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a little more luck than a little bit

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LIVE COUNTER BEFORE THE EXAM

40 DAYS 15 HOURS 58 MINUTES 10 SECONDS

 

The cat café was cute. There were playgrounds that spanned three levels tall, multiple scratch posts, and a lot more balls of yarn. 

“Tzuyu, quick. Quick!!” Jeongyeon was holding Stray – who was actually everything but – and had a wide smile on her face that was picture-perfect. “Faster, because Stray’s actually behaving.” It was said through Jeongyeon’s teeth, her smile unfaltering. 

Stray was cute, too. Stray was the first cat Mrs. Ming adopted ten years ago after giving up on shooing the persistently hungry cat from her garbage bins at night. The rest of the story was beautifully written and framed at the cat café’s entrance, and Stray was completely aware that he owned Mrs. Ming’s heart and soul and business establishment, so he was kinda spoiled. 

The irritated hiss he gave out after Tzuyu’s tenth shot of him and Jeongyeon ended their photoshoot session. He was definitely spoiled. 

Jeongyeon promptly placed him down, and gave him a treat as an apology. Which was accepted, but Stray was petty and after he snatched the treat from Jeongyeon’s palm, he made a show of walking away from their table. 

It made Jeongyeon pout, and yeah, the cat café was cute, Stray was cuter, but the pout Jeongyeon had on was the cutest thing Tzuyu had seen today. 

Would be the cutest thing she’d see for a long while because she stole a shot while Jeongyeon wasn’t looking. 

 

“Tzuyu?” Jeongyeon asked, and Tzuyu was absolutely not listening to whatever Jeongyeon was talking about. 

Her head was stuck in the stills of Jeongyeon’s pout, and there was this developing dilemma of where she could have the films processed before Nayeon did because today’s shots were questionable at best and downright incriminating of her crush when two eyes were used. 

“What do you think about rooming with me?” Jeongyeon expounded, and Tzuyu didn’t have a solution to her existing dilemma and now Jeongyeon was giving her another one. Shit. “Sana’s being bitchy about my no-lovers-as-roommates suggestion, and if she convinces the rest to rally with her, then it’d be me, you, and Chaengie.”

 

LIVE COUNTER BEFORE THE EXAM

39 DAYS 21 HOURS 33 MINUTES 44 SECONDS

 

In the end, both Sana and Jeongyeon’s wants were dismissed. The house they rented for the intensive review period only had two bedrooms, and it was, in Mina’s words— ‘unfair if one room would get 6 people and the other would get 3’.

Room assignments were determined by the time-tested draw lots method. Bed assignments were free ground.

She’d share the room with Jeongyeon. And Mina. And Dahyun. And Sana. Which was nice, because she seemingly got the quieter and more organized half of the group to room with her, but Jeongyeon. Maybe Tzuyu could convince Dahyun to share a bed with her, or maybe she could score the single.

“Dibs on the single!” Dahyun screamed, zooming past through them to flop on the sole single bunk that was pushed to the side of the room. There were two doubles left, which meant she’d share a bed with someone,

“Mitang, where do you wanna sleep?” Sana asked, her eyes examining the beds left. It didn’t really matter, the rooms were gonna be for sleep and nothing else— their days were gonna be spent in the review center, and once classes were done, the study hub a block away was going to be their second home.

“Can we get the bed to the wall?” Mina asked Tzuyu and Jeongyeon. Mina would share a bed with Sana. That wasn’t even asked, and it left Tzuyu with no choice but to share the bed with Jeongyeon.

It didn’t matter. The rooms were going to be for sleep and nothing else.

(Tzuyu tells herself that. Repeats it on the first night with Jeongyeon’s back a fingerbreadth’s distance from her arm. Repeats it again a week later when it’s Jeongyeon’s even breathing that reaches her shoulders.)

 

LIVE COUNTER BEFORE THE EXAM

31 DAYS 10 HOURS 8 MINUTES 57 SECONDS

 

“What’s wrong?” Chaeyoung asked, waving a hand in front of Tzuyu’s face.

“Pharma’s hard.” Tzuyu said automatically. It’s an instant excuse while she gathered her thoughts on a certain blonde and threw them to the trash bin of her mind.

“You’re studying Surgery.” Chaeyoung pressed, eyeing the reviewer in front of Tzuyu. A comprehensive table on blood loss, its signs and symptoms, and its appropriate treatment filled the entire page.

Blood pooled to Tzuyu’s cheeks. She lies some more in hopes for Chaeyoung to drop it. “Everything’s related.”

“Blood loss is managed by fluids and crystalloids. Didn’t know Jeongyon was called Pharma now.” It’s casual, but Chaeyoung’s eyes were rapt with attention and the flinch Tzuyu did wasn’t subtle at all. “I was right!!”

Chaeyoung was never wrong. It wasn’t in her nature to be wrong about things because the girl took everything slowly, always gathering facts before formulating an opinion. If she figured out Tzuyu’s … little … crush, then,

“It’s been fun catching you fumbling.” Chaeyoung said, laughing when Tzuyu got another shade redder. She laughed even louder when Tzuyu slumped forward, her forehead now directly on the table of blood loss printed right at the middle of her reviewer. “But Tzu, we’re reviewing for the biggest exam of our lives, so you have got to stop zoning out.”

“We share a bed, Chaeng.” Tzuyu said, not bothering to lie anymore. She couldn’t really lie to Chaeyoung. She’d chalk it up to best friend rules, but Chaeyoung was just simply too sharp for everything that lying to her would be futile, like her attempts a minute earlier.

“I’m sharing a bed with Momo. I don’t think anyone would develop feelings by sharing a bed; you especially.” Chaeyoung turned silent for a moment. “Was it the shelters?”

The shelters started after Dahyun dragged them to a weekend binge of Harry Potter in Momo’s apartment a few months back. Jeongyeon found out that Tzuyu volunteered for a shelter uptown, and Tzuyu found out Jeongyeon volunteered for one downtown.

They started volunteering together, and then they were exploring all the animal cafés the city had. Tzuyu had been volunteering since she was a kid, and she’d been friends with a lot of pet-lovers.

But the thing was, none of them had Jeongyeon’s smile—which was basically the same no matter what breed they’d encounter. None of them were Tzuyu’s counterparts in the hospital either, and every time Jeongyeon did ward calls to where Tzuyu was assigned, she’d always have a bar of candy or cup of coffee as a little pick-me-up.

“You’re in a little deep, my friend.” Chaeyoung said, and the smile she was wearing was a little scary, almost as if Chaeyoung already thought of a solution to Tzuyu’s predicament. “Just tell her.”

“You say that like it’s easy.” Tzuyu said, and she was going to get a headache with how she was pressing her skull against the reviewer, but seeing printed letters that didn’t make sense this close was better than seeing Chaeyoung laugh at her.

“It is.” Chaeyoung said.

It’s not. It’s not easy to Tzuyu, who grew up receiving confessions left and right. The constant unwanted attention honed Tzuyu’s skills at rejection, and it left her with zero experience on being the confessor. The opportunity to confess first simply never happened, except with Jeongyeon.

Tzuyu would be lying if she didn’t daydream of Jeongyeon suddenly confessing while they’d be feeding a dog in between them. Or when she’d get out of Jeongyeon’s car after another café hang out. Or when they’d be seated next to each other in the theaters because everyone else was being cuddly with their respective girlfriends and Chaeyoung would bring her own plus one.

The latest new addition to the daydream collection was a confession in the dead of the night, when everyone else was asleep and they’d be the only ones lying awake.

And every day that none of those happened was a day closer to their boards and Tzuyu should really, really get it together. Chaeyoung was never wrong, so maybe she’d be in a better headspace if she’d confess. Well.

“I don’t know how.” Tzuyu said, blinking at the images of Chaeyoung in front of her. A few more seconds, and Chaeyoung became one again.

“You weren’t listening. Just tell her.” Tzuyu glared at her, and Chaeyoung sighed. “Fine, if you won’t listen to me, ask the others then.”

 

LIVE COUNTER BEFORE THE EXAM

28 DAYS 8 HOURS 2 MINUTES 13 SECONDS

 

They had free days— sanity breaks, as their senior advised them to have. It’d either be a whole day spent sleeping or a whole day spent outside. Jeongyeon liked to get out and get wrecked, dragging Nayeon and Jihyo with her.

Tzuyu liked to spend it sleeping. Sana and Mina had the same plan for the day, and by midnight, their bodies were lying at odd angles on the bed while a movie was playing from Sana’s mini projector.

“Confessing?” Sana asked, a sly smile forming on her lips. “That’s such a headache. Just tell her you’re together already. You hug her tight, like this,” Sana had an arm around Tzuyu’s waist and pulled her closer, then draped a leg over Tzuyu’s. Mina was laughing somewhere at the foot of the bed. “And go say you’re hers. If it works, she’ll say she’s yours, too.”

Sana’s advice was … a little extreme. Also felt like alcohol needed to be involved.

“You were drunk, weren’t you?” Tzuyu asked, and Sana nodded furiously.

“Absolutely. We were drunk and that was the shittiest hangover I had in my life but I got a girlfriend out of it so I’d still recommend it. Five stars.”

Mina’s laughs were turning to snorts, and it only stopped when Sana kicked her in the stomach.

“Mina?” Sana’s way was too hard to do. Tzuyu’s tolerance wasn’t that high, and she’d probably sleep before she ever got to the levels of bravery of simply declaring she was Jeongyeon’s. My god.

Mina shuffled at the foot of the bed, and climbed up to drape and arm over Tzuyu’s waist too. And to slap Sana’s hand in retaliation for the kick.

“I didn’t confess first.” Mina said, and of course Mina didn’t confess first. Mina probably never tried confessing first all her life too. “But in hindsight I probably should’ve.”

“Why?”

“If she’s stupid like my stupid,” It wasn’t even an insult with the way Mina said it— pure fondness dripping in every syllable that it made Tzuyu sigh and Sana put out gagging sounds, which Mina ignored, “It’ll take you two years and a really toxic patient before you can get a confession out.”

Tzuyu struggled to get her phone out, and the live counter on her lock screen looked very menacing. It took Mina two years. They had 28 days left before the exam.

Maybe Chaeyoung was wrong, maybe she could review in peace without confessing.

The dimming phone suddenly shone twice as bright, and all eyes were on a message from a grumpy Momo saying that they were coming home bringing three drunk idiots who ruined their date night.

 

“Sana—”

“Mina—”

The whines were getting louder, now turning into a contest on who’d get picked up by their girlfriend first. It was equally horrifying and cute. Sana and Mina got up from the bed, and was met with a very drunk Jeongyeon at their bedroom door.

“You guys can switch beds,” Jeongyeon said, “They won’t stop looking for their girlfriends. Disgusting.”

Jeongyeon flopped on the bed. Her arms were spread open, with a hand patting Tzuyu’s side like it was on a mission.

“Tzuyu,” Jeongyeon said. “Tzuyu,” A whine, and Tzuyu had to suppress a laugh from getting out.

Tzuyu padded her way to their bed, and when Jeongyeon’s hand finally hit something that wasn’t the mattress, she looked up to catch Tzuyu’s gaze.

“Hi, we’re home.” Jeongyeon said, stating the obvious. They didn’t update each other on their whereabouts specifically, constantly, but this drunk development wasn’t unwelcome. The fuzzy feelings were, though. “Good night, Tzuyu.”

Jeongyeon gave a small smile that was seemingly permanent on her face. When Tzuyu realized Jeongyeon was waiting for a response, a smaller smile on Tzuyu’s face was enough for Jeongyeon to face back face-first to the bed.

Jeongyeon’s breathing became lighter, but her hand was still heavy on Tzuyu’s thigh. Memorizing the slopes of Jeongyeon’s silhouette like it’d pop up in Anatomy was cut short when Sana barged in their room, carrying a very, very drunk girlfriend on her back.

 

LIVE COUNTER BEFORE THE EXAM

28 DAYS 3 HOURS 31 MINUTES 9 SECONDS

 

“Why are you up?” Tzuyu asked Dahyun, who was staring down the contents of the fridge at … 4 AM. Too early to pick a fight with water bottles and left-over food.

Dahyun shifted from glaring at the open refrigerator to settling for a pout to Tzuyu’s direction. “We need to go to the grocery.”

“Why are you up, Hyunnie?” Tzuyu asked again. They did need to go to the grocery, but it was four in the morning and Tzuyu just wanted to drink water without planning for the day. Wanted to go back to the bed to chase sleep. Maybe accidentally bump her hand against Jeongyeon’s.

Oh god, it was getting worse.

“Half the people in this house are gonna wake up with hangovers. I was thinking of making soup.”

“Half?” Tzuyu asked, counting. “Chaeng’s drunk too?”

“No. She’s not even home. Said she’ll stay at a friend’s and that she’ll go directly to the review later. Momo is, though. Nayeon brought home an unopened bottle and she convinced Momo and Mina to drink with her.”

“You didn’t drink?” Tzuyu asked. Nayeon shouting a roll call of their names earlier suddenly made sense.

Dahyun blushed, a small smile suddenly making her pouty features shy. “Didn’t feel like it. Figured somebody needed to be sober to tuck them in and make a nice hangover soup.”

“Right.” Tzuyu said. Dahyun was good with twisting words, but Tzuyu was better in untangling them. “Didn’t know you were such a sucker for drunk cuddling.”

Dahyun tapped the water bottle Tzuyu was drinking from, effectively making Tzuyu choke on the sudden gush of water. Dahyun was blushing harder.

“Tell her over breakfast. Only you two wake up early enough for a sit-down breakfast on most days, anyway.”

What?

Dahyun grinned, the blush toning down from her cheeks. Tzuyu was the one blushing now, and she was trying her best to act dumb.

“You can fool them, Tzu. Not me.” Dahyun motioned to the extra unopened bottle of water in Tzuyu’s hand— water she got for Jeongyeon. In case Jeongyen would wake up thirsty. Friends did that. “Was it the food she brought when she did ward calls? The shelters?”

Dahyun was as sharp as Chaeyoung, but at least Chaeyoung was blunt about it. Dahyun had her way with the teasing, and it was still before the break of dawn and heavy thinking was supposed to start at eight in the morning.

“But really, Tzu. Do it over breakfast. Do it when you’re both alone and there’s food to share.”

“What if she’ll say no?” Tzuyu asked. There was bound to be some bad karma after all the rejections she’d given since high school. Since elementary, if snot-faced boys with dollar-chocolates counted. She should’ve been kinder with all the let-downs. Maybe Jeongyeon will be kind. 

“Then you say thank you. That’s her choice, but at least put it out there.”  

 

LIVE COUNTER BEFORE THE EXAM

20 DAYS 2 HOURS 11 MINUTES 18 SECONDS

 

“Good morning.” Jeongyeon’s voice was scratchy, still thick with sleep. She slumped her head against Tzuyu’s back, and Tzuyu tried to hum the first song that came to her mind to cancel out the volume of her beating heart. “Taylor Swift, very nice.”

Dahyun was right— only Tzuyu and Jeongyeon got up earlier than required. It wasn’t intentional. Tzuyu always woke up early, and review season even gave her more reason to continue her body clock as it was. Jeongyeon woke up early too, saying she was used to being everyone’s alarm back in school.

It led to them making breakfast together, having breakfast together, and talking in between. On occasions Tzuyu would wake up earlier, Jeongyeon would do this— be touchy. Lean her head against Tzuyu’s back. Sometimes, perch her chin on top of Tzuyu’s shoulder to watch her cook. Twice, a full back hug.

Thrice, counting now. The chorus to Taylor Swift’s Me suddenly became ten times harder to sing.

And Tzuyu didn’t know if it was sleepy Jeongyeon or early morning Jeongyeon or friendly Jeongyeon that led to Jeongyeon doing back hugs and requesting songs for Tzuyu to sing, but every time this happened Tzuyu would use all her brain cells into focusing on frying an egg. A pancake. Strips of bacon. Sometimes stirring soup. She didn’t like to dwell on things she didn’t understand.

 

“Jeong?” Tzuyu asked, breaking the silence that was enveloping the house. It was still early, the chirping of the birds outside weren’t overpowered by vehicles just yet, and the rest of their housemates were still sleeping.

“Yeah?” Jeongyeon looked up from her phone. She was looking for a pet café nearby, whining to Tzuyu that it had been too long since they went to one.

(It had been 20 days since their last café … date … but Tzuyu wasn’t counting. She told Jeongyeon she wasn’t counting.)

“I like you.” Tzuyu said, and maybe it was a little whisper instead of a steady declaration because Jeongyeon looked confused and she leaned in forward to listen better.

“I like you,” Tzuyu repeated, and Jeongyeon’s eyes widened considerably and maybe this was such a bad move and maybe Dahyun was wrong and Chaeyoung was wrong and Tzuyu was terribly inexperienced at this so, “Your bread. I like your bread. This is from the bakery across the review center, right?”

A flash of understanding went through Jeongyeon’s face, and she smiled right after. “It is. I’ll buy it more often since you like it.”

 

LIVE COUNTER BEFORE THE EXAM

14 DAYS 18 HOURS 39 MINUTES 20 SECONDS

 

“If you didn’t chicken out, then you would’ve had a girlfriend by now.” Dahyun said, kicking Tzuyu’s seat.

“We can’t all be Kim Dahyun.” Tzuyu spat back, glaring at the culprit for waking her up.

“That is very true. We can’t all be Kim Dahyun.” Momo said, appearing behind Dahyun and Tzuyu must’ve been more out of it if she didn’t notice Momo’s presence.

The anxiety drawn from the nearing exam was reaching higher levels now, and it didn’t help that a stressed Jeongyeon was, apparently, a cuddly Jeongyeon. And cuddly Jeongyeon shaved off an hour off Tzuyu’s sleep schedule because while Dahyun and Chaeyoung had their physically affectionate moments and Sana and Nayeon were always touchy with their appreciation, none of them were Jeongyeon.

And if Tzuyu’s dread on the board exams were ricocheting sky high, so were her feelings for Jeongyeon.

(The constant supply of bread from the bakery across their review center didn’t help, either. And the stock of Tzuyu’s favorite apple juice that Jeongyeon never forgot to buy whenever she’d do a 7-11 run. The soft ‘good night, Tzuyu’ and the softer ‘good morning, Tzuyu’.)

 

“Tzuyu,” Momo whispered, trying her best not to get caught talking. Tzuyu hummed, her attention was to her notes, following the lecturer as he discussed on the life cycle of roundworms and their migrations to different organs.

“When the timing’s right, don’t chicken out.”

Certain species of roundworms travelled from the intestines to the lungs. Once they mature and get big enough to cause irritation, they get coughed out and swallowed back to the intestines.

Tzuyu was positive she didn’t have parasite inside her body, but she was coughing up and swallowing, the hacking fit only ending after Momo’s ill-timed laugh together with their lecturer asking if everything was alright in their seat.

 “Momo!” Tzuyu said, slapping her seatmate. Once for drawing the class’ attention to them, and twice for … well, for the advice that Tzuyu didn’t need to hear in the middle of a lecture.

“I mean, I don’t recommend shouting in a coffee shop with everyone watching,” Momo said, not bothering to whisper anymore. “But whatever gets the job done, you know?”

 

LIVE COUNTER BEFORE THE EXAM

10 DAYS 16 HOURS 12 MINUTES 36 SECONDS

 

“This batch turned out really nice.” Mina said, busy examining the pictures Nayeon brought. “Should we buy refills?”

Nayeon nodded in affirmative, and Tzuyu was a little saturated with drugs and drug interactions and drug side effects and the family trees of penicillins and cephalosporins to absorb what Nayeon and Mina were talking about.

Would have tuned out to their conversation entirely, but Nayeon was sliding up against her with a single photograph in her hand.

Oh shit.

“The picture’s great, isn’t it?”  

The picture was Jeongyeon. Specifically, the shot Tzuyu stole when they were in the cat café the day before they bunked together. The moment when Stray, the café’s cutest and most spoiled cat, walked away from Jeongyeon and Jeongyeon was doing a full pout on her face.

“There are details,” Nayeon said, admiring the picture that Tzuyu was supposed to develop on her own and keep to herself. “— that couldn’t be captured if the photographer didn’t have the heart.”

“’Yeon,” Tzuyu said, slowly detaching from the lists of adverse effects and drug-drug interactions in her head, “don’t speak in code, please. Pharma’s taking up all the space in my brain.”

“Didn’t know Jeongyeon’s called Pharma now.” Nayeon said, laughing.

Oh my god. It was like hearing Chaeyoung all over again.

“Good luck though, that idiot’s really dense.” Nayeon said, and then Tzuyu felt something soft on her forehead. “For luck, Tzu.”

 

“Actually,” Nayeon said, interrupting Tzuyu and Mina’s brainstorming on what schedule they’d follow for the last week in, “kiss her.”

“Just go and kiss her.” Nayeon repeated. It was louder this time, and more excited too. It wasn’t the lightbulb idea Nayeon hyped it to be.

The brainstorming was over. Tzuyu and Mina’s attention were on Nayeon’s sudden outburst alone.

“Because that worked out well for you?” Mina asked, raising an eyebrow at Nayeon.

Well,” Nayeon shot back. She was grinning, and Mina was mirroring her grin and Tzuyu would’ve wanted out of the living room and she surely would’ve bolted if it wasn’t for Jeongyeon making her way inside.

“Nayeon, control your voice, please.” Jeongyeon said. She busied herself with closing the door and putting off her shoes, brown paper bags on the floor. “But anyway, who’s gonna kiss who?”

Maybe it was because Nayeon and Jeongyeon had no holds barred when it came to each other, or maybe Nayeon was a little unhinged. Whatever the real reason was, the nervousness Tzuyu felt stilled her in place when she saw a smile playing on Nayeon’s face.

“Tzuyu.” Nayeon replied to Jeongyeon. “Tzuyu’s gonna kiss you.”

Jeongyeon glared at Nayeon— it was some kind of reflex to all their conversations. “Why would Tzuyu kiss me?”

“For luck. We’re gonna have the exam of our lives, after all” And then Nayeon stood up and made her way to the still-glaring blonde by the door to take a look at the contents of the paper bags she brought with her. “Ah, bread. Again. Wonderful.”

 

LIVE COUNTER BEFORE THE EXAM

4 DAYS 9 HOURS 17 MINUTES 10 SECONDS

 

Tzuyu didn’t kiss Jeongyeon.

She did, however, kiss everyone else because Nayeon was pretty bent on saying that kisses were for good luck and everyone should do it.

Tzuyu wasn’t sure if Nayeon actually believed in it or if it was Nayeon’s way of cooking up an excuse for Tzuyu to follow the advice and kiss Jeongyeon.

 

But Tzuyu didn’t kiss Jeongyeon. To be fair, Jeongyeon didn’t kiss Tzuyu either so that evened the field.

(Jeongyeon didn’t kiss anybody. Not that Tzuyu counted. Sana was pretty vocal about it.)

 

“Ji, why are you recording?” Tzuyu asked, and maybe it was a Samsung thing, because Jihyo’s latest phone was a Samsung and she kept on bragging on her phone’s memory.

“For blackmail, of course.” Jihyo said. She changed the subject of her video from Mina and Momo’s freestyle dance-off to Tzuyu’s face. “Are you happy, Tzu?”

Weird question, but everyone was a little buzzed, so Tzuyu indulged. “I am. Also scared about our exam but right now, yeah, definitely happy.”

“Caught on tape!” Jihyo said, nodding to herself. “When you’re sad just play this.”

Jihyo stopped recording and plopped herself next to Tzuyu to show the video, but her hands were shaky and her fingers accidentally closed the app instead. Jihyo navigated back to the videos folder, but before she located the latest file, a preview of coconut trees and a starlit sky was playing. Faintly, uneven breathing and the crashing of waves against the shore.

Tzuyu knows this video— it’s the one Sana has tagged as her favorite in her phone as well.

“Do the videos help?” Tzuyu asked, and by now the only one who didn’t know about her crush was her crush.

“The videos are for keepsakes.” Jihyo said, embracing Tzuyu in a side hug. “What’s more important would always be living the moment, I think.”

 

Just tell her. Tell her you’re hers. Or wait, but confessing first should be better. Do it when there’s food to share. When the timing’s right, don’t chicken out. Kiss her. Live in the moment.

 

The exam was going to be by the end of the week. It really should’ve been Tzuyu’s priority at all times but she found herself sitting next to Jeongyeon with an empty bottle of beer in her hand.

“Hi,” Jeongyeon said, dropping the conversation she had with Chaeyoung to give her a full smile.

“Hi,” Tzuyu echoed. She didn’t see it, but she knew Chaeyoung was grinning at them. She saw Chaeyoung leave them at the corner of her sight, and somehow heard Chaeyoung saying that she was going to get more food.

Jeongyeon dropped their staring contest to look at the coffee table. Tzuyu followed, and Chaeyoung had got to be more subtle next time because there were slices of pizza and bowls of chips on it.

“Are you hungry?” Jeongyeon asked. She took an unused paper plate at the side, and waited for Tzuyu to tell her what to get.

“Not really, no.”

Jeongyeon hummed, putting the paper plate back on the table. She took Tzuyu’s hand to give it a tight squeeze.

 

“Are you nervous?”

(Jeongyeon’s absolutely talking about The Exam.)

 

“Terrified.”

(Tzuyu isn’t.)

    

“For luck, then.” Jeongyeon said. Soft lips pressed against her forehead, and Tzuyu was about ready to burst— her brain from all the information crammed, her heart from all the sprints-turned-marathon it was doing. “Just a little bit.”

“I think I need more a little more luck than a little bit,” Tzuyu said, mostly to herself but Jeongyeon heard it and Jeongyeon was blushing and Tzuyu was blushing and she would’ve retracted her statement but Jeongyeon was being unbelievable tonight,

“Okay,” Another press, this time on her cheek. And another, for the opposite side. “There.”

Tzuyu was smiling. Her cheeks were starting to ache but Jeongyeon was smiling, had been smiling since Tzuyu sat down next to her so that made two of them with aching cheeks.

“Where’s mine?” Jeongyeon teased.

Maybe this was the timing Momo talked about.

“Uh,” Tzuyu was stuttering, and it’s been 20 years since she last stuttered but apparently Jeongyeon asking for a kiss was powerful enough to strip her away of proper speaking.

“I can wait.” Jeongyeon said, laughing. She tapped Tzuyu’s phone on the table, and the countdown was bright, too bright. “Four days, Tzu.”

 

LIVE COUNTER BEFORE THE EXAM

0 DAYS 1 HOUR 59 MINUTES 21 SECONDS

 

Four days came too quickly. In between church hopping and temple visits, last-minute cram sessions, and two melatonin pills for sleep, Tzuyu wasn’t able to give Jeongyeon a kiss. Not that Jeongyeon reminded her, but Tzuyu wanted to.

Wanted to kiss Jeongyeon already as much as she wanted to get the exam done because both things were messing with her mind and she wanted to go back to the zen life she was living before all this was happening.

 

“Everything alright?” Jeongyeon asked. Tzuyu was the only one left in the van, and all her housemates were already making their way to the exam site. Only Jeongyeon stayed behind, and she was waiting by the door for Tzuyu to get out of her head.

“Yeah,” Tzuyu made her way out, and Jeongyeon was quick to offer her hand— not necessary because the van had a step board and Tzuyu was tall enough to reach the ground without it but Jeongyeon’s hand was warm and Tzuyu wasn’t going to say no to warm things.

“We can do this, Tzu.” There was a tight squeeze given, and they could, they really could. Tzuyu was confident – as much as anyone who crammed could ever be – about the exam, and she wished she were that confident with Jeongyeon. “Although a little luck would go a long way, I think.”

A tease, probably to break the nervousness bouncing from their skin, but it did something to Tzuyu’s mind as well.

“I will kiss you.” Tzuyu said, tugging Jeongyeon to a stop. “Jeongie, I will kiss you.”

“Do you really want to kiss me?” Jeongyeon asked, and there was a small laugh that got out but her eyes were a mirror image of the nervousness Tzuyu had.

It was soft. Like the forehead kiss and the cheek kisses, but … softer?

And Tzuyu was reminded of the human homunculus and yeah, the lips had more innervations and was one of the most sensitive parts of the human body so it’d only make sense that she could feel Jeongyeon smiling into their kiss and,

“Yah! We have an exam!!” Chaeyoung shouted, breaking Tzuyu’s sudden burst of confidence.

She took a step away from Jeongyeon, but their hands were still intertwined and this time it was Jeongyeon who pulled her closer. They were walking to the building, but Jeongyeon’s thumb was busy tracing reassuring circles to the back of Tzuyu’s hand.

“Biochem starts at 8, and then it’d end at 10. Next exam would start at 11.” Jeongyeon said. “I’d need another kiss before Anatomy. Then another before Microbiology. Then tomorrow, before Physiology. For good luck.”

“Okay.” Tzuyu said.

“Okay.” Jeongyeon echoed.

 

The rooms were spread out, and seating arrangements were done alphabetically, so Chou was five floors and twenty rooms away from Yoo. Jeongyeon was already complaining about the flights of stairs she needed to climb.

“Tzu,” Jeongyeon called out, right before Tzuyu was going to break from the hand holding they’ve been doing. They did have an exam to take.

Jeongyeon was smiling, a full smile that no film camera could ever capture totally.

“I’ll confess, okay? After the exams. We’ll go to this new dog café I found out about and then we’ll have dinner at a restaurant by the beach that hosts a live band and the music will be great and I’ll have a bouquet ready and chocolates too and you’ll be smiling all throughout and,” Jeongyeon stopped, remembering to breathe, “I’ll confess then.”

 

LIVE COUNTER BEFORE THE EXAM

0 DAYS 0 HOURS 0 MINUTES 3 SECONDS

 

“Flip.”