Take it slow.
That had been Sana's advice.
It had seemed easy enough to follow, she was just going to start with something simple. Something like leaning up closer to her or maybe, if she's feeling brave enough, actually putting an arm around her. And it should be easy, like Nayeon and Sana had kept mentioning over the days following their talk, this was something she'd done with Mina a thousand times before.
They'd even roped in Momo the other day to watch YouTube compilations that their fans had made of her and Mina being overly affectionate with each other, which might have been impressive if it hadn't been so ridiculously embarrassing.
But the fact remained that the evidence had been presented clear as day for her to see. There were several Vlives where the two of them, or JeongMi as the fans called it, looked more like a couple than even Sana and Dahyun.
And that was saying something.
So really there should be no pressure… So why on earth is her heart pounding so hard?
She casts another anxious glance at the door. Mina had disappeared to get some snacks from the kitchen before they started the movie, the first one they'd had the chance to watch since her talk with Nayeon and Sana almost a week ago.
And her heart only starts racing faster when she hears a familiarly gentle set of footsteps shuffling back into the room.
"Jeongyeon-unnie," Mina calls in a soft sing-song voice, "hope you're hungry!"
She looks up quickly, lips already cracking into a small smile. "I'm always hungry, you know that."
"Better than most." The girl answers, "which is why I went out and found… these."
With that, Mina pulls her hands out from behind her back to reveal two large bags of chips, the label printed on the front in big English letters being familiar enough that she can just barely place it.
"Wait." She says, eyes slowly widening in recognition, "are those…"
"The salt and vinegar chips we had in Switzerland? Yup."
"Oh my god! Where did you get these? I thought we ate all the ones we bought like a week after we got back!"
“We did.” Mina’s smile grows into a full on grin. “But this morning Momo and I were walking home and we found this store a few blocks away that sells a bunch of foreign snacks.”
“And Momo didn’t just eat them all immediately?”
“She did… we actually bought four bags but she ate the other two on the way back. I actually had to fight her off to keep her away from these. She almost bit me.”
“What? Mina you didn’t have to do that. If she wanted them that much you could’ve just…”
“No way!” Mina fires back, voice carrying an unusual amount of intensity for the normally soft-spoken girl, “one whole bag was already way too much for her to eat on her own, not to mention two! And besides…”
The girl trails off all of a sudden, eyes shyly darting down to the side as she slides onto the bed next to her.
“Besides?” Jeongyeon offers slowly.
“Um, I uh… kind of remembered how much you liked them so uh… yeah.”
That's pretty much enough to wipe any remaining thoughts from Jeongyeon's head as Mina's words slowly sink in. Because just the simple fact that she'd remembered such an obscure fact from a trip they'd taken so long ago, and what's more facing down Momo's wrath for her… is so touching and sweet and just… so Mina.
But at some point while she starts stuttering her way through a thank you, it finally occurs to her that this would be the perfect time to make some kind of move. And it would be so easy too, just pass it off as affection for Mina's kind gesture, and her compulsion only amplifies as she sees how Mina is still bashfully fiddling with the corner of the chip bag.
My god how can someone be so cute?
The sight alone is almost enough to keep her frozen to the spot. Because there's a part of her that's a little unwilling to tear her eyes away. But she's pretty sure she's never going to live it down to Nayeon and Sana if she has to report to them that she'd failed yet again to make something happen.
And so, with her heart pounding in her chest and face heating up to a ridiculous level, she slowly lifts her arm, absentmindedly noticing how hard her hands are shaking as some distant part of her mind registers how amazing Mina’s perfume smells right now.
Time practically slows to a stop as she finally wraps her arm around the girl’s delicate shoulders, a smile spreading on her lips practically on its own as she leans in close with a quiet, “thank you Mina,” whispered into the girl’s ear.
Mina looks up quickly, eyes widening slightly in surprise and instantly setting off alarm bells in Jeongyeon’s head. Because despite the brief moment of bravery that must have been spurred on by the spirit of Sana forcefully possessing her body, she’s now back to her normal self, self-conscious to a fault and questioning every aspect of every single decision she’d made in the past few minutes.
“Sorry!” She says quickly, already starting to pull her arm back, “I forgot that you never really felt comfortable about this whole ‘skinship’ thing. I shouldn’t have…”
“Jeongyeon-unnie.” Mina cuts in, reaching up to catch her wrist before she can fully retract her arm, “I might have been a little shy about… that stuff, in the beginning. But don’t you think we’re pretty far past that point now?”
"Um, sure but…"
"I mean it's not like we haven't done anything like this before right?"
“Well no, but… I mean, I just didn't want to assume..."
Mina's expression softens. "You're not assuming anything unnie, you don't have to be so nervous around me. I trust you."
And with that, Mina guides Jeongyeon's arm back around her shoulders, looking up with a smile at the dumbstruck look on the older girl's face before snuggling into her shoulder.
"This isn't too much for you is it?" She teases.
"N-no… no this is… this is good. It's great."
"Great! So should we start the movie?"
Jeongyeon gives a shaky nod in response before reaching forward with her free hand to find the right movie amongst Mina's extensive library. But with over half her brain power taken up with freaking out over everything that had just happened, she finds it harder than normal to remember exactly what they were supposed to be watching today.
And then it only gets worse a second later, when she vaguely recognizes the sound of the bag being opened and the next thing she knows, there's a potato chip being held just inches in front of her lips.
She turns in surprise, finding Mina looking up at her, eyes stretched wide with this adorably expectant look that has her rapidly beating heart stopping completely.
"Uh what…" she stammers, "Mina?"
"Didn't you want one?" Mina asks innocently.
"Well yeah, but I…"
She trails off as Mina pushes the chip just a little bit closer, adding in a slight tilt of her head for good measure.
Her eyes dart from the chip, resting between Mina's delicate fingers, to her own hand, frozen on the screen of the iPad, and then back to the girl's wide eyes, still patiently waiting as the gears explode in Jeongyeon's head.
She doesn't even know how long it takes for her to finally unfreeze herself, or what it is that really does it, but she suspects that it probably has something to do with the overwhelming heat in her cheeks. And she leans in slowly, because she doesn't know what else she can really do, and gently catches the chip between her lips, doing her absolute best to not stain Mina's fingers with the lipstick she had been too distracted to remove after their day of schedules.
But as she's pulling back, savoring in the strangely addicting taste of vinegar, she still notices a few red smudges on the girl's hands.
And she's just starting to debate saying something, only for her heart to stop again as Mina slowly brings her hand back up to her own lips and seemingly without any thought to what it's doing to the older girl, starts one by one licking the salt off of her fingers.
Jeongyeon is pretty sure she could faint right there.
"Good night unnie."
“Good night Mina.” Jeongyeon answers quietly, “sweet dreams.”
She has to fight the urge to press a kiss to the girl’s forehead as she carefully slides off the bed and heads for the door.
They had just finished watching their second movie of the night, the third in the Iron Man series, and while they had a rare day off for the weekend tomorrow, Mina had been far too exhausted from all their schedules the past couple of weeks to watch another one and decided to go to bed early.
But for Jeongyeon, who’s heart still hasn’t quite gotten the message to calm down whatsoever, going to sleep right now feels like a distant possibility at best.
And really, she can’t think of a person on this planet that wouldn’t be buzzing the way she is right now, fresh off a night of finally cuddling with a beautiful girl that she’s absolutely crazy about. And that’s saying something for someone like her, who’s experienced performing live on stage for thousands of people more times than she can count.
So knowing that there’s no way she’s getting sleep any time soon, she slowly closes the door behind her, heading out to find Nayeon, Momo, or Sana, eager to report her progress.
But when she steps into the living room, she finds it surprisingly empty, with only Tzuyu and Chaeyoung pressed close together in the corner of the couch and a half-forgotten drama playing on the TV.
“Hey Tzuyu, hey Chaeng.” She answers, “where is everyone?”
“Oh, they went out for dinner a while ago. Actually, I’m surprised they’re not back yet.”
She lets out a contemplative hum. “Nayeon must have convinced them to drink with her. Which means they probably won’t be back for a while. Oh well, it can wait until tomorrow.”
Tzuyu tilts her head to the side, pausing to share a quick look with Chaeyoung before turning back. “What’s up with you unnie?”
“What? What do you mean?”
“Well, I mean usually if Nayeon-unnie were to go out to drink without you we’d be hearing about what kind of elaborate torture you’d be planning for her tomorrow.”
“That…” she trails off with a light chuckle, “that is not true!”
Chaeyoung raises an eyebrow. “Unnie, last time this happened you poured hot sauce in her coffee.”
Jeongyeon lets out a satisfied cackle at the hilarious memory. “Oh man, that was a good one.”
“So what’s going on?” Tzuyu repeats, “I don’t think I’ve ever seen you so happy before.”
“You’re literally like beaming unnie.” Chaeyoung cuts in. “Come on just talk to us.”
And with their two youngest members flashing puppy eyes like this, she pretty much had no chance of ever saying no to begin with.
So she breathes out a resigned sigh before letting Tzuyu drag her back to the couch.
"So…" Tzuyu gently prods.
"What… what do you want me to say?"
"Just whatever's on your mind that you need to get out."
"Yeah." Chaeyoung nods, "I mean I know you usually talk to Nayeon-unnie or Jihyo-unnie about this kind of stuff but… but we're here to talk if you want."
And hearing those words coming from one of their youngest members, tinged with the slightest hint of insecurity that somehow her unwillingness to talk is their fault as opposed to the reality of her own childish behavior, has the last of her resolve crumbling down completely.
"No!" She blurts out quickly, "I love talking to you guys! I mean you two are like… I just haven't been really sure how to… I mean…"
She's cut off by Tzuyu with a firm squeeze of the hand. "Take it slow unnie, there's nothing to be nervous about here."
She finds herself letting out an amused huff at how perfectly Tzuyu had echoed Sana's advice, but it also has the surprising effect of easing away some more of the tension in her mind.
"Okay." Jeongyeon breathes, "you're right. I'm sorry, I just get kind of… self conscious I guess."
"And that's okay." Chaeyoung says quickly, "these things are hard."
She feels her eyebrows furrowing. "These… things?"
She hears it more than sees it, Tzuyu slapping Chaeyoung on the arm, and she only barely looks up in time to catch the panicked realization that spreads on the shorter girl's face.
"Uh, I mean…" Chaeyoung sputters.
"Oh my god," she groans, "Sana really wasn’t kidding when she said everyone knew, was she?"
Tzuyu shares a sheepish look with Chaeyoung. "Well," The girl says, “you aren’t exactly the most subtle about your feelings unnie…”
“Jesus christ.” Jeongyeon murmurs into her hands.
“Look it’s not important that everyone knows.” Chaeyoung follows quickly, “I mean it’s not like any of us disapprove or anything. Quite the opposite in fact.”
She looks up, deciding that wallowing in her embarrassment can wait at least another minute. “Really?”
“You two are perfect for each other unnie.” Tzuyu says with a smile, "there's not really anything else we can say. The rest is up to you."
And she knows that's Tzuyu's way of giving her a subtle nudge to get talking. And somewhere in the back of her head she's wondering to herself why these kinds of heart to hearts have become so common recently, but in the end she knows the answer to that question as well as any of them.
"Well, it's Mina." She says finally, "I mean I'm guessing you know that we've been watching a lot of movies recently."
"Movies that you hate." Tzuyu cuts in.
"Wha- why does everyone keep fixing on that?"
"Well I… nevermind, we can get to that later."
"Get to what later?"
"Nothing. Just, keep going."
"Okay," she says slowly, "well I mean it's been going pretty well, okay, I'll admit I haven't been a huge fan of the movies, but I don't know, just getting to spend time with Mina like this…"
She trails off again as she notices the dreamy look in Tzuyu's eyes, and it really only gets worse when she turns to her left to see Chaeyoung failing to bite back a beaming smile.
"What?" She asks suspiciously.
Chaeyoung is quick to answer. "Nothing, please go on."
"Why the hell are you two looking at me like that?"
"It's just…" Tzuyu answers, "well we don't really get to see this side of you very often. It's… cute."
"This was a mistake," Jeongyeon huffs, already rising to her feet as a blush starts to creep into her cheeks.
"No wait! Please don't go!"
"We promise we'll behave!" Chaeyoung adds.
And now there are two sets of puppy dog eyes looking up at her, which leaves her with no real options other than flopping back down on the couch with a frustrated huff.
"So…" Tzuyu prods carefully. "Movies?"
"Right." Jeongyeon says, taking in a deep breath to set herself back on track. "Well I guess it's not really much of a secret that I've… liked Mina for a while now. And really I never planned on doing anything about it until recently."
"So what changed?"
"Honestly? It was you guys."
The two girls share a surprised look. "Us?"
"All of you really." She clarifies. "I mean there used to be like a million things I was scared could go wrong if I ever told Mina how I felt. But lately, seeing how great you two are together, and how happy Sana is with Dahyun, or Momo with Nayeon, I don't know, all of that stuff I was worried about just didn’t seem so scary anymore."
Out of the corner of her eye she sees Chaeyoung pressing her lips together in a futile attempt at containing the smile that’s once again spreading on her face.
“That’s really sweet unnie.” Tzuyu says, sporting an equally heartfelt smile, “so does that mean you finally decided to make a move?”
At that Jeongyeon actually has to fight back the tugging at the corner of her lips. “Yeah,” she breathes, “I was actually coming out here because I was going to tell Nayeon or Sana or something.”
“Wait,” Chaeyoung says, “do you mean you wanted to tell someone that you decided to make a move or that you actually made a move?”
"The uh… second one…" she mumbles awkwardly.
"Wait what?" Chaeyoung shouts, "you actually made a move?"
Jeongyeon's eyes instantly go wide. "Keep it down!" She hisses, "she's still in the dorm you know!"
"Sorry sorry… just, tell us what happened!"
"Well," she says with a quick look towards the bedrooms, "we were watching movies…"
And before she knows it, she's spilling everything. Again. All the way from Sana helping her realize that somewhere along the way she’d actually fallen in love, down to Mina feeding her a chip and licking the salt off her fingers. And by the time she's done, the three of them are left on the couch in a sort of stunned silence, with Jeongyeon growing more nervous with every passing second.
"Wow." Tzuyu says, finally breaking through the horribly uncomfortable tension in the air and allowing her to let out the breath she'd been holding. "Who would've thought Mina-unnie would be so bold?"
“Especially compared to me.” She huffs. “I mean it’s taken me literal years just to get to this point.”
“Don’t feel bad unnie, there’s no shame in taking it slow.”
She gives the girl an appreciative smile before Chaeyoung pipes up again.
"So, what happened next?" the girl asks.
Jeongyeon scrunches her eyebrows. "What do you mean? We watched the movie and then when we were done she said she was getting tired so I came out here and…"
"Are you kidding me?"
She feels her eyes stretch wide in shock at the younger girl's outburst. "Wha-what?"
"So you're telling me," Chaeyoung continues, "that Mina-unnie, the girl you’re in love with, went through all this trouble of buying a bag of Swiss potato chips…"
"-there were two."
"-almost getting bitten by Momo-unnie in the process, and then she puts on this licky… seductive display, which by the way is a huge thing for someone like her to do, and all you could manage was putting your arm around her?"
"Well… what was I supposed to…"
She's cut off by the frustrated groan that escapes from Chaeyoung's mouth as the girl falls back into the couch.
"I think what she's getting at," Tzuyu offers carefully, "is that it kind of sounds like Mina-unnie wanted you to kiss her."
Her mind goes blank in less than a second.
"I… you… what?" Jeongyeon stammers.
"Well I mean all that stuff about how you don't need to be nervous around her and that she trusts you, and then all the licking and…"
"No not 'all the licking', " she interrupts quickly, "it was just a normal 'oh there's salt on my fingers I better clean it off' type of thing. It's not like she was trying to…"
"Mina-unnie doesn't do things like that by accident unnie. She's very deliberate with her actions. Especially when it comes to you."
"Well okay, I don’t really know about that but…"
"No buts!" Chaeyoung cuts in, "she was giving you like a million signs! I’ve literally never heard of a more perfect ‘kiss the girl’ moment! How on earth could you not just go for it right there?"
"Well maybe because…" she trails off, shyly looking off to the side.
"Well I mean… I guess it's probably because I've… never really…"
She cringes slightly as the two younger girls stretch their eyes wide in shock.
"You've never kissed anyone before?" Tzuyu asks slowly.
All she can really manage in response is a slight shake of her head.
"What? How is that possible?" Chaeyoung asks, "unnie you're so…"
"I know, I know!" Jeongyeon interrupts, "I'm way too old to be having these kinds of problems. I mean these are the issues you'd normally expect out of a freaking middle schooler or something. I don't know why, I guess it's just…"
"Actually…" Chaeyoung cuts in sheepishly, "I was going to say pretty."
"Pretty? As in, cute? Beautiful? Drop dead gorgeous? Hell, you're literally making the top ten idols in the country like every year, how has no one ever tried to kiss you?"
"Well it's not that nobody's tried…" she answers, her face feeling like it's practically on fire at this point. "I've just never really let them."
She sneaks a glance up at their faces and finds, to her surprise, Tzuyu watching her with a confused look.
"Didn't you and Sana-unnie kiss when we were all still…"
"-that does not count!"
"But I thought it was on the lips?"
"Doesn't matter." Jeongyeon says firmly, "Sana was not my freaking first kiss."
"Didn't you guys kiss again when we were filming the MV for What is Love? " Chaeyoung asks cheekily, "are you sure you don't actually have feelings for Sana-unnie? Because if you did I'm sure Dahyun would be more than willing to…"
"Don't you dare finish that sentence."
"Alright alright." Tzuyu cuts in as her girlfriend collapses into another fit of laughter, "the point is, I think it's pretty clear that Mina-unnie wanted you to kiss her."
"Well just because you say that doesn't mean…"
"I'm not saying you should just take our word for it and run into her room right now or anything, just… maybe next time you should keep an eye out.”
“Keep my eye out for what?”
“Well… nothing in particular,” the maknae answers, “I guess what I’m really saying is keep an open mind. Don’t shut yourself off to the possibility that Mina-unnie could really like you. And if there’s ever a moment where it feels like maybe you should go for it, whether it’s a kiss or confessing your feelings, or… anything, don’t hesitate. Trust your instincts unnie.”
“You’ve become such a wise Jedi master.” She says, because it’s kind of impossible to resist cracking a Yoda joke when Tzuyu sets her up so perfectly.
But the girl doesn’t seem to appreciate it as much, as evidenced by the way Tzuyu’s lips almost immediately flip into an adorable pout. “Yahh!” The girl whines, “I’m trying to be serious here!”
“Okay, you’re right.” She replies, “and I really appreciate you guys helping me like this. Next time we’re watching movies, I promise I’ll…”
“Wait.” Chaeyoung cuts in, “you’re going to stick to watching Marvel movies with her?”
Tzuyu shares another look with Chaeyoung, exchanging a quick nod that she doesn’t quite understand.
“Um,” Tzuyu says slowly, “maybe this is a good time to talk about the whole movie thing.”
She can’t help feeling a little concerned over the sudden shift in tone, and she looks between the two youngest members with a bit of trepidation.
“Is something wrong?” she asks nervously.
“Well, not… necessarily.”
“It’s just…” Chaeyoung follows, “we were a little worried about whether or not lying to Mina like this is really the best idea.”
“Well, yeah.” Tzuyu responds, “I mean she has no idea that you actually hate the movies you guys have been watching for the past few weeks.”
“Yeah but, that’s not the same as…”
“And Mina-unnie really hates getting lied to.” Chaeyoung cuts in.
That’s finally enough to shock her into silence. Because Chaeyoung is absolutely right. How could she have forgotten how much Mina hated when the members lied to each other? Even when it was for nice things like when they’d surprised Dahyun at her graduation, they’d had to go to almost ridiculous lengths to convince Mina to go along with it.
“Oh my god,” she groans, starting to feel the panic bubbling up inside her, “Mina’s going to lose it! What do I do?”
“Maybe just be honest with her now? I mean it’s still pretty early on right?”
“Tzuyu. We’ve already watched like nine movies. And that’s a freaking commitment with schedules like ours. No, there’s no way. I just… won’t ever tell Mina that I don’t like them.”
The maknae narrows her eyes, shooting a quick glance over at Chaeyoung before responding. “I… don’t really think that’s a good idea unnie.”
“No it’s perfect. I mean how hard could it be? I’ve already watched nine of them, surely the next dozen or so can’t be any worse.”
“Well sure…” Tzuyu says slowly, “but honestly it doesn’t really seem like they’re going to stop making them any time soon. And you’re also kind of forgetting something pretty important.”
“Well, put simply, Mina-unnie kind of really loves the Avengers series.”
“Yeah,” Chaeyoung says, “I mean, that girl watches Avengers like, all the time. It’s her go-to whenever she has free time, whenever she’s sick or just generally feeling down, she just picks one of them and starts watching. She’s done the full marathon more times than anyone I know. Hell, she even tries to watch them on Christmas and New Years if one of us doesn’t stop her.”
Tzuyu nods her head emphatically. “And you say you love her unnie, that means you must be in for the long haul. That means years, if not decades. Do you really think you can keep pretending to like a series of movies that you actually hate for the rest of your life?”
Jeongyeon bites down on her lip, taking in a deep breath as Tzuyu’s words really sink in. But somehow, despite how serious the question really is, the answer comes out easily, before she even truly knows what she’s going to say herself, because that’s just how it is with Mina.
“Yeah.” She answers, and it comes out quietly, barely louder than a whisper, but it’s still enough to shock the two girls into silence. “Yeah I do. I mean it’s just… it’s Mina. I’d do anything for her.”
And both the girls’ eyes go wide, apparently not prepared for her doubling down on her commitment like this. But after a second, a gentle smile starts to spread on Tzuyu’s lips, a look that’s mirrored by the affection shining in Chaeyoung’s eyes.
“Well in that case,” Tzuyu says, “I’d say that Mina-unnie is… really lucky to have someone like you in her life.”