Chapter 1: Chapter 1
YooA had been getting markings from her soulmate as long as either of them could remember. Little hearts or drawings of things her soulmate saw often adorned YooA's lower arm and hand. YooA would do her best to doodle back, although she said her drawings paled in comparison to her soulmate's.
When Jiho introduced her close friend Mimi, nobody thought much of it, until a sketch of YooA appeared on her own arm with the note met a pretty girl today. Not as pretty as you, I'm sure. The two were both taken aback and entirely floored with the situation.
Hyojung wasn't so lucky. The first time her soulmate wrote something was when Hyojung was fourteen. It just said Learn lyrics to Macklemore's Thrift Shop when you get home followed by you do Macklemore. HSH will do other parts. Hyojung had tried to respond, but couldn't think of anything to say besides "why couldn't I have a soulmate with a better music taste?" Hyojung had considered rubbing it off, but, knowing that it would also be rubbed off her soulmate’s arm as well, chose to leave it and cover it with her sleeve.
The next message appeared a week or two later, reading if I get a tattoo does my soulmate get that tattoo--Google.
Yes. Hyojung hastily wrote on her arm, hoping her soulmate would see it. Please don't get a tattoo without talking to me. I don't want something obscene. It was their first time interacting and Hyojung couldn't believe it was going this way.
I wanted to get the words BUTT TRUMPET tattooed to my forehead lmao. Hyojung stared at the handwriting. Her soulmate was insane.
THAT WAS MY DESKMATE NOT ME I SWEAR. I PROMISE. I WOULDN'T DO THAT I PROMISE. Was hastily written on her arm.
Lol sorry--HSH :) Great, so she just had crazy friends.
"Four years of talking and you never thought to exchange phone numbers or anything?" Mimi stared at Hyojung, mouth wide in shock.
"That's what she's like," YooA explained. "She wants to meet organically.”
“Her soulmate's forgetful, I guess,” Jiho added. “She writes a ton of important things on her hand and arm." Hyojung held up her palm to prove the point, which read -chem book -lit book -buy flash cards -call dentist
"How do you know the soulmate's a girl?" Mimi asked.
"She wrote about picking up pads a couple of times,” Hyojung answered.
“She could just have a sister?” Mimi reasoned.
“She probably does, at the rate she goes through them,” Jiho snorted. The four were seated at a table in the cafeteria, Mimi and YooA seated across from Hyojung and Jiho. Hyojung rolled her eyes, throwing Jiho a look.
“Seriously though, you know nothing about her?”
“It would ruin the fun of it,” Hyojung smiled and shrugged. “We’re only in high school, so who really cares right now if we don’t meet each other. It’s better than being in one of those relationships that have known each other since they were toddlers. I feel like we’d get bored of each other.”
“I mean, they know basic stuff,” YooA cut in. “She’s in high school, Hyojung is in some way older, and her deskmate goes by the initials HSH-”
“The two of them joke around a lot and whoever HSH is she likes to prank Hyojung by writing stuff onto her arm,” Jiho cut in.
“I can tell their handwriting apart better but sometimes it catches me off guard,” Hyojung said.
“They know each other’s birthdays as well,” YooA finished.
“Wait you know each other’s birthdays but not names?”
“HSH said at one point that her and JinE’s mixtape would be dropping soon, but i’m guessing that JinE is just a nickname,” Hyojung said.
“Rap gods HSH and JinE,” Jiho deadpanned. Mimi’s head shot to Jiho, alert. Jiho grinned, knowing that she’d caught the attention of the older girl.
“They rap? Ask them if they want to rap battle with me,” she turned to Hyojung. “Jiho will be my plus one.”
“Yo yo, my bro,” Jiho covered her mouth with her hand.
“I’m not going to do that,” Hyojung flashed Jiho a weary look.
“Just give me your arm, I’ll do it,” Mimi stood up from her seat, reaching across to get Hyojung. Hyojung jumped back, forgetting the chairs were attached to the table. She moved barely an inch, before Mimi grabbed her arm. Mimi reached behind her ear for her pen, before realizing it wasn’t there. “Jiho get me a pen-”
“Jiho, no,” Hyojung glared at the youngest of their group.
“Sorry, Hyojung. The Kim Rap Gods are back at it again, y’know?” Jiho apologized absentmindedly, rifling through her backpack for a pen.
“Sit down,” YooA groaned, grabbing Mimi’s shoulder. Mimi’s grip on Hyojung’s hand loosened as YooA pushed her back into her seat. “You’re making a scene.”
“But we have to rap battle,” Mimi pouted, looking at YooA.
“You can rap battle when they actually meet.” This placated Mimi, who returned to eating her lunch.
“Oh,” Jiho sat up suddenly, looking at Mimi. “There’s been an update in Arin’s situation.” Mimi nodded, prompting Jiho to continue. “Turns out her soulmate is only few years older than her, just three. They’re the grade above us and go here. It solidified Arin’s plan to go to school here.” Mimi gave a relieved sigh.
“How old did you think her soulmate was?” Hyojung asked.
“Sometimes forty, sometimes four,” Jiho said. “We were afraid they had a kid-”
“Or were the kid.” Mimi finished.
“How have they been in contact?” YooA asked.
“They write on their arms like it’s instant messaging,” Jiho answered. “I told them to just use a text service or something, but I guess what they’re doing works better.”
“The strangest thing was seeing an explanation of an algebra problem written on Arin’s stomach,” Mimi nodded. “They use it as their main form of communication.”
“Her soulmate does know how old Arin is, right?” Hyojung asked, worry knit across her face. Jiho nodded quickly, trying to swallow the spaghetti she’d just put in her mouth quickly, nearly choking on it.
“They know everything about each other. Name, age, birthday, best friends names. All sort of stuff.”
“Arin says her soulmate’s just like us; me and Jiho that is,” Mimi said. “She used the phrase ‘an absolute disaster’-”
“Yeah I’d say that fits,” YooA grumbled. Mimi pushed YooA with her arm, but it was a playful gesture.
“She says it makes total sense in a way,” Mimi continued. “That she’d fall in love with someone like her favorite upperclassman-”
“Or childhood friend,” Jiho added.
“But on the other hand, she dreads the day we meet.”
“Have the two done nothing to meet yet?” Hyojung asked.
“Of course not, duh. Age difference,” Jiho said, giving Hyojung a look. “Arin’s still in middle school.”
“Hey, be nice to your upperclassman!” Mimi lifted her arm, faking like she was going to hit Jiho. Jiho stuck her tongue out, leaning back in her seat out of Mimi’s reach.
“What about you?” YooA ignored Mimi, looking instead to Jiho.
“We’re in the same grade, at the same school, but somehow we’ve never crossed paths. I’m starting to think we’re even in the same class, because this happened.” She lifted her sleeve, revealing the phrase study for chem test!! written in alternating handwriting all along her arm. “Sujeong is absolutely positive it’s this kid in my class named Jungkook because he always wears his sleeves down as well, though if it is I might choke him. Or her. Or everyone. I’m pretty sure he’s going to fail all his classes at some point.”
“Ruthless,” Mimi whispered under her breath.
Jiho shrugged. “Either way, it’s only a matter of time before we bump into each other, I hope. Whoever my soulmate is, he’s high in class ranking, from what I’ve gathered. Like a genius or something. I could use the studying help.”
Chemistry wasn’t Jiho’s favorite class. If she had to pick a way to describe it, she’d go with Hell on Earth. But tragically, it was a graduation requirement, thus she was stuck here.
Are you ready for the test? She saw written on her arm.
No. She wrote, followed by a frowning face. The number one in my class is next to me though, so I might copy off of her a little if I need it. She glanced over at the girl next to her, focused intently on her notes from the week before. She let out a small sigh, resting her head on her desk for a moment. She had tried to study, she really had, but she had been distracted by the oh-so-important return of her favorite tv show. She’d slept over Arin’s house the night before, watching the show with her and explaining the intricacies of the plot Arin didn’t understand. A solid excuse, in her opinion.
When the bell rang to start class, Jiho picked her head up, trying to get her brain to focus. She rolled down her sleeves, a customary requirement for students on test days. The test was impossibly difficult for her. So many of the questions she read, remembered learning about, and had absolutely no clue the answer to. Yoobin, however, was doing absolutely nothing to cover up her answers. Jiho smiled, thanking whatever gods allowed Yoobin to be so careless.
Mimi sat in the back of her economics classroom, completely lost. The class wasn’t overly difficult, not really, but the lectures were so draining, with the teacher’s droning, monotonous voice, not to mention her lack of friends to pass the time. She would doodle on her arm to YooA, but of course this had to be the same period YooA had her fancy advanced literature class where the teacher was one step away from forcing the students to wear full body spandex suits to prevent them from interacting with another soul outside of the class.
Her teacher was also one of the few who didn’t put the students into pair desks, instead having them in six uniformed rows, preventing any sort of contact with another human. She had memorized the ceiling tiles. She knew each of their different shapes and differences, even the off-color one from when some students performed an impromptu science lesson combining an entire pack of mentos with a two liter bottle of cola. She knew them all by heart.
“...Mihyun, Kim Mihyun,” the teacher was droning, and Mimi thought to pay it no mind, until the girl from the next row over tapped her on the shoulder. Mimi’s eyes shot to the front, looking at the teacher. “Welcome back to class Miss Kim.” He didn’t even sound upset, which is what got to Mimi. There was no bite to his voice that should make it seem like she should be ashamed for spacing out. He genuinely seemed to be welcoming her back, like she’d left to go to the Nurse’s or the Principal’s office. “Now, the project will be on inflation. A detailed copy of the assignment and grading rubric is located at the front of the room, please pick up one for you and your partner. You’ll be working on this mostly outside of class, but will have the rest of this class to prepare. Get in your partners.”
Mimi stared straight ahead, a dumb smile coming over her face, before she turned to the girl who tapped her on the shoulder. “Kim Namjoo, who is my partner?”
“Do you think I know? Apparently there are more than ten people in this class. My partner’s name is Park Junghwa, I don’t know who that is.” Namjoo hurriedly rose from her seat, moving up in the room to find her partner. Mimi returned to staring at the front of the room, praying her partner knew who she was.
“You’re Kim Mihyun?” A quiet voice caught her attention. She turned to see a girl in front of her, awkwardly offering a small smile.
“Yes! Are you my partner? I wasn’t listening,” Mimi answered sheepishly.
“Shin Hyejin.” The girl held her hand out, and Mimi gladly took it and shook it.
“Most people call me Mimi.” Hyejin smiled, taking the seat next to Mimi and angling it so it was facing closer to her. Hyejin handed her a piece of paper with the assignment on it. “I don’t really pay attention during his lectures, to be honest, I just read the book, so I don’t really know what he was talking about,” Mimi said. “I can read about stuff for tomorrow, but right now I have no idea what any of this says.”
“It’s easy to get lost, I understand.” Hyejin agreed. “I don’t really feel like working much right now, so you don’t have to worry about it.”
“Oh, we should exchange our phone numbers, so we can find time to work,” Mimi said, reaching into her bag for a piece of paper, pulling out the pen that was usually located behind her ear. Hyejin nodded, taking her pen and putting it against her arm. She stared at it a second, before shaking her head and pulling out a piece of paper. “Soulmate thing?” Mimi asked with a grin.
“We haven’t exchanged phone numbers, I wouldn’t want there to be any confusion,” Hyejin said. Mimi nodded, relaying her number to Hyejin and writing Hyejin’s own number one her piece of paper.
Chapter 2: Chapter 2
“I can’t believe you’re doing this,” Jiho groaned, walking beside Mimi after school. “I mean, I get the schedules weren’t working out, but you’re sacrificing your once a week hangout with me and Arin for this. Arin! Me!”
“It’s fine, we can just hang out after. Not to mention you guys will still be there,” Mimi rolled her eyes at her friend’s absurdity. It was true, her and Hyejin’s schedules just never worked out. Mimi’s club activities never overlapped with Hyejin’s, not to mention the dance class her and YooA had decided to take ate up a lot of time.
“Arin’s bedtime is like, seven. How can you expect someone so young to stay up for you?”
“Arin is a grade below you she’s not that young.”
“Arin’s two years younger than me, although you conveniently seem to forget that,” Jiho glared at Mimi. Mimi ignored it, instead focusing on the sidewalk ahead of them.
“Hyejin’s bringing a friend of hers from class, so you can get to know someone new, right?” Jiho hummed, placated for a moment before she began speaking again.
“Maybe it’s my soulmate!”
“She’s older than you,” Mimi deadpanned.
“Maybe it’s Hyojung’s soulmate!”
“Hyejin’s a really quiet person. There’s no way anyone she associates with is as strange as Hyojung’s soulmate. Plus, I met Seunghee once in passing. She’s not that strange at all.”
“Yeah, why? Do you know her?”
“No, nevermind,” Jiho got quiet after that. It was strange, but Mimi paid it little attention.
“We’re here! Arin said her club gets out soon so she’ll catch up when she does.” Mimi held the door open for Jiho, following her in and looking around the coffeeshop. Her eyes locked onto a table in the back corner and she grabbed Jiho’s arm, pointing there and beginning to lead her back. Hyejin and Seunghee had gotten a circular table with five chairs around it, the two sitting next to each other. Mimi grabbed the other seat next to Hyejin and Jiho sat next to her, leaving a seat between Jiho and Seunghee. “Jiho, this is Hyejin and her friend Seunghee, Seunghee and Hyejin this is my friend Jiho. She’s in her first year.”
Seunghee greeted Jiho brightly, and Hyejin offered a smile and a shy wave. Jiho returned the smile and greeting, grabbing her wallet from her bag and standing. “Do you want anything?” She asked Mimi.
“Usual,” Mimi answered. Jiho turned to offer the same to the other two girls, but seeing them both already with drinks, she moved to order. “I have another friend named Arin, she’ll be here soon,” Mimi said to Hyejin and Seunghee. “She’s still in middle school so she’s just getting out now.”
Jiho returned to the table with three drinks, setting one in front of Mimi, one in front of herself, and one in front of the empty chair. “For Arin,” she explained to Seunghee. Hyejin and Mimi had tuned out the other two, focusing instead on their work. “What’s your full name?” Jiho asked, giving Seunghee a hard look, her arms crossed over her chest.
“Hyun Seunghee. You?”
“Kim Jiho.” Seunghee nodded slowly, matching Jiho’s gaze. The two were locked in their own little staring contest across the table, tuning everything else out until the chair between them screeched out.
“Sorry, I ran over as fast as I could,” Arin said, panting.
“Arin!” Mimi grinned, looking up at the girl. “This is Hyejin, she’s my partner, and that’s Seunghee-”
“Hyun Seunghee,” Jiho cut in, breaking the eye contact with Seunghee to look at Arin.
“Right,” Mimi frowned. “Seunghee, Hyejin, this is my friend A-”
“Choi Yewon,” Arin cut in, staring at Seunghee. Seunghee opened her mouth, immediately closing it after.
“Yeah, okay, cut me off. Cool,” Mimi grumbled. Arin slowly slid into the seat next to Seunghee, still staring at the girl.
“Y-you’re,” she started, stopping before she could say anything else.
“What’s going on?” Mimi whispered to Jiho.
“Hyun Seunghee.” Jiho said, as if that was an adequate response.
“They’re soulmates,” Hyejin whispered to Mimi. “Seunghee’s been talking about Yewon since I met her.”
“So these are the friends you’re always talking about?” Seunghee asked Arin, gesturing to Mimi and Jiho.
“Yes,” Jiho said. “And let me be clear that if you ever, and i mean ever hurt Arin, I will turn you into a rich person’s doorbell. Don’t think I haven’t heard about your strange impersonations and mark my words, Hyun Seunghee,” she smacked her hands on the table, earning them all annoyed looks from the other patrons in the coffeeshop.
Mimi shook her head. “Anyway,” she took her pen and rolled up her sleeve, marking a little note to herself to talk to YooA about. Arin met soulmate, Hyun SeungHee.
“This,” Jiho said, pushing Seunghee into the seat across from Hyojung, “is Hyun Seunghee.” After the initial overprotective older friend feelings had worn off for Jiho, she started talking to Seunghee more seriously, exchanging phone numbers and texting. The two quickly befriended each other. “She does the best doorbell impersonation I have ever heard,” Jiho added, sitting next to Seunghee.
“Do you want to hear it?” Seunghee asked.
“Maybe next time,” Hyojung said with a smile. The 95 line were soon to arrive, having been held late by a class meeting for their grade. YooA and Mimi sat across from each other, as usual, and Hyejin, seeing no other option, chose to sit next to Hyojung. Seunghee and Jiho immediately launched into a conversation that was nearly impossible for Hyojung to decipher, so she decided instead to talk to the quietest person at the table.
“So, how has school been?” She asked. It was the most basic question she could think of, but it worked. She didn’t understand how Hyejin, who was quiet, could befriend someone as loud and energetic as Seunghee.
“We got the economics project back. B,” JinE answered.
“That’s good,” Hyojung said, smiling. Hyejin’s eyes more or less focused on anything other than Hyojung, but she disregarded it. “What kind of music do you like?”
Hyejin shrugged. “Most stuff.” There was a pause. “What about you?” Hyojung’s smile widened. Hyejin was asking questions back, which was a good sign that the conversation would be able to continue.
“I’ve been listening to a lot of good music recently, you should just some of it out, if you ever need new music to listen to.” As Hyojung listed off music recommendations for Hyejin, Seunghee pulled Jiho’s arm, lowering her voice to a whisper.
“Has Hyojung met her soulmate?” Seunghee asked, eyeing the eldest girl.
“No. The two know nothing about each other, and they’ve basically decided to just date normally until they meet.”
Seunghee nodded. “A lot of people are like that. Hyejin’s the same way.” Jiho nodded. “Hey, you don’t think that Hyejin and Hyojung…”
“Not possible,” Jiho answered. “We’re almost positive the two aren’t in the same school.”
Seunghee nodded. “What about you?”
Jiho shrugged. “Same school, same grade, same class. No dice. Whoever my soulmate is, they’re good at hiding the stuff they write on their arms.”
“Well, best of luck to you.”
Some test, huh? Jiho stared at her soulmate’s writing on her arm, settling into her seat for chemistry. Sujeong sat in front of her, angrily complaining about something or other that happened to her on her date last night. Jiho was about to reply to the message, but the teacher came in and quieted them down before she could.
“At the end of the period, I’ll return your exams,” the teacher said, launching into a lecture about chemistry. Jiho diligently took her notes, not wanting to have to copy off of Yoobin again. She felt bad for it, but it was a drastic situation.
The last ten minutes came very quickly, prompting the teacher to end the lecture and hand out their exams. Jiho stared at hers when it was returned, the large red 65% taunting her otherwise A- in the class. Bleh she quickly jotted back on her arm to her soulmate, before turning to Yoobin, hoping to make small talk. The fact that the test had defeated the formidable top of their class was astounding to her.
“Some test, huh?” Jiho said, echoing the words of her soulmate to Yoobin. The girl turned towards her and offered a small smile.
“Really? Did you do poorly?”
“Yeah,” Jiho answered. “I bet it took your grade down a little as well, huh?”
“Nope,” Yoobin smiled widely, holding up the paper marking a perfect 100%. Jiho spluttered out a few words, but Yoobin stopped her by holding up her other arm, Jiho’s Bleh written very clearly for her to see. The bell rang, covering Jiho’s reaction, which is probably for the best considering the nature of swear words she let out. “Next time you’re not doing so well, feel free to ask for extra help.” Yoobin said, grinning at Jiho one last time before exiting class with her friends.
“You coming?” Sujeong asked, frowning at Jiho, still numbly staring at the chair Yoobin had just occupied. “Jiho?”
“You were wrong,” Jiho mumbled. “Jungkook’s not my soulmate. I guess I don’t have to fight everyone.”
Chapter 3: Chapter 3
“So basically you’ve exchanged phone numbers with this girl, texted her nonstop, and have no belief she could be your soulmate?” Wendy asked. Hyojung nodded while replying to a text on her phone.
“We haven’t talked about it, but i’m pretty sure JinE doesn’t go to the same school as us.”
“Ginny? So she’s a foreigner?” Jinye asked.
“J-i-n-E. It’s a nickname, I think,” Hyojung answered. The three had decided to hang out at a park for a day, currently sitting at one of the benches by an ice cream stand that stood adjacent to a skate park.
“But you like Hyejin,” Jinye said. Hyojung’s head snapped up, her mouth opening and closing like a fish.
Hyejin and Hyojung had been awkward while talking in person, but Hyojung soon realized that was just Hyejin’s personality. When they started to text each other, Hyejin opened up a lot more and the two had started to become closer.
“So yes,” Wendy said, grinning slyly. “It’s fine, isn’t it? The two of you said that you’d date whoever and then someday it would probably be each other?”
Hyojung let out a sigh, putting down her phone. “It was fine to just say, but actually doing it seems a lot harder.”
“Just talk about it?” Jinye suggests. “You might find what you’re looking for.” Hyojung nodded and the conversation spread to other topics. She listened silently, her mind distracted.
That night, Hyojung sat at her desk, staring at the clear underside of her arm, contemplating how to start a conversation. How was your day? She settled for. It was weird, because the two rarely talked as it was.
Good? How was yours? JinE wrote back. Hyojung quickly drew a little check to indicate it was going well, or at least she hoped that’s how JinE took it.
So, Hyojung started. About the deal we made a while ago, the one about dating.
There’s someone that I kind of like. Hyojung paused, trying to figure out what to say next.
Cool! Co-- JinE’s writing caught up with their wrists, prompting JinE to draw a large up arrow. Hyojung turned her hand over, where JinE started writing on the other side. If you like them, go for it. Hyojung stared at it dumbly. It was all that simple for JinE to accept her dating someone else. Right? I have someone I’m kind of interested in as well. Maybe it’s you! Lol.
Yeah. Hyojung wrote back hastily, her loopier handwriting contrasting sharply with JinE’s small, compact handwriting.
Good luck! I’m going to shower now so this will all disappear, but don’t forget it!
“What you’re saying,” Solbin started slowly, uncertainly. “Is that your soulmate told you she was going to cheat off of you, you let her, then changed all the answers last minute so she got them wrong and you got them right.”
“And then told her, and haven’t seen or spoken to her since,” Yulhee finished. Binnie nodded, head down on the table, her face covered by her crossed arms.
“I was so cool when I told her, but it was all a sham. She’s so pretty and cool and popular and I once created an entire Dungeons and Dragons conquest because of how much I hated the ending to a fantasy novel.”
“So you’re not just a nerd, you’re a gay nerd,” Solbin quipped, earning her a push on the arm from Yulhee.
“Who is it, anyway?” Yulhee asked.
“Kim Jiho,” Binnie answered, trying to push her head further towards the table. They were in an ice cream parlor near the school, enjoying ice cream despite the cold weather.
“Kim Jiho is so… extra,” Solbin mumbled.
“Solbin,” Yulhee stared at her. “You can’t call someone extra. You can’t. That’s just, not logical.”
“I didn’t know she was popular though,” Solbin said with a frown.
“All her friends are,” Yulhee replied. “She’s friends with Kim Mihyun and Yoo Shiah, they’re both really popular. And Choi Hyojung. She’s one of the most likeable people in school.”
Binnie frowned, an action neither of her two friends could see. “Why do I know Hyojung’s name?”
“She’s friends with Jinye,” Solbin answered.
“Like that matters to us,” Yulhee said with a snort. “Haein said Hyejin and Mimi were partnered for a project in a class the three have together, so maybe that’s it?”
“Hyejin?” Binnie’s head popped up, frowning, her eyebrows furrowed thoughtfully. “Maybe she’s talking about the same Hyojung?”
“Has she mentioned her smile?”
“Unbelievable,” Binnie mumbled, pulling out her phone. “She knows Kim Jiho’s friends and she fails to mention that to me.”
“What are you going to do?” Solbin asked.
“Ask Hyejin for help. How am I supposed to make it up to her for, y’know, nearly failing her on a test.” Binnie said, quickly typing in a message to Hyejin.
The day after her conversation with JinE, Hyojung asked Hyejin to meet her in front of the school.
“So,” Hyejin started, looking awkwardly at Hyojung. “What did you need to talk about?”
“Have you met your soulmate?”
“No, not yet,” Hyejin answered simply. She said nothing else, which Hyojung took as a sign to take in a breath and keep talking.
“Me and my soulmate have a deal,” she started, averting her gaze to look at the tree they were standing under. “We said that we wouldn’t find out anything about each other that would give our identity away and that we’d just date people that we liked. And then, someday, we figured we’d meet each other.” Hyejin nodded. Hyojung forced herself to look at the younger girl. “So I, uh, was wondering if maybe you’d want to go on a date with me, since I like you.”
Chapter 4: Chapter 4
Arin had suggested that they all came around her house for the weekend, to hang out since Hyojung would soon be completely devoured in the horrors of college preparation. Her parents were out on a business trip, which only led to Mimi and Jiho teasing that they were coming over to babysit Arin, that her bedtime was at 8:30, and that she wasn’t allowed to have any sweets after 6 or else her stomach would get upset and she’d have nightmares.
The teasing lasted an absolute 30 seconds after the two had arrived, with YooA, to Arin’s house. Arin had informed them that her parents knew they’d be over, and thus left her some money so that the they could all order food for the weekend. That stopped them from commenting on her age, but couldn’t keep them quiet from getting into a debate about what kind of pizza to order.
“Listen, I’m just saying meat lovers pizza is the way to go!” Mimi said, gripping the phone with one hand, trying to pull it away from Jiho.
“And I’m saying it’s Hawaiian pizza! Meat lovers is too greasy,” Jiho growled back, glaring at Mimi.
“Well you’re a heathen for liking pineapple on pizza. Nobody sane would like that,” Mimi pulled again, but Jiho had an iron grip on the phone, preventing her from reaching it.
“I agree with Jiho, Hawaiian pizza is fine,” YooA called, seated next to Arin in front of a coffee table, on the floor, their backs resting against a large couch. Arin had her laptop out, pulling up the site for the pizza place they always ordered from.
“You could also tell them that we’re ordering online and to stop manhandling my phone,” Arin said to YooA, but it was drowned out by the anguished cry Mimi let out.
“My own girlfriend! Betraying me like this!” Mimi shouted. Jiho let out a victory cheer. “Well, that’s fine. I’m sure Hyojung will agree with me.”
“About meat lovers pizza? Okay, on what planet?” Jiho said with a snort.
“Not about that, about Hawaiian pizza. We don’t have to get meat lovers just, jeez, let’s not deface a pizza with pineapple!”
“Speaking of, where is Hyojung?” YooA asked, turning from her seat to look where Jiho and Mimi were, no longer fighting over the phone.
“Uh,” Mimi started uncertainly.
“We have no idea,” Jiho finished, the two looking at each other.
“She said she had to go to a store and was going to be late,” Arin answered.
“Gosh, Hyojung tells you everything, huh?” Jiho said, jumping over the back of the couch to sit cross-legged behind Arin, resting her head on top of Arin’s.
“That’s because Arin is so smart,” Mimi said, joining Jiho’s position on the couch, but behind YooA, taking a little of YooA’s hair and starting to play with it.
“Actually she posted it in our group chat. Didn’t you guys see it?”
“The two of you should be better about this,” YooA said, turning around to give the two a look. “Arin’s younger than you and yet she’s more responsible.”
“You say that, but you didn’t know where Hyojung was either,” Jiho taunted, smiling slyly. YooA opened her mouth to respond, raising an arm to hit Jiho, but Mimi moved YooA’s head so it was facing front again, picking up some of her hair and starting to braid it loosely. Jiho stuck her tongue out at YooA, despite her being unable to see it.
“I can’t believe you used to have a crush on her,” Mimi grumbled to Jiho.
“What’s that supposed to mean?” Jiho whispered back.
“If I didn’t know any better I’d say you guys hate each other,” Mimi answered.
“Who had a crush on who?” YooA asked, trying to turn around again. One of Mimi’s hands kept YooA’s head in place, while the other held onto the hair she was braiding.
“Nobody had a crush on anyone,” Jiho glared at Mimi. “Unless they want to get murdered.”
“Yes sir-ma’am-sir,” Mimi said, saluting goofily at Jiho. “But aren’t I so glad it wasn’t going to work out between you two,” Mimi finished, giving Jiho a taunting smile and turning back to YooA’s hair. Jiho huffed once, before turning to Arin and trying to play with her hair, deciding instead of braiding it to push it all forward so it covered Arin’s entire face.
“Arin,” YooA said, not moving her head. “Where’s the remote? I want to turn on the television.”
Arin pushed her hair back, then looked around briefly, unable to find it.“I think Jiho’s sitting on it,” she answered.
“Unbelievable,” Jiho started. “Kids these days just can’t handle regular, good, old-fashioned conversations. Always have to be watching their tvs and playing on their telephones.”
“The last time you had a ‘good, old-fashioned conversation’ with me you talked to me about the finer points of an anime for three hours,” YooA said, holding her hand out for Jiho to put the remote in.
“Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure is art!” Jiho exclaimed, reaching around to find the remote.
“You couldn’t even explain the plot properly,” YooA retorted.
“Listen, you can’t just ask someone to explain the plot of Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure. It just doesn’t happen.”
“Then don’t try to talk to me about it,” YooA said. Jiho placed the remote into her hand, which YooA thanked her for, turning the television on, lowering the volume to a low hum.
A knock on the door caught their attention, and Jiho jumped over the back of the couch to answer it. She returned with a tired looking Hyojung, who placed the bags she had with her on an empty chair.
“Is that everyone?” Mimi asked, focusing on YooA’s hair. YooA and Jiho focused on the tv, Jiho sitting next to Arin on the floor and Hyojung occupying Jiho’s former position on the couch, smoothing out Arin’s hair. “You didn’t invite Seunghee?”
“No, I figured we should wait before she sees us at our worst,” Arin answered.
“Really? In school she seems to get along great with Jiho, I figured she’d fit right in,” YooA said.
“Oh no, she’d love it,” Arin replied. “It’s not for her sake that I’m avoiding having her be here, it’s for mine.”
“I can’t believe you found your soulmate,” Hyojung said, finishing straightening out Arin’s hair and resting back on the couch.
“Before you did,” Arin said, prompting Hyojung to laugh.
“I’m not complaining, I’ve got time,” she replied. “Plus it seems like my soulmate is going to be a lot like the rest of our friends, so I’d prefer to wait until everyone’s mellowed out a little, I think.”
“Like that’s ever going to happen,” Jiho said.
“So that means that only Jiho and Hyojung have yet to find their soulmates?” YooA asked.
“And Hyejin if you count her,” Mimi added.
“Oh, you thought,” Jiho jumped up suddenly, cutting Hyojung off and moving forward to shut the television off manually. “I bet you all thought. You all thought that I hadn’t, well guess what? You’re all wrong!”
“You’ve met yours?” Arin shouted, shocked.
“You haven’t introduced us?”
“Is it that kid that you don’t want it to be? Oh man I hope so that would be hilarious,” Mimi said.
“Yeah, you wish. Sit your seats down kids, and get ready for the worst experience of my life,” Jiho said, standing in front of the television. “Now, I’m not one for bad behaviors, as you all know. Do I goof around, yes. Do I make mistakes, obviously. But I only did this under dire circumstances, so I hope you’ll all understand.” Four faces stared blankly at Jiho, until Hyojung nodded for her to continue. “Now we all know I hate chemistry with a passion, but I work hard and I earn my grade. Except for one day, where I couldn’t. See I maybe was underprepared, as the kids call it, but trust me, I was doing something important. So, as any smart student would do, I copied off of the person next to me.”
“Jiho!” Arin exclaimed.
“You wonder why you don’t do so well,” YooA said.
“Nice going, bro,” Mimi said. Hyojung gave her a disapproving look.
“Yeah, yeah, I get it. I mentioned it to my soulmate, because that makes sense to do. I’m copying off of the number one in my grade-”
“The number one in your grade is your soulmate?” Hyojung asked.
“I’ve met her, she’s friends with Jinye’s girlfriend.”
“Well, the number one in my grade lets me cheat off of her and then changes all her answers last minute, so I get a sixty-five and she gets a hundred.”
“Well, you kind of deserved it, if you cheated,” YooA said.
“She tells me after we get the tests back, and now she refuses to look at or speak to me!” Jiho finished.
“Well, what do you want to talk to her about?” Hyojung asks.
“Talk? I want to strangle her because she made me fail the test. I would have done better if I hadn’t cheated, which is absurd!”
“Well, you can’t blame her,” Arin said. “She probably knows you want to strangle her.”
“Yeah, that’s all.” Jiho flopped back down next to Arin. She rested her head onto the coffee table.
“So,” Hyojung started. “I sort of-”
“But she’s so pretty,” Jiho said, droning out the last word. “She’s sooooo pretty. Look up a picture of her,” Jiho said, lightly slapping Arin’s arm.
“What’s her name?”
“Here, I’ll do it,” Jiho said, angling the computer so it was facing her.
“On Tuesday, I sort of-” Hyojung tried again.
“Here she is!” Jiho turned it back.
“Oh she is cute,” Arin agreed. The other three looked onto the screen, agreeing as well.
“She looks cute with short hair,” YooA commented.
“Yeah, she got it cut last year. She looked really pretty with long hair as well, I’ll see if she has a photo of it here.” Jiho returned the laptop to look at her, trying to find another photo.
“Bae Yoobin is her name?” Mimi asked.
“I think she goes by Binnie,” Hyojung commented. “But, like I was saying-”
“I bet she likes cooler things than you,” YooA said, taunting Jiho. “She’ll probably think you’re really lame when she gets to know you.” Jiho’s eyes snapped up from the laptop screen to look at YooA.
“Guys-” Arin tried to cut in.
“You’re right! I have to sit down and start watching normal people shows now. I have to impress her.”
“Hey, guys-” Arin cut in again.
“If she’s number one in the class I’m sure she’s nerdier than Jiho. Jiho’ll probably seem like the cool one,” Mimi said.
“Hey!” Arin raised her voice slightly. The three stopped bickering, turning to look at Arin, whom they realized was no longer sitting in front of the couch, but was standing behind it. “Hey, yeah. Two things. First of all, the pizza’s here. Second, Hyojung has something she’s been trying to say the whole time.”
Hyojung smiled gratefully at Arin before speaking. “I have a date on Tuesday.” She said simply.
“Woah, woah, woah. With who?” Jiho asked.
“Woah, is she like your, y’know?” Mimi asked.
“I don’t think so,” Hyojung answered.
“When did you ask her?”
“Last week.” That ended the simple conversation, they all stood, preparing to move into Arin’s kitchen to get pizza. YooA grabbed Jiho’s hand, pulling her back so they were out of earshot.
“What?” Jiho asked, giving YooA a confused look.
“I need to tell you something,” YooA answered.
“Why not Mimi?”
“You’re the only one who won’t tell someone else,” YooA said, giving Jiho a look that shut up her further protests.
“Okay, so what is it?”
“I think Hyejin is Hyojung’s soulmate.”
“That’s stupid, you were the one who first suggested JinE didn’t go to school with Hyojung, how could it be Hyejin.”
“HSH,” YooA answered. “Hyun. Seung. Hee.” Jiho stared at her for a moment, before recognition appeared on her face.
“HSH,” she whispered. YooA nodded. “But wait, then her name, Hyejin, jin, JinE,” Jiho paused for a moment. “Oh my god.”
“We can’t tell anyone,” Jiho said.
“Agreed, so don’t tell a soul.”
“Roger that, captain,” Jiho said, saluting YooA. The two moved into the kitchen with the other three. “What kind of pizza did you get?” Jiho asked, moving to stand by Arin. YooA moved to her normal position beside Mimi.
“Pepperoni and cheese,” Arin answered. “I didn’t want to bother with your guys’ pineapple against meat lovers debate.”
“Arin is so smart,” Jiho grinned, patting Arin on the head.
“What do you think of Hawaiian pizza?” Mimi asked Hyojung. Hyojung paused, frowning thoughtfully.
“I can’t say I’m fond of it. Pineapple doesn’t belong on pizza, in my opinion.” Mimi let out a victorious laugh at Hyojung’s answer, making finger guns out of her hands and pointing them at YooA and Jiho, pretending to shoot them.
“The betrayal!” Jiho shouted, and the room descended into the group’s usual form of peaceful chaos.
Chapter 5: Chapter 5
“What is she doing here.” Binnie had been nervous before, many times, in fact. She considered it one of her greatest talents. But never before in her history of nerves had she been as petrified by fear as she was right now, sitting across from the one, the only, Kim Jiho. It wasn’t like she was expecting Jiho to be happy to see her, although the fact that she hadn’t been strangled across the lunch table was an accomplishment in Binnie’s opinion, since Jiho’s eyes betrayed her intention, and Binnie was pretty sure she’d lose her life at any moment.
Hyejin and Seunghee had kept Binnie’s life in mind, at least a little bit. They had put the table between the two girls, but that didn’t stop them from situating Binnie directly across from Jiho, although that was probably their plan. Next to Binnie were Hyojung and Hyejin, who very quickly got involved in some conversation about the logistics of what something Binnie couldn’t discern. Next to Jiho were two of her friends, whom had been introduced as Mimi and YooA. Seunghee had conveniently had chorus rehearsal during lunch and couldn’t be there.
“So,” Mimi started awkwardly, seated next to YooA, furthest from Binnie. Binnie, who had otherwise been staring at the table, trying to make herself as small as possible, looked up immediately and tried to return the awkward smile Mimi offered her. “Your name is Yoobin?” Hyejin and Seunghee had never introduced her as Yoobin to anyone, and her brain was starting to put together the fact that Jiho had told these people what she had done.
“My friends call me Binnie,” she said.
“Then we’ll call you Yoobin,” Jiho cut in, crossing her arms. “Since we are, by no stretch of the word, friends with you.” Binnie was wondering how exactly she was supposed to make things right with this person, who had apparently decided they were sworn enemies at this point, judging from her body language.
“About that,” Binnie started gently. “I’m really sorry-”
“Does that fix it?” Jiho shot back. “I’ve still dropped a grade in chemistry, what am I supposed to do with that?”
“Actually, what are you supposed to do to fix that?” Binnie figured Jiho would be angry, but she really wasn’t expecting her to be this upset. Jiho could probably kill her right now, and the only thing stopping her was the possibility of being arrested or, more likely, the fact that YooA’s hand under the table was holding Jiho down.
“About that, I-”
“Did I ask?” Jiho spat, cutting Binnie off again.
“Yes.” YooA said, throwing Jiho and equally terrifying glare, at least in Binnie’s opinion. She was so used to Seunghee and Hyejin, who were strange but entirely harmless, as opposed to these two, who looked about ready to murder at any moment. She wasn’t sure how Mimi or Hyojung fit in with the two, although from what she heard Mimi was YooA’s soulmate.
“Hyejin said your name is Binnie,” Hyojung, sitting next to Binnie, asked. She turned her head quickly to look at Hyojung, thankful for a diversion from Jiho and YooA’s glaring contest. Hyojung flashed what was probably the largest and most genuine smile Binnie had seen in her life.
“Yeah, I’m in Jiho’s grade,” Binnie said, trying to offer a smile that probably couldn’t match a quarter of the joy in Hyojung’s.
“She’s talked about you,” Hyojung replied. Binnie paled, but Hyojung waved it off. “We take everything Jiho says with a grain of salt. She’s very expressive in her emotions, but that’s why we love her so much.” Binnie nodded, but the bell rang before any more conversation could be had.
The other four quickly made their way out of the cafeteria. Binnie figured she should leave as well, but chose instead to wait for Jiho to be ready before leaving.
“Why are you still here?” Jiho asked. She wasn’t as aggressive as before, but there was a bite to her voice that was scaring Binnie half to death.
“We have chemistry together, so I thought we could walk together,” Binnie answered, trying to keep her voice even.
“Don’t remind me. Sujeong’s going to have a field day when she hears about this,” Jiho groaned, starting to walk. Binnie started with her, matching her pace to Jiho’s.
“Sorry again,” Binnie tried again. Jiho hummed this time, but said nothing else. A quiet Jiho was uncomfortable for Binnie, who was so used to sitting next to the girl in class, when she would laugh loudly with her friends or complain about how obnoxious her best friends were because they were dating (she’d gathered this would be Mimi and Yooa, since Hyojung and Hyejin weren’t dating as far as she was concerned).
When they arrived at class, the two sat next to each other, and Jiho’s eyes locked briefly with an unusually quiet Sujeong, whose eyes were darting between her and Binnie.
“Nothing to say?” Jiho asked.
“Do I have to fight her?” Sujeong asked back, making eye contact with Binnie and forming a fist with one of her hands, gesturing towards Binnie with it. Binnie ducked her head, choosing instead to look at Solbin and Yulhee in front of her.
“She apologized,” Jiho said.
“Well, that doesn’t really help.”
“She seems like she feels really bad.”
“You’re forgiving her?” Jiho shrugged, resting her head on one hand and preparing to zone out for the rest of class. When the teacher entered the class quickly quieted down.
“It’s alright to keep talking, if I could see Kim Jiho at the front of the class,” the professor said, and chatter immediately started up again. Jiho and Sujeong looked at each other, both wearing matching confused expressions. She got up and made her way up to the front of the room where the teacher was sitting at her desk.
“You needed me?”
“I’m giving you a retest on the last exam. Does Thursday work for you?” The professor asked, looking down at the small planner she had.
“I, uh, yeah.” Jiho answered, stunned.
“I understand we all go through things,” the professor said, looking up at Jiho. “And if you ever need someone to talk to, I’m available.” Jiho nodded once, numbly, and the teacher dismissed her back to her seat. When Jiho returned, she found a piece of paper folded neatly on her desk. She got Sujeong’s attention, holding the paper in front of her, but the girl just shrugged and pointed to Binnie, who was staring with rapt attention at the empty chalkboard, exerting an impressive death grip on her pencil. Jiho opened the letter and started reading.
Hello Kim Jiho!
Or just hello Jiho! Since we should start getting to know each other at least. Soulmates are a thing and apparently you are mine and I am yours. Unless its only working one way, in which case something funky is going on, but I don’t think the cosmic universe would let that work out too well.
Anyway, I sort of made you almost fail a test and do really badly. Which was, in hindsight, not a great thing to do to someone you’re supposed to spend the rest of your life with. But! I’m not very smart when it comes to these things. Number one in the class you think I’d know normal social cues but if you’ve met my friends you’d know they’re just about the strangest people so I’m one of the strangest people but not like a murderer or something because I’m a great person and it’s great that we’re soulmates and I’m super happy and it could be worse. Solbin kept telling her soulmate they were ~solmates~ without the “u” because her name was Solbin and she thought that was funny and I have a good sense of humor despite her so anyway. Okay pretend I didn’t just write that because if she sees it she’ll end me.
The point is, well, I asked the teacher (because I’m amazing and really close with our chemistry teacher. Academic competitions are not fun but give you connections. Yay.) to give you a retake on the exam. I kind of told her you were going through some stuff and couldn’t focus, and that it wasn’t your fault, so you may have to pretend some distant relative that you apparently really cared about passed away? But that’s a small price to pay for an exam retake in my opinion.
Again, I’m really sorry. I hope you’ll forgive me?
Sincerest apologies (also nice to finally meet you soulmate!)
Binnie (A.K.A. Bae Yoobin A.K.A Your-soulmate-who-is-very-sorry-that-she-made-you-do-poorly-on-a-test-don’t-cheat-next-time-thanks)
Below that, Binnie had written out a phone number with a little arrow pointing to it reading My number!!! If you want to study, or get to know each other. Both?
Binnie watched Jiho reading the letter out of the corner of her eye, tapping her pencil against her arm fervently. She would have preferred the more satisfying click of tapping it against the desk, but decided against annoying every other person in the room. She stopped tapping briefly, pulling out her pen and quickly writing another apology on her arm. Jiho started writing on her arm a moment later.
Do you think a test retake makes up for it? Binnie felt her heart drop, because, at least to her, yes it did make up for it. She stared at her arm, thinking of something to say, her ears very acutely aware of the sound of Jiho trying to conceal her laughter. Get coffee with me on Wednesday. Jiho wrote back, and Binnie now felt her stomach settle. She stared still at Jiho’s writing on her hand, trying very hard to comprehend the words she was seeing. I’ll text you details, Jiho wrote again. Try to focus in class right now. Stop being so surprised. You looked like a wounded puppy the entirety of lunch. I can’t stay mad at that too long.
Chapter 6: Chapter 6
“I can’t tell if this is a good idea or not, to be honest,” Hyojung said, frowning while looking outside. “It’s only November, but it looks like it’s already getting really cold.” Hyejin followed Hyojung’s gaze.
“Would you rather not?” The two stood off to the side in a coffeeshop, waiting while the barista made their drinks. They were right near a park in the town and planned to walk around the park some, grabbing warm drinks beforehand to give themselves some protection from the cold.
“No, it’s okay. I’m just a little worried.” Hyojung turned back to look at Hyejin and offered a reassuring smile. The barista called out their name, so Hyejin went up to get drinks and returned, giving Hyojung her drink.
They exited the shop and began their walk to the park. It was cold, but not so bad that they were overly uncomfortable. Autumn was finally in full swing, in mid-November, and the leaves were beautifully colored but had yet to fall of the trees fully.
Hyojung was starting to realize, as they silently walked over to the park, that she’d never really been on a date before and that she had no idea what she was doing. The last person who asked her out must have been in early middle school, which hardly counted as a date, and that was so short-lived because he’d met his soulmate the day after the date--not that she’d really minded, she wasn’t interested.
Were they supposed to be this quiet? Were they supposed to hold hands? Would her hands get sweaty? The more Hyojung thought of it the more that, yeah, her hands probably would get sweaty, Hyejin looked really good today. Her mind then wandered to how weird it was, that her hand would get sweaty, even though it was so cold. Should she talk about that to Hyejin? That would probably be weird, no. Should she say anything? Hyejin wasn’t going to start the conversation, it seemed like.
“How’s school?” Hyojung silently cursed herself for the question. It was the first she asked whenever the two talked and she kind of sounded like a friend’s mother more than a potential girlfriend.
“Good,” Hyejin answered after a moment. “It’s school, but I can’t really complain.” She paused again. “Have you been preparing for college?”
“Yeah, it’s not too bad now, it’ll pick up in the coming month, but right now it’s manageable.”
“Are you looking at anywhere specific?”
Hyojung thought about it for a moment. “I’m keeping my choices to myself, so I’m not disappointed by people expecting me to go somewhere.” Hyejin nodded and the two entered into the park, picking a random path to travel down. “The weather’s really turning now, isn’t it?”
“It’s been good weather to stay inside,” Hyejin agreed.
“Has there always been a pond in here?” Hyejin asked after a moment, staring at the small body of water inside the large park.
“You’ve never noticed it before?” Hyojung gave Hyejin a curious look. She shook her head, staring at the pond. The two walked closer to it. There was nothing in the water, except a couple of abandoned lily pads. Birds had already moved south for the winter.
“I usually only go near the skate park here. Binnie tried to go punk for a little while so Seunghee and I would go and watch her try and skate,” Hyejin answered. “Binnie went through a lot of soul-searching identities, but punk was the funniest. A little glad it stopped before she got around to changing her hair.”
“What did she want to do to it?” Hyojung asked.
“I don’t exactly remember, but I think inverted Mohawk was somehow involved. It was bad though, I’m pretty sure Seunghee offered to cut it for her as well.”
“Jiho went through a lot of phases as well,” Hyojung said, smiling faintly at the memories of middle school Jiho trying to figure out where she fit into school’s social structure.
“What was her worst?” Hyojung paused for a moment to think about it.
“Probably the two weeks she wore a buttoned up black trench coat and refused to be called anything other than Blade Dragoon.” Hyejin started laughing. “It was bad. She was in her first year of middle school, before her growth spurt and I was taller than her then, which made it worse. Arin was only nine and it stopped because Jiho made her cry. She wouldn’t say anything; she’d just stare at you with this really serious look. If you actually called her Blade Dragoon she’d do this 360-degree spin and continue to stare at you.”
Hyejin was doubled over now, unable to stop herself from howling with laughter at the idea of a small Jiho trying to be so dramatic. After collecting herself, Hyejin spoke again. “Binnie went through a phase that I can’t really describe, but it involved fedoras and she called everyone a ‘pleb.’ It was bad.”
“I’m sure they’ll have a lot to bond over then.” Hyojung said with a smile. “I think they made up.”
Hyejin nodded. “That would explain why Binnie’s stopped looping the same Taylor Swift breakup playlist. Although, it was entirely her fault; she has poor foresight.”
“Jiho doesn’t stay mad at people too long, so I guess it all worked out,” Hyojung said. “All of my friends managed to find their soulmates, it’s so strange to think of.” Hyejin hummed, but said nothing.
“Same happened to me,” Hyejin said after a period of silence. “Binnie and Seunghee have both met theirs. It happens, I guess.” Hyojung nodded and smiled.
“Oh well, we have time, right?”
“Yeah, we have time.”
“Are you sure this is okay?” Hyojung asked, frowning.
“I’m fine walking home by myself, I just wanted to make sure you got home safe.” Hyejin said with a nod. They were outside the gate to Hyojung’s house, just past dusk. Hyojung had enjoyed the date, and Hyejin had agreed emphatically every time Hyojung asked her if she’d also had a good time. Hyejin had insisted on walking Hyojung home, despite Hyojung’s protests that she lived nowhere near her and was just going to put herself into a bad situation, walking home alone at night.
“Are you sure?” Hyojung asked again.
“I’m positive,” Hyejin said, turning Hyojung towards her house and pushing her a little to get Hyojung walking to go inside. Hyojung let herself be pushed by Hyejin, until she remembered something.
“Text me when you get home,” she said, trying to turn around. Hyejin nodded and kept pushing.
“I will, now go. We still have school tomorrow you have things to do, I’m sure.” Hyojung relented and said a final goodbye to Hyejin, entering her house. Her mom greeted her from upstairs. She moved into the kitchen, trying to find something to eat for dinner, since her mom had told her she would have already have eaten by the time Hyojung returned.
There was some leftover salad, which she pulled out of the fridge. She tried to find a plate and fork, but the lack of light in the kitchen was starting to frustrate her. She quickly located the light switch and turned it on, moving back to the counter, reaching up for a plate. With her arm raised she noticed a black mark on her arm. After retrieving her plate, she moved her arm back, lifting her sleeve to see what was on there.
Thanks for the date :). Hyojung stared at the message on her arm. The first thought her mind could process was being thankful, at least that she had put the plate down beforehand, or else she would have dropped it. The second was that Hyejin was her soulmate. And knew? And decided to go on a date with her and not tell her? And had left—Hyojung’s eyes darted to the clock—Three minutes ago.
Hyojung’s feet worked faster than her brain, already moving to get outside of the house and catch up to Hyejin. She quickly pushed past the gate, her head darting left and right to try and find her. Hyejin was a short distance down the street, slowly meandering, clearly stalling by pausing at trees to observe them, despite it clearly being too dark for her to see anything.
Hyojung’s feet started moving again, and it wasn’t until she a few feet behind Hyejin that Hyojung realized she had no idea what to say.
“You knew?” Hyejin turned, looking shocked that Hyojung had actually gone to catch up with her. She took a few steps forward, so they were right in front of each other.
“Not until you asked me out,” Hyejin answered sheepishly, rubbing her hand against the back of her neck. “I just put some stuff together. Your name’s Hyojung, you write about wanting to ask someone out, the next day you ask me out.”
“You didn’t tell me though,” Hyojung said.
“I wasn’t sure. I was taking a leap of faith with writing after the date. I guess it worked out?” Hyojung gently lifted up Hyejin’s left arm and pulled up the sleeve, revealing matching black writing on her arm.
Hyojung let out a long sigh, feeling herself deflate from the push of adrenaline she’d felt while running. “I feel so stupid for not noticing,” she mumbled quietly. Hyejin laughed, pulling Hyojung into a hug.
“It all worked out, didn’t it?”
Chapter 7: Epilogue [3 years later]
3 years later
“It is with great sadness that I must announce,” Jiho said, standing on the coffee table in Arin’s house, holding an empty tube of wrapping paper as a scepter and one of Arin’s blankets wrapped around her as a cape. “That after years, Hyung Seunghee and Choi Yewon are officially dating.”
“Everyone already knew that,” Binnie sighed, standing next to the coffee table with her arms crossed over her chest.
“Well everyone knowing doesn’t stop me from having feelings!” Jiho replied angrily, glaring at Binnie.
“Stupid feelings,” Binnie retorted.
“Are my feelings for you stupid?” Jiho shot back. Binnie opened her mouth to reply but faltered, prompting Jiho to let out a victory cheer. “You lose.”
“Jiho, get off my table and get in here, we need help,” Arin called from the kitchen.
“No we don’t, we’re fine,” Hyejin called after. Binnie and Jiho exchanged looks before moving into the kitchen.
“Yes, we do, you’ve never done this before,” Arin said nervously, eyeing Jiho to try and get her to intervene. Jiho was distracted by Hyojung, talking from her seat at the island in the center of the room.
“You might want to take that off, there might be a fire,” Hyojung said, pointing to Jiho’s cape.
“That’s reassuring,” Binnie said, sitting beside Hyojung.
“Listen, I live in an apartment, I think I know how to cook, okay?” Hyejin said, giving the three at the island a look.
“What do you do if there’s an oil fire?” Jiho asked.
“Get my girlfriend,” Hyejin answered. The four girls all stared at Hyejin.
“She’s not wrong,” Hyojung said after a moment, smiling. Binnie and Jiho watched Hyejin and Arin’s cooking session intently, Hyojung leaving for a moment to grab the door.
“Guess who I brought from Loser-College? Also pizza,” Mimi shouted from the door, walking in with YooA, Seunghee, and Hyojung.
“Yeah at least our college didn’t lose ‘The Big Game’,” Seunghee said, placing a few boxes of pizza down.
“There was a game?” Mimi asked, frowning.
“I don’t know, I never pay attention,” Seunghee said with a shrug. She moved behind Arin and gave the younger girl a hug and a quick kiss on the cheek.
“Seunghee you can’t do that she’s only sixteen!” Mimi exclaimed in mock digust, placing her keys on the table and sitting beside Jiho, putting a plastic bag of soda bottles in front of her.
“You can kiss someone at sixteen!” Seunghee shouted back. “It’s not illegal if they’re under eighteen or something!”
“It totally is! They have to be seventeen, it's a totally-real law that I didn't just make up!”
“Oh, I guess I have to go then, “Jiho said, moving to leave.
“Sit down,” Binnie pulled Jiho back into her seat. “You didn’t kiss me until at least a year into our relationship, if then.” Mimi started laughing beside Jiho, who was finding it hard to switch her glare between the girls seated on either side of her.
“Is it May?” Hyojung asked, sorting the pizza boxes into a couple of piles. YooA confirmed that it was. “What’s the decision then?” Hyojung looked to Binnie and Jiho, who immediately stopped bantering. The two exchanged a look before Binnie spoke for them.
“We’re going to the same college as Mimi, both of us,” she explained.
“That makes us rivals!” Seunghee said, detaching herself from Arin to move so she was directly across the island from Jiho.
“Yeah! Me and YooA’s college is rivals with Mimi’s!” After Seunghee spoke Jiho stood and the two solemnly bowed together, a gesture that seemed strangely practiced for information the two had just discovered about each other.
“Are you rooming together?” YooA asked, ignoring Seunghee.
“No, Binnie’s in the Honors College and I’m going to spend plenty of time hanging out with my best pal Kim Mihyun,” Jiho said after returning to her seat, slinging an arm over Mimi’s shoulder and rocking the girl back and forth. “But I’m doing a random rooming assignment.”
“How many kinds of pizza did you get?” Hyojung asked, looking at Mimi.
“Three. There should be two cheese, one meat lovers and one Hawaiian,” she answered. “It’s time we finally put this debate to rest.” Mimi looked at Jiho, a serious expression on her face. Jiho nodded, matching the expression.
“For those of you who don’t know,” Jiho said, standing to get everyone’s attention. Hyejin and Arin were distracted with cooking, but otherwise all eyes were on them. “Since the dawn of time--meaning when Mimi and I first met some many years ago, we’ve constantly been at odds about pizza. You see, Mimi foolishly thinks I am a heathen for appreciating pineapple on pizza, while she instead chooses to eat the greasiest of pizzas. While I will agree that meat lovers is a great pizza option, her heinous accusation that pineapple is abominable on pizza is, at best, preposterous.”
“What she’s saying is meat lovers versus pineapple, or more simply does pineapple belong on pizza. Jiho and YooA say yes, Hyojung and I say no,” Mimi explained. “Also Binnie hide your thesaurus next time. Or your fantasy novels.”
“I vote meat lovers,” Binnie said.
“I’m aghast. How could you betray me!” Jiho placed a hand on her heart, offended. “You and I ordered pineapple pizza together. You ate half of it!”
“Since when have we ever agreed on anything. Not to mention, we ordered and extra large pineapple pizza together, I ate one piece and you wolfed the whole thing down in three bites.”
“I’m also meat lovers,” Seunghee said. “Meat is good.”
“I don’t care, don’t involve me,” Arin said from the stove.
“Both are fine, I like pineapple on pizza, but I also like meat lovers,” Hyejin said.
“That makes it basically even,” Jiho said with a sigh. “So lets do this, whoever’s pizza gets eaten more wins.”
“That’s unfair you could eat the whole thing by yourself!” Mimi retorted.
“Fair point, but that’s your loss!”Jiho stuck her tongue out at Mimi, standing up.
“I’m older than you, show some respect!” Mimi stood up after Jiho, the two beginning a useless chase around the island.
“Watch it! There’s pudding!” Hyejin shouted, moving the saucepan her and Arin had been working over.
“I hope they don’t break anything,” Arin said, biting her lip nervously after managing to direct the two out of the kitchen.
“At best one of them will-” There was a thud and the sound of both of them shouting once in pain, then again at each other.
“Fall over the other and hurt themselves,” Binnie finished for YooA. The two sighed and stood, going to clean whatever mess their girlfriends had made.
“First aid kit’s in the bathroom,” Arin called absentmindedly, cleaning some of the dishes in the sink.
Hyojung leaned back in her chair a little, using her grip on the edge of the marble topping of the island to prevent herself from falling back completely. It was spring and the weather was warm, allowing them all to wear short sleeves. She could see the note written on the underside of her arm, Don’t forget to google a pudding recipe for today! I’ll be there at noon, written in her large handwriting and smiled, content.