It starts, as most bad ideas do, with a few bottles of soju and the six-pack of beer that Jeongyeon had brought over earlier. Nayeon had vague dreams of a peaceful Friday night, relaxing on her sofa with a good movie or two, after another week of slogging away at her thesis and grading term papers from freshmen who clearly couldn’t be bothered with the elective module Nayeon was stuck teaching this semester.
Instead, she gets her two best friends, greasy fried chicken, soju and beer cocktails, and a ridiculous game of truth or dare.
“Seriously, are we in high school?” Nayeon protests, eyeing the glint in Jihyo’s eye and finding no safe harbour there. She turns to Jeongyeon in the hopes of glimpsing some semblance of sanity, only to be met with a slightly manic grin.
“Live a little,” Jeongyeon says, smile widening infuriatingly when she senses Nayeon’s resolve wavering. “Trust us, it’ll help you destress. You’ve been complaining all week about your thesis and your supervising professor and ‘the freshmen idiots who are purposely out to make my life miserable with their rubbish term papers’.”
After another few seconds of staring at each of her best friends in turn, Nayeon sighs, resigning herself to her fate. She knows there’s no way she’s winning this battle, not when they’ve both somehow telepathically agreed to gang up on her. “Fine. Dare, then.”
She knows immediately it’s the wrong choice to make when Jihyo lets out a triumphant squeal. Jeongyeon’s smirk slips into something more sinister, something dangerous, that sets off alarm bells in Nayeon’s head. She can feel a massive headache starting to radiate from her temples, and she’s nowhere near drunk enough for this.
“In three minutes, when the pizza delivery guy gets here, I dare you to get his number. And remember, if you fail the dare, you’re paying for all of the food and alcohol we’re having tonight.”
Nayeon gapes, ignoring the way Jihyo has started whooping in delight beside her. She’s not sure what she’s more insulted by: the fact that Jeongyeon clearly thinks this is a dare that would be Nayeon’s undoing, or the fact that Jeongyeon obviously expects her to fail at it.
“Fine. But just so you know, I’m an excellent flirt. I’ll get the number with zero problems.”
Jeongyeon laughs. “You’re a terrible flirt.”
Nayeon lets out an indignant squawk. “I’m not!”
Jihyo makes a disbelieving noise. She shrugs when Nayeon turns to glare at her. “You kind of are,” she says, dropping a shot of soju into a glass of beer. “Remember that time in high school when you tried to flirt with me when we met at the —”
“High school was a long time ago,” Nayeon snaps. She steals the cocktail from Jihyo, glowering as she drinks half of it in one blistering gulp.
A little liquid courage probably won’t hurt.
When the doorbell rings, Nayeon is ready. She ignores the mad cackling from her best friends and pulls the door open with her most charming smile.
But all her words die in her throat. She’s momentarily stunned when she’s greeted with the most beautiful smile she has ever laid eyes on. The kind of smile that people write love songs about. And the face it belongs to is even more otherworldly; Nayeon is convinced that this must be the prettiest (hottest) pizza delivery girl — or girl in general — to have ever graced this earth.
She suddenly feels faint, because how in the world is she supposed to get this girl’s number?
Nayeon leans against the doorframe, trying to give off a casual air despite the fact that this girl’s smile is kind of making her a little weak in the knees. “So… come here often?”
Pretty pizza girl’s brow wrinkles and she scrunches her nose in confusion. God, even her frown is cute, Nayeon thinks dazedly.
“Uh…no…?” The girl glances at the receipt tacked to the top of the pizza box in her hand. “I’m just here to deliver your mushroom pizza with extra salami? Did… Did you not order any pizza?”
The questioning lilt in her tone betrays her bewilderment. And what Nayeon should have said, if she wasn’t struck so dumb by the beauty before her, is some kind of reassurance. Instead, what she blurts out is something completely irrelevant, neither here nor there in the grand scheme of clear and effective communication with delivery personnel that comes knocking at her door.
“Umm… did you know that all the salt in salami can give you a heart attack?”
She feels stupid the moment the words are out of her mouth, cursing her penchant for picking up random bits of (useless) trivia always printed on the back of her favourite box of cereal. But to her dismay, the words keep tumbling out of her mouth like water from a burst dam. And Nayeon feels almost like she’s trapped in a speeding car about to crash right into a giant wall up ahead — an inevitable, unstoppable disaster.
“There was a study that found out people who ate a lot of processed meat — more than 20 grams a day, which is the equivalent of one thin strip of bacon — were much more likely to die of heart attacks. Or stroke.”
Hot Pizza Girl blinks, and there’s two minutes of absolute silence where Nayeon wishes the ground would swallow her up whole, before Pizza Girl giggles.
“I think one pizza won’t kill you,” she says and then tilts her head, studying Nayeon with an amused glimmer in her pretty brown eyes.
“Besides,” she continues, tone taking on a faint teasing note. “Other things can give you heart attacks too.” She winks, and Nayeon’s heart trips all over itself.
Her brain short-circuits and Nayeon feels even more faint now, because how the hell does one respond when a girl this pretty winks at you, like she’s flirting with you?
“Uh… earth to Babbitty Rabbitty?” Pizza Girl steps closer, waving her fingers in front of Nayeon’s face.
It doesn’t entirely snap Nayeon out of her stupefied daze, but it’s her turn now to feel slightly confused. “Umm… I’m not sure what a Babbitty Rabbitty is?”
Pizza Girl’s cheeks colour slightly and she looks sheepish now, almost bashful. Nayeon thinks that it’s unfair for Pizza Girl to look like the prettiest, hottest girl alive — and also completely adorable when confused or shy.
“Babbitty Rabbitty is a wise old witch in one of The Tales of Beedle the Bard. She could turn into a rabbit at will. Sorry… it’s a Harry Potter thing and I just…” Pizza Girl trails off awkwardly, gesturing at Nayeon’s outfit. “Your onesie reminded me of the story.”
It takes Nayeon a full second before she flushes horribly, remembering with dismay that she’s currently dressed in a rabbit onesie because she ran out of clean pyjamas to wear. Being a graduate student and juggling her own research, plus teaching freshmen classes has not been the kindest to her laundry routine. Or maybe Nayeon just needs to get more clothes.
“Uh… yeah, rabbit Nayeon at your service!” Nayeon does a weird jaunty salute (as if she hasn’t made a fool of herself enough yet) before grinning wide enough to show all her teeth. She reaches up and taps her finger against her overly large front teeth. “Look what big teeth I have! You know, rabbits’ teeth don’t stop growing. But, thank god, mine are done with… with all the growing! Or I’d have teeth all the way to my knees by now.”
Beautiful Pizza Girl laughs again. It’s such a melodious sound, like the tinkling of a wind chime caressed by a soft spring breeze. Nayeon, inexplicably, wants to lose herself in the shape of that laugh forever.
“I think you have nothing to worry about,” Pizza Girl says, handing Nayeon the box of pizza. “You make a cute rabbit.”
It would be the perfect moment for Nayeon to ask for her number, or at the very least flirt back and then ask for her number. But all Nayeon manages to do is to fumble with the cash she’s trying to count out one-handed and drop a handful of notes and coins.
She scrambles to pick them up while trying not to drop the pizza box in her hand. But Pizza Girl is faster, scooping up all the loose change Nayeon dropped.
“Here, let me.” Gently, Pizza Girl reaches for Nayeon’s hand and counts out the amount she needs to collect. Nayeon clears her throat, feeling the tips of her ears burn as she tries not to panic. Do all pizza girls have such soft fingers?
“Umm,” Nayeon says as Pizza Girl pockets the cash and smiles at Nayeon. It feels like she’s staring straight at the sun and if this is how Nayeon is blinded, she finds that she doesn’t quite mind. Not when the last thing she sees is that beautiful, beautiful smile.
Her brain seems to be working in slow motion, too preoccupied with taking in Pizza Girl’s smile and conjuring up fantasies of that same smile coloured in the warm glow from a dim porch light on the end of a first date, soft and inviting right before Nayeon leans in to kiss —
Nayeon blinks, landing securely back in the present. She feels heat creeping up her cheeks again, and ducks her gaze to hide her embarrassment. With a nasty jolt of her insides, Nayeon remembers that she’s supposed to ask for Pizza Girl’s number. A flimsy plan starts taking shape in her mind; after she thanks Pizza Girl for delivering the pizza, she’ll ask for the number. It’s a solid plan.
“Thank you,” Nayeon says, lifting her gaze and hoping that her blush has receded enough to not give her away. “For bringing the pizza.”
“It’s my pleasure.” Super beautiful Pizza Girl’s smile turns softer and Nayeon’s breath catches in her chest. Her thoughts derail completely, plan crumbling uselessly into foolish musings.
Nayeon can do nothing else but stare as Pizza Girl walks away, only shifting her gaze when Pizza Girl turns around the corner. She takes in a deep breath, realising just how awkward that whole thing was, and leans back against the apartment door when she shuts it behind her, letting out an exasperated groan.
Her mood doesn’t improve when she opens her eyes and sees matching smirks on her best friends’ faces.
“Were you talking to her about salami and heart attacks?” Jeongyeon takes a measured breath as if pausing for maximum dramatic effect. “And rabbit teeth?”
“Shut up,” Nayeon snaps, as Jihyo starts laughing uncontrollably, rolling around on Nayeon’s living room floor and clutching at her stomach. Nayeon steps over her and shoves the pizza box into Jeongyeon’s arms, taking brief pleasure at the way Jeongyeon lets out a pained grunt. “Just take your stupid pizza.”
She sinks down onto the other side of the sofa and cradles her head in her hands. That whole encounter couldn’t have gone any worse. Not only did Nayeon make a complete fool of herself in front of a pretty girl, but now she also has to pay for everything.
With a weary sigh, Nayeon reaches for a bottle of soju. Maybe, if she gets drunk off her face, she won’t remember any of this by the time she wakes up in the morning.
“Let me get this straight. You talked to her about salami and your rabbit teeth?”
“Yes,” Nayeon deadpans for what feels like the tenth time, glaring at Chaeyoung. She regrets ever telling Chaeyoung about the disastrous encounter with pretty Pizza Girl the other day. She also regrets saying yes when Chaeyoung asked if she could crash here for the night because Nayeon’s apartment has a great view she wants to paint. “And for the record, I was trying to complete my dare!”
“You were supposed to ask for her number, unnie.” Chaeyoung teases, grinning when Nayeon scowls. “Not educate her about rabbits and processed meats.”
“I panicked, okay?” Nayeon snipes. She rolls her eyes when Chaeyoung starts laughing so hard, she starts tearing. “I’m going to go shower if all you’re going to do is just sit there laughing at me.”
“No, wait, I’m sorry. I won’t laugh.” Chaeyoung hastily wipes the tears away and schools her face into something moderately sympathetic. It lasts for ten wonderful seconds before Chaeyoung bursts into uncontrollable laughter again.
Nayeon gives up, getting to her feet with a huff and heading for the bathroom.
“Wait, you never said what you wanted for dinner!” Chaeyoung yells after her, voice straining around the force of her giggles.
“I don’t care,” Nayeon yells back over her shoulder. “Order whatever you want.”
The doorbell rings when Nayeon is towelling her hair dry. She decides to just ignore it, grabbing the onesie hanging on the back of her door and pulling it on.
The doorbell goes off again and then comes a loud thump against her bedroom door, like someone is kicking it with their knee. Nayeon frowns, opening the door to Chaeyoung’s sheepish grin. “Can you get the door? My hands are full of paint.”
Nayeon wrinkles her nose at the mess of colours all over Chaeyoung’s palms. “I hope you didn’t get any of that on my sofa.”
Chaeyoung rolls her eyes. “You know I’m always careful. Can you please get the food now? It’s not very nice to keep the delivery girl waiting.”
“How do you know it’s a girl and not a guy?” Nayeon retorts. An odd sense of foreboding knots in the pit of her stomach when a suspiciously mischievous smirk steals over Chaeyoung’s face.
But there’s no time to dwell on it because the doorbell rings yet again and Nayeon hurries to get the door before she receives another noise complaint from grumpy Mrs Kim next door.
“Sorry we took so long to answer —” The rest of Nayeon’s sentence dissolves into a kind of stunned silence when she meets familiar brown eyes. To Nayeon’s horror, she realises she’s standing in front of the pretty pizza delivery girl in a rabbit onesie. Again.
Pizza Girl tilts her head, taking in Nayeon’s appearance. A teasing grin blooms on her face, and Nayeon hates how even in her mortification, her brain still manages to register how beautiful Pizza Girl’s smile is.
“Is that onesie your favourite pyjamas or something? If it is, that’s kind of cute.”
Nayeon blushes, feeling heat sear all the way up to the tips of her ears. She makes a wild grab for the cash that Chaeyoung had left on the table beside the front door where she keeps her mail and keys.
“It’s comfortable,” Nayeon says, somehow managing a coherent sentence even though she can’t quite look Pizza Girl in the eye. “And I actually haven’t gotten around to doing laundry yet.”
Pizza Girl hums, taking the cash Nayeon holds out for her in exchange for the pizza in her hands. “I have a pile of laundry I need to do too. But I definitely don’t have anything that’s as cute as the onesie you’re wearing.”
“You’re already cute,” Nayeon blurts out without thinking. “I mean — I’m sure that your pyjamas are as cute as you are. That is to say that anything you wear will look cute because you already are. In fact, I think you’re the cutest —” Nayeon breaks off when Pizza Girl’s eyes widen. She coughs to cover up the awkward pause, fervently wishing lightning will strike her right this very moment and set her on fire. Maybe if that happens, Pizza Girl will completely forget whatever she’s just said.
“Umm. Thank you,” Pretty Pizza Girl says slowly. There’s a tinge of red blooming on her cheeks, and Nayeon finds herself even more enamoured at the sight. “I think you’re also…I mean, I think you’re very sweet for saying that. Thank you.”
I can be the sweetest to you, if you’d let me, Nayeon thinks. Thankfully, she manages to keep her mouth shut this time.
Pizza Girl gestures vaguely somewhere to her left. “I should get going.”
“Of course, I’m sure you have other pizzas to deliver,” Nayeon says.
But neither of them move, and the moment lingers on, spiralling into something that feels a lot like the beginning of a relationship beyond two strangers tied together by an order of pizza.
Perhaps fuelled by that realisation or still spellbound by the pretty flush on Pizza Girl’s cheeks, Nayeon clears her throat, seized by an inexplicable desire to see if she can make Pizza Girl smile again.
“Did you know that rabbits breed a lot? They can mate eight months out of the year, every year, for the rest of their lifespans.”
Pizza Girl blinks, her (very pretty) face carrying an expression caught somewhere between bewilderment and cautious amusement. She opens her mouth but Nayeon beats her to it, the words seemingly unstoppable despite the giant STOP TALKING sign flashing in her mind.
“That’s how the phrase ‘fuck like rabbits’ came about. For those who you know… have a lot of…”
“Sex?” Pizza Girl supplies when Nayeon falters and makes vague hand motions to convey two consenting adults engaged in raunchy activities.
Nayeon tries for a nonchalant hum but she’s not quite sure she manages it smoothly, because Pizza Girl’s eyes crinkle, like she’s trying not to laugh. “Exactly. And one day, rabbits will overtake the world, I’m quite sure.”
Pizza Girl’s lips curve into a smile, and the light in her eyes is so mesmerising, glimmering iridescent in the glow from the hallway lamp, that Nayeon’s breath catches. “If that happens, you can be their queen. I’m sure no one else looks this cute in a rabbit onesie.”
Nayeon’s heart stutters, losing its steady rhythm to the way Pizza Girl had said no one else looks this cute. Thankfully, Pizza Girl’s phone beeps, saving Nayeon from having to think of an appropriate reply that won’t embarrass herself any further or betray the mega crush she’s nursing for Pizza Girl.
“Sorry,” Pizza Girl says after a quick glance at her phone. “I wish I could talk more, but there’s another delivery I have to get to and —”
“It’s okay,” Nayeon interrupts, offering Pizza Girl a reassuring smile. She hesitates for a second, but then decides she’s already made a fool of herself anyway and there’s nothing else left that she can possibly lose. “Can I — You already know my name from the receipt but I was wondering… What do I call you? In my head, I call you pretty Pizza Girl but that seems a little rude so...”
Pizza Girl’s cheeks flush a rosy shade of pink, and she ducks her gaze for a second, as if trying to keep her composure after Nayeon’s compliment. “Sana. You can call me Sana.”
“So, did you get her number?” Chaeyoung steps out of the kitchen, drying her hands on a dish towel and looking at Nayeon expectantly.
Nayeon sets the pizza down on the dining table and narrows her eyes as the younger girl takes a seat. “You ordered pizza on purpose.”
Chaeyoung shrugs, not denying it. She reaches for a slice of pizza and pushes the box in Nayeon’s direction, gesturing at her to sit. “I was curious to see if you’d succeed this time.”
“How did you even get them to send the same —”
“I just added a note when I made the order: ‘please send the same pizza girl as last time’.” Chaeyoung shoots Nayeon an impish grin as she takes a bite of her pizza. “So, did you get it?”
Nayeon glares; but it does nothing to discourage Chaeyoung, who only raises her eyebrow coolly. “ No . But I did get her name.”
She ignores Chaeyoung’s disbelieving scoff and repeated you’re hopeless, unnie exclamations, lost in the brief moment when Sana had turned back to give Nayeon a soft smile just before she disappeared around the corner.
Nayeon is terrible at multitasking, something that Jeongyeon constantly reminds her of whenever Nayeon tries to pay attention to a conversation they’re having while trying to text or play Animal Crossing at the same time. But she’s spent the entire day on her thesis, working through lunch to complete the first draft of the paper in time for her supervisor to have a look before he leaves for a conference next week. And now, she’s looking over the last batch of term papers she needs to grade, and in between hunger pangs and trying to decipher poorly written arguments, she’s not exactly in the right frame of mind to realise that trying to place an order for takeout at the same time is only a recipe for disaster.
She distractedly confirms her name and address when the cheerful staff asks for it. There’s a brief pause and then a light chuckle flutters down the line, making Nayeon’s heart trip all over itself.
“Nayeon-ssi, it’s been a while.”
Nayeon pauses in the middle of writing a remark on the paper she’s currently grading, carefully putting her pen down. The voice on the other end of the line is familiar and comforting, in a way that reminds her of the warmth of a hot mug of cocoa on a stormy day.
“Hi, Sana-ssi.” Nayeon can almost imagine the soft smile blooming on Sana’s face, the same smile she can spend hours getting lost in. “It’s been a little crazy the last couple of weeks. I’ve been trying to finish up the first draft of my thesis for my supervisor to look through.”
Sana hums in understanding. “Well, what can I get you today?”
“Just the usual. Mushroom pizza with extra salami, please.” Nayeon thinks for a second, biting down on her bottom lip. “Actually, can I have some garlic bread too? I didn’t get a chance to eat lunch and —”
“You skipped lunch?” Sana interrupts, a clear note of concern in her voice. Nayeon tries not to read too much into it.
“Yeah. I don’t normally skip meals but today was just…”
“As long as it’s not a habit, that’s good,” Sana says. She hums again, thoughtful this time. “Hang on the line for a second, okay? I’ll check if we have any more garlic bread left.”
Nayeon picks up her pen again, looking through the paper in front of her as she waits. She barely registers when Sana comes back on the line and tells her they still have garlic bread and rings up the total.
“34,500 won,” Nayeon repeats distractedly, circling a particularly problematic part of the paper and adding a string of question marks beside it. “That’s great. I love you.”
“Love you too.”
There’s a sharp intake of breath on the other side, a surprised gasp that sounds very much like the one that wheezes out of her own lungs. Slowly, Nayeon puts her pen down again. She clears her throat awkwardly. “Umm…”
After a long, drawn-out pause, Sana clears her throat too. “I hope you’re not expecting a discount just because we’ve confessed our love for each other.”
“Of course not,” Nayeon says hurriedly. She wonders how Sana can sound so calm and composed when Nayeon herself feels like as though her heart is trying to somersault right out of her chest. “Even if we are lovers —” There’s another sharp inhalation from the other end of the line and Nayeon scrambles to find the rest of her words, mentally chiding herself for saying things before she’s thought them through properly. “Not that we are — I mean, we’re not! Lovers that is. Sorry, I didn’t mean to tell you I love you. Not that I won’t ever because I’m sure there’s a lot of loveable things about you! And — and I’m sure you’re very well-loved by your family and your friends and maybe — maybe one day I could tell you I love you and mean it — but, I mean, not today, of course, because I barely know you and — and you know what, I’m just going to go now. Goodbye.”
Nayeon fumbles to end the call and then drops her phone on the table with a loud groan. This is why Jeongyeon constantly nags at her to stop multitasking. She’s terrible at it.
Not to mention that this is the third time in a row she has embarrassed herself in front of the pretty pizza girl. Her friends are going to never let her live it down when they catch wind of this latest disaster.
Almost an hour later, her doorbell rings. But to Nayeon’s disappointment, it’s not Sana that hands over her food. She tries not to read too much into that, either. Maybe Sana’s busy today, manning the phones and taking orders instead of out delivering.
She’s confused when she sees an extra container in the takeaway bag the purple-haired delivery girl passed to her earlier. There’s a baby blue post-it tacked to the plastic lid.
Since you haven’t eaten the whole day, make sure you have the soup first to settle your stomach , it reads in neat, loopy handwriting. Enjoy your food.
aka your lover whom you have just confessed your undying love to ;)
Nayeon flushes, heart stuttering unevenly in her chest as she reads Sana’s note a second time. Sana somehow always gets the upper hand, leaving Nayeon a flustered, embarrassed mess at the end of every encounter they have. Or maybe it’s just Nayeon and the way she’s so head over heels for Sana, giddy off the rush of flirting (or trying to flirt) with a pretty girl who seems just as interested.
She spends the rest of the night dutifully grading papers. But every so often, her eyes stray to the baby blue square on the table, tracing Sana’s words over and over again.
After the disastrous phone call incident, Nayeon avoids ordering pizza for takeout. It’s not an easy decision to make because she loves the pizza Sana’s place makes and more than that, she really would like to see the beautiful pizza girl that’s been haunting her dreams lately. But Nayeon chickens out every time the thought of ordering pizza crosses her mind.
It’s not until a full two weeks later that her resolve crumbles and she caves in. There’s only so much Jajangmyeon she can eat anyway, and since her other go-to option (a Thai restaurant that does really good Pad Thai) is closed for renovations, she’s left with no other choice if she wants to not starve for the rest of the day.
This time though, Nayeon sticks to using the delivery app, wanting to avoid another repeat of confessing her undying love for whoever is manning the phones at the pizza place. She orders her usual, and then puts on an episode of Friends while she waits.
She’s halfway through a second episode when there’s a sudden, loud rumble of thunder. Nayeon jumps, startled enough to drop the remote on top of her foot. She curses under her breath, rubbing at her sore foot and glancing at the window in time to see the sky crack open and make way for the heaviest downpour the city has seen in a while.
Nayeon wonders if whoever is delivering her pizza (she’s not saying it’s Sana because she doesn’t want to get her own hopes up) will be okay. The rain lashing at the windowpane looks merciless, and hopefully, whoever it is, had time to seek shelter or put a raincoat on or something.
Barely a minute later, her doorbell rings. Nayeon hurries to the door and pulls it open so violently she startles Sana, who almost drops the box in her hands.
“Sorry! I didn’t mean to —” The rest of Nayeon’s sentence fades away when she takes in Sana’s appearance. “You’re drenched.”
Sana chuckles, a faint tinge of pink peeking through the wet fringe sticking to the side of her face. “I got caught in the rain when I was trying to park my bike and then get to your apartment lobby.”
Nayeon resolutely pushes away all thoughts of hot pizza girl on a motorcycle , and takes a step to the side. “Come on in. You must be dying to get out of those clothes.”
At Sana’s raised eyebrow, Nayeon flushes, just realising how suggestive that had sounded out loud. “I didn’t mean — I mean, you should change into something else. I have something you can borrow.”
“I don’t want to impose.”
“You’re not,” Nayeon counters. She reaches out and wraps her fingers around Sana’s wrist, ignoring the way Sana’s gaze widens at the sudden contact. “Come on. You’re going to catch a cold if you don’t change into something warmer soon.”
She sees it, the moment Sana gives in and takes a tiny step forward into Nayeon’s foyer. When Nayeon nods reassuringly, Sana’s answering smile is still as beautiful as she remembers, even if Sana looks like she’s drowning.
Later, after Sana has taken a quick shower, they settle on the sofa with steaming mugs of cocoa. Nayeon tries not to think about how bizarre it is that the hot pizza girl she’s crushing on is currently curled up on her sofa, dressed in one of Nayeon’s sweatshirts. She also tries not to think about the dream she had the other night that looked remarkably similar to the reality she’s currently living through right now.
“Thank you for all this. You’re amazing,” Sana says, sounding so genuinely touched, it makes Nayeon’s own heart flutter recklessly.
Nayeon takes a sip of her drink, hoping that the steam from the mug somehow hides the heat creeping steadily up her cheeks. “It’s the least I can do. You’re the one who packed an extra container of soup the last time I ordered pizza.”
Sana makes a little noise that she smoothly covers up with a well-placed cough. When Nayeon glances at her curiously, Sana’s gaze is lowered and she looks shy, almost bashful.
“I didn’t want you to get an upset stomach,” she admits, in a soft voice that tugs at Nayeon’s heartstrings. She lifts her head, and there’s something in the way she’s looking at Nayeon that tells her whatever Sana is about to say next is the kind of thing that will tilt Nayeon’s world right off its axis. “We don’t serve cream of broccoli soup on the menu but I...I offered to buy Momo dinner for the next three days if she’d make it for you.”
Nayeon blinks, trying to make sense of Sana’s words because surely —
“I know we don’t know each other well but I care about you, Nayeon.”
Nayeon’s breath catches without her permission. She’s not sure what is causing her heart to hammer restlessly against her ribs: Sana’s confession that she cares, or the casual way Sana drops formalities, like she wants something more.
Or, maybe, it’s the fact that everything Sana just said, everything about Sana really, makes Nayeon want to do something impossibly reckless.
To quiet the inexplicable urge to lean in and steal Sana’s breath away, Nayeon reaches blindly for the rain-splattered cardboard box on the coffee table. “Umm…The pizza must be getting cold by now. We should eat.”
She’s startled when Sana yelps, reaching out to stop Nayeon from opening the box. “Wait!”
Nayeon stares at the way Sana’s ears are tinged a fiery red from her outburst. Then, her gaze drifts downwards to where Sana’s palm is still resting over the back of her hand. Sana notices and blushes, looking even more embarrassed for some reason.
“Umm…What are we waiting for? Do you mean we should heat up the —”
“Did you know sea otters hold hands when they’re sleeping so that they won’t lose each other?” Sana cuts in, words tumbling out of her in a rush.
Nayeon is completely bewildered now, but random bits of trivia are something familiar to her so she tries to go along with Sana’s sudden introduction of a new conversation topic. Maybe Sana eats the same brand of cereal she does and also likes to collect the random facts printed on the box.
“Yeah, I did know that. I remember reading it on a box a couple of years ago. Do you like Lucky Charms too?”
She doesn’t quite understand why Sana stares at her uncomprehendingly for a second before clearing her throat. “No, what I mean is…. What I’m trying to say is — Nayeon, can I — I would like to hold your hand. If you’d let me.”
Nayeon frowns, gaze drifting downwards to the top of the pizza box, where Sana is still holding on to her hand. Like she has no intention of ever letting go.
“I don’t quite understand what —”
Sana cuts her off with a little frustrated noise, and the rest of Nayeon’s thoughts melt away when Sana takes her hand and intertwines their fingers, making Nayeon’s heart skip several beats. Gently, Sana lifts their interlocked hands and then gestures at Nayeon to open the box.
At first, Nayeon is still confused, unsure what it is Sana wants her to understand. It’s not until Sana squeezes her hand that Nayeon registers the words scrawled on the inside lid of the box in familiar loopy handwriting.
Will you be my girlfriend or is this too cheesy?
Sana’s smile is a soft, beautiful, wondrous thing, when Nayeon meets her eye, completely startled and trying very hard not to swoon. “What I mean is…I would like to hold your hand. If you’d let me.”
“Oh,” Nayeon breathes.
Oh, she repeats again, the soft exhale breaking over the pretty curve of Sana’s smile just before their lips meet.
She spends the rest of the afternoon learning the taste of Sana’s beautiful smile as the storm rages on outside.
( “Did you know that when a male penguin falls in love with a female, he searches the whole beach to find her the smoothest, most perfect pebble to present her as a proposal?”
“Is this your way of proposing? Kind of fast, don’t you think? We’ve only been together for a year.”
“No. Of course not — I’m not — Sana, if I wanted to propose, I’d buy you a ring, okay? I’m just trying to tell you I love you.”
“I already know you do, baby. For the record, I’d search the entire world for the prettiest pebble to propose to you too, okay?”
“Okay. In fact, that’s more than okay with me.” )