Actions

Work Header

How to tell if your Roommates are Dating

Work Text:

Yuqi stared at her phone for a long while—long after the screen had gone dark and the words that had troubled her had disappeared.

She didn’t want to cry. Because crying meant that their cruel words were right and she knew that wasn’t true. She hadn’t gotten this far in her career by letting random people on the internet tear her down just because they could.

No, she had more confidence than that.

But still… But still her throat tickled and her eyes got a little watery…

So Yuqi sternly coughed into her hand and blinked until she got her traitorous eyes under control. And then she threw off her blankets and got out of bed. And she threw her phone down in her place—a symbolic casting off of unimportant things.

Yes, she needed her phone and would be picking it back up in like a minute.

No, that wasn’t the point.

She stormed off out of her room with a head full of steam, her feet stomping with purpose and in warning. If Soyeon was in the dorm, then hopefully she’d know not to mess with her. Because Yuqi could not deal with her teasing right now—it would just make her angrier. Maybe. Actually… maybe that was exactly what she needed.

Yuqi paused in the hallway and looked down towards where Soyeon’s room was, door firmly closed. She waited a few seconds to see if the door would open, but it didn’t. And then Yuqi decided that she definitely didn’t want to talk to Soyeon now anyway. Of course she didn’t. Why did she think that that would be a good idea in the first place?

Instead, she turned in the other direction towards the last remaining bedroom. When she was in a mood like this, there was only one person she felt comfortable talking to. Her best friend, the first person she’d met when she came to this country and her first roommate too.

“Kim Minnie!” Yuqi yelled as she threw open her friend’s bedroom door.

She’d expected to see half-lidded eyes, dark circles and a playfully annoyed glare. All signature features of her Thai roommate. She’d expected to see Minnie, sitting in her spinny chair or sprawled out on her queen-sized bed—on her computer or on her phone. She’d expected to see Minnie.

But instead, she came face to face with Miyeon.

The soft-spoken girl had been lying on Minnie’s bed—sleeping it looked like—and she startled awake in shock when Yuqi barged in. She reflexively clutched at her heart and the sheets as she tried to orient herself. “Yuqi? What’s going on? What’s wrong?”

Miyeon blearily looked over at the door, immediately donning a look of concern even though she had no idea what was happening.

Yuqi didn’t either. “Miyeon?” She looked around the room in search of her missing Thai roommate, but no one else was in here except the two of them. “You… Why are you here?”

“Oh…” Miyeon groggily rolled over to her side and then slowly pushed herself up into a sitting position. The sheets fell down to her waist and Yuqi’s attention fell to the pajamas that the girl was wearing. They reminded her of a pair that Minnie had started wearing recently. In fact… they looked nearly exactly the same. “I’m…” Miyeon cleared her throat and smiled almost dopily up at her. “I was just sleeping,” she simply explained. And then her brows knitted into their patented ‘concerned furrow’. “Are you okay? You were yelling…”

“I’m fine, I’m fine,” Yuqi immediately replied, rocking back onto her heels. She wanted to leave. And she already had her hand back on the doorknob, but something made her stay. Yuqi bit her lip and curiously asked, “Where’s Minnie?”

“She’s…” Miyeon looked around her in apparent confusion. As if she’d expected to see Minnie in the room with her. Or maybe even… maybe even on the bed with her or something. Or—or something like that. “Oh… I don’t know, actually,” Miyeon said with a sigh of remorse. Like she felt like she’d failed as a friend for not being able to answer that question. Like it was her responsibility somehow to know exactly where Minnie was at all times… Weird. “I can call her for you, if you want—”

“No, it’s fine. You don’t have to—”

But Miyeon had already reached over to the nightstand and snatched up her phone that had been charging there. “She shouldn’t be too far… Hang on…”

And so Yuqi was forced to stay while Miyeon carefully typed out a text message to their missing friend. All the anger that had been building up inside Yuqi came to a stuttering standstill as well, tempered by the lack of an outlet to just start venting at. That was why she’d come looking for Minnie—to vent and rage and talk smack for a few minutes until she eventually calmed down. Yes, she could do that with Miyeon too, but it just felt… kinda weird.

Each of the members had a different vibe and a different way of handling their frustrations. Yuqi and Miyeon were just way too similar sometimes and that often caused them to fight. And that would then lead them to confide in some other member about whatever petty thing they’d argued about. Over the years, they’d built up a support system that didn’t always involve each other. And that was fine! Honestly!

But that meant that Yuqi felt super awkward being around Miyeon right now.

She just wanted to scream at Minnie for a few minutes, was that too much to ask?

“Okay!” Miyeon announced with a pleased smile. She ran a hand through her hair and turned in her seat to properly face Yuqi. “She said she was running out to the convenience store to pick up something for later. She should be back in…” Miyeon tapped out a few more texts and then nodded when a response came in. “She’ll be back in ten minutes. Is that okay?” She suddenly peered up at Yuqi with her big, doe-like eyes. The lack of makeup really helped sell the whole innocent look thing. “Can you wait? Or should I tell her to hurry back?”

Yuqi felt her jaw clench almost against her will.

“It’s fine, I can wait,” she grit out. And then, seeing Miyeon’s satisfied smile, she felt compelled to stretch out the conversation just a bit longer. She knew it was the polite thing to do, especially since the girl had kindly helped her locate her missing friend. Yuqi cast around for something to say and finally came up with, “What’s Minnie getting from the store?”

“Oh! We’re planning on binge-watching a drama later,” Miyeon excitedly shared. “It’s the one about the virgin ghost who plays guitar in a high school band. Minnie’s getting snacks and stuff.”

“That sounds…” Absolutely terrible. Yuqi internally cringed at the show’s description. It reminded her of the kind of movies and tv shows that she and Minnie would sometimes make fun of when there was nothing else to watch. In fact… Yuqi could remember an episode they’d watched a few weeks ago of some god-awful drama. It had this really pale girl that almost looked like a ghost and she was in a love triangle with some guys in a high school… band…

Wait a second.

“The leads look so good so I’ve been meaning to watch it for a while,” Miyeon said as she did a few quick stretches from her spot on the bed. She let out a tiny yawn that she covered with her hand and then patted her face to force herself awake. “Do you want to join? It’ll be fun.”

“Wait… Virgin Ghost’s High School Band Remix? Is that the name of it?”

Miyeon perked up. “Yeah, yeah! That’s the one!”

“Minnie hates that show,” Yuqi announced with a chuckle. “We trash-talked it like crazy a couple weeks ago, it’s terrible.”

The smile slowly fell off of Miyeon’s face and she suddenly looked down at her fingers. “Oh…”

Yuqi was still laughing to herself, but she petered off once she noticed the other girl’s expression. Oh no. Why did it feel like this was her fault somehow?

“What? Haven’t you looked up the reviews?”

“No, but… Minnie said she hadn’t watched it yet, but she’d heard good things…”

“Ah…” So this was all Minnie’s fault then.

“Maybe she mixed it up with another drama, I guess,” Miyeon resolved with a much smaller smile.

“Yeah, maybe.”

A few moments of silence passed between them. And then Yuqi decided it was high time for her to make her exit out of there. She no longer felt as angry as she did before, but instead there was a kernel of some kind of… uncomfortable feeling settling in her stomach. She really didn’t like it.

“Well, have fun with your drama,” Yuqi said in a slight farewell, waving a hand behind her on the way out. She stepped back out of the room and started pulling the door closed behind her.

“Yeah—I’ll tell Minnie to talk to you when she gets back, okay?” Miyeon called out.

“Sounds good,” Yuqi replied and quickly shut the bedroom door closed.

She let out a breath she didn’t know she’d been holding. God, why was that so weird? Yuqi shook her head at herself and walked back into her own room, where she immediately turned on her speakers and proceeded to play her PopPopPop music playlist at a very robust volume. Usually if she did this when Minnie was home, the Thai girl would’ve already yelled at her to turn it down. As it was, Yuqi didn’t hear any complaints from Miyeon.

Yuqi threw herself down on her bed as she simultaneously fell into deep thought.

She didn’t really hear the music she was blasting and, curiously enough, she completely forgot about the phone that was somewhere in between her sheets.

Her mind just kept spiraling messily around the same core thoughts involving Miyeon, Minnie and their dorm situation over the last week or so. Now that she thought about it… this hadn’t been the first time Miyeon had stayed over. Yes, each of the other members in the other dorm had done it from time to time. Usually after a rowdy game night or a late schedule.

But Miyeon…

Miyeon had been staying over more frequently than Soojin and Shuhua for a while now. And especially in the last couple of days too.

Why was Yuqi only noticing this now?

 

--

 

Yuqi’s door was pushed open a few minutes later and a messy head of red hair peered in.

“Yo, what’s up?” Minnie asked, still donning the mask she’d been wearing to go to the store. The Thai girl took one look at Yuqi lying on her bed, then quickly changed her focus to the Bluetooth speaker on her desk. “Turn that racket off already, you moron.”

Yuqi didn’t move to fulfill her request, neither did she look away from her roommate. It was almost like it was the first time she was really seeing her.

Minnie quirked an eyebrow at her silence. Then she walked right into the room and slammed her hand down on the speaker’s power button without even looking at it. She’d had enough experience with Yuqi’s noisy music taste over the years.

“Miyeon said you wanted to talk to me about something?” Minnie took off her mask and leaned back against the desk as she regarded Yuqi. “You were like yelling or something.”

But Yuqi could barely even remember what had had her so puffed up before. Now all she could think about was the fact that she’d been missing something. There were strange things going down in her dorm, right under her very nose, and she’d had no idea. And Minnie was definitely in on it. Whatever ‘it’ was.

“Virgin’s Ghost High School Band Remix?” Yuqi suspiciously inquired.

And Minnie understandably had no idea what she was talking about. “What the hell? Did you just curse at me, you punk?”

Yuqi was unfazed by Minnie’s suddenly threatening figure. Yeah, so what if she was the tallest out of all of them and had hands the size of baseball clubs, hardened by years of piano playing, and could probably clobber her to death with the pinkie of her left hand? So what?

Yuqi had learned boxing and b-boying and how to handle wild zoo animals. She could take her on if worst came to worst.

So Yuqi sat up against her headboard and fixed her friend with her most challenging glare. And she made sure to clearly repeat every word, “Virgin Ghost High School Band Remix… That drama you’re going to watch with Miyeon? The one you told her you’d never seen before?”

Realization slowly dawned on Minnie’s face. She nervously glanced over at Yuqi’s bedroom door that she’d left open.

“You know what I’m talking about, don’t you?”

“Okay, okay,” Minnie hushed as she sprang to her feet. She lightly skipped over to the door and softly pushed it closed. Then she turned back to face Yuqi, a slightly guilty look on her face. “Okay, so… I may have lied.”

“Oh, I know you did,” Yuqi immediately confirmed.

Shhhh.”

“Why—”

Minnie rushed over to the bed, gesturing hurriedly for Yuqi to keep her voice down. “She’s in the kitchen.”

“Whyyyyyyy,” Yuqi annoyingly stretched out, starting from too loud and finally grading down to something kind of resembling a whisper. She rolled her eyes at Minnie’s grateful look. “Why,” she repeated, “did you lie to Miyeon? And, since we’re already on the subject, why is Miyeon here in our dorm? Like all the time?”

“Well… um…” Minnie nervously began. She carefully knelt down beside the bed, squeezing her hands into fists and releasing them over and over again as she thought. “You see…”

“And don’t you dare try to lie to me,” Yuqi warned, pointing a finger at her friend’s uneasy face. “I only noticed it today, but I know she’s been staying over for like the past week. What’s going on? Did Soojin and Shuhua kick her out or something?”

Minnie chuckled despite herself. “Come on now, Soojin couldn’t hurt a fly. And Shuhua’s so—”

“I’ve personally seen Shuhua punch a guy who got her food delivery wrong.”

“Wait—what? When?” Minnie asked, alarmed at the prospect of their youngest committing petty crime. “In the face?” Her voice cracked on the last syllable.

“Look, that’s not the point right now,” Yuqi pressed on. “Besides, Cube already took care of it.”

What?” Minnie yelped. “When did this happen—”

“Minnie, focus.”

The red-haired girl looked like she wanted to protest some more, but she forced herself to take a deep breath and calm herself down. Yuqi waited out the entire thing, impatient to get back to her very important line of questioning.

“You done?” She asked after a few seconds had passed.

Minnie nodded. “Yeah, you were saying?”

“Miyeon,” Yuqi deadpanned. “What’s up with Miyeon? And… should I be concerned?”

“Well… Nothing’s really… going on…”

“But?”

“But…” Minnie squinted her eyes closed for a few seconds. And then she let out a deep breath. “She’s just staying over to watch dramas and hang out,” the girl eventually said, looking all the world like she was sharing some much bigger secret. She reopened her eyes to meet Yuqi’s. “That’s all it is, I swear… I’m not lying to you.”

Yuqi creased her brows in suspicion. But no matter how much she stared at Minnie, the other girl refused to crack. It seemed like this was the truth? Then why did it feel so strangely incomplete?

“That’s it?”

“Yeah. You can ask Miyeon if you want and she’ll tell you the same thing.” Minnie’s eyes looked a bit sad as she said that, but that could very well just be her face. Sometimes the Thai girl looked incredibly tired or sad or moody and the only explanation was that it was a day that ended with ‘y’.

“And Soojin and Shuhua aren’t…?”

“No, they’re not bullying her out of the dorm,” Minnie confirmed with a chuckle. “You know how those two like to hang out by themselves. Sometimes—Miyeon just gets lonely sometimes.” Minnie shrugged with a gentle smile.

“And so she bugs you instead, huh?” Yuqi snorted, knowing full well how clingy Miyeon could get. Shuhua had gotten the worst of it over the years, but Minnie had shared a few stories with their fans about the eldest girl calling her at all hours of the night. Every time Yuqi had heard a story like that, she’d just been grateful that she and Miyeon’s friendship was more stress-free than that. They just hung out like normal people during the day, whether it be getting food together or whenever they were at work. They were two, normal, stress-free friends who didn’t have the pressure of having to deal with the other’s more needy habits.

It sounded like Minnie definitely didn’t have that luxury.

“Yeah… But, I mean… It’s not all that bad,” Minnie said, sitting back on her heels and playing with the ear loops of her mask in her hands. Her eyes dropped down to her lap. “I like hanging out with her…”

Minnie looked back up after a long stretch of silence only to see Yuqi staring at her like she’d suddenly grown a second head.

“She’s making you watch Virgin Ghost’s High School Band Remix,” Yuqi stressed, wondering what on earth had happened to her best friend. “Unironically. I think she honestly likes it.”

“I know…”

“And you’re okay with that?” Yuqi asked, her eyebrows raising almost to her hairline.

“Look, don’t—just don’t worry about it, okay?” Minnie suddenly got back to her feet, her eyes looking everywhere but at Yuqi. “She’s fine and I’m fine and no one’s bullying anyone, okay?”

“I’m just trying to—”

“And don’t make her feel bad for liking a stupid, dumb tv show,” Minnie warned, sounding so serious that it threw Yuqi off guard for a second.

Yuqi was puzzled. Why was Minnie acting so strange? Her curiosity made her want to find out more, but her pride made her hesitant to keep digging. Minnie was being super defensive right now and apparently that made her want to pretend like Yuqi was somehow in the wrong for being worried. She wasn’t.

And Yuqi was going to prove that to her. But not now. Later, when she had more evidence.

That’s right. All she needed was some evidence.

“Fine,” Yuqi acquiesced, folding her arms over her chest and refusing to look at her friend.

“Fine,” Minnie agreed as she made her way back over to the door. But she stopped right before leaving and glanced over at Yuqi one last time. “Hey, that thing you wanted to talk to me about…”

“It’s none of your business.”

Yuqi didn’t look back to see Minnie’s expression, but she heard the sigh that the girl let out. Then the door opened and she was gone.

But Yuqi was already thinking about other things—namely, how to prove that Minnie was wrong and she was right. Right about what? Well… she didn’t really know exactly, but she was going to find out!

 

--

 

The first person she talked to was Shuhua.

After their dance rehearsals the very next day, Yuqi managed to get the girl alone in a very natural, not-at-all suspicious way.

“Shuhua, I need to talk to you for a second,” she said, grabbing the younger girl’s arm before she could walk off with Soojin.

Shuhua stopped in her tracks and looked back at her, confused. “Can’t it wait till after lunch?”

“I’ll buy you lunch for a week if you help me.”

Shuhua’s eyes immediately lit up. “Call!” And then she turned to wave at Soojin who was waiting by the door. “Soojin-unnie, go on without me! I’ll get something later!”

Soojin quirked an eyebrow at the two of them, but nodded all the same. She turned and walked right out of the practice room without any further question. See? Yuqi was a pro at covert operations.

She dragged Shuhua over to sit by the mirrors, grabbing their water bottles along the way.

“What’s up?” Shuhua asked as they sat down.

Yuqi made sure to angle them so they were able to see the couches on the other side of the room through the mirror. Because that’s where Miyeon and Minnie were sitting. Snacking and chatting together as they cooled down. Miyeon was curled up on the couch, phone in hand, while Minnie was sitting on the low ottoman in front of her, elbows braced on her knees as she ate some weird chip thing.

Yuqi started off in the subtlest way she knew how. Blackmail. “Remember how you punched that delivery guy that one time and we promised to never talk about it again?”

Shuhua visibly gulped and avoided eye contact. “No…”

“Miyeon’s been sleeping over at the dorm lately,” Yuqi said in Mandarin, cutting right to the chase. She didn’t want to give the younger girl a chance to pretend like she didn’t understand her if they spoke in Korean. Also, this way Shuhua might feel safer revealing what really happened. “What did you do?”

“Me?” Shuhua’s eyes widened in shock. She’d switched languages though, so Yuqi knew she had her. It was only a matter of time.

“Well, Soojin wouldn’t hurt a fly and, as we’ve discussed with you and that delivery guy—”

“It wasn’t my fault!” Shuhua blurted out indignantly. “And it wasn’t just once—he got my order wrong five times! Five!” She emphatically declared, holding up five fingers to further prove her point. “He was warned and he didn’t listen!”

“Oh wow, Shuhua? What’s got you so heated?” Hyunjin, their dance teacher, suddenly asked from over by the windows. She’d been going over a few moves with Soyeon, but her attention was snatched away by Shuhua’s sudden outburst. She stepped playfully towards the two of them, brow arching almost menacingly. “Yuqi’s not bothering you, is she?”

And Yuqi knew that she had to tread very carefully now. The last thing she wanted to do was raise any suspicions that there was something wrong. And the next to last thing that she wanted to do was make anyone think that she was bothering Shuhua.

Shuhua was what some would call the ‘most precious person to ever exist’.

That was a direct quote, by the way. Some of the dancers that they worked with had said those exact words. And many other people in their staff and company thought the same thing—even some of their members too. Any slight against their youngest would put Yuqi in the doghouse so fast, she’d be public enemy #1.

Which meant that if Yuqi wasn’t careful, her undercover investigation could be over before it even began.

She nervously smiled at their approaching teacher. “Ah, Hyunjin-ssem… I wasn’t bothering her at all, don’t worry about it—”

“That true, Shushu?” Soyeon asked, suddenly appearing behind Yuqi out of nowhere. Her hands clamped down on Yuqi’s shoulders in warning, her claw-like nails nearly breaking skin.

Yuqi gulped. “Of course it’s true. Right Shuhua? T-tell them.”

She looked desperately over at the younger girl, trying to communicate her precarious situation through her eyes. But Shuhua was barely paying any attention to her. Hyunjin had started petting her head as she always did when she got too close to the younger girl. It was almost subconscious really. And Shuhua responded in kind, playfully avoiding at first and then giving into the affection with a pleased smile on her face.

And all the while, Soyeon’s claws dug deeper into Yuqi’s shoulders.

“Shuhua!” Yuqi said through gritted teeth. She switched back to Mandarin in a last-ditch effort to save her life. “Call them off and I’ll buy some toys for Haku and Mata.”

“Hmm…”

“And one of those puppy couple outfits you’re obsessed with.”

“Two toys, two outfits,” Shuhua smoothly bargained while the sharks continued to circle around Yuqi. “I get to choose which ones.”

“Ugh, fine!”

Shuhua smirked in victory and then turned her fake-innocent eyes towards Hyunjin and Soyeon. She put on that ridiculous pout that was meticulously engineered to melt the heart of every female who saw it. It was her most potent weapon. And Hyunjin and Soyeon were defenseless to her sudden attack.

“Oh, so cute!”

“Look at her face!”

“I’m fine, I’m fine,” Shuhua eventually declared, after the coos had died down. “I was just yelling because Yuqi was trying to be funny. As usual, it didn’t work.”

Yuqi pursed her lips to stop herself from responding. The things she had to put up with in the pursuit of truth and justice…

“I told you to leave the jokes to me, Yuqi-ah,” Soyeon teased, finally releasing her from her vicious grip. But she didn’t move away like Yuqi had hoped she would. Instead, their dear leader rested her head on top of Yuqi’s and continued on with her conversation with Hyunjin like nothing had happened. “That part still feels too fast though, I know Soojin was saying the same thing yesterday.”

“Yeah,” Hyunjin sighed, leaning up against the mirror so she could keep an idle hand in Shuhua’s hair. “Hana didn’t like it either. She’s workshopping some new gestures so we’ll ask her when she comes in later…”

So this was to be Yuqi’s fate. Trapped between two bloodthirsty sharks who were obviously just waiting for a chance to tear her a new one. The safe option would be to retreat for now, touch base with Shuhua later on when the coast was clear. But Yuqi’s pride refused to let her give up.

She’d already given up a week of lunches and some stupid puppy accessories. And Shuhua wasn’t even a good negotiator. This was all Yuqi’s fault. She had to try and get some intel at least to recover from this. But she’d have to be even more subtle than usual, if that was even possible.

Thankfully, Miyeon and Minnie hadn’t moved from their spots this entire time. So Yuqi still had that going for her.

“Maybe I came on too strong,” Yuqi started, once again switching to Mandarin. She kept her tone as gentle and unassuming as possible, mindful of Soyeon who was practically glued to her back. “Something’s up with Miyeon. I was wondering if you knew what it was.”

“Oh Miyeon?” Shuhua echoed in Korean, almost subconsciously. She turned to look in the mirror at their two members who were still on the couch.

Yuqi felt Soyeon stiffen above her, but the shorter girl kept on with her conversation nonetheless. Yuqi was somehow, somehow still in the clear. Luck must’ve really been on her side today.

“I didn’t notice anything,” Shuhua eventually said in Mandarin. “She’s the same to me.”

“But she hasn’t been sleeping in her own dorm…” Yuqi prodded.

“Oh. I guess that’s true.”

“What, you didn’t notice?”

“Um,” Shuhua suddenly looked away. “Well, I mean, we’ve been busy preparing for the comeback and everything…”

“You really didn’t notice,” Yuqi gasped. But then she tried to play it off as a cough when she felt Soyeon’s chin dig into her scalp. “What kind of a roommate are you? If Soyeon or Minnie didn’t come home one night, I’d know for sure. Which is why I immediately noticed when Miyeon started staying over.” Maybe ‘immediately’ was a bit of a stretch, but that was besides the point. “What if she’s sick or something? Minnie was right, you and Soojin are living in your own little world, aren’t you?”

Shuhua looked indignant as she stammered out a few attempts at a response. But finally she gave up, folded her arms across her chest and admitted, “Yes. Yes, we are. So what?”

Yuqi sighed and facepalmed herself so hard it actually hurt.

“Oh, our little Yuqi, are you okay?” Soyeon asked from above her. She tilted Yuqi’s face up so that the burgeoning red mark on her forehead could be examined. And then Soyeon kissed her own hand and pressed the ‘kiss’ to Yuqi’s face, like some kind of home remedy for stupidity. Yuqi almost wanted to try it out on Shuhua just on the off chance it actually did work.

“I’m fine,” Yuqi huffed, annoyed at everything and everyone. But mostly Shuhua. And Miyeon too.

And speak of the devil…

“Shuhua, your phone’s ringing,” Miyeon called from the couch. She was sitting on the edge of the cushion now, holding up said phone. “It’s Soojin.”

“Oh? Tell her—”

“She hung up.”

“Oh…”

Yuqi saw Minnie snicker into her hand, but then Miyeon smacked the redhead’s shoulder in disapproval. A sharp glare sent her way and Minnie held up her hands in surrender.

See? Minnie would never give in to Miyeon like that! She’d roll her eyes or tease her back or whine about how much excruciating pain she was in because of the older girl hitting her. She didn’t just… just give up—there was obviously something very, very wrong going on.

Maybe Miyeon was sick. Or maybe someone in her family was or maybe even a childhood pet or something. Did Miyeon even have any pets—

“Soojin sent a text,” the girl said after a few minutes. “She asked if the rice salad was okay… I think she’s buying you lunch?”

“Yes!” Shuhua excitedly chirped, hand shooting up unnecessarily into the air. Hyunjin and Soyeon paused in their conversation long enough to chuckle at her.

“Okay, she said she already bought it,” Miyeon reported with a smile. A series of dings announced more messages coming in to Shuhua’s phone. Miyeon read them over quickly. “She also says… um…” Her face suddenly turned a rosy shade of red and her eyes widened in apparent shock. “Well… I’ll let you read the rest—Minnie, no!”

Minnie had grabbed the phone out of Miyeon’s hands and stood up so it was out of her reach. Miyeon jumped to her feet, but instead of going for the phone, she just looked at Minnie. And she raised her eyebrows in challenge.

Soyeon and Hyunjin had completely given up on their conversation by now. But they weren’t bearing down on Minnie with the same intensity that they’d shown Yuqi before. They looked like two lionesses lying in wait, watching to see if their prey would make a wrong move. But they didn’t look too troubled at the thought that Minnie might read Soojin’s texts. Even though Yuqi knew that that was exactly the kind of thing that Minnie would do for fun.

But the thing that really confused her was that even Shuhua didn’t look concerned. The younger girl was drinking her water, barely paying attention to the ruckus across the room—

Okay, maybe Shuhua wasn’t the best indicator of normalcy.

Fine, if no one else would defend Shuhua’s honor—this looked like a job for the bravest among them. Yuqi got out from under Soyeon’s hold and pushed herself to her feet. “Yah Minnie, don’t—”

But the words had barely left her lips before she saw Minnie offering the phone back to Miyeon. Their eyes were still locked on each other, so Yuqi doubted the Thai girl had even heard her.

Miyeon didn’t take back the phone either. Instead, she subtly nodded over towards where Shuhua was sitting. And Minnie didn’t even hesitate. She turned and walked right over to where the rest of them were. And she gave Shuhua her phone.

“You got some texts, Shu,” she said with a smile.

Yuqi felt like her mind was going to explode. She stared at Minnie in shock and confusion. Who was this girl? Where was the fight? Where was the mischief?

Minnie caught sight of Yuqi’s incredulous look as she straightened up, but all she did was smile nervously back in response. And she walked right back over to the couches. She went right back to Miyeon.

What the hell was going on?

“Alright, how about we go over the first verse while we wait for Soojin?” Hyunjin suggested as she walked over to the center of the room. She clapped her hands loudly. “Come on, look lively! No time to waste!”

“But Ssem…” Shuhua whined, but Hyunjin only smiled back devilishly.

“Your pout only works on me once a day, Shu. Suck it up.”

Yuqi felt Soyeon nudging at her side, so she looked lifelessly over at their dear leader. Soyeon had an unexpected look of understanding on her face. “Smile for me, Yuqi-ah.”

Yuqi forced her lips up into something kind of smile-like.

She didn’t feel very happy at all.

 

--

 

The day after that, Soyeon practically dragged Yuqi into her studio with her.

The excuse she gave the Chinese girl as she woke her up at an ungodly hour was that she wanted to show her some producing stuff she might find useful. Yuqi didn’t have enough energy to complain, so she just silently followed along.

“I got a new sound pack the other day,” Soyeon announced as she fell down into her seat, shaking her mouse to wake up her computer. Yuqi sat on the couch behind her, staring off blankly into space. “It’s got fireballs and explosions and dragons and stuff. It’s so cool.”

“Mhmm,” Yuqi hummed, barely listening. But then the words slowly registered in her head and she snapped out of her daze. “What kind of song are you making that you need dragons?”

Soyeon shrugged. “You never know.” She opened up a couple new windows and turned to face Yuqi. “Wanna hear them?”

“… Sure.”

And so for the next few minutes, the quaint studio was filled with the sounds of roaring and explosions, layered and mixed in with some actual musical instruments. Which… which was so obviously just Soyeon goofing off to try and make Yuqi feel better. But it worked.

Yuqi was rolling around the couch—and even the floor—laughing so much her head started hurting.

“And this one I call: The waltz of the four-headed salamander,” Soyeon deadpanned before playing a clip of what sounded like a deeply distressed monkey. And then she turned to her piano keyboard and soulfully played an actual waltz to accompany it.

“What are you—” Yuqi gasped out in between peals of laughter. “You’re insane!”

“Music is music, Yuqi-ah,” she insisted. “Why don’t you sing a few bars for me?”

“S-shut up!” Yuqi yelled, smacking the back of Soyeon’s chair. It jostled her enough to break her concentration and Soyeon finally allowed herself to crack a smile. “You’re unbelievable, you know that? I can’t believe you actually bought that pack.”

“But it made you laugh, right?” Soyeon pointed out as she finally shut off the screeching monkey. She sat back in her chair, a pleased gummy smile on her face, and turned to face Yuqi. “My job here is done.”

Yuqi shook her head at her friend, but she couldn’t deny that her plan had worked. Yuqi felt so much better already. “Thanks.”

“Any time,” Soyeon nodded. She picked up a pen from her desk and spun it around her fingers as she regarded Yuqi on the couch. “So, what’s up? What’s got you feeling blue?”

Yuqi shrugged, suddenly feeling silly at how upset she’d gotten. “It’s nothing, I—”

Her phone suddenly dinged on the couch beside her and Soyeon’s phone buzzed on her desk at the same time. They’d gotten a group message.

Soyeon got to her phone first. “It’s from Miyeon,” she announced. “Is anyone at the company right now, smiley face, smiley face, smile face.”

“Of course,” Yuqi chuckled. “Tell her we’re here.”

“Hold on a second…” Soyeon held up a finger as she stared expectantly at her phone. Was she waiting for something?

“What is it?”

“Someone’s typing… Ok, Minnie responded,” she said. Yuqi felt her mood drop just a little when she heard that. “I’m going up to my studio now… Where are you, I’ll wait for you. And… that’s it.” Soyeon dropped her phone back into her lap, stretching out in her seat. “Minnie’s got her, she’ll be fine.”

Yuqi didn’t know why, but she felt… What even was this feeling? Why did the thought of Minnie and Miyeon hanging out make her so upset?

Was she jealous?

“Yuqi-ah, your face looks constipated. It’s not cute.”

“You’re not cute,” Yuqi huffed out reflexively, furrowing her brows even further. If she was jealous—it wouldn’t make sense for her to be jealous of someone who was probably sick, right? But maybe Miyeon wasn’t sick. Actually, she’d looked absolutely fine every time Yuqi had seen her this past week. In fact, she’d looked more than fine. She was smiling and laughing and almost always hanging out with Minnie. And Yuqi was…

She was so confused right now.

“Talk to me,” Soyeon insisted, stretching further so that she could poke at Yuqi’s shin with her toes. “Tell me, tell me, tell me,” she chanted in her annoying robot voice.

“I…” Yuqi took a deep breath, but no words came out. She didn’t know what to say. “I think… I think I need to talk to Minnie.”

“Hmm… okay.”

“I don’t know,” Yuqi sighed. “I had this whole plan worked out to find out what was going on, but now I think that it’s nothing to do with them, it’s just… I think this is my fault.”

She looked up at Soyeon to see what she thought but the leader had an eyebrow cocked—as if she was trying hard to decipher what Yuqi was talking about but couldn’t. “Okay…”

“Don’t worry about it,” Yuqi reassured her with a determined smile. “I’ll sort it out. Today, I promise. I don’t want this to stretch into comeback season.” She grabbed her phone and pushed herself up to her feet. “You just keep playing with your dragon music and I’ll let you know when I fixed it, alright?”

Soyeon blinked in confusion, but then chuckled in concession. “Whatever you say, Yuqi-ah. You do… whatever it is that you’re going to do.”

“I’m on it, boss!” Yuqi playfully saluted. And then, with one last wave, she slipped out the door.

 

--

 

Yuqi’s new plan was to head on over to Minnie’s studio.

She did not expect to run into Soojin in the hallway right outside said studio. The taller girl had just come from inside and was quietly closing the door shut behind her. She looked up when she heard Yuqi approaching.

And then Soojin’s eyes narrowed into a glare which set off all types of alarms in Yuqi’s head.

“Hi Soojin—”

“You need to stop bringing up that food delivery guy,” Soojin warned, her tone soft but serious.

“What? I didn’t—”

“And the next time you’re trying to mess with Shuhua, don’t make her think that one of her best friends is about to die. That was really mean.”

Yuqi lifted her hand to her chest as she tried to explain herself, “Okay, in my defense—”

“No, you have no defense,” Soojin cut her off. “Miyeon’s fine, she’s not dying. That’s what you wanted to know, right?”

Yuqi opened and closed her mouth several times, before slightly dropping her eyes and muttering an embarrassed, “Yes.”

“You could’ve just asked her.”

Yuqi sighed and nodded her head. “Yes. Yes, you’re right. I shouldn’t have—you’re absolutely right.”

“Good,” Soojin declared, finally letting go of the door handle and stepping away. “And the reason why she wasn’t staying in her room was because her mattress is out for cleaning. Mata peed on it.”

“Oh… That’s gross.” Yuqi scrunched up her face.

“And next week when her mattress comes back, Mata will pee on it again, so she’ll be staying at your dorm for a while,” Soojin said before nodding goodbye and walking off down the hallway.

It took Yuqi an embarrassingly long time to register what the other girl had said. Just as Soojin was about to turn the corner, Yuqi called out, “Hey, that doesn’t sound like an accident!”

Soojin glanced back at her with a sly smirk. “I never said it was.”

And then she was gone.

Oh.

Okay, then.

Yuqi felt a cold shiver run down her spine. She’d always thought that Soojin wouldn’t hurt a fly, but apparently she was capable of much more… sinister dealings. And gross too. That was really, really gross.

But now Yuqi was at a crossroads. She’d been saying for days now that all she wanted was to find out the truth. And Soojin had given her just that—without her even having to fight for it. Miyeon had been staying over because Soojin had sabotaged her bed. That’s all it was. No one was sick, no one was dying and all of this would be over in a few weeks or so. Or whenever Soojin decided she wanted to stop.

So Yuqi didn’t need to worry anymore.

But still, she reached for the door handle. Still, she typed in the passcode to Minnie’s studio. And she went in.

Because it was never about Miyeon in the first place. That was just the excuse she’d come up with to justify her poking into her best friend’s business. Because Yuqi was jealous—childishly and stubbornly so. This was always between Yuqi and Minnie. And it was high time she put an end to it.

Yuqi pushed open Minnie’s door, but she didn’t see Minnie. Not at first, anyways. The very first person she saw in the room was Miyeon who was sitting on the couch, her legs resting on the chair where Minnie would normally be sitting.

“Oh, Yuqi,” Miyeon greeted softly with a smile. “Hi, I didn’t know you were here too.”

Yuqi felt a very strong case of déjà vu, but she tried to ignore it. Her eyes soon caught sight of the other person in the room though. It turned out Minnie was here after all. But she was lying down on the couch, her head resting comfortably in Miyeon’s lap. And she was fast asleep.

“Did you want to talk to Minnie?” Miyeon whispered with another ‘concerned furrow’. “Do you think it can wait? She hasn’t been getting much sleep lately.”

As she spoke, Miyeon’s hand stroked Minnie’s face and hair. In a very, very soft and caring fashion.

The Yuqi of yesterday or even an hour ago would’ve been confused and upset to see them like that. But the Yuqi of right now knew exactly why she’d been getting so messed up over this. And sure, she’d wanted to talk to Minnie first, but maybe that’s not what she needed to do.

It definitely felt like that’s what the universe was telling her.

So, with a deep breath, Yuqi walked further into the room. And she nervously regarded Miyeon for a few moments. The girl looked justifiably confused, but she allowed Yuqi the time and space she needed to get her thoughts together.

“Minnie lied to you,” Yuqi solemnly declared. Seeing Miyeon’s shocked expression, she continued, “She hates Virgin Ghost’s High School Band Remix. Like… really hates it. A lot.”

Miyeon didn’t immediately respond, but her lips curled up into a smile. And she let out a small chuckle. “I know,” she eventually admitted.

“And when you were telling me how excited she was to watch it, all I could think about was how much you didn’t really know her,” Yuqi revealed. “If she had to lie to you, then she doesn’t trust you. That’s what I thought. Not like how… not like how she trusts me.”

Miyeon pursed her lips and lowered her eyes.

But Yuqi didn’t want to make her feel bad, she just wanted to explain herself. So she added, “But now I know that I was only thinking like that because… because Minnie’s my best friend. Ever since I came to Korea, she’s been like my rock. We tell each other everything and…” Yuqi took a deep breath. “I was scared that you were going to change that.”

Miyeon stopped stroking Minnie’s hair and stared down at the girl’s sleeping face for a long moment. Yuqi followed her gaze and regarded the girl who they both cared so deeply about.

“I don’t want to ruin you guys’ friendship,” Miyeon murmured.

“I know that,” Yuqi admitted. “I know that now. I was just being stupid and jealous and—I know you wouldn’t do that, Miyeon.” But Yuqi knew she needed to do something more than just apologize though. She’s been a terrible friend over the last few days and she needed to fix that. So, as a gesture of a good faith, Yuqi smiled and said, “And I think the two of you make a really good couple.”

Miyeon suddenly froze in her seat. Her eyes shot up to meet Yuqi’s and her jaw went slack. After a few seconds stuck like that, Yuqi was beginning to suspect that she may have messed up—

“W-we—we’re not—um,” Miyeon stuttered out, her face turning almost brick red.

Yuqi’s eyes widened in horror. “Oh! Oh my god—I thought because you were staying over and—oh my god! I’m so sorry!”

“No, it’s fine, it’s fine,” Miyeon shook her head rapidly, her hair falling down to cover her blushing face. “Um, let’s just—let’s just forget about it.”

“Sure! Yep, let’s just forget the whole thing and I will… Actually, I just remembered that I have to meet up with Soyeon for, um, a song producing… thing. I h-have to, just—I’ll see you later?” Yuqi rushed out, backpedaling as fast as she could to try and escape this terrible situation. Who cared if she wasn’t being subtle? She had to leave. Now.  

Her hand reached back for the door handle and it took her a few tries, but she eventually managed to wrench it open. She was almost home free when Miyeon called out, “I’ll, uh, I’ll tell Minnie to call you when—when she wakes up?”

“Yeah, sure, you don’t really need to, but it’s fine. Yeah, so later?”

Miyeon stiffly nodded. “Later—”

Yuqi quickly slipped out and closed the door shut.

She closed her eyes and took a deep, shuddering breath.

“Oh my god, Minnie’s going to kill me.”

 

--

 

Yuqi’s death didn’t come until later that night.

She was lying on her bed in her room, listening to her PopPopPop music playlist on full blast on her speakers. The combination of the deafening music and the mindless scrolling on her social media had erased all thoughts from her head.

So Yuqi wasn’t at all prepared when her door suddenly flew open and Kim Minnie appeared in her doorway, all red hair and red eyes and breathing red, hot fire—

Actually, the Thai girl just looked kind of tired.

She cocked an eyebrow at a wide-eyed Yuqi before carefully closing the door behind her. Then she walked over to the speakers and wordlessly shut them off.

Yuqi gulped, sitting up on her bed. “H-hey friend. What’s up?”

“So… I had a very interesting conversation with Miyeon today,” Minnie began. She walked over to the bed and sat down within punching distance of Yuqi. Not that she looked like she was going to punch her or anything. It was just something Yuqi noticed—how close she was sitting.

“Sounds… interesting.”

“It was,” Minnie agreed, a fake smile plastered on her face. “Any guesses what we talked about?”

Yuqi screwed up her face in pretend thought, then shrugged to complete the act. “Oh, I don’t know. Maybe that drama you guys were talking about—what was it again? Virgin Zombie something—”

“Virgin Ghost’s High School Band Remix,” Minnie supplied. “But, no. You were close though.” And then she suddenly scurried across the bed, making Yuqi tense reflexively in fear that her time had finally come. But Minnie didn’t beat her up. Instead, the Thai girl simply moved to sit beside her. So now they were pressed shoulder-to-shoulder and Yuqi felt the fear of God running through her veins. Minnie cleared her throat, “Ah, okay, where was I? Oh yeah… Miyeon confessed to me.”

Yuqi almost choked on her spit. “No way! Seriously?”

“Yep…” Minnie trailed off, her eyes suddenly dropping down to look at her fidgeting fingers. “She told me, uh… that she likes me... Like, in that way, you know.”

Yuqi felt hope bloom in her chest. Maybe this wasn’t the moment that she’d meet her maker after all. Maybe her earlier faux pas was just the push that Miyeon had needed to come clean with her feelings. Maybe Minnie would look back on this moment years from now and rhapsodize about how lucky she was to have a best friend who’d helped her get together with the love of her life—

“But I’m in love with Soojin,” Minnie admitted.

And Yuqi reacted. Violently.

“WHAT?!” She yelled, slapping Minnie so hard on her arm she knew she’d leave a mark. But she didn’t stop there. She kept hitting Minnie over and over again, suddenly forgetting her previous fear of the bigger girl. “You can’t honestly be serious! The way you were looking at Miyeon—and you let her sleep in your bed?! You guys slept together and you were flirting and cuddling and shit and suddenly! Soojin?!”

Somewhere underneath Yuqi’s fearsome assault, the sound of snickering could be heard. But Yuqi was too angry to notice.

“And do you honestly think you have a chance with Soojin? Haven’t you seen the way she and Shuhua act? Do you hate yourself or something—yah, why are you laughing?”

Yuqi rolled Minnie over onto her back only to see that the girl was laughing so hard she was actually crying. Her eyes were squinted up in glee and she was starting to hiccup on every other breath in.

And it was in that moment that Yuqi realized she’d been pranked.

“You piece of—you were lying, weren’t you?” She smacked Minnie’s arm one last time for good measure.

“I can’t—I can’t believe you actually thought—” Minnie was struggling to speak in between her raucous laughter. “Me and Soojin?”

Yuqi pouted in indignation, but soon felt herself succumb to her friend’s teasing. She let out a chuckle once she started thinking about it too. “Yeah, that wasn’t even a good joke.”

“But I got you so good,” Minnie pointed out as she pushed herself back up into a sitting position. She nudged Yuqi playfully with her shoulder. “Admit it. I got you, didn’t I?”

Yuqi rolled her eyes, but conceded. “Whatever.”

Minnie sighed out in clear happiness, then slung an arm around Yuqi’s shoulders. She pulled the shorter girl in for a firm side-hug. “Aren’t you glad you have a best friend like me? Seriously, what would you do without me?”

Yuqi’s smile faltered a bit as she remembered her last conversation with Miyeon.

“Hey, I don’t know what Miyeon told you, but—”

“Don’t worry about it,” Minnie shrugged. “Water under the bridge and all that. As long as you stop hating on my girlfriend, we’re cool, okay?”

Yuqi automatically nodded. “Yeah, we’re cool—” And then she froze. She slowly turned to face Minnie and slowly repeated, “Your girlfriend?”

“Yeah,” Minnie nodded, looking slightly nervous. “Miyeon and I are dating now. The confession thing was real.”

Yuqi raised her brows. “Oh really?”

“Yeah…”

“Well, in that case—” Yuqi suddenly jumped up on her bed, pushing Minnie over as she went. And she grabbed a couple of her pillows and smacked the ever-living shit out of her best friend. “Minnie has a girlfriend! Minnie has a girlfriend! Minnie has a girlfriend!”

“Stop yelling, you moron! She’s in the living room!”

“Minnie and Miyeon sitting in a tree, K-I-S-S-I-N—ah!”

Minnie suddenly turned around and yanked Yuqi face-first into her mattress. “I’m going to kill you!”

“Ha! As if Miyeon would ever date a murderer, you stupid idiot—”

“Hey guys,” a soft voice suddenly interrupted them. Minnie and Yuqi looked over to the door to see that Miyeon was standing there, smiling tentatively at the chaos she’d walked in on. “The drama’s about to start, can you keep it down a little?”

“Oh, which drama—” Yuqi tried to ask, but Minnie slapped a hand over her mouth.

“Yeah, sure thing,” Minnie rushed out, smiling over at her girlfriend. “I’ll be out there in a bit, okay?”

“Don’t worry, take your time,” Miyeon insisted. And then she waved at the two of them and softly closed the door.

Minnie finally released Yuqi a few seconds later and laid down on the bed in exhaustion. She took a few deep breaths in and then slowly blew them out. Yuqi mirrored her position and joined in on her strange breathing exercise for a bit.

Once the two of them were calmed down, Minnie spoke up to the ceiling.

“Before you ask, yes, we’re watching Virgin Ghost’s High School Band Remix. No, it hasn’t gotten any better.”

Yuqi snorted in laughter, but decided not to tease her friend any further. “At least the leads look good.”

“Hmm, they’re okay,” Minnie shrugged. “Miyeon looks better.”

Yuqi scoffed. “Okay, Casanova.”

“Also, this isn’t me trying to get out of watching the drama, but… I thought we could catch up, you know? We haven’t really talked the last couple of days.”

“Oh. I guess.”

“Don’t you dare make this awkward, Song Yuqi. Just because I got a girlfriend doesn’t mean I suddenly suck at being a best friend. I am the best best friend. Ever,” Minnie declared. And then she playfully poked Yuqi in the side until she giggled at her terrible joke. “Now spill the beans and I mean all of them.”

Yuqi smiled to herself, happier than she would ever admit. She settled down in her bed and allowed herself to finally relax. And then she immediately started talking smack.

“Okay, okay. So there was this stupid comment on Instagram the other day—”

“Ugh, when is there never a stupid comment on Instagram?” Minnie echoed sympathetically.

“I know, right? Anyway…”

Turns out she had nothing to worry about after all.