I don't get that." Jinsol shook her head. "You literally hyperventilate when she gets in your vicinity for two years and now you suddenly "got this"? Jeon Heejin, I smell some bull."

"Maybe it's like the princess and the frog!" Jiwoo rubbed her chin. "Now that Ryujin kissed her, she turned from a... normal frog to a confident frog...?"

"That doesn't even make sense." Heejin furrowed her eyebrows, although she was endeared by her friend's explanation. "But yeah, like, honestly. It's chill. And it's not like every problem just vanished because I don't want to stress-puke my guts out at the idea of talking to her anymore!"

"Please don't make me remember that scene from Pitch Perfect." Jinsol sighed and pinched the bridge of her nose at the thought.

"God, no, why would you mention it?" Jiwoo whined.

Their lessons for the day have already ended, and they were making their way out of school. The hot topic of their squad have been, ever since that party and rightfully so, Heejin and Ryujin. Jiwoo was terribly excited at the notion that her best friend might finally have something with the girl she's been crushin on for quite some time and Jinsol, despite cringing horribly everytime, could not stop thinking up "foolproof" (according to her) strategies of how Heejin should go about pursuing Ryujin.

Jungeun, although obviously happy for Heejin, even if she wasn't there to witness her big moment, had something else on her mind, something that was making her skin itch and doubts consuming her thoughts almost entirely. She was walking beside her friends wordlessly, her eyes bouncing from side to side until she found what, or rather who she was anxiously looking for.

Not really paying much attention to what they were saying, the guilt in her chest growing exponentially as soon as she opened her mouth, she nudged Jinsol on the shoulder and said:

"Hey, go ahead, I need to get something."

The blonde just nodded and they went ahead, Jungeun watching their backs until they disappeared around the corner.

She took a deep breath, bracing herself for what she was just about to do, and made her way over to the lockers where she saw Sooyoung rummage through her stuff with one hand distractedly, biting down on a red apple. Save for them, the corridor was empty, only the sound of Jungeun's steps and Sooyoung's books being shoved into the locker echoing off the walls.

"Hey." She began as she approached the brunette, sudden nervousness taking over the guilt from just mere seconds ago.

Sooyoung turned to her, her brow arched slightly in surprise, as the blonde hasn't really talked to her since the party, but she flashed her a grin.

"Hey, what's up?" She greeted her and threw the apple in the bin, seemingly completely relaxed.

Jungeun was finding it hard to maintain a straight face because she was absolutely sure that the weight of the entire school building was nothing compared to the one she felt on her chest. She found it annoying how Sooyoung was just there, leaning against the lockers with a lazy grin as if nothing had happened and she was feeling like a baloon ready to pop any minute.

"Did you tell anyone?" She asked, her voice hushed, getting straight to the point, her hands fidgety.

"What?" Sooyoung leaned in, her face slightly confused.

"About..." Jungeun's whisper got dangerously close to a hiss. "That kiss."

Sooyoung shrugged.

"No, why?" She replied, her voice at a normal volume.

Jungeun involuntarily felt her shoulders slump in relief, even if she was irked by Sooyoung not getting the seriousness of the whole thing. Her eyes stayed glued to the floor. She had no plan as to what she should say next, as she half expected the whole student body to already be informed about her dirty little secret. Good? Really? Thank god and the holy spirit, because otherwise I would have died from guilt for feeling like I've gone behind my best friend's back?

"I liked it, though." Sooyoung mumbled, breaking the silence that fell over them, her voice dropping.

Jungeun looked up, then, and she found Sooyoung's dark eyes staring right at her without their usual mischievous spark, even if a faint smile was dancing on her lips. She was almost surprised by how simple and sincere it sounded.

"I... liked it, too." She found herself saying, barely audible. She more than liked it, and they both knew that. The memory of Sooyoung's hands gripping her waist possessively and her hot mouth on her jaw was enough for heat to start crawling up her neck, but every memory was punctured with a faint pang of guilt in her chest. "But no one can know, alright?"

Sooyoung's usual smirk came back and her eyes lit up.

"Please, I don't kiss and tell."

Jungeun scoffed, but she couldn't help the chuckle that escaped her lips.

"Please, literally the whole student body knows who you've slept with and when."

Sooyoung's smirk got even wider.

"What, so you got informed?"

"No!" Jungeun smacked her on the arm, the anxiety almost completely gone.

"It's not my fault they feel the need to brag about it." The brunette shrugged. "I guess I'm just good like that."

"Ha, ha." Jungeun deadpanned.

Sooyoung bit her lip, something else entirely in her eyes when she looked at the blonde.

"We don't have to... stop, though." She said, her tone nonchalant.

Jungeun froze.

"What?" She asked, even though she knew (or at least strongly suspected, pushing the thought that maybe it was her hoping to the back of her mind) what the other girl had in mind.

"You enjoyed it, I enjoyed it..." Sooyoung continued. "So, why stop?"

The question was immediately followed by a heavy pause.

Jungeun looked up at Sooyoung's face, not really able to tell what was on the girl's mind. Maybe it was just like she said, maybe it was as simple as that. They just... don't stop. The memories of the party flowed to her mind, entirely too tempting, followed by the immediate guilt as she recalled clinging to Jiwoo the next morning and avoiding making any eye contact with Sooyoung, and then the thought that she shouldn't even be considering this, but then she raised her gaze only to meet Sooyoung's eyes again, not expectant or hopeful but noticeably darker than they were before.

She pushed the guilt to the back of her mind and, biting on her lip, grabbed the other girl's wrist.

"Uh, what-" Sooyoung choked out confused, as Jungeun dragged her through the corridor but shut up seeing the girl's determined face, deep in thought.

They arrived in a small room with dirty green walls, plastic chairs lined up against them, and a small wobbly desk that Sooyoung was almost sure was some old and forgotten storage room.

With furrowed brows, she found herself asking again:

"So, is this like... what is this?" She cringed at her own sudden lack of eloquence, but blamed it on Jungeun bringing her unusual amounts of confusion.

Jungeun shrugged, taking a sharp breath. Her backpack hit the floor as soon as the door shut behind them. She walked up to Sooyoung, their height difference, however slight, apparent, with Jungeun having to look up to meet the brunetter's gaze. Their noses were almost touching and she could feel Sooyoung's chest rise and fall steadily, so unlike her own.

"This doesn't mean anything." She breathed out against her lips.

Sooyoung's brow arched up, but she smirked.

"Who said it had to?"

___

"I do entreat your grace to pardon me." Heejin gathered force in her voice and with a steely gaze faced her own reflection in the mirror. "I know not by what power I am made bold..."

She sighed, not completely satisfied with her performance, stopping mid-sentence, and plopped down on the chair, spinning around slowly and grabbing her copy of "A Midsummer Night's Dream" that Miss Kim had given her back in first year, annotated by the eccentric teacher herself, to look over the lines again. She wanted to prepare the opening scene of the play for the auditions that were approaching fast, and she wanted to get it right.

Even though their little clique was composed of Miss Kim's favorites (which she would never admit because she had to maintain at least an illusion of professionality) and Heejin would actually be a bit surprised if she didn't get the role that she auditioned for, she didn't want it to be just because of Miss Kim's sympathy, no. She wanted to earn it because of the hard work and dedication she put in, because that was just who she was. She wouldn't feel right if she had slacked off.

Resting her forehead on her palm and flicking the coffee-stained pages that she'd touched so many times already, she read the notes again, Miss Kim's round handwriting filling out the margins. Most of the comments were brief and solid, dedicated to enhancing the performance, like "fine line between comedy and drama", "with spirit, headstrong", "defiance in saying it", but there were some that were less... business and more personal, like how there would be "HAHAHA" in capital letters next to the lines that must have struck Miss Kim as particularly funny or a "savage, get her girl" next to that one biting remark that Helena delivers to Hermia.

She had it down perfectly, Heejin could probably quote the first scene from a random moment if somebody had woken her up in the middle of the night and asked her to, and she could probably recall Miss Kim's annotations as well. She wanted to nail it at the audition, so she put all her heart into it, but she's been reviewing and practicing that one scene in front of the mirror for the whole evening and she could feel herself becoming bored with the constant repetition, even if she didn't want to admit it.

Heejin put the thin book on her stomach, still open on page 8, and wrapped her hands behind her head, leaning back against the chair and resting. There were sounds of Hyejoo terrorizing minecraft villagers coming from behind the wall and the faint chatter of the TV playing in the living room.

She let her stare linger on the desk. The tea that her mom had made her must have gone cold and disgusting already, the steam coming out of the doraemon mug long gone. She had her doodles of herself, Jiwoo, Jungeun and Jinsol as characters from different cartoons hung in the middle of the board above the desk, with school schedules and little notes taking second place and having to occupy the space around it.

It was a good memory of a hot summer day spent at Heejin's house during the holiday break in between their first and second year of high school, with Jinsol annoying Hyejoo whenever the younger girl decided to step foot out of her room and them all watching Mean Girls, lazily sipping on some cheap sodas that were almost entirely sugar and nothing else. Heejin had already seen Mean Girls before (Jiwoo had called an intervention after she learned that Jungeun hasn't, her gasp at the news as dramatic as if the girl had announced that her mother had just died), so she found herself grabbing a sheet of paper and a pencil and asking her friends, completely engrossed in the drama unveiling on the screen as Janis Ian was explaining the basics of the high school food chain to Cady, to name one cartoon each.

Thus, the drawing of the four in poses like the powerpuff girls was born, with Jiwoo with yellow skin suspiciously resembling Marge Simpson, Jinsol as a magical girl in a skimpy school uniform (as requested), Heejin with a scoff like Shego from Kim Possible and Jungeun with jelly limbs like the characters from Adventure Time. It took her three days to finish with coloring, but it was worth it.

Heejin felt the corner of her mouth tug upwards at the memory. Her eyes drifted to a stack of paper sheets and pencils thrown into an empty cup pushed to the side desk, laying around unused for what was now getting close to being three months. She sighed. With all the craziness that was going down with the drama club this year, Heejin really couldn't afford anymore distractions, even if her hands itched for something more than doodles in the margins of her school notebooks when she was bored out of her mind during lessons.

She was snapped out of it by her phone vibrating against the mug. Pulling the chair closer to the desk with her leg, she reached out for it, set on taking a break anyway.

from: haha bread, 19:31
i’m auditioning for nick bottom
the comedic potential? unrivaled

Heejin involuntarily smiled at the screen, though her eyebrows shot up in surprise. This was probably the first time she’d seen or heard Hyunjin even reference the drama club or the play.

to: haha bread, 19:32
i support the sudden desire but lol good luck
he has the most lines
and you haven’t even read it

The response was immediate, as always.

from: haha bread, 19:32
who says im not reading it right now

Heejin chuckled. No way.

to: haha bread, 19:33
me??
no
the universe

from: haha bread, 19:33
[pic]

Hyunjin sent a selfie of herself sitting against the window, with her hair pulled back and her face bare, covered almost entirely with a book whose cover read, in bold, red letters “A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM”.

from: haha bread, 19:34
it’s the dollar store copy

Heejin’s mouth hung open in shock as she chose to ignore the last message.

to: haha bread, 19:35
…...who are you?
alright if you don’t come back to normal until tomorrow i’m calling the cops

from: haha bread, 19:36
it’s me i swear
though i can come back right now how would you like that

Heejin chuckled and quickly typed out a response.

to: haha bread, 19:37
alright
don’t
i’m not complaining anymore.

from: haha bread, 19:37
[pic]

It was another photoshopped cat edit.

Heejin shook her head with a grin and set her phone back on the desk, feeling the energy necessary to practice again rush back to her.

___

The audition day finally came and the drama club members flocked to the classroom even earlier than usual, eager to ease their anxieties by talking them out and letting the others indulge in their while they stood in a giant circle waiting for the bell to ring and for Miss Kim to arrive.

"God why is it so hot please someone open the window I think we need more air." Shin Yuna mumbled, the sentence escaping her lips so fast it sounded like one very long word. "Actually, no, I got it."

And she smacked at Yeojin's and Yerim's hands as they tried to fan her, because it was November and even though it wasn't extremely cold, half of the room groaned at the mere mention of opening the window.

"Who do you hope you get?" Yerim asked, not directing the question at anyone in particular.

Ryujin was the first to speak up, sparks of determination dancing in her eyes. Heejin gulped.

"I want Lysander. Because, what the hell." She said. "Yoo helped me learn that one monologue, and it's go hard or go home, I guess."

Heejin had to admit that she was surprised, on top of her heart doing somersaults at the mere thought of Ryujin being cast as her love interest and them having to... spend time with each other and talk and rehearse lines as lovers running away to be able to finally be together and- But. She didn't think anyone from the football team would actually be willing to put in so much work and get seriously involved, let alone play one of the leads.

"What, you actually learned it?" Sooyoung asked in disbelief. "I figured I would just read it, am I disqualified now or something?"

"No, of course not." Jungeun rolled her eyes, although she felt a bit uneasy when she realized that she didn't even know who the girl was auditioning for. It wasn't like their conversations were about the drama club, anyway. Or like they conversed at all, for the matter.

"Thank god." Sooyoung sighed dramatically. "I want Demetrius, the dude is kind of a mess and I'm living for it."

Jiwoo's eyes widened and she clutched Heejin's wrist at that. Her lips widened in a grin.

"This is so great!" She said. "If you two get the roles, then Heejin wants Hermia and I want Helena, so we will be evenly divided between the football team and the drama club! Just think about it, Miss Kim will be ecstatic with how well we're getting along."

Jungeun was glad that all the attention momentarily turned to Jiwoo because she was sure her face was burning up.

"Really?" Ryujin asked, returning Jiwoo's smile.

Heejin nodded, feeling jittery all over from both anxiety at the coming audition and the interest apparent in Ryujin's voice.

"Yeah, first you gotta get the part." Jinsol commented, her tone teasing.

"SHUT UP!" Jiwoo and Heejin yelled at their friend in unison, both of them very adamant on getting the roles that they were hoping for.

""I'm channeling Nick Bottom. I'm ready." Hyunjin's monotone voice made itself heard over the screaming. It seemed like she hasn't given up on her plan, even though she hasn't mentioned the play even once since that one time.

Jungeun just shrugged. She would read that one scene of the Mechanicals, but she was honestly ready to accept whatever Miss Kim deemed fit for her.

They didn't have to wait long for the woman, this time clad in a flowy purple dress, to walk inside the classroom, slamming the door after her.

"Hello, class." She greeted them with a clap. "We know what day it is. Let's give it our all! Who wants to go first? Fighting!"

And she took a seat behind the desk facing the makeshift stage as the students scrambled to get in line, some holding their copies of the play or paper sheets with their lines printed out.

The first one to go was Jiwoo. She bowed her head and it was all it took to put a smile on Miss Kim's face.

"Um, okay." The girl began, fiddling with her hands. "So I prepared the scene where Demetrius and Lysander are fighting over Helena."

Miss Kim gave her an encouraging nod.

"Because... I'm auditioning for Helena." Jiwoo finished awkwardly.

The air of awkwardness, however, disappeared as soon as she collected herself and got into the role, the lines bouncing between her and Miss Kim, who was reading the other roles for Jiwoo to fill in, perfectly. Unable to contain herself after she finished, Jiwoo gave a huge bow and her eyes narrowed with a smile of overwhelming excitement.

Next was Yeojin, and her surprisingly low voice rolled of her tongue like thunder as she put on her most stern expression to imitate a king, surprising even Miss Kim herself.

The auditions went by, with most of the students having prepared a monologue to read or to recite, Miss Kim nodding in approval at every single one of them, even at Hyejoo, who just picked the play up from Miss Kim's desk and chose to read from a random page, delivering the lines in the most bored and flat voice that even Heejin has ever heard from her.

It was only when Hyunjin got up on the stage that things got interesting. She fished her phone out of her pocket and started looking for something on it, everybody staring in anticipation as she stood in the middle of the stage. Then, Hyunjin set the phone down on the floor and clicked on something once, only for the whole class to hear the very familiar opening notes of Eminem's magnum opus, The Real Slim Shady. She turned to face the room and bowed graciously, like a ballerina.

And she started reciting the lines for all of the six Mechanicals at once, but giving them the spirit of a tough rapper from the 2000s, switching her voice and her position with every role change. It was, admittedly, extremely hard to follow and the music effectively muffled her voice as she was in her own world of performance art, with everybody just staring with wide eyes at whatever the hell was going on right in front of them.

When the song ended, Hyunjin broke the character and quickly picked the phone up, stopping her audition mid-sentence and seemingly not giving a shit. She showed a thumbs up and flashed a charming smile at Miss Kim, who was staring at the girl with her mouth hanging open.

"Hope you take me into consideration for the role of Nick Bottom!"

Heejin facepalmed as the students gave Hyunjin the first applause of the afternoon, even if it was very hesitant and rather conservative.

Her turn was approaching with Yerim, who was the one standing in line before her was finishing up her own audition, jumping off the stage with a bright smile directed at Miss Kim.

As she was walking up on the stage, she could feel her hands getting sweaty and she wiped them on her jeans, hoping that nobody saw.

"Alright, Heejin, who are you auditioning for?" Miss Kim asked, her voice encouraging.

"Hermia." Heejin responded.

"And what have you prepared?"

"Um, the first scene. Without the script."

She could swear that she saw a smirk on Miss Kim's lips for a second.

Without much further ado, she took a deep breath and started, her eyes serious and her gaze unwavering as she stared at Miss Kim.

"So is Lysander."

Miss Kim read the line of Theseus back.

"I would rather my father look'd but with my eyes."

With the second line leaving her lips, she felt herself relax and immerse into the role, the rest of the scene passing by without any mistakes, the back and forth between her and Miss Kim immensely satisfying, even if she couldn't have given herself an honest 100 points out of 100.

“...Keep word, Lysander: we must starve our sight, from lovers' food till morrow deep midnight.” She finished, longing and determination in her voice.

A smile quickly made her lips widen in excitement and happiness that she delivered a good performance. Miss Kim nodded in acknowledgemenet and Heejin could hear the drama club room fill with the sound of clapping as she bowed deeply and practically jumped off the stage, her chest threatening to burst with satisfaction. She was getting that role.

___

Soon after the auditions came the first football match of the country-wide high school championships. With the tradition almost forgotten (even though it still seemed a bit fishy how no one seemed to be able to find out who those girls were), the whole drama club decided, having been previously invited excitedly by the football team, that they would all come to show support for their newfound friends.

Heejin found herself squeezed between Jungeun and Jinsol, wind blowing in her face as they sat among the drama club members on the stands and waited for the match to begin. There was still some time left, because they had agreed on the big drama club groupchat to come early so that they would all get seats next to each other, as proposed by Yerim.

"Isn't it too cold to play?" Jinsol narrowed her eyes as she tried to wrap herself up in her denim jacket and hide behind Jiwoo to shield herself from the wind.

"No, you're just dumb to go out like this." Jungeun said, already taking a spare hoodie out of her bag. She rolled her eyes. "Here."

Shivering, Jinsol muttered a quick thanks and immediately threw the hoodie over her head.

"Alright, party." She resumed. "Who are we even playing against?"

Her leg was bouncing and by the way she said "we", Heejin could tell that the blonde was getting into the team spirit. She shrugged, because she actually had no idea, and looked over at Jungeun, but the other girl only raised her hands.

"Pledis High. They are not that good, from what I know." Jiwoo came to the rescue, passing Jungeun the popcorn.

Heejin's eyes darted to the other side of the stands, where their opponent school had seats saved for them. The Pledis High students seemed pretty unenthusiastic, most of them on their phones and not a single hand-made banner in sight. Hell, even Chaewon came to the match (purposefully sitting as far away from them as possible), a giant cardboard cut out with "CRUSH THEM BABY" in her hands as she sipped on her latte, with her airpods in. A shit ton of other people had at least little cards with short phrases, like "Let's go!", "Fighting!" or the names of the players, ready to hype up their team on their way to victory.

Looking at it now, Heejin could understand Miss Kim's envy of the football team's funding. The drama club had to be cramped up in a small classroom since the beginning of time, and the stage that they installed there five years ago was actually made by student volunteers in the garage of one of them in the span of two days with a complete lack of any support or acknowledgement from the principal.

The football field, however, could act as a minuscule version of the national stadium, not counting the rusting metal bars holding up the bleachers (but they were a public school, so some sacrifices had to be made and other things had to be excused). On the surface everything was perfect, the seats were clean, the scoreboard displayed 0 - 0 in bold red and goal nets were practically shining in the grey November afternoon. The cheerleaders were sitting next to the field, waiting for the match to start like everybody else, and Heejin wondered how they were not dying in their black and red skirts and sleeveless shirts, but they seemed alright, joking around with each other to make the time pass faster.

"And how do you know?" Jungeun raised her eyebrows at the girl.

Jiwoo just shot them an ominous smirk, avoiding any eye contact.

"I have my sources."

In truth, she was just the only one of the four that spared a minute of her time to look at the schedule board, but admitting that would have been much less spectacular, and Jiwoo lived for spectacular.

With a small chuckle, Heejin leaned forward and scanned the field once again. She was just about to nudge Jinsol and point at that one guy from Pledis High that fell asleep with his headphones on, his friends making it a contest who would first succeed in throwing a popcorn in his open mouth, Heejin absolutely ready to take bets on a girl in a red hoodie, but Yerim's excited voice snapped her out of it.

"Oh, is it starting? This is so exciting, I've never been to a football match before, give me popcorn!"

Some excited murmurs could be heard from their school's side, and they were caused by none other than Shin Ryujin jogging through the field, with her hair pulled back and in full gear, a red band on her arm. The tight, long sleeved shirt with the name SHIN and the number 10 made Heejin's heart skip a beat.

Any and all excitement died down, however, when it turned out she was just sprinting to the table to get herself a bottle of water. She leaned against the table as she drank and started conversing with the head cheerleader, Julie or Julia, Heejin was not sure (why were people so crazy about giving their kids foreign names, anyway?), making the whole squad erupt into fits of laughter at comments that Heejin could not hear.

"How long till it starts? I'm bored as fuck, this is just like the past two years. Stop leering." Jinsol complained, leaning her head down on Heejin's arm and speaking directly into her ear.

"I'm not leering!" She protested, giving one last look to Ryujin and the head cheerleader before redirecting her attention to her friends.

"It should be starting now." Jungeun took a look at her phone.

Surely enough the referee, a middle aged woman in a blue adidas tracksuit and with an impeccable bowlcut made her way onto the field and a high pitched whistle made everyone's heads turn to its source. Heejin's eyes darted once again, only to see Ryujin waving at the cheerleaders and sprinting back to the locker room, the grey doors closing after her.

The principal, a bald, giant ass tool with a moustache too big for his face (It was common knowledge that one student once got detention for saying his hair migrated from his head to under his nose. That student may or may not have been Jinsol in first year, completely horrified to find out that he had been standing behind her the whole time) made a speech about the power of teamwork and the healthy rivalry apparently connecting the two schools, wishing luck to both teams at the ends.

With another blow of the whistle, the two teams jogged out on the field, coach Moon standing up from her seat right next to the cheerleaders with a confident smirk, sending a thumbs up her team's way.

The Pledis High team was dressed in bright orange uniforms, and the applause they received was quickly drowned out by the roaring of the crowd as Hyunjin stepped out to shake the hand of their captain. Because her and Ryujin were co-captains, they just decided to take turns and switch every match.

As the referee was placing the ball in the middle of the field, Jiwoo whipped out a piece of cardboard folded in two from her bag.

"What's this?" Heejin narrowed her eyes.

"Well, we need to support the team!" The girl shrugged and unfolded it, immediately raising the cardboard high above her head.

Heejin leaned forward to see what Jiwoo had written on it and immediately shook her head with a laugh full of disbelief. In perfectly bold, black letters, there was a giant "GO SOOYOUNG!" in capital letters with a ton of exclamation points and then, under it, as if added last minute and barely visible, in blue instead of black: "and the rest of the team!".

"Oh god, you took it..." Jinsol facepalmed. "At least I made her add that."

"I don't know what's wrong with it, plenty people have cards with their favorites!" Jiwoo pointed at the field, where Sooyoung was shooting her a finger heart and nodding her head in approval with a bright smile as she noticed the banner. "And she likes it!"

"Cards, not banners, Jiwooming." Jinsol sighed, a chuckle escaping past her lips.

"Of course she would like it." Jungeun rolled her eyes and stuffed her mouth with popcorn.

"You're hopeless." Heejin shook her head and went to look back at the game.

"No, it's not like that!" Jiwoo's protests went unanswered as the match was beginning to get serious.

The other team was clearly struggling right from the start, as Hyejoo scored for the first time after a mere seven minutes, coach Moon jumping up and yelling excitedly, the cheerleaders shouting out in praise of the team and the crowd erupting in excitement. Chaewon stood up with her banner and looked at her girlfriend with pride in her eyes, nodding her head. Hyejoo just waved dismissively as the team jumped in a circle around her to hype her up, but a small smirk appeared on her lips nonetheless.

The game resumed soon after, though, and Heejin was surprised to find her eyes straying to Hyunjin once in a while. It was probably because Ryujin was in defense and it was not as exciting to look at, she reasoned to herself.

That they both were equally deserving of the spot of co-captain was unquestionable, and it was the first time that Heejin had found herself engrossed in the actual game itself.

Ryujin was relaxed, but her presence on the field was undeniable. She mostly kept to the back, and she wouldn't let any of their opponents get the ball even remotely close to their net, working with Sooyoung like a machine. On the field, Ryujin was like a human wall that Pledis High was not able to even make a small dent in, as she quickly dribbled and took the ball away from the confused opponents only to pass it to someone in attack, sometimes shouting out commands in a steady voice.

Hyunjin was the complete opposite. She moved around the field swiftly, covering more distance than the other ten combined, maybe. She would sprint against three Pledis High defense players and make her way through them, somehow retaining the ball, the risk taken paying off as she scored for the second time that afternoon despite the sheer impossibility of the maneuver, making coach Moon fall down on her knees as she yelled out to the sky in ecstasy. She screamed out the commands and hyped up the team in a voice full of confidence, quickly and almost erratically, but everyone would adapt and listen to what she said, knowing full well who was in charge.

It was almost funny, how the two co-captains' personalities on and off the field seemed to be reversed.

They won 2 - 0, completely obliterating Pledis High, whose players looked almost relieved when the match finally ended. Literally everyone in the stands jumped up, with Jiwoo and Jinsol going almost crazy screaming in each others' faces, Jungeun clapping faintly and Heejin throwing her hands up in victory.

Chapter Text

“Shit, shit, shit, I think I’m going to literally piss myself.” Heejin muttered under her breath as she was pacing around the storage room, her hands clenched.

The week between the last drama club meeting and the next passed at the speed of light, and in less than five minutes they all would know the results of the auditions. Heejin was positively freaking out, walking in circles with Jiwoo, Jungeun and Jinsol treading around her carefully, already aware of the fact that Heejin in such a state should not be upset.

“Do you remember that one line?” She mumbled, facing the wall. “I think my gaze faltered. God. I just KNOW it did. It absolutely did-”

“Okay, Heekkie, right now you’re just spiraling.” Jinsol interrupted her friend, making her head turn rapidly to face the blonde. “You did great.”

“But I-” Heejin’s shoulders slouched.

“No buts!” Jiwoo clapped her hands and walked up to the discouraged brunette, patting her on her head. “We both did great and we’re gonna get it!”

“I’m not asking which “it” you mean.” Jinsol snickered, but Jiwoo practically shot lightning bolts from her eyes at her, so she shut up.

“We’re gonna go into the room and we’re going to face the list, no matter what fate it gives us!” Jiwoo ignored Jinsol’s pout and went back to trying to animate their friend. “But we got it, I just know it.”

“Why are you so chirpy? Weren’t you stressed out too?” Jungeun’s brow arched up as she let out smoke through her nose, mango-flavored this time.

“I just have a good motivational playlist!” Jiwoo shrugged with a smile.

Jungeun snorted, remembering how she saw a new playlist on their shared spotify account that morning on the way to school, with fifty songs, only to discover that Jiwoo had put Brave Honest Beautiful by Fifth Harmony in there fifty times, but she didn’t comment on it, endeared.

“Alright.” Heejin pressed her palms to her forehead in concentration and then breathed out slowly. “Let’s go. But you have to look for me.”

“Of course!” Jiwoo exclaimed and, her hand still on Heejin’s arm rubbing reassuring circles with her thumb, she led them out of the storage room and to the drama club classroom.

Most of the members were already there, gathered around the board where Miss Kim must have pinned the list with the distributed roles, some of them letting out excited yelps at the results, like Yerim and Yeojin who immediately hugged warmly after seeing their roles and started chatting excitedly as they went to the side to make space for the others. Shin Yuna joined them almost immediately after, gesturing wildly and with a joyful smile.

Ryujin was there, too, Heejin’s chest tightening when she saw her light smirk as the co-captain waited patiently in line to take a look at the board, an absolutely selfish reason (although only one in the sea, hell, a whole ocean of others) for Heejin being so set on getting the role of Hermia.

Heejin’s heart jumped when Ryujin let out a victorious “yes!” and raised her hand up. She raised her eyes up to look at the ceiling and choked out, silently sending prayers god’s way:

“Please look for me, please, please, please.”

Both Jungeun and Jiwoo immediately looked over at Jinsol, whose eyes widened as she shrunk a bit in herself at the sudden attention. In defeat, she rolled her eyes and raised her hands, making her way over to the crowd and to the board.

Staring at the board took the blonde too long, in Heejin’s opinion, but when she turned around, her face unreadable, it was as if Heejin could pinpoint the exact moment that her blood turned to literal ice in her veins. Jinsol walked back to them, her expression dropping.

“I think you should see for yourself.” She said, making Heejin’s stomach flip.

Jiwoo, with a determined face, grabbed both Jungeun and Heejin by the wrists and almost dragged them to the board, forcing her way through the slowly dissipating crowd around the board before either of them could even say something.

They finally made it to be left face to face with the unforgiving white sheet of paper, Heejin hyperventilating (only internally, to keep up the appearances) as she let her gaze focus on the role distribution.

“A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM end of the year showing AUDITION RESULTS:

THESEUS, Duke of Athens - Yeojin
HIPPOLYTA, Queen of the Amazons - Yuna
HERMIA, in love with LYSANDER - Heejin
LYSANDER, in love with HERMIA - Ryujin
DEMETRIUS, former lover of HELENA - Sooyoung
HELENA, in love with DEMETRIUS - Jiwoo
PHILOSTRATE, Master of the Revels - Choi Yerim
PETER QUINCE, a carpenter - Yubin
NICK BOTTOM, a weaver - Jungeun
FRANCIS FLUTE, a bellows-mender - Kim Yerim
TOM SNOUT, a tinker - Hyejoo
SNUG, a joiner - Siyeon
ROBIN STARVELING, a tailor - Hyunjin
OBERON, King of the Fairies - Chaeyoung
TITANIA, Queen of the Fairies - Minji
ROBIN “PUCK” GOODFELLOW - Yoohyeon”

Heejin let out a long breath of relief, only to feel rage building up inside her again at the still-present ghost of nearly death inducing anxiety caused by Jinsol.

“Oh my god, fuck you!” She yelled to the grinning blonde that was leaning against the stage on the other side of the room, only sticking out her tongue at the insult. It wasn’t long before she was literally crushed by the weight of Jiwoo almost jumping in her arms in excitement.

“Oh my god, we got it! I knew it!” She jumped up and down as she wrapped her arms around Heejin’s neck, the brunette needing only a second to adjust before she clutched on Jiwoo as if her life depended on it and they started jumping together, spinning around in one place.

“Alright, alright, we are calming down now.” Jungeun put her hands on her friends’ arms.

Jiwoo and Heejin let go of each other, Heejin still a bit shaken and in need of a while to process the information while Jiwoo grabbed a hold of Jungeun’s hands and chatted to her excitedly.

“And you got Nick, Jungie! This is big!” She said with a wide smile when Jungeun was trying to take advantage of the fact they were holding hands and make her stand in one place.

The blonde’s brows furrowed.

“Yeah, I don’t know where she got that from.” She shrugged, chuckling at the sparks in Jiwoo’s eyes.

Even though she was dragged to the drama club practically against her will by Heejin (what doesn’t one do for love, right?) and Jiwoo, her plan at the beginning of high school to just stay low-key and not get involved with overly preppy shit that were after-lesson activities, acting nowhere near being her passion or hobby, she stayed there when she learned that first, it would get her extra credits and second, she would get to get closer to those three girls that seemed absolutely mad but made her feel the most comfortable she’s ever felt. Not that she would admit it.

And ever since their first year showing of Romeo and Juliet, having never read the whole play (Heejin made her watch the 1996 movie after they’ve known each other for a mere four days, though) and without any experience, just winging it at the auditions and not really caring who she would get, perfectly content with just helping Jinsol with decor, she was cast as Mercutio. And the following year, when the drama club was doing that absolutely hideous rendition of My Immortal (Jinsol had worked on the script in secret over the summer and somehow managed to sell it to Miss Kim as an adaptation of a new novel that was trendy amongst young people. Second year was a mess.) she was cast as Draco himself. With Jungeun now being cast as Nick, she was starting to think that maybe Miss Kim’s expectations for her were exceedingly higher than her own.

“Natural talent!” Heejin elbowed her lightly at the side, not able to contain her happiness.

“Or maybe Miss Kim knows you’re a donkey ass fool.” Jinsol commented, coming up to them, hands in her pockets and a smug smirk on her lips.

Jungeun side-eyed her, brows arched up, ignoring the paranoiac bubbles of anxiety already rising up to her chest.

“You’re not allowed to speak, ever!” Heejin raised her fists with a grin and bombarded Jinsol’s shoulder with little punches. “Why would you do this to me!?”

“It was about time.” Jinsol laughed out, trying to lean away from the attack. “I knew you would get it!”

Heejin shook her head and let her stare drift back to the board. Both Hyunjin and Sooyoung were now standing in front of it, relaxed, Hyunjin’s eyebrows raised and a faint smirk dancing on her lips, nodding to herself.

“Yes, man!” Sooyoung exclaimed and raised her hand up without even turning her head for Hyunjin to high five her almost instinctively. Ryujin came up to them then, high-fiving both Sooyoung and Hyunjin animatedly. As Sooyoung’s gaze found Heejin’s, she immediately tapped the co-captains on the shoulders and motioned them to walk up to the four.

“Hey, guys.” Ryujin greeted them with a small bow of her head and almost immediately looked over at Heejin. “Looks like we’re gonna have to work together!”

Heejin’s heart skipped a beat.

“Yeah.” She said. “It will be great!”

Ryujin smirked.

“Of course it will be. Won’t it?” Sooyoung spoke up, a grin on her face as she winked at a very chirpy Jiwoo. Jungeun leaned against the stage.

“You get to stir up shit.” Hyunjin said, motioning at the blonde. “I’m kinda jealous.”

“No, Yoo is the shit-stirrer.” Jungeun shook her head and pointedly directed her gaze at Jinsol. “I’m just a donkey-ass fool.”

Hyunjin shrugged as Jinsol shoved the other blonde playfully.

“Well, work.”
“So, like…” Heejin heard Ryujin’s voice again, the girl right in front of her. “Can we exchange numbers or something? I suppose it makes sense we meet up a few times to go over the lines?”

Heejin gulped, her hands going clammy as she realized the gravity of that proposition. Ryujin wanted to meet up. With her. Probably alone. To read lines of two lovers to each other. Heejin felt as if her soul has just exited her body to do a victory dance. The girl, however, must have seen her almost getting a stroke right then and there, because she clarified:

“I mean, if that’s how it works!” She let out a small chuckle.

“Yes, yes, of course!” Heejin snapped back to reality, fishing her phone out of her pocket in a sudden rush. She quickly unlocked it, opened instagram and handed it to Ryujin, their hands brushing slightly.

As it was already in Ryujin’s hands, the girl typing in her username, Heejin just prayed to the higher powers that she remembered to delete the football player from her search history. From the looks of it, that was fortunately the case.

“Here.” Ryujin handed it back with a smile. “We’ll think of something.”

Heejin nodded, maybe a bit too eager, cringing mentally at herself but unable to not return the grin.

“Hey, Heejin!” Hyunjin exclaimed, making Heejin’s snap in her direction as she was looking up from her phone. “I can’t believe you didn’t tell me there was a literal guy playing a prop inside the play, this shit’s even better!”

Heejin groaned, shaking her head in disbelief at the smirk on Hyunjin’s face. Maybe that girl really was a lost cause.

___

 

the coolest, to: lesbian taylor swift conspiracy theorists, 17:03
why did they make janis ian straight

Heejin chuckled as she paused her tenth playthrough of skyrim to reply to Jinsol. However, Jungeun was faster.

kimberly lippington, to: lesbian taylor swift conspiracy theorists, 17:04
Are you really watching mean girls right now?

the coolest, to: lesbian taylor swift conspiracy theorists, 17:04
no im just thinking about it while my chicken roasts

sakuras wife, to: lesbian taylor swift conspiracy theorists, 17:04
ikr her energy was unmatched

kimberly lippington, to: lesbian taylor swift conspiracy theorists, 17:05
Didnt you say the last five minutes were canceled @the coolest
God i hate that this groupchat makes me call you the coolest

sakuras wife, to: lesbian taylor swift conspiracy theorists, 17:06
change it then???

kimberly lippington, to: lesbian taylor swift conspiracy theorists, 17:06
No i don’t want to

the coolest, to: lesbian taylor swift conspiracy theorists, 17:07
@kimberly lippington yea but they still haunt me??

Heejin’s brows furrowed at the absence of Jiwoo in this conversation, the number one bisexual Janis Ian defender in their group, always saying how the theories could still be valid despite the ending. Jinsol was, apparently, of the same mind.

the coolest, to: lesbian taylor swift conspiracy theorists, 17:07
@chuuriah carey why are u not saying anything

sakuras wife, to: lesbian taylor swift conspiracy theorists, 17:07
wtf i literally thought the same @the coolest

the coolest, to: lesbian taylor swift conspiracy theorists, 17:08
omg that’s a sign @sakuras wife
but
@chuuriah carey
where are u

A few minutes passed, Heejin managing to get through one dungeon, her character’s daedric sword slashing through enemies as if they were air.

chuuriah carey, to: lesbian taylor swift conspiracy theorists, 17:16
she could have been bi!
im sorry im running lines!
[pic]

Heejin’s eyes almost bulged out of her skull at the sight of a very joyful Jiwoo in her room, with BOTH Yubin sporting a shy smile and showing a thumbs up as she held the play in her hand and Sooyoung sprawled on the floor, a wide grin on her face as she stared right into the camera, showing a peace sign.

the coolest, to: lesbian taylor swift conspiracy theorists, 17:16
KIM JIWOO?????????????
LITERALLY WHAT???????????

sakuras wife, to: lesbian taylor swift conspiracy theorists, 17:17
YES I SECOND THAT???????????

the coolest, to: lesbian taylor swift conspiracy theorists, 17:17
SINCE WHEN DO U HAVE A HAREM??????
EXPLAIN YOURSELF
RIGHT NOW

But Jiwoo’s icon was marked as offline, the girl disappearing again. Heejin’s eyes lingered on the laptop screen, her character almost completely maxed out, and she felt a pang of guilt in her chest. Shouldn’t she be running her lines as well? It’s already been two days since the audition and she hasn’t looked at it once. She definitely should.

Opening the instagram app, she typed in Ryujin’s username, her stare lingering on the profile picture that had the girl, with her slightly messy blue hair enveloping her face, grinning as she stuck her tongue out. Heejin’s thumb hovering over the message button, she clicked on stories first, only to see a blurry picture of a formally dressed Ryujin’s bored face, holding the palm of her hand to her cheek, with the caption “when ur grandpa gets drunk at the family gathering and almost starts physically fighting with ur dad over politics”, added 27 minutes ago. So much for her dreams coming true today.

Heejin sighed. She could still run her lines AND commit the good deed of the day.

to: haha bread, 17:21
hey are you free today?

She cringed at the text, half hoping that maybe the girl wouldn’t reply immediately, her heart skipping a beat as she saw the three dots pop up.

from: haha bread, 17:22
why?
but yeah

Heejin let out a long breath.

to: haha bread, 17:23
do you wanna meet up

Before she could add anything, Hyunjin has already replied.

from: haha bread, 17:23
why?
i mean okay
to: haha bread, 17:23
to run lines!

from: haha bread, 17:24
uhhhh
okay but
we’re not going anywhere near school again

Heejin rolled her eyes. Blockberry, apart from being hideous inside, was actually a perfectly valid cafe and she was ready to die defending that opinion.

to: haha bread, 17:25
where then?
honestly it’s whatever i just want to run lines
doesn’t matter where

from: haha bread, 17:25
slow down there please
i know one place in the city center

to: haha bread, 17:26
okay, lets meet at the bus stop
and go there
in 45 mins?

from: haha bread, 17:26
you scare me
but okay

___

After checking the bus schedule, Heejin found herself rushing to throw her wallet and the copy of the play into her bag, taking one last look at herself in the mirror to determine whether she was looking presentable in her flannel and jeans and running her hand through her hair. The final decision was that yes, she was indeed, after a split second of confusion over why she even felt the need to check when she’s literally been dressed like that to school. Whatever.

“Hey, mom, I’m going out!” She yelled out, throwing on her jacket.

Her mom came out to the corridor, already in pajamas and with a bowl of some yogurt mixed with fruits in her hand.

“Will you be long?” She asked, taking a spoonful.

Heejin made some vague gesture with her head as she tried to zip up the jacket while holding the bag in between her knees.

“Just take the keys with you.” She shook her head seeing her daughter struggle with the jacket. “I’ll probably be asleep and that child NEVER TAKES OFF HER HEADPHONES.”

Heejin chuckled.

“You know she can’t hear you, right?”

Heejin’s mom just sighed, her brows raised as she took another spoonful and watched the door slam shut after her daughter

She had texted Hyunjin on the bus to ask her what the place she had in mind was, if only to keep herself from second-guessing her life decisions as she blasted her 90s hip hop playlist in her earphones while staring out the window, but Hyunjin only texted back that she “would see”, effectively making Heejin hold back a groan and scroll mindlessly through her twitter. Needless to say, she got mad after two minutes and settled for an extremely graphic narusasu fanfic that she had meant to finish reading since forever, her leg bouncing and unable to properly appreciate the work of art.

Hyunjin was already there, waiting for her at the bus stop, leaning against the pole and scrolling through something on her phone, in a long, brown coat that made Heejin think her simple black jacket over for a second, her hair pulled back.

“Hey.” She said, putting on a slightly awkward smile as she stepped off the bus and made Hyunjin look up from her phone.

“Hey.” Hyunjin greeted her, that annoying smile that showed her canines appearing on her face almost immediately after she saw Heejin. “What happened to you?”

Heejin narrowed her eyes.

“What?”

“You look like my aunt at her 40th wedding anniversary.”

Heejin looked down at herself. Did she look this bad? And honestly, what did that even mean? She just looked at Hyunjin in confusion, the girl’s expression unchanged.

“She got a copy of Fifty Shades earlier that day.” Hyunjin shrugged. “Just saying.”

Heejin felt heat creep up her neck and on her cheeks as she shot Hyunjin a murderous glare.

“I… No, I won’t add anything.” She took a deep breath to banish any scenes from the fanfiction from her mind. “Can you finally tell me where we’re going?”
“Do you think I want to kidnap you or something?” Hyunjin raised her eyebrows as she started walking down the streets, the neons from various stores making it colorful, the lights shining down on them and basking the whole street in warm yellow. “Because, don’t flatter yourself.”

Heejin groaned, throwing her head back, her bag bouncing against her hip, her hands in the pockets of her jacket.

“No, but I like to know where I’m going, usually!” She exclaimed.

“It’s a cool bar.” Hyunjin shrugged. “You’re 18, right?”

“You were at my birthday party literally not even three weeks ago!” Her brows furrowed while doing the maths. “Or maybe it’s been three already, but that’s not the point.”

“So?” Hyunjin chuckled. “You have a cute face, maybe you jumped up a grade or two, how would I know? Though you just proved that’s not the case.”

Heejin stared Hyunjin down, her eyes wide and her teeth gritted. She didn’t let her mind linger on the fact that Hyunjin had just described her face as cute, even if it definitely caught her by surprise. It was probably so that she couldn’t defend herself by denying and Heejin had to give it to the other girl, that was a smart move.

“Yeah? Then how many days has it been? Quickly.” She challenged.

Hyunjin’s expression didn’t budge as she remained quiet for three or four seconds, counting.

“Nineteen.” She said with confidence in her voice. “So it still hasn’t been three weeks.”

“So maybe it hasn’t.” Heejin shrugged. “But my point still stands.”

“And so does mine.” Hyunjin retorted.

“Which is?” Heejin snickered, delighted at the opportunity to tease the other girl. “That I have a...cute face?

It was Hyunjin’s turn to let out a small laugh.

“No.” She said, making a turn to the left, her expression unreadable as she faced forward. “That you’re buying the beer.”

Despite her annoyance, Heejin didn’t protest, as she actually felt kind of excited at the prospect of being able to whip out her ID with a smug “I’m legal, bitch” if anybody refused to sell her any kind of… adult products. Not that she’d admit that to Hyunjin, of course. She only rolled her eyes slowly on purpose to be sure that the other girl could see it.

“We’re here. See, normal bar.” Hyunjin said as they stopped in front of an open wooden door that seemed to lead towards a rather uninviting, plain corridor with dirty white walls.

“That’s… the bar?” Heejin tried to stop her voice from faltering.

“Alright, I spoke too soon.” Hyunjin shrugged as she entered the corridor, Heejin right after her.

At the end, it turned out, there was another door, closed this time, and when Hyunjin pushed it, it revealed a rather cozy interior. As they made their way down the stairs, Heejin looked around.

She caught a glimpse of a bar with a shiny red neon above it, posters from past events and happenings lined up on the brick walls, the light pleasantly dimmed, some chill r&b spilling from black speakers conveniently placed on the walls. It was… surprisingly nice, and definitely had a better atmosphere than the sterile tables and clear white chairs at Blockberry Cafe could ever dream to create.

“It’s nice.” She mumbled out in a sudden moment of honesty as she followed Hyunjin over to take a seat at a table for two people.

“I know.” Hyunjin said taking off her coat and hanging it on the chair. “And you were all like “oh my god, is THAT the bar?”

“I was NOT.” Heejin protested, letting her bag fall to the floor, but not taking a seat, leaning against the table with both of her hands instead. “Don’t speak or else I won’t buy the beer and what then?”

“Then we will drink juice or something.” Hyunjin shrugged with a smirk. “Alright, I’m not saying anything. Hold on.”

She fished some banknotes from the pocket of her jeans and handed them to Heejin. She caught herself being a bit surprised at how soft the other girl’s hands had seemed, despite the contact being brief, almost nonexistent. She didn’t know why, but for some reason she expected them to be rough, calloused maybe. Her eyes narrowed even more when she realized she apparently had expectations concerning the texture of Hyunjin’s hands which she wasn’t even aware of.

“Just a beer?” She asked, trying to not let any emotion show on her face.

“Yeah.” Hyunjin nodded.

Without any further addition, Heejin walked off in the direction of the bar. Needless to say, she took a wrong turn and ended up in the smoking area, which caused war flashbacks from before the first drama club meeting that meeting flow back to her, but in the end managed to get to the bar unscathed. The barman, of course, asked her about her ID, which she proudly showed off, the grin not disappearing even as she was walking back to their table with two glasses of beer, balancing not to spill any.

She set the glasses on the table in front of Hyunjin, who looked slightly bored while scrolling through something on her phone when she was gone and said, with newfound enthusiasm, already reaching for her bag:

“So, can we get to it?”

Hyunjin furrowed her brows, a smirk already lightning up her face.

“Is that some proposition?”

Heejin’s eyes widened and she almost choked on the beer she was taking a sip of.

“Because if so, I kind of didn’t expect-” Hyunjin continued, amused, while Heejin coughed with her hand on her chest.

“Running lines!” She whined, almost ready to give up, exhausted after the coughing fit, but then something flashed in her mind. “Don’t flatter yourself.”

Hyunjin’s grin got even wider. She nodded, taking a sip of her beer, but as she set the glass on the table, her expression got serious.

“But you’re crazy.” She said.

Heejin snorted.

“What?”

“If you think we’re going to be reciting Shakespeare in a public place.” Hyunjin deadpanned.

Heejin narrowed her eyes.

“What’s so wrong about it?!” She more exclaimed than asked.

Hyunjin raised her eyebrows, staring directly into her eyes, as if in a challenge. They held a staring contest for a good twenty second, neither of them yielding, until Hyunjin spoke again.

“Is that the only thing you ever talk about?” She asked, her tone still teasing.

“What?” Heejin put her elbows up on the table.

“The drama club stuff. Is that the only thing you do, like a main gig or something?” Hyunjin dug further.

Something about the way Hyunjin had said it didn’t sit right with Heejin. Or maybe not about the way she said it, but about what that statement implied, like she was somehow narrow for only caring for one thing.

“No!” She exclaimed. “Of course not!”

“Yeah?” Hyunjin raised her eyebrow. “So what do you do?”

It took Heejin more than she would have liked to answer. It was true that the drama club and acting played a massively large part in her life and she loved it and wouldn’t trade it for any other thing, but she didn’t like how it was hard to come up with a thing to say other than watching Naruto and she was NOT about to disclose that information to someone she barely knew, let alone Hyunjin.

“I draw!” She exclaimed, her voice going unusually high and making her cringe. At least by saying that, she could save face by not admitting to something deemed socially unacceptable and only half-lie, because she really did enjoy drawing, she just… didn’t have time for it anymore.

Hyunjin’s eyebrows shot up in surprise as she was taking another sip of the beer.

“Alright, unexpected.” She said, earning her another death glare from Heejin. “But I need receipts.”

“What?” Heejin ran her hand through her hair, exasperated.

“Well, pics or didn’t happen.” Hyunjin clarified. “You must have some saved.”

Heejin bit her lip, her stare on the bubbles flying up inside the glass, trying to remember if she actually had something saved.

“I mean, if you’re okay with showing.” Hyunjin continued after a minuscule pause, her voice noticeably softer than before.

A bit encouraged by the sudden change in tone (although she wouldn’t admit it even if threatened with death), Heejin started scrolling through her pic gallery in search of something she wouldn’t be too embarrassed to show. She quickly made a folder with three pics, the mecha bunnies that she made in literature class (but only the one with normal eyes) and that she kept bettering with every hour of mindless boredom, that one view of the river she painted when she was feeling particularly depressed and ruined her favorite sweatpants with when she accidentally wiped her paint-stained hand on her ass, and the cartoon squad, the only properly scanned one. She passed the phone to Hyunjin, quickly muting Jinsol spamming her a live rewatch of Fullmetal Alchemist.

Hyunjin swiped through the photos wordlessly and Heejin didn’t know whether she should be expecting some unkind words because of the way she furrowed her brow or some praise because the smile on her lips did not seem teasing in any way. Not that it mattered, anyway.

“You know, it’s actually really cool.” Hyunjin finally looked up at her and set her phone on the table.

“Why do you sound surprised?” Heejin whined, feigning offense.

Hyunjin just chuckled.

“But like, you know.” She leaned in. “Pretty cool. For a nerd that you apparently are.”

There was no bite to her words, Heejin’s lips just widening in a grin.

“Fuck you.” She lightly kicked Hyunjin under the table, making the girl let out a surprised yelp.

“That’s how you respond to compliments?” She chuckled when she composed herself, looking away.

“Always.”

“Doesn’t it get lonely?” The playful tone was back.

Heejin’s mouth hung open at the sheer audacity, not that Hyunjin could know anything about her life, just poking fun.

“You know what?!” She said, not even holding back her laughter. “This time fuck you for real.”

“What, the last time was pretend?” Hyunjin let out a fake gasp. “But I swear I could feel it!”

After the last giggles died down, Heejin not able to even drink because of them, an easy silence fell over them, both of them sipping and enjoying the music mixing with the mindless chatter of the people around them.

It was only after a while that Heejin leaned in and said:

“And you?”

“What about me?” Hyunjin leaned back on her chair.

“Is football your only thing?” She raised her eyebrows, actually curious about the answer.

“Please, have you seen my skills?” Hyunjin stared down at her, her tone confident, as if she were stating something obvious, her teeth showing in a smile,

Heejin rolled her eyes.

“Yeah, I know you scored that amazing goal in the last match and it was practically impossible and all that stuff, but I literally asked about stuff besides football.”

Hyunjin stifled a laugh.

“I wasn’t talking about those skills, but I see you paid attention.”

“Ugh, you’re so insufferable. Is that your skill?”

“No.” Hyunjin said simply.

Heejin leaned in again, emptying the glass.

“Then what?”

Hyunjin leaned in this time as well, holding her gaze against Heejin’s eyes. With a wide grin, she said:

“Everybody knows I’m the better actress in this joint.”

Heejin shoved her with a frustrated yell, not quite able to stifle the laugh bubbling in her chest and shake the thought that she was, as much as it didn’t even want to get through her throat, enjoying herself.

Chapter Text

“No, no, it’s like that, look!” Ryujin posed, trying out different versions of a resting bitch face, one of them with ridiculously puffed lips that made Heejin throw her head back in with a laugh.

They were currently sprawled on the floor in the drama club room and going over their lines together for the first time, with Ryujin turning out to be a surprisingly good actress when she listened to the directions that Heejin would give her, Miss Kim only coming up to them twice to check how they were doing. They were skimming over the scene where Lysander and Demetrius are ready to deck each other.

“No, definitely not!” Heejin chuckled, her teeth bared in a grin. “Try the one before that.”

“What, this one?” Ryujin asked and immediately scrunched her brows while looking up at Heejin, which made her eerily similar to a very angry six year old. She only held it for one or two seconds before she burst out into laughter again.

“Yeah, that’s better!” Heejin bit down on her lip to keep herself from laughing as she let her gaze fall to the copy of the play in front of her.
“Noted.”

“I’m kind of wondering, though.” Heejin started, her voice smaller.

“Yeah?” Ryujin’s wide eyes immediately shot to her with interest.

“How is it, like-” She continued, not finding the exact words at once. “Both the drama club and the team?”

“Hm, what do you mean?”

“I don’t know, both are a lot of work, but you guys really came through!” Heejin waved around, motioning to the rest of the room, where everybody was in more or less the same position as those two, split into smaller groups reading their lines and joking around as if they weren’t almost strangers just a mere three months ago. “And now the roles are evenly split!”

It was true. Miss Kim had intentionally chosen them this way, adamant on making the two groups work together for reasons unknown as she stayed up late scratching her head at the useless advice she got from coach Moon about the football team, doing her best as always to match the roles with the girls’ skills, personalities and their overall impressions.

This way, Heejin was sitting with Ryujin and kind of forgetting about the whole room around them as it turned out that her newfound confidence was there to stay and she was able to keep a straight face whenever her heart flipped at the sound of Ryujin’s voice or the sight of her dimples as she laughed whenever Heejin managed to say something remotely funny or she found a line in the play purely nonsensical.

“What, did you think we would slack off?” Ryujin teased, arching her eyebrow. “I mean, we were surprised at first, and I guess you were too, but coach Moon has some madly evil persuasion skills, so…”

“Really, what did she say?” Heejin asked, interest sparking up. From what she knew, coach Moon seemed like an overly excited dog, fully incapable of committing any evil deeds.

“30 laps around the field for the whole team if she catches anyone so much as mutter a complaint.” Ryujin snickered.

“What, really?!”

“Yeah. She’s taking it very seriously, for some reason.”

Heejin’s eyes widened as she leaned back on her hands.

“So what, are you saying you’re only doing it because she threatened you with literal death?” She teased right back.
“Of course.” Ryujin shook her head. Then, she looked up, her gaze soft as she looked first at Heejin and then around the whole room. “No, I actually really like it.”

Suddenly Heejin felt uncomfortably hot in her hoodie, her chest tightening at the fondness in the football player’s words.

“Yeah?” She asked, hoping to keep Ryujin talking so that her thoughts wouldn’t get too wild with the assumptions.

“Yeah.” Ryujin nodded, her gaze drifting off. “It’s good to have something to focus on other than football, as stupid as that sounds.”

An understanding flashed over Heejin’s face as she noticed something familiar in the girl’s tone.

“No, I think I get it.” She said.

Ryujin turned to her then, flashing her a small smirk.

“And, I mean. Look at them. At this rate you’ll be playing the final with us.”

Heejin gave herself a minute to take in the sight of the drama club room, much more packed than in the previous two years and noisier than ever. Yeojin cackled at Shin Yuna’s exaggerated acting as she clung to her shoulder while putting on a regal and cold expression, Yerim giggling as she gripped the book in her hands, covering half of her face with it, their little trio providing more sounds than all the others combined.

On another note, Jiwoo was explaining something to Sooyoung while gesturing wildly, speaking a million words per second, the girl only lazily leaning back against the stage and, instead of at whatever Jiwoo was pointing at in their copy of the play, looking at her face with arched eyebrows and an awkward half-smile full of disbelief. Heejin chuckled to herself. It was so like Jiwoo to get like this, all excited and almost shutting out the whole world as she chatted, half to Sooyoung and half to herself.

Then there was the arguably most chaotic group, right in the middle of the room, comprised of all those chosen to play the Mechanicals. Yubin was the only one standing, pushing her glasses further back on her nose as she read her lines in a comically reserved voice, Yeri listening to her with one ear, her earphone in the other as she was watching an instagram live of some mildly famous influencer and spamming the heart emoji to win a hair product give-away, Hyejoo laying on the ground with the book covering her face and not making a sound, Siyeon not being able to roar properly as she kept laughing right before she was supposed to do it and could not contain herself, Hyunjin sat in the meditating position with her hands on her knees and her eyes closed while she balanced the book on her head and replied to Yubin, Jungeun propping herself up on her hands as she leaned back and stared somewhere in the distance, distracted, occasionally shaking her head when Yeri would elbow her in the ribs when it was her turn to speak.
Perhaps the only group that seemed to be getting some actual work done, beside Heejin and Ryujin of course, were Chaeyoung, Yoohyeon and Minji, as they all had their own copies and, despite laughing and chatting every once in a while, actually were going over their lines diligently, both Yoohyeon and Minji supplying Chaeyoung with every kind of acting tip they could think of.

“I’m betting Yeojin will join the club for real next year.” Heejin said, her gaze going back to Ryujin, who was staring fondly at the young girl, now wrapped around Yerim as Miss Kim was scolding them for taking too many photos instead of actually working.

“Of course, those two… they are, like, real-life soulmates.” Ryujin nodded with a smile as she motioned her head towards Yerim.

“I know, right? They’re all getting along so well!”

Ryujin raised her brow.

“Some of us too well, I believe.” Her eyes narrowed comically as she shot Sooyoung a stare, making Heejin look as well and chuckle almost immediately. “She’s unchangeable, I think.”

Sooyoung was having a mute conversation from the two opposite sides of the room with Jungeun, the football player grinning as she sent the blonde an overly exaggerated wink, Jungeun only groaning, turning away to conceal the faint smirk growing on her lips and ignoring her phone vibrating in her pocket, suddenly very interested in whatever was going on in their little group.

“By the way, isn’t the second match sometime this week?” Heejin asked, her voice deep, as she tried to remember the schedule.

“Yeah, on friday.” Ryujin’s eyes lit up. “You guys are coming, right?”

“Of course!” Heejin exclaimed. “How could we not?”

Ryujin just laughed.

“Come to the party, too, then. It will be a big one, proper.”

“What party?” Heejin arched her eyebrow.

“Well, the celebration when we win.”

Heejin couldn’t help the corners of her mouth rising up at the girl’s confidence as she stared in her eyes, completely relaxed as if stating a fact.

“Wow, not “if” but “when”?” She said.

“We’re gonna crush them, and we’re gonna advance to regionals.” Ryujin nodded, sparks of pride in her eyes. “And by the way, do you think we could lose if you all come to cheer?”

Heejin rolled her eyes with a chuckle seeing the girl’s playful grin, the determination from mere seconds ago completely gone.

“No, impossible.”

“Exactly.”

Only then did it strike Heejin, how comfortable and relaxed she felt the whole time. This was Shin Ryujin and she was sure it was, like, the third time they actually talked face to face this year, and yet she felt like she was talking with an old friend, the nervousness from even a month ago had disappeared. She cursed mentally at herself for putting this off for two whole years. Maybe it really was as simple as that, and she was just being a little bitch about it, as Jinsol would always put it. Heejin made a mental note to never say that to the blonde.

“Alright, let’s do this scene again.” She said, showing her teeth in a wide grin. “Give me your best bitch face.”

Ryujin snorted.

“You got it.”

___

 

Of course they won.

Even though the opponent school, Cube High, had all their students come out in support of their team and they cheered for them as loudly as if it were the national team and not a slightly pretentious private high school, it seemed that only one of the players stood out in the whole team, the captain with middle-length blonde hair and a steely, focused gaze piercing through Ryujin as she shook her hand. The other ten kind of faded into the background, mostly relying on passes to the blonde (Heejin had noticed that they shared their surname, the girl’s shirt having JEON and a bold 1 on the back) and in the end, one person couldn’t win against ten, even if she was incredibly good, which she undoubtedly was, as they managed to score once, tearing through the defense wall created by Ryujin and Sooyoung.

Nonetheless, Cube High lost 1 - 3, the shouting and yelling on the side of their school overpowering any cheers that the Cube students might have prepared, the cheerleaders more animated than ever, hyping up both the crowd and the team, the head cheerleader almost as loved by everyone as the team members themselves. And Heejin still couldn’t remember her name.

Chaeyoung offered to host the party right after the game, everybody that came to support them invited, no questions asked, and it seemed like most would actually take her up on that offer, the brunette not even a little bit fazed by the fact that she would have a whole field of people, some of which she didn’t even know, at her house, which in turn made Heejin a bit anxious.

As the four of them and Yerim, whom they’ve adopted for the afternoon as they went to eat something in the city center after the game, going back home absolutely not worth it and a terrible strategic decision, as Chaeyoung’s house was on the other side of town and it would simply take less time to go there from the center.

Having settled on some cheap ramen place that only had tables without any stools that Jinsol practically dragged them to, Yerim and Jiwoo couldn’t stop theorizing about Chaeyoung’s place.

“I heard she has a mansion.” Jiwoo whispered conspiraciously as she slurped on the ramen and leaned in.

“What, she’s that loaded?” Heejin’s eyes widened.

“I heard that her sister is a famous singer.” Yerim added, her voice low.

“What, who?” Jinsol said as swallowed her noodles.

“I don’t know, Yeojin told me that she won’t say.”

“But, here?” Jiwoo took out her phone and set the half-eaten carton on the table. “An idol? Oh my god, I need to find out.”

Yerim shrugged, scooting over to look at Jiwoo’s screen as she typed away.

“I don’t know! But I don’t think so…”

And they began their search.

Jungeun, Heejin and Jinsol looked at each other in bewilderment. Jinsol then shrugged and joined the two girls, taking place at Jiwoo’s side.

“Wait, let me remember…” Yerim put her palm to her forehead in concentration. “Check out Canadians with the name Son!”

Jinsol furrowed her brows.

“What, why canadians?”

“Yeojin said that they have a vacation house in Canada.”

“Who the fuck vacations in Canada? Isn’t it too cold?” Jungeun frowned.

“Exactly!” Jiwoo exclaimed as she typed in “celebrities with surname son canada” into google. “You’re onto something.”

“God, Jungie, you’re a genius!” Yerim jumped up from excitement as she resumed eating her noodles.

“Uh, wha-” Jungeun began.

“OH MY GOD IT’S HER!!!” Jiwoo yelled out, making everybody in the small diner turn their heads to look at them.

Now, even Heejin was curious, and they all cramped themselves to look at the screen of Jiwoo’s phone, now displaying a photo of the celebrity in question, a very familiar face to all five of the girls.

“WHAT? WENDY??? THE WENDY SON???” It was Jinsol’s turn to scream as her eyes almost bulged out of her skull. Heejin raised her hands to her head and Jungeun’s mouth hung open at the news.

“Our schoolmate is the sister of THE Wendy Son? I can’t fucking believe it.” Jinsol muttered as she held on to the table for dear life, not able to deal with the information.

“Me neither!” Yerim shook her head. “The second best-selling singer next to Ariana Grande! I can’t, do you think she will get me an autograph?”

“Hold on, I’m checking if she has a sister.” Jiwoo held her hand up as the page that would seal their fate loaded. “OH MY GOD WE ARE GOING TO WENDY SON’S SISTER’S PARTY!!!”

“Please stop screaming, everybody is looking at us!” Jungeun screeched at her with wide eyes as she stared at the screen, the blonde-haired Wendy shooting all of them a greasy smirk. “And they look nothing alike!”

Jinsol rubbed her forehead as she zoomed in on Wendy’s face.

“Don’t they kind of have the same nose?”

“I could see it…” Heejin nodded hesitantly, analyzing the picture.

“You have no proof! A lot of people have a sister and live in Canada!” Jungeun protested, not quite believing the half-assed attempts at digging up proof that their schoolmate was the literal sister of the nation’s darling and the biggest act to ever come out of Korea and make it in the west.

“Whatever!” Jinsol slammed her hands on the table. “I was fucking pumped to go to a proper party for the first time in my life, and now this? Holy shit.”

“I’m going to find out even if I have to trade my life for it!” Jiwoo decided with a serious tone, her face determined as she grabbed her ramen and resumed to eat it with double the speed.

“Me too, I’m going to help you, let’s just be nice about it!” Yerim nodded with a smile lightning up her whole face. “Also, shouldn’t we go already?”

Heejin looked at her phone to check the hour.

“Fuck, Jiwooming, you’re taking this with you!” She said to Jiwoo, whose cheeks were stuffed with the noodles, a bit panicked as she picked her bag up from the floor. “We have nine minutes!”

“Shit!” Jinsol muttered, already throwing her jacket on.

“I can’t take it, the fork is not plastic!” Jiwoo protested amidst the chaos that broke out as they were all gathering their things and throwing their empty cartons in the trash.

“Who cares! Come on!” Jinsol yelled, already at the door.

Jiwoo looked at the blonde, then at the metal fork in her hand, and then at the man behind the counter preparing something with his back turned to them. Pursing her lips, she clutched both the ramen and the fork and was the first to bolt out of the diner in fear of anyone catching her stealing.

As they were sprinting to the bus stop, Jungeun groaned, her jacket blown open by the wind, making it impossible to zip it up and her bag bouncing uncomfortably on her shoulder.

“Why the fuck do we always have to run?!”

___

Chaeyoung’s mansion (yes, mansion - Heejin was sure the building could fit their flat inside more than five times and there still would be some space left) could only match the ninth circle of hell in the levels of debauchery both of them had going on.

The five of them just stood in front of the open gates, mouths agape and completely ignoring the couple that was heavily making out against the fence, seemingly completely wasted already despite it not even being 9 PM yet.

“Are you seeing what I’m seeing?” Heejin broke the silence that fell upon them.

Jinsol raised her hand up to her forehead.

“I think… “ She let out a long breath and supported herself on Jungeun’s shoulder. “This has been going on for two years and nobody told us?! Should I be mad or happy that we know now?”

“Wow…” Yerim’s mouth still hung open. “This is like an american movie…”

Despite the chilly weather, the door to Chaeyoung’s mansion was open, some trap music making itself heard in the whole neighbourhood, people that none of them even recognized not giving a damn and smoking up on the porch, the smell almost overwhelming even from a few meters away.

The house itself was absolutely massive, ornate accents gracing the pristinely white walls. It must have been at least three stories high, windows on every floor flashing with colorful lights pulsing to the rhythm of the music, silhouettes of the party-goers swaying from side to side, sometimes disappearing completely only to appear seconds later in an uncoordinated dance.

The five of them didn’t waste any more time, rushing inside and half-heartedly apologizing to the drunk strangers that they bumped into when taking their jackets off in the jam-packed corridor, the music growing exponentially louder as soon as they stepped through the door.

“Why the hell do I feel like I don’t know anyone here?” Jinsol shouted in Heejin’s ear.

The brunette shrugged, shaking her head.

“Me neither!” She shouted back. “This is too much, let’s get drunk.”

“Sounds like a plan.” Jinsol nodded, fondness in her eyes at Heejin’s sudden like-mindedness.

“Yerimie!”

A sudden blur of orange sped through the corridor with a wild scream only to end up throwing it’s arms over Yerim’s neck with a joyous laugh louder than any music.

“Hey, bean.” Yerim’s lips formed a smile almost instantly when she recognized Yeojin.

“What?” The younger girl shouted, climbing up on her toes to get her ear closer to Yerim’s mouth. “And you came, too! Come!”

The first year led them somewhere, passing by what Heejin assumed to be the living room, enveloped by a toxic mix of smoke from various sources that hung in the air and absolutely packed with people dancing to some american trap in a manner entirely too slutty for 8 PM, one of them being, much to their shock, Chaeyoung herself.

“Yo, what the fuck?” Jinsol pointed her finger, her screaming making Heejin half-deaf in one ear.

“What?!” Heejin furrowed her brows, her gaze following Jinsol’s finger, Jungeun and Jiwoo soon joining them.

“Oh my god!” Jiwoo screeched, clasping her hands over her mouth at the sight.

“What the fuck?! Is this Yeri!?” Jungeun gaped, not quite able to believe her eyes.

There, on the dancefloor, pressed against Chaeyoung’s front with her whole body and shamelessly grinding to the beat, was their fellow drama club member, Kim Yerim, whom they took to calling Yeri to avoid any confusion that could arise from having two people with the same name in one space. Chaeyoung’s hands slid over her waist nonchalantly as they swayed, not noticing anyone in the room and undeterred by people bumping into them occasionally.

“Am I fucking blind or has nobody else seen it coming either?” Heejin clutched at her hair as she yelled.

“Definitely not!” Yerim chimed in.

“Whoo, get it, Yeri!” Jinsol screamed at the blonde, but she was barely heard by her friends standing right next to her, no way the words could have reached the dancing girl.

“I don’t know her, but I ship it!” Yeojin nodded furiously.

Heejin stared down at the freshman. She kind of wondered how the small girl even ended up there. Don’t get her wrong - she liked Yeojin a lot, but what was a fifteen year old doing at a party like that? She either had balls of steel to lie to her parents that she went to some sleepover when it was a literal hell pit, or they were insane. Heejin didn’t know which one was more likely.

“Hey, you guys!”

Heejin turned on her heel, recognizing the voice instantly despite the loud music and the girl screaming. She was met face to face with Ryujin.

Grateful that the flashing lights concealed her face momentarily, she let herself look the co-captain up and down before she said anything, taking in the sight of Ryujin’s collarbones made visible by her baggy, low cut t-shirt and mentally restraining herself from taking in a sharp breath.

“Hey!” Jiwoo chirped, being the first one to greet Ryujin with a hug.

“Do you wanna play beer pong?” She asked with a pout, not directing the question at anyone. “Soo ditched me to dance with some girl, as always.”

Jungeun’s eyes strayed to the dance floor, faces unrecognizable in the mass of people swaying and grinding together.

Jinsol clapped and threw her arms over Jiwoo and Jungeun’s shoulders.

“Well, we need to get drunk, but!” She said with a wide grin. “Heejin is our designated driver, so I’m sure she will!”

Heejin narrowed her eyes as she looked at the blonde. If stares could kill, Jinsol would already be dead and buried, murder on the dancefloor becoming literal and not just a shitty song. Thanks to the gods above, Ryujin was already drunk, unable to connect the dots that first, neither of them had a drivers license or a car and second, that beer pong was a drinking game.

“You will?” The corners of her lips went upwards in a smirk.

Heejin decided to stop paying mind to her idiot friends, waving them off as she nodded vigorously.

“Okay, come on then!” Ryujin grabbed her wrist then, making heat rise up from where she was holding her and spread through her whole body.

“Have fun, Heekkie, don’t thank me!” Jinsol shouted in Heejin’s ear before she was led through the dance floor and a few other rooms, as packed as the previous ones - and, wait, was that a shark head on the wall? - before they finally arrived in a smaller and more calm one, the music still banging from the speakers on the walls and more strangers grinding down on each other, but without smoke hanging in the air, the window opened to let in a fresh breeze.

Ryujin only let go of her wrist when they finally stopped in front of a large, new ping pong table, completely randomly placed in the corner of the room, two guys standing at the opposite sides of the table, one trying to throw a yellow ping pong ball into the other’s mouth, their faces vaguely familiar to Heejin.

“Yo, finally!” The one that was throwing the ball exclaimed, making the other’s head turn rapidly, the ball bouncing against his forehead. “You ready to be crushed?”

Ryujin snorted as she rolled her eyes.

“In your dreams, Jeno.”

“And who is this?” Asked the guy named Jeno just as Heejin remembered he was the one to pass by their table that one time Jungeun decided to announce that she wasn’t a virgin to the whole world.

“Heejin.” She bowed her head awkwardly as she introduced herself.

“Future winner of the Oscar for best actress.” Ryujin added, laughing.

Heejin felt heat creep up her neck.

“No, no!” She waved her hands.

“Hmmm… Which part is “no, no”?” Asked the other guy with a smirk. “The name or the Oscar? I’m Jaemin.”

Heejin rolled her eyes and grabbed a can of beer lying idly on the table, actually relieved the guys didn’t seem to remember her at all.

“So, are we playing?” She said as she set the can back on the table, her confidence rising with every second.

“Oh, that’s the spirit!” Ryujin nodded.

“Nana, pour it!” Jeno commanded, and Jaemin immediately started distributing the red solo cups and filling them with beer.

“Alright, who’s starting?” Jaemin asked, looking up when he was done with the set up.

The four of them looked at each other, unsure.

“Rock, paper, scissors?” Heejin suggested, relaxed after swallowing down that whole can, surprised by how at ease she felt when Ryujin was at her side and the two almost-strangers joked around.

“Alright, win this for us, baby.” Jaemin nodded his head and patted Jeno on the shoulder.

Heejin and Ryujin looked at each other, Ryujin’s eyebrows arching up mischievously.

“You go, you suggested so you must have something up your sleeve.” She said, sparks in her eyes. “I’m gonna be the referee.”

“Like hell you are, you are biased!” Jeno protested. “I’m gonna be one, too!”

Heejin stifled a laugh at the two fighting over a game of rock, paper, scissors and, as they stood at the side, Ryujin beside Heejin and Jeno with his arms thrown over Jaemin’s shoulders dramatically, her eyes met Jaemin’s, fake seriousness and determination on both of their faces.

“Are you ready? On three…” Ryujin announced. Jeno’s voice joined hers as they counted. “Alright, one, two, three!”

Heejin’s scissors beat Jaemin’s paper, the two girls jumping up enthusiastically at the victory, Ryujin putting her hands on Heejin’s arms as Heejin threw hers up, curled into fists and Jeno stomped his legs, a disappointed look on his face as he stared his boyfriend down.

“You might have the advantage, but you’re still going down!” He declared, taking his place.

“You wish!” Ryujin scoffed with a grin as she threw the first ball. It landed in the cup, splashing the liquid around. “See?”

___

“She’s gonna be thanking me on her knees, you’ll see.” Jinsol nodded her head at Jungeun and Jiwoo as the three loitered around in the kitchen, trying to get decently drunk in as little time as possible without seeming like alcoholics, accompanied by some girls from the cheerleader squad, who seemed to be on the same agenda.

“I have to say, it was pretty genius!” Jiwoo agreed, throwing down a shot of tequila and shivering as she swallowed.

“I know, right? Oof, that shit’s disgusting.” Jinsol winced as she poured herself another shot and then a glass of juice to chase it.

“And Ryujin seemed so excited to see us, too! I really think-” Jiwoo couldn’t finish before one of the cheerleaders interrupted her.

“Hey, you guys know where Ryujin is?” The girl asked, perfectly wavy brown hair cascading down on her shoulders as she turned to the three with a red solo cup in her hand, her eyes crinkling up in a genuine smile.

Jiwoo and Jinsol quickly shot each other a look.

“I mean, she went to play beer pong with our friend like, half an hour ago.” Jungeun said, shrugging.

Before Jinsol could ask why, the cheerleader just offered them a quick “Thanks!” and a small bow and she was out of the kitchen, the door closing after her.

“Man, why did you do that?” Jinsol whined.

“What? She asked.”

“But we could have got some info! And she was pretty!” Jinsol was unrelenting.

“Who even is she?” Jungeun shrugged again, pretty sure her friends were blowing things out of proportion, like they were accustomed to.

One of the cheerleaders that was drinking on the other side of the kitchen answered, walking up to them, the others following suit.

“That was Lia, our head cheerleader.” She said, taking place at Jinsol’s side, her cute pigtails swaying with her every movement. “I’m Yeji, can we drink with you guys?”

“Y-yeah, sure…” Jinsol stammered, her hand clutching the bottle of tequila as she poured another shot for everyone. “Cheers!”

Jungeun chuckled at her friend’s sudden loss of confidence when faced with a pretty girl and took out her phone, involuntarily opening the messages app to look at the texts that she had sworn would be the death of her and that she decided to ignore, both of them sent a good twenty minutes ago, almost right after they entered the party.

from: ha sooyoung, 20:56
come dance

from: ha sooyoung, 20:57
wanna feel you against me

Jungeun bit her lip as she blocked her phone again, her thoughts conflicting. With that girl, Yeji, Jinsol was a goner, and Jiwoo… Jiwoo would keep the blonde company, she was sure of it, the cheerleaders taking a sudden interest in the girl’s singing abilities, Jinsol gaining a bit of her confidence back as she praised her friend, her cheeks flushed, not sure if from the alcohol or the attention.

Her mind flashed back to that image of Yeri and Chaeyoung shamelessly dancing in the living room, momentarily replacing the two girls with her and Sooyoung, sending a wave of heat down her belly and a pang of guilt up her chest. She was torn as she stared down at the kitchen table, her gaze unfocused. A part of her wanted to flaunt to the world that Ha Sooyoung wanted to dance with her, even if the football player would move to another one the next week. Another part was physically sick at the idea of anyone seeing them, of Jiwoo finding out. And another, the one that was only growing exponentially larger than the other two with every single interaction instead of diminishing like she thought it would, wanted nothing more than to drag Sooyoung to some empty room and lock the doors, the sounds of the party drowned out.

She took the shot that Jinsol had poured for her and swallowed it without the slightest wince.

“Whoo, Jungie!” Jinsol hollered.

Jungeun couldn’t help the nervous chuckle that escaped her lips.

“I’m gonna look for Heejin, alright?” She said.

“Yeah, yeah.” Jinsol waved her off, her attention fully returned to the cheerleaders. “I’m serious, she can do whistle notes! Show them, Jiwooming!”

Sliding off the chair and putting her phone back in the pocket of her jeans, she grabbed a bottle of beer only to appear more nonchalant than she felt, sipping on it to calm her nerves as she pushed the kitchen doors and made her way to the dimly lit living room. With the corner of her eye she registered Chaeyoung and Yeri lazily making out on one of the couches, still not quite able to believe what she was seeing.

As she pushed her way through the crowd, though, Sooyoung was nowhere to be found and, with a resigned sigh that even she couldn’t hear over the music, stepped into the second room, equally as hazy as the first one, this time sticking to the walls and arching her head up to see if she would spot the tall brunette, and soon enough she did.

Sooyoung was there, leaning against the wall with a red cup in her hand as she chatted closely with some girls, one of them whispering in her ear, making Jungeun’s eyes narrow as she saw the football player chuckle, her confidence taking a slight dip for a moment. She dug for her phone in her pocket.

to: ha sooyoung, 21:37
Here

With her heart threatening to burst out of her chest, she leaned back against the wall, her gaze heavy as she watched Sooyoung pull her own phone out of her pocket, a smirk appearing on her lips as she looked up, their eyes meeting across the room, the brunette’s smirk growing wider and wider until it turned into a grin. She leaned down to say something to the two girls, winking at the one that was whispering into her ear a moment ago before she straightened up and honest to god strutted to the other side of the room, momentarily finding her place beside Jungeun.

“Took you long enough.” She said with a lazy grin, the drink sloshing around in her cup as she leaned towards the blonde.

“It’s not like you had nothing to keep yourself busy with.” Jungeun rolled her eyes at the teasing tone.

“Ohh, is that jealousy speaking?” Sooyoung arched her eyebrows up, the grin growing even wider.

Jungeun narrowed her eyes, the corners of her mouth turning up.

“You’re so full of shit.”

“Hmm.” Sooyoung hummed. “Don’t pretend you don’t like it.”

“I’m here, aren’t I?” Jungeun feigned nonchalance as she sipped on her beer.

“Do you want to dance?” Sooyoung inched closer towards her, her tone dropping as she stared at Jungeun with heavy eyelids.

“No.” Jungeun shook her head.

“No?”

“I have a better idea.”

Sooyoung just raised her eyebrows, her tongue darting out to wet her lips, Jungeun’s eyes following every small movement. She leaned in to whisper in Sooyoung’s ear, the heat radiating off the brunette making her dizzy.

“We go upstairs and you do whatever you want to me.”

She felt Sooyoung’s breath hitch at the words, the brunette’s eyes dark as she turned to face her.

“Follow me, then.” She said as she straightened up and set the cup on some cupboard with expensive-looking porcelain inside.

Jungeun walked out of the room after her without a word, her gaze fixed on the small of the brunette’s back, the smooth skin exposed by yet another crop top. Luckily, she didn’t see anyone she knew, Sooyoung saying hi to a few people as they were walking up the stairs, but none of them could find the two together suspicious.

The third floor was surprisingly calm compared to the other two. The corridors seemed empty, the dim light pleasant and the sounds of music from downstairs muffled by the distance.

Sooyoung stopped, then.

“Good enough for ya?” She asked, her tone back to the teasing one she used to rile Jungeun up.

“I know you don’t have any objections to it, but isn’t the corridor a little too public?” Jungeun arched her brow up, taking a step towards Sooyoung, the brunette diminishing the distance between them even further.

“And what if it isn’t?” Sooyoung’s voice was low, her hands snaking around the blonde’s waist smoothly, heat pooling in her stomach at the touch.

She looked around, making sure no one was there, before she wrapped her hands at the nape of the other girl’s neck, grazing the soft skin with her nails.

It was Sooyoung that closed the distance between them, the kiss tentative at first as she sensed Jungeun’s hesitation a moment ago, but growing more and more impatient with every sharp breath and bolder touch, Jungeun sliding her hands down Sooyoung’s front down to her waist to hold her even closer. The blonde tensed when she felt they were moving, ready to have Sooyoung press her against the wall, consequences be damned, but the brunette broke the kiss, and her back didn’t hit any surface much to her disappointment.

“You win.” Sooyoung breathed against her lips with a small chuckle.

They stumbled into a guest room, the lock clicking right after the door slammed shut.

___

“Noooooo!” Jeno slammed his head down on the table right to the beat of Bitch Better Have My Money by Rihanna after Jaemin had missed the red cup just by a tiny fraction once again, wincing at the prospect of having to drink more.

The game went on, Heejin finding herself surprisingly lucky, their team winning by a large margin, the two girls drinking of their own volition. The time that passed and the alcohol consumed had made all four of them much more social, Heejin almost forgetting that she only knew ten people in the whole mansion at best, none of them in sight as she laughed freely at Jeno’s frustration with his boyfriend’s sudden lack of skills at the game, Ryujin cackling at her side as she brought a can of beer up to her lips.

“How the hell did you even make the team?” Jeno groaned.

“I’m not drunk on the field!” Jaemin protested, shaking his head and leaning heavily against the table.

“You sure?” Ryujin raised her brows at the boy, teasing.

“What, you’re on the team?” Heejin asked, her voice going deep in confusion.

Jaemin raised his eyes up at the ceiling.

“I’m…” He slurred, a bit of hesitation to his tone. “I’m the captain of the basketball team…”

Heejin couldn’t help but snicker, taking the drink that Ryujin passed to her without question. It was the football player’s turn to throw now, but as she took her position, her gaze focused on the cup in the farthest corner of the table, the head cheerleader with her perfectly wavy, brown hair and looking pretty even in jeans and a hoodie, made her way over to the four of them.

“Hey, can we talk?” She had her gaze set on Ryujin.

“Heyyyy, Lia!” Jaemin hollered, his words slurry. The cheerleader rolled her eyes, but a faint smile appeared on her lips nonetheless.

“What, did you lose again?” She teased, and only after a while did she notice Heejin. “Oh, hey, I’m Lia.”

“Um, Heejin.” So she really was close when she thought her name was Julia. Almost hit the mark, Heejin thought, as the girl looked at her with nothing but kindness, even if she was pretty sure she already forgot her name as soon as she heard it.

“What’s the matter?” Ryujin asked, her gaze soft as she turned to the brunette.

“Nothing that important... “ She shrugged, but her gaze was focused. “Just gotta steal you for a while.”

“Alright.” Ryujin nodded and turned to Heejin, Jeno and Jaemin with a grin. “I think we know who won, anyway.”

“Yeah, he’s going to be dead tomorrow…” Jeno shook his head, holding the other boy up by his arms.

“I think he already is…” Lia snorted, shaking her head.

Heejin couldn’t do anything but nod, welcoming Ryujin’s “we need to team up more often” with a smile, her eyes on the girl’s back as she walked off with the cheerleader until they disappeared, stepping out of the room. The grip on her cup deadly, her gaze drifted back to the guys, Jeno trying to lift Jaemin off the table, which she took as a cue to look for her own friends.

Pushing her way through the crowd, balancing the drink in her hand, the amount of people mistaking her for just another dancer overwhelming, the music and the light blasting relentlessly, making Heejin all the more desperate to find Jinsol, Jiwoo or Jungeun, maybe kill the blonde and finally get properly drunk.

She couldn’t find them anywhere, though. In the second room, she gave up on trying to secure the drink and just left it at the top of some cupboard, snatching a shot of something strong that sent unpleasant shivers down her spine as it burned her throat. Still wincing, she looked around the room, the dancing mass making it difficult to distinguish faces.

Then she spotted Hyunjin crouching by the laptop left on the floor in the far corner, her face mischievous, and she pushed herself off the wall with the resigned thought that this was definitely better than nothing at all.

“Hey, you’re just in time.” Hyunjin shouted, not even raising her gaze up from the screen as she typed away.

Heejin looked down at the girl, her black hair falling down on her face, sitting cross-legged on the floor with a beer at her side in her wide jeans and plain white shirt, ignoring the party around her. She furrowed her brows.

“In time for what?” She briefly considered sitting right next to Hyunjin, but the girl was quicker to rise to her feet, leaving the laptop in its place.

Hyunjin leaned in, the beer bottle in her hand, their sudden proximity making Heejin’s breath hitch as the smell of the girl’s perfume hit her nose.

“I finally cracked this bitch’s password!” She announced.

Heejin’s eyes widened.

“What?”

“I packed the spotify queue with jams only, so…” Hyunjin looked around to grab an open bottle of rum and she shoved it in Heejin’s hands. “Throw it down and we’re gonna dance!”

“What?!” Heejin yelled, the current song coming to an end, looking at the bottle in her hands with confusion. True, it was her plan to find someone she knew and get plastered, maybe even find Ryujin again and taste those lips once more with the help of some liquid courage, but this? She wasn’t following.

“Come on!” Hyunjin animated her, raising her bottle up to her lips when the next song started.

With Fergie proclaiming she had that money over the speakers and Hyunjin zeroing the beer bottle without much effort, Heejin gave a quick look over at the dance floor, and then at the rum. Ah, what the hell. She took three large gulps, quickly to make the taste as least noticeable as possible.

They sprinted towards the crowd, mixing in, Hyunjin throwing her arms over her head as she jumped frantically to the beat, laughter bubbling in Heejin’s chest as she stared in disbelief at the girl’s enthusiasm.

“Don’t just stand there!” Hyunjin screamed with a grin as she took Heejin’s hands in her own, raising them up and jumping, making her jump up as well.

Heejin threw her head up with a wild grin, already feeling the alcohol shoot up to her head as she swayed her hips, exaggerating the motion and mouthing the iconic “cause we i-n-d-e-p-e-n-d-e-n-t”, Hyunjin breaking it down without a care in the world, the people around them unfazed with the two girls trying to outdo each other in doing the most cringe-inducing dance moves known to humanity, Heejin terribly moonwalking to russian hardbass music and Hyunjin frantically doing the sprinkler, her grin wide.

However, it was when the whole house heard “Uh-huh… Listen, boy… My first love story!” that the two of them looked at each other and went absolutely wild.

“Do you know the choreography?!” Heejin shouted in Hyunjin’s ear.

The girl snorted, already dancing, her cheeks red.

“Obviously! Try to keep up!”

Heejin was not one to back down from a challenge and this definitely sounded like one. With her eyes trained on Hyunjin and totally ignoring the fact she was just about to make a fool of herself in the middle of a sea of strangers from their school, she focused on remembering the moves she had learned with Jiwoo over the summer, the initial rivalization turning into a full-blown lipsync for your life by the time the first chorus came to an end, the two moving closer and closer to the middle of the dance floor, people shooting them looks of endearment and getting out of their way.

“Sorry, I won!” Heejin heaved as the song finally finished, her energy coming back almost instantly when she recognized the next one.

“Can’t hear you!” Hyunjin waved her hands with a grin. “I go by the name of CL of 2NE1!”

Their little contest went on for a few more songs, only classics picked by Hyunjin herself, who turned out to be a worthy opponent for Heejin when it came to knowing the dances to old but timeless girl group songs, until they just couldn’t deal with the heat and the sweaty people rubbing against them anymore, pushing out of the crowd to find something to drink and cool off.

“I have to say, you don’t look like someone who learns girl group choreographies in their spare time.” Hyunjin laughed when they finally reached a mobile fridge with some beer inside.

“And you do?” Heejin raised her eyebrows with a smirk.

“Fair point.” Hyunjin shrugged. “Shit, do you see that? She got a console and said nothing?”

Heejin followed Hyunjin’s gaze, a massive TV displaying the pause screen of Mario Kart, two controllers left laying around with no one to claim them in sight.

“Are you thinking the same?” Heejin asked, a smirk forming on her lips.

Hyunjin looked back at her, her eyebrows raised.

“The loser drinks, so get ready for the worst hangover of your life, Jeon.” She teased, already taking the controller.

“Phew, in your dreams, Kim.” Heejin bit back, only thoughts of triumphing over Hyunjin occupying her, Ryujin long forgotten, lounging somewhere at the back of her mind, the plan to find her friends delayed infinitely.

After being ready to throw hands over who got to choose Princess Peach and a round filled with lowkey trying to distract the other with nudges on the shoulder and light kicks on the shin, it was Heejin that had to take a gulp of her beer laced with the bitter taste of failure as Hyunjin looked at her, that smug smirk and raised eyebrow already making their way on her face.

“What? I let you win!” She protested.

“Sure.” Hyunjin snorted.

“Well, rematch. It’s on.” Heejin’s eyes shot lightning bolts.

“Ohhh, feisty.” Hyunjin commented, her voice monotonous as she started another round, instalocking Princess Peach before Heejin could even blink.

“Not fair!” Heejin whined, focusing on the game.

They were on their sixth game, seated on the floor right next to each other, their shoulders touching and their scores a whooping 3 - 3, even if Heejin had to retort to some really nasty tactics to get there, blocking Hyunjin’s view with her whole body when she stayed behind, Hyunjin’s eyes almost bulging out of her skull at the injustice, getting her revenge by literally covering Heejin’s eyes with one hand in the next, laughter spilling from Heejin’s lips and a wide grin not leaving Hyunjin’s face, both of them buzzed.

“Oh my god, Heekkie!” Jiwoo’s panicked voice made Heejin rapidly turn her head, losing focus for one second and staying behind Hyunjin’s Princess Peach, costing her the whole round. “Hey, Hyunjin.”

“What?!” Heejin yelled, annoyed that she was losing.

“Hey.” Hyunjin replied, a victorious smile on her lips.

“I’ve been calling you and Jungie for like ten minutes, I thought you were dead!?” Jiwoo threw her hands up, her voice becoming comically high.

“She was just having her ass handed to her.” Hyunjin informed, her hands in her pockets.

“We were tied!” Heejin protested, but then turned her attention back to Jiwoo. “What happened?”

“We need to get Jindollie home, because she’s dumb.”

“Well, what’s new?” Heejin shrugged. “What happened, why does she need to go home? And where’s Jungeun?”

“It’s a long story, let’s just look for her and I’ll tell you both… Come on!”

Heejin looked back at Hyunjin, the girl just observing Jiwoo with an endeared smile before she met her gaze. Heejin didn’t know what possessed her right then and there, but she couldn’t feel her skin crawl (as she, somehow, expected it to) when she said, an awkward smile on her lips:

“So, um… I… Thanks? I had fun.”

Hyunjin’s eyes widened just for a split second.

“Are you asking or saying it?” She teased, no bite. “Yeah, me too.”

For a while they just stood there, a grin creeping up on Hyunjin’s face as she added:

“Go or else Mariah Carey is going to pop that vein on her forehead.”

Heejin snorted and turned around, shaking her head.

“See you.”

When they were making their way through the endless rooms, Jiwoo just asked her:

“Do I really have a vein on my forehead?”

“No!” Heejin laughed. “What’s going on with Jinsol?”

“I told you, we need to find Jungeun-”

“What the hell is going on?” Jungeun asked, stepping down from the stairs with a frown, joining the two.

“Where have you been, oh my god!” Jiwoo whined, immediately clutching on her hand.

Jungeun stiffened.

“Uh, just smoking upstairs, haha.” She said, hoping that the heat burning up her cheeks wasn’t a telltale sign of her almost getting a heart attack as she struggled to put her pants on after discovering that she had 30 missed calls from Jiwoo.

“Yeah, you look blazed.” Heejin nodded.

“Anyway!” Jiwoo clapped. “That cheerleader, Yeji, and the other ones, well, all of them, they started chatting to me and Jinsol and we actually really hit it off, they said I had a voice like Christina Aguilera, you know! But that’s beside the point! Yeji and Jinsol somehow made up that stupid dare because they found a stash of alcohol in one of the cupboards that they will mix exerything in one cup and then drink it and now I’m sure that Jindollie will die…”

“WHAT?” Jungeun screeched, raising her palm up to her forehead.

“Where is she?” Heejin asked.

“In the kitchen… I left her there with the cheerleaders because you guys weren’t picking up…”

“God, why is it always her…” Heejin groaned, shaking her head. “Lead the way.”

They found Jinsol half asleep on the kitchen table, mumbling the words to the evangelion opening under her breath as she struggled to keep her eyes open. When Heejin and Jungeun delicately took her under their arms, she just said:

“God, this was the worst decision of my life, but…”

Heejin snorted. Only Jinsol could still find something good in her predicament as they practically dragged her outside to freshen up and breathe.

“But?” Jungeun raised her eyebrow.

“Me and Jiwooming are now famous, you just see…” She said as she took a deep breath and leaned her head against Heejin’s shoulder.

The three of them just looked at each other conspiraciously, unable to stifle the laugh escaping their mouths.

Chapter Text

A cold, December wind sweeping through the streets was making the naked tree branches shake and sway lightly. Despite it being only the afternoon on a school day, the streetlights were already on, winter nights swallowing the sun as early as 6 PM and the chill painting everyone’s cheeks red as soon as they stepped foot out of the house. The only missing part of the picture was the snow, stubbornly refusing to fall and finally cover the city in white.

The afternoon was quiet, a warm, yellow light filling Heejin’s room, giving the pastel orange walls a certain hue.

The light reflected off of the Twilight poster hanging proudly on one of the walls, Kristen Stewart seductively staring at the room.

The polaroids that Heejin took that one time she mustered up the courage to go to a skatepark and then ended up sipping on some lemonade and sitting on her skateboard with Jinsol because it was too hot to do anything were randomly stuck to the closet door, most of them depicting the blonde sticking out her tongue and making finger horns, one with only their converse-clad feet resting against the board and one that Jinsol took while Heejin was choking on her drink, completely unfazed by her friend’s near-death experience.

Then there was the acoustic guitar that had seen better days, almost entirely covered in stickers back from when Heejin had her long-lived emo phase, three of them Warped Tour stickers ordered on the internet, because even if she couldn’t possibly be there physically, she was there mentally and with her whole heart at that. Right now what it did was just gather dust, Heejin mostly touching it when she was feeling particularly depressed and in need of a throwback, the strings kind of worn out, but just as powerful.

The room was just very unmistakably Heejin. Shakespeare rested on the shelves next to the desk, accompanied by her funko pops of Orochimaru and Naruto and a random pair of socks with cute little avocados on them that she probably should put in the closet, a navy blue flannel was nonchalantly hanging on the chair, her school bag resting against the desk, notebooks and textbooks strewn all over the place after she had finished doing her homework.

And right in the middle of her kingdom, the queen herself.

“What, what? Slow down a bit, man.” Heejin mumbled into her phone as she munched on some dried fruit, literally the only snack she could find in the whole house. It was positively tasteless, possibly expired, but still better than nothing, she supposed.

Jinsol was having a bit of a meltdown. The blonde couldn’t, for the love of god, make the crucial choice of how she would upgrade the setting of the play.

“I mean, I kinda gave up on the under the sea theme and the nunnery theme because that might have been kinda offensive actually, but I don’t know.” Jinsol whined into the phone, making Heejin hold it a bit further from her face. “Right now I have those two, but I can’t decide… it’s either the psychedelic stuff or the 1900s decadents… Ah… I don’t know and Miss Kim is gonna kill me if I don’t decide soon!”

“Shut up, she’s not gonna kill you.” Heejin rolled her eyes, taking another mouthful with a smirk.

“Which one should I choose, then?”

“I don’t know, I can’t make the choice for you!”

“Come on, it’s just friendly advice!” Jinsol protested. “You’re playing the lead, so you can tell me. Do you wanna be a hippie and have some Janis Joplin playing in the background, or do you prefer a pretentious romanticism poet and some Brahms?”

Heejin hummed, her eyebrows scrunched as she thought it over.

Jinsol was an absolute genius when it came to thinking up this sort of stuff. Her ideas were simple but not generic and they always added some variety to their productions. Her being a bad actress was almost a blessing in disguise, because almost everyone was pretty sure that was Jinsol’s element.

She would plan out the stage decor and the outfits months in advance, taking her mission as seriously as she could, and it showed.

When they were doing Romeo and Juliet back in first year, with all of them being just newcomers and fresh meat, Jinsol took the technical team of the drama club to an absolutely new level. She frowned at the idea of generic backgrounds and plastic swords and, although she was kind of afraid to speak, she suggested putting a twist on it - having the Montagues and the Capulets be two rivaling mafia families in 1920s NYC.

Needless to say, Miss Kim loved it and they sold out the most tickets they have in five years. And the amount of work done was not that much bigger than if they had done it the traditional way, even if they all heard some people mutter “were they supposed to be michael jackson? i don’t get it” as they exited the hall, as most of the drama club was dressed in simple black shirts coupled with white ties and some fedoras (the memory was fond, despite fedoras gaining some bad rep over the last few years).

Then, however, came the disaster of the second year. Jinsol had worked diligently over the summer to adapt My Immortal to be played on stage, inventing her own ending and designing everything even before she pitched the idea to Miss Kim. The teacher, kind of enamored with Jinsol after her brilliant idea last year, believed the blonde that it was an avant-garde book popular among teens, and even applauded her talent at script writing, approving the project wholeheartedly. Haseul kept asking the four of them what book it was and where she could buy it, eager to keep up with her younger friends but the truth, hopefully, will never reach her ears.

Even though the performance itself (Jungeun got a few numbers after her very convincing portrayal of Draco) and the stage were amazing, the showing was a disaster. Due to the heavily explicit nature of the play in question, parents were outraged, some of them walking out with their hands over their kids’ ears after a mere 20 minutes and the principal, absolutely fuming, his bald head becoming dangerously red and sweaty, had to stop the play even before any real action could take place.

Miss Kim had fought for them tooth and nail, defending artistic expression and the creativity of students, accusing the principal of “not keeping up with the times” and “not supporting student initiatives”, but achieved nothing in the end.

The world was not ready for Jung Jinsol a year ago, but she was ready to rehabilitate herself and prove that she was the backbone of the drama club, which was true either way.

And to completely obliterate that dickhead of a principal that, after learning it was her idea to show My Immortal and recognizing her as that scrawny freshman that insulted his moustache, gave her two weeks of detention.

“Hippies.” She said finally. “You’ll be redeemed with Miss Kim at least.”

Jinsol snorted on the other side.

“Please, she loves me. I don’t need redemption from her, only from that tool. But, anyway. Hm, I think I actually do like those hippies more…”

“You said ten minutes ago you wanted the decadents…”

“That’s beside the point! I can already see it.” The blonde shushed Heejin. “Like, I’m gonna paint the Woodstock stage or something for the scenes in the forest and, god, the costumes, you’re gonna look so dumb and so good!”

“Yeah?” Heejin decided to humor her friend.

“Yeah, I’m thinking like… let’s go all out!” Jinsol took a sharp breath. “God, there’s so much stuff to prepare, why did I wait so long, what the fuck… There’s the costumes, the poster, like five scene changes, what the fuck, literally how am I gonna do this?”

“Calm down, you’re not alone on the team.” Heejin fished her hand into the bowl only to find it empty, her interest spiking up. “Did you say a poster? But we’ve never had posters.”

“Hmm…” Jinsol hummed. Heejin could practically hear the gears turning in her brain over the phone. “I mean, why not? This year will be big either way, I think we can spare a few sheets of paper and print out flyers at least? Or maybe not, I don’t know? I don’t know if we’ll even have time to make it, because I waited so long like an indecisive little bitch-”

Heejin suddenly sat up on her bed, a smirk on her lips and sparks in her eyes as she scrambled to get to the desk.

Jinsol kept mumbling something about the decor, barely audibly and mostly to herself.

“Jindollie?” She asked, unable to contain her excitement.

“Mhm?”

“I’m gonna call you back!”

“Wha-”

The blonde’s voice was cut off by Heejin hanging up and throwing the phone on the desk.

After a moment of consideration, she just swept the books and stray papers to the side, not wanting to be bothered with throwing them into the trash or, even worse, neatly placing them in the backpack as she took her seat.

A plan was already forming in her mind as she sketched a makeshift, draft version of how she envisioned the poster to be when it hung on the walls of their school corridors.

The background would be a colorful, psychedelic sky full of stars shining above a dark forest. At the top, there would be, in a bold and chunky font, like logos of bands from the 60s, the title of the play in all caps.

Then, at center stage, although the idea was a bit ambitious when she thought of the actual full execution, she drew four circles representing the heads of the four lovers - herself, Ryujin, Jiwoo and Sooyoung, just writing down the names in their respective circles.

In between, at the bottom, there would be Chaeyoung seated on a throne, leaning against it in boredom, Yoohyeon as Puck sitting nonchalantly with a mischievous smirk on the arm, and next to her Shin Yuna, on a throne of an amazon, the two symbolising the two kingdoms - the fairy one for Chaeyoung, and the human one for Yuna.

The top was reserved for Jungeun. Or rather, for a giant donkey head, with the animal’s ears stretching behind the title, its teeth bared in a comical smile as it reigned above all of them.

And, at the bottom, like on a movie poster, their names. All of them, the actors, Miss Kim and the decor and costumes team, in the same font as the title, none of them bigger than the others, so that they all get the proper credit for their hard work.

She was absolutely ready to start sketching it properly, “A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM” already written on a clear paper sheet in a font she found on google under the first link after typing in “psychedelic font”, the draft version in front of her to look at for reference, but she encountered one difficulty.

The plan was to text Jinsol the proper sketch and wait for her reaction, but the fatal flaw was that Heejin had no idea what the blonde would dress Chaeyoung, Yoohyeon and Yuna in. The others were not a problem with only their faces showing, but this could not do.

She shrugged, though, as she knew full well that Jinsol would be ecstatic at her doing the poster either way, whether she learned about it now or in an hour not important.

Heejin’s phone started buzzing, the screen turned to the desk, and Heejin raised her eyebrows.

Reaching out for it, a small smirk appeared on her lips with the thought that maybe she just manifested Jinsol calling her, 14 years of friendship resulting in some sort of mind connection, only for a surprised frown to replace the smile when she saw “DAD” as the caller ID.

Pressing the green button, she raised it up to her ear.

“Hey, dad.” She greeted.

“Hey, Heejinnie.” A deep voice replied from the other side, and Heejin could practically see her dad’s small smile.

“Why did you call?” She asked, only realizing how blunt it sounded after the words had left her mouth.

It wasn’t that she didn’t want to talk to him, no. But she wasn’t used to him calling her on her phone, and neither was Hyejoo, as far as she knew. He did it occasionally, but mostly they would communicate by their bi-weekly, sometimes less, skype calls with the whole family.

So, it was nice.

“What, I can’t call my daughter and ask how she is?” He laughed.

“No, no! I’m good, but… isn’t it really early where you are?”

“It is. But I wanted to call before lunch. And so, the only thing you say is that “you’re good”?”

Heejin rolled her eyes with a chuckle at her dad picking apart her words, but didn’t have time to elaborate before he spoke again.

“How’s school going?”

“You know, the usual…” Heejin shrugged, spinning on her chair slowly. “Miss Park is still boring, she lives in another world.”

“I remember her from that one field day when she was just walking around, looking like she was there by accident…-” Her dad began.

“And you asked her if she was lost?” Heejin finished, a small smile on her lips at the memory of Miss Park momentarily snapping back to reality and shooting her dad a deathly glare with a pointed “I teach here, mister.”

“Yeah, that.” He confirmed with a laugh.

“And there’s still no toilet paper in the restrooms.” Heejin continued. “It just disappears after first period. Someone’s stealing, but the principal can’t catch the culprit.”

“Some things don’t change. I remember when your cousin used to go there and she would always say the same at family dinners.”

“Who, Somin? I didn’t know she used to go there.”

“Yeah, it was some time ago already.” He said. “And your friends? Is Jinsol still buying those figurines?”

“She’s never gonna stop… She got three last time.” Heejin chuckled.

“And Jiwoo? Still singing?”

“Yeah, of course! Last time she got attention from some cheerleaders because they thought she had a voice like Christina Aguilera…” Heejin trailed off before she said too much. Disclosing information about wild high school parties was not part of the plan.

Thankfully, her dad didn’t seem to have picked up on anything.

“And studying? Last year is pretty hard.” He asked.

Heejin shook her head.

“No, I get good grades in everything, so it’s alright. There’s work, but I can manage it.”

Then came the bomb.

“What about the drama club?” His voice became more stern, even if by a bit.

Heejin kind of hated how it seemed that the whole conversation seemed to be leading right up to this question, but she answered with a smile. She was proud of herself, after all, even if she purposefully didn’t bring the topic up.

“We are doing “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” and I auditioned for Hermia.” She said. “And I got the role.”

“Of course you did!” He exclaimed. “How could you have not?”

Heejin didn’t really have an answer to that.

“Well, I practiced a lot.” She settled for the truth.

“I know you did.” He said. “And what about the others? Who’s your Lysander?”

The line went quiet for a while after Heejin realized that neither her nor Hyejoo have told their dad about the whole drama club and football team collaboration. Most likely because they knew he wouldn’t like the idea, but also because at this point, it didn’t even feel like they were two separate teams.

“Um, actually…” She began. “This year, we are doing something special, and we are showing it with the football team, so…”

“What do you mean, with the football team?” He was quick to ask.

“Well, they temporarily joined the club for this year. It’s like… a team exercise for them, and a way for us to sell more tickets to the play.” She explained, a sting of shame in her heart for the first time ever when she had to mention the club’s terrible situation, despite it not being her fault at all.

“Isn’t that counterproductive? They are wasting time when they should be training, and you are wasting time with people who probably don’t even want to be there.” She could hear some doubt in her dad’s voice.

“No… Not really.” She defended. “We all like it, and Hyejoo got a role too! So you can watch both of us on the stage.”

“I would rather she had more time to train.” Her dad said with a small hum of acknowledgement. “And you, how much do you practice?”

Heejin furrowed her brows.

“Uh, everyday.” She lied.

The last time she’d opened the play was two days ago. She would do it three or four times a week, working diligently on her expressions and delivery, not counting the drama club meetings, and dedicating some free afternoons to drawing.

She found it a good balance, satisfied with the work she did for the drama club, only sometimes feeling the irrational need to read the whole play again and go over the lines at a completely random moment due to the overwhelming sense of inadequacy that sometimes came over her, and happy that she could do something else that brought her joy, even if what she had so far was a large fanart of Gaara from Naruto and a sketch of the city at night.

“That’s good.” He said. “It’s your last year, so you need to give it your all.”

“I know, dad, I know.”

“Now, can you give me your sister?” He asked.

Heejin frowned.

“Can’t you just call her?”

“I’m old and can do no such things. Technology is overwhelming.” He joked.

“You know how to call her on the phone, you did that with me ten minutes ago!” She protested, a breathy laugh escaping her mouth.

“But this way I know that she will pick up.” He said.

“Okay, bye then, dad.“ She mouthed into the phone as she rose from her seat.

“Bye, Heejinnie. I love you!”

Heejin didn’t reply to that, scrambling out of her room and heading straight for Hyejoo’s instead.

It was one of those rare days when Chaewon would sleep over at their house, as Heejin found the two girls terrorizing other players on pubg, Chaewon comfortable on her sister’s lap, Hyejoo practically wrapped around the smaller girl.

With a frown, Hyejoo barked out as soon as Heejin stepped foot in her room.

“What?”

Chaewon gracefully slid off the brunette’s lap so that Heejin could finally see her face.

“It’s dad.” She said, motioning at her phone and offering it to Hyejoo.

Her sister just stared at her, the frown not leaving her face, but her expression was surprised instead of annoyed this time, a silent question all over it. Why?

Heejin just shrugged. Hyejoo nodded and took the phone.

As Heejin was exiting the room, closing the door after herself, she saw that Hyejoo had lied down on the bed as she chatted with their dad in that monotonous voice of hers, Chaewon not uttering a single word and playing with her girlfriend’s idle hand.

When she got back to her own room, she headed for the desk hesitantly and stared at the poster, not even half done, her chest tightening at how insignificant the little lines looked under the light of the desk lamp.

With a sigh, her gaze drifted to the battered copy of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”, a permanent object there as of lately and, despite some guilt already making itself heard at the back of her mind, didn’t touch it, instead slumping down on her bed and pulling her laptop on her lap.

She finally got the impulse to finish her third Utena rewatch, at least.

___

Heejin would never admit it, and if you had told her that a month ago she would have laughed in your face, maybe even frowned in horror, but she was actually overjoyed when she got a text from Hyunjin on her way home from school, Hyejoo dozing off with her head against the bus window, her energy levels kept low whenever Chaewon wasn’t around.

from: haha bread, 15:12
you wanna go out today?

Their relationship had shifted after the last party. They still bickered, and Heejin was actually almost sure she was shitting on Hyunjin more than she ever did on Hyejoo, the actual most annoying person in her life, but as much as she wanted to roll her eyes at the thought, she enjoyed the banter.

Hyunjin kept sending her cat memes on instagram, and Heejin kept commenting on them, never sending any back. At this point, she was beginning to pick up the cyrillic.

But then, they would get into hour-long debates about whether it was Girls Generation or 2NE1 that were more iconic and culturally relevant (Heejin was team 2NE1 while Hyunjin was team Girls Generation), only finishing it after noticing it was 2 AM on a school night, three hours of sleep making Heejin unable to wholly register the reality around her for the whole day.

Worst of all, it wasn’t like they had to talk to each other at all, and Heejin was mortified by what that meant. With the roles distributed, the pairs that Miss Kim had put them in at the beginning were almost forgotten, most of them sticking in the groups that were most convenient for reviewing their lines. Hyunjin was nowhere near that for Heejin.

Of course, she still felt the inexplicable need to deck the other girl in the face sometimes when she got on her nerves, like whenever she would laugh at Heejin’s insults and look completely unfazed, or made fun of her height despite only being a few centimetres taller herself.

She would hate to say it out loud, but she appreciated those arguments and those horrible memes and extremely invalid opinions about music. If there was one thing that Hyunjin was good at, it was making Heejin so aggravated she would literally forget about everything else, whether she felt stressed or guilty or uncomfortable, and as much as she hated it, she loved it as well. It was good to get some peace of mind, even if it meant putting up with Kim Hyunjin. A complicated issue, as some would put it.

Even though she was literally gagging whenever the thought made itself apparent at the back of her mind, and would never, ever say it even if threatened with a horribly gruesome death, she actually thought that what her and Hyunjin were now was sort of, kind of… friends.

The reason she was so happy that Hyunjin had proposed it, though, was that lately, some guilt has been catching up to her for not practicing enough for the drama club. She was sure that if she convinced Hyunjin to go over the lines with her even once, she would get enough good karma to outweigh all the times she had slacked off. Or something.

And it would probably be easier to do it face to face, so who was she to deny the opportunity when it presented itself?

to: haha bread, 15:14
sure, we can go over the lines!

from: haha bread, 15:14
yea… sure
that same place as before?
good?

to: haha bread, 15:15
alright!

She cringed a bit at the exclamation point, making her texts look all the more eager. She just wanted to get even with the universe, and not for anyone to think she was actually excited to meet up with Kim Hyunjin.

She leaned against the seat, the bus sliding down the road and jumping up with every small bump. How Hyejoo could nap with her forehead lightly banging against the window everytime it happened was beyond Heejin.

___

Hyunjin was waiting for her, again.

Her face was almost entirely wrapped in a beige scarf, her hands pushed into her pockets as she stood at the bus stop, her breath turning into vapor in the December cold, her hair swept by the light wind.

“Hey.” Heejin greeted as soon as she hopped out of the bus.

“Hey.” Hyunjin replied, turning on her heel as they started walking to the bar from before.

Heejin had to skip some steps to catch up. She shoved her hands in her pockets after pulling her cap further down on her head, the cold almost unbearable.

“I don’t think I’ve asked this, but like…” She started. “Where do you live?”

Hyunjin turned her head towards her, her eyebrows arched up.

“That’s confidential.”

Heejin rolled her eyes.

“I just mean, you’re always waiting for me already, so…”

Hyunjin snickered.

“Yeah, I live one stop away, so I just walk.”

It almost shocked Heejin how easily she got a normal response.

“When it’s ten degrees negative?”

It was Hyunjin’s turn to roll her eyes.

“It’s three degrees, not ten negative.”

“Whatever, same thing!”

“Walking in the cold burns calories.” Hyunjin stated with an expressionless face.

“What the fuck.” Heejin cackled at the nonsensity. “That’s the most… jock thing I’ve heard you say, ever!”

“What, it’s true!” Hyunjin protested, raising her hands. “And you can’t say shit when you’re literally, like, oh my god, let’s run over the lines and never shut up about the play ever!”

Heejin narrowed her eyes.

“I don’t speak like that!”

“Yeah, you do!” Hyunjin laughed, bumping her shoulder with her own as they made their way forward. Then she lowered her voice, clearly mocking Heejin. “Ah, maybe we should do it like that. Huh, let’s meet up to run over the lines, I read Shakespeare in my free time and practice in front of a mirror.”

Heejin’s cheeks burned even with the cold wind brushing against them. That she practiced in front of the mirror was absolutely intimate knowledge, only available to Jinsol, Jiwoo and Jungeun. And family, but that doesn’t count.

“What the fuck, how do you know that?” She whined.

Hyunjin’s eyes almost bulged out of her skull as she started laughing seeing Heejin’s resigned face.

“Well, now I do!” She breathed out in between fits of laughter.

“Oh my god, I fucking hate you.” Heejin muttered. “And what’s so bad about it, huh? I’m just dedicated! You can’t insult me and then say shit like that you walk around in the cold to burn calories!”

“And when have I said that there’s anything bad about it?” Hyunjin said, sparks in her eyes. The scarf rolled down, revealing her lips curled up into a smirk. “If anything, you’re just as... obsessive as I am.”

Heejin scoffed.

“It’s gonna take you a while to convince me that walking around in the cold is on the same level as practicing in front of a mirror.”

“No, I mean that I literally have like, what, three lines in the whole play?”

“You have more. See, you don’t even know!”

Hyunjin stared her down, a smug smirk on her lips.

“And you know. Despite not interacting with me throughout the whole play. I rest my case.”

Heejin groaned. Mostly because it was true.

“And the first thing that came to your mind when I asked you to hand out was “oh yes let’s run lines!”, should I go on?” Hyunjin continued.

Heejin shoved her with a laugh, full of disbelief at the amount of shit leaving the girl’s mouth, and maybe a bit amused by her on point impression of her voice.

“No, point taken, you can shut up now.” She said.

Hyunjin just chuckled, hiding her face back in the scarf, a particularly strong gust of wind blowing through the street.

Then, Heejin saw the little white dots making contact with the pavement as they fell to the ground, dissolving almost immediately at the touch. Soon, she felt a few land on her face.

“Snow?” She heard Hyunjin say while raising her gaze up to the sky.

Heejin extended her hand, letting the little snowflakes land on her palm and melt down as they touched her skin, a small laugh escaping her lips.

“Yeah!” She nodded, her teeth bared in a grin. “Snow!”

Hyunjin’s eyebrows scrunched up while looking at Heejin marvel at the snowfall, more similar to rain than proper snow. However, when she extended her hand forward as well, motivated by some inexplicable urge to mimic the other girl, and a few snowflakes landed on her palm, she couldn’t help but widen her lips in a genuine smile.

“Finally!” Heejin exclaimed. “Those bitches from the weather channel owe me now.”

“They owe you what?” Hyunjin snickered.

“Satisfaction. I knew there would be snow this year.” Heejin stated confidently. “But they kept saying it was unlikely. Unlikely my ass.”

“You wanna go kill them?” Hyunjin asked matter-of-factly.

“Yeah, let’s go.” She nodded with a chuckle.

When they were making their way through the dingy corridor and down the metal stairs, the sidewalk and the streets were already covered in a thin layer of white.

“Let’s order first.” Hyunjin said, putting her hand on Heejin’s arm to stop her from going into the room deep in the bar, the touch making her jerk a little in surprise.

“Okay.”

They walked up to the bar, Heejin mentally preparing herself to order, but Hyunjin was faster.

“Two beers.” She said to the barman that seemed to be either bored out of his mind or hungover, leaning against the counter without a care in the world and only standing up straight when he heard her voice.

“Right away…” He nodded, taking out two glasses from behind the counter. Then he eyed both of them and stifled a yawn. “IDs, please.”

Heejin looked over at Hyunjin, unsure whether the girl actually had her ID, whether she was actually 18, but she was already taking out her wallet and showing the document to the barman, her brows raised at Heejin.

“What, you’re 18?” Heejin asked, confused, as they were looking for a table.

“Well, yeah, it’s not a fake ID.” Hyunjin shrugged.

“So you just made me buy last time because…?”

“Because I wasn’t 18 then?” Hyunjin furrowed her brows.

“And you are now?”

“Didn’t we establish that?” She said, looking around. “My birthday was, like, three weeks ago.”

“What?!” Heejin whined. “And you didn’t say anything? How did I not know?”

Hyunjin shrugged with a small grin.

“I didn’t have any party, if that’s what you’re asking.”

“No, but-”

“Hello, you two, can we interest you in a game of trivia?” They were interrupted by a middle aged woman dressed in formal attire, looking at the passing guests as if she were on a hunt.

“Uh, what?” Heejin narrowed her eyes, not quite following.

“Yeah, what?” Hyunjin asked.

The woman then leaned in conspiraciously, suddenly making Heejin notice how low-cut her shirt was. She noticed Hyunjin fixing her stare on the woman’s face unnaturally and had to gather all her force not to laugh in that moment.

“Look, this senior citizens club rented out the whole room to themselves because one of their friends just died. They are having a trivia night to honor his ashes.” She began explaining. “Yes, there are literal ashes of a living - well, not anymore - person in this establishment. And they wanted a hostess dressed like a flight attendant, because the friend liked… traveling.”

Now, it was starting to be extremely clear that the woman was in distress.

Heejin’s gaze momentarily flicked to Hyunjin, meeting the girl’s eyes, as if in a silent question of “what the fuck is going on?”.

“And what does that-” Hyunjin began asking, but was cut off.

“They are down on a pair. The system won’t work if we don’t have one more, and we don’t want an angry senior citizens club leaving unfavorable reviews, or worse…” The woman’s whisper came close to a hiss. “Spilling the ashes.”

She straightened up and took a deep breath, putting on a professional smile and smoothing down her uniform.

“The winner gets a voucher for ten beers!” She announced.

“Sure, why not?” Hyunjin snickered, barely balancing the glass of beer in her hand.

Heejin gaped.

“What?” She hissed.

“I’ve always wanted to be on the Truman Show!” Hyunjin grabbed her hand.

Heejin just shook her head with a resigned sigh as she let herself be dragged by the football player to the room rented by the senior citizens club.

The hostess, any signs of emotional distress gone by the time they walked into the room, announced with a pleasant, fake smile:

“Let’s welcome the pair that will take the last slot!” She motioned to the two teenagers looking over the room full of pensioners in bewilderment. “Give a warm welcome to… What are your names?”

Hyunjin was jerking uncomfortably, her jaw stiff from trying to contain the laughter bubbling in her lungs, so Heejin took it upon herself to answer as she put on an awkward smile. The fact that she saw the urn sitting on one of the tables among glasses of beer and soju didn’t help.

“Um, I’m Heejin and this is Hyunjin.”

“Great!” The hostess turned back to the room with a wide smile. “Let’s give a warm welcome to Heejin and Hyunjin! Please take a seat.”

Hyunjin took a deep breath as she sat down at a table for two in the far left corner of the room, leaning against the wall and covering her face with her hands to calm herself down.

“God, this is golden…” She muttered, taking a large gulp of her beer and shaking her head.

“We’re literally crashing a reception!” Heejin leaned in as she giggled hysterically. “Of a stranger!”

“So? Let’s get that voucher.” Hyunjin couldn’t contain her amusement.

“Are you for real?”

“Yeah!”

“Their friend just died, shouldn’t we let them win?”

“And you know what that means?” Hyunjin whispered.

“What?”

“That they don’t have enough time left to use that voucher properly!”

“Oh my fucking god, did you just-” Heejin’s eyes widened as she stifened an ugly laugh ready to escape.

“Yeah, I did. Now pay attention.”

The hostess was finally finished with setting up the projector and explaining the rules. If you know the answer, you raise your hand. The first person to raise their hand gets to answer first. Easy.

Hyunjin turned away from Heejin to face the board, Heejin’s gaze momentarily stopping at that one place between the neck and the shoulder where Hyunjin’s soft, dark hair rested before it fell down further, exposed by the girl’s t-shirt, the skin there pale and clear, seeming like it would be extremely smooth to the touch.

Heejin shook her head. What the fuck?

The first question was already rolling on the screen as she took a sip of her beer, the category being biology. She narrowed her eyes as she read it: “How many functions does a liver have?”.

Maybe she would have known the answer if she hadn’t spent the better part of her biology lessons staring at Ryujin’s back. No way she was answering that.

But Hyunjin’s hand already shot up before the old people could even begin to whisper among themselves.

“More than 500!” She shouted.

Heejin gaped at her, along with the hostess.

“That is… correct. Which means one point goes to… Heejin and Hyunjin.”

Hyunjin just turned back to look at her, a smug smile on her lips.

“We’re totally getting that voucher.”

“That’s what killed our Yongjoon… His liver…” One grandma raised a tissue to her eye and then laughed wildly as soon as all the eyes in the room turned to her. “That son of a gun loved his alcohol! Pour me some more soju, ha!”

Heejin had to look away and bite down on her lip almost strong enough to draw blood not to laugh, Hyunjin not faring much better.

“Right…” The hostess said, her eyes dead. “On to the next question!”

The screen loaded for a while before displaying the category: Pop Culture. Now, this was about to be easy.

“Which british band wrote the generally beloved hit song “There Is A Light That Never Goes Out?”

Hyunjin looked over at Heejin, her gaze unsure, but Heejin’s hand shot up before she could even say anything. The Smiths were her shit, at least when she was feeling gay and depressed, and she was about to own it.

“Yes, team Heejin and Hyunjin?” The hostess asked.

“The Smiths!” Heejin answered, confidence in her voice.

The hostess scrunched her eyebrows for a fraction of a second.

“That is… correct. Another point for team Heejin and Hyunjin.”

“Damn, you girlies are good!” One of the more ancient-looking grandpas nodded his head in approval as he clapped. “Leave some to us, dinosaurs.”

“Speak for yourself!” The woman that asked for soju before scolded him. “And shut up, we want to play! Go on, dear.”

The next category was sport, the question being: “In which year did South Korea place fourth in the FIFA World Cup?”.

Needless to say, the hostess didn’t even finish reading it before Hyunjin shouted out: “2002!”

At that, they were eagerly offered some soju by all members of the club, overjoyed by somebody finally bringing life to their little gathering (“Because this place, I’m telling you” One of the women whispered to the two of them while leaning on her cane. “Is just a bunch of bricks and filled with unprofessionals.) and not giving a damn about the fact that nobody besides Heejin and Hyunjin had answered so far.

It was only at the fourth question that the pensioners managed to get a point, the category being history, neither of the two girls paying much attention to the subject at school. But whatever, they were in it to win it, and they wouldn’t let one question hold them back.

The questions were extremely random and all over the place, but her and Hyunjin were a surprisingly good team, their areas of knowledge complementing each other.

What shocked Heejin the most, though, was how Hyunjin’s hand shot up immediately whenever a science question would pop up. She never got an answer wrong.

And while some of them were stupid, designed only for trivia nights of senior citizens, like “Which letter doesn’t appear in the periodic table?”, some of them required actual knowledge, and Heejin wouldn’t have taken Hyunjin for a science person, but for some reason, the co-captain knew what the first synthetic element created in a laboratory was, and that made Heejin scrunch her eyebrows.

Sure, she was good at all the pop culture, music and movie trivia questions herself, but it was to be expected. She lived and breathed those subjects. But Hyunjin? Hyunjin was all football, all the time. Excluding cat memes, but those aren’t an actual hobby.

Although, a faint memory of Hyunjin helping Yeojin with her maths homework a few times during lunch flashed through her mind.

Really, if she never actually made an effort to look at Hyunjin beyond her being the most annoying person in the world who also happened to be co-captain of the football team, never really asked with the intent to get an answer, it was not that surprising she actually didn’t know. It was not like she wanted to, anyway

They ended up absolutely obliterating the pensioners, all of them absolutely ecstatic at the adrenaline rush that playing trivia brought them, offering alcohol to “two extremely bright girls that would no doubt get far in life!”, even after the game was finished, the final score being 32 - 3 for Heejin and Hyunjin.

When the room calmed down after the hostess offered them the voucher for ten beers, Hyunjin hiding it in her wallet with a satisfied smile, Heejin took one last sip of her beer.

“Didn’t know you were a science nerd.” She proclaimed.

Hyunjin just looked at her with arched eyebrows.

“Aren’t you being a hypocrite for calling me a nerd?”

“No!” Heejin crossed her arms over her chest. “We literally answered the same amount of questions! But how are you this good at science?”

Hyunjin shrugged with a small chuckle.

“I don’t know, shit’s interesting, so I read articles and binge on Kurzgesagt.”

Heejin raised her palms up to her forehead in disbelief. She really couldn’t picture Hyunjin falling asleep while watching some videos explaining how black holes work.

Maybe she just really wasn’t what Heejin thought she was.

“So,” Hyunjin leaned in, sparks dancing in her eyes, an amused smile on her lips. “Now that we know each other’s special interests.”

“Mhm?” Heejin hummed, raising her eyebrows. She was kind of surprised that Hyunjin remembered.

“Can you draw me a cute cell or something?” She asked, her tone serious as she finished her beer.

Heejin threw her head back with a laugh, Hyunjin joining her soon after.

“Yeah, sure.” She nodded, still giggling. She decided she didn’t want to go home just yet, the copy of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” that she had brought with herself just in case forgotten in the depths of her bag. “Are we getting another?”

Hyunjin chuckled.

“Sure.”

___

Even though Heejin was pretty sure she was not just about to die, she still felt the need to call a last minute storage room meeting.

In a mere ten minutes, she was meeting with Ryujin to go over their lines at Blockberry, the first time they would actually be somewhere alone.

Or, well, as alone as they could be at a cafe where half of their school would go after classes.

Of course, it was nothing special. Just a normal meeting. They had agreed to do that, finally, during one of the drama club gatherings, even though neither of them had much difficulty with good delivery, finding their own rhythm after a few tries.

Miss Kim told them they had good chemistry.

It surprisingly didn’t take that much effort for Heejin to keep herself from spontaneously combusting when Ryujin flashed her a wide grin after that, but she still needed to take a deep breath, exhaling loudly and complaining about the lack of air conditioning in the drama club classroom. In December.

The thing was, Heejin could not for the life of her figure Ryujin out. She supposed that if she were actually not insane, she would have interpreted the girl’s actions as just friendly, simply because there was nothing that would indicate something more. Mostly.

They would sit on the floor in the drama club room and joke around, poking fun at the characters in the play, at Miss Kim or at whoever they were working with that day (mostly Jiwoo and Sooyoung, by virtue of their roles) like they had known each other for years, the way Ryujin addressed Sooyoung and the way she did Heejin not that different, always forward and out-going.

Then there were those moments that made Heejin’s mind go blank, but were easy to brush off as just how the football player was.

She would always make sure that the atmosphere between them wasn’t awkward and that Heejin was comfortable, always keeping the conversation going, but knowing when to stop and get to work.

Ryujin was like that with everyone, though, it would be even weirder if that didn’t extend to Heejin. Or at least, that’s what she told herself.

Logically, all signs pointed towards the co-captain being just friendly towards the person she was supposed to be working with, as she was eager to do a good job.

But the ones that played on repeat in Heejin’s mind were much more ambiguous, like that kiss at the party. Of course, it was just a dare, but it wasn’t like she absolutely had to do it - she could have just thrown down a shot and move on, once and for all confirming Heejin’s suspicions that her stupid crush was a lost cause. But she didn’t.

And the way she acted after that party? Heejin didn’t know.

Maybe it was just her stupid mind and some wishful thinking that made her think Ryujin was trying to reach out to her specifically, making some extra effort.

Or maybe not.

Either way, she actually cherished what she had now, even if she was freaking out inside sometimes. Ryujin was simply cool, and she couldn’t have hoped for someone better to take on the role of Lysander.

She couldn’t quite mind the lack of development in the romantic department when things were going so well, really, and it was better not to bite off more than she could chew.

“So, are you freaking out or not?” Jinsol asked, matter of factly.

Both her and Jiwoo were rubbing reassuring circles on her arms as they stood leaning against the desk, Jungeun seated behind Heejin and playing with her hair as they were acting out the intervention.

“Yes! No…” Heejin deflated. “I don’t know!”

“Either way, you got it!” Jinsol nodded. “And if shit gets weird, just keep eating so she thinks you’re not talking because your mouth is full, and not because you’re dying inside!”

“This is the worst shit I’ve heard in my life.” Jungeun snorted, her hands busy with making a minuscule braid from Heejin’s hair.

Jinsol shot her a deathly glare.

“I’m not stressed about that, I’ve talked to her before, you know.” Heejin said, raising her hands in a vague gesture.

“Then what?”

Heejin shrugged.

“What if it’s too loud and we have to shout but we can’t hear each other so we just get out after twenty minutes of misery and part and just think “shit, that was a disaster” on the way home?”

“Alright, now that’s stupid.” Jinsol said, mischievous sparks in her eyes. “If it’s loud, just make her lean in closer.”

Heejin’s eyes widened at Jinsol offering valuable insight for once.

“It’s gonna be alright!” Jiwoo chirped, gripping her hand. “I did it some time ago with Sooyoung, and it was great!”

Jungeun narrowed her eyes.

“You did?” She asked, faking nonchalance and not looking up from the little, dark braid.

She kind of hated the little hint of jealousy that managed to mix in with the guilt she was almost getting used to.

"You did?" Jinsol furrowed her brows, turning to Jiwoo.

“Yeah! She wanted to go over some lines, so I thought why not?” Jiwoo shrugged, a smile on her lips as she turned her head back to Heejin. “So you shouldn’t freak out!”

“I’m not!”

Jungeun furrowed her brows at the irrational thought that flew through her mind, that Sooyoung didn’t even mention it. Because, honestly, why would she?

Even though they’ve gone from randomly pulling the other into a toilet stall during breaks or the storage room after classes to furiously make out and then walk out of there as if nothing had happened to being each other’s proper booty calls, Jungeun almost remembering every metro stop on the way to Sooyoung’s house, it wasn’t like they were anything more than that.

It wasn’t like they talked about the drama club at lenghts. Most of the time, it wasn’t like they talked at all, and it would be better for everyone if it stayed that way.

It made perfect sense, because it was not that kind of relationship, Jungeun told herself, trying to hold the thoughts nagging her at bay.

“Alright, fuck, y’all, she texted me.” Heejin exclaimed, already picking up her backpack and throwing her giant jacket on. “She’s at her locker, so she’ll be going out in no time. Pray for me!”

“Hell yes, get it!” Jinsol hollered as she waved her off.

“Remember, it’s gonna be alright!” Jiwoo reassured, their friend already out of the room.

___

 

“Hey!” Ryujin greeted her with a warm smile and a fleeting hug after Heejin stepped out of the school building.

“Hey.” She said. “Ready?”

“Of course!” Ryujin nodded, her hands in her pockets.

The afternoon was unusually hot for winter, the wind completely absent, making Heejin unzip her jacket, the clear, white snow creaking under their shoes.

“Wow, you listen to The Smiths?” Ryujin exclaimed, looking at her in surprise.

It took Heejin a while to understand that she was referring to the shirt she was wearing, bared by the open jacket, the one she waited for for two months before it came, her mom almost killing her for giving money to scammers, from the 86’ US tour of the band.

“What? Oh, yeah, sometimes.” She muttered, shrugging.

“They’re, like, one of my favorite bands.” Ryujin nodded with a smirk.

“Really?” Heejin’s eyes widened. The more you know. “They were one of mine, too, but now it’s mostly nostalgia, I guess?”

“Yeah, I get it. No new stuff, so it gets old at some point.”

“Well, there’s always Morrissey.” Heejin chuckled.

“I stand by that one meme.” Ryujin laughed. “Someone should be following him at all times, ready to taser him before he says any stupid shit.”

“Good thing we agree. The world has gone past the need for Morrissey.”

Ryujin hummed, her gaze on the ground.

“Guess how I found them, though.” She said.

Heejin furrowed her brows, shooting in the dark.

“The Perks of Being a Wallflower?”

“Fuck, how did you know?” Ryujin exclaimed, wide-eyed.

“Projection.” Heejin chuckled.

“What, you too?”

“Yeah. Me at fourteen? Absolutely living for it.”

“Shit, me too! But I can’t listen to “Asleep” anymore, or else I will die.” Ryujin pushed the door to Blockberry open with her shoulder as she looked back at Heejin.

“God, same. Literally, give me anything else.”

“What do you want to take?” Ryujin asked, eyeing the cafe and spotting one free table. “I get it, and you take the table? If that’s okay.”

Heejin mulled the options over for a second as she fished for her wallet in her backpack, remembering something.

“Uhh… that caramel coffee that’s all sugar, you know which one?” She said, and Ryujin nodded with a small smirk. “And, uh… banana bread.”

“You got it.” Ryujin put the banknotes that Heejin had given her in her pocket and took her place at the end of the line, her phone in her hand as she typed away.

She came to the table with a neat tray in her hands, two coffees and a large banana bread, setting it in the middle.

“So, where do we start?” She said with a grin as she took off her cap and placed it on the table next to her phone.

Heejin took a large gulp of the coffee. She kinda missed the drink that was pure caffeine and sugar and nothing else.

“I don’t know, we can do Act II?” She proposed. “Honestly, whichever you’d like.”

Ryujin’s phone buzzed against the table.

“Is it true your friend wants to make us hippies?” She asked, taking a peek at the screen but not replying, her gaze drifting back to Heejin. She leaned and took the copy of the play she got from the school library, setting it down on the table.

Heejin chuckled, her hands already on the banana bread.

“What, Jinsol? Yeah.” She said.

The phone buzzed again. This time, Ryujin typed out a quick reply with her index finger as she drank her coffee.

“That’s cool as fuck, honestly.”

“Yeah, she’s good at all that stuff.” Heejin mumbled, her mouth stuffed with the delicious bread. “She says she’s a visionary, but she’s full of shit, so...”

Ryujin chuckled, taking a piece of the bread as well after Heejin offered.

“Wasn’t last year kind of a disaster, though?” She asked. “I heard the principal was mad as shit.”

Heejin snickered at the memory.

“Yeah, it was!”

“Well, that makes two of us.” Ryujin shook her head with a small laugh.

Heejin arched her eyebrow up. It was the first time she heard anyone refer to that whole fiasco that took place last year, apart from Hyejoo. She decided not to ask further, though.

“But first year was good, though!” She said, instead. “We did Romeo and Juliet.”

“Yeah, I know.” Ryujin nodded, a smile so wide her dimples showed. “I mean, I couldn’t go, because you know, that stupid tradition, but Lia told me. Some people thought you were doing a tribute to Michael Jackson.”

Heejin ignored the mention of the head cheerleader. It was kind of cliche, that the co-captain of the football team and the head cheerleader seemed to be close.

“I don’t know where they got that from, it was clearly the mafia!” She groaned.

Ryujin chuckled.

“Maybe it was the fedoras that did the trick.”

Heejin rolled her eyes and shook her head with a laugh.

“Alright, let’s get to it.” She said, motioning to Ryujin’s copy.

“Alright, boss.” Ryujin teased, flicking through the pages with a smile. “Can we do Act II, Scene II?”

Heejin leaned over to get her own copy from her backpack.

“Sure.”

Chapter Text

After the first snow had fallen, it was only a matter of time until the year came to an end, the eve of the occasion rolling around fast.

It was a tradition for the four of them to always, always spend it together, just the four of them goofing off as they waited for the clock to strike twelve, only to sprint out to the balcony to watch the fireworks as soon as it was time, some horrible music playing in the background as they joked around, maybe watching some mentally undemanding movie.

(The New Years Eve of 2014 is still embedded in Heejin’s mind, her and Jiwoo coming over to Jinsol’s house, even before any of them had known Jungeun, everything dandy as they sipped on some soda with too much sugar to stay awake, until Jinsol had suggested they do “something hardcore”. The three of them still have trauma from watching all three episodes of Boku no Pico.

They’ve steered clear of any anime after that, sticking to stupid american romantic comedies to make fun of.)

It had started all the way back in kindergarten, though, when both Jinsol and Heejin were invited to one of the head bitch’s of their group, Jeon Somi’s, party.

The party itself was all that one could expect from a New Year’s Eve for five year olds - Somi’s parents looked like they were in mental distress as yet another Barbie movie played on their new TV, little kindergarteners in over-the-top pink dresses munched on cake and screamed the lyrics to all the Barbie songs, some of them getting the cake on the expensive looking, fluffy red carpet, making Somi’s mother fan herself at the sight.

Others sat on the floor, braiding each other’s hair, the last kindergarten trend being figuring out how to style it like Marie Antoinette after one girl saw her on TV in a documentary, the news spreading like wildfire.

Many hairbrushes were lost in the fight, especially if the five-year-olds managed to get their hands on some hairspray, many tears were spilled, but the girls were not ready to give up, always striving to achieve the absolute artistry of the french ruler’s head.

Then there was Somi herself and her best friend, Tzuyu, both of them dressed like queens. Or like ballerinas in a Disney movie. Same shit for a kindergartener.

With her ultra-barbie scepter, a piece of pink plastic with some golden decorations in her hand, Somi was fighting with Jinsol and Heejin, every sentence that left her mouth earning her an obnoxiously exaggerated nod of approval from Tzuyu.

“Why can’t we watch Transformers? Barbie is so boring!” Jinsol pouted as she crossed her arms over her chest and stomped her leg.

“No one wants to watch Transformers but you!” Somi shrieked, the puffy sleeves of her purple princess dress making her head look comically small.

She was gripping the plastic scepter in both of her hands, a tell-tale sign she was close to decking the black sheep of their kindergarten group, not afraid to use force.

“I- I could watch Transformers…” Heejin muttered, her stare on the floor and her shoulders slumped in her own over-the-top pink dress.

She kind of envied Jinsol, how she didn’t care about Somi’s rules and came in a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles shirt and bright blue sweatpants.

“Yeah! Tell her, Somi!” Tzuyu added, ignoring Heejin’s meek protest and staring down at Jinsol.

She was unusually tall for a kindergartener, outgrowing her peers by a head, her pink dress flowing past her feet making her look regal, even if the real queen of the evening was undoubtedly Somi.

“You are so annoying!” Somi huffed.

“No, you are!” Jinsol shouted back at her, her brows comically furrowed.

“I didn’t even want to invite you!”

“Good! Because I didn’t want to come!”

And Jinsol stormed off, her fists clenched.

Heejin just watched the little girl try to get Miss Jeon’s attention. The woman seemed relieved when she walked with Jinsol to the corridor, happy to get away from the horrible children for a while, even if it would come back and bite her in the ass later, probably.

“Transformers stink!” Somi shouted after Jinsol, her back disappearing in the corridor.

Heejin looked over at the dimly-lit corridor, and then back at Somi.

She didn’t know many things yet, but of two, she was sure. One was that Somi was a total bitch. And the other…

“Transformers don’t stink!” She said, her expression serious.

Not even waiting for the response, she jumped over the cake that someone had smeared on the carpet and, her step giddy from telling off the biggest villain known to their small universe, made her way to the corridor and to Jinsol.

They weren’t really friends, then. Sure, they played with each other (Jinsol had a big hot wheels collection, which she would sometimes bring with herself, only Heejin playing with her, because she though those cars with flames painted on them were absolutely sick, even if no other person did) and they knew each other by virtue of being in the same group, but they weren’t exactly friends.

However, there was always some invisible connection between them. Or maybe it was just Heejin projecting, because she wished she had the guts to stand up to Somi like Jinsol did, rolling her eyes and scoffing exaggeratedly everytime the queen bee would so much as utter a single word, the five year old just not giving a fuck about what anyone thought of her and her interests.

Heejin didn’t think she could ever be like that, really.

“Hey!” Jinsol perked up, stopping putting on her boots and looking up as soon as she heard someone enter the corridor, a grin on her face when she saw it was Heejin. “You want to go to my house and watch Transformers?”

Heejin’s eyes lit up.

“You’re going home?” She asked, crouching down next to Jinsol.

“Mhm.” Jinsol nodded. “My dad is picking me up.”

“I think Barbie is boring too.” Heejin stated.

“So do you wanna? They are so stupid.” Jinsol said, her eyes drifting in the direction of the living room, where yet another movie had started.

“Yeah!” Heejin nodded vigorously.

“But…” Jinsol said, looking at her up and down, making Heejin’s stomach churn. Maybe it was just a prank? “Princesses can’t go inside my room.”

Heejin grinned wildly. She had been waiting for this moment for the whole time, ever since she first stepped foot in Jeon Somi’s house, but she only thought she could finally do it when they were going to be getting ready to sleep.

She took the dress off through her head like a shirt, almost tearing it up, only to reveal a Lilo and Stitch shirt and some leggings that could technically double as tights. It definitely had Jinsol fooled, at least.

“Now we can talk.” She grinned back at Heejin. She looked back to her shoes. “Do you wanna see something cool?”

Heejin nodded her head.

Jinsol stood up, her shoes still not tied, and she took a few steps, the soles lighting up in different colors everytime her feet made contact with the ground.

Heejin’s eyes widened, her mouth hanging open.

“Wow…” She whispered, hypnotized.

But Jinsol was quick to sit down again, this time much closer to the other girl, her grin contagious as she started raving about Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Heejin only nodding her head and drinking in every word that exited Jinsol’s mouth.

Of course, it took some explaining and a very awkward phone call to Heejin’s parents when Jinsol’s dad came up to get his daughter only to find them both sprawled on the floor, Jinsol in her still untied shoes (she couldn’t do it, but was too proud to admit it) and Heejin with her pink dress in her hands. It looked more like a rag than anything else, to be completely fair.

But in the end, Heejin spent the entire night at Jinsol’s house, stuffing her mouth with crisps in the shape of ghosts and binging the girl’s CDs of Transformers and then passing out well after midnight, her head on the other girl’s shoulder, her mom only picking her up in the morning.

And even if Jinsol’s tomboy streak had ended soon after they started primary school, while Heejin’s was only getting started, they stuck together.

Even with Jinsol becoming bored with Transformers only to replace them with Gundams over the years and Heejin finally finding her call, the dramatic bitch capacities in her rising exponentially with every lead role under her belt, that phase when Jinsol was obsessed with becoming a pirate after seeing One Piece and the one when Heejin discovered the dark world of american emo bands, or when she got immersed in Naruto (and never really got out of it).

Even when two became three, with Jiwoo organically added to their squad, the world of musicals opening itself up in front of them, even if neither could be as passionate about it as their friend, a literal bubble of sunshine and a much needed presence, adding life to their meetings with her wide smiles and cute antics.

Despite those rebellious streaks that everybody gets at some point in their stupid little life, when they would skip school only for Jinsol to paint her gundams and then sell them at an exorbitantly high price on ebay, or that one time they dyed Jinsol’s hair blonde and Jiwoo’s bright red, despite the packaging clearly saying “graceful bronze”, Heejin panicking when the bleach got on her black pants, ruining them in a matter of seconds.

They got grounded for months, Jinsol’s scalp was on fire (but she just couldn’t give those luscious, blonde locks up, even after 3 years) and Jiwoo dimmed for a month before it was safe to dye her hair again, finally succeeding in getting the “graceful bronze” she was promised, but at the cost of having to wear a hat to school, looking positively bald and earning some weird stares from everyone at school not in on the secret.

Despite all the times that Heejin would freak out about feeling less than, when she made the smallest mistake and both Jinsol and Jiwoo had to tiptoe around her as she sat quietly, contemplating, focused and broody.

Through all of Jiwoo’s entirely hopeless crushes, none of the lucky ones she set her sight on living up to the expectations, when she would make them watch The Notebook with her for the 100th time while she ate her ice-cream and bawled her eyes out, clutching them both at the shoulder, only to come to school the next day wearing her signature wide grin and ready to move on, the Ryan Gosling movie serving as her personal little catharsis.

With Somi taking a solid 180 turn and becoming their middle school’s resident bad girl, blasting Rihanna in the hallways. One day, she came up to the three of them when they were geeking out about Ghibli, her face nonchalant and blasé as she apologized to Jinsol for that accident in kindergarten and said that actually, Barbie was kind of lame, Jinsol almost shitting herself from laughter when the girl got out of hearing distance.

And even when they all got into the same high school, entering it with high expectations only to end up being the losers that they always were, Jungeun coming along on the way, the girl that they would clown and tease mercilessly, but that always looked out for them in the simplest ways, becoming the designated mom friend, it was alright being losers.

And the one thing that remained a constant were the New Year’s Eve parties. It was only the third one for Jungeun, but for Jiwoo it was already the sixth and for Heejin and Jinsol? They were on their fourteenth, and counting. They would be having those in hell, they were sure of it.

So here they were, only the four of them cramped up on Jungeun’s bed, Jiwoo clinging on to Heejin’s arm with Jinsol’s head on her lap, Jungeun’s legs occasionally bopping her scalp as they rested on Heejin.

“I just want to bring joy to people, you know?” Jiwoo slurred, nesting her head on Heejin’s chest and cuddling up to the girl, her affection not left unanswered as Heejin wrapped her arm around her and Jinsol patted her thigh.

In a slight state of drunkenness, Heejin’s eyes were beginning to water at the adorable sight of Jiwoo spilling her heart to them in declarations of her resolutions for the approaching new year.

“Aww, but you already bring so much!” Heejin pouted, her brows furrowed.

"Yesss.” Jinsol slurred, pinching the bridge of her nose. She did not know how to properly ration her alcohol. “We love you so much, Jiwooming…”

“But I want to bring you guys even more…”

Jungeun stared at the scene playing out in front of her with a small smirk, looking up from the screen of her phone. She quickly snatched the disgustingly warm glass of vodka mixed with cola (and not the other way around) that Jiwoo must have forgotten she was even holding, threatening to spill it on her sheets, and set it on the nightstand.

She was probably the only sober one among them, or at least sober enough to chuckle at how Jinsol was trying too hard to focus her stare on the ceiling and how Heejin became clingy after she had something to drink and Jiwoo was around.

“What are yours?” Jiwoo chirped, her eyes lighting up. She didn’t even notice how her glass wasn’t in her hand anymore. If her red cheeks were any indication, it was for the better.

“Have you guys seen those big-ass lego robots that move they have on display at the store in the city center?” Jinsol asked, yawning. “I wanna build that shit.”

The phone in Jungeun’s hand vibrated, turning her attention away from her friends, “I Knew You Were Trouble” by Taylor Swift coming on shuffle, Heejin making the goat noises over the conversation despite the meme being a solid 5 years old, Jiwoo nodding her head as Jinsol went on and on about the lego robots.

from: ha sooyoung, 23:25
it’s a bummer you didn’t come here

to: ha sooyoung, 23:26
You know why

from: ha sooyoung, 23:28
yeah i know, all four of u could have but i get it
hyuns going crazy without ur diva friend to annoy

“I also want to find love!” Jiwoo exclaimed, throwing her hands up only to rest her palms on her cheeks a second after, a cute pout on her lips.

Jinsol snickered.

“You always want to, that’s not a resolution!”

“But I want it for real this time!” Jiwoo protested. “And I know I can meet the right person finally!”

Jungeun just furrowed her brows. She was sure she’d never seen Jiwoo and the dark-haired, weird football player interact, ever.

to: ha sooyoung, 23:29
Who, jiwoo?

from: ha sooyoung, 23:30
no, the russian one
heejin

Jungeun almost snorted at Sooyoung calling Heejin a diva. Almost.

“Are you maybe, perhaps referring to that one smoking hot cheerleader I saw eyeing you at Chaeyoung’s party?” Jinsol teased the girl, elbowing her lightly.

Jiwoo’s cheeks went beet red, but Heejin was quicker than any protest that could have left her mouth.

“Litela-lite, what the fuck, literally, what? What cheerleader are we talking here?” She asked, her eyes wide in disbelief.

“You know Doyeon?”

Heejin just shook her head. She had no idea who that was.

Jinsol sat up with a sigh and fished her phone out of her pocket, quickly typing something in only to pass it to Heejin, the cheerleader’s instagram profile open.

“WHAT?” Heejin shrieked as she scrolled through the posts. “She looks like a hot, thirty year old goddess! Did she come straight out of a fashion magazine or what?”

“She told me I was like Christina!” Jiwoo bragged with a nod.

“...And she comments hearts on your selfies.” Jinsol shrugged, as if she had just presented a fact that could prove a groundbreaking scientific theory to be true.

“She WHAT?” Heejin screamed in Jiwoo’s face, but the girl just smiled broadly and raised her hands in defeat.

“I knew she would be the most likely to have a harem. Told ya.”

from: ha sooyoung, 23:35
i wish youd come yourself though

from: ha sooyoung, 23:35
only so we could disappear somewhere together

Jungeun’s breath got caught up in her chest.

to: ha sooyoung, 23:36
Yeah?

from: ha sooyoung, 23:36
yeah

from: ha sooyoung, 23:36
but only for a while

from: ha sooyoung, 23:37
so that when we get back i could watch you all needy and flustered

from: ha sooyoung, 23:37
trying to hide it

from: ha sooyoung, 23:38
just waiting until you pull me by my collar into some room

Jungeun took a deep breath, already feeling the heat rise up to her cheeks, crawling up her neck.

“This is so fucking wild and you can’t even explain?!” Heejin was now kneeling on the bed, leaning in Jiwoo’s direction as the girl just gave her one sheepish smile after another. “How did you get a supermodel to pine after you?”

“It’s the magic of my voice?” Jiwoo offered, out of answers. “And she’s just being nice, probably!”

“Right.” Jinsol snorted. “And what about the literal love of your love, then?”

Jiwoo furrowed her brows.

“But Bella Swan is fict-”

“Sooyoung.” Jinsol sighed, facepalming.

The name made Jungeun’s eyes shoot up from the screen at the speed of light.

Jiwoo just shrugged, her gaze unsure as she played with the hem of her shirt for a while, biting on her lip as she thought about the answer. She lifted her head slowly, and actually met Jungeun’s stare for a split second.

“I mean, I don’t… I don’t know…” She shrugged again, a small smile appearing on her lips. “We were supposed to get over that, right?”

Jungeun could swear that her heart would jump right out of her chest when Jiwoo looked right at her. Her smile was genuine, not petty, and there was no way in hell she knew anything, but Jungeun felt like she was having a stroke.

“Uh, yeah. Haha.” She coughed out, tugging at the collar of her t-shirt in a redundant attempt to ease the heat of her guilt.

“So are you moving on to the model goddess? What’s going on?” Heejin shook her head and sighed, raising her fingers up to her forehead.

“She’s just being nice!” Jiwoo protested, flailing her arms around. “And she has a name!”

to: ha sooyoung, 23:43
You have to do without me tonight

from: ha sooyoung, 23:44
you wont even entertain me like this?
i kind of hoped for it, not gonna lie

to: ha sooyoung, 23:44
Don’t tell me YOU'RE gonna have trouble finding someone else for the night

from: ha sooyoung, 23:44
of course not, are you doubting me?

Jungeun had to mentally restrain herself from scoffing.

to: ha sooyoung, 23:45
You’re irreformable
Can’t go a day without it?

from: ha sooyoung, 23:46
can
but what for?
and you know i have good stamina ; )

“Hey Jungie where’d you get this belt???” Jinsol’s voice snapped Jungeun out of it, her gaze immediately shooting up to the other blonde.

With her brows furrowed, she followed her friend’s pointed finger as Jiwoo and Heejin chatted, fighting playfully over what music they should put on next.

There was a black, leather belt slung over her desk chair, giant dull-golden rings serving as hoops, a simple buckle resting on the seat.

It took all the effort Jungeun could muster up for her eyes not to bulge out of her skull at the sight.

She vividly remembered the exact moment she had placed it there, no longer than two days ago.

(The buckle clinked as Jungeun’s impatient hands were trying to get it undone, Sooyoung’s hands wrapped tightly in her hair and her ragged breaths in between hungry kisses weren’t helping at all.

“Eager, aren’t you?” Sooyoung teased, not giving her time to reply before covering her lips with hers again.

Jungeun tugged at the clasp again, but the metal-rimmed hoops were not giving up easily under her shaky grasp.

“Just take the damn thing off.” She muttered under her breath, breaking their kiss, frustrated.

Sooyoung chuckled, sparks dancing in her eyes. Jungeun groaned at the sight.

Jungeun’s stare drifted lower, to the girl’s slender fingers making their way around the buckle.

She gulped, hoping it went unnoticed.

Soon enough, Sooyoung was holding the belt in her hands with a grin, practically shoving it in Jungeun’s.

“Since you wanted it so much.’

Jungeun rolled her eyes, turning around to get rid of the belt and free her hands, only allowing herself a small chuckle when the brunette couldn’t see her face. She threw it over the chair nonchalantly, sure that Sooyoung would take it with her when she would go back home.

“You’re so stupid.” She muttered before closing the distance between them again and pulling the other girl to the bed.

“Mhm.” Sooyoung hummed, straddling her hips. “There are worse things to be.”)

“I- uh… at H&M!” She exclaimed.

Jinsol furrowed her brows, Jungeun burning under her gaze.

“You buy at H&M? That’s the shittiest place ever.”

Jungeun shrugged. What the hell had she gotten herself into?

“Everybody’s allowed to have their guilty pleasures, alright!” She protested, her mouth almost obnoxiously big.

“Are you calling exploiting the people that work in sweatshops a guilty pleasure?” Jinsol winced.

“No!” Jungeun waved her hands. "No, no!"

“I’ll let it slide, but honestly, you could do bet-”

However, Jinsol was cut off by Jiwoo latching onto Jungeun, wrapping her up in a warm hug.

“And what’s yours, Jungie?” She chirped, her face comically close to the blonde’s.

With a slightly endeared smile, Jungeun arched her eyebrow up.

“My what?”

“Resolution! I’m bringing joy and finding love, Jindollie is building a robot, Heekkie is getting abs, and what about you?” Jiwoo clarified.

Jungeun was sure her even one of her friend’s smiles could light up the whole universe.

“Uh, I don’t know…?” She shrugged meekly.

She was sure that no matter what she resolved to do, nothing would even come close to evening out the shitty karma she’d bought herself in the past few months.

“You could quit smoking!” Heejin suggested, nodding.

“Yes, Jungie, that would be good for you!” Jiwoo snuggled up even closer.

Jungeun’s chest tightened at that, her phone vibrating in her pocket. She chose to ignore it.

“Yeah, do it, we need a basic bitch resolution!” Jinsol yelled over Taylor Swift spilling her heart out on the laptop.

“I’m not a basic bitch!!!” Jungeun shrieked, her voice cracking.

“Exactly, it’s actually a good reso-” Heejin came to her defense.

“-Heejin’s is to have abs, that’s basic!” The blonde finished.

“Alright, fuck you!” Heejin’s mouth hung open, the girl feigning offense at the words.

“Please don’t beat each other up!” Jiwoo whined, her arm reaching for Heejin to get her to snuggle.

Warm under Jiwoo’s arm around her shoulders, Jinsol’s head on her lap as she fiddled drunkenly with her dollar store Rubik’s Cube, only messing it up even more than it already was instead of solving it, Heejin took out her phone, finally taking a much needed breather.

She opened instagram, curious what their other friends from school were getting up to, Jungeun, Jiwoo and Jinsol joining their forces in trying to solve the cube.

First there was Yerim, a blurry picture of someone (Heejin just assumed it was Yeojin because of the little buns on her head) with a mini-firework in her hand, followed by a video that made Heejin scrunch up her nose in surprise as she chuckled.

Hyejoo in her oversized black hoodie was leaning above a Foosball table, a lazy smirk on her lips and her gaze hooded as she deflected Yeojin’s attacks, scoring with her keeper and making the little girl yell out “unfair!” as she laughed and pleaded for a rematch.

People gathered around the table, hollering and cheering for either of them, Yerim’s words of encouragement for both coming from behind the camera, Shin Yuna going wild in the background and Chaewon coming up to Hyejoo to give her a kiss for good luck.

Yeojin looked straight in the camera then, pouting and whining how she didn’t have a girlfriend and could not get encouragement like this, the camera shaking a little before the match resumed.

As wild of a sight as Hyejoo socializing with people other than Chaewon was, Heejin was definitely not up to watching at least twenty videos just like this, swiping Yerim’s story to the left.

Then there was Ryujin, a pic taken by someone else of a slightly inebriated squad composed of Ryujin herself, grinning wildly into the camera with a red cup in her hand, Sooyoung with her arm snaked over some girl’s arms, who Heejin was pretty sure didn’t even go to their school, Yeji in her pigtails, Lia with her eye smile, a gorgeous brunette, eerily similar to the one on Sooyoung’s arm, Chaeyoung and Yeri wrapped around each other (No, Heejin still could not believe her eyes) and Yubin next to them, showing a peace sign with Yoohyeon, all of them sitting on some brown leather couch, with the caption “NEW YEAR LETS GO!”.

Next was an alternative take, a selfie where Hyunjin’s lips twisted into a horrible duck face and her hand making devil horns took up most of the screen, her eyes dead and the people on the couch barely visible.

At least the mystery of who was behind the camera had solved itself.

A blurry pic of Chaeyoung in a horrid christmas sweater and a Santa Claus hat on her head followed, ending Ryujin’s recap of the night so far.

The real cherry on top, though, was Sooyoung’s story, the most recent one posted only three minutes ago.

There was Hyunjin, filmed by Sooyoung as they stepped out on a small lawn, white snow covering it whole. Hyunjin was carrying a giant box in her hands, her eyes covered by skiing goggles and an entirely too big skiing jacket hanging on her frame.

With a serious expression, she turned to face the camera, Sooyoung’s hand shaking a bit as she chuckled. The box turned out to be supermarket fireworks.

“In today’s vlog, we will be setting up fireworks.” Hyunjin announce, her voice monotonous.

Heejin furrowed her brows, but continued watching.

The next video showed Hyunjin crouch and tear the box open, showing one firework to the camera, still serious as ever, even if she swayed a bit while squatting, only finding her balance after a moment.

“To be safe, we need to set them properly.” She spoke again, earning yet another laugh from Sooyoung.

With the box abandoned on the ground, Hyunjin took the fireworks and stood in front of the camera, her skiing gloves making it difficult for her to hold them, Sooyoung’s phone shaking with every fit of laughter.

“Normally, we would set them in the ground.” The camera panned to the girl’s shoes in an attempt to show the ground, her plain vans in stark contrast with all the skiing gear. “But shit’s frozen, so we need to improvise, adapt and overcome.”

The camera went back to Hyunjin’s face, the football player nodding her head seriously. It reminded Heejin of a dad teaching his gay son how to chop wood at a bonding trip to a cabin in the woods.

“So, we’re sticking those babies in the snow, okay. Work.” Hyunjin crouched again.

The next seven videos were just Hyunjin building little snow mountains to stick the fireworks into, complaining about how she was getting no help, but at least the camera was rolling, the oversized, white jacket making her look like the Michelin mascot.

Heejin swiped through them, her brows still furrowed, even if that was probably one of the least bizarre things she had ever witnessed Hyunjin do, until the girl finally stood up sighing with satisfaction, her hands on her waist.

“Are you finished?” Sooyoung asked from behind the camera.

“Yeah, look at them.” Hyunjin motioned at the perfectly even line of fireworks. “My babies.”

She was snapped out of it before she could finish watching the whole thing, though, Jiwoo’s high-pitched squeal filling the room.

Heejin rapidly turned her head to her friends, Jiwoo showing her her phone, where the clock displayed 23:58.

“Oh my god, it’s only two minutes!!!” The girl exclaimed, her life energy renewed as she hurried them to get off the bed and onto the balcony.

Jungeun took one big blanket, wrapping all four of them when they stepped out onto the small balcony only in hoodies and slippers, the cold radiating from the balcony floor almost inhuman and freezing the soles of Heejin’s feet as they all huddled closer under the blanket, Jinsol shuddering on the left, her breath turning to vapor as soon as she exhaled.

Some fireworks were already going off, the occasional explosions of color on the clear, black night sky made by people entirely too eager to welcome the new year. Or maybe finally part with the old one.

“Twenty seconds!” Jiwoo announced, looking at her phone and unable to contain her wide smile.

Heejin looked at her friends, at Jungeun smirking shyly while holding the blanket over them, at Jiwoo’s eyes drifting from her phone to the sky, at Jinsol’s face lighting up when more explosions started to go off all around them, the warmth she felt in her heart at the sight making her own lips curl up in a smile.

“Alright, ten seconds!” Jiwoo squealed.

They counted down to one together, their eyes fixated on the night sky.

“Three… two… one!”

The sky exploded in a sea of colors, the sounds of fireworks going off left and right almost defeaning, the four jumping on the balcony, not giving a damn about the snow getting on their socks, not even feeling the cold for a while.

Maybe it was because of that drink that Jinsol had made her, half vodka and half cola (because “oops, my hand slipped”), but Heejin kind of wondered if one of those fireworks they were seeing were the ones that Hyunjin had set up on somebody’s lawn.

“Happy New Year!” Jiwoo wrapped them all in a hug, not letting go, the sky lit up beside them. Heejin cuddled up to her, their cheeks squished against each other.

After a while, though, she felt the girl begin to shiver next to her, and Jinsol must have noticed, because she said:

“Happy New Year, but can we get inside? My ass is freezing!”

Jiwoo chuckled, letting go, Jungeun ushering them inside with a snicker before she took the blanket in her hands and closed the door to the balcony after herself, the sounds of fireworks not dying out for at least another twenty minutes.

___

 

The school corridor was busy, students coming in and out of classrooms in waves, most of them trying to get to the cafeteria or just to the next classroom of the day, passing by the grey lockers with easy banter, complaining about their teachers and the ridiculous amount of homework or stressing over a failed test.

Not a part of the moving mass, Heejin, Jungeun, Jinsol and Jiwoo were sitting on a windowsill, the thing a little cold and freezing their asses off, but it was one of the best spots of the entire school, not counting their storage room. They all looked around anxiously from time to time, because technically, sitting on the windowsills was forbidden to prevent them from literally detaching from the wall, but unless a teacher was present, it was all good. What the eye doesn’t see, the heart doesn’t grieve over, after all.

“Ah, and what about this one?” Heejin swiped something on her phone with her thumb, messing up her hair with another hand, resorting to squatting on the windowsill, so that she wouldn’t die from her ass freezing, and she showed the screen to the other three.

Jinsol narrowed her eyes as she looked at the screen displaying the aliexpress app, opened on a simple white t-shirt with a print of The Great Wave off Kanagawa.

“Isn’t that kinda basic?”

Heejin cocked her head.

“No, not at all! It’s cool. But if you say so…”

“I like it!” Jiwoo said, munching on an apple.

“Please close your mouth when you chew, Jiwooming.” Jungeun snickered. “We’re in a public place.”

“Oops, sorry!” Jiwoo shrugged happily.

“Show another one.” Jinsol commanded.

Heejin had been showing them all her wishlist, which had grown to just a little over a thousand items, with them offering their more or less useless opinions about what should stay and what should go for the past ten or so minutes.

“So should I delete it?” Heejin asked, unsure.

“Yeah, you could get the same one at the bazaar in your grandparents’ village, and for less at that.”

Heejin’s gaze drifted to the ceiling. She nodded tentatively.

“Yeah, you’re right. She’s not wor-”

“Guys, we have an opening!” Jiwoo slapped Jinsol on the arm to get her attention, eliciting a hiss of pain from the girl.

The biggest wave of students had just passed, significantly freeing the space in the corridor, making it actually possible to walk to class without being trampled by the crowd in the process.

“Aight, that’s the cue.” Heejin shrugged, pulling the straps of her backpack on her shoulders and sliding off the chair.

The others gathered their stuff as well, Jiwoo trying to throw the remains of her apple to the small bin on the other side of the corridor, instead hitting some poor freshman in the head.

The three of them could barely contain their laughter when she ran up to the boy, bowing her head deeply in apology and picking the apple core off the floor, the usual energy in her step lost for a few seconds as she walked to the bin and finally threw it out, Heejin patting her on the back as soon as she saw Jiwoo’s pout.

“At least he will have something to tell his friends!” Jinsol offered, still giggling.

“I just hope I didn’t ruin his shirt!” Jiwoo whined, her stare on the floor as they walked slowly down the corridor until they reached a crossroads. “What do you have now?”

Jungeun groaned.

“History. Just kill me.”

“Oof. I got bio now.” Heejin offered some compassion.

Jiwoo’s eyebrows shot up at the mention of biology, though, her eyes almost automatically lightning up, and Heejin couldn’t help but chuckle at the sight. She knew what the girl was getting onto.

“Well, good luck!” She said with a wide, mischievous smile, slightly elbowing her in the ribs.

Biology was the one class she shared with Ryujin.

Heejin just laughed, rubbing at her ribs, pretending the jab hurt more that it really did as she walked off, Jinsol and Jiwoo both going to their AP maths class.

(Jiwoo, despite not seeming like it at first glance, was an absolute mathematical genius, able to multiply six-digit numbers in her head with ease, while Jinsol was just a geek through and through.

Not that she’d ever ask, but the thought whether the two shared the class with Hyunjin had crossed Heejin’s mind.)

Jungeun dragged herself through the corridor to her least favorite class of all, feet heavy and the grip she had on the strap of her backpack weak, her hand hanging limply, kept in place by the pressure the strap made against her shoulder.

It was the group formed for the students with the worst performance in the subject last year, and it seemed like the school didn’t even care about bettering it or making them interested in any way, sticking them with mister Yang, a seventy year old who mumbled and never took off his cap, even when it was summer.

And the fact that it was the only class she didn’t share with even one person she would speak to on a daily basis was not making it it any better.

Well, maybe besides one. Sort of.

Not that the other members of their little clique were any better than her at history - Jinsol had an elaborate cheating system that involved her phone, the window and the bottle of water she kept on her desk, while Heejin had it in her to cram until she could recite the dates from memory, not really getting any meaning behind them, and Jiwoo was pretty good at bullshitting her way through the essay questions. But Jungeun? She just… didn’t care. As long as she didn’t fail, it was okay.

A few others were already in the classroom, old maps of the Korean Peninsula during the Joseon Dynasty and from the period of the Three Kingdoms gracing the walls, a thin layer of dust covering the handy infographics.

The lesson hasn’t started yet, mister Yang nowhere to be seen (he always came a few seconds after the bell, a mug of coffee in his hand and questionable wheezing coming out of his chest as he took his seat behind the desk), so Jungeun dragged herself to one of the tables and slipped the backpack off as she sat with a heavy sigh.

She leaned against the wall, propping her head up on the palm of her hand, her gaze empty as she stared at nothing in particular, ready for her nap to start as soon as she heard mister Yang say “Hello” in that horrid voice of his.

Jungeun was sure that if animals could speak, then rats would have an eerily similar tone to her least favorite teacher.

The bell rang, signaling mister Yang’s sudden arrival, but the tornado that appeared at the door, slamming them shut, was definitely not the almost-senile teacher.

It was Sooyoung.

The sight of the brunette looking around with her backpack slung over her shoulder made Jungeun bolt upright.

It was not often that Sooyoung actually turned up to the class, her perfect record on the football team protecting her from eventual consequences of skipping, much to Jungeun’s relief, and when she did, she sat at the back, keeping to herself with her airpods in. Or at least that’s what she did the last time Jungeun had seen her there, in October, right after their little... thing had begun.

Her eyes widened enormously and her mouth actually hung open for a second before she composed herself when Sooyoung plopped down on the seat right next to her with an easy smile.

“Oof, I made it before that rat.” The football player said, feigning relief, her eyes set on Jungeun.

Jungeun still felt like she was in a fever dream when she choked out, involuntarily leaning away from her:

“Uh… what… are you doing?”

“What, I can’t sit with my favorite girl?” Sooyoung teased, sparks in her dark eyes.

Jungeun groaned.

“Since when do you even go to history?”

“Since now, if I get you to stop leaning away.” She said, looking the blonde up and down, amused. “But actually, coach Moon forced me to, or else she threatened she would kick me out. I’m failing.”

“Well, no shit if you haven’t been to class in four months.” Jungeun snorted.

Sooyoung waved dismissively and shrugged. Then, not giving up on pointing out the blonde’s discomfort, she snickered and shook her head, raising her eyebrows at how Jungeun’s body was almost flush against the wall.

“You have no chill, do you? Do you know anyone in this class?”

“No, why?” Jungeun narrowed her eyes, a challenge in the brunette’s tone despite the easy-going front.

“Me neither, so it’s whatever.” Sooyoung shrugged.

Jungeun rolled her eyes, but she relaxed, sitting on her chair normally instead of twisting her body in a position that could be found on one of those informative drawings at the doctor's office with the caption "The root cause of scoliosis among teens", but the feeling of warmth settling in her chest effectively prevented her from loosening up.

An immediate pang of guilt followed, making Jungeun swallow as she tried to banish both of those sensations.

“Do you have the homework?” Sooyoung asked, taking her back to reality.

A reality where Sooyoung, with her easy smirk and her grey hoodie and slightly messy hair, so unlike the Sooyoung she got to know at the beginning of the school year, all crop tops and tight jeans and no rest, sitting right next to her and asking her about homework as if that was the most normal thing on earth.

Jungeun kind of liked it.

But she would have liked it more if the question didn’t give her a goddamn adrenaline rush.

“What homework?!” She shrieked.

That was the moment Mister Yang wheeled himself into the classroom, eyeing the doors that were closed with distrust, his usual “Hello” even less energetic.

“I don’t know, do I?” Sooyoung shrugged, a chuckle escaping her lips. “A spreadsheet or something.”

Jungeun had some extremely faint memories of mister Yang giving out spreadsheets with a few questions about the First World War but she couldn’t, for the life of her, remember what she had done with it or where she had put it.

One thing was sure, though. She definitely hadn’t filled it in. She just hoped it wasn’t graded, or else she would shit herself in the middle of the classroom.

“No, did you?” She asked, the brunette laughing almost immediately.

“Obviously not. Coach Moon told me to find out what it was. I wanted to copy from you, because I assumed you were better than me, at least.”

It was Jungeun’s turn to chuckle, albeit a bit bitterly. Mister Yang announced that he would be collecting their homework at the end of the lesson. It was not like that one small grade would make her fail the entire year, but it was still an inconvenience.

“Turns out we’re just both shit, then.” She summed up, shaking her head.

Sooyoung leaned back on her chair, wrapping her hands behind her head as mister Yang started writing some dates down on the blackboard.

“Do you think he will kick the bucket at one of his lessons this year?” She asked, a hint of amusement as she stared at the teacher.

“Please, he’s already died long ago.” Jungeun snickered.

Sooyoung arched her eyebrow, but she nodded, shrugging.

“Makes sense.”

The football player then leaned down to get her notebook from her backpack only to tear out a single page. She turned to Jungeun, her grin wide, almost childish.

“You wanna play dots?”

Jungeun narrowed her eyes. Was this a hallucination?

“What? Dots are, like, the most boring game ever.” She said, disbelief painted all over her face.

Sooyoung stared at her then, her gaze hooded and her voice dropping an octave lower, even if she had to force her lips to not curl up.

“Maybe because you’ve never played them with me.”

Jungeun groaned.

“Sorry, but you can’t make dots sexy.” She said, already clicking her pen, Sooyoung sliding the paper her way, her arms jerking in a quiet laughter.

“Whatever you say.” The brunette shook her head. “I’m black, you’re blue.”

Jungeun quickly drew a blue dot in the middle of the page, the teacher’s ratty voice lecturing them about american presidents fading in the background.

___

Due to the harsh winter conditions, the football games, like every year for the months from December to March, were moved indoors.

The students flowed to the stands inside the spacious hall that served their school as the room for PE classes, assemblies and where the drama club performed their end of the year plays, their shoes scraping against the shiny, blue floor, the smell of popcorn and easy chatters filling up the whole space.

The match hadn’t begun yet. The team was probably still in the locker room, getting a pep talk from coach Moon, while the principal talked to the referee, the same woman with an impeccable bowlcut in that same navy blue tracksuit that they could recognize from the first game, another old man in a grey suit, probably the principal of the rival school, nodding his head to whatever they said.

Because it was the next stage of the championship, the hall seemed to be buzzing with excitement, both their and the rival school’s side ready to support their teams, either clad in school colors or holding up banners and signs.

The opposite side of the stands was compared to the cover of “Lover” by Taylor Swift by Jinsol, because most of the students were wearing either pastel pink or pastel blue, a rather cute palette for a football team.

Their own side was a sea of black and dark red, which proved to be a rather stark contrast to the opponents. That only added more flavor to the rivalry, though.

Chaewon, taking up the whole row for herself, sat at the top, a pair of sunglasses on her nose as she sipped on coffee and scrolled through something on her phone, her black dress nicely accentuating her silver hair. The “CRUSH THEM BABY” banner was joined by a giant cardboard cut-out of Hyejoo in her football gear resting right next to her. Heejin didn’t even want to ask.

Thank the gods, Jiwoo had ditched her sign, the fantastic four coming to the game empty-handed, only ready to cheer on the team with their voices, comfortably nested in the middle of the drama club taking a good portion of the seats.

This was the first time Heejin had actually found herself hyped for the game before it even started, munching on the popcorn they made at home and smuggled into the hall (Jungeun announced she was NOT going to pay a small fortune every time they went to see a match) idly, her gaze fixed on the stands. One name appeared on the students’ cards more often than others, and Heejin assumed it must have been the captain - someone named Sakura, as if that was in any way relevant.

“I think they’re good, aren’t they?” She said, not to anyone in particular. “They seem to be better than the previous two, don’t you think?”

Jungeun took a handful of popcorn for herself, raising her brow as she looked at the other students.

“Well, isn’t that kinda obvious, like, by virtue? That they are better?” The blonde shrugged, covering her mouth with her hand.

Heejin stared her down.

“Anyway… I kinda looked into it, and they’re big.” She said. “And they used to be champions a few years ago, so this is serious!”

“Wow, you got informed!” Jungeun narrowed her eyes, a teasing smirk on her lips.

Heejin shrugged.

“Like I said, it got serious! And those are our friends!” She said, motioning to the still-empty field.

“What is the school even called?” Jinsol stretched her arms over her head.

Jiwoo perked up at the question.

“AKS High!” She said. “And I heard that they are very good, so Heejin is right!”

Heejin held her palm up for Jiwoo to high-five, leaning in her seat. The girl happily obliged while Jungeun caught the popcorn bag that rested on Heejin’s lap last minute, saving it from spilling all over the floor with a shriek.

“I don’t know why, maybe it’s just me, but I’m kind of, like, expecting magical girls to walk out?” Jinsol furrowed her brows.

Heejin nodded in agreement, her eyes narrowed as they returned to the stands.

“Is this your fantasy?” Jungeun teased.

“Yeah, one of the tamest ones.” Jinsol admitted, not even a hint of shame in her voice, snatching the popcorn from Heejin’s lap.

“But I also heard that they are not very aggressive!” Jiwoo offered. “So we should be alright, because our defense is golden! Seriously, there’s nothing to worry about.”

“I mean, it’s just the third game, does anyone actually expect us to lose?” Jinsol turned her head to Jiwoo.

“I don’t think so!” Jiwoo shrugged happily. “Just look at the cheerleaders!”

The eyes of all three of them rested on the cheerleaders then, Heejin’s brows furrowing in confusion over what Jiwoo had exactly meant.

The squad was taking up a row of seats at the very bottom of the stands, and it didn’t seem like they were extremely enthusiastic about the game that was about to begin in less than ten minutes.

Most of them seemed bored, and some even looked tense. Heejin noticed the goddess (Doyeon, she reminded herself) staring at her nails, her gaze rather disinterested. A few seats to the right, the one with blonde pigtails, Yeji, talked about something in hushed voices and short sentences with the brunette that Heejin remembered from the New Years photo, but she didn’t know the name of. The head cheerleader, Lia herself, with her hair pulled back into a high ponytail, Santana Lopez style, and her lips pursed so tight they looked like a line, typed on her phone at the speed of light as she leaned forward, propping her chin up on her hand.

“See?” Jiwoo didn’t give any of them any time to comment, even if Heejin found it rather unusual, and from the looks of it, at least Jungeun did too. “If we had anything to worry about, they would be hyping the crowd up, but they are chilling!”

Jinsol rubbed her chin.

“Actually, that makes perfect sense.” She nodded.

Heejin and Jungeun exchanged a pointed look, the brunette stifling the laughter bubbling up in her chest.

A loud whistle promptly shut the whole hall up. The two principals took a step forward, their own motioning politely for the AKS High principal to speak up first. The man adjusted his bowtie and coughed, leaning into the mic.

“As the principal of AKS High, I would very much like to welcome everyone at the first game of the second stage of the National High School Football Championship.” He said, his voice rolling off the walls.

A warm applause followed, the principal raising his hand almost immediately to silence it.

“We are very grateful to Polaris High, who is our host today.” He motioned to their school’s principal. The hall stayed quiet. “And to our referee today.”

The woman in blue bowed with a sincere smile and wave as the hall roared for her.

The principal of their school took the place in front of the mic, adjusting it to fit his height.

“We are very happy to welcome AKS High for the game.” He began. “Let’s hope for a fair and exciting match, and without much further ado, let’s welcome the teams!”

The Polaris team jogged out of the locker room, grins on their faces. This time, it was Hyunjin’s turn to lead the whole team as they approached the center of the field.

Because they were inside, the usual uniforms made a comeback, the players clad in plain black shorts, black socks and white shirts, relaxed as the referee was making the usual speech about fair-play and friendly rivalry.

The AKS High team seemed equally as relaxed, some of them stretching their arms or making small jumps. Most of them were wearing knee bands, which suddenly made their colors make sense, as the blue bands matched with pink shirts and white shorts.

Heejin thought it was kinda stupid how their team was wearing white shirts instead of dark red ones.

The hall was already going wild, but the reaction was only amplified by Sooyoung, who stood with her hands behind her back, the baggy uniform making her rather thin silhouette look even finer, and who winked in the general direction of the stands, most of the students who held a card with her name (so, an overwhelming majority) throw their hands up and holler in enthusiasm. Heejin chuckled hearing her friends’ reaction, Jiwoo’s excited giggle and the clapping of her hands and Jungeun’s groan despite the fond smirk gracing her lips.

Yeojin waved at them all, but it was unmistakable who was the designated target of her next gesture, Yerim returning her giant heart with a giddy smile, her eyes crinkling up, while Chaeyoung smiled lazily at Yeri who, although slightly embarrassed by the attention, held the card with the player’s name with pride.

Probably the most noisy of them all were Jeno and Jaemin, a few rows away from the fantastic four, who took to shouting nonsense while standing up, waving their hands comically in a failed attempt at cheerleading. Ryujin waved at them dismissively with a small smirk before her gaze dropped to the ground as she focused on the speech, the two guys finally pulled back in their seats by some pissed freshman who couldn’t see the field properly.

Heejin’s gaze drifted away from Hyejoo, who was busy with not listening to the speech at all and making prolonged eye contact with Chaewon, before her gag reflex caught up to her, settling on Hyunjin instead.

The girl was staring up at the ceiling, waiting for the referee to finally place the ball on the floor and to shake the hand of the other captain, her hands behind her back as she swayed back and forth lightly.

Then, she shook her head, her brows furrowed, as if somebody had just said something extremely questionable, and her eyes shot to the stands, taking in the whole student body that came to support the team, quite a few people holding up cards with her name.

A small smirk made her lips curl up even before her gaze reached the drama club, but when it finally did, it found the girl in an oversized skater shirt with a plastic bag filled with popcorn on her lap cramped in between her two blonde friends almost immediately, the grimace gaining a mischievous spark when she caught Heejin already staring at her.

She raised both of her hands up, showing a thumbs up with an exaggerated eye smile, but couldn’t catch Heejin return the gesture while she groaned and rolled her eyes, because the magical words have been said: “Let the captains of the two teams shake hands.”

Her focus shifted to the field and to the girl in front of her, a petite brunette with determination flaring in her eyes as they shook hands over the ball.

Hyunjin took a deep breath when she saw the referee raise the whistle to her lips, ready to snatch the ball as soon as the match began. In that moment, she couldn’t even hear the cheers, the only thing that existed in the universe were her drive to win and the ball.

The high-pitched whistle finally filled the hall.

It was time to give her all, like always.

___

It was becoming increasingly clear over time that this was not as easy as all of them had thought.

Heejin had switched her seats with Jungeun ten minutes into the match, because the only one of them that could match her levels of anxiety and excitement was Jiwoo, Heejin’s leg bouncing up and down as Jiwoo gripped her hand, almost cutting off her blood flow whenever the team seemed to get a chance at scoring.

Jinsol watched with her hands forming goggles around her eyes, her mouth hanging open at what was happening right in front of her, and even Jungeun stopped eating the popcorn to follow the game more closely, her hand frozen mid-air on the way to her mouth.

It wasn’t that their team hadn't scored once even though the first half of the game was close to coming to an end that was weird.. AKS High hasn’t scored either, things like that happened. But what was weird was that Polaris seemed to actually struggle.

The match seemed to be moving at an incredibly slow pace, the AKS High team rarely taking risks, just like Jiwoo said, but their defense was impeccable, on top of their amazing teamwork, blocking Polaris from scoring.

There seemed to be no follow-up to any action happening on the field, the ball always moving from one player to another but not coming close to any net. Even the cheerleaders seemed bored, even more than before the game, their cheering dull after a fruitless forty minutes despite trying to hold up the facade of hope and joy.

Both teams seemed exhausted, Yeojin, Hyejoo and, most of all, Hyunjin, heaving after a hundredth attempt at finally breaking through the AKS High wall only to fail once more and try again, sweat dripping due to the lack of air conditioning in the hall.

Coach Moon gripped her seat as she screamed words of encouragement at the team, but even she seemed surprised at how much of a challenge this was, her brows furrowed with concern.

Yeojin managed to snatch the ball from the captain of the other team who had MIYAWAKI and the number 2 on the back of her shirt, making the whole hall hold their breath as she made her way to the net only to lose the ball mere seconds later, a discouraged pout on her face as the referee’s whistle blew, signaling a ten-minute break. The youngest walked over to her team with her shoulders slumped, discgouraged and not even looking up at the stands despite Yerim’s encouraging cheers.

Even though Heejin couldn’t hear what they were talking about from her place on the stands, it was apparent that the whole team was exhausted, most of them glued to their bottles of water as some of them stood, some of them crouched in a circle with coach Moon giving them advice. She had never seen the coach look so stern as then, the woman explaining something while gesturing with her hand before going back to her seat.

The only one that seemed to not have lost the spirit was Hyunjin. She patted Yeojin on the back and grabbed her an extra bottle of water, offering it to the girl with a gigantic smile, nodding her head as she said something, their youngest player finally cheering up a bit, even if her smile in Yerim’s direction was a bit shy.

Wiping sweat off her forehead with her hand, Hyunjin motioned for all of them to gather around once more as she pointed at some of the players and gestured frantically while she talked, the team slowly becoming more animated with her words, whatever they were. Even Ryujin, who just drank her water silently, a tired expression and a distant gaze up to this moment as she stood alone, now donned a small smile on her lips.

Hyunjin threw her hands up, turning their attention to her once again. Putting on a tranquil face, she closed her eyes as they all stared at her, forming a circle with her right thumb and index finger and nodding her head slowly. We got this.

Yeojin, back to her previous, normal state, shoved the co-captain playfully, the whole team laughing at Hyunjin staggering backwards, her eyes flying open and her cackle so loud it could be heard even from the stands.

Heejin felt a smile creep up on her lips at the sight. It was good that they didn’t stay discouraged for long.

Another whistle meant that the break was nearing its end. The Polaris team stood in a tight circle, their hands in the middle on top of each other, and their animated yell, led by Hyunjin, of “1, 2, 3 LET’S WIN” audible to the whole hall, earning them excited hollers from the stands.

Despite the revived enthusiasm, though, the game did not get any easier, the players from both sides becoming increasingly frustrated with the constant push and pull that had no climax. Yubin stood at the net, constantly tense despite the ball not coming close even once, her gloved hands almost numb from holding them up in anticipation without a break.

What Hyejoo and Hyunjin lost due to being tired, they made up in increased aggressiveness - they would take even the most impossible chances even if they all ended uneventfully, Yeojin assisting them whenever she could and Chaeyoung tying her hair up in a messy ponytail, a sign that shit got serious.

The attackers were exhausted, covered in sweat as they kept running back and forth without a clear opening.

The defense and the midfielders didn’t fare much better, constantly juggling the ball back only to receive it again in a matter of minutes, Sooyoung holding herself up with her hands on her thighs, Ryujin’s gaze focused on the other team’s captain and motioning with her hand as Siyeon and Handong, their stares deadly determined, acted as a human wall, sweeping the ball whenever it came near.

Heejin was almost ready to start despairing when the game was nearing its end, only three minutes left and the grip of Jiwoo’s hands on her arm and Jungeun’s hand in hers, Jinsol almost wrapped around the other blonde, and neither team had scored. Her heart was threatening to fly right out of her chest with how hard it was beating, some hope still left in her, even if it was most probably just wishful thinking.

The whole hall didn’t even dare to breathe when Miyawaki, 2 got on the other side of the field, the ball pushed by her feet as she came face to face with Sooyoung.

The AKS High players were just as exhausted as Polaris, though.

The tall brunette almost crashed into the girl, her face scrunching up, but she managed to dribble the ball nonetheless.

Running forward, she looked around for someone to pass it to, almost as hopeless as the students watching the game, hoping that Hyunjin would destroy them when it came to penalties, but she didn’t see one thing.

“RUN!!!” Ryujin screamed from behind her, her voice almost desperate. “RUUUUUUUN!!!”

Sooyoung faced forward, and that’s when she’d seen it.

Right in front of the net, there was an opening, an even smaller girl that was usually there on the other side of the field.

Ignoring the burning in her thighs, Sooyoung sped up, entering the half of the field belonging to the opponents, making it halfway through before coming face to face with three AKS defense girls, not hesitating before she swerved to the right, a glorious momentary victory as she left them behind, though only delaying the inevitable as she heard them running after her.

They almost got her, the burning in her chest becoming increasingly more difficult to bear with every ragged breath, but then she heard it.

“Here!”

Almost instinctively, even before her eyes drifted to the right to see Hyunjin, she sent the ball flying to the co-captain, too tired and too high on the adrenaline of the moment to marvel at how quickly the girl had covered the entire field to assist her.

She came to a halt, trying to catch her breath as she watched Hyunjin speed through the rest of the field and getting past the one player that remained of AKS’ defense, the girls behind her rushing to aid, but they were too slow.

The ball hit the net with force, the whistle sounding not soon after.

The whole hall erupted in screams and yells, the excitement and disbelief almost hanging in the air.

Heejin shot up, the popcorn on her lap spilling on the floor and making a giant mess, but nobody cared. Waving their hands frantically and screaming, both her and Jiwoo started jumping while holding each other, Jinsol doing a victory dance while Jungeun stared at them with raised eyebrows, laughing uncontrollably.

The whole drama club screamed as well, pure joy and happiness washing over the crowd like a wave with the sudden triumph. Even Chaewon yelled for the whole team as she waved her cut-out of Hyejoo furiously.

Hell, even the cheerleaders seemed to have gained their life force back, even if their cheers were drowned out by the excited students.

And there, in the middle of the field, Hyunjin raised her fist with a grin so wide she couldn’t control it, jumping up in excitement as the team ran up to her, ten girls AND coach Moon enveloping her in a hug as they screamed words of praise in her face.

Chapter Text

Even though it should have been humanly impossible, the school went absolutely wild for the football team after their spectacular win against AKS High, the love for both coach Moon and the twenty girls under her wing growing to cosmic lengths, incomparable to any emotions that the students may have had for them before.

It was like the hard-earned victory had awakened Polaris High’s inner fire and excitement for the championship. The last game was all that everybody talked about even almost two weeks after, already in high spirits for the next match against the mysterious Yuehua High School. After witnessing their team overcome the obstacle in the form of AKS High, though, the students’ faith in the team was unshakable. If they managed to defeat such strong opponents, nothing would stand in their way on the path to rightfully becoming champions.

The girls themselves now exuded confidence whenever they went, enjoying the constant attention, praise and cheering from everyone, happy about the win, and rightfully so. Even coach Moon strutted through the halls with a little more swagger and energy in her step than usual, her head held high with pride.

Perhaps the one that enjoyed the increased attention the most, though, was Sooyoung. Her assist didn’t go unnoticed, and the tall midfielder basked in all the glory with pleasure, a smug smirk and a hooded gaze as she hid yet another note with a number of some girl that fell victim to her charms in her pocket with a promise of “definitely calling sometime” and a wink that almost made some of those girls’ knees give out right under them.

Only Hyunjin would downplay the scale of their triumph, despite quite obviously enjoying the adoration coming from all sides and of which she was the most direct recipient for being the one that actually scored them a goal, brushing it off as just luck after thanking whomever decided to praise her with an elusive smirk and a small shrug of her shoulders.

At the next drama club meeting after the game, Miss Kim welcomed them with a frantic applause, singing words of appreciation for the team and congratulating them on the victory, even if she could not be there to witness it.

How exactly she came to know of the results was a mystery, but she beamed with pride, her smile wide as she clapped her hands, her flowy shirt swirling at the motion. It was almost like she had trained those girls and led them to victory herself. The statement was true when you applied Miss Kim’s logic, who claimed that her classes were a necessary nourishment for the soul.

Regardless of whether one chose to believe it or not, it was undeniable that Miss Kim had adopted the football team as her own, and the football team did the same with the wacky drama teacher, still laughing at how grotesque and overblown some of her reactions were, but listening to her advice without a hint of disregard.

It was apparent, however, that Miss Kim had no idea how football worked when she congratulated Sooyoung and Hyunjin in particular on their “powerful touchdown”. The two just looked at each other, their brows furrowed and Sooyoung biting the inside of her cheek not to laugh while Hyunjin raised both her arms in an exaggerated gesture of thanks, a hard-to-read smile on her lips for a hot second before her expression dropped to a more focused one, her eyes fixed on the floor as they all scrambled to take their places to go over their lines.

The natural order of the universe was restored when they split into the usual groups, with Ryujin, Heejin, Sooyoung and Jiwoo sitting together, Jiwoo orchestrating them and quickly taking the lead in their little group (she was not voted as the one most likely to become a dictator of a microstate in middle school for nothing) and making Ryujin, who was least used to Jiwoo being, well, Jiwoo, laugh as she arched her brows up in disbelief, Sooyoung just leaning back on her arms with the book on her lap and a lazy grin while she listened with one ear and looked at something in the distance, Heejin’s eyes drinking up the sight of Ryujin laughing at her side, their knees almost touching.

Jinsol just scoffed at the scene and went back to painting one of the backgrounds, the most important one that displayed a forest and a night sky, Bora handing her a large brush as she laughed obnoxiously loud at something that Gahyeon said while working on the tree trunks.

The Mechanicals took up the biggest part of the room as always, right in the center. Their dynamics haven’t changed one bit from the first drama club meeting. The only difference was that instead of the book, Hyunjin balanced a bottle of water on her head, comically holding the book up in front of her face with both of her hands and that Hyejoo lied on her stomach this time, her head covered with a hood, only her hair spilling around her head on the floor. From a distance, it was difficult to tell if she was really breathing. Her own copy (if she even had one) was nowhere to be found. Jungeun was dozing off, almost disappearing in her massive hoodie and distracted, her gaze wandering all over the room while Yeri went back and forth from the pdf of the play to scrolling her instagram feed. Only Siyeon put actual effort into cooperating with Yubin despite not having that many lines to work with.

Chaeyoung, Minji and Yoohyeon were, as usual, the most chill ones, although a distraction in the form of Yeri splayed on the floor made Chaeyoung’s eyes stray from the play a few times.

Yeojin remained the main noise supplier of the entire drama club, her head resting on Yerim’s lap as the older girl played with her hair fondly and listened to Yeojin’s detailed recap of some romcom her mom had made her watch with her on the weekend in between saying her lines. Yuna took to tying Yeojin's shoelaces together after she deemed she had enough photo evidence to blackmail her friends whenever they would deny their obvious and obnoxious crushes on each other.

Miss Kim watched over all of them with a faint smile on her lips and her hands on her waist. A relief washed over her every time she would see real-life proof of the two groups blending and mixing so well with each other it was difficult to tell them apart at all.

___

On one particular day, Heejin felt a deep, primal urge to go back to the roots.

“The roots” just meant sticking around in the corridor leading to the locker room while she waited for her sister to finish football practice only to catch a momentary glimpse of Ryujin and then absolutely ignore Hyejoo on the way home.

She didn’t indulge in the habit often, not even once this year when she could just see the other girl during drama club meetings and didn’t have to put herself through additional twenty minutes of waiting after her lessons had finished.

But Heejin figured it wouldn’t hurt, and it was not like she really had anything to do, either. She was the only one of the four of them to stay for the extra maths lessons offered by the school, so it wasn’t like she would be ditching her friends or making them wait. She could give herself this little moment, as a treat.

She just waited in the corridor, leaning against the wall. Even in her sweater, she could feel the cold seeping through the walls of the school on her back, but she didn’t really mind. With her cap already on her head, she slung her jacket over her arm and scrolled through instagram rather mindlessly, only to make the time pass faster.

Heejin was on her seventh video in a series of “ten easy sk8 trickz to impress ur friends at the park” by user @sicKKicks420 when the first wave of players began spilling out of the locker room, obnoxious laughs and yells over the sounds of water flowing from the showers making themselves heard for the split second before the door slammed shut again.

The first ones to exit were Yubin, Handong and Siyeon walking side by side. Yubin saw Heejin almost immediately, her face lighting up in a genuine smile, the other two following. They exchanged quick and warm “Hey”s, Heejin nodding her head up and returning the smile.

Chaeyoung soon followed, clad in a hip, multi-colored jacket that only she could probably make work, the colors clashing horribly. Yeri was at her side, shooting Heejin a fake-innocent smile after she saw the girl’s arched eyebrows and greeted her. She must have been watching them practice. Chaeyoung just waved at her with a lazy grin.

The door flew open once again, Sooyoung stepping out of the locker room like a hurricane, throwing on her jacket and her backpack while she stared at her phone with a faint smirk, her steps long while she headed for the exit.

“Hey, russian Marilyn.” She said, not even raising her eyes.

Heejin just laughed and shook her head, her response barely reaching the tall girl that already almost disappeared around the corner.

After that, some more girls followed, all of them at least acknowledging Heejin’s existence either by polite nods or by some waving before they ultimately reached the end of the corridor and went to the exit.

Ryujin was among them.

Already in her jacket, although unzipped so that it revealed a Palace hoodie (Heejin did swoon a bit, she had to admit) and wide pants, she gripped her cap in her hands as she hopped down the stairs, a wide grin lighting up her face as soon as she spotted Heejin.

“Hey!” The co-captain greeted, coming up to her, all smiles that made her cute dimples appear.

Heejin couldn’t help but chuckle.

“Hey, hey.”

“You waiting for Hyejoo?” Ryujin asked, pulling her cap on her head, hiding the faint black roots, her one brow shooting up in question.

“Yeah.” Heejin rolled her eyes with a smirk. “She always takes so long.”

Ryujin was already zipping up her jacket, keeping her backpack in between her feet.

“Nah, coach Moon kept her and Hyun behind.” She said, leaning down and fishing for a scarf in her backpack, her voice a bit strained as she threw her school stuff from one side to another until she finally found the piece of clothing.

This, however, sparked Heejin’s interest. Were her sister and Hyunjin in trouble or something? She couldn’t imagine coach Moon actually lecturing anyone, and much less the weird-ass captain and Hyejoo, about the least receptive people she knew.

“Ugh, I’m sorry but I gotta run!” Ryujin said, throwing her backpack on her shoulder and already taking a step. “My bus is in five minutes, shit! Byeee!”

Heejin laughed to herself as she shouted “Bye!” after the girl sprinting down the corridor and with her fingers crossed that Ryujin would make it.

Her gaze stayed on the empty corridor, though, a sudden nostalgia washing over her. Heejin sighed, her lips curling up in a wistful smile.

She remembered how last year, she would wait for her sister with her whole mind on overdrive, feeling out of place in front of the locker room and her senses heightened just to see Ryujin for that little moment when she stepped out and made her way to the exit while chatting to others, not one of them even sparing a glance in Heejin’s direction.

And now? All of them said hi to her, actually kinda happy to see her, even if a bit surprised, and it felt normal for her to greet them back without wanting the ground to swallow her whole. Hell, they were friends, some of them closer and some of them not so much, but still friends. And most important of all, Ryujin stayed and even talked to her for a while.

Heejin from a year ago would have caught on fire if the girl had so much as thrown a simple “hey” her way.

“Ugh, stop doing that.”

Heejin was snapped out of her world of dreams only to be met face to face with Hyejoo. Her sister was already dressed in her puffy jacket and baggy sweats, her face almost entirely covered by a black scarf. Her eyes, however, were dead as ever and her voice exceptionally monotonous.

“What?” Heejin barked out.

Hyejoo just made a vague gesture with her hand.

“Thinking. Your face is annoying when you do it. So stop.”

Heejin rolled her eyes. Soon their steps echoed off the walls as they started making their way towards the exit.

“You get in trouble or something?” She asked, pulling her jacket over her back.

“No.” Hyejoo began explaining with a heavy sigh. “Coach Moon just wanted to try out some maneuver with me and Hyunjin.”

She didn’t elaborate on the exact nature of the maneuver or whatever it was, just expressed her gratitude that she “finally got away from that overexcited woman.”

Heejin turned her head back then. The corridor was still empty save for the two of them, and the doors, that now were just a small, grey rectangle, remained closed, nobody coming out.

“And Hyunjin?” She asked, her brows furrowed.

Hyejoo side-eyed her with a hint of surprise. If she wasn’t so damn tired, she would have given her so much shit for asking, but this way, it had to be stored for later.

“Is fucked up and always stays to do extra stuff.” She shrugged. “Since when do you care?”

The little piece of information made Heejin’s gaze drop to the ground as she processed it, her forehead creasing. She either didn’t hear or ignored the question, although Hyejoo didn’t give her much time to dwell on it.

As soon as they stepped foot outside of the school, the snow falling mercilessly from the grey sky and the street lights already on, Hyejoo complained again.

“Ugh, come on!” She groaned. “I know you have short legs but mom will flip if we’re late for the call with dad.”

Heejin’s mouth hung open at the insult.

Shielding her face from the enormously big snowflakes with one hand, she shoved her sister with the other, making her momentarily lose balance on the frozen sidewalk.

“Oh my god, shut the fuck up!” She shrieked.

Nonetheless, her steps sped up to catch up with her sister, whose childish cackle, so contrasting with her overall image, was filling up the empty street. The pole of the bus stop stood and waited for them, enduring the strong winds and cold.

___

Miss Kim was absolutely overjoyed as she watched her students set up a circle of chairs in the center of the drama club classroom. The first reading of the play as the whole cast was always an exciting occasion, but this time, with so many kids she didn’t know so well, she couldn’t wait to find out how they would do under those new circumstances.

The teacher knew that they would all no doubt be excellent, but she still waited in anticipation with her hands clasped together under her chin.

On the way to the circle, Yuna pretended to jokingly raise her chair to hit Hyejoo, who was dragging her own with its two legs still on the floor and making horrible noises, after one too many groans from the football player, earning her a deathly stare. If looks could kill, Shin Yuna would have already been six feet underground. But they didn’t, the freshman only laughing and purposefully setting her chair down next to Hyejoo.

Jinsol and her crew, composed of those that either volunteered or didn’t get any part in the play took their place on top of the stage, unwrapping a giant roll of paper and assembling everything they needed to work their magic - pieces of fabric, paint brushes, little buckets of paint, everything to produce the best background possible. The one for the throne room was already finished, drying off hung on clips, like laundry. It was time for the most important and most used one - the forest.

After some time, the circle had finally assembled itself.

Even though there was, technically, no need for it, they still mostly gravitated towards the groups that formed in the last few months - Yeojin settled comfortably between Yerim and Yuna, next to them were the mechanicals and the fairies, with Hyejoo folding her hands on her lap and looking at the ceiling while she ignored any attempt at interaction.

Siyeon and Yubin listened intently to Yoohyeon pointing out some stuff in the play to them, leaning in towards the girl and focused on the words that were leaving her mouth as her finger traced the pages of the script, while Hyunjin busied herself with teasing Yeri and Chaeyoung (“So which one of you is gonna quit their job and be the stay-at-home wife?”).

Miss Kim never sat in the circle. She didn’t want to intrude in the natural flow of the acting, instead sticking to sitting on her desk with her legs on one of the chairs, listening and observing to then help them correct any eventual flaws or mistakes.

The only one that stuck out like a sore thumb, or at least that felt like she was, was Jungeun.

Sandwiched in between Jiwoo and Heejin, she felt her shoulders shrink. It was only natural for them to be next to Ryujin and Sooyoung - they were the closest co-stars of the play after all, and the fact that they talked animatedly was perfectly normal, too.

But Jungeun was too stubborn. Too stubborn and too paranoid. She didn’t want anyone to think that she actually wanted to talk to the football player, hell, didn’t even want Sooyoung to think that - but even more than that, she didn’t want Jiwoo to notice anything, because she was sure she would not survive watching her friend’s heart break, and because of her. She was shitty at not overstepping boundaries and at setting them for herself, the main reason she was in this shitty position in the first place, but if she could at least keep one of them, then that would be it.

So she sat there, stiff as all hell, Jiwoo’s happy voice explaining some lines to Sooyoung in a tone so familiar it was as if they were friends of ten years and not accidental drama club acquaintances, Sooyoung sometimes nodding and chuckling at the sheer amount of words that left the girl’s mouth. Jungeun ignored the occasional stare almost burning a hole on the right side of her face, not turning to meet it even once.

At least in all this misery, she could also tell herself that she was being a good friend to Heejin. The girl sat cross-legged on her chair, looking at Ryujin as if she were the eighth wonder of the world while the co-captain told her some story from the New Years party (“And so, she chugged five red bulls in less than five minutes.”, “Oh god, really?”, “Yeah, and then she ran thirty laps around the house, stole my brother’s skiing gear and set up those fireworks.”). With the way Heejin laughed at everything Ryujin said, it seemed to be going incredibly well, and Jungeun didn’t want to interrupt them.

With the book on her lap, she put all of her force in blocking out both conversations going on around her and focused on that one minuscule speck of dust she had found on the floor, right next to Yerim’s feet.

The dry sound of Miss Kim clapping her hands together pulled Jungeun out of her misery.

“Alright, let’s focus, everyone!” She announced. It was amazing how, even though the woman had absolutely zero authority, the whole classroom went quiet, only the rustling of the pages and the diligent work of the decor crew filling the four walls. “Let’s take it away from the first scene.”

Everyone stared at Yeojin with anticipation. The girl straightened up on her chair, a fake stern expression on her face. She cleared her throat and soon her voice, considerably lower than her usual tone, marked the reading as officially underway.

“Now, fair Hippolyta, our nuptial hour…” She read, Yuna staring at her with anticipation and biting down on her lip to contain her growing smile.

Yuna showed the girl a thumbs up while she read her line, absolutely amazed with how great Yeojin was doing, despite the fact that she had only read one line so far.

“Go, Philostrate.” Yeojin continued, turning to Yerim.

Fondness was literally spilling from the purple-haired girl’s eyes as she watched the freshman give her best, her teeth bared in a smile and one of her legs bouncing happily. Yeojin’s gaze fell to the script, momentarily losing her focus, but she recovered almost immediately.

The scene continued, the dialogue between Yerim and Yeojin effortless as they played a distraught father and a king. Miss Kim let slide how Yerim’s face was lit up the entire time and how bubbly her voice seemed sometimes, contrasting with the rather stern role she was given.

Then came Heejin’s turn to speak.

“...Demetrius is a worthy gentleman.” Yeojin said, Yerim’s hand resting reassuringly on her shoulder. Right in front of her, Sooyoung nodded with an obnoxious smile, earning herself a scoff from Hyunjin.

“So is Lysander.” She looked Yeojin in the face. She didn’t have to open the script yet, going from memory.

Heejin was amazed, as were all of them, at how great Yeojin was doing, her voice unwavering as she played the role of a king trying to dispute an important matter and settle the case of Egeus and Hermia. It was almost unbelievable how someone so tiny and playful could transform so much and sound so wise - yet another proof that Miss Kim knew what she was doing when she cast the roles.

“Relent, sweet Hermia!” Sooyoung spoke up for the first time, her voice dripping with greasiness as she turned to Heejin, leaning against the chair. Jiwoo was looking at her expectantly, a mentor ready to witness her protegee’s first success. “And Lysander, yield thy crazed title to my certain right.”

Ryujin’s eyebrows arched, a sense of confidence that was so unmistakably her when she answered, owning the part and making it her own. Heejin’s chest was ready to burst with pride.

“You have her father’s love, Demetrius. Let me have Hermia’s - do you marry him.” She said with a smirk.

Sooyoung just shook her head as they all listened to Yerim insulting Ryujin with her sweet voice.

It was, however, at the next few lines that Heejin could feel that familiar sensation of her heart literally doing somersaults in her chest, when Ryujin’s gaze momentarily shifted to her as she proclaimed her superiority over Demetrius.

“I am beloved of beauteous Hermia.” She said, looking at her with confidence. “Demetrius, I'll avouch it to his head, made love to Nedar's daughter, Helena, and won her soul; and she, sweet lady, dotes, devoutly dotes, dotes in idolatry, upon this spotted and inconstant man!”

Sooyoung had to stifle her own chuckle with her hand over her mouth, absolutely living for those outdated but accurate insults to her own character.

Then, Yerim’s character had left the stage, only Ryujin and Heejin left.

“How now, my love!” Ryujin looked directly into her eyes, Heejin’s breath hitching a little. She hoped nobody saw, because that was terribly unprofessional. “Why is your cheek so pale?”

She made sure her voice was steady before she answered, unable to tear her gaze away from Ryujin’s face. She could feel her entire brain malfunctioning, running on auto-pilot because she had those lines down perfectly.

“Ay me!...” Ryujin sighed painfully. “The course of true love never did run smooth. But, either it was different in blood--”

“O cross!” Heejin exclaimed, beginning the quick back and forth between Hermia and Lysander. “O hell! To choose love by another’s eyes.”

A sense of urgency and determination had found its way into Ryujin’s voice, the co-captain leaning forward. It was almost like they were in their own little bubble, the whole room nonexistent.

“...There, gentle Hermia, may I marry thee…” She said. “If thou lovest me then, steal forth…”

“My good Lysander, I swear to thee by Cupid’s strongest bow.”

What finally snapped her out of it was the next line, reminding her that other people were a part of the play, too.

“Keep promise, love. Look, here comes Helena.”

Jiwoo immediately stole the spotlight, her high-pitched voice perfect for the role of the heartbroken girl in love, exaggerating the misery and supplying her lines with overblown hand gestures.

Miss Kim watched the whole exchange with a content smile.

While Jiwoo exaggerated Helena’s love for Demetrius, Heejin did the same with Hermia’s hate for him - they’ve been acting partners ever since middle school, and they knew how to work together to make the most of the scene.

“I frown upon him, yet he loves me still.” Heejin complained, shaking her head with a sigh.

Sooyoung listened with a wide grin on her lips, her hands wrapped behind her head and her eyes jumping from Heejin to Jiwoo.

Jungeun knew it was some unspoken law of the universe, but she still hated how their eyes had to meet when she let herself steal a glance at the football player once for the whole meeting, turning her head immediately when she felt a smile tug at the corners of her lips.

“The more I love, the more he hateth me!” Jiwoo whined, throwing her hands up over her head.

Heejin shrugged.

“His folly, Helena, is no fault of mine.”

The two then joined their forces in telling Jiwoo how they were going to escape together and elope, so that in result she would be left with Demetrius all to herself.

Jiwoo had ended the scene with one of the most iconic monologues of the entire play, her yearning almost palpable.

“...Love looks not with the eyes, but with the mind.” She said, a deep sigh escaping her lips. “And therefore is wing’d Cupid painted blind: Nor hath Love’s any judgement taste…”

The room fell silent when Jiwoo finished the last sentence.

“This was great, guys!” Miss Kim praised with genuine fondness. “And I mean it! You can congratulate yourselves!”

The ones that took part in the scene exchanged some rather shy smiles, suddenly intimidated by the sheer size of the venture, although the whole circle applauded before they moved on to the next scene.

Because it was the one with only the Mechanicals, Heejin could rest for a while, just staring mindlessly through one of the windows and drifting off into the world of dreams, filled with athenian kings, blue-haired football players and… weird cats?

Her subconsciousness clearly wasn’t going to work with her there, so she shook her head, tuning in just in time to hear Jungeun.

“...Masters, spread yourselves.” The blonde said, her voice solemn.

A laughter that sounded more like a bark reached them from the stage, Jinsol just muttering a quick “whoops” under her breath and stifling the next outburst.

The scene carried on, though anytime Jungeun opened her mouth Jinsol had to mentally restrain herself from laughing out loud, the other catching on and making the blonde even more flustered than before, although she persevered and read her lines through gritted teeth, not letting any chuckles escape her throat despite them practically begging to be set free.

Hyunjin only had one line in the whole scene, but she made it count, nodding appreciatively to herself and flashing Heejin a wide grin with a thumbs up after she finished.

She quickly got bored, though. The scene went on and on and she had nothing to do, resting her head on her palms as she sat cross-legged on her chair and stared directly at Heejin, an idea forming in her mind.

It didn’t take long for the girl clad in an oversized flannel to look her way and catch her staring. Thus, Hyunjin’s mission began.

She rolled her eyes back as far as she could, so that only the whites were visible, and then quickly looked back at Heejin. Her effort didn’t pay off, with her only staring with eyes narrowed in a silent question of “what the fuck?”, but Hyunjin was not one to give up easily.

Heejin didn’t even know what to think when the football player’s mouth hung open in a grotesque manner, as if she were trying to imitate a really mad, evil dog only for her to go back to her usual grin seconds later.

If she was trying to make her laugh, then she would have to try harder. And what the hell even was this, were they in primary school?

Although Heejin had to admit, the face of pure shock that Hyunjin put on and that was clearly a reference to that one cat meme she had sent her earlier that day was actually kind of funny. But still not funny enough to earn Hyunjin something beyond a smirk full of disbelief.

It was on the seventh or eighth attempt, the thing turning into a contest, just like everything that they did, to see who would give up first, that Miss Kim stopped the scene, Jungeun only finishing her line how she would “roar you as gently as any sucking dove”, Jinsol not even pretending that she wasn’t laughing at all the nonsense.

“Sorry, sorry, stop for a little while.” There was audible concern in Miss Kim’s voice. “Hyunjin, are you feeling alright?”

THAT was when Heejin laughed, covering her face with the play and seeing the momentary panic in Hyunjin’s eyes before the girl regained her composure.

“Yeah, no, I’m great.” She said, waving her hands and not even sparing Miss Kim a glance, her lips widening in a grin at the sight of Heejin throwing her head back in laughter. Mission accomplished.

The scene resumed after that, and the play went on.

It was even better than Miss Kim had expected it to be - everybody was doing great, even that tall girl whose name she couldn’t remember to save her life and that treated the meetings as nap time. The teacher still chuckled whenever she remembered her own genius in giving this girl the role of a literal wall. She was perfect for it.

She didn’t even see any particular faults to point out in any of them - and while she was a bit anxious about that lanky, nonchalant girl - Sooyoung? Damn, she really needed to learn their names once and for all - not quite getting the weight of her role, she didn’t disappoint. Although, the teacher figured, that one was on Jiwoo.

Miss Kim had truly outdone herself with the casting this year, though some credit should also be given to coach Moon for enabling the whole project and supporting it with her entire heart.

The time of the meeting was quickly running out, though. They could only finish that one scene that they had already started before they would have to start re-assembling the chairs and hanging up the not even half-done background to dry overnight, although the conditions were not the best, the paper crumpling a bit in the cold.

Their final scene of the day would be the one where Helena learns of Demetrius and Lysander being fed the love potion, effectively making them both passionately in love with her and ready to kill each other for her affection.

“Oh, why rebuke you him that loves you so?” Sooyoung spoke, facing Jiwoo with one of her hands pressed to her chest and the other holding the script.

Jungeun crossed her arms over her chest, trying to somehow ease the sudden tightness that came with the words. A tightness not caused by guilt but by another feeling entirely, one she preferred to not give a name to.

Heejin protested then, concerned with the well-being of Lysander who, unbeknownst to her, was madly in love with Helena as well.

“You spend your passion on a misprised mood.” Sooyoung shook her head at Heejin, her gaze shooting to Jiwoo. “O Helena, goddess, nymph, perfect, divine!”

Jiwoo smiled conspicuously at all the superlatives thrown at her, encouraging the football player to go on with a small nod, completely unaware of Jungeun shifting uncomfortably in her seat right beside her.

Ryujin joined the scene then, her and Sooyoung tossing insults between themselves and words of praise and adoration to their Helena until Hermia had walked in on them, asking Lysander why he had left her.

“Why should he stay, whom love doth press to go?” Ryujin shrugged, pretending to be in a love-induced haze.

The almost-fight of the two followed, Sooyoung shooting imaginary daggers from her eyes at Ryujin, who squatted on her chair to appear taller.

“That would be enough for today!” Miss Kim announced when the scene ended, finally approaching the circle. “You all did amazing! Now please, let someone open the window and let’s get out of here before the paint fumes kill us! We will pick up right where we left off next week, so be prepared!”

Yuna was the first one to scramble to open the windows, and it didn’t go unnoticed that, although with an obnoxious eyeroll, Hyejoo took the girl’s chair alongside her own and put them in their place, the sounds of the chairs scratching the floor and easy banter filling the classroom as everybody congratulated themselves on a job well done.

Hyunjin just had to put her chair on her shoulders like a newborn baby as she carried it to its usual place with an enigmatic smirk.

Meanwhile Jungeun’s worst nightmare was just coming true right before her eyes, Jiwoo’s hand reaching out to grab her arm and pull her closer as she chatted with Sooyoung.

Jungeun swallowed, begging for the ground to swallow her whole, even if she was just a tiny bit glad that her friend literally never shut up, because she was sure she wouldn’t survive it if an awkward silence fell over them.

Sooyoung seemed absolutely unfazed, actually excited and surprised by how well it went, eating up the praise that Jiwoo just wouldn’t stop giving her. Although she noticed Jungeun being… well, Jungeun, she got used to it.

Even though she didn’t know what her deal was and what she really had on her mind, that was a first for Sooyoung. Usually, when someone had her, they wanted to announce it to the whole world (and honestly, she couldn’t blame them), but Jungeun was the exact opposite, so determined to keep it hidden.

Even more of a first for the football player, Sooyoung was sure it was actually her that had more interest in the girl than the other way around, although she didn’t really want to go beyond what it already was - a fun, casual thing. Or something.

“Ahh, Jungie, we did so great!” Jiwoo chirped, her grip on the blonde’s arm almost deadly. A common occurence whenever she got excited. “And Sooyoungie too! Especially her!”

Jungeun took a deep breath. This was even more uncomfortable than when she accidentally sat on someone’s chocolate yogurt in middle school and had to explain it wasn’t shit to people the entire day.

But Sooyoung quickly jumped on the occasion to make the blonde even more flustered, a wide grin displaying her perfectly white teeth plastered on her face.

“Yeah, Jungie, didn’t I do great?” She asked.

Jungeun shot her a murderous stare.

“Uhhhh…” She began, her brain coming short of an eloquent response. “Yeah, sure.”

Jinsol watched that entire exchange from her place on the stage, held on the waist by Gahyeon while she clipped the second background to a rope, her brows furrowing.

“Oh my god, stop stalling.” Gahyeon groaned. “My hands are going numb and Miss Kim will kill me if we don’t take safety measures.”

Jinsol shook her head, focusing on the clip again.

“Yeah, sure.” She snickered.

Walking side by side with their chairs, Heejin and Ryujin could not stop the steady flow of compliments, Ryujin’s dimples coupled with her previous dedication to the performance making Heejin honest to god weak in the knees.

She knew she wasn’t at her most coherent then, only able to repeat how great she did and how amazing it was, but Ryujin took all of it with a small bow of her head and returned double the amount.

Even when her, Jiwoo and Jungeun were waiting for Jinsol, who stayed behind to put everything in its place, Heejin’s mind was still malfunctioning, absolutely unreceptive to whatever her friends said.

That was all it took for her to be taken back to square one, even if for a little while.

___

Heejin had found herself staring out of the window of a bus on the route to the city center yet again.

With her head resting against the cold glass, she blasted her latest acoustic indie playlist in her earphones (she only had two moods, either horrible 2000s hip hop or guitar-driven indie, and that day was the latter) and hoped that the old man that got onto the bus at the last stop doesn’t take the seat next to her. She sighed in relief when he just stood close to the door and she went back to watching a tutorial on how to most effectively debone a fish. How Heejin ended up there, she didn’t know, but it turned out to be quite interesting.

The meetings with Hyunjin have slowly but surely been becoming routine after that time they crashed the trivia night-slash-funeral reception. How exactly it came to be, neither of them was actually sure - Hyunjin had started them, of course, but it wasn’t like she was actually forcing the other girl to hang out. On the contrary, whenever Heejin needed to take her mind off of things or was simply bored out of her mind, Hyunjin was the one she would text.

It wasn’t like they saw each other on the daily, though, unless one counted school. They haven’t even used up that voucher they won during trivia completely, still had two or three free beers (the cheapest ones that tasted like piss, but who would say no to free goods?), but at this point it would be even weirder if one of them hadn’t texted the other on a friday afternoon, asking to go to the usual place.

And that was all it took, really, just one of them shooting a quick “at the place?” only to get a quick, nonchalant “yeah” seconds later for Heejin to throw her jacket over her shoulders and get on the bus, enduring 40 minutes of commute in an old vehicle that had no proper heating.

The driver had a portable heater set up to warm his legs, but it wasn’t like it helped any of the passengers. So Heejin took to wrapping herself in her scarf and sitting as far away from the windows that wouldn’t close all the way.

More or less, it always went the same.

Hyunjin would already be waiting for her at the bus stop, only her eyes visible from above her giant scarf, her hands shoved in the pockets of her fashionista grey coat. She would greet Heejin as soon as the girl stepped out of the bus with a “Hey” and an off-handed comment (“Do you know how an elk’s mating call sounds?”) while Heejin would laugh and roll her eyes as they hugged half-assedly with one arm, not lingering.

The walk through the busy streets would be filled with them not wasting any time, already throwing insults with no bite at each other, the teasing just growing fonder every time and with no intention to hurt behind it, and it would continue all through the evening. They would get some drinks and Hyunjin would take some bread she smuggled inside out of her bag, shoving it in Heejin’s direction and making her rate it on a scale of one to ten. That had only earned her a comparison to Jungeun, because Heejin thought it was peak sneaky grandma activity, but Hyunjin had her reasons (“I do it for the thrill of being above the law and not because I’m cheap”, she protested with an unreadable expression).

They would poke fun at other people at the bar, with Hyunjin always coming up with the most dramatic and nonsensical backstories for the strangers they would never see again, both of them laughing obnoxiously at something only they knew, which earned the two girls stuffed in one of the corners at a table for two weirded out stares from the targets of their harmless game and the staff alike.

Underneath all that, though, a more complete image of Hyunjin was forming itself in Heejin’s mind.

Don’t get her wrong, Hyunjin was still a terrible actress and she still didn’t give a shit about the single thing that Heejin held the closest to her heart, ignoring every mention of the drama club and brushing it off with some annoying, random comment to steer the conversation in another direction (“...And Jinsol is already thinking about the costumes, she asked me if I had any spare bedsheets but I didn’t…”, “Wack. Do you think stealing can be fun?”). The only thing that Heejin had ever seen her consume was bread, she lived for cat memes and pissing Heejin off and didn’t give a fuck what anyone thought of her, but that wasn’t all that there was to her.

Hyunjin had an entirely different side, one that Heejin had only began to notice not that long ago and one that she, albeit begrudgingly, found herself anticipating to see more of.

The one that made her become the definite star player of the team this year, inheriting the spot from Miya, who graduated last year, and not because she was (obviously) talented, but because she put in the necessary work, the only one from the entire team to sacrifice even more of her free time than their practice with coach Moon required.

This Hyunjin was a great co-captain, balancing Ryujin out where it was necessary, the other girl a more traditional leading figure while Hyunjin mostly kept to the side, her authority only showing in moments of dire need, like during the last game. Despite taking on the role of the girl that didn’t take anything seriously, she could encourage and animate the whole team in the matter of seconds, all eyes turned to her.

But she was not a dumb jock, either. She knew a lot about the world at large, although she kind of preferred space over the earth, which caused a rather heated debate that left Heejin fuming, because she was a firm believer that humans should first sort their shit on earth before they even thought of venturing into space, but she still let Hyunjin tell her about the different types of galaxies and gush about her favorite one (the elliptical one - when Heejin asked why, she expected a detailed response composed entirely of words she did not understand, but Hyunjin just shrugged and said “Cause it looks cool” and showed her a photo).

Her knowledge of popculture seemed to stop at idols, though (and her opinions were not even valid - Heejin still couldn’t believe she was sitting at the same table with someone who really thought SNSD were superior to 2NE1), so Heejin had made it her mission to properly educate the other girl and set her on the right path, recommending songs, movies and series left and right, most of them probably flying over Hyunjin’s head due to their numbers.

It came as a surprise that they could actually talk beyond insulting each other, even if bickering still took a significant portion of their time.

But then went the little things - like how despite the teasing between them being almost constant, they both tried to never go overboard with it, and Hyunjin would always make sure that the stuff she said didn’t make Heejin truly uncomfortable, or how funny her genuine laugh was when Heejin said something funny and she couldn’t contain herself, or how she never really spoke about herself and how her life was, but it was alright, because neither did Heejin, perfectly content with the little bubble that seemed to envelop them whenever they sat in that bar.

Heejin found herself anticipating all that it offered, couldn’t wait until she saw the annoyingly smug smirk she rolled her eyes at without hesitation and willingly listened to the other girl call her a dwarf when she would have ripped her head off long ago if that was anyone else, instead pointing out how Hyunjin’s lips seemed to instantly form a horrible duck face whenever she dozed off.

She wanted to know more about her, because even though it would make her scowl if someone else had pointed it out to her, she actually found that her and Hyunjin were much more similar than she had originally thought.

This time was not that different from all the others.

It was already getting dark, the street lights lit up and the snow swirling in the air with light blows of wind when Heejin jumped off the bus at the designated stop, shrinking a bit in on herself when the first wave of cold hit her.

It was almost immediately forgotten, because Hyunjin started raving about the last movie she saw that Heejin had recommended, scribbling the name on a tissue and practically shoving it into Hyunjin’s hands so that the girl wouldn’t forget.

Yes, it was the 1996 version of Romeo & Juliet. Heejin had a tradition to uphold, after all.

It was a first, to see Hyunjin this animated over something that wasn’t either football or girl groups, but the girl gripped her own hair and stared right in front of her on the way to the bar as she tried to properly put into words how much the movie had blown her mind. Although she still didn’t care about this nerd shit, obviously.

“They should have ditched Leonardo DiCaprio, totally.” She exclaimed, shaking her head. “It would have been so much better if they were lesbians!”

Heejin’s eyes lit up, her mind momentarily flashing to the fanart that served as her wallpaper for a solid year and a half.

“YES!” She agreed, throwing her hand up and making some man turn his head away from them and grumble about drunken youths.

Neither of them cared, though.

At the bar they ordered some tea, still shaking from the inhuman cold, hoping that at least the steaming pot of overpriced tea that was undoubtedly bought at the supermarket (Heejin recognized the brand - it was the same her mom used to buy a few months ago when it went on sale due to the company going bankrupt, making bulk purchases extremely beneficial). The talk of the movie continued for a good while.

Hyunjin was starting to sniff her nose, her face in a grimace close to death before she sneezed. Heejin just snickered and fished a pack of tissues from the pocket of her jacket, sliding them Hyunjin’s way over the table.

“Thanks.” Hyunjin said, immediately covering her whole face with the tissue and blowing her nose at the volume of a baby elephant. “I bet one thing, though.”

Heejin narrowed her eyes, waiting for Hyunjin to go on.

“That it would your wet dream to star in something like that.” Her tone was expectant.

It was absolutely true, though, and Heejin owned it.

“Duh.” She shrugged, her lips widening in a grin. “I would look good as fuck in those hawaiian shirts.”

Hyunjin snorted while taking a sip of her tea. She insisted on sticking out her pinky like “a proper british lady”, taking her knowledge from that one episode of Phineas and Ferb where they played multi-dimensional football with their british relatives.

“If you say so.” She said, shaking her head.

Heejin set her palms down on the table with a challenging smirk.

“What, you don’t think so?”

Hyunjin raised her eyebrows seeing the sparks in Heejin’s eyes. She had to agree, even if she was being so stupid with all her nerd stuff.

“Alright, alright.” She waved dismissively. “Maybe you would.”

“Yes!” Heejin exclaimed, victorious, the “s” coming out more like a hiss.

A comfortable silence fell over them then, with only the noise of the bar around them and the cups clinking when set on the table or refilled from the giant pot, the two girls sipping on the hot beverage.

With her sights set on some middle-aged woman whose hair made her terribly similar to a pissed off ostrich, Heejin suddenly remembered one thing she absolutely had to do.

Hyunjin stared as Heejin scrambled and leaned down to begin shuffling through her bag with urgency with her cup frozen midway to her lips, her mouth slightly open and her brows narrowed.

“Whoops, shit.” Heejin snickered when she saw she accidentally knocked over her own, thankfully empty, cup.

With her whole face lit up, her white teeth flashed in a self-satisfied grin. She was holding something that Hyunjin couldn’t see below the table, the football player dumbfounded as to what might have been the cause of such giddiness.

Her smile only growing, Heejin raised her hands only to reveal… her own beat-down copy of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”.

Hyunjin scowled.

“Shit, I thought we established long ago we wouldn’t recite Shakespeare in a public place!” She protested, making a giant cross sign from her arms and frantically shaking her head.

Heejin, however, rolled her eyes as she took something from in between the book’s pages and threw it right back inside the bag. Suddenly, she felt a bit self-conscious as she held two tiny laminated bits of paper in her hands, successfully hiding them from Hyunjin’s view, her gaze drifting down.

Hyunjin’s interest sparked by the unusual behavior, she found herself leaning forward on the table towards the other girl.

Heejin took a deep breath and, any and all doubts pushed to the back of her mind, she raised her gaze to meet Hyunjin’s dark, round eyes already on her, a small smirk finding its way onto her face.

“So, uhm, I know it was, like… a long time ago…” She began, fiddling with the two round pieces in her hands. Hyunjin could now see they had a sort of irregular shape. “But actually I got you these.”

And she set two tooth-achingly cute, small cut outs of cells with cute little faces, drawn and colored digitally and covered with something so that they would survive the trip on the table.

Hyunjin’s eyes widened, not quite believing what they were seeing.

“Hm, so I didn’t know if you wanted the human cell or the plant cell, so…” Heejin explained further, a bit shy due to the lack of reaction. “I made… both?”

She was becoming increasingly more uncomfortable with every second that passed and Hyunjin didn’t say anything, only staring at the drawings, wondering if it was a stupid idea.

Luckily, looking up and seeing Heejin’s expectant and hopeful gaze that made the girl in front of her look like a lost puppy, which in turn made something tug at her own chest, Hyunjin quickly composed herself.

“Oh my god…” She whispered, raising her hands up to her forehead and puffing out her cheeks.

She couldn’t contain herself anymore, though, and she burst out laughing, making everybody’s heads turn to look at them, her laughter filling the whole room.

“What’s so funny!?” Heejin exclaimed, gripping her on the wrist and shaking. “Hey, don’t laugh at me, alright!”

“AH, I LOVE THEM!” Hyunjin almost yelled in her face, her eyes watering due to the strong outburst of hysterical laughter. “I just didn’t expect it, because WHAT? BUT I LOVE THEM, I LOVE THIS! WHAT THE FUCK!”

A giant weight was just lifted off of Heejin’s shoulders. She let out a deep breath of relief.

“Jesus Christ.” Hyunjin was still shaking her head in disbelief, occasional chuckles making her shoulders jerk. “I guess if anyone could make cells cute, it would be you.”

Heejin suddenly felt a wave of heat shoot up to her cheeks at the compliment, the reaction disproportionally better and more expressive than she ever hoped for it to be.

Hyunjin pulled the little cells towards herself, narrowing her eyes and letting out a hum as she thought. Heejin furrowed her brows in concern. Was something wrong? Maybe she forgot to include some important part? It wasn’t like she was a biology ace or anything, after all.

But Hyunjin just took out her phone from the pocket of her jeans, and immediately stripped it of the transparent case that covered it. She set the cute cells on the phone, their size just perfect for it, and clapped the case back on. She glanced up at Heejin, a triumphant smirk on her lips, something warm to it that Heejin couldn’t really put her finger on.

“Now, the power of science will literally never leave me.” She said, holding up the phone for Heejin to see.

A pleasant warmth settled in Heejin’s chest at the gesture, the corners of her lips shooting up involuntarily at the silly declaration.

“Yeah, that’s the purpose.” She said with a chuckle, her eyes eating up the sight of Hyunjin still looking at the cells at different angles, her mouth slightly open, showing those sharp canines that gave her a certain charm.

“Did you do it on some tablet or something?” Hyunjin asked, genuine interest in her voice.

Heejin nodded.

“Yeah. Basically, I looked at Wikipedia for the reference and then kind of redesigned it to be cuter and then just printed it.” She explained. “There’s this layer with the faces, then another, and I kinda ramped up the contrast and brightness to give it this elementary school textbook feel and actually I wanted it to have legs too but then realized that might have been a little too much, so I just gave them those hands like Mario, and I don’t know. Came out like this.”

Hyunjin eyed her then, her eyes narrowed, but a certain spark to her gaze as she faced the girl clad in a flannel too big for her frame and with round glasses on her nose that just spat out a questionable amount of words in less than ten seconds. She was not smirking anymore, a certain fondness to the now full-fledged smile gracing her lips.

“You’re really good at that stuff, you know.” She said, not really a question.

Heejin raised her eyebrows.

“Yeah?”

“Yeah. Why don’t you have an instagram for it or some shit?” Hyunjin shrugged. “Be famous, fuck bitches, get money. Or something.”

Heejin bit down on her lip, pondering. She looked around the whole room, her eyes sliding over the dark walls covered in posters before they finally rested on the girl in front of her.

She didn’t know what it was, maybe the slightly dimmed, yellow lights, or maybe the way Hyunjin’s brows were slightly furrowed as she meticulously refilled Heejin’s cup of tea, holding the pot up and making sure it didn’t spill, or how the sleeves of her shirt just hung open because she couldn’t be bothered with actually rolling them up, or maybe how the cells smiled up at the ceiling from her phone, put there to be kept close. Maybe it was all of those things, or maybe none at all, but Heejin felt she could let herself be at least a little honest.

“Why bother?” She shrugged and pushed her glasses back on the bridge of her nose. “It’s not like it’s serious.”

“What do you mean?” Hyunjin tilted her head, no usual bite to her tone. “You’re good and obviously passionate, at least if you just spitting more fire than CL is any indication.”

Heejin shot lightning bolts at her.

“Keep the queen’s name out of your mouth.” She raised her fists in a threatening gesture, only to make Hyunjin laugh again and almost knock over the pot with her elbow when her hand shot up to cover her mouth. “I don’t know, though.”

Hyunjin just waited for her to go on, her slight smirk encouraging.

“I know I’m good at acting…” Heejin shrugged. “And that’s what I’ve been doing since I was a kid, you know?”

Something clicked in Hyunjin’s mind, then, because she knew, and Heejin was just sitting there in front of her and holding her hand up above her cup so that the steam warmed her palm, and she seemed so beautiful even though she didn’t really try (not that she had to, of course), no make up and round glasses as she sat cross-legged on the chair, her legs almost unable to keep contact with the floor, and it was the first time they’ve treaded on some more serious territory, and it all just… made so much sense.

She nodded, wrapping her hands around her own cup.

“Yeah, I think I get it.”

“You do?” Heejin tilted her head, her brows arched up with curiosity.

“I’ve been playing football since, like… birth.”

Their eyes met over the table, a silent understanding as a small smile appeared on Hyunjin’s lips when Heejin was undoubtedly going through the same realization as her not even a minute ago. Maybe they really were more alike than they had thought.

“Basically, my parents really pushed me to do well, and they… support it a lot, I guess?” She elaborated.

Heejin’s eyes widened.

“No way!” She shook her head. “My dad is the most supportive person when it comes to acting, so it was like that for me, too. He had to… give it up, back in university, so I guess he was happy when he found out I liked it, too.”

“God, it’s your dad, too? A whole family of drama queens?” Hyunjin teased. “Mine never played, at least I don’t think so, he’s just a fan. So he signed me up for it as soon as I could walk.”

“Mmm, yeah…” Heejin nodded, taking a sip of her tea.

“But soon it became, like… the only thing I ever did, you know?” Hyunjin made some vague gesture with her left hand.

“Hm, me too. I started in kindergarten, when I got the role of Mother Mary.” Heejin said, deadly serious.

Hyunjin’s mouth hung open.

“I can’t believe you just said that.”

Heejin just chuckled, shrugging. It was kinda funny, looking back on it.

“Why were you even doing all that stuff in kindergarten?” Hyunjin asked further, amused. “I need the story.”

“Well, like… The closest kindergarten to our house then was a christian one.” Heejin explained, going back to the times when their family used to live in a house on the outskirts of the city instead of a flat. “So I guess my parents just rolled with it because they didn’t want to drive me and Hyejoo somewhere far? And then we finished it and forgot soon after.”

“Oh well, what gives.” Hyunjin accepted, shrugging.

Heejin nudged her foot lightly under the table to get her to look back at her. She didn’t want the moment to be over, wanted to hear more of what Hyunjin had on her mind.

“You wanted to say something else, though?” She asked.

“Hm…” Hyunjin hummed, focused. “I was really guilty when we lost last year. Do you know the story and all?”

Heejin nodded tentatively.

“It was probably, like… The stupidest thing I’ve done in my life, ever.” There was a hint of regret in her voice that she didn’t manage to mask very well.

Heejin’s heart almost jumped out of her chest when Hyunjin promptly clapped her hands and burst out into genuine and furious laughter.

“That’s telling, isn’t it?!” She wheezed. “I do stupid shit on the daily!”

Heejin let out a long breath.

“Jesus christ! Scary! What the fuck!” She scolded, holding her hand up to her chest, Hyunjin’s outburst serving as a real-life jumpscare.

“Yeah, yeah.” She waved dismissively, her expression dropping.

She waited until Heejin calmed down properly, even offering her a piece of bread (pumpkin this time) and eating a slice herself only to resume a moment later.

“I was just feeling so guilty, I don’t know..” She said, shrugging. “It was like I failed at the only thing I was good at.”

One part of Heejin wanted to protest, tell the girl in front of her she was good at all sorts of stuff, be it useless (at least in her opinion) knowledge about space or making Heejin laugh so hard she felt her eyes water, but another part had her heart break just a little bit, not only because she didn’t want Hyunjin to feel this way, but because it was all just a little bit too familiar.

But Hyunjin looked up, slightly amused and relaxed as she shot the girl in front of her a smirk.

“That’s why I was so pissed about the whole drama club thing.” She admitted.

“Yeah!” Heejin nodded furiously. “You looked like you wanted to kill me!”

“Well…” Hyunjin raised her eyebrows smugly. “You looked like you wanted to die when you were walking over to me, so I guess we complimented each other then!”

Heejin remembered the discouragement she had felt in that moment, ready for the ground to swallow her whole when she sat down next to the co-captain, disappointed that the universe had the guts to play her so cruelly. Maybe it didn’t turn out to be so horrible in the end, though.

“Yeah, that’s fair.”

“It didn’t turn out to be so horrible in the end, though.” Hyunjin continued, although she quickly shot Heejin down when she saw her eyes light up. “Though I obviously still don’t care about that nerd shit!”

Heejin laughed, a sense of accomplishment washing over her. Maybe something could be made out of Kim Hyunjin yet.

She mulled over the implications of it, though, her gaze dropping to the table as she bit on the inside of her cheek absentmindedly.

“Isn’t it still, technically, a waste of time, though?” She asked. “To focus on two things?”

Hyunjin shrugged. She didn’t really have an answer, not yet.

“I don’t know. It does the team good, though, so maybe it would do you good as well?”

“Well, after that last win…” Heejin began, letting it hang in the air as a compliment.

Hyunjin rolled her eyes with a snicker.

“That was just luck.” She said. “I’m serious, though.”

Heejin raised her eyebrow, signaling Hyunjin to go on.

“It’s got to be doable. And why waste it?”

Heejin still had to give it a good thought, although she was increasingly warming up to the idea, at least for now.

Her whole face lit up again, though, and she leaned forward on the table, propping herself up on her elbows.

“What about you?” She asked, her grin wide.

Hyunjin’s forehead creased in a silent question, the girl not following.

“Well, miss Kim “Technetium was the first synthetically made element” Hyunjin.” She said, her voice purposefully high-pitched. “If you’re encouraging me to pursue something I like so much, don’t be a hypocrite and do it too!”

“You remembered that wrong, you know?” Hyunjin laughed, shaking her head. That girl really was something else.

“That’s beside the point…” Heejin pouted. “Don’t laugh! I could illustrate your treaties about black holes or galaxies or whatever!”

“Alright.” Hyunjin nodded, chuckling. “But they all have to have cute faces. We’re gonna shake the world of science, you ready?”

Heejin forced a solemn expression on her face and pursed her lips.

“Deal.” She said, only to burst into laughter a moment later, Hyunjin joining her.

Hyunjin refilled their cups again, the steam flowing into the air, the two of them sipping on the tea slowly so that it didn’t burn, not quite able to contain the smiles that would just not leave their faces.

Finding this sort of deep understanding in the place she least expected it to, Heejin felt like a little of the giant weight she carried around on her shoulders was lifted off.

She didn’t, couldn’t possibly know, but Hyunjin felt the same.

Chapter Text

“...And isn’t that evidence enough? Aliens exist, but for some reason we’re too stupid to read the signs-” Sooyoung reasoned half to herself and half to the empty space of her room.

She was lying down on her own bed with her hands under her head, splayed comfortably while she stared at the ceiling and ranted about why, in her opinion, aliens existed.

Meanwhile, Jungeun was sitting on Sooyoung’s spinning desk chair with her legs curled up to her chest and turned so that she was facing her. She was taking her sweet time with the cup of instant ramen that she held in her left hand, the noodles dull and the soup itself all spice and no actual taste, just like supermarket ramen should be.

How exactly they ended up like that, she wasn't really sure.

It began like it usually did, with one of them shooting the other a horny text (this time, predictably, it was Sooyoung), followed immediately by a suggestive “my parents arent home”, which was all it took for Jungeun to grab her stuff and check herself out in the mirror on the way out, headed for the metro with a heavy heart and a fire in her chest.

Sooyoung was waiting for her at the stop like she usually did, her hair swept by the cold winter wind because she absolutely refused to wear a hat under any circumstances. It was a long walk from the metro to Sooyoung’s house and the first time, Jungeun was positive she would get lost (despite having already been there once). She practically bullied the other girl into coming and getting her, because there was just no way she would manage. Needless to say, she regretted doing it as soon as she saw Sooyoung’s cheeky grin, the girl not even bothering to greet her before the first teasing words left her mouth. After that, it just stayed that way.

That day, though, Jungeun’s stomach just wouldn’t give her peace. She supposed it was payback for her laziness and how she didn’t bother heating up whatever it was that her mom left her and her brother to eat for dinner and grabbed a yogurt from the fridge instead.

It kept growling as they chatted while making their way to Sooyoung’s house, Jungeun’s hands shoved deep into the pockets of her coat. At first, Sooyoung had ignored it, only arching her brow at the sound and smiling when Jungeun went red in the face. But after six very, extremely embarrassing times, she just had to ask.

“Are you hungry or something?” There was, surprisingly, no light-hearted teasing in her voice.

Jungeun’s ears burned nonetheless. She wanted to deny because, honestly, what was it to Sooyoung, and why was there concern underneath all the amusement in her tone (she definitely did not sign up for overanalyzing stuff like this), almost opened her mouth to say no, but a low rumble betrayed her. Again.

“...Yeah.” She admitted with a sigh.

Sooyoung led them to the neighbourhood supermarket, next to that 24 hour alcohol store they went to at Heejin and Jiwoo’s party, with a chuckle and a “alright, I needed to buy some stuff anyway”.

What flustered Jungeun the most, though, was that they didn’t even… do anything. Another hour was passing, and yet nothing even remotely physical happened between them, and worst of all was that neither of them seemed to actually mind that.

They walked around the supermarket as if it was just a normal, everyday occurrence and pointed their fingers at candies that used to be their favorite when they were kids after Sooyoung noticed some that she remembered from her hometown.

Mentioning that she used to drown her waffles in whipped cream before she could eat them earned Jungeun a questioning side-eye and snicker from the other girl, so she didn’t add that she still did it from time to time and instead rested her weight on the cart she pushed around while Sooyoung shoveled food inside.

It was only when they were waiting in line at the counter that Jungeun noticed how extremely questionable the quality of Sooyoung’s food of choice was. Among the instant ramen packets there was also a big pack of onion crisps, a few cans of cola, sweet bread and a solitary chicken breast. Sooyoung put it all into one plastic bag carelessly and smirked when she saw Jungeun’s arched eyebrows.

(“Something wrong?” She asked, amused.

Jungeun just shook her head and pulled her hoodie over her head when they stepped outside again.

“How do you have instant soups for every meal and still look like this?” She only realized how that sounded once it was said, taking a sharp breath.

Sooyoung let out a laugh, shielding her face from the cold wind.

“Wouldn’t you like to know?”)

They waited until the water stopped boiling and until the soups were done, leaning against the kitchen counter and arguing whether the best flavor was the one in the red packet or in the yellow one (the matter has not been settled).

The problems started when they had to transport the steaming cups upstairs. Jungeun carefully gripped hers on top, where the liquid couldn’t reach, but she still hissed and let it go almost instantly when the hot vapor hit her palm.

Sooyoung chuckled and stared her down, which only earned her a frustrated groan. The football player grabbed both cups, satisfied with herself. A smug smirk appeared on her lips only to morph into a frown that made Jungeun raise her brows, and she turned around on her heel with a weak “come on” to rush up the stairs as fast as possible.

It was Jungeun’s turn to laugh when she heard Sooyoung forcibly set the cups on her desk and saw her flailing her hands around with an annoyed hiss in an attempt to cool them down. As soon as she saw Jungeun enter the room, unable to contain an amused smile, she hid her hands behind her back and acted as innocent as possible, Jungeun only shaking her head.

Jungeun didn’t even begin eating hers, too preoccupied with blowing on it until it became cooler, before Sooyoung was already throwing her empty cup into the bin she had under her desk. Jungeun widened her eyes, because that should have been humanly impossible, it was water boiled like five minutes earlier, and she still wasn’t able to pick her own cup up.

(“What the hell? Are you already done?” She asked, her mouth hanging open.

“Yeah, I’m a fast eater.” Sooyoung shrugged, and Jungeun was almost surprised by the lack of any implied subtext in her tone. Almost.

“That… can’t be healthy, though?” Jungeun said, already imagining her intestines burning alive.

Sooyoung nodded slowly, as if she were pondering.

“Or maybe it’s just you who’s incredibly slow?” She concluded with a smirk and went to lie on her own bed, right under the girl’s most prized possession, the giant, signed poster of Sunmi.

Come to think of it, the singer has witnessed some truly traumatic imagery during her stay on Sooyoung’s wall.)

While Jungeun ate slowly, she turned on the spinning chair to look at Sooyoung just because she could and, for the first time ever, they actually talked about the drama club.

Jungeun was glad that neither of them mentioned Jiwoo, who was completely absent from the conversation apart from always being present somewhere at the back of Jungeun’s mind.

They quickly moved on from how the play could be cool if updated to space (“Just saying, making those fairies into aliens would have totally worked.”, “Ugh, Jinsol would have eaten this shit up if you’d told her earlier.”) to exchanging opinions about aliens and their existence in general.

Sooyoung was a very firm believer and she seemed to actually care about the subject while Jungeun was a bit more sceptical, so she resorted to quiet hums of agreement while eating.

As Sooyoung went off with her reasoning, Jungeun half listened to her, half drifted off deep into her own thoughts.

How she knew that it was a saturday and the reason that Sooyoung had the house to herself was that both of her parents were working the night shift, and how she noticed that the bowl that someone broke at Heejin and Jiwoo’s birthday party and never admitted to it was never replaced and a thin, empty vase now occupied its previous space.

Or how Sooyoung had a shelf filled with serious, classical books that nobody at school would have probably accused her of reading, ever, in her room, and how the only personal photo she had was the one that displayed her and Hyunjin while they stood next to each other with grave expressions hanging on the door, slightly tilted.

How despite Sooyoung’s very proper way of speaking, Jungeun began noticing that sometimes, her accent would slip (she faintly remembered the football player saying she was originally from Busan, once) when she got excited, or how her own eyes stayed focused on the girl’s face whenever she said something to catch a glimpse of her bunny smile and the excitement in her eyes instead of drinking in the picture of her long legs and exposed stomach as she was sprawled on the bed, and how the warmth in her chest was almost palpable when she listened to Sooyoung tell her some complete and utter bullshit she read on the internet about how the pyramids were built.

And it would have been great, it really would have, and Jungeun really would have loved it, all of it, if only it had happened under different circumstances. Because right now, every little detail she came to notice only added to her already growing feelings, those feelings she shouldn’t have developed in the first place, and she could only hate it.

So she set the unfinished cup of ramen on the desk (it had gone cold, anyway, and she wasn’t even hungry anymore), the sound making Sooyoung’s head snap to the side to look at her with a lazy smile, and Jungeun couldn’t help the curl of her own lips when she saw the other girl’s curiously arched brow.

In a few quick steps she reached the bed and, without a word but maintaining eye contact, crawled onto Sooyoung’s lap unceremoniously. A silence came over the room as the tips of her fingers ghosted over the girl’s exposed stomach, the muscles there tensing slightly and Sooyoung’s gaze falling down to Jungeun’s lips, even if she still sported a rather endeared smirk on hers. Her hands quickly found their way to Jungeun’s waist, the touch light but the gesture possessive.

“Hi.” She said, baring her teeth in a smile.

Jungeun chuckled, and her heart skipped a beat at the dumb greeting and the softness in Sooyoung’s voice.

She hated how something tugged at her chest everytime she looked at Sooyoung so, although returning the smile, she leaned in.

“Less talking.” Jungeun said against Sooyoung’s lips, the other girl only smirking before closing the distance between them.

This way, she could focus on the way Sooyoung’s hands wandered all over her back, how she let out a small sigh when Jungeun had started kissing her way down her neck and pulled her even closer by the waist instead of on the feelings that had no right to exist, even if for a little while.

___

“See, and this font is in public domain, I checked, so it’s alright if we use it, and…” Heejin explained away, holding her phone up in front of Jinsol’s face, zooming in and out with her thumb and gesturing wildly with her other hand and her gaze fixed on the screen.

After she had finished designing the poster (she actually managed to do it over the course of the weekend, almost pulling an all-nighter on friday after she came back from that meeting with Hyunjin, finally finding the energy necessary to pick it up again), Heejin was eager to show it to Jinsol, but decided to do it at school instead of over text to properly see her friend’s reaction, because even if Jinsol would never tell her it was ugly (even if it was and which it wasn’t, or at least so she hoped), her face would betray her in a matter of seconds.

Right now, though, the blonde stared at the screen with wide eyes and her mouth hung open at the piece of art in front of her. It looked so, so good and honestly, Jinsol was both impressed with her friend and relieved because she was putting off making that poster for what seemed like an eternity and she wasn’t even sure she could pull it off.

But Heejin did, and the final product was much better than anything the crew could have come up with, probably.

“...What do you think?” Heejin asked, feeling jittery all over from excitement and expectant, because she knew what this face on Jinsol meant.

The blonde stayed still for a while, still processing. She let out a long breath and raked her fingers through her hair, effectively messing them up.

“Are you for real!?” She burst out, grabbing Heejin’s arms and almost making her drop her phone as a result. “You literally saved my ass! I don’t know when I would have found the time to make it, and it would have looked like shit compared to this!”

Heejin grinned, almost beaming with pride.

“No, don’t say it!” She protested, though. There was no need to pit two powerful women against each other, and Jinsol knew it. “Do you think Miss Kim will like it?”

“Duh.” Jinsol nodded, rubbing her chin. By the way her eyes became glazed, Heejin could tell she was thinking about something. “Why don’t we ask her?”

Heejin furrowed her brows.

“What, now?”

Because they were waiting for literature class, having decided to split up with Jiwoo and Jungeun for the long pause due to the fact their lessons were strewn all over the school, they were also on the opposite side of the building to where the drama club room was situated.

“Yeah, why not.” Jinsol shrugged. “I know she’s gonna love it, and maybe that shit ass principal is finally gonna give us some money with a poster like that.”

And without any further explanation, she grabbed Heejin’s hand, barely giving her time to get her backpack from the floor and sling it over her shoulder before dragging her into the sea of students getting from one class to another.

Some of the other students who filled the school corridors with sounds of chatter were sitting by the walls and talking to their friends, some were doing their homework last minute scribbling the answers in a notebook they had open on their lap with a pen in one hand and a phone with the answers in another, and some were walking somewhere just like the two of them.

The only corridor that was virtually empty, save for three freshmen who stood huddled in a circle and tried to look stealthy while vaping in the corner, was the one leading to the drama club room.

Ignoring the first years who eyed them with suspicion as soon as they heard their steps but soon got back to their previous activities, Jinsol and Heejin approached the drama club classroom.

The door was wide open and some voices could be heard coming from inside, which made them slow down before they could be seen, stopping in front of the door and eyeing each other with confusion, Jinsol’s eyebrows forming a V.

“...And good, we need to put an end to this stupid-” Heejin recognized it as the voice of coach Moon.

Jinsol elbowed her lightly in the ribs, gesturing wildly and pointing at her watch. They only had ten minutes before class started, and they still needed to get back. It was no time for eavesdropping, as much as the both of them wanted to.

Heejin raised her hands in defeat. How were they supposed to interrupt the two teachers right now?

But Jinsol was prepared. She waved at Heejin dismissively in a silent gesture of “I got this” before backing away from the door slowly, and then stomping her feet as loudly as she could, the steps echoing in the empty corridor. She also added a poorly masked, fake cough before knocking on the door and immediately walking inside, urging Heejin to go after her.

The voices went quiet, and Jinsol plastered a wide smile on her face as soon as they entered and saw the two women stand suspiciously close to each other, leaning against the desk.

The two teachers sported their usual attire, with Miss Kim in one of her flowy cardigans (this time, it was bright orange with an intricate purple pattern) and wide, flared jeans, while coach Moon looked like she walked straight out of an ad for a ridiculously expensive athleisure brand.

Before Heejin even could mutter a quick “hello”, Miss Kim greeted them both with a warm smile that made her eyes narrow and her arms crossed over her chest.

“Hey, girls, what’s the matter?” She asked.

Jinsol spoke up first, only shooting a quick glance at coach Moon, who just stood there with her hands in her pockets and her signature smirk on her face.

The blonde girl raised the sleeves of her hoodie as if she was getting to work and joined the fingers of her hands at the level of her chest like a world leader.

“Well, um, I know I probably should have said something sooner, but…” She began, Miss Kim looking at her with interest. “I had this idea that maybe we could make posters and hang them around the school so that more people would be interested and come to the showing?”

And before Miss Kim could do anything beyond nodding, she nudged Heejin again and motioned for her to show the poster to the teacher.

Heejin fished her phone out of the back pocket of her jeans, her hand going a little bit clammy when she typed in the password, the gallery app already open on the drawing, and handed it to Miss Kim.

She took a deep breath and hoped that no embarrassing messages came, because of course she forgot to turn the data off.

Miss Kim extended her hand and put on the glasses she always had hanging on a beaded chain around her neck, admiring it from all different angles. Even coach Moon had her gaze fixed on the poster while she looked at it from over Miss Kim’s shoulder, her mouth slightly open in awe.

Both girls looked at the teachers expectantly, each passing second making the possibility of either Jiwoo or Jungeun making the lesbian taylor swift conspiracy theorists groupchat come alive higher and higher, and Heejin was dying inside at the mere prospect of Miss Kim having this knowledge.

The drama club teacher looked up at Heejin, then.

“Wait… you drew that?” She asked, a hint of disbelief in her tone. Her eyes were wide when they went back to the poster, and then back to the girl in front of her.

“Yes.” Heejin said, giving a small bow of her head with her hands behind her back.

“With your hands???” It was coach Moon’s turn to ask. The woman looked absolutely amazed, and the way her cheeks rounded when she smiled kind of reminded Heejin of the hamster she had in primary school.

“Um… yes?” She nodded again, her brows slightly furrowed. What else was she supposed to draw with?

“This is great, Heejin!” Miss Kim clapped her hands and leaned forward. “If you send it to me, I will print it and we can hang it around the school then, okay?”

Heejin nodded furiously, warmth surging to her chest at the compliment from her favorite teacher.

“Yesss, will do!” Jinsol affirmed, her stare drifting from Miss Kim to coach Moon, not subtle at all. “Now, sorry, but we need to get to our class before the-”

The sound of the bell ringing filled the classroom.

“Bye, girls!” Miss Kim waved them off. “Prepare well for the next meeting!”

The two teachers watched Jinsol drag Heejin out of the classroom with an eager “goodbye!”, their steps becoming much quicker as soon as they disappeared at the door.

When the ruckus caused by the bell was finally over and the corridor went quiet again, coach Moon shook her head with a small chuckle.

“Kids…”

___

A few days ago already, the time had come for Jinsol to text the big drama club groupchat that included the football team members (the one they used before went dead almost immediately) to ask everybody to bring any and all stuff they think could be used to make the costumes for the play.

While she mostly meant clothes, any kind of fabric (Gahyeon’s grandma worked the sewing machine like a devil) or accessories were welcome, as Jinsol cleared up after some initial confusion (Chaeyoung asked whether it could be any type of clothing, and Jinsol said it could be anything, even a bedsheet, as long as something could be made of it).

They found themselves in the drama club room, most of them with at least a bag full of clothes and trinkets that their families just didn’t need anymore or could bear the loss of.

Admittedly, it was a bit of a mess. The clothes were strewn all over two joined tables in the middle of the room, as if it were a buffet, and the members went absolutely crazy when choosing the pieces they deemed fit for themselves and for the role. Or not, because some (not naming any names) only cared about picking the most standoffish combinations possible.

Poor Jinsol couldn’t keep up with her commentary, going from one person to another and rating their picks based on how well they went with her artistic vision. Even though it was Gahyeon’s grandma that made the outfits come to life, Jinsol was in charge of putting them all together to form a coherent ensemble, and with the drama club doubling in members, it was no easy task. She went around the room holding her hands up to her head and either nodding her head in approval or sighing at some of the choices. Her flannel shirt and dark, loose jeans coupled with round glasses made Jinsol look like a pretentious indie film student who listened to Modest Mouse a little bit too often.

Hyejoo’s childish, high-pitched laughter filled the room as the tall brunette gripped her stomach and pointed at Yeojin, who grabbed one of the many t-shirts littering the tables and immediately threw it over her head, only for it to extend well below her knees. On the little football player, it looked more like a very modest (unless one counted the pulp drawing of a foxy redhead on a motorbike it had on the front) dress instead of a t-shirt.

“Aww, I’m sorry!” Yerim apologized with a sheepish smile seeing Yeojin’s pout. “It used to be my dad’s!”

“God, I’m going to stay a dwarf forever!” Yeojin complained while she was taking the t-shirt off. She threw it back on the pile and continued her search with even more energy.

Currently, all attention was turned to Siyeon, who turned herself into a full blown gothic princess after snatching a long, black nightgown and some blue feathers that Yubin attached half-assedly to her bangs, which went incredibly well with her sharp features and dark make up. It was apparent that she came to kill, and her first victim was Bora, who tripped on air because she couldn’t stop staring even when taking the name-tagged bags to the safety of the box at the back of the classroom.

Although with a hint of regret, Jinsol still had to tell Siyeon that, despite looking like “Honestly? A queen, a goddess!”, that outfit was a no-go, and the girl agreed with a little sigh (“But it was fun while it lasted!” Yoohyeon animated the newfound friend).

Yeri came prepared, already wearing massively oversized hoop earrings and a baby pink feather boa over a low-cut tank top. She posed against the wall while Chaeyoung, who didn’t even spare a glance at the stack of clothes, took photos with a giant smile, looking more like an overjoyed mom whenever she said “yes, that’s great, now give me that smile from before!” instead of a girlfriend.

On the other side of the room, Jiwoo was trying to pitch a disgustingly sweet, pink lacy dress to Jungeun, because she thought it would be a great idea to defy gender roles, and she just knew that the blonde would own it. However, Jungeun was not on board. She waved her hands furiously as she protested loudly, trying to get Jiwoo to put the dress back, because there was honestly no way in hell she would be caught wearing a dress.

Thankfully, Jinsol came to the rescue.

“No, Jiwooming, that’s not a good idea…” The blonde shook her head.

Jiwoo pouted, but Jungeun let out a breath in relief. Jinsol’s word was the law when it came to the costumes.

However, a slight spark appeared in Jinsol’s eyes, accompanied by a teasing smirk directed at the other blonde.

“It won’t go well with the horse head you’ll be wearing!”

Jungeun just let out a loud groan. They would never let her live this down, she was sure. Was being the lead really worth it? Was it a cruel joke plotted by Miss Kim?

At the time, Heejin was fishing for a shirt she deemed cool enough to call dibs on and claim as part of her outfit. Nothing seemed to catch her eye (seriously, too many people thought black stuff somehow fit the psychedelic theme) until a bright pink flashed through the mass.

Holding on to it with one hand and keeping the stack of clothes from falling off the table, she took out the entire shirt, and that was when she knew that she had hit a jackpot. It turned out to not be only bright pink, but tie dye AND oversized, which was just her style.

She quickly walked away from the table to free the space for others who still haven’t gotten any stuff for themselves, and as she turned around, she saw Ryujin leaning against the stage and looking at the chaos.

Heejin smirked and made her way over to the co-captain, flashing her a victory smile and holding up the shirt when the girl noticed her.

“What do you think?” She asked as soon as she came up to Ryujin.

“Looking good!” Ryujin nodded in approval. A small smile appeared on her lips.

Heejin felt a faint hint of some heat in her cheeks, thanking the gods it wasn’t too strong. She just hoped it was not noticeable.

However, while Ryujin looked extremely good in her green hoodie and rolled up trousers, Heejin couldn’t help but wonder one thing.

“Why aren’t you looking for clothes?”

Ryujin raised her brow.

“I just don’t want to give her even more work.” She said, chuckling and motioning in Jinsol’s direction.

Jinsol was currently explaining to a very reluctant Shin Yuna that yes, it was her that ultimately decided how the costumes would look, only taking some suggestions. She had her palm held up to her forehead and her other hand on her waist while she just stared at the floor with Yuna chatting her ear off.

“Oh, you have such a good heart.” Heejin fawned mockingly.

Ryujin snickered.

“I know, right?”

Eyeing the shirt once more, Heejin decided to see how it would fit her. Of course, there was no way any of them would willingly strip in front of the whole room while retaining their confidence (well, maybe besides one person), so they all resorted to throwing their clothes over what they already had on, and Heejin was no different.

While pulling it over her head, she noticed how good the shirt had smelled. It was like laundry detergent, of course, everything they brought to the drama club had to be washed beforehand, but there was a hint of something else, too, something that seemed weirdly familiar, but Heejin could not place it. She just hoped nobody noticed her taking a sniff and wondered whose shirt it was, because she absolutely needed to know what it was.

“Hey, man, that’s some cool stuff!” Sooyoung waltzed up to them, sporting a dark denim jacket, which Heejin assumed was from the pile, and a crop top, which she assumed was Sooyoung’s. She held a purple headband in her hands. “Makes you look hot.”

Heejin nodded.

“Hell yeah, you too!” She said and held her hand up for Sooyoung to high-five, which she did almost immediately, a deeper level of understanding between them.

“No, you look hideous.” Another voice shot Sooyoung down from behind Heejin. She didn’t need to turn around to know it was Hyunjin.

That earned her a snicker from Ryujin and a full-on laugh from Sooyoung.

“Yeah, as if.” The tall football player dismissed.

“What’d you get, Hyun?” Ryujin asked, trying to take a peek at the stuff that Hyunjin was holding.

With a shit-eating grin, Hyunjin held up a black shirt with a print of a full moon covered by clouds (admittedly, it looked a bit like those you could get at tourist stalls in the mountains) and a band cut roughly from a bedsheet, baby blue and with little white dots, all the while shooting them a thumbs up.

“I got it from the goth queen herself.” She announced.

“Well, put it on.” Sooyoung scoffed.

“No.” Hyunjin refused, flat, but her stare was unrelenting.

It was finally the time for Jinsol to come up to them, the girl already looking dead tired from the unusual amount of work.

“Ryujin…” She began, raking her fingers through her hair. The co-captain just stared at her, smirking. “Thank god you’re not like those… animals. No offense to y’all.”

“None taken.” Hyunjin shook her head.

Jinsol glanced at the other captain, then, eyeing the shirt and the headband. She waved her hand with a resigned sigh.

“I… guess it makes sense.” She said.

Hyunjin muttered a quiet “Yesss”, victorious and glad she got the green light.

“Alright, but this is actually really good!” Jinsol complimented Sooyoung, gaining a bit of her energy back. “For a 60s fuckboy, at least!”

“Only for him?” Sooyoung was quick to reply, her brows arched and grease practically dripping from her voice before she let out a small laugh.

However, Jinsol was already eyeing Heejin up and down, rubbing her cheek absent-mindedly. Heejin waited for her friend’s verdict, although she had to admit, she didn’t actually want to part with the shirt.

Jinsol unceremoniously grabbed the hem of both the tie dye and Heejin’s actual shirt, though, and tied them sloppily at the level of her friend’s ribs, so that it made a half-assed crop top. The knot was kind of chunky, but it could work.

“Yes, this is it!” Jinsol announced, satisfied with the end product.

Heejin just looked down, pondering for a while.

“Isn’t that too Coachella?” She asked with a laugh. Under other circumstances, she probably would have been a bit flustered, but she had been sticking to her new year's resolution and even though she would not admit it, she was kind of proud to flaunt it.

“Nooo!” Jinsol shook her head. “This will show you being liberated from your dad or some shit.”

Ryujin’s laughter while she commented “Yeah, great reasoning, Jinsol.” made Heejin’s head turn to the girl to catch a glimpse of that soft smile, and effectively miss the way the other co-captain’s eyes strayed to her exposed stomach for a split second.

“Fair enough, let’s get it.” She said, although she could still feel the curiosity that hadn’t been satiated, and the way the fabric felt soft on her chest and the smell enveloped her in the best way possible wasn’t helping at all. “By the way, do you know whose shirt that is?”

Hyunjin replied like it was the most obvious thing in the whole world, a faint, mischievous smirk on her lips.

“Oh, it used to be mine.”

___

It was another (rather) peaceful evening at the Jeon household.

Hyejoo had barricaded herself in her room as soon as she came home. The only sounds coming from beside the door were of her hitting the keys of her laptop furiously, undoubtedly killing some virtual people.

It was a tell-tale sign that her and Chaewon had a disagreement. Hyejoo always played more aggressively whenever something happened and her girlfriend couldn’t accompany her, letting out her frustration in a silent but deadly manner.

It wasn’t a matter of concern, though. Those two never actually fought for real, and Hyejoo would most likely just call Chaewon after she finished her game and they would talk until it got extremely late, already as mushy and soft as always, all animosities forgotten long ago.

Heejin meticulously copied the answers from the internet onto the history spreadsheet they needed to get done for the next day for the class with Mister Lee, the subject being the first world war.

She was trying to remember as much as she could, even when she was just copying and not actually putting in an effort, just to spare herself some pain when she would inevitably have to cram for the next test, but the generals’ names were getting mixed up in her brain. However, she pushed her glasses further up on her nose and typed in the next question, unrelenting until she was finished.

Heejin threw her hello kitty pen on the desk mindlessly. It rolled almost to the edge, but thankfully didn’t fall, the giant cat head attached to its top successfully stopping it from moving any further. She leaned back against her chair and extended her legs in front of her, the stretch extremely satisfying after hours of sitting in the same position. Soon, her arms followed, raised above her head.

As expected, Hyejoo’s soft laugh that she only ever graced Chaewon with could be heard from beside the wall.

Stifling a yawn, Heejin reached for her phone. In that studying-induced slumber, she knew that she would probably spend another hour just looking at dumb memes and videos with a dead stare in dire need to get her mind back to its previous state before she could even begin to do anything else, but it was a sacrifice she was willing to make.

She scrolled rather mindlessly, first through her twitter, although nothing exciting happened there (her previous account got suspended for rightfully defending boy group stans and she kind of lost the energy to begin anew, mostly lurking).

The one thing that Heejin wasn’t expecting was for a random instagram ad to give her an existential crisis.

It was just some ugly graphic of a recently founded university that specialized in economics and that announced applications were officially open, which got Heejin thinking.

Because really, this year, she would be graduating from high school and… and what, exactly?

She had always assumed that she would just join the acting academy. There was no way she wouldn’t get in, even if she was too humble to admit it. It seemed like the most natural of choices, too, after all. Her and Jiwoo would meet in the hallways, Heejin in the regular theater department and Jiwoo finally able to fully pursue musical theater. But was it what she actually wanted to do?

Heejin had never thought about it, to be completely honest. She just subconsciously accepted it as inevitable, just because she was a natural at it and all the signs seemed to point towards this outcome.

There was a curiosity nagging at her, though, getting bigger and bigger, especially recently, to try something else. To let herself see what it would be like to do something just for herself, maybe fail and maybe even succeed.

The seed had been planted and she couldn’t get the thought out of her head.

Biting down on her lip, Heejin set her phone back on the desk and reached for the laptop instead, pulling it closer. The adrenaline pushed her to squat on the chair for the dramatic effect as she typed in “fine arts seoul” into Google.

She opened most of the links that appeared on the first page, her brows knit together in deep focus as she looked through the various programs offered by different schools and faculties. With her chin propped up on her palm and the screen lighting up her face in dull white, she gathered every little piece of information that was displayed on the sites.

She read through the requirements for admission to most of them and they all wanted, more or less, the same thing - a portfolio. The only detail that seemed to fluctuate was the numbers of works that needed to be included in one, ranging from 15 to 35.

Raising her gaze up to the ceiling and wrapping her hands at the back of her head, Heejin began calculating to see if it would even work out. To get 35 works done, she would need to dedicate an insane amount of time, on top of school work, to art - time that she would have to cut from practicing for the drama club.

She could actually manage to get it done, but the thought made her uneasy. And what if she actually did get in?

Would she just… get on with her life, just like that? Study art full-time and only join the university’s drama club, so as not to give up the thrill that acting gave her completely (Heejin didn’t think she could ever do that)? And, the question she dreaded the most, how would she even tell her parents about the sudden change of heart, even if it was not that sudden at all?

However, she also thought of late evenings spent standing behind an easel and getting to create something that came entirely from herself, instead of always recreating somebody else in the end, despite how good she was at it. With that in mind, even the perspective of facing her dad was not so grim.

And right now, although it was just a flashy internet site and a head full of plans and nothing concrete yet, Heejin felt like it was alright to finally go her own way.

Chapter Text

The hall where the next game was taking place was, admittedly, not very welcoming. The only feat it possessed was that it was extremely spacious, almost twice the size of Polaris High’s own hall, but even that could not compensate for the dirty, grey walls, minuscule seats on the stands and the way it was uncomfortably chilly inside, the windows near the roof wide open and letting the freezing wind in from time to time.

Yuehua High, their current opponent and host, did not have their own gym hall. Instead, they used that one, where all neighbourhood events took place - fairs, sales, kindergarten plays, you name it. The nets were shaky from dismounting them so many times and the facility wasn’t the best, but there was no doubting that Yuehua was a serious opponent.

However, the Polaris students’ team spirit was at an all-time high, especially compared to last time, when even the heart of the team, Ryujin herself, seemed tired and done and the cheerleaders failed to animate the crowd properly before they won by a miracle.

No, this time the fire was almost radiating off of their side of the stands with almost every student present at the game despite it being pretty far from the school. An equally unusual amount of cards and banners waved in the air, the number of the ones with Hyunjin’s name on them increasing exponentially after the last match.

Ryujin jogged lazily to the table with water bottles to take them back to the locker room for the team. She stood there for a while, chatting with the cheerleaders and almost falling from how hard she laughed at something that one of them said before she headed back to the locker room accompanied by Lia and Yeji, who helped her transport the twenty-something water bottles.

The rest of the cheerleaders (how they weren’t cold in only their uniforms was a mystery that would remain unsolved) were undeterred by the temporary disappearance of their captain, occasionally turning to the crowd and animating them before the game started, keeping the spirits up.

Almost right after Ryujin disappeared behind the door to the locker room with Heejin’s eyes locked on her back, she felt her phone vibrate.

from: haha bread, 17:19
keep ur fingers crossed
!

A warm feeling settled in her chest at how far they’ve come, what was a normal message to others and an almost intimate gesture to Heejin (at least for them both). She had never heard or seen Hyunjin ask anyone to root for her before a game, always calm and confident even when she joked around with her teammates.

to: haha bread, 17:19
of course!!!

Heejin knew that their team was going to win, she was sure of it. And what she was even more sure of, was that Hyunjin would be unstoppable now, after deeming the last game a failure and training even harder so that she could be in her best condition for the next.

“Hey everyone, gather ‘round!” She said, yelling over the crowd and motioning to her phone.

The fantastic four sat next to each other as usual, with Yerim and Shin Yuna one row above them. Yerim took it upon herself to hold the banner that the original drama club members made once after a meeting, deciding it was finally the time to show their support in a more organized manner.

It was pretty simple, just a large cardboard cut-out in the shape of a rectangle, painted white and with a large “POLARIS TEAM FIGHTING” in bold, capital letters on it, with the names of the players significantly smaller underneath it and little heart stickers around them.

Everyone huddled around the sign. Heejin held the phone up so that everybody fit into the frame with a preppy smile, Jungeun right next to her with raised brows and a smirk, Jiwoo making a big heart with her arms and accidentally covering a part of Jinsol’s face, who was holding up a fist. Both Yerim and Yuna showed small finger hearts, holding the banner.

Even Chaewon, who was forced to take a seat next to Jinsol (they were guests, so she couldn’t just take up the whole top row to herself as always, and her cut-out of Hyejoo was confiscated at the door), was caught on camera, side-eyeing them. The silver-haired girl remained unimpressed whenever anyone tried to talk to her, holding her head up high and waiting for the team to walk out on the field.

Hyunjin replied almost immediately.

It was that photoshopped picture of a cat with human teeth, showing a thumbs up.

Heejin snickered and turned off the screen, shoving her phone back into her pocket. It was time for the two principals to make their usual speeches.

The tension between the two men was almost palpable, even though they both had polite smiles plastered on their faces and exchanged pleasantries without any interruption. Their principal’s bald head turning a deep shade of red revealed it, the Yuehua principal picking at his goatee nervously.

The sight of the old man sweating in his suit made Jinsol nod triumphantly.

“God, he wants to win this so bad.” She said. “I almost want us to lose just to see him lose his shit.”

However, at least fifteen pairs of eyes shot lighting at her.

“Not REALLY!” She protested, shaking her head and raising her hands in defeat.

The referee was just finishing up her own speech and both teams walked out on the field. Polaris was led by Ryujin, who walked with her head held high and a lazy, confident smirk on her lips.

It was a stark contrast to Yuehua’s captain, a blonde with a serious expression leading the team clad in all black. It had to be given to them, they looked intimidating compared to Polaris in their black and white and with most of them rather relaxed. One could tell they weren’t here to play.

The hall fell silent when the two captains shook hands, the air dense from anticipation and the clashing energies of both teams making the face-off all the more intense.

The whistle blew and the game began, only the sound of shoes sliding on the shiny floor filling the hall before the crowd erupted into screams.

The Yuehua High team seemed to have placed all their bets on aggressive strategies, going to the maximum right from the first minute. They didn’t catch a breath themselves, and they wouldn’t let their opponents do that either.

Ryujin, Sooyoung and Handong were a formidable defense squad, the best one in the whole city, but even the ones at the top slip sometimes.

The Yuehua girls managed to confuse Yeojin, taking the ball away from her and not wasting any time, sprinting towards the net and Yubin. Hyunjin immediately started chasing after them, running like a devil, but she was on the opposite side of the field, waiting for Yeojin to pass, and only a miracle would have made her save it on time.

The Yuehua captain dribbled the ball away from Handong, the motion extremely smooth. Both Sooyoung and Ryujin ran up to her, knowing that she couldn’t possibly get through them both, but that was when she sent the ball flying to the side, to the teammate they overlooked when all the focus turned to the blonde.

Yuehua managed to score in the 20th minute of the match, effectively making coach Moon request a time.

However, instead of mad, the woman seemed pretty optimistic, gesturing and explaining some strategy to the team with a smile while the eleven girls looked at her like at an ancient oracle, nodding.

The game resumed with even more intensity from both parts, the girls successfully animated by coach Moon.

When Hyejoo got a pass from Yeojin, it seemed like things were finally turning well for them. She sprinted towards the net, effortlessly pushing the ball and almost scoring.

Almost.

Just mere seconds before she sent the ball flying into the net, a Yuehua defense player crashed into her full-force, taking the ball in the process and Hyejoo falling roughly on her back.

The entire Polaris side of the stands roared in protest at the obvious foul. Luckily, a whistle followed soon after.

The referee, coach Moon and the whole team rushed over to Hyejoo, who remained on the floor clutching at her elbow. Both coach Moon and the referee crouched next to the girl, the teacher waving at the team not to come too close to not overwhelm Hyejoo, and the referee motioned for the girl to keep lying down despite her attempts to sit.

Only after a while did they let her sit up, coach Moon gently supporting her while asking where it hurt.

When Hyejoo and the two women talked, Heejin noticed Chaewon looking at the field, worry painted all over her face but not saying anything.

She nudged Jinsol then, who was sitting the closest to Chaewon, and motioned in her direction. Jinsol raised her hands in a silent gesture of “and what am I supposed to do about it?”, but she did not have to be convinced long.

“Hey, um, Chaewon…” The blonde began, clearing her throat.

Chaewon slowly turned to them, all the affection that Heejin saw in her eyes just mere seconds ago completely gone, replaced by a disbelieving scowl. Jinsol gulped.

“She’s gonna be alright, you know?” Heejin tried to sound reassuring, nodding earnestly.

Chaewon’s eyes narrowed, but her expression softened for a little while before it came back to the previous scowl.

“Of course I know.” She scoffed. “My woman is made of steel.”

And she turned around, marking the conversation as finished. Her stare was fixed on Hyejoo’s silhouette, the girl held up by coach Moon (even if she looked slightly annoyed herself at the woman babying her) making her way to sit on the bench.

A girl from the reserve replaced her for the time being and the Yuehua player that crashed into Hyejoo was shown the red card, which significantly weakened their team.

However, even though the team looked worried and would send Hyejoo quick glances of encouragement, Ryujin took it upon herself to animate them before the game resumed. This was not the end of the world, Hyejoo would be fine (coach Moon said so) and they still had a match to win.

She raised her fist and nodded her head energetically and acted like it was all good, but Heejin saw her and Hyunjin exchange a determined look right before the whistle sounded again. It was getting serious.

If Hyunjin was a devil before, right now, she was Satan herself, coming for revenge. She didn’t let Yuehua even get their feet on the ball, evening out the score almost immediately before the first break, much to the crowd’s excitement. They didn’t expect such a sudden comeback, but the team was not about to let anyone down.

Hyejoo went back to play in the second half. She had to stare down coach Moon and insist that yes, she was feeling well, it only hurt for a while and she was feeling alright and ready to play.

Chaewon looked at her almost beaming with pride, and Heejin stared at the petite, silver-haired girl in a lavender dress who seemed like the last person to be caught at a high school football match, but came to every single one just for her sister.

And she thought it had to be cool, to go to the games only for this one, special person and backing them without question and for this person to know that there’s someone on the stands that supports them with their whole heart and whose eyes never leave them for the whole game.

Her eyes shifted to Hyunjin annoying Hyejoo, making grotesque faces that were probably supposed to imitate the girl from Yuehua, raising her hands up in the air and twisting her face. Heejin chuckled to herself at the sight.

After Hyejoo’s return, the team was like a machine, completely unstoppable and with only one mission: to win.

They made Yuehua pay for hurting their big baby (as opposed to Yeojin, who was the small baby), adding two more goals and furthering the gap between them even more, cementing their victory.

The last goal of the night belonged to Hyejoo herself, making the hall go absolutely wild when Hyunjin passed her the ball and she sprinted towards the net for the second time that evening, this time with nothing standing in her way. She sent a satisfied smirk the stands’ way, eliciting an enthusiastic response even though everybody knew who it was meant for. Chaewon leaned back on the uncomfortable chair, grinning and nodding with her arms crossed over her chest.

After the match, the drama club and some cheerleaders decided to wait for the football team outside, ready to jump them as soon as they stepped out of the locker room. Their breaths turned into vapor in the cold and it was already dark, but the good mood and excitement after such a triumph didn’t leave them, making them immune to the freezing february weather.

 

They stood huddled in a circle, anticipating both the team and the party to celebrate them going to the next stage of the championship which they planned and organized beforehand in a rare exhibition of self-assuredness. Lia joked around with Doyeon and Yerim, only proving that the bubbly girl could find friends anywhere she went.

However, as soon as Yeojin was the first one to step outside with a wild, triumphant scream, they all jumped around with Yerim at the front, enveloping the small girl in her arms, words of congratulation and praise flying at Yeojin left and right.

Everybody else soon followed and the whole world seemed to turn into one big ball of excited yells, victorious gestures and warm, strong hugs.

Interestingly enough, it was not Ryujin that Heejin seeked in the crowd. She noticed her jumping around surrounded by the cheerleaders next to Jiwoo, who tried to hype Yubin up, probably more excited than the goalkeeper herself, but her eyes scanned the crowd for the other captain.

She didn’t have to look for long, though. Hyunjin came out of the building with a wild scream, almost immediately running up to her. Heejin did what she thought was only natural - threw her hands up, letting out a yell and almost crashing into Hyunjin, sloppily wrapping her arms around the football player and jumping in excitement, Hyunjin almost making her deaf in one ear, screaming right next to it. Come to think of it, she was probably doing the same to her, the hug tight and their little jumps all over the place, but it didn’t matter - the only thing that mattered was the euphoria that accompanied their victory.

However, reality had to sink in sooner or later. They stopped jumping and pulled back, Heejin almost wrapping her hands behind her back with the force she used to take them off of Hyunjin. They looked at each other, slightly confused. Wasn’t that a bit… too much?

Hyunjin cleared her throat, her gaze lowered to the ground. Suddenly, Heejin found the patterns that the snow made on the sidewalk very interesting, as well.

So, that didn’t happen.

Wordlessly, they joined the crowd, everybody praising Hyunjin while she thanked them with overblown gestures and Heejin actually congratulating the others, laughing like there was no tomorrow.

Only that occasionally, she would find her eyes drifting to Hyunjin only to find her already looking at her, a happy, wide grin on her face while yet another person patted her on the back before they finally got around to making their way to the party.

___

Passing to the next stage of the championship, especially now, when things were just getting serious, was no small feat - it just had to be celebrated. Ryujin was the one that offered to host this time, on one condition: that the “new year’s incident” wouldn’t be repeated.

Hyunjin promised solemnly with her hands on her chest, but the exact nature of the “incident” remained mysterious, apart from the rumor that it had something to do with the fireworks that circulated around the school a few weeks ago, its source unknown.

The party itself was only slightly less hellish than the one at Chaeyoung’s, most probably by virtue of Ryujin’s house being simply smaller. Heejin was actually kind of surprised by how cozy it was - like a suburban dream, with family pictures on the walls right next to Ryujin’s football trophies and an old-style TV in the baby blue living room lit by slightly dimmed, warm yellow light.

That is, until the other guests actually arrived soon after.

It didn’t take long for someone to start pouring shots for everyone like a robot to start the evening off right, for another to put on Travis Scott to blare through the speakers next to the TV effectively making most of the party-goers turn the living room into a slutty dancefloor, and for a steady cloud of smoke to hang under the ceiling.

At this point getting through the dancing mass to get to the kitchen, where most of the alcohol was situated, would be a murderous task. Which was exactly why Heejin was feeling extremely lucky to be sitting on the brown couch that someone pushed into the corner to make more room for dancing, an untouched six pack of beer comfortably nested right next to her while she sipped on something stronger mixed with cola and watched two dudes have a drunken dance battle.

To her right, Hyunjin sat with her back turned to Heejin as she leaned forward in Jiwoo and Jungeun’s direction, propping herself up on her hand. Jungeun was practically glued to her Juul and she looked at the dark-haired girl with thinly-veiled scepticism while Jiwoo clutched her drink in her hands, her eyes sparkly and a laugh threatening to come out of her throat at every word that left Hyunjin’s mouth.

Tearing her eyes away from her friends religiously listening to the captain’s bragging about her beatboxing skills, Heejin looked into the crowd again. Hyo’s “Dessert” just came on and a girl joined the guys’ dance battle, doing a particularly well-timed slut drop when the chorus hit. She somehow managed to hold her drink while she did it and not spill it, which already made her a winner in Heejin’s eyes.

Raising her brows and taking another sip with a slight wince at the drink already going warm, she scanned the crowd in search of some of their friends, but to no avail. Maybe it was Yeri who twerked next to the TV, but it was hard to tell. Heejin hadn’t seen Ryujin, the actual host, even once since the party had started, Sooyoung didn’t even have time to sit with them before a girl chatted her up and they went off to god knows where, while Jinsol was separated from them by the cheerleaders vying for her attention, circling her and offering drinks, which made the blonde unusually flustered, but it wasn’t like she was not about to shoot her shot.

“Really, I can teach you a beatboxing skill.” She heard Hyunjin say with determination.

Heejin’s head slowly turned to her friends again with a poorly masked grin. Now this was about to be interesting. Good thing Hyunjin had her back turned and couldn’t see her amusement, or otherwise they would have gotten into another verbal battle.

“Seriously?” Jiwoo gaped, leaning forward.

“Go ahead, then.” Jungeun said with a straight face.

Hyunjin got down to business almost immediately. She psyched herself up, her expression falling to the signature, monotonous one when she lifted her hand to her mouth, covering it. Slowly, with everyone looking at her in anticipation, she let out something that sounded kind of similar to a drawn-out ragged breath.

Jiwoo fell back with a laughter, slapping her thigh and almost falling off the couch, but recovering quickly, while Jungeun opened her mouth in a half-smile half-frown, looking in disbelief.

“What? It’s a skill.” Hyunjin said, serious, and did the same thing again, this time with more power.

The only result she got was that now Jungeun was laughing, too.

“It’s real! There’s a skill like this.” Hyunjin was unrelenting in spreading her agenda, even though Jiwoo’s laughter was becoming dangerously high-pitched. She went on to do it again, her facade only cracking when a red-faced Jungeun had to lean on her arm, almost dying from laughter, and making a small snicker slip through Hyunjin’s lips.

“Wait a minute, like this?” Jiwoo decided to humor her. Her voice was strained from the fits of laughter. “Pahahaha..”

“No…” Hyunjin went on to show her again. Jungeun clutched at her own face, trying to contain herself but failing every time, bursting out again and again. Jiwoo kept slapping first her own thigh, then Jungeun’s (she figured that the blonde wouldn’t even notice, too far gone to care), but actually making an effort to at least humor Hyunjin.

“How do you mute the sound?” She asked. By her tone, you couldn’t tell if she was wallowing or laughing, but her bright face said it all. “PA?”

Hyunjin showed it again. Jiwoo tried to imitate her, but inhaled the air and choked on it instead of exhaling. Jungeun broke out into a fit again at the sight, just when she thought she was ready to recover, trying to make the sound and covering her eyes, but failing miserably.

“See, it’s hard, it’s a skill.” Hyunjin nodded to herself, convinced, pointing at Jungeun’s struggle.

“PaaAaAAAaaAaAaaA.” Jiwoo tried again, changing the volume at random. It still did not sound close to what Hyunjin did. “Be honest, you’re just making fun of us!”

“No!” Hyunjin shook her head, breaking into laughter.

“Paaaa…” Jungeun let out like a dying woman, staring at the floor.

“It should be like this…” And Hyunjin broke out into a normal beatbox, only managing two or three bars before she stopped, dissatisfied with herself. “Wait…”

Luckily for her, she was saved from further ridicule by Jinsol, who practically got spat out by the moving crowd and immediately crouched down in front of them, leaning herself against Jiwoo’s lap and raising her hands as if she were praying.

“Please, please, Jiwoo, save my ass.” The blonde begged with desperation in her eyes.

Jiwoo looked at her, shaking her head in confusion. Jinsol went on.

“I told this one girl from another school that I can do a mad rendition of “Pump It” but I NEED you to be Fergie…” She said, her eyes shiny with hope.

Jungeun snickered, but they both ignored her. Jiwoo clasped Jinsol’s hands in her own, smiling wide.

“Of course!” She nodded, already getting up and swaying a bit. “Anything!”

Jinsol clutched at her arm with a steady stream of “oh my god thank you thank you thank you, let’s get it”.

“Okay, I need to see this.” Jungeun said, getting up as well. She set her unfinished drink on the small table squished between the couch and the wall and soon, the three of them were swallowed by the jumping crowd again.

As curious as Heejin was about this performance (Jinsol had never done that before, and they had had too many drunken karaokes to count, so Heejin would know), she was definitely not up for chaperoning Jinsol and Jiwoo before they got too drunk. She would leave that to Jungeun. She volunteered, anyway.

Heejin felt the weight on the couch shift with Hyunjin changing her position and sliding closer.

“Hey, you wanna see something cool?” Hyunjin asked with a small smirk.

Heejin arched her eyebrow.

“Yeah, sure.” She didn’t know what Hyunjin meant by cool, what could possibly be cool at the party besides what they’ve already seen. But she would take Hyunjin leading her somewhere and them getting a bit of peace over watching strangers dance any day.

Heejin looked down at the drink in her hand, then took a sip. She didn’t want to take it anywhere, but it wasn’t even half done - it would be a pity if it had gone to waste. So with Hyunjin’s expectant gaze on her, she swallowed it in six large gulps and set it down on the table with a loud clink.

“Okay, wow.” Hyunjin said. “That’s not stupid. Do you think she will miss it?”

It took Heejin a minute to realize that the football player was staring at the drink that Jungeun had left behind a while ago. She chuckled.

“No, go ahead.”

Hyunjin grabbed the glass unceremoniously, downing it in seconds. After she finished, she wiped her mouth with a slight wince and got up without any warning.

“That was kind of disgusting.” She looked back at Heejin, who was still sitting and staring at the girl that downed Jungeun’s half-vodka, half-juice (the blonde was a believer in effectiveness over taste) as if it were nothing. She was, honestly, kind of amazed. “Come on, let’s take the beer.”

The words left Heejin scrambling after her with the six pack. Hyunjin just turned around, absolutely no effort on her part to help carry it, already on her way. They stuck close to the walls to not get mixed up with the crowd. Heejin’s eyes stayed trained on Hyunjin’s back while she walked behind her clutching the beers as if they were a newborn baby. They walked up a flight of stairs, the wood kind of slippery - and even on the staircase, the primary wall decorations were certificates, awards and family photos. Heejin came to the conclusion that the Shins must have been a very accomplished family.

Hyunjin led them into one of the rooms without any hesitation and… it was really not what Heejin was expecting when she imagined “something cool”.

Taking a good look around, it seemed like she had walked into her own room back from when she was five - the furniture was (or at least seemed so in the night light) baby pink, there was an impressive collection of barbie dolls on one of the shelves and funny pens littered the desk. The bed shoved against the wall was small, with smooth edges and the sheets proudly displayed some magical girls.

“Uh…-”

“It’s Ryujin’s little sister’s room.” Hyunjin explained before Heejin could voice her doubts. That, however, still did not clear anything up. Quite the opposite, actually.

She gaped at Hyunjin, eyes wide, but the football player just rolled her eyes.

“Look up.”

Heejin arched her neck back, almost expecting it to be a prank or something of the sort. What she was not expecting was to be met with a clear view of the night sky.

Well, almost clear - there was an enormously sized window on the ceiling right above the bed, stretching almost to the center of the room, ending before it could touch the pink hanging lamp.

It was amazing. The house was far enough from the city center that the stars were still visible, shining down and glimmering on the night sky. Heejin could feel her own lips widen in awe.

However, there was one crucial question that would not let her fully enjoy the view. Finding it hard to tear her eyes away (especially because her head was kind of spinning, which made it ten times more fun), she looked at Hyunjin again only to find the co-captain already making herself comfortable on the bed.

“Are you sure we can just… go in here and… star...gaze?” She asked, her voice cracking. She cleared her throat to mask it.

“She isn’t here, is she? Breaking and entering is fun.” Hyunjin shrugged, leaning back against the wall, but her tone softened when she saw Heejin’s unsure expression. “Yeah, it’s alright. Now come on, get your ass here.”

Heejin shook her head with a laugh and sat down next to Hyunjin, not bothering to keep any distance between them. She let Hyunjin do the honors of opening the beer and soon they were camped, both lazily sipping and looking up at the sky.

“Jiwoo should incorporate some beatboxing in her singing, you know?” Hyunjin said, serious. Her words got a bit slurry. “She would be an instant hit, I think.”

Heejin snickered.

“Are you sure about that?”

“Duh, she should have listened to me! Imagine she’s doing one of those nerdy musicals and in the middle of a belt, boom. Beatbox. Crowd goes wild. Can’t go wrong with it.”

“Come on! That’s not a real skill, is it?”

That caused Hyunjin to snap her head to Heejin, almost offended. She shoved her lightly on the arm.

“Of course it is! Why doesn’t anyone believe me?! I don’t get it!” The captain complained, but she couldn’t hide the large grin she was sporting. It was contagious, whenever Hyunjin genuinely smiled, Heejin could already feel a laugh bubbling in her chest.

“Do you know where Ursa Major is?” Hyunjin asked after their eyes went back to the sky.

Heejin narrowed her eyes. She was aware it existed (well, who wasn’t?) but she could never really see the shapes people were supposed to see the stars form. She scanned the sky just because though, even if she half-expected Hyunjin to point it out to her in a second.

“No…”

Hyunjin snickered.

“Me neither.”

At this point, Heejin didn’t even question it. She just laughed, hearty and honest, and shook her head leaning further back against the wall, her Nike Jordan clad feet sticking out from the bed right next to Hyunjin’s.

“You know, I actually made it.” She said, changing the subject.

“What?” Hyunjin asked, confused. She straightened up to look at the girl next to her, who was currently facing down and leaning to the left, her back almost forming half a circle.

Instead of answering, though, Heejin just unlocked her phone and went to instagram. Hyunjin didn’t really want to pry, especially when she saw that Heejin was logging in, typing in her login and password furiously, so she averted her eyes, took a sip of the beer instead.

“It’s nothing much… yet.” Heejin spoke, which made Hyunjin assume it was safe to look. “But I took your advice, so now you have to follow me. It’s law.”

The phone proudly displayed the profile of a “hxjn_art” (Heejin wanted it to be edgy and short) with a really cute, white bunny drawn in Heejin’s style set as the profile picture. Hyunjin’s eyes widened and she couldn’t help but smirk when she saw that Heejin already seemed to have a following.

Heejin couldn’t stop grinning, satisfied with herself and with the other girl’s reaction. She moved her hand with the phone in Hyunjin’s direction, expecting her to take it and scroll through it on her own. When instead of that, Hyunjin leaned in and started scrolling through the pictures with Heejin still holding it, she suddenly became hyper aware of how close they actually were.

Their shoulders were touching and Heejin could practically feel the heat radiating off of Hyunjin. The co-captain accidentally brushed her pinky against Heejin’s hand while scrolling, and it took all of the effort she could muster up not to recoil at the touch that sent a spark through her whole body. But worst of all, she could smell that mixture of laundry detergent and something fruity right in front of her, so unmistakably Hyunjin it made her breath catch up in her throat.

Right when Heejin was sure that she was getting whiplashed, Hyunjin’s leg right next to her own and the touch almost burning, was when the co-captain leaned back again.

“Wow, Naruto fanart?” She asked, snickering. “Who would have thought.”

Heejin did not miss the affection in her voice, but she still stared her down, almost forgetting about the weird sensation from mere seconds ago. She could feel her own head spinning in the best state of drunkenness possible and laughed. That Gaara fanart gained her a lot of followers, and it was alright.

Hyunjin joined her, and she flashed that eye smile that she only got when her laugh was genuine and she couldn’t hold it back. Heejin kind of wanted to see it more often even if it was at her own expense. It did not feel like losing, anyway.

“You’re so stupid.” She elbowed the captain lightly. Her eyes drifted back to the stars above them again, and she could feel the white flecks making her weirdly emotional, something tugging at her chest. “You’re different than I thought, you know?”

Hyunjin shifted her weight on the bed. If earlier it could have been passed off as accidental, now there was no doubt that their shoulders were touching intently.

“Yeah?” Hyunjin hummed out.

Faintly, Heejin noticed that the song downstairs changed to the all-time hit that was Britney Spears’ “Hold It Against Me”, the music muffled by the closed doors. She fiddled with the ring she always wore on her index finger absentmindedly.

“Yeah… I thought you didn’t give a shit about anything, but I was wrong.”

Hyunjin chuckled and took a sip again.

“You lire- litel- fuck, I can never say it when I’m drunk for some reason…” Heejin went on undeterred, however. She knew nobody was making fun of her here. “-Always give it your all! And I- It’s… really great.”

Heejin was an emotional drunk and she knew it. Usually it was Jiwoo that got the brunt of it, more than happy to provide hugs and kisses through the night whenever needed, but the bubbly girl was probably getting plastered downstairs, and Heejin had a message to convey.

“You should know that, you know?” She patted Hyunjin on the thigh with an earnest nod, absolutely sure of what she was saying. With Hyunjin looking at her endeared and completely ignoring the slight slur in her words, she remembered how Chaewon looked at her sister on the field. Pushing back her gag reflex at the thought of her sister in a relationship, she muttered: “You’re the best! I will look at you.”

Hyunjin furrowed her brows. She didn’t get it, of course, how could she? But she still looked at Heejin with that same smile, feeling happily buzzed.

“You know what?” The captain asked.

“No, what?” Heejin shook her head, still facing Hyunjin.

“You’re not that wrong. I didn’t take you seriously.” She admitted with a snicker. “I thought you were so annoying with all the eagerness and that stick up your ass that made you so uptight.”

Heejin raised her hand in a mocking attempt of threatening Hyunjin, but the other girl just laughed.

“But you’re not, okay!” Hyunjin protested. “It’s just… you put all of yourself into everything you do and it’s honestly kind of amazing.”

Heejin finally looked down, meeting Hyunjin’s eyes. Silence fell over the room and something warm settled in Heejin’s chest, something completely opposite to the way Hyunjin’s thigh right next to her was making her feel like she was on fire.

Hyunjin was looking at her with something she couldn’t place, a faint smirk on her lips. Her dark hair spilled well below her shoulders, in contrast with her white, long-sleeved shirt with rolled up sleeves. They didn’t leave the lamp on, the only source of light was the ceiling window, giving everything a blue hue. The air in the room seemed heavy all of a sudden, similar to the moment seconds before a race, when everyone holds their breath in anticipation.

She stared at Hyunjin, neither of them breaking eye contact or saying anything, frozen. And that was when Heejin could swear that Hyunjin’s eyes drifted lower for a split second, barely noticeable. Her tongue darted out to wet her lips instinctively, her eyes darting to Hyunjin’s. The room was quiet, she couldn’t even hear the sounds of music coming from downstairs, but at the same time was sure that she could hear Hyunjin’s breaths.

Heejin had no idea what the fuck was happening in that moment or how they came to it. But when she saw Hyunjin lean in slightly, almost unnoticeably if Heejin wasn’t already hyper aware of her every move, she felt herself lean in, too, even if just a bit, holding her breath. She knew what she was about to do, and she did not mind it one bit at that moment.

And that was when the door to the room flew open, hitting the wall with a thud.

At the loud sound, Heejin and Hyunjin jumped apart, with Heejin letting out a muttered “shit!” when she almost spilled the beer she still clutched in her hand. She snapped her head in the direction of the door, ready to jump whoever it was that had just almost given her a heart attack, only to see Ryujin with her brows furrowed in confusion standing at the door, Lia with a similar expression next to her.

“Uh… So…” Ryujin began, not quite sure what to say. Her words were slurry. “What are you two doing here?”

Heejin’s eyes jumped first from Ryujin to Lia, then to Hyunjin, then back to Ryujin, and to Hyunjin again. She didn’t know if she saw it right, what was just about to happen catching up to her, but Hyunjin rolled her eyes slightly before answering with her usual smirk.

“Heejin here wanted to puke.” She said with that monotonous voice of hers, slightly more strained than normally.

Ryujin narrowed her eyes, even more confused.

“So you wanted her to puke all over my sister’s room?”

“Obviously not.” Hyunjin said. If Heejin wasn’t mentally hyperventilating at the moment, completely spaced out, she would have noticed a hint of annoyance in the co-captain’s tone. “I just know nobody goes here and it’s good to breathe without freezing your ass outside.”

“Ah, whatever. Is it better?” Ryujin asked, seeing that Heejin was staring forward, her gaze fixed on the floor and her face dead. “Come on, some girl downstairs is giving Doyeon a tattoo on her hip, so the kitchen is pretty deserted. I just wanted to get this.”

And she grabbed the plastic princess tiara that lied next to the collection of Barbie dolls.

It was only when Lia nudged Heejin on the arm and asked “Hey, are you alright? We can go downstairs and sit down somewhere.” in a soft voice that Heejin finally snapped out of it for a little while, led downstairs by the head cheerleader on one side and Hyunjin on the other, still unable to process what just happened and not registering any of her surroundings.

___

The way home in the early hours of the morning was less than gracious. All of them were in varying states of a hangover - Jungeun almost dead, having swallowed three painkillers that Ryujin gave her on the way out at once, Heejin looking almost shellshocked, only replying in half-words and acting like a zombie which was kind of eerie, as she was not the type to stay quiet for long, but they assumed it was because she had a killer hangover and didn’t want to worsen it. Surprisingly, Jinsol and Jiwoo were both the ones that fared the best, chatting about Doyeon getting a spontaneous tattoo all the way to the metro.

When they sat down, having the whole carriage to themselves, Jiwoo took to repeating the events of the night to Heejin, who just stared forward with dead eyes and nodded, Jinsol occasionally chiming in to clear some stuff up or add some details. The story continued on even after the two girls stepped off the metro, Jiwoo happily linking her arm with Heejin’s and leading the other girl outside, where she could hopefully catch a breath, and talking to pass the time.

The mechanical doors closed after their friends and Jinsol moved to the seat next to Jungeun. The two still had four stops to go, living further away from the city center.

Jinsol took out her phone and started showing Jungeun the story of some guy that was apparently a pro gundam builder, geeking off about various models. Jungeun did not understand even a word, looking at the phone from the side and focusing on how soothing the cold glass of the window felt on her cheek.

She did not know how she found the strength to drag her ass out of the metro and follow Jinsol outside, mindlessly scanning her card and shoving the barrier that stood in her way. The cold air that hit her as soon as they stepped outside was kind of nice, though. After a while of walking in silence, she realized that it wasn’t actually as cold as she had initially thought - the air was just crisp, so she started fiddling with the zipper of her jacket.

Halfway through the motion, she noticed Jinsol staring at her with weirdly furrowed brows, making that V shape that they had when the blonde was thinking about something very hard. Jungeun decided to ignore it. Yes, she was hungover and clumsy and she wouldn’t let herself be judged for it.

Of course, to make matters worse, it got stuck at the end, the jacket old and the zipper worn out from years of use. Jungeun tugged on it once, then twice. It wouldn’t budge, and walking was not making the task any easier. She cursed under her breath and was just about to ask Jinsol to stop for a while, but the other blonde decided to break the silence before Jungeun could.

“I know about you and Sooyoung.”

Jungeun stopped in her tracks, letting the almost unzipped jacket hang on her frame in dishevel. She sobered up almost completely at the words, the monster headache that was splitting her skull open seconds ago completely gone. What replaced it was an instant wave of heat all over her body, her chest tightening uncomfortably in panic and her heart threatening to burst out with how hard and fast it was beating. She could feel her hands going clammy even before Jinsol managed to turn around.

Jungeun swallowed, hard, but put on the best confused face she could manage at the moment.

“What?” She asked, not really having faith in her own act anyway. “What does that mean?”

Jinsol just raised her eyebrows at her playing dumb.

“You know what I mean.”

Jungeun sighed and averted her eyes, clenching her fists involuntarily. She was scared of the weight that Jinsol’s words carried, but a part of her felt defeated - defeated, because she was expecting it. There was no way it could just go on forever without any repercussions, even if she would have liked it to. She was not sure she would.

“How the hell do you know?” She asked. Her voice cracked. Jungeun was defensive, already preparing for the inevitable and lessening the blow. She raised her eyes to meet Jinsol’s, expecting her friend to be angry, maybe disappointed.

What she was not expecting was for Jinsol’s gaze to be soft and calming, even if she wasn’t smiling or displaying any other emotion. The blonde just shrugged slowly.

“I just… noticed. The way you stare at the girls she talks to.” She said, drawing out the words. “Even at Jiwoo.”

That stung more than Jungeun could have prepared herself for. She knew that she was being the worst friend in the whole universe, but having it pointed out by someone else was an entirely different sort of pain.

They resumed walking and although she knew it was useless at this point, Jungeun felt the need to retaliate.

“That doesn’t prove anything.”

Jinsol went on undeterred despite her friend’s attempts at defending herself.

“I also noticed that you’re stressed, and…-”

“And?” Jungeun knew she probably shouldn’t interrupt in a situation like this, but she was a walking ball if stress and anxiety. Jinsol’s slow way of talking only added to it.

“And when you tell us you’re going out to smoke? You never smell like smoke after you come back, you know?”

Jungeun gulped. That was true, she hadn’t smoked a real cigarette in months - only used the bad habit as an excuse to catch moments with Sooyoung. She was a vaper, anyway.

“And you’re always either stressed and snappy or spaced out, and it’s not good for you, Jungie.”

Calmed down a bit by the surprising lack of judgement she got from Jinsol, Jungeun finally found courage to look at her friend again. Jinsol must have been looking at her all this time, and when she saw Jungeun finally loosen up slightly, she faced forward again, a smug smirk finding its way onto her lips.

“And I saw you fooling around in the storage room.” She stated matter-of-factly, although it was clear she was amused.

“YOU WHAT?!” Jungeun screeched, forgetting they were in the middle of a street, because she was sure this was how characters felt in horror movies.

“Yeah…” Jinsol breathed out, stifling a laugh to go on. “It was, like, a few months ago already, I think? I came back to get my laughing emoji pen.”

Jungeun took a sharp breath, because she actually remembered when that happened. Remembered how Sooyoung had pressed her against the desk back when it was only starting and how she thought she heard something by the door but brushed it off as paranoia and chose to ignore it.

“You know, I would gladly bleach my eyes after that, but I can’t because my mom runs a bleach-free household and she cut off my funds after the funko pop incident, so…” Jinsol shook her head and tsked. “I will stay scarred forever, I guess.”

Jungeun mulled it over for a while. The whole conversation was leaving her distressed, but in the end, her curiosity won.

“Why didn’t you say anything to the others?” She asked, looking at her feet skipping over the cracks in the pavement.

Jinsol stretched her arms behind her head. Her reply was not instant.

“It’s just… not my matter to meddle in, I figure.” She said finally. “And honestly? I just… didn’t know how. It’s not easy to talk about stuff like this.”

Jungeun nodded and hummed in agreement.

“So why now?”

Jinsol shrugged again with a sheepish smile.

“You don’t choose the moment, the moment chooses you?” She offered. “Or something.”

Jungeun shook her head. Despite how stupid it sounded, it also rang true.

“But you don’t have to do it, you know? Hide stuff from us, I mean.”

“But… Jiwoo.” Jungeun protested. “I don’t… she can’t know, I fucked up so bad.”

Jungeun didn’t like reducing what she had with Sooyoung to a fuck up, but at the end of the day, it was - she was a horrible friend and what she had with the football player was a casual arrangement and a tiny, one-sided string of hope.

Jinsol stared at her with furrowed brows, thinking.

“I mean, it’s your call, and you know it’s safe with me.” The blonde reassured her. “But if you talked to Jiwoo, I think she would understand.”

Jungeun fell silent after that, contemplating the possibilities that her mind offered to her, most of them not ending well for anyone. She only noticed, puzzled as to why, that Jinsol had stopped, after a few seconds.

She looked up to see Jinsol’s small, warm smile, and then around to be met with the familiar blocks of her neighborhood, the sight overwhelming her. Jinsol had walked her all the way home when they should have parted some time ago already and now she would have to go back all this way, at least fifteen minutes, and honestly, Jungeun felt like she might have just cried on the spot from the overload of emotions she had experienced that morning.

Instead, she walked over to Jinsol and hugged the girl goodbye, the smile not disappearing from her lips even for a while. It was not one of those half-assed hugs you give to people when you greet them or when you part. It was a fully charged bear hug.

Jungeun found comfort in how Jinsol was a bit taller than her and how she wrapped her arms around her without hesitation or shame and didn’t think twice about keeping them there. Jungeun felt like she could finally breathe for a while.

It was Jinsol that broke away with a soft laugh.

“Come on, go get some sleep. You need it.” She said. “And I need to drag my ass home.”

“Yeah…” Jungeun muttered, staring at the ground.

Already behind the door to the staircase (she needed a breather to prepare herself for the way up), Jungeun turned around to see Jinsol make her way back home, her hands pushed into her pockets and an energetic skip in her steps with her head held high, bopping to some music she played on her earphones.

___

The worst day had officially arrived to Polaris High - Valentine’s Day.

Because of the holiday, Hyejoo and Chaewon were acting more gross than ever on public transport on their way to school (Heejin didn’t know that was humanly possible, but with the way she had to keep herself from gagging everytime she looked at them hold hands or steal a soft kiss, it apparently was). It left Heejin resting her head against the bus window and contemplating her own love life.

She pushed what happened with Hyunjin at that party to the deepest parts of her consciousness, fully prepared to deny to anyone and herself that something happened. Luckily, Hyunjin seemed to be on the same page, with neither of them bringing it up, and life went on as usual.

However, it weighed heavy on her that it was February and she was still… alone. No real progress was made when it came to Ryujin and maybe, just maybe, this day something would finally change. How, she didn’t know yet.

She walking into the school with a good mood, blatantly ignoring her sister and her girlfriend, and likewise. However, the corridors seemed kind of weird, apart from being decorated with pink hearts and ribbons everywhere.

Everyone was huddled in small groups and whispering with each other like they were sharing some new, groundbreaking conspiracy theory, which made Heejin furrow her brows while she was on her way to her locker.

Walking through the halls, she managed to catch bits and pieces of the quiet conversations.

“- and Lia..”

“Isn’t it kind of cliché?...”

“... on and off-”

Finally, Heejin spotted two familiar faces in the crowd - Shin Yuna and Yeojin were gossipping by the window. She couldn’t stand not being in on whatever was going on, so she made her way to the two freshmen.

“Hey, guys.” Heejin greeted, involuntarily lowering her voice. “This is weird as fuck, what’s everyone saying?”

Yuna’s face lit up upon seeing her acting guru, but it was Yeojin that cleared it up.

“God, it’s literally news of the month, how haven’t you heard? Ryujin and Lia finally went official!”

“Yeah, I heard all sorts of stuff about it…” Yuna nodded, rubbing her chin.

Heejin was not listening anymore, though. At the speed of light, she took out the phone that vibrated in her pocket.

chuuriah carey, to: lesbian taylor swift conspiracy theorists, 7:46
HEEJIN @sakuras wife
storage room
immediately
dont stop on the way
dont talk to anyone
its a life or death situation!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Heejin stared at the groupchat, unmoving. Yeah, it was a bit too late for that.