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Sugar Maple Tree

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Early fall of 2014, Senior year of high school

As Mina gets out from her bathroom door with a fresh new tissue roll in her hand, she stops for a moment, looks at the sluggish figure on her bed, and then exhales tiredly.

“It’s already the last one. Geez, how could she have used up so much..” Mina sighs to herself.

She slowly walks to her bed, and just as she sits on its edge she hears a very loud sneezing sound.

“I love her Mina-ya!! How could she do this to me? I can’t believe she did this to me! ” Jeongyeon whines, and wails, and huffs another heavy load again... in her thick school jacket this time.

“Hey… don’t blow your nose on that. Here, use this instead. It’s our last roll though.” Mina gently says as she gives the tissue roll to Jeongyeon.

She then starts to soothingly rub small circles on the crying girl’s back, as she always does when Jeongyeon is tense, in distress or just generally not feeling well.

They’ve been like that for more than 2 hours now, and Jeongyeon has already used up Mina’s newly opened facial tissue box on her study desk, and 4 of her reserved stash of tissue rolls in her bathroom.

Earlier two hours ago, around 9PM, while Mina is in the middle of finishing her English reaction paper, Jeongyeon just texted her a one-liner, “Ice cream tonight ”, with no emoji whatsoever, not even a question mark.

After reading Jeongyeon’s message, Mina immediately knew she’s probably going to be in another trouble again. And by trouble in Myoui Mina’s vocabulary means that she’s mostly going to pull another all-nighter later just to complete all her deadlines and to finish reviewing for her Organic Chemistry exam tomorrow.

So it wasn’t a surprise to Mina when approximately 20 minutes after Jeongyeon texted her, she heard a series of rather hurried knocks on her bedroom door and when she opened it, a pouting Jeongyeon greeted her and raised the plastic bag of ice cream in her right hand while she grumpily announced-

“Your turn to choose the movie.”

Jeongyeon rarely lets her choose the movie whenever they’re going for their scheduled movie nights, much more for unplanned days like tonight. So Mina knew immediately what kind of film to play the moment Jeongyeon told her that, with a pint of ice cream in hand.

Few minutes after, both girls were already sitting on Mina’s small bed, their backs on the headboard, blankets over their laps, while The Empire Strikes Back was playing on Mina’s laptop that is unsteadily positioned over her small penguin pillow.

Mina was carefully observing Jeongyeon the whole time the movie was playing. Jeongyeon was just mindlessly looking at the laptop screen while scooping out from the pint of their favorite Ben & Jerry’s Chocolate Chip Cookie ice cream.

Halfway through the movie, Mina sensed it’s finally time. She slowly lifted her free hand that is not holding the ice cream spoon, and gently holds the back of Jeongyeon’s hand.

“So tell me what happened.” Mina quietly asks her best friend in her usual caring tone.

It was then when she started to hear sniffles, quiet and slow at first. Mina decided to pause the movie, and then few minutes after, Jeongyeon loudly bellows, a serving of melting ice cream still inside her mouth-

“Momo broke up with me…” *sniffs* then, “She-.. she-... How could she break up with me Mina-ya!”

The sniffles then turned into a full on whiny sneezes and dramatic bawling few minutes after. It was then when Mina’s supply of facial and bathroom tissue rolls starts to deplete.

*****

 

“Let me get this straight. So she basically broke up with you because you prefer eating kimchi than sushi?” Mina asks, an appalled expression clearly written all over her pretty face.

“Yes that’s what she said. She even made me choose- kimchi or her.”

“So what’s your answer? ”

“I said kimchi on her.”

“Oh my god. Please tell me you’re lying and you didn’t actually say that.”

“I was shocked ok. I couldn’t think straight. Not that I’m straight in the first place... but.. I’m Korean Mina-ya! How could I just ditch kimchi like that. I actually thought my answer is smart you know. Kinda like hitting two birds in one stone or something like that. ” Jeongyeon explains sounding rather more offended now than hurt.

“Well, I actually think it’s witty too...” Mina comments rather quietly first then continues more firmly-

“But that’s not the point here. It’s not about the answer really. It’s about her question. How could she even ask you such a petty question and make you choose? And I can’t believe she actually broke up with you because of that. I thought she was just joking. I’m sorry Jeong, but she sounded shallow to me.” Mina says matter-of-factly, her other hand still rubbing Jeongyeon’s back.

Mina never really likes the girl anyway so she’s actually quite annoyed to see her best friend being hurt like this.

“Yeah I agree.. her question is kinda off.. But still, I love her Mina-ya. You, of all people should know that.” Jeongyeon replies, still sniffing.

“I know… Of course I know... But she doesn’t deserve your love, after all that she has done to you for the past months.” Mina would like to say that to her best friend, but chose not to.

Instead she just settles on, “Yes I of course know, Jeong. I’m sorry it happened to you tonight… You can cry all you want here. I’ll just fetch you some water ok? I’ll be back quickly. ” Mina tells her best friend while looking at Jeongyeon with concerned eyes.

*****

 

Jeongyeon thinks she truly loves Momo. Because she’s ok even if the girl rarely attends their games as a support for her. She understood her fully. She even understood when sometimes she sees Momo being so touchy with other girls even when they were still dating. Jeongyeon didn’t question why she herself just shrugged it off easily, despite the rumours. She trusted the girl. She also thinks then that maybe it’s just part of loving someone, not feeling overly jealous but trusting your partner and being understanding instead.

Besides, Momo was so understanding of her as well whenever Jeongyeon requested for their dates to be rescheduled if it falls on the same day of her weekly movie nights with Mina. Despite Mina’s protest to Jeongyeon that she should prioritize her date first, Jeongyeon was happy that Momo values her friendship with Mina, and so Jeongyeon thinks she’s really lucky with Momo.

Jeongyeon’s sure she loves Momo. For it was the first time she consistently gave another girl a bouquet of flowers every month when they’re still dating. She still likes the girl, even if Momo always shouts at her in public whenever they have a disagreement, regardless if it’s just a petty argument or a major fight. She knows she loves Momo as she experienced some of her major firsts with the girl too. So right now in Mina’s room, Jeongyeon is hurting. Because in their last year of high school, Jeongyeon’s young heart regarded Momo as her first love.

So Jeongyeon cries, and sulks, and blows her nose for almost two hours, here in Mina’s bed while her best friend continues to hold her tight.

 

“Just cry, Jeong. It’s ok. You’re going to be ok. I’m just here.”

Mina tells Jeongyeon as she continues to rub small circles on her best friend’s back.

*****

 

Mina couldn’t stand seeing Jeongyeon hurt. It was the first time her best friend had a serious relationship that lasted for a whole straight 6 months so Mina is certain that Jeongyeon genuinely likes her ex-girlfriend.

As Jeongyeon continues to sob beside her, Mina is looking at her pile of assignments spreading on top of her small study table. She’s looking at her incomplete Math homework sheets laying on top of her closed laptop, that contains her unfinished reaction paper.

She’s also worrying about her Organic Chemistry exam tomorrow which she hasn’t even started reviewing yet. Mina reckons she’s most probably just going to have to rely on her stock knowledge again if she doesn’t finish all her homework by later.

But all those school works can wait, Mina decided. Because right now, Jeongyeon needs her. Jeongyeon is currently in pain and she knows that her best friend needs her presence.

Because for Mina, next to her family, Jeongyeon always comes first.

*****

 

As Jeongyeon is carefully folding her used tissue ply and quietly throwing it on the small bin, Mina gently asks her, “Jeongie.. do you think you’re going to be ok for tomorrow’s game though?”

“Oh right, I forgot about the game... but yeah, I can manage. I think. ” Jeongyeon quietly replies.

“It’s an important game for you, are you sure you’re alright to play tomorrow? Just tell me if you’re not, ok? My dad is actually friends with one of the league organizers, maybe we can ask for it to be rescheduled. I’m sure we can try to work something out if ever.”

Mina sounds so concern as she looks at Jeongyeon’s tired face, dried tears visible on her best friend’s cheeks.

Both girls are aware that tomorrow is a big game for Jeongyeon, in fact it’s a very crucial one. Not only that it’s a do-or-die championship match between the top two teams of their high school basketball league, but also because college scouts are going to watch the game tomorrow.

Tomorrow’s game is going to define Jeongyeon’s university career and consequently her future. So the young basketball prodigy needs to be in her A game for tomorrow’s match.

But with Jeongyeon’s broken hearted state tonight, Mina is ultimately worried and her brain is already formulating different types of back up plans in case Jeongyeon tells her that she needs more time to mend her broken heart.

As Mina is lost in her thoughts, she feels Jeongyeon’s careful fingers on her forehead. Her best friend is now looking at her intently and gently touching her face to straighten her furrowed brows.

“I know what you’re thinking with that big smart brain of yours, Minari. I can literally see the gears shifting crazily inside your head. I’m gonna be fine I promise. As long as you’re there to watch, I’m gonna be fine. You’re watching right?” Jeongyeon asks her with a tired smile.

“Of course Jeong, when have I not?”

*****

 

Jeongyeon still continues to sulk and so she whines and blows her nose for a few more hours. Mina’s pending school works continue to remain untouched.

When Jeongyeon finally calms down, Mina asked her if she’s ok to go home now. Jeongyeon nodded but demanded for one last hug from her best friend.

While Jeongyeon is hugging her best friend like a koala, Mina can feel Jeongyeon’s hot breathe on her neck. It is then when Mina starts to contemplate whether she’d pull Jeongyeon away now or not because the feeling of her best friend’s face buried on her neck is suddenly making her uneasy.

While Mina is still internally debating what to do next, Jeongyeon suddenly whispers something to her-

“So you’d like it if I put kimchi on you? ”

Mina can’t believe what she just heard so she finally breaks the hug and lightly punched her best friend’s shoulder.

“I can’t believe you Yoo Jeongyeon! Out of all the things and advice I’ve given to you tonight, that’s what you remembered? Really? ” Mina rolls her eyes to hide her embarrassment.

Jeongyeon just snickers and looks at her. Mina notices that Jeongyeon’s eyes are a little bit livelier now as compared to few hours ago when she first entered Mina’s room.

“Come here. I need another hug.” Jeongyeon just replies to her after relishing on her best friend’s embarrassed state.

“No, that’s enough.” Mina replies feigning resistance.

“You know it isn’t.” Jeongyeon says smiling as she pulls Mina closer to her again, and lets herself be buried in the familiar warmth and the comforting scent of her best friend.

It was Jeongyeon’s first real heartbreak. And Mina was there to hug her and comfort her. Like always.

*****

 

It was around 2AM when Mina tucked Jeongyeon on her bed. Mina consumed 2 cups of coffee that morning to keep her awake while cramming for her assignments. She only naps for an hour before she goes to their kitchen to personally prepare for something, and to finally start preparing for school.

*****

 

In the morning of Jeongyeon’s last game of her high school career, it is Mina’s first text that she sees. She’s still rubbing the sleep out of her barely opened eyes when she looks at her phone and reads her best friend’s messages.

 

Cutie Alien nerd 👽 (6:25 AM)
Good morning Jeongie~ 🐻
How are you feeling now?
Text me as soon as you read this.

 

Cutie Alien nerd 👽 (6:26 AM)
Oh, I’ve put the smoothie in your fridge.
There’s also some breakfast for you.
Good luck on your game!
I’ll be there later to watch. Go crush ‘em! 💪

 

As soon as she sees Mina’s messages, Jeongyeon immediately smiles despite her still sleepy state in the morning. She forces herself to wake up now, makes up her bed and goes down straight to their kitchen.

In their kitchen, Jeongyeon immediately opens their fridge then pulls out the special banana protein shake smoothie that Mina always freshly prepares for her every time she has a game. It’s one of the perks of having Mina as her best friend, Jeongyeon thinks. Most especially if that best friend just lives right across your house, literally just ten steps away from your doorsteps.

Mina’s special smoothie is sort of like a staple now in Jeongyeon’s system. She can’t function well without drinking it before every game.

“It’s the drink of the champions, Jeong. It will give you lots of energy to help you win. ” Jeongyeon remembers Mina proudly telling her that when her best friend first handed her the special smoothie during middle school. It’s Mina’s very own recipe, even Seungyeon can’t replicate it.

Jeongyeon smiles warmly at the memory.

After taking a sip from her precious protein shake, Jeongyeon picks up her phone and replies to her best friend.

 

Ace Jeong (8:12 AM)
Good morning Minari! 😎
See you later!!!
I’m ok now after drinking your smoothie!

 

Ace Jeong (8:14 AM)
Good luck on your exam, btw 🤓
Thank you for last night.

 

Ace Jeong (8:15 AM)
Don’t be late please, I need you there.
See you later!!! 👽🐧

 

*****

 

In rare occasions that Mina is unable to prepare a smoothie for Jeongyeon, usually for valid reasons like Mina is away on a family vacation in Japan, Jeongyeon is not on her best form and they usually lost those games. Perhaps it’s because whenever she doesn’t get to drink Mina’s special smoothie, it also means that her best friend wouldn’t be in the audience cheering for her in the game.

With this, Jeongyeon believes Mina is like her lucky charm. And since today is definitely one of the most crucial games in Jeongyeon’s life, she is in such a great mood as she sips and savours her favorite banana protein shake while happily eating her breakfast in the Yoo’s wooden dining table.

Jeongyeon is in such a happy mood today that no one wouldn’t even believe her if she says she was such a broken hearted crying mess last night.

*****

 

Mina answers her Chemistry exam in a hurry. She stares at the last bonus questions and contemplated for a second if she should answer them or not. But when she looks at their room’s wall clock situated on top of the middle white board, she supposes she doesn’t have much time. So she quickly packs her things, put them neatly in her bag, walks to her teacher’s desk and hands over her papers.

“Is there another game again?” Ms. Lee asks her as the young teacher accepts her answer sheets, 15 minutes before the deadline.

“Yes, Ms. Lee. I’ll go off first now. Thank you for your hardwork.” Mina smiles to her teacher politely, bows slightly and then hurriedly exits the classroom.

She looks at her watch as she runs to the direction of their school gymnasium. Mina estimates that she should be able to catch the teams’ introduction if she continues to run at her current speed.

Mina runs with all her might while simultaneously hoping she doesn’t fail her Chemistry exam.

*****

 

(Mina actually passed her Chemistry exam. Her score is 100/100. She should have gotten 120/100 but there are more important things in life than answering the extra bonus questions.)

*****

 

Mina is still panting from her run when she enters their school’s basketball court. She scans one particular section of the audience and she immediately spots Seungyeon-unnie, Jeongyeon’s older sister, waving at her. She politely excuses herself to those that are already seated while she makes her way to the Yoo’s seating area.

“Mina-ya! Here, I reserve this for you.” Seungyeon delightedly points to a seat beside her as Mina walks near them.

Mina greets and bows at Jeongyeon’s dad politely while Jeongyeon’s mom immediately hugs Mina as soon as she sees the girl.

“Mina sweetie, how was your exam? Jeongyeon told me you have an exam before this.” Jeongyeon’s mom asks her endearingly.

“It was ok Auntie. I just hope I pass it. Thank you for asking.” Mina warmly smiles at Jeongyeon’s mom.

After exchanging pleasantries with Jeongyeon’s family, Mina whispers besides Seungyeon, “Unnie, how was Jeong this morning?”

“Oh she’s great. She was able to slap me in the arm already while I tease her this morning. It was such a strong slap and it still hurts you know. So I think she’s fully recharged now and gained a lot of energy after eating the breakfast you prepared for her. Thank you for that by the way.” Seungyeon replies to her while smiling tenderly.

Mina just shyly smiles back in response.

*****

 

While waiting for the players to enter the court, she quickly scans the crowd and wonders who among them are the college scouts. Mina opens her phone and sends a quick text to her best friend.

 

 

Cutie Alien nerd 👽 (4:03 PM)
I’m here now.
Usual spot, beside Seungyeon-unnie’s.
Goodluck, Jeong!
Fighting!!!

 

Ace Jeong (4:05 PM)
See you!!!
I’m really nervous, Mina-ya..😖
This is it.
can’t believe it’s my last game in high school already..

 

Ace Jeong (4:06 PM)
Shit, I’m really nervous.
Can’t wait to see you. 🥺

 

Cutie Alien nerd 👽 (4:07 PM)
It’s your last game and you’ll ace it.
I know it, Jeong.
You’re gonna be fine.

Cutie Alien nerd 👽 (4:07 PM)
Can’t wait to see you too.

 

*****

 

When Jeongyeon’s team enters the court, almost everyone in the audience screams and cheers loudly. It’s their home turf after all. As the captain of her team, Jeongyeon leads the way while she confidently walks towards the court, wearing her usual charismatic mysterious ace player aura that made almost every girl in their entire school swoon over her.

Few minutes after, the mandatory pre-game ceremony and rules announcement starts. Mina notices her best friend subtly surveying the crowd as if looking for someone while all the players stand in the middle of the court.

Seungyeon immediately waves at her sister and when Jeongyeon looks at their direction, Mina catches the unique and equally adorable lopsided smile that appears in Jeongyeon’s face, before her best friend quickly shifted to her usual confident and slightly intimidating Ace Basketball Captain stance mode again. The smile was immediate and quick, but Mina caught sight of it gracing Jeongyeon’s beautiful face nonetheless.

Mina always notices that unique yet very lovely smile of her best friend, no matter how brief, no matter how faint, even from tens of meters away.

Mina never fails to notice Jeongyeon’s subtle quirks.

*****

 

By the end of the first half, Jeongyeon’s team is already leading by 20 points. Needless to say, Jeongyeon is in a tremendously great shape so far. The third quarter hasn’t even started yet but Jeongyeon has already achieved a triple-double and is the current overall top scorer of the game.

Whenever Jeongyeon manages to hit a ringless three-pointer, or when she successfully nails a fancy slam dunk, she strongly raises her hands up in the air fist close. And as she proudly jumps up and down, she always looks at Mina’s direction and throws her signature wink and ultimately charismatic smirk. The fangirls surrounding the Yoo’s always squeal whenever Jeongyeon does that.

“Tch, as if Jeongyeon did that for them. Right Mina-ya?” Seungyeon always whispers to her as soon as the fangirls stop screaming.

“pfft... what a show off.” Mina just shrugs her shoulder and feigns her usual nonchalance as if the gesture did not affect her as much as what the nearby squealing fangirls felt.

As if her heart doesn’t beat faster whenever Jeongyeon looks at her.

As if her heart doesn’t ache so much whenever she sees Jeongyeon hurting.

As if the butterflies in her stomach do not fly in frenzy whenever Jeongyeon hugs her.

As if she doesn’t get flustered whenever Jeongyeon holds her hands.

As if her skin doesn’t burn whenever Jeongyeon buries her face in her neck.

As if she didn’t discover that she has been living her life in romantic cliché for the past 2 years.

 

As if she’s not secretly in love with her own best friend.

*****

 

To no one’s surprise, Jeongyeon’s team won the championship and she was hailed as the league’s MVP. Series of colourful confettis were immediately dropped from the ceiling to the court and some parts of the audience seats, after the last buzzer has blared triumphantly signaling the end of the game.

Seungyeon and Mina immediately hugged each other out of happiness after seeing the final score. Mr. Yoo is wiping her wife’s face gently with a handkerchief as Jeongyeon’s mom shed happy tears.

*****

 

“Mina-ya!!!!”

An extremely happy Jeongyeon runs to her while shouting her name as soon as the star player sees her waiting outside. Jeongyeon immediately embraces Mina in a tight hug the moment she reaches her best friend.

Mina hugs her back, just as tightly. Her heart filled with so much pride and happiness for the girl she loves.

Jeongyeon breaks away from the hug after a few minutes and gently holds both of Mina’s shoulders while she proudly announces the good news to her best friend, “I got scouted! I got scouted Mina-ya! Can you believe it? I’m finally going to college with a scholarship!”

Mina’s eyes happily beam with the news, “I told you you’ll make it. I never doubted you, Jeong. Congratulations! I’m so proud of you.”

They just look at each other fondly for a few seconds without uttering a single word. After some time, Jeongyeon’s lopsided smile starts to appear again while looking warmly at Mina’s eyes. It’s the same precious smile that Mina adores very much.

“You’re crying.” Jeongyeon finally says as she gently wipes a single tear that rolls down across Mina’s cheek.

“It’s tears of joy, Jeong. One of your dreams finally came true.”

“I know.”

“You’re crying too.” Mina says back when she also notices Jeongyeon’s happy tears and wipes it clean.

“It’s tears of joy.” Jeongyeon echoes back.

“I know.”

Mina mimics her best friend’s reply and Jeongyeon just huffs while smirking at her.

 

“Let’s go? My parents are waiting. Let’s get dinner. My treat. ”

“Are you sure it’s your treat or it’s your parents’ treat?”

“Doesn’t matter. I’m still the MVP.”

“Always so humble, I see.” Mina teases Jeongyeon, and her best friend just snickers at her in return.

Jeongyeon then holds Mina’s hands as they walk towards her parents’ car. She waves back at Seungyeon who’s waving at them from the back seat.

If only Jeongyeon glances back at Mina in that same moment, she’ll see the fairly visible red blush that appears on both of Mina’s cheeks.

*****

 

Winter of 2015, Senior year of high school, 2 months before graduation

“Hey Alien watch out!!” Jeongyeon calls out to Mina wearing her typical teasing grin.

The two girls are sitting on a couch for 3 hours now while they continuously play Mario Kart in Myoui’s huge living room with 40 inch smart TV.

Mina rolls her eyes at her best friend’s old dirty tactics which apparently didn’t work as she still places first after the final race ended.

“We’re already graduating from high school and you’re still calling me that?” Mina tells her best friend as she places her controller in the coffee table.

“If you will still call me that even in college, I’m gonna tell everyone that you’re still peeing in your bed until the 3rd grade.”

“Hey that’s foul!”

“and calling me Alien isn’t?”

“That’s.. different..” Jeongyeon protests.

“That’s different how?” Mina asks back while she carefully gets a slice of their Hawaiian pizza and offers it to Jeongyeon- “Here, do you need more napkins?”

Jeongyeon just silently accepts the pizza, and without giving it a single bite, she places it back to the other side of the pizza cover. Mina immediately sensed the change in the mood.

Mina then scoots closer to her best friend, their knees now touching, as she eats her pizza in silence while Jeongyeon just quietly stares at the pizza box. Like always, Mina patiently waits.

“Are you still planning to enroll in Kirin University?” Jeongyeon asks quietly after a few minutes. She’s still looking at the pizza box.

“Yeah.. They offer the best pre-med courses in Seoul, Jeong. Plus they also grant scholarship and I read that they have one of the best University Hospitals too.” Mina replies gently, she’s now carefully looking at Jeongyeon’s side profile.

“I got scouted in Haneol University and dad says it has the best deals among the colleges that I’ve been offered scholarship with.”

“Hmm... Both universities are actually located on the opposite ends of Seoul. But good news is- they’re just barely 2 hours away by train, and actually just 2 and a half hours travel by car.” Mina contemplates for a bit before she continues while carefully looking at Jeongyeon’s side,

“We can even still continue our movie nights every day. But I guess we just have to limit it to one movie for now to cover for the travel time. What do you think, Jeong? We can always go and visit each other. ”

Mina replies remembering her rigorous research the other day about the different ways of navigating between the two universities. She’s right in guessing the actual concern that bothers her best friend.

Because in all honesty, Mina has been bothering about it too for the past few days. She’s been bothering about it a lot ever since she received the scholarship grant letter last week from Kirin University.

“Yeah.. but..” Jeongyeon hesitates.

“You’re gonna miss me that much?” Mina nudges her knees lightly on Jeongyeon’s and tries to lighten up the mood.

Jeongyeon finally stops staring at the pizza box and shifts her gaze at Mina. She looks at her best friend silently for a few seconds. She then scoots closer to Mina, slowly links her arms with the other girl, intertwines their hands, and finally leans her head on Mina’s shoulder.

Mina hopes Jeongyeon doesn’t hear the heart that starts to beat erratically inside her chest.

“Of course not… why would I miss you.” Jeongyeon replies quietly as she fiddles her thumbs on Mina’s hands.

“Okay. If you say so. ” Mina replies back just as quietly while looking at their intertwined hands.

“Are you… gonna miss me?” Jeongyeon asks a bit hesitantly.

“hmmm..” Mina hums. “Of course, Jeong. Of course, I’m gonna miss you. Who else is gonna treat me to Hawaiian pizza if you’re not there?” Mina tries to lighten up the mood again.

“I hate you.” Jeongyeon replies but her quiet tone betrays the insincere words she just muttered.

“No you don’t ha- Ouch!” Mina reacts a bit loudly this time as Jeongyeon squeezed their intertwined hands with a little more force.

Jeongyeon then sits up straight, faces Mina and raises both her arms forward towards Mina’s direction,

“I need a hug.”

Mina rolls her eyes, “You’re such a baby.” as she goes towards Jeongyeon and embraces her best friend in a tight hug.

Jeongyeon buries her face in Mina’s neck again and starts breathing in the other girl. In that very moment, Mina is summoning all the self-control she can muster to stop herself from kissing Jeongyeon. She just channels her hidden emotions instead into rubbing small circles on her best friend’s back, while her other hand is softly caressing Jeongyeon’s hair.

Even now while they are still holding each other close, Mina already misses her best friend.

*****

 

“I’m sorry if I hurt your hand.” Jeongyeon quietly speaks after a while. Her face still buried in Mina’s neck.

“No it’s ok, I was just being exaggerating. It doesn’t really hurt.”

“I know. You can be dramatic sometimes.”

Mina punches Jeongyeon’s back lightly in response.

“Ouch.”

“I’m sorry if I hurt your back.”

“It kinda hurts, Mina-ya.”

“I know.”

“I hate you.”

“No you don’t”

“Yeah.”

*****

 

“I wonder what your fangirls would think of you if they discover you’re really such a softie mushy crybaby in person.” Mina teasingly asks Jeongyeon.

Her best friend’s mood is now lifted and Jeongyeon is currently devouring the remaining 4 slices of pizza.

“I donrn’t kehrr what they thhink.” Jeongyeon attempted to reply in the middle of her chewing. Her cheeks puffing cutely after excitedly biting and shoving half a slice of pizza on her mouth.

“God you are such a handful.” Mina says as she wipes a napkin on a side of Jeongyeon’s lips which was slightly smudged with hot sauce.

Jeongyeon just smiles while looking at her, “Thanks Alien.”

Mina scoffs in return, rolls her eyes but still smiles at her best friend nonetheless.

Jeongyeon then starts to grin so widely, her dorky smile now apparent, a greasy half-eaten pizza crust still on her hand. Jeongyeon looks so adorable that Mina’s heart starts to ache.

She’s going to miss this. She’s going to miss her best friend.

She’s going to miss spending time every day with the girl she loves.

 

Jeongyeon and Mina then continue to play Mario Kart for the remaining of their Saturday. They play for hours, annoy each other to no ends, and both loudly laugh together like they always do for the past 12 years.

Both of them enjoying the fleeting freedom and basking on the precious free spirited moments that their last remaining days of high school life has to offer.

*****

 

Early Spring of 2015, Two weeks before the start of their college freshman year

Jeongyeon is in Mina’s room, she’s currently helping her best friend pack her things.

“Are you sure you don’t want me to drive you to your new dorms?” Jeongyeon asks again for the 5th time today, hoping Mina would change her mind.

“Jeong, I told you it’s fine. Kai is driving me there already and helping me move.” Mina replies again, her best friend can be really so persistent if she wants to.

“I can also help you move Mina-ya. You know how strong how I am. Besides, I want to see your new dorm too, please. Please Minari!” Jeongyeon holds Mina’s hands and shakes it gently as she also tries to show her a failed puppy eyes. It’s her last attempt to convince her best friend.

“No.”

"You’re so unfair. How come you can see my dorm but I can’t see yours?”

Mina just snickers back at her and then points something behind Jeongyeon, “Oh we haven’t emptied that drawer yet. Can you help me transfer those in this box please?”

Jeongyeon pouts at her. Knowing full well it’s nearly impossible to change Mina’s mind once she has firmly decided on something, Jeongyeon concedes and just quietly goes to the empty drawer’s side. She then starts transferring its contents to the box that Mina gave her.

“Mina-ya look what I found!” Jeongyeon happily shouts at Mina, a large photo album currently in her hand.

Mina stops organizing some of the boxes and gently sits besides Jeongyeon, knowing full well what her best friend is currently looking at.

"Why do you have my baby pic?” Jeongyeon asks, pointing at the rather embarrassing old photograph.

“It’s actually just a scanned copy. Auntie gave it to me after I requested for her to give me the original one. You’re just really cute in there so I requested for a copy.” Mina smiles fondly remembering the precious memory that particular photograph entails.

“Where in this aspect is cute?! Seungyeon-unnie basically forced me to pose for a picture that time. I look horrible in here. ”

“No you don’t. But you really look so guilty.” Mina giggles while looking at the picture.

“Hey I was so cold. It was really chilling that time. I should have really filed for a child abuse to Seungyeon-unnie now that I remember it again.”

“and whose fault is it then that you went outside with those clothes on in the middle of autumn?” Mina teases her best friend again.

“For the record, you should actually be thankful I went outside that time. Otherwise you wouldn’t have met me. Your life would be boring then.” Jeongyeon replies smugly.

“and the humble Jeongyeon strikes again.”

Jeongyeon just smiles at Mina’s remark.

“Do you still remember it Minari?”

“Of course I remember. How could I forget, Jeong?”

Both girls are now looking at each other and currently wearing a tender smile on their faces as they start to reminisce the very first memory of them together.

Jeongyeon and Mina then both look at the photograph again. It’s a picture of a 6-year old Jeongyeon with both of her hands in her back, as she stands timidly in the middle of their quiet neighborhood alley.

It was the day they first met.

*****

 

Late Autumn of 2002, in one of Seoul’s quiet districts

One fine chilly autumn day, a 5-year old Mina, clad in her thick cute little black dress, is now sitting in one of the small benches beside the swing of a playground, inside a neighborhood she’s not familiar with. It’s the day of their first move to Seoul.

She’s not sure if she’s lost now, she actually wants to cry but little Mina is afraid the few kids playing nearby might bully her if she starts crying. So she just sits there looking down at her little feet that are swaying alternately in mid-air suspension, while she prays quietly that her Mom would finally notice that her precious little daughter is apparently now missing.

“Heylow are you new here?”

Little Mina looks up after hearing someone speaks. Her eyes landed on a tiny little girl now standing in front of her, clad in a skimpy sleeveless Sailor Moon pink undershirt in the middle of autumn. The girl has a slight single smudge of dirt across her tiny right cheek. Little Mina wonders if the kid in front of her is cold.

“Hello, why don’t you have your shorts on?” Little Mina replies in Japanese. She doesn’t know Korean yet nor did she understand what the little girl has just told her.

The little girl’s eyes squinted for a moment and then widens in shock right after hearing little Mina speaks. Her mouth turns agape with a sudden realization and then asks loudly-

“Are you an alien?!” the little girl asks with a mix of amazement and childlike curiosity in her voice.

“I’m sorry. I don’t understand you.” little Mina replies back and tilts her head curiously on her side as if the motion will make her understand what the kid in front of her is saying.

“I’m Jeongyeon. What is your name?”

“I’m sorry?”

“My mom says aliens talk in alien language so we won’t know their secrets. But aliens can understand us. Are you one of the aliens?” Little Jeongyeon repeats the question to little Mina.

It was then when little Mina starts to slide down the bench and stands in front of the girl. The kid is apparently taller than her, but for some reason, little Mina doesn’t feel scared around her.

“I’m really sorry. I don’t know what you’re saying. My name is Mina. Myoui Mina.”

Little Mina continues to speak to the little stranger in Japanese. She bows slightly and then stretches out her little hand to offer a handshake. She is actually sad that she cannot understand what the kid in front of her is saying.

Little Jeongyeon looks down at the tiny hands stretching in front her, then her expression shifts a bit as she steps back slowly,

“Oh no... are you saying you’re here to get me?”

“My mom says aliens suddenly appear and collect kids when they disobey their parents. A- are you going to send me now to outer space Alien-nim?”

Little Mina is now looking at her worriedly as the kid appears to be a bit scared now.

“P- please don’t Alien-nim.. I didn’t mean to disobey mom. I won’t do it again I promise. Please.. it was really Chaeyoung’s fault. I promise i won’t do it again. Please please Alien-nim.. I still want to own a cute dog. ”

Little Jeongyeon was about to cry because she was so afraid then that the Alien in front of her would transport her to their spaceship and then she’ll never see her parents and her grandma ever again.

She is so afraid she’ll never get to experience how it is to have a pet dog. Little Jeongyeon was so scared that her small body starts to shake.

Little Mina didn’t know what to do as she sees little Jeongyeon’s pleading eyes to her. She can’t even understand what the little girl is saying. But she is so worried now as the taller little girl who’s just lively a while ago now looks visibly shaken.

When small tears starts to flow out of little Jeongyeon’s pleading eyes, little Mina did what she only knew then as a child. She goes near and hugs the scared little Jeongyeon.

“Why are you crying? Please don’t cry.”

Little Jeongyeon is surprised and hesitant at first on little Mina’s sudden action. But as little Mina’s innocent hold on her tightens and she feels a soothing circular motion gently rubbing on her back, Jeongyeon’s breathing starts to stabilize.

Suddenly, little Jeongyeon felt a new sense of comfort and warmth while the tiny Alien embraces her. Her then previously scared innocent heart starts to calm down at the feeling of little Mina’s embrace.

They stayed like that for a few moments, little Mina did not break the hug as she continues to comfort the girl.

After a while, in between little Jeongyeon’s sniffs and small sobs on little Mina’s neck, she mutters a soft,

“But mom forgot to mention that aliens are pretty.”

Little Mina, still not understanding what little Jeongyeon is saying, just continue to gently rub Jeongyeon’s back instead and replies in Japanese,

“It’s ok. You’re going to be ok. I’m just here.”

*****

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

Words I want to say to you piles up
My thoughts as many as the number of stars
If I hold your hand,
I wonder if this distance can be reduced
Will I be able to reach?  Is it enough?

I like you, I like you, even though it’s unbearable
The trace of your smile, for it to not disappear
Being beside you, wishing on your love

- Wishing (TWICE)

 

 

*****

 

 

Early Spring of 2015, College Freshman Year

Jeongyeon wakes up to a cute meme sent by her best friend along with her “Good morning Jeongie~ ” greeting.   It’s one of those motivational penguin gifs that Mina always sends to her for good luck.

She immediately smiles upon seeing the message.   It’s more than good enough of a motivation for Jeongyeon to start braving herself to face a new chapter of her life.   Mina, despite being miles apart from her today, still manages to make her smile and fuels her morning.   And so Jeongyeon stretches herself and starts preparing for her first day at the big school. 

When Jeongyeon walks out of her dorm alone, she unknowingly starts feeling sentimental when she sees other freshmen walking in groups or in two’s.   She misses those days when she waits for Mina at the Myoui’s living room every morning, and they always walk out of the door together hand-in-hand towards their school bus station.

She looks down at her empty hand now and just smiles at the memory.

On the way to the college theatre, Jeongyeon lets herself be overwhelmed by the beauty of her new school.   Haneol University is one of the biggest universities in Seoul and its main roads are lined with huge trees.  Today in the middle of spring, as she walks around the campus, Jeongyeon marvels on how the trees are coming back to life again and are now a colourful canopy of cherry blossom flowers beautifully towering above the cars and the students passing by.

It is such a lovely sight that Jeongyeon can’t help but quickly snap a photo and sends it to her best friend with a caption:

“Wish you were here.”

*****

 

Jeongyeon’s first day at Haneol passed by in a blur, despite it being so eventful and packed. She had their freshman orientation in the morning, met her new blockmates afterwards, attended all of her classes, tried the food in one of their famous cafeterias, was introduced to their university basketball team, and had her overflowing quota of introductions and small talks.

She also almost got herself into trouble when a very persistent junior, who recruits freshmen to their org, went to Jeongyeon and tried to persuade her to join. Good thing she managed to excuse herself out somehow because she’d be late for her next class. She found out later on that it’s technically not allowed for freshmen to join those kinds of college orgs. Jeongyeon crumpled the org brochure and threw it on the street bin.

Her first day in college is exciting but ultimately exhausting. Jeongyeon suddenly craves for a hug. A hug from a very specific person. It saddens her how she can’t have it now as easily as before.

As she closes her eyes while her body is plopped down tiredly over her own dorm bed, her phone notification buzzes. She lazily reaches out for her phone and her face immediately lights up upon seeing who it is from.

 

Cutie Alien nerd 👽  (6:04 PM)
How’s your first day?

 

It’s just a simple question but Jeongyeon’s mood is now greatly lifted. As she’s about to click the button to facetime her best friend, another notification gets through.

 

Cutie Alien nerd 👽  (6:05 PM)
I’m starving.
Wanna have dinner?
I’m thinking samgyeopsal.

 

Jeongyeon initially squints at the message pondering, but excitedly looks at the train schedule nonetheless. She figures they can meet halfway so she can still make it to their dorm by midnight as she has a very early class tomorrow.

 

Ace Jeong  (6:06 PM)
Perfect! I’m craving for it too.
Let’s meet halfway?
I’ll find a restaurant near Yongsan station.

 

Cutie Alien nerd 👽  (6:06 PM)
No need, Jeong.
Just wait for me. I’ll come get you.

 

 

Ace Jeong  (6:07 PM)
Don’t you have a 7AM class tomorrow?
It’s already past 6PM, Mina-ya.
It’d be around midnight when you get back to Kirin after our dinner.
I’ll just drive to your uni instead.

 

While Jeongyeon is waiting for Mina’s response, her best friend’s next reply throws her into a different kind of confusion.

 

Cutie Alien nerd 👽  (6:09 PM)
I’m here now, in your lobby.
I’ll wait for you downstairs.

 

Ace Jeong  (6:09 PM)
What do you mean our lobby?
Our dorm lobby??

 

Cutie Alien nerd 👽  (6:10 PM)
No. Kirin’s lobby.

Cutie Alien nerd 👽  (6:10 PM)
of course it’s YOUR dorm lobby, Jeong.
Can you please hurry up?
I’m starving.

 

Jeongyeon chuckles upon reading Mina’s reply and imagines her best friend rolling her eyes with sarcasm. She’s still very much confused though, but she hurriedly puts on her jacket anyways. She excitedly goes down the stairs to their dorm lobby, galloping 2 steps at a time.

*****

 

When Jeongyeon sees Mina standing in their lobby waiting area, she couldn’t explain the sudden rush of happiness she felt. She immediately runs to her best friend and hugs her tight.

“I’ve missed you so much. You have no idea.” Jeongyeon says while burying her face into Mina’s embrace. It feels like home.

“I miss you too,” Mina only hugs her more tightly.

“When did you come here? I thought you have classes until 5PM? Did you like fly here in a private jet or something?” Jeongyeon jokes.

“Yes, dad bought me a private jet as a graduation gift.” Mina smiles smugly.

Jeongyeon’s eyes open widely in shock, her mouth turns agape with the confirmation. She knows the Myoui family is loaded but sometimes she still gets surprised whenever Mina unintentionally pulls out something like this.

“You’re kidding, right?”

Mina just laughs at her reaction and links their arms together,

“Come on. Let’s get dinner.”

*****

 

They had dinner in a barbeque place that’s just walking distance near Jeongyeon’s dorm. After they ate, they finally exited the restaurant feeling full and walked towards a blue car parked near the entrance.

“I thought you flew here via a private jet?” Jeongyeon asks confused as she sees Mina opening the car door.

“You actually believed that?” Mina is laughing at her again.

Jeongyeon should really be offended by her best friend’s prank. But instead she feels even much fuller now hearing Mina’s laughter and seeing her best friend’s beautiful gummy smile again, in person.

“How could I not when your dad immediately bought you a new high-end gaming PC set when you tell him you wanted to play Minecraft? And then he also bought you a brand new car when you said you wanted to learn how to drive. ”

“Oh shut up.” Mina rolls her eyes again a bit embarrassed now. She easily gets shy whenever Jeongyeon teases her about her family’s wealth.

“Tch. I’m so disappointed Mina-ya. I thought I can finally brag to Seungyeon-unnie that I’ve ridden a private jet.” Jeongyeon shakes her head, teasing her best friend.

Mina just looks back at her in return, still smiling incandescently in the middle of the cold spring night. Jeongyeon smiles back just as brightly.

“You said you wanted to see my new dorm right? ” Mina asks as she tosses her car keys to Jeongyeon.

“Drive me there, please? I’ll give you the directions.”

When Mina is looking at her pleadingly with those pretty eyes of hers, how could Jeongyeon resist and say no.

Jeongyeon and Mina then excitedly hop on the driver’s and passenger’s seat respectively. As Jeongyeon starts the engine, she supposes the next 4 hours of travel time for her would all be worth it because Mina is with her. Every second spent with her best friend is worth it.

*****

 

“We’re here!” Mina squeals in excitement while looking at Jeongyeon expectantly.

Jeongyeon however is looking at her best friend with an even more perplexed expression on her face. They are now in front of an apartment complex, where Mina instructed Jeongyeon to stop and park there just approximately 20 minutes after she started driving.

“Let’s go, Jeong.” Mina starts to unbuckle her seatbelt but Jeongyeon stops her midway, holding Mina’s hand carefully.

“Wait Mina, what’s going on?”

Mina just smiles at her in return. She holds the back of Jeongyeon’s hand that’s holding her, and replies softly, “I’ll explain later. Let’s just get to my unit first.”

Jeongyeon interlocks their hands as her best friend leads the way inside. They walk towards the apartment lobby and rides on the elevator. When the elevator stops at the 9th floor, they walk out and turn right from the main hallway and stop at one of the units.

When they entered the unit, Mina leads her to the couch and asks her to sit comfortably.

“Just sit there, Jeong. I’ll get us some fresh juice.”

Jeongyeon sits as instructed while she scans the room. The unit is much more spacious and airy than her usual cramped university dorm room. The couch is comfortable too, just like the one back in the Myoui’s mansion where they always lazed around playing games.

When Jeongyeon finishes drinking the juice Mina has prepared for her, she carefully places the glass on top of the coaster as she finally asks her best friend, “So.. what’s up?”

“It’s my new place now.” Mina finally answers.

“I can see that.” Jeongyeon waits for more.

“and… just a few blocks away is my new university.”

“What do you mean?”

“I actually enrolled at Haneol, Jeong. I’m sorry I just told you now. I just wanted to surprise you.” Mina looks at her apologetically as she holds out Jeongyeon’s hands.

“Please don’t be mad.” Mina adds pouting cutely and squeezes her hand when Jeongyeon didn’t immediately reply.

“I can’t be mad at you, Minari. I don’t know how to.”

“Then what’s bothering you? I know that expression of yours. What’s really up, hmm?”

“Come here.” Jeongyeon motions for her best friend, and Mina sits in front of her.

Jeongyeon pulls her best friend closer and hugs her from behind settling both of her hands on Mina’s stomach. Mina leans her back more to her best friend’s embrace as Jeongyeon props her chin on Mina’s shoulder. Mina waits patiently, but her heart is in a chaotic thundering mess as she feels Jeongyeon’s warm breath on her neck.

“Did you do it because of me?” Jeongyeon finally asks after a few minutes of them in silence.

“Hmm...Yes.. But I did it for myself also.” Mina answers, while rubbing the back of the warm hands on top of her stomach.

“What do you mean?”

“I wanted to prove something for myself. That I can be independent, that I can stand and achieve something on my own. Dad has a lot of connections in Kirin. I feel like I might get special treatment there even if Dad promised me that he won’t use his connections. But I know him. He always spoils me. I know that he talked to some of the professors there already. ”

 

“But why Haneol though? You could have enrolled in Seoul University.”

“Hey Haneol is still one of the top 5 universities in Seoul. It also has a good pre-med program. I’ve researched on them already. ” Mina reasons out.

“But really.. why Haneol?”

Mina rolls her eyes as she feels Jeongyeon’s smile on her shoulders, at this point she’s 100% sure her best friend is just teasing her.

“I already told you you’re one of the reasons, Jeong. What else do you want me to say?”

“But why Haneol?” Jeongyeon lifts her head and looks at Mina’s side profile. She’s now grinning so widely as she pulls her best friend even closer to her.

“Do you miss me that much?” She whispers closely at Mina’s ear, and Mina shivers at the sensation.

Mina feels dizzy and hot all of a sudden. Jeongyeon’s touch and breathy whispers at her neck is so intoxicating for her. She has to do something or else she won’t be able to resist herself anymore from kissing her best friend.

And so she elbows Jeongyeon’s side lightly and forcefully breaks the hug, even though she doesn’t want to yet.

“Ok. Time’s up. Time to go home now.” Mina announces while she forces herself to stand up, away from her best friend’s touch.

“But I just got here!” Jeongyeon whines.

“We have early classes tomorrow remember? Time to sleep.”

“Oh my god. College has made you sound like my mom.”

“Oh shut up. Come on now, I’ll drive you back to your dorms.”

“I can walk, Mina-ya”

“No. It’s so late already. I’ll drive you back. No but’s. ” Mina demands.

“Fine. Just say you miss me so much and then- ”

Jeongyeon is not able to finish her response anymore since Mina throws a couch pillow directly at her face.

*****

 

Later that night, when Jeongyeon and Mina are both lying in their respective beds and send their “Goodnight” messages to each other, Mina sends her a photo of the same tree-lined road of the campus where Jeongyeon has walked earlier that morning. It’s exactly the same beautiful road with the luscious cherry blossoms but it’s just taken from a different angle and probably around sunset. The photo comes with a caption,

“Your wish is my command. :) ”

In their first night as university students, Jeongyeon and Mina both sleep with a happy heart and a wide smile on their faces.

*****

 

During their first weeks in college, Jeongyeon and Mina both made new friends from each of their majors but one thing remains constant- their scheduled game and movie nights continues.

Jeongyeon still goes at Mina’s place almost every night and watches a movie with her best friend. At times when Jeongyeon is in a bad mood because her professor gives another unfair deadline to them, Jeongyeon brings ice cream and nachos and they have a marathon of Masterchef episodes together while they munch on their not-so-healthy dinner.

In other occasions when Mina is annoyed at one of her classmates who keeps hitting on her, they play Mario Kart for hours while they fill their stomach with Hawaiian pizza and take-out burgers.

College life is fun but it’s definitely more challenging and exhausting. It’s way different than high school. But Jeongyeon and Mina is surviving their current load and bearing all the challenges thrown at them because they have each other.

Mina thinks she can survive anything as long as Jeongyeon is with her. Jeongyeon thinks the same.

*****

 

One night after their practice game ended, Jeongyeon hears one of her teammates blurts out,  “Captain has finally found her new muse!”

They’re now in their locker room taking a break and cleaning up.

“A muse?” Jeongyeon curiously asks their team captain Dami, who is currently a graduating senior.

“Yes, a muse. A girlfriend. or a special someone. An inspiration for your game.” Their capable captain replies.

“Do you have a muse yet, Jeongyeon?”  Dami asks as she taps Jeongyeon’s shoulder lightly.

Jeongyeon ponders for a moment on their captain’s definition of muse and then replies,

“Well I don’t have a girlfriend but I-“

“Alright then! We found our lucky new young blood that will carry on the tradition!” one of her teammates suddenly shouts excitedly interrupting Jeongyeon’s answer.

“but I have Mina, my best friend. She’s my lucky charm.” Jeongyeon wasn’t able to finish her reply because she catches on the new topic her teammate mentioned.

“Tradition?”

“Yes. Our team has sort of like a yearly tradition for new recruits who don’t have a muse yet. We’ll just basically help you find a new inspiration for you.”

“What do you mean?” Jeongyeon doesn’t like the direction where this conversation is going.

“We’ll set you up to blind dates until you find your muse. You invite her to our game. And she must willingly attend our games for at least 3 matches and cheer for you. Take note, willingly. No bribery, no forcing. We’re all gentle women here. The feeling has to be mutual.” Her teammate winks at her.

“I don’t think I need any help with finding my muse.” Jeongyeon really just wants to go back home now and later on watch a movie with Mina.

“Oh we can see that you definitely don’t need our help Miss Charming Rookie of the Year candidate.” Dami wraps her hand over Jeongyeon’s shoulder and pinches her cheek.

“But we still need you to carry on our yearly tradition.”

“Am I allowed to say no?”

“Yes. But we will still schedule your dates.”

“Besides, no harm in trying right? What’s there for you to lose?” Their captain winks and punches her side lightly before finally proceeding to the shower area.

Jeongyeon just sighs in retreat.

*****

 

That’s a ridiculous tradition.”   Mina comments when Jeongyeon rants to her that night about their team’s tradition.   “Don’t you have a say on that?”

“Sadly no. It’s our captain’s order and I don’t have a choice. ”   Jeongyeon lets out a loud exhale as she plops down the sofa tiredly.

Mina, observing that Jeongyeon is extremely tired today because of their intense training, and sensing that her best friend probably just wants to temporarily drop the topic for now because it’s mentally draining for her, just sits beside her best friend and offers the remote,

“Alright, massage or movie?”

“Can I have both?” Jeongyeon looks at her expectantly.

“Of course.”    Mina smiles and positions herself behind her best friend and gently massages Jeongyeon’s back, while Jeongyeon browses from the catalogue and chose their movie for the night.

*****

 

Jeongyeon’s first blind date was a disaster.   Her first date is a college junior and is a total blabbermouth who can’t keep her hands to herself.   She has to sit through and endure the entire two hours of her date because Jeongyeon was too shy to reject her sunbae.

 

“What’s this?” Mina asks her as Jeongyeon hands her a piece of paper with a smudged kiss mark.

“It’s my date’s number. Save it. Throw it. Burn it. Do whatever you want with it.” Jeongyeon replies annoyed as she sits down Mina’s couch and munches on their take-out dimsum.

“You have to learn how to say no, Jeong.” Mina replies to her as she crumples the piece of paper and throws it to the bin.

“It’s not that easy, Alien.” Jeongyeon scoffs at her best friend and then swallows her dinner.

“It is. But you have to be creative, and do it respectfully still.”  Mina replies gently, and suddenly a crazy idea pops in Jeongyeon’s head.

“Come with me Mina-ya!”

“What?” Mina looks at her best friend confused.

Jeongyeon just grins at her, eyes glinting while she excitedly explains her ingenious idea to her best friend. It takes her approximately one hour and some bribing after she has finally convinced Mina to agree with her plan.

*****

 

Early Summer of 2015, College Freshman Year

As summer starts, the blind date shenanigans of Jeongyeon and Mina officially begin.

It goes like this- whenever Jeongyeon has a blind date, Mina is always in the same location sitting somewhere within the vicinity.  She’s mostly just studying, and also waiting for Jeongyeon to text her the code so she can start playing a superhero in disguise act and rescue her best friend from her misery.

So far, Mina has already pretended to be Jeongyeon’s cousin, her classmate, even her basketball teammate just so she can immediately yet respectfully pull Jeongyeon out of her blind date.

One time, Jeongyeon has a date in a coffee shop, and while Mina is in the middle of finishing her lab reports inside the same cafe, Jeongyeon texted her the code just 20 minutes after her date has arrived.

Upon reading the message, Mina closes her books and sighs, “Oh, a sister this time huh.”

Mina stands up and carefully walks to Jeongyeon and her date’s table. She internally prepares herself to act her part as she calls out to her best friend, “Unnie!!”

Jeongyeon gets excited as she sees Mina approaches near them and immediately blurts out,

“Mina-ya!!! what happened to Bomb? Oh my god! Is he ok?! Oh do we need to go now? Let’s go now. Come on let’s go.” Jeongyeon stands up as soon as Mina reaches their table.

Mina is taken aback as she doesn’t know what the hell Jeongyeon is suddenly talking about. She is usually the one who initializes the alibi, not her best friend.

 

“Myoui Mina?” Both girls stop and turn to look at Jeongyeon’s date.

“I’m sorry, do I know you?” Mina asks her with a neutral tone.

“We’re classmates in Biology. Oh my god I’ve been crushing on you since the first day.”

Jeongyeon immediately finds Mina’s hand and holds her close.

“Are you really sisters?” Her date comments, “How come you have different surnames? And your Japanese and she’s-“

“We have different fathers.” Jeongyeon answers sternly interrupting her date, as she holds Mina even closer to her.

Mina nearly chokes as she tries her hardest to stifle her laughter because of her best friend’s pathetic alibi.

“Oh that’s cool. Can I just date your sister instead?” .. and Mina can’t believe her classmate fell for that.

“Excuse me? But I’m your date here.” Jeongyeon is more annoyed now.

“Yeah but Mina’s my type.”

Jeongyeon can’t believe what she just heard, a sudden rush of annoyance surges in her entire body and she holds onto Mina more firmly.

“She’s off limits.” Jeongyeon replies while staring daggers at her date.

Mina senses Jeongyeon’s annoyance and so she tugs her best friend subtly and looks at her as if sending silent messages. Then Jeongyeon shifts her gaze away.

 

“I’m sorry I didn’t catch your name earlier. My name’s Mina. Myoui Mina.”   Mina extends her hand to the girl still sitting in front of them.

“My name’s Seungwan. Son Seungwan, but you can call me Wendy.”  The girl stands up and excitedly shakes Mina’s hand smiling. Jeongyeon looks at their hands sharply and then fake coughs loudly.

Mina breaks the handshake,  “Wendy, it was really nice meeting you, but there’s some emergency and Unnie and I really needs to go right now if you don’t mind.”

“Oh yeah sure. But can I please have your number instead? Would you like to go out with me sometime?”   Wendy tries to hold onto Mina but Jeongyeon pulls her best friend away just in time.

“We really need to go. I’m sorry Wendy, I had a nice time.” Jeongyeon lies as she hastily pulls Mina away out of the cafe.

*****

 

Mina laughs when they are already inside her car. “That was one for the books.” She comments, still amazed on the event that has just transpired.

“I think not.” Jeongyeon replies, still annoyed. “Do you sit close to her in your Biology class?”

“I honestly don’t know. I just found out she’s my classmate today.”

When her best friend doesn’t comment back, Mina looks at her curiously and then smiles, “Are you jealous?”

“No, I’m not.” Jeongyeon scoffs.

“Then why are you sulking? and pouting too.” Mina gently pokes at Jeongyeon’s cheeks as she teases her best friend.

Jeongyeon holds Mina’s finger down instead and gently intertwines their hands. Mina’s heart skips a beat at the sudden gesture.

“I’m not jealous. I’m just irritated. I just want this stupid tradition to stop you know. It’s tiring.”

“And I don’t want you to get dragged and be involved with these stupid blind dates anymore.”  Jeongyeon adds and sighs exasperatedly.

Mina looks at her best friend affectionately and then pulls Jeongyeon closer. She stretches out her other hand and starts rubbing her best friend’s back silently.

“I’ll try to talk to our captain tomorrow.” Jeongyeon says tiredly as she leans into Mina’s shoulder.

Mina extends her arm on Jeongyeon’s shoulder and embraces her best friend. Jeongyeon closes her eyes and tries to settle the uneasiness that she feels in her chest.

They stay like that for 15 minutes before Jeongyeon’s stomach starts growling and Mina decided that they should dine outside for dinner this time.

*****

 

One uneventful Saturday, while Mina is happily munching a burger on her couch during one of their movie nights,  Jeongyeon hands her over a piece of paper.

“What’s this?”    Mina asks her best friend.   

“It’s an invitation to our annual year-end winter party.”   

Mina looks at her puzzled.

“The entire basketball team are apparently the yearly VIP guests.”   Jeongyeon explains.

Mina looks down at the paper and reads the invitation.   Jeongyeon stares at her best friend sheepishly while she adds,

“Coach said we’re required to bring someone along... just someone, a close friend, a muse, or whatever.”   Jeongyeon mumbles the last parts quickly.

“Oh so you’re inviting me because you don’t have a muse yet?  Is that right?”   Mina apparently catches on that.

“I’m inviting you because it’s probably gonna be boring and I actually don’t want to go.”

“So you’re dragging me into your misery?  Oh you’re such a sweet friend, Jeong.”   Mina teases her.

“Thanks.”   Jeongyeon smirks as she bites back on the burger that Mina is holding. 

"Hey that's my burger."   Mina lightly snickers at her best friend while looking fondly at Jeongyeon whose cheeks are puffing because of the burger she's chewing.

"It’s a costume party, they have a different theme every year."   Jeongyeon adds.   "Come with me?"

Mina smiles, and gently pushes her burger closer to Jeongyeon's mouth as her best friend takes on another bite.

"Okay."

*****

 

Mid-Summer of 2015, College Freshman Year

As the first game of the season nearly approaches, and the finals week of the first semester begins, Jeongyeon and Mina gets busier and they rarely see each other now.   Most of the time, Jeongyeon is too tired for their movie nights after an intense day of training.   Mina understands and just urges her best friend to rest instead.

One night, while Mina is studying for her finals, Jeongyeon texted her.

 

Ace Jeong  (10:37 PM)
Minari, are you still awake?

 

Cutie Alien nerd 👽  (10:38 PM)
Yes, Jeongie. Still studying.
Did you just finish?

 

Ace Jeong  (10:38 PM)
Yeah. Coach was so hard on us today.
Can I sleep there tonight?

 

Cutie Alien nerd 👽  (10:39 PM)
Sure, Jeong.
Do you want me to come fetch you?

 

Ace Jeong  (10:40 PM)
Nah it’s fine. I’ll just walk there
It’s closer than my dorm anyways.

 

Cutie Alien nerd 👽  (10:40 PM)
Ok. Keep safe, please.
I’ll just be here waiting.

 

Mina waits patiently for Jeongyeon as her heart worries for her best friend.   She understands how exhausting it is for the girl to train every day for her sport.   Having been a witness to her best friend’s hardships during her entire basketball career from primary to high school, she can’t imagine how tough it is for Jeongyeon to endure the more intense and extremely rigorous training her collegiate basketball career requires now.

After 10 minutes, Mina hears soft knocks on her door and opens it when she sees Jeongyeon in the peep hole.

Jeongyeon immediately hugs her as soon as she opens the door.

“I’m exhausted Mina-ya.” Jeongyeon exhales softly as she clings onto Mina even tighter.

“I know. Come on, let’s get you to bed. I’ve prepared the other spare room for you.”

“I want cuddles.” Jeongyeon whispers tiredly into Mina’s neck.

Mina’s mind lags for a second at her best friend’s request. Yet she still manages to reply a soft,  “Okay”

*****

 

They are now both lying in Mina’s bed after Jeongyeon insisted she sleeps there instead of the other room.

Mina is spooning Jeongyeon and her best friend is now snoring lightly into her clavicle. Her eyes warm with care and affection as she looks down on her best friend fondly and lightly brushes her soft hair. She hesitates at first, but knowing Jeongyeon is deep asleep now, Mina carefully and ever so slowly swipes away Jeongyeon’s fringes and places a tender chaste kiss on her best friend’s forehead. Jeongyeon remains still after the kiss and Mina is thankful.

They stayed like that for a while and Mina closes her eyes savouring the momentary peace and quiet that they rarely experience nowadays as their first semester is coming to an end.

A few minutes afterwards, Mina tries to slowly scoot out of Jeongyeon’s embrace since she still needs to finish reviewing for her finals tomorrow. She successfully gets out from the bed now and as she carefully drapes back the blanket over to her best friend, Jeongyeon suddenly stirs and holds out her hand. Jeongyeon then lazily mumbles, her eyes still closed and her voice thick with sleep,

“Minari…”

“Sleep, Jeong. I’m just right here.” Mina whispers softly.

“Thank you..”

“Sleep.”

“I miss you always.”

Jeongyeon squeezes her hand weakly. Mina’s heart stills and then erratically beats all at once.

It’s moments like this that a tiny glimmer of hope makes its way into Mina’s uncertain heart. Moments when she allows herself to believe and entertains the idea that maybe, just maybe… Jeongyeon feels the same way.

 

Jeongyeon goes back to sleep almost immediately after that.

Mina unknowingly slept on the couch for the rest of the night after pulling an all-nighter for her finals review.

*****

 

In the morning, Jeongyeon found a note on Mina’s bedside table with a spare key card on top of it. Jeongyeon reads the note with Mina’s neat cursive handwriting on it.

“You can always sleep here right after your practice training. My place is closer from the gym anyways than your dorm. I usually get home late now because finals. So feel free to just rest and sleep here whenever you need to. I don’t mind. I left breakfast at the table. I also made your smoothie, it’s in the fridge.

P.S. Sorry if the pancake’s a bit undercooked. I got a 7AM exam. ”

Jeongyeon feels energized upon reading Mina’s note and wakes up feeling refresh, ready to brave another new exhausting day of college classes and basketball training.

*****

 

Late Summer of 2015, College Freshman Year

One late summer afternoon, a week before the end of the first semester, Jeongyeon and Mina are walking along a corridor holding hands, while Jeongyeon is happily telling Mina that she successfully passed all of her final exams this semester.

“I can’t believe we survived the first semester of college!”  Jeongyeon exclaims.

“I know right. Tell me why I chose this major again?”  Mina agrees while thinking back on the gruelling hell week that have just ended.   She remembers how it deprived both of them long hours of peaceful sleep.

“Because you’re gonna be an amazing doctor, Minari.”  Jeongyeon confidently tells her best friend.  She proudly smiles at Mina as she outstretches her hands and cups both of her best friend’s cheeks.

Mina looks back at her shyly, a slight pink flush starts to appear on her cheeks,

“Thank you. I needed that, Jeong.”

Jeongyeon is still looking at her tenderly, and Mina is feeling that familiar warmth again.  It’s the same warmth from the growing flames of hope that she unknowingly starts to harbour and safely contain inside her insecure heart.

As she feels Jeongyeon’s gentle hands on her cheeks and as she drowns herself in her best friend’s gaze, Mina indulges herself in the spur of the moment and finds the inner courage to confess, albeit quietly,

“Yoo Jeongyeon.., I..“

“Yes, Myoui Mina?”  Jeongyeon nods her head encouragingly.

“..I.. I-I’ve been meaning to tell you..”

“Hmm?” Jeongyeon hums and smiles at her.

Mina can’t stand to look at her best friend’s eyes directly anymore.  Jeongyeon’s gaze bores right through her soul and it’s making her weak and so she looks down shyly, as she tries to gather her remaining courage again.

They stood in silence for a few minutes as Mina still tries to pick up where she left off.

“Come here.” Jeongyeon tugs her inside an empty class room after a while.

Jeongyeon leads her into a corner of the room where a grand white piano is sitting elegantly.  She takes a sit into the small piano bench and taps the space beside her, as she sheepishly makes a requests to Mina,

“Play for me? I miss hearing you play.”

Mina just smiles gently and nods at her best friend,  “Of course.”

 

 

So Mina quietly sits beside Jeongyeon.   She carefully lays her fingers on the piano keys and starts checking if the instrument is in tune.

After a few beats, Mina pauses for a while, inhales deeply, and then gently presses on the keys again as she proceeds to play a slow intro of a piece.

She lets herself be vulnerable in that moment and lays down her heart through her fingers as she fluidly traces the keys, and the soft and calming melody starts to permeate through the entire room.

Feeling the warmth of her best friend’s presence beside her, and drowning in the overflowing feelings of love and longing that she has kept hidden through the years, Mina bares her heart and soul as she continues to play the song.

Her silent confession flows seamlessly through Jeongyeon’s ears, the melody gently swaying around the cozy piano room, being carefully carried outside by the lazy summer afternoon air, into the empty hallways, echoing through the entire building floor.

And so by the end of the first semester of their freshman year,  Mina made her first confession to Jeongyeon, albeit unbeknown to her best friend.

*****

 

As Mina presses the final note, she stops and then carefully shifts her gaze to her best friend’s side.   She gets immediately flustered when the first thing that she sees is Jeongyeon’s lopsided smile while her best friend looks at her so fondly.

“Do you like it?” Mina asks shyly, gauging Jeongyeon’s reaction.

“I love it! ” Jeongyeon smiles at her.  Mina’s flames of hope shines a little bit brighter.

“It’s really beautiful Mina-ya. What song is that?”

“It’s your song, Jeong.”

“My song?”

“Yes, I dedicate it for you.”

Jeongyeon grins widely at Mina’s confirmation,  “Really? Wow. I have a song now. I should have recorded it! Can you play it again, I’ll record it.”

But as Jeongyeon is already pulling out her phone, they hear a soft knock on the door.

“I’m sorry to interrupt. Do you have a training in here? We’re supposed to use this room at this time.”

“Oh we’re just going now. Sorry to intrude.” Mina replies to the student as she nudges on her best friend signalling to stand up now.

Jeongyeon pouts as she stands and hides her phone in the pocket of her varsity jacket again.

“Can you play it again to me next time?”

Mina chuckles at her best friend, while Jeongyeon finds her hand at the same time and interlocks their fingers. 

They leave the building holding hands with their hearts full.

*****

 

Early Fall of 2015, College Freshman Year, 2nd semester

In the middle of their second semester, Jeongyeon requests for Mina’s help one last time.

Mina is now sitting in one corner of a café as she quietly observes her best friend three tables away from her.    Jeongyeon looks so bored as she stirs her coffee while waiting for her blind date.   Mina wonders what her role’s gonna be today and then proceeds to continue reading her books.

As the bell of the coffee shop’s door chimes signalling the entrance of someone, Mina looks up from her notes and sees a beautiful raven haired girl with plump lips, radiant smile, and confident strides, enters the café and carefully walks into Jeongyeon’s table.

She sees how her best friend’s eyes grow brighter at the sight of the woman.  She witnesses how Jeongyeon shyly offers her hands to the girl.  She observes how Jeongyeon is completely enamoured by the lady sitting in front of her through the entire 2 hours of their date.

Jeongyeon didn’t text her the code that day.

 

In the middle of the second semester, Mina thinks Jeongyeon has finally found her muse.

Her name’s Im Nayeon. A very attractive and popular sophomore from the College of Architecture.

And as the cool breeze of autumn seeps through Mina’s sweater unto her skin, her heart feels colder, and it breaks a little.  The growing flame of hope flickers a bit dimly.

*****

 

One day after her classes end, Mina found Nayeon waiting for her at their college lounge area.

“Hi Mina. Can you give me the recipe?”

“I’m sorry?”

“Your smoothie. I need the recipe.”

“Oh. You can actually just google it. There’s a lot of recipe in the internet. I can send you links if you want?” Mina civilly offers to her.

“I already have.” Nayeon sighs, “But Jeongyeon likes your shake. She says it tasted different. I really don’t know what’s different to be honest. She’s so picky. It’s infuriating sometimes. ”

Nayeon exhales frustratingly and Mina just continue to stand there quietly.

“Can you give it to me please?” Nayeon pauses and then, “..and also I’d like to be the one giving Jeongyeon her smoothie from now on. You get what I’m saying, right?”

Mina remains quiet.

“Also, can you ask Jeongyeon to surrender back her spare key to your unit?”

“What for?” Mina asks taken aback at these sudden requests from the girl.

“I don’t like it when she sleeps at your place.”

“We’re not doing anything, Nayeon. If that’s what’s bothering you.”

“I know. But I still don’t like it.”

“But my place is closer to the gym. It saves Jeongyeon’s energy specially since she’s always tired after training. Her dorm’s still a 30 minute walk from the gym.” Mina reasons out.

“She’ll sleep in my dorm now.”

“I beg your pardon?”

“You heard me.” Nayeon is looking at her challengingly, as if sending a silent message to Mina.

Mina understands and so she asks, although she already knows the answer.

“Are you and Jeongyeon already dating?” She wants to check if Nayeon will say the truth.

Nayeon stops and looks at her. She’s reading Mina’s face and seems to be deliberating internally on her answer.

“No. Not yet.” She answers truthfully.

“But we’re getting there, Mina. You’re a smart girl. I’m pretty sure you know why I’m here right?”

Mina sighs. She knows Jeongyeon likes Nayeon and she respects that. So she gives Nayeon her very own recipe albeit hesitantly.

But she didn’t ask for Jeongyeon to give her key back. She just wants Jeongyeon to have a choice just in case her best friend is really exhausted from the training which is almost every other night. She’s well aware that Nayeon’s dorm is also significantly far from their gym.

*****

 

Winter of 2015, College Freshman Year, 2nd semester

“Why don’t you prepare me my smoothie anymore?” Jeongyeon asks Mina one weekend.

They’re now sitting at Mina’s couch as Jeongyeon is flicking through the remote choosing a movie to watch.

“Why are you here bothering me instead and not in Nayeon’s dorms?”  Mina replies annoyed, and instantly regrets it afterwards.

“Oh I can’t be with my best friend now?” Jeongyeon asks looking at her confused.

Mina breathes in, and then sighs,  “I’m sorry, Jeong. It’s just.. finals week is approaching. And there’s just so many deadlines I need to catch up on. I’m sorry if I snap at you. ”   She lies on the real reason.

“You call that snapping?”  Jeongyeon chuckles and holds her hand. “Minari, that’s not snapping. You should have seen how Nayeon snaps. That woman is scary.”

“What do you mean?” Mina asks curiously.

Jeongyeon just looks at her and then smiles timidly,  “Nothing. Come on, let’s go watch a movie now.”

Mina knows something’s up, so she scoots closer to Jeongyeon and then carefully asks,

“Jeong, what’s bothering you?”

Jeongyeon lets out a loud exhale,  “I’m just tired of Nayeon lately.”

“What do you mean?”  Mina asks worriedly.

“She’s just so demanding 99% of the time.  She acts like she’s my girlfriend.   It’s already getting annoying. ”

“Well, isn’t she?”   Mina asks, already preparing her heart for the answer.

“We’re not dating, Mina-ya.”

Jeongyeon looks back at her, “Sometimes, she doesn’t even want me to hang out with you.”

“But you like Nayeon right? You told me yourself.”

“I do.. but...”

“But?”

“I don’t know, Mina... I just.. just..”

Mina starts to soothingly rub Jeongyeon’s back to calm her best friend down.

“I just miss you, you know.” Jeongyeon looks at her and Mina’s hand on her back suddenly stops rubbing.

Mina looks back at Jeongyeon but then she immediately shifts the topic before the tiny spark in her heart grows bigger again,   “Nayeon’s your muse right?”

Jeongyeon furrows her brows and doesn’t answer Mina’s question.

Mina stands up, walks to her room and when she gets back, she hands over a paper to Jeongyeon.

“What’s this?” Jeongyeon asks looking up at Mina who’s now standing in front of her.

“It’s the invitation to your party.  Give it to Nayeon.  It’s for your muse anyways.”

“No. it’s for you Mina-ya.”

“But I’m not your muse.”

“But it’s for you. I invited you.”

“But-“

“No but’s. I prefer to go with you than her anyways.”

Mina sighs and rolls her eyes. “God, you’re so stubborn.”

“But you still miss me, right?”  Jeongyeon stretches out her arms and holds both of Mina’s hands

“Tch. As if. Don’t think highly of yourself, Yoo Jeongyeon.”  Mina replies with a poker face.

“So are you saying you don’t miss me?”

Jeongyeon smirks at her and then she suddenly tugs Mina towards her so they both stumble down together on the couch with Mina lying on top of her.

 

Everything happens in an instant and Mina now finds herself pressed down so closely on top of Jeongyeon,  while her best friend is embracing her waist slowly and pulling her even closer. 

Their faces are so close to each other now, with their noses almost touching.   Jeongyeon is staring at her so intensely as Mina feels the warm air escapes from Jeongyeon’s breath when she whispers into Mina,

“You didn’t miss me, Minari? Really?  Coz I’ve missed you. I miss you so much.”

 

And just like that, there’s that flame again-  the one that Mina has forced herself to put down with all of her might just few weeks ago.   

The one that she has kept hidden inside her heart as ashes now. 

The one that she tries so hard every day not to be ignited again because she’s not sure if the next burn will finally consume her completely.

The one flame of hope that both made her heart fluttered and ached at the same time.

There’s that flame again and it sets her heart ablaze. 

Looking down at Jeongyeon now and feeling her best friend’s warm embrace, her skin feels like burning but she doesn’t want to leave.

 

“Jeong, I..”  Mina slowly slides down her free hand into Jeongyeon’s hair and starts to pull a handful of strands lightly.  

“Yes Mina-ya..”  Jeongyeon breathes out still looking so intensely at her.

Mina’s getting dizzy now and she needs to do something or else there’s no coming back.

She’s trying so hard to internally resist but Jeongyeon is not making it any easier.   Jeongyeon meets Mina’s gaze head-on and whispers, her warm breathy voice sending shivers down Mina’s spine,  

“Nayeon’s not my muse, Mina.   Thought you should know.”

Mina’s breath hitches.   Jeongyeon is so intoxicating now, and for once, just this time, Mina would like to be selfish and she wants to completely succumb to her heart’s desire.

“Jeongyeon-ah..”   Mina slowly slides down her other hand to gently cup Jeongyeon’s left cheek.   Her best friend’s skin feels just as warm.

Jeongyeon’s eyes travel slowly from her face to her lips.   And then as her best friend starts to lean closer, a loud blaring sound of the buzzer cuts through the intense thick heated air in the room.

 

Mina is awoken from her trance and immediately stands up.     “Must be the pizza.  I’ll go get it.”  she  nervously mumbles as she hurriedly goes to the door.

Jeongyeon sits up, follows her best friend’s nervous strides as she smiles tenderly at the sight of Mina’s back.

 

The tension eventually dies down and they never talk about that incident again.

*****

 

Late Winter of 2016, College Freshman Year,  2nd semester

Few weeks before the semester ends, Jeongyeon knocks on Mina’s door one night to personally fetch her best friend so they can both go together to their annual year-end party.    

Jeongyeon drives them to the venue and parks in front of the entrance.    As soon as the car is properly parked, Jeongyeon gently stops Mina from exiting the car door,  “Stay here.”  

Mina stares questioningly at her best friend as her eyes trails on Jeongyeon who excitedly exits the car and walks around to her door’s side.   Jeongyeon opens the car door for her and Mina chuckles at her best friend’s antics.   

Mina exits the car gracefully and stands beside her best friend.   Jeongyeon smirks and looks at her from head to toe,

“You look so beautiful tonight.  I like your blue dress.  It’s very lovely.  ”

Mina rolls her eyes at her best friend and replies, “Oh shut up baby dinosaur.”

 

Jeongyeon lets out a hearty laugh and Mina immediately follows suit.   

They both laugh loudly together for a while before Jeongyeon offers out her hand for Mina to hold,

 

“Shall we, princess?”    

“Let’s get this party started.”    Mina replies and smiles teasingly as she interlocks her arms with Jeongyeon’s.

 

And the two best friends confidently walk together towards the party in all of their cute blue penguin and fluffy green dinosaur onesie glory.

*****

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

Was there a lifetime waiting for us

in a world where I was yours?

 

 

*****

 

 

Late Winter of 2016, College Freshman Year,  2nd semester

 

Their annual year-end winter party is so much fun, contrary to what Jeongyeon had expected.  

Well, she honestly is not sure if the party itself is fun or it is only fun because Mina is with her-  the girl who she likes to tease throughout the entire duration of the party.

She has witnessed her best friend danced adorably in the middle of the crowd in her blue penguin onesie.    Mina was so cute flapping her little wings dorkily while jiving in with the bubblegum pop music playing in the background.   

The crowd was equally excited and delighted as they cheered for Mina who Jeongyeon noticed was getting a bit shy because of the cheering.     So she immediately joined her best friend in the dance floor, aiming to share the embarrassment that Mina is obviously hiding despite her confident dance moves.  

 

After all, this is Mina’s gift to her,

“Ok, I’ll dance.   If that’s what you want as a gift for winning the championship this year.    But just this once, Yoo Jeongyeon.  I’m not gonna do it again.  Savour it while it lasts. ”

Mina said after Jeongyeon whined to her about her championship gift and made such a playful request to her best friend.    Mina then downs a cocktail in one shot before she waddles in through the crowd to grant Jeongyeon’s wish.

 

 

Back to the dance floor,  Mina’s neutral face turns into a wide grin of gummy smiles and tipsy crescent eyes when Jeongyeon playfully slides towards her and holds her little wings.   Together they harmoniously sway into the loud beats of music blasting through the entire floor.

The crowd’s cheers become even louder as a cute blue penguin and a dorky green dinosaur sway their hips in the middle of the dance floor and make adorable impromptu dance steps along the way.

It was fun.

They probably looked like idiots but Jeongyeon didn’t mind.    

All that matters is that she and Mina are enjoying this together.

She’s glad she invited Mina in this party.

And she’s even more grateful when her best friend accepted and joined her tonight.

Being with Mina is fun.

 

*****

 

 

It’s already past midnight and they’re driving on their way home when Jeongyeon sees a public playground across the street and a crazy idea pops into her head.

Still high from the excitement of their party, Jeongyeon pulls over in front of a convenience store nearby and then looks at Mina, 

“Ice cream? ” 

“It’s winter, Jeong.”

“Exactly.”   Jeongyeon lets out a playful grin and Mina immediately smiles because she knows exactly what Jeongyeon means.

 

And so they both exit the car to enter the convenience store and buy ice cream.    Mina forgets to bring her coat from the car so Jeongyeon drapes her winter jacket to Mina as soon as they enter the store.

“You’re gonna get cold.”   Mina looks at her worryingly.

“It’s ok, you need it more than I do.  I’m fine.”   Jeongyeon smiles reassuringly.

 

After buying their midnight snacks, Jeongyeon gets Mina’s coat and they walk across the street to the empty yet fairly lighted kid’s playground.     They each take their seat on the double outdoor swing as Jeongyeon hands over the newly opened popsicle stick to Mina.  

Mina bites on the ice cream excitedly and her face immediately crumples because of the sudden brain freeze.   Jeongyeon laughs out loud at her best friend’s cute quirky antics.   Mina pouts at her, feigning offence.

Not wanting for her best friend to get more annoyed, Jeongyeon stands, hands over her coat to Mina, and starts dancing awkwardly in her fluffy green dinosaur onesie.    She dances to the same steps she first showed her best friend during their 5th grade.    

Mina smiles so widely now as she watches her best friend recreates the nostalgic dance moves.   Jeongyeon’s heart immediately feels warm against the cold winter night.

They both start to sing the familiar tune as Jeongyeon re-enacts the very same scene from eight years ago.   The very same moment that both of them treasures dearly.

 

It has always been their thing.   Whenever Jeongyeon or Mina is feeling extremely happy, celebratory, or just utterly sad, they always go to a playground and eat ice cream.  They don’t know why but it makes them both feel at ease, just being around each other while they discuss their worries or share their happiness with each other, as they partake on their favourite snack.  

Tonight they are celebrating a successful conclusion of their first year in college together.    College is tough.   It can be evil.  Juggling both of her academics and her intense basketball training was a strenuous challenge for Jeongyeon.  She barely survived it. 

Jeongyeon thinks she couldn’t have survived it if not because of her best friend.   She’s not sure what could have happened if Mina didn’t join her in Haneol.     She doesn’t like to imagine what it’s like not to have Mina around.

In most difficult times, Jeongyeon gets her strength from her best friend.

Despite Mina’s quiet appearance and calm demeanor, Mina is her anchor.

Being with Mina is reassuring.

 

Mina’s laughter is music to Jeongyeon’s ears and so she continues dancing in the middle of this quiet playground on a cold winter night, ignoring the lingering thoughts that have been trying to escape from the back of her mind.

 

*****

 

 

Jeongyeon is awakened up by the smell of her favourite blueberry pancakes in the morning.    She rouses herself from sleep, sits up and eventually gets surprised to realize that she slept on the couch again and still in her onesie.  

She’s still rubbing the sleep out of her eyes when she hears someone walking towards her and her best friend’s soft voice starts to travel into her ears,

“Good morning sleepyhead, breakfast is ready.” 

Jeongyeon looks up and she sees Mina smiling at her in her large oversized white sweater over a black tempo shorts which exposes her milky white legs.   

She has seen her best friend wears those kinds of outfits numerous times before but today, for some reason, her brain short circuits at the sight.    Suddenly, flashes of her dream last night vividly reappear and Jeongyeon internally panics.

 

Fuck.

“Why is she wearing shorts?   It’s winter for god’s sake.”

Jeongyeon is still in a panic mode when Mina speaks again and asks,

“Do you want to change and shower first or do you want to eat already?”

Jeongyeon shakes her head subtly to clear off her mind and replies smiling,

“Breakfast first, I’m starving.   Can’t say no to that smell.”   

Mina smiles at her reply and they start to eat breakfast together.

 

It’s a lazy Sunday morning, the day after their year-end party.

It’s the day when Jeongyeon starts to entertain the blurry questions that have been lingering at the back of her mind ever since she and Mina nearly kissed few months ago.

 

It’s a lazy Sunday morning, and all Jeongyeon can think about is her dream last night.

A dream so vivid it almost felt like it’s real.

A dream when she is kissing her best friend.

 

*****



Spring of 2016, College Sophomore Year

 

Their second year of college starts blissfully by welcoming Dahyun and Chaeyoung again into their circle. 

The younger bros, as what they call themselves, are Jeongyeon and Mina’s other childhood friends back in their hometown.    They also went to the same school and both of them are Jeongyeon’s former basketball team mates.    Despite their height,  Dahyun and Chaeyoung are both very skilled and capable point guards whom Jeongyeon really misses playing basketball with.

Both of them got scouted in Haneol too and so Jeongyeon and Mina couldn’t be any happier.

 

Having Dahyun and Chaeyoung again is also a good distraction for Jeongyeon because she and Mina have been circling around a certain topic for months now.  

When Jeongyeon starts to initiate bringing it up, she usually ends up messing the entire conversation because she’s really not that good in confronting real feelings.    That’s never Jeongyeon’s forte.

 

 

“Why didn’t you kiss Dahyun?”   Jeongyeon blurts out one time while having her weekend movie nights with Mina.  

“What?”   Mina looks at her flustered, eyes widen in surprise at the sudden question from her best friend.

“When you dated her, why didn’t you two kiss?”

“Jeong, you know very well that I’m not even sure if I can consider Dahyun as my legit ex.”  

Mina answers her looking confused.

“Well..”   Jeongyeon sighs,  “.. you have a point.”

Clearly, that’s not how Jeongyeon imagined this conversation will end.

 

 

You see, back in high school, Dahyun is a result of the rarest times when Mina followed Jeongyeon’s crazily stupid advice.

 

“We’re going to college soon.  How about live your life a little, Mina-ya.  Get yourself a girlfriend and experience how it is to date someone before throwing yourself into the real world. ”

" Jeong, college is not the real world yet.”

" That is not the point!”

Mina sighs, her best friend can really be persistent and stubborn when she wants to.  

 

And so she followed her best friend’s advice eventually.    Mina chose Dahyun out of the several girls that have confessed to her simply because she’s already friends with the younger girl and she trusts Dahyun.

She asked Dahyun to be her girlfriend for a day saying she wants to experience how it is to have a girlfriend before graduating.     Dahyun was fine with it, she was even extra giddy when she asks Mina,

"Can I hold your hand, unnie?”

“Sure.”   Mina smiles in approval as she takes on Dahyun’s hand.    But she doesn’t feel the same tingle in her heart when she holds Jeongyeon’s.

They just watched a movie and built puzzles in the Myoui’s living room that day.    As sunset approaches, both girls stood in the doorway to say their goodbyes.

“Dahyun, I think it’s time for us to break up.” 

“Ok, unnie.”  

Mina holds Dahyun and gives the younger girl a warm hug,  “Thank you Dahyun-ah.” 

"You were such a good girlfriend, unnie.  I’m glad to have experienced it.”   Dahyun says sincerely.

As they break the hug, Dahyun smiles at her and takes on Mina’s hands then kisses her knuckles.

“and oh Mina-unnie, your secret’s safe with me.”   are Dahyun’s last words before she leaves the Myoui’s mansion and waves her goodbye to Mina.

 

They still remain good friends after that, even sometimes laughing at the fact that they are both each other’s “first girlfriend” and “first breakup”,   if one can even validly consider them as such.

 

*****

 

 

“I’m not in love with her.”    Mina says after an hour, in the middle of the movie playing.

“What?”   Jeongyeon looks at her initially confused, but then she remembers her dumb spontaneous question earlier.

“You asked why I didn’t kiss Dahyun.”   Mina clarifies,  “It’s because I don’t love her.”

 

Mina is now staring at her with an expression that Jeongyeon can’t decipher.

“So you haven’t had your first kiss yet?”

Mina continues to give her that look, and Jeongyeon suddenly feels uneasy.

“I want my first kiss to be with someone I truly love.”

 

“Why?  Is there someone you’re waiting for?”  Jeongyeon hesitantly asks her best friend.

“Maybe.”   Mina is still staring at her, she seems to be waiting for Jeongyeon to ask something.   

 

But Jeongyeon doesn’t know how to voice it out loud.    She’s afraid she might mess it up again.   There are a lot of questions that are now running circles on her head,

 

“But what about that ‘night’?”

“Would you really kiss me if I lean in closer?”

“or..is that why you hesitated?  Because you don’t love m-”

 

Jeongyeon was surprised by a sudden explosive sound from the action thriller movie that is still playing.   

Mina shifts her gaze back to the TV screen again while she fiddles with her sweater.

They both just continued watching quietly until the end of the film.   

Another night ended again without both of them actually addressing the biggest elephant in the room.

 

*****

 

 

Early Summer of 2016, College Sophomore Year

 

In the middle of the first semester, Dahyun and Chaeyoung became the new recruits of their basketball team who will carry on their yearly tradition.   Jeongyeon volunteered to set up their blind dates with the help of Mina.

 

It’s Dahyun’s first date today,  and the two best friends are now sitting just a table away from their friend as a sign of support.    It was Jeongyeon’s idea despite Mina insisting that they don’t really need to be there since Dahyun can carry herself well during romantic dates.

After a few minutes, Dahyun’s date finally enters the cafe, walks onto Dahyun’s table, and Jeongyeon sees how her friend’s face glimmer with both excitement and shyness.   Mina feels proud because she knew then that her blockmate is a perfect match for Dahyun.

 

Few minutes into their date, Dahyun begins to throw her trademark pick-up lines:

“They say hugs and kisses make stress go away.”   Dahyun smiles charmingly to her date.

“Oh, is that so?”   Sana replies curiously.

“Yeah...”   Dahyun fiddles with the small flower pot decorating their table before she looks at Sana again and adds with a smug grin,     “You look stressed.”

 

Jeongyeon chokes on her cake upon hearing Dahyun’s cheesy lines and Mina hurriedly pats on her back to her rescue and gives her water.    She cannot believe Dahyun actually blurted that one out on an actual date with a pretty girl.     She’s 100% sure Sana won’t buy it and her dear friend is going to fail this one.      What she definitely didn’t expect is Sana’s reply after that,

 

“Well you’re right.”   Sana looks amused,   “Receiving hugs is scientifically proven to relieve some stress away.”  

“Oh yeah?”

“Yes, and you’re definitely right too..”,  Sana leans closer, props both of her elbows on the table and puts her chin on the top of her hands while looking at Dahyun with a sly smirk,  

“College is hell right now.   It’s definitely stressing me out.  I’m pretty sure it’s the same for you.”

Dahyun looks at her date and admires the slight shade of pink that forms in Sana’s beautiful cheeks,    “Do you wanna get out of here?”

“Sure.”    Sana smiles and the two girls walk out of the coffee shop holding hands.

 

 

Jeongyeon can’t believe what she just witnessed.  Meanwhile Mina looks entirely proud and delighted.  

“I didn’t know our friend’s got game.”    Jeongyeon comments still thoroughly amused.

“Dahyun’s always like that.  She’s not afraid to say what’s in her heart.”   Mina softly replies after a while.

Jeongyeon looks at her best friend and sees Mina looking outside the window.  Her best friend is having that same forlorn expression again.

 

Mina softly speaks after a while, she’s now looking at Jeongyeon with a small smile.

“I’ve always admired Dahyun for being so brave.  I wish it could be that easy for everybody else.”

 

*****

 

 

The next day,  they set up Chaeyoung with one of Mina’s hoobaes from their college.   

Chaeyoung pulled the same trick after Dahyun proudly told her how successful her first date was when she told Sana those cheesy pick-up lines.

Needless to say, Jeongyeon and Dahyun ended up cackling in endless laughter on Mina’s couch, while Mina continues to console the sulky Chaeyoung.    

“You’re a scammer.  My date hates me now.”    Chaeyoung mopes at a laughing Dahyun.

“Well, you’re just not as charming as me.”  Dahyun grins smugly and alternately raises her eyebrows.

 

Chaeyoung’s blind date,  Chou Tzuyu, was apparently not a fan of cheesy pick-up lines.

“It’s ok Chaeng.   Maybe next time, you can set up your date in a dog café.  Tzuyu would love that.”  Mina gently says to a sulky Chaeyoung.

“But she hates me now unnie.”  

“No she doesn’t. Trust me. ”   Mina replies with a reassuring smile as she pats on Chaeyoung’s hair.

Chaeyoung’s mood finally lifts up a bit upon hearing Mina’s words.

Jeongyeon, who’s silently observing the two, smiles contentedly.

It feels like the old times.

 

*****

 

 

Late Fall of 2016, College Sophomore Year,  2nd semester

 

Jeongyeon accepted Mina’s offer to lend her the other spare room since it’s better for Jeongyeon anyways as it’s closer to their college gym.     Jeongyeon transferred to Mina’s place at the start of the second semester.

However, despite Jeongyeon now having her own room at Mina’s place, she still often sleeps at Mina’s couch whenever she goes home every night, extremely exhausted after their training.

 

She prefers to sleep on the couch for two reasons:

First, it’s because the couch is the closest comfortable place she can find as soon as she enters the unit and Jeongyeon’s usually so tired and lazy to walk few more steps further to her room.    And so she usually ends up lying immediately on the couch as soon as she enters their shared apartment.

Second, it’s because every night, Jeongyeon is secretly waiting for Mina to arrive and to kiss her good night.  

 

 

For the past months, Jeongyeon and Mina rarely see each other now despite them sharing the same unit.   Their schedules on this semester are not aligned, and Mina usually comes home late from their study sessions or research.   Every morning, her best friend also leaves home before her because of Mina’s early classes.

College is taking a toll on Jeongyeon and she misses her best friend so much.    She even misses Mina more whenever she finds a cooked breakfast and a note every morning when she wakes up.   

One late night while she stirs in her sleep after hearing Mina arrived, Jeongyeon is about to sit up to greet her best friend but then she suddenly freezes on her spot when Mina didn’t turn on the light but instead just walks quietly towards the couch.

Jeongyeon closes her eyes again and pretends to be asleep when she feels Mina’s gentle hands on her head as her best friend starts to carefully caress her hair.   Jeongyeon hears Mina softly whispers,

“My Jeongie, she must be so tired to sleep on the couch again.”

 

Mina then walks to her room and Jeongyeon wonders if Mina will now sleep, after all her best friend must be tired too.

But then after a few seconds, she hears Mina walking towards her again and then she feels the warm comfortable blanket enveloping her.   Mina is carefully tucking her in.  

Jeongyeon is still pretending to be asleep when she feels Mina sits closer on the floor beside the couch.   She’s hearing Mina’s even breathing now and she can feel her best friend’s warm presence beside her.  

Jeongyeon is about to open her eyes when she feels Mina’s gentle touch on her cheek.   Her heart suddenly leaps at the sensation.    She misses this.   She misses the feeling of her best friend’s comforting touch.

She feels that Mina is now gently brushing her cheek with her smooth thumb and she’s tucking away some of Jeongyeon’s stray hairs behind her ears. 

Mina’s gentle touches make Jeongyeon feel at ease so she starts to feel drowsy again.   

 

When sleep is about to take over on her, she suddenly feels Mina’s soft lips on her forehead and Jeongyeon couldn’t explain the extreme tug on her heart because of the unusual intimate gesture from her best friend.

They always hug, they even sometimes cuddle, but Mina never kisses her.    This is the first time that she feels her best friend’s soft lips on her skin and Jeongyeon already misses the sensation when Mina pulls away carefully.

“Goodnight, Jeong.  I miss you.”

Jeongyeon hears her best friend whisper to her right after.   She really wants to open her eyes right now to say that she misses her just as much.    She wants to open her eyes, to hug Mina and then to request for another forehead kiss, maybe even a kiss on her cheeks.

But Jeongyeon decided not to.   Mina might get embarrassed and she doesn’t want that.

 

 

And so every school night, Jeongyeon prefers to sleep on the couch rather than her own bed because she gets to experience being tucked in by Mina every night.    And  Jeongyeon gets to feel Mina’s soft tender forehead kisses and hears her soft whispers of “Good night”.

It’s Jeongyeon’s happy escape amidst her tough and challenging college life.

Mina is her respite.

 

*****

 

 

Early Winter of 2016, College Sophomore Year,  2nd semester

 

The cold weather, Jeongyeon’s dream, and her secret craving for Mina’s forehead kisses every night is already making Jeongyeon so confused, so she invited Dahyun one weekend morning to their apartment to get some possible answers.

Jeongyeon made sure Mina is attending her Saturday classes when Dahyun arrives and she confronts to her friend all the things that have been bothering her for months.

She tells Dahyun everything- from their nearly kiss incident, to her dream, to the forehead kisses, and everything in between.

 

After telling her story, Dahyun just looks at her, eyes squinting, and then she bites on her pepperoni pizza as she casually comments,

“You’re an idiot, unnie.”

“I did not invite you here just for you to call me an idiot, Dub.”   Jeongyeon grunts.

 

Dahyun looks at her pitifully for a few seconds and then carefully puts on her half eaten pizza on the box, as she raises her closed fist and replies to Jeongyeon,

“Look,  you’ve nearly kissed Mina-unnie,”  Dahyun raises her pinky finger,

“you’ve already dreamed on kissing her,”  she raises her ring finger,

“and then when you experienced her kisses, you’re looking forward to it every night.”  Dahyun raises her middle finger.  

“Now you’re here asking me what the hell do those things mean when the answer is just right in front of you..”

 

“You-  like- her.”   Dahyun stresses each syllable as she points on each of the three raised finger on her other hand.

“You might even be in love with her.”    Dahyun adds then taps on Jeongyeon’s shoulder gently,

“So tell me...  do you love Mina-unnie?”

 

Jeongyeon suddenly can’t find the right words to say.  

“Do you love Mina?”

 

She won’t deny that this possibility has already crossed her thoughts before, but actually hearing it from someone makes it more real.     Jeongyeon was still in denial before and whenever this thought is emerging at the back of her mind, she tries her best to ignore it.  

 

“I- ”     Jeongyeon scrambles for an answer, afraid to voice the real one out loud.

“Do you love her?”     Dahyun repeats the question, now with a gentler tone.

“I-..  I don’t know..”    Jeongyeon sighs,   “I can’t.”

“Why not?”

“It’s Mina, Dub.   She’s my best friend.  What if she doesn’t like me back?   What if she becomes awkward after?”

“Have you tried confessing to her?”

“There’s just too much risk, Dub.”

“No unnie, there’s too much risk in not.”  

 

Dahyun then holds both of her shoulders as she stares at Jeongyeon and adds,

“Just try, unnie.   You’ll never know unless you try.” 

Dahyun is now looking at her encouragingly as if she knows something that Jeongyeon doesn’t.

 

“Besides if it doesn’t work out, you can still be good friends after.  I’m sure of it.  Look at me.  I’m still good friends with Mina-unnie.”    Dahyun smiles smugly.

“Your case is different.”   Jeongyeon snickers.

“Are you underestimating my love for Mina-unnie before?   Mina-unnie was my first love, how could you say that?  I’m hurt, unnie. ”     Dahyun taps on her chest dramatically.

Jeongyeon just scoffs on her friend’s antics.   And Dahyun smiles after seeing a bit of worry washed away from her friend’s face.

 

“Think about it.”   Dahyun says after breaking her hug from Jeongyeon before she exits the apartment’s door.

And think is what Jeongyeon did that night.

 

*****

 

 

“Do you love Mina?”

 

Jeongyeon thinks back during their 1st grade primary school when a 6-year old Mina came crying to her because her parents won’t allow her to have a pet dog.

The 7-year old  Jeongyeon was so worried for her best friend because she knew how Mina wants to have a dog so badly. 

So when a young Jeongyeon lose her first baby tooth then,  she left a note under her pillow together with her lost tooth.   The note contains her innocent request to the tooth fairy written in Jeongyeon’s scrawny handwriting:

“Dear tooth fairy, I don’t need money please just let my best friend have a dog.”

 

The morning after, Mina’s parents brought a dog into their home.   Mina came running to her holding a cute little brown puppy while excitedly telling Jeongyeon that she named her “Ray”.

The young Jeongyeon then, bless her pure innocent heart, thought that the tooth fairy really exists and she grants wishes as long as it’s genuine.

Even as early as during their first grade, a young Jeongyeon already thinks she’s willing to lose all her teeth as long as she can see Mina smile again.     

 

*****

 

 

“Do you love Mina?”

 

Jeongyeon remembers the first time she wears a dinosaur onesie.    It was during their 5th grade when some of their classmates bullied Mina for being a Japanese and for being too “aloof”.

Mina skipped her classes for 2 straight days and Jeongyeon always finds her on a playground swing after class, crying alone. 

One day, Jeongyeon skipped her classes too and walked towards Mina slowly in the swing.  She gently wiped Mina’s tears, and her best friend was shocked when she looked up and saw a shy Jeongyeon dressed in a cute baby dinosaur onesie.

“I know how to make you smile again.”   Jeongyeon shyly comments,  “Just stay there.”

Then Jeongyeon starts to sing the Korean Three-Bear Song and dances to the tune.    Mina’s face immediately lights up and her gummy smile starts to reappear.   It’s the smile that Jeongyeon hasn’t seen in a while. 

After her impromptu performance finishes, Jeongyeon shyly walks towards Mina and says,

“Sorry if I’m not a bear.  This is the only costume I found in Seungyeon-unnie’s closet.”

“You’re a cute dinosaur.  It’s perfect, Jeong.  Thank you.” 

 

Jeongyeon then holds both of her best friend’s hands,  “Minari, you know I’m always here for you right?”

“I know.  You’re enough for me.”   Mina smiles at her sincerely.

“So.. Ice cream?”   

Jeongyeon offers after pulling out the ice cream sticks from a plastic bag.

After a few minutes, an 11-year old Jeongyeon dressed in a dinosaur onesie, and a 10-year old Mina in her school uniform can be seen laughing together and eating ice cream while playing on a swing.

 

Jeongyeon then thinks that she can endure any embarrassment as long as she can make her best friend feel safe with her.

 

*****

 

 

“Do you love Mina?”

 

Jeongyeon thinks back during their second year at middle school when she had a leg injury from a basketball accident.   Her leg was put on a cast.   A teenager Jeongyeon was very grumpy because she couldn’t play in the games. 

It was her first serious accident in her bastketball career and Mina was always there for her.

“It’s the drink of the champions, Jeong. It will give you lots of energy to help you win. ”

“You’ll recover fast if you drink it.”

That was the first time Mina handed her the smoothie.   Mina then always checks up on her after school and takes care of Jeongyeon.   She’s always by Jeongyeon’s side while her injured best friend is still recovering.

Mina even scribbled encouraging notes on her cast.   It made Jeongyeon feel better.  Whenever Mina comes into her room to check on her, Jeongyeon feels better than yesterday.

A teenager Jeongyeon then thinks that having Mina by her side makes everything better and her world gets a little brighter.

 

*****

 

 

Jeongyeon thinks back on all of the other moments that she and Mina have shared throughout the years and only came to a definite conclusion that night:

 

"Do you love Mina?”

Yes.

 

 

And so Jeongyeon spent the rest of the semester gauging if her best friend feels the same way and figuring out how to properly confess to Mina.

 

*****

 

 

Early Spring of 2017, College Junior Year

 

Realizing her feelings for her best friend is equally frightening yet exciting to Jeongyeon.    Every single touch and interaction she now has with Mina is heightened to a whole new level and Jeongyeon feels butterflies in her stomach all over.

 

One Saturday, while Jeongyeon is lazing around in their couch playing games,  Mina came home sporting a new red hairstyle.

Jeongyeon is sure her jaw dropped the moment her best friend enters their apartment.   It was the first time her best friend has dyed her hair and Mina is so mesmerizing and alluring with her new hair colour.

Mina sits beside her on the sofa and shyly asks,  “Do you like it?”

“It’s beautiful, Mina-ya.”

“I’m glad you like it.  I was worried it wouldn’t look good on me.”   Mina smiles at her and Jeongyeon was enchanted.

“No, it’s perfect.   You’re perfect to me.”    Jeongyeon replies, a bit shocked that she blurted the last sentence out loud.

 

But Mina didn’t comment on it.  And Jeongyeon notices the faint blush that creeps onto Mina’s cheeks afterwards.  

Perhaps she has a chance.   Jeongyeon feels braver.

 

*****

 

 

One Friday night,  Jeongyeon finds Mina already playing a game in their living room when she goes home to their apartment.

Mina’s classes were cancelled that day and so they ended up snuggling on the couch while watching a movie.   Mina is settled comfortably in front of Jeongyeon who is backhugging her best friend.

It’s like the old times, their usual movie nights, but Jeongyeon’s heart is beating so fast now as her chin is settled on Mina’s shoulder throughout the duration of the film. 

 

Jeongyeon hesitated at first but she asks anyway,

“Mina-ya..”

“hmm?”

“Can I kiss your cheek?”   She whispers into Mina’s ear.

Jeongyeon feels Mina’s body stiffen a bit.  Then she notices that same pink blush adorns her best friend’s adorable cheeks again.

Mina doesn’t look at her but replies quietly, “uhmm.. I guess so.  If that’s what you want.”

Jeongyeon smiles at that and gently kisses Mina’s right cheek.   It feels warm yet soft on Jeongyeon’s lips.

 

 

“Okay, my turn.”   Jeongyeon announces few seconds after pulling away.

“What?”    Mina turns to look at Jeongyeon who’s now pointing at her left cheek for Mina to kiss.

“Minari, I’m waiting.”     Jeongyeon demands firmly but she’s already internally panicking at the possible kiss.

 

Mina rolls her eyes and scoffs at Jeongyeon before she finally leans in and kisses her best friend’s cheek.

“You’re happy now?”   Mina teasingly asks her best friend.

“Very.”  

“Good.”

 

Mina squeezes her hand before shifting her gaze back to the TV screen.  

Jeongyeon has finally thought of a perfect time to confess.

 

*****

 

 

Late Summer of 2017, College Junior Year

 

Jeongyeon plans to confess to Mina by the end of the first semester, on the last day of their University Summer Fair.

She asked for Dahyun and Chaeyoung’s help so they can arrange the bands’ set list and Jeongyeon will confess during the last song of the night before the finale fireworks show.

 

At the night of the concert, when Mina goes out of her room wearing a denim shorts paired with a black off shoulder top adorned with a plain black choker,  Jeongyeon gasped and she almost blurted out her confession then, almost ruining their plans.

During the entire concert, Jeongyeon almost never lets go of Mina and keeps her best friend close.    In some songs, they light up their small firecrackers and sway them into the air in tune with the music.   But most of the time, Jeongyeon is just back hugging Mina, especially when a band is playing a slow song.

 

Before the final act, Mina excuses herself to the restroom.   While Jeongyeon is waiting for her best friend and feeling more nervous and jittery now as they’re nearing the end of the concert, she feels someone pulling her arms suddenly.   

 

“Hey Yoo.  You look great.”   

“Nayeon, you’re drunk.”    Jeongyeon comments on the other girl as she tries to slowly pull away from her grip.

“No.  I just miss you.”

And before Jeongyeon could react, Nayeon already pulls her closer forcefully and kisses her hungrily.   

Jeongyeon tries her best to pull away and when she does, she firmly grips both of her hands on Nayeon’s shoulders so that the other girl would not be able to steal another kiss from her.

“Nayeon please, I’m with Mina.”

“Oh so you’re finally together, huh?”

“No...  Not yet.”

“You’re still an idiot then.”    Nayeon shouts at her.

Jeongyeon sighs,  “You’re really drunk.   Who’s with you tonight?   Let me bring you to them.  Come on.”

Jeongyeon then helps the drunk Nayeon walk back to her friends’ area on the concert grounds.

 

When Jeongyeon gets back to their spot, Mina is still not there.    She’s already extremely worried now so she gets her phone to call her best friend but then a notification pops up:

 

 

Cutie Alien nerd 👽 (9:24 PM)

Sorry, I already went ahead.

Suddenly not feeling well..

 

 

 

Ace Jeong (9:24 PM)

Minari, how are you feeling?

Tell me what’s wrong so I can buy meds

I’ll go home now too.

Just rest, ok?

 

 

Mina didn’t reply anymore.   Her room is closed when Jeongyeon goes home that night, medicines in hand.     Jeongyeon thought she’s probably sleeping already and so she just lets her best friend take her rest.

 

Jeongyeon never gets to confess that night.

 

*****

 

 

Early Fall of 2017, College Junior Year, 2nd semester

 

By the start of autumn, on the second semester, Mina cuts her hair shorter and it’s back to black again.

 

Jeongyeon and Mina go back to their old routine, nothing much has changed.    But Jeongyeon feels that somehow, something has shifted.    She just can’t put her finger on it.

 

One night, when Jeongyeon goes home from practice, she’s surprised to see Mina standing in the hallway to their living room, and her exhaustion is immediately washed away as she hurriedly embraces her best friend in a tight hug.

 

“Mina-ya, you’re home early!”

“Yeah. Our college library is getting renovated so we’re here to study for the meantime.”   Mina says as she hugs Jeongyeon back,   “Oh, come here.   We have a guest.”

Mina tugs her gently to their living room and that is when Jeongyeon sees a smiling girl already standing in front of the couch as if waiting for them.   Jeongyeon notices the pile of books and notes scattered on their coffee table.

 

“Jeongyeon, this is Jihyo.   Jihyo, this is Jeongyeon, my best friend.”

“Hi Jeongyeon-ssi, it’s nice to finally meet you.   I’m Park Jihyo.”    Jihyo introduces herself while smiling warmly to Jeongyeon.   She offers her hand and Jeongyeon shakes it politely.

“Jeong, we’re just gonna be here studying every night for a while.     Don’t worry, we won’t be noisy so you can still sleep and take a rest in your room.”    Mina says to her reassuringly,

“Would it be ok with you?”    

“Of course, it’s your apartment anyways.   It’s fine, Mina-ya.”    Jeongyeon replies while squeezing Mina’s hand.

 

*****

 

 

Of course Jeongyeon knows who Park Jihyo is.    She’s a blockmate of Mina and one of the few students whom her best friend admires from their batch.    Jihyo is a consistent university scholar and she’s also popular in their campus because she’s part of the student council.

Based from Mina’ stories before, Jihyo seems to be a good person.   And Mina is a pretty good judge of character.

Although she's heard of the girl based from her best friend’s stories before,  it’s the first time Jeongyeon has actually met her.   In fact, it’s the first time ever that Mina has brought someone in their apartment and introduced another girl personally to her.      

 

Jeongyeon doesn’t know what to do with that information.

 

*****

 

 

Ever since Jihyo and Mina start to do their study sessions at their unit, Jeongyeon doesn’t get to sleep in the couch anymore.     This means she doesn’t get to have her nightly dose of goodnight forehead kisses from her best friend.

 

One night, while Mina is in the bathroom and Jeongyeon is eating her late dinner, Jihyo carefully walks towards her into the kitchen.

“Hi Jeongyeon-ssi.”

“Hi Jihyo-ssi.”  

 

Jihyo looks nervous.   She clears her throat quickly before she proceeds in a quiet voice,  

“I just want you to know that-  I like Mina. ”

Me too.   Jeongyeon thinks, but she just continues to listen to the nervous girl in front of her.

 

“As Mina's best friend, I want you to know that my intention is pure.    She’s a very important girl to me.    She’s beautiful inside and out.”

I know.

 

“There’s just something special in her you know.. ”

Yes, she’s really one in a million.

 

“I think I might actually be in love with her.”  Jihyo confesses, albeit shyly.

I’m in love with her too.

 

As Jihyo describes Mina and confesses her feelings for her best friend,  the girl’s big pretty eyes twinkle, and it sends a prickle to Jeongyeon’s heart.

It hurts for Jeongyeon.   It hurts her because she can see the sincerity in Jihyo’s words.   It hurts because she knows Jihyo’s feelings are genuine too.

 

*****

 

 

Winter of 2017, College Junior Year, 2nd semester

 

One Friday school night,  Jihyo and Mina pull an all-nighter for their exams and requirements and so they finish quite late.    It’s snowing heavily outside so Mina just offers Jihyo to sleep on their couch for the night, instead of her braving the snow outside to go home.

Jeongyeon excuses herself earlier that night after their dinner to sleep into her own room.   But she’s having a hard time sleeping.   Not when she hears Mina’s muffled laughter at Jihyo’s stories in their living room.

 

Deep into the night, Jeongyeon hears Mina finally says,

“Goodnight Jihyo-ya.”

“Goodnight Mina-ya.”

 

Then silence.   

Jeongyeon wonders if Mina also tucks Jihyo in.     She wonders if Mina also kisses her forehead goodnight.   Jeongyeon shakes her head into her pillow and closes her eyes.   She doesn’t want to think about it.

 

After a while, Jeongyeon hears Mina’s careful footsteps outside, the sound gets closer and it seems to stop in front of Jeongyeon’s door.    Jeongyeon’s heart beats nervously, she secretly wants Mina to enter her room and tuck her in, kiss her goodnight.    She misses the feeling of Mina’s soft lips on her forehead.  

There’s a long pause, before Jeongyeon finally hears Mina’s footsteps again, but it gets farther this time.   Then she hears a sound of a door opening and closing, and then a click of Mina’s lock in her room.   Mina finally entered her room and didn’t kiss Jeongyeon goodnight.

 

After a few minutes,  Jeongyeon’s phone lights up with a notification:

 

 

 

Cutie Alien nerd  👽 (11:37 PM)

Not sure if you’re sleeping already..

I just want to say goodnight.

 

Cutie Alien nerd  👽 (11:38 PM)

Goodnight, Jeong

Sleep well

 

 

Jeongyeon closes her eyes after reading the message, remembering the feeling of Mina’s goodnight kisses on her forehead.  

 

*****

 

 

Jeongyeon is starting to like Sundays more.    Maybe because she gets to have Mina all by herself during Sundays. 

One lazy afternoon while they are having their Stranger Things marathon in their couch with take-out pad thai and milk tea, Mina asks her,

 

“What do you think of Jihyo?”

Jeongyeon furrows her brows and looks at Mina,  “What do you mean?”

“She told me she likes me.”

“Oh.”   There’s that single needle prickling in Jeongyeon’s heart again, but she manages to reply briefly,   “She seems fine.”

“Fine?”    

“Well for starters, she can play Mario Kart.”   

“That’s really your basis?”  Mina chuckles at her looking surprised.

“Of course, but she needs to beat me first before I say my final verdict on her.”

Jeongyeon shrugs smugly, ignoring the small prickly feeling in her chest.

 

 

“Do you like her?”   Jeongyeon finally braves herself to ask Mina after a few minutes.  

“hmm..”   Mina hums, she seems to be contemplating on her answer,

“Honestly?  I think I’m starting to, Jeong.”

 

Wow.  Why do these needles multiply so quickly in Jeongyeon’s heart?   She suddenly can’t seem to breathe.  It hurts.  It hurts so fucking much.

 

“Is it ok with you?”  Mina asks her quietly after a while.

“Why do you need my opinion, Mina-ya?   Go for it.”

“Your opinion is very important to me, Jeong.”

Mina then holds her hand and stares into her eyes as if she’s reading into Jeongyeon’s mind.    She squeezes Jeongyeon’s hand gently before she pleadingly asks again,

 

“So answer me honestly please, if ever…  If ever me and Jihyo date each other, are you truly, honestly  ok with it?”

No.  I don’t want you to date her.   

“Of course I’m ok with it.”      Jeongyeon replies instead.

 

“As long as you’re happy, Mina-ya.”

I want to date you.

 

Jeongyeon squeezes Mina’s hand back hiding the pain in her chest.  

Mina looks like she still wants to say something but she just smiles at her best friend and lets go of Jeongyeon’s hand.

 

Jeongyeon noticed that Mina’s smile doesn’t reach her best friend’s eyes.   Although she just ignores it again and tries not to read much into it.

 

*****

 

 

Late Winter of 2018, College Junior Year, 2nd semester

 

A week before the semester ends, one Monday night,  Jihyo personally tells Jeongyeon that she’s planning to officially ask Mina to be her girlfriend after the finals week is over and they have passed all of their subjects.

And so Jeongyeon spends the rest of the semester mostly sulking and ranting to Dahyun and Chaeyoung about her failed lovelife.    

 

“Unnie, how can you fail it if you haven’t even tried to start it yet?”

“You can only fail at something once you start working on it already.  It’s either you fail and learn, or you succeed and be happy. “    Dahyun tells her.

She couldn’t even count anymore how many times Dahyun has called her an idiot  for not attempting to confess to Mina again.

 

“Are you really gonna give up on Mina-unnie already?”   Chaeyoung asks her.

“She already likes someone else, Chaeng.”   Jeongyeon replies sulkily.

“But you haven’t even confessed to her yet!”    Dahyun whines frustratingly.   

Dahyun’s getting a sudden headache with how frustrating their love story is turning out right now.   If she can confess in behalf of Jeongyeon, she would do in a heartbeat.   But it’s not her confession to tell.    Still, this is getting on her nerves and she’s getting more impatient now.

 

“Look Jeongyeon-unnie, you’re aware that Sana and I are celebrating our anniversary already next week right?”    Dahyun holds Jeongyeon’s hands.

“What does that have to do with my heart problems?”      Jeongyeon looks at her confused.

 

Dahyun sighs,  “It means I’m very happy now because Sana is my girlfriend.  And Sana is my girlfriend because I asked her to.   And that was a year ago already.    And you’ve been having feelings with Mina-unnie even before Chaeyoung and I got here in Haneol.”

“Do you get what I’m saying?”   Dahyun asks her in conclusion.

“Yeah..”   Jeongyeon sighs,   “It means, I’m an idiot.”

“Right.”    Dahyun and Chaeyoung agrees in unison.

 

Jeongyeon chuckles at the duo and envelops both of them in a tight hug.

 

*****

 

 

Late Winter of 2018, College Junior Year, 2nd semester

 

One Saturday morning, Mina happily hugs her in a tight embrace as she announces to Jeongyeon that she successfully passed all of her subjects this semester.   Jeongyeon then invited Mina to have a celebratory ice cream party in a playground swing that day.    But Mina apologetically said to her that Jihyo invited her for lunch already so she can only do dinner.     Jeongyeon’s fine with it.   

 

And so Jeongyeon is now passing her time at a vintage store today while waiting for her dinner date with Mina later.    While Jeongyeon is shopping for a film camera inside the store, she hears a song with a familiar melody in the background.   After the first verse, her heart immediately recognizes it, because it’s the song that Mina played for her during their freshman year.  

 

It’s her song which her best friend has dedicated for her.   It’s apparently a Japanese song.

So she asked the store owner for the title, and immediately searched for the translated lyrics afterwards.

 

Then it hits her like an over speeding truck.   She feels like a bucket of huge ice blocks is immediately thrown at her.   She suddenly feels numb.

Jeongyeon hears Mina’s words to her again 2 years ago,

 

“It’s your song, Jeong.”

The realization suddenly makes her heart aches.

 

“I dedicate it for you.”

She can’t breathe.

 

“Is there someone you’re waiting for?”

“Maybe.”

 

She remembers Mina’s smiles.   Mina’s touches.   Mina’s hugs.   Mina’s goodnight kisses.

Her best friend, Mina, who’s always by her side, every single fucking day.

How could she be so dumb?

 

And Jeongyeon finds herself running to the nearest bus station.

She hopes she’s not too late.

 

*****

 

 

 

 

But that's the thing-

 

Jeongyeon was late.

 

 

She finds herself standing now in a street corner, a few metres away from the entrance of a restaurant.

The front of the restaurant where she sees her best friend’s back, as Jihyo leans in closer to Mina, and finally kisses her best friend.

 

 

Jeongyeon then hears Mina’s voice again,

“I want my first kiss to be with someone I truly love.”

 

 

And so by the end of second semester of their junior year,  Mina has finally gotten her first kiss.

 

And by the end of their junior year,  Jeongyeon’s heart bleeds in constricting pain as she finally experienced her first real heartbreak.

 

Jeongyeon turns around and walks away.   

She hasn’t noticed the tears that unknowingly begin to stream endlessly into her face while small snowflakes start to fall from the dimming winter sky.

 

*****

 

 

 

 

Tangled with another's eyes

Never mind, you were never mine

Glimpse of me and you

Oh, you were a good dream

 

 

 

 

 

*****

 

 

 

**Late Winter of 2016, College Freshman Year,  2nd semester

 

Mina is currently sitting on the floor, beside her huge couch where her best friend is sleeping soundly.   

Jeongyeon is still wearing her dinosaur onesie from the party, she was too tired to change earlier.     She almost immediately slept on the couch after lying there as soon as they entered Mina’s place.

 

Mina smiles when the sleeping girl exhales a light snore.   She’s watching Jeongyeon tenderly as she remembers her best friend’s words earlier before Jeongyeon finally dozes off,

“Minari, thank you for coming with me.  I had so much fun tonight.” 

" I’m the happiest when I’m with you.”  

 

Mina’s heart swells after hearing those words.  

 

She brushes the few stray hairs that fall on Jeongyeon’s face and tucks them gently behind the girl’s ears.  Her best friend’s hair is getting longer now and she looks even more beautiful in Mina’s eyes.

Looking at Jeongyeon’s peaceful sleeping state, Mina can’t help but remember all the times that they have spent together.   She smiles reminiscing all those years and precious moments that she has shared with her best friend.   

Her heart fills with so much love and warmth as she remembers how Jeongyeon has been nothing but a good, protective, selfless and caring friend to her.    She also remembers the first time she realized her feelings for the other girl.

There are so many things she wants to say to her best friend, but she can’t because she’s still afraid.   She’s afraid of the possible consequences, she’s afraid of the possible rejection.   She doesn’t want to lose her friend.    She’s not yet prepared to lose what they currently have if ever Jeongyeon doesn’t feel the same way.    

 

She continues to stare at the sleeping girl forlornly.

 

After a while, Mina gently holds Jeongyeon’s cheek to place a tender chaste kiss on her best friend’s forehead, like she always does.

But when she pulls away from the kiss and shifts her gaze back at her best friend’s sleeping face again, there’s a sudden tug in her chest and Mina’s heart begins to ache with so much longing. 

She knows this is a risk she’s not yet ready to take.    But she also doesn’t know what will happen in the future.    All that she knows right now is that she loves the girl in front of her so dearly.   

 

And so without much thinking, letting her heart win this time-   Mina slowly leans in, closes her eyes and places a gentle kiss on Jeongyeon’s lips.    It’s a quick and careful kiss but it contains all of Mina’s love and unsaid affection.

It’s a coward move she knows, but she can’t hide it anymore.   At least not for tonight.

 

When Mina pulls away carefully, she opens her eyes and whispers in the silence of the night,

 

“I love you”

“I love you so much”

 

She whispers again, still looking longingly on her best friend’s peaceful sleeping face softly illuminated by the dim yellow light from the hallway.

 

Jeongyeon remains still, and Mina is thankful.

 

And so by the end of second semester of their freshman year,  Mina made her second confession to Jeongyeon.

 

And that night after the party,  Mina has finally gotten her first kiss.

 

*****

 

 

 

 

 

 

Is there a lifetime waiting for us?

All this time, I have been yours

 

*****

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

 

 

Feels like

I'm standing in a timeless dream

Of light mists,

With pale amber rose

 

 

*****

 

 

Early Spring of 2011,   3rd year of Middle School   

 

Mina can feel the chilly spring breeze caressing her cheeks as she goes outside their school building and starts walking towards their school gymnasium.     

It’s a beautiful spring day, but the wind is still carrying some remnants of the cold winter air so Mina wraps her red scarf around her neck while she admires the sprouting flowers scattered along their school’s pathways.  

She always loves the start of spring.   Mainly because she adores flowers- and Spring is a season that promises a beautiful scenery of colourful flowers every year.  

Secondly, because the beginning of spring also signifies that it’s already the start of her birthday month.   And Mina loves celebrating her birthdays with Ray and the special people in her life-  her family,  her few beloved friends, and of course- Jeongyeon.     

So on this one fine spring day, Mina walks excitedly towards their school gym.     Her classes ended earlier so she’s going to wait for her best friend instead.   

Mina is extra giddy because today-  is also the day before her birthday.   

 

*****

 

 

Jeongyeon’s basketball practice ended a bit later so Mina waits for almost an hour in their gym lobby.

When she sees Jeongyeon exits with Dahyun and Chaeyoung,  the trio immediately wave and smile at her.

“Mina-unnie!  Happy Birthday!”     Dahyun excitedly runs towards Mina and hugs her.

“My birthday’s tomorrow, Dahyun-ah.  But thank you.”    Mina smiles at the younger girl after the hug.

“Doesn’t matter, unnie.  I’m still gonna greet you every day until the end of March.”  

Dahyun proudly announces but there’s a faint blush in her cheeks when Mina smiles at her to say thank you again.

 

“Did you wait long, Mina-ya?    Sorry, coach requested us to run a few more drills today. ”     

Jeongyeon asks Mina as she gets her best friend’s bag and carry it herself.

“It’s ok, Jeong.   I finished all of my homework now anyways so it’s fine.”  

Mina confirms smiling and Jeongyeon holds her hand as they start walking together.

 

On their way home, Jeongyeon announces that they should go to the arcade as an early celebration for Mina’s birthday.   So the two girls went ahead to play in the arcade instead of walking to their nearest bus station.

 

When Jeongyeon spots the claw machine, she gets excited and keeps on playing it until she finally wins the cute penguin plushie and gives it to Mina with a lopsided smile,

“Happy Birthday, Mina-ya.”

“Thank you, Jeong”    Mina accepts the plushie gift from her best friend with a shy smile.

 

They continue playing inside the arcade and are so happy trying out almost all sorts of game in there that they eventually lost track of time.    It’s already past sunset when they finally exit the arcade store and the sky is now drizzling lightly with cold misty rain-   it turns out it’s the first spring shower of the year.

 

It’s funny how both girls forgot their umbrella that day.    And before Mina could even suggest to just buy one inside the arcade store,   Jeongyeon is already pulling her for a run towards the direction of the bus station.

Jeongyeon drapes her varsity jacket over them while they run together.    She’s using it as their shield from the light rain showers.   

But not even halfway through the station,  the light drizzles turn into heavy drops of rain and they need to stop running for a while or else they’ll both be drenched heavily.

 

The two girls stopped in front of a residential house- the small roof of its entrance gate immediately sheltering them from the heavy downpour.

A few minutes later, the gate of the house slowly opens and they see their teacher about to step out from it, with umbrella in hand.

“Miss Lee?   Oh Hello!”    Jeongyeon and Mina both bow their heads politely to their teacher.

“Mina-ssi?   what are you doing here?”  

 

Sunmi looks at the two young students with concerned eyes.   They look like poor little wet puppies with their school uniforms already soaked by the rain.  So when Mina shyly explained to her their predicament, Sunmi immediately invited them inside her house and offers them a fresh new set of clothes to change into.

 

Sunmi’s family house is rather small as compared to Myoui’s mansion but it’s very homey.   She lets the young girls stay there for a while, as they wait for the rain to stop and for Mina’s dad to fetch them.  

While they are all drinking hot tea on the dining table, Sunmi looks at her watch and smiles, and then she asks both girls with eager eyes-

 

“Do you want to see something cool?”

Both girls excitedly nodded.  

 

Sunmi then leads their way into the backdoor.   They exited into a covered wooden patio which stretches into a shaded walkway and apparently leads into a beautiful garden at the back of the house.  Most parts of the garden are covered with a transparent roof so they are protected from the spring showers outside.

 

It’s already night time and the garden is softly illuminated by the rustic white lamps hanging sturdily from the walkway’s wooden columns.   So the young girls can still see all the luscious flowers beautifully adorning the spacious garden.

 

Mina gasps as soon as her eyes caught of the colourful varieties of flowers, 

“They are so beautiful, Miss Lee.   Which flower is your favourite? ”  

 

“I love all of them.”   Sunmi answers while smiling warmly,   “But there’s a specific flower that’s very special to me.”  

And then she tugs Mina’s arm lightly to lead her into one corner of the garden.   Jeongyeon follows along just as excitedly.

“Here. This is my favourite.”     

Sunmi points to a plant with large green leaves and a fully closed flower bud.     The bud is mainly white with swirls of light green.  It is shaped like a large drop of dew.

 

Jeongyeon and Mina are wondering why it is their teacher’s favourite when it just looks like a closed green stalk.

Sunmi notices her students’ confusion but she just smiles after looking at her watch, 

“Two minutes.  You’ll see what I’m talking about in two minutes.   Just wait here for a second.”

Then Sunmi walks towards the light switch and turns off some of the garden lamps.     It gets a bit darker with only just one faint lamp remaining as the light source.   

 

Mina immediately clings onto Jeongyeon’s arms as her eyes adjust to the dark.    Jeongyeon holds Mina’s hand and wraps her other arm over to her best friend’s shoulders while they wait for their teacher to get back.

 

“One minute.   Just focus your eyes on them now.”    Sunmi instructed them as soon as she gets back to their spot.

 

Only the soft drizzles above the garden’s roof can be heard as Jeongyeon and Mina remains quiet while looking at the flower plant.     Both young girls are holding each other close as they remain their focus on the closed white flower bud being gently swayed by the chilly spring breeze.   

 

After a few seconds, the closed bud starts to move and it slowly begins to open up.   Its swirls of petals are carefully blossoming and widening slowly, until it completely blooms into a beautiful white flower.   

The flower’s petals are large and so white so the fully bloomed flower stands out completely in the dark as if it’s radiating a faint amount of white light.    

 

Jeongyeon and Mina are both holding their breath as they watch the fascinating phenomenon unfolds before their very eyes.  

Jeongyeon then looks at her best friend’s side, and she sees that Mina’s mouth is slightly opened and her eyes, still looking at the fully bloomed flower, are widened with pure amazement and awe.

She smiles knowing that Mina is enjoying this experience so much.  And Jeongyeon even feels happier thinking that she gets to witness this with her best friend.

 

“This is so cool!   This is the first time I’ve seen this.”    Mina finally comments after a while, her voice filled with sheer delight.

“What is the name of this flower, Miss Lee?”    Jeongyeon asks their teacher.

 

“It’s called the Moonflower.   They only bloom during the night.”    Sunmi softly explains, 

“It’s regarded as a sacred plant in some cultures- since it’s a metaphor for a beautiful blossoming amidst the darkness.”

 

Sunmi then walks closer to the girls and she gently puts both of her hands over to each of their shoulder before she smiles and finally concludes,

“The Moonflower also symbolizes that you can find peace and healing even during dark times.  And I     think it’s a lovely thing.”

 

Mina smiles widely at her teacher, “Now I know why this is your favourite flower, Miss Lee.”

 

 

Knowing full well how Mina loves flowers, Jeongyeon happily tells Sunmi that it is her best friend’s birthday tomorrow.    So she requested to their teacher to take a photo of them with the fully bloomed Moonflower in the background.      Sunmi then wholeheartedly obliges, saying it’s her birthday gift to the young girl.

 

So Jeongyeon and Mina pose giddily with the fully bloomed Moonflower between them as Sunmi takes a picture of her young students.   

 

The photo turns out beautifully- with Mina having her full gummy smiles on her face while she’s pointing at the Moonflower in the middle, and Jeongyeon is looking fondly at Mina while wearing her lopsided smile.    Both of them looked so happy in the photo, wearing their own trademark smiles, while their hands are intertwined with each other’s.

 

 

It’s the first photo of them with the Moonflower.   And it somehow becomes Mina’s birthday tradition after that.

 

*****

 

 

 

At Mina’s request, they always visit Sunmi’s house a day before her birthday to watch the Moonflower bloom at night.   And then Jeongyeon and Mina will always take a photo of them with the fully bloomed flower in the frame.

 

One time during their junior year in high school, Jeongyeon planned to surprise Mina and so she secretly planted a Moonflower in their balcony.   

She excitedly invited Mina into their home a night before her birthday, and both girls crouched down in the Yoo’s balcony as they patiently wait for the potted Moonflower to bloom.

But it never blooms.  And Jeongyeon sulks in their living room because her surprise is ruined.

Mina just smiles tenderly at her best friend and comments,  “It’s ok Jeong, it’s the thought that counts.”

“But we wouldn’t have a Moonflower selca for your birthday this year.  It’s too late now to visit Miss Lee’s house.”    Jeongyeon is still sulking.

 

Seungyeon, who’s watching a Korean drama in the Yoo’s living room then, gets irritated by Jeongyeon’s loud whining so she suggested a brilliant idea instead-

 

and so Jeongyeon and Mina found themselves smiling and posting in front of the Yoo’s TV where a huge wallpaper of Moonflower is projected in the screen.    

They still ended up continuing their tradition somehow and have their Moonflower selca that year, a night before Mina’s birthday.

 

And Mina wouldn’t have it any other way because Jeongyeon is with her.

 

*****

 

 

 

Late Winter of 2018, College Junior Year, 2nd semester

 

Jeongyeon has been wandering around the area for hours now.    She doesn’t know where she’s going. 

It’s snowing outside, and her tears are already dry.    She has been walking and crying ever since she walked away from that restaurant.

It still hurts.

 

She feels cold.   Her hands are already numb from the harsh winter air, but the crushing pain in her chest is more intense.

“Your hands are cold, Jeong.  Here let’s share this. ”

She suddenly hears Mina’s soft voice in her head.  She remembers the numerous times her best friend has handed her the expensive heat packs whenever she feels that Jeongyeon’s hand is freezing.   And then they would both hold it together in between their hands as they walk around during winter.

 

“Damn it.”    Jeongyeon holds her chest as the pain becomes too much for her to handle at the mere memory of her best friend.   

 

She suddenly feels weak.  So when she finds an empty bench in the middle of a public park, she immediately sits there to rest.   After a few minutes, her phone lights up with a notification:

 

 

 

Cutie Alien nerd  👽  (6:28 PM)

Jeong, where are you?

I’m already here.

See you!  😊

 

 

Cutie Alien nerd 👽  (6:29 PM)

It’s snowing heavily outside,

take care on the road!

I brought our heat packs.  😉

 

 

 

 

Jeongyeon clutches her phone tightly after reading the message and she feels like crying again.

 

Right.   She’s supposed to have a celebratory dinner with Mina tonight.   Jeongyeon scoffs.   How ironic.   She definitely doesn’t feel like celebrating tonight.  She feels miserable.

 

For a moment, Jeongyeon contemplated on actually going to her dinner with Mina tonight and to just pretend like she didn’t witness a pain crushing scenario just hours ago.  

But when she thinks about the possibility of Mina happily sharing to her the news about Jihyo during their dinner, she feels like she can’t pretend to hide the pain in front of her best friend when that happens, so she replies:

 

 

 

Ace Jeong (6:35 PM)

Sorry, Mina.  I can’t tonight.

Something came up.

 

 

 

Cutie Alien nerd 👽 (6:35 PM)

What happened?

Where are you?

 

 

Cutie Alien nerd  👽 (6:37 PM)

Jeong, where are you?

 

 

[Cutie Alien nerd is calling…]

 

 

 

Jeongyeon didn’t answer Mina’s calls.   She’s not yet ready to hear her best friend’s voice again.

 

 

Ace Jeong (6:45 PM)

I’m ok.   Don’t worry about me.

Go home already.

Stay safe, ok.

 

 

 

Cutie Alien nerd  👽 (6:45 PM)

Are you sure you’re ok?

Where are you now?

I’ll go there

 

 

Cutie Alien nerd  👽 (6:50 PM)

… Jeong?

 

 

Cutie Alien nerd 👽 (6:55 PM)

 Guess, I’ll just wait for you at home..

Just please stay safe

 

 

 

 

Ace Jeong (7:03 PM)

Goodnight, Mina

 

 

 

Cutie Alien nerd  👽 (7:04 PM)

I’ll wait for you, ok?

Call me.. or txt me if anything

 

 

Cutie Alien nerd  👽 (7:05 PM)

Goodnight, Jeong.

I’ll be waiting

Keep yourself warm, please

 

 

 

While Jeongyeon is hiding her phone again inside her winter coat pocket after reading Mina’s last messages, a white petal is suddenly blown to her right cheek, and it finally lands into her red scarf. 

She picks the petal from her scarf and Jeongyeon squints wondering which flower this petal could possibly come from in the middle of winter.    But then she spots a couple in the other bench, the girl is holding a bouquet of flowers.   Oh right.

 

When she looks back at the white petal in her hand, the pain wells up in her chest again since it suddenly reminds her of the Moonflower.     And then her gaze shifted down to her red scarf that is warmly wrapped around her neck.   The scarf which Mina has personally knitted and gave to her last year for her birthday.    The scarf where the white petal landed just a minute ago.    

 

Jeongyeon lets out an empty bitter laugh and looks up at the sky where snowflakes are falling down.

“Very funny.”      Jeongyeon speaks into the dark winter sky above.    

 

The pain in her heart becomes intolerable again when Jeongyeon remembers that it’s going to be Mina’s birthday in a few weeks.    

 

She looks away into the distance, clutches the white petal in her hand and bit her lower lip as tears start to roll down from her eyes again.

 

*****

 

 

 

That night, Jeongyeon did not go home to their shared apartment but instead she stayed over at Dahyun and Chaeyoung’s place.

 

“But did Mina-unnie confirm it already?    Did she say she’s already dating her?”     Dahyun asks Jeongyeon, after the older girl has told her what happened that day.

“I saw them kissing, Dahyun-ah...”    Jeongyeon replies with gritted teeth.

“But..”     Dahyun is about to question her again but then she looks at the older girl and Jeongyeon really looks miserable.   Her eyes are tired and swelling, and her shoulders are heavy.    

Dahyun sighs, she supposes she’ll just let Jeongyeon rest tonight instead.   She would just ask about it again tomorrow.

 

 

“Can you call Mina for me please?”      Jeongyeon asks Dahyun after a while.   

“Sure, unnie.”

 

*****

 

 

 

Mina sighs after speaking to Dahyun over the phone.    She’s been worried sick about her best friend when Jeongyeon did not contact her again after cancelling their dinner plans earlier.

The heaviness in her heart subsides a bit upon knowing that Jeongyeon is actually safe, and is resting comfortably at their other friends’ place.

Still, it did not shake her worry off completely-  specially when Dahyun tells her it’s best idea if she holds off going there for now when Mina insisted to go to Dahyun’s place tonight to check up on Jeongyeon.

 

Jeongyeon is her best friend for years.    Mina knows that there really is something wrong with the other girl.   But why is Jeongyeon not telling her?

 

Mina goes to bed that night with uneasy feeling in her heart.   She opens her phone and sends her last “Good night” message to her best friend.

 

*****

 

 

 

Jeongyeon continues to stay over at Dahyun’s place for the next five days, and on the sixth morning, Dahyun found Mina knocking on their doorstep.

“Can you give it to her, please?”    Mina tells Dahyun as she hands over her freshly prepared smoothie.

 

Today is the last basketball game of the season.    It’s another do-or-die championship match for Jeongyeon’s team.

 

“How is she Dahyun-ah?”    

“Still not ok, unnie.”    Dahyun sighs.

“Does she-  does she still not want to see me?”    Mina asks hesitantly, a tinge of sadness in her tone.

Dahyun pitifully looks at Mina as she quietly answers,   “I’m sorry, unnie..  Let’s give her a bit more time.”

 

Mina sighs,   “Do you think she’ll be alright for the game later?”   

“I hope so...  Our opponent is very good.   It’s gonna be a tough game later, unnie.”  

Dahyun sighs again with a nervous tone. 

 

“Don’t worry, Dahyun-ah.   Sana and I will be watching later.”     Mina smiles warmly,     “We’ll cheer for you.   You’ll win the championship for sure.”

 

Mina adds as she pats Dahyun’s shoulder to give more encouragement and reassurance.

“Thank you, unnie.”    Dahyun replies smiling, now feeling a bit better after hearing Mina’s words.

 

*****

 

 

 

Mina watches the game later that afternoon with Jihyo, Sana, and Tzuyu.    

Although Jeongyeon’s team eventually won the championship after a double overtime, Mina notices that her best friend’s game is kinda off.    

“That’s not how Jeong usually plays.”   Mina thinks to herself while watching the game.

 

 

Their coach has probably noticed it too so Jeongyeon mostly just sat on the bench for almost half of the entire game.   So it was actually Dahyun and Chaeyoung who carried their team into a championship win that day.    It’s the first time ever that Jeongyeon did not get the Finals MVP since their freshman year.

 

Mina is extremely worried now so she finally decided to talk to Jeongyeon after the game.   She needs to know what’s been bothering her best friend these days.

 

 

So Mina waits for her best friend at their university court entrance lobby after the game.   When she finally sees their basketball team getting out of their locker room, she calls out to her best friend,

“Jeong!”

 

Jeongyeon turns around quickly and looks at her direction after hearing Mina shouts her name.   Mina notices the quick surprised smile that forms in her best friend’s face after seeing her, but it immediately fades away.

 

When Jeongyeon meets her gaze, Mina feels something wells up in her chest.   It’s been almost a week of not seeing her best friend and she misses Jeongyeon so much.  

 

Her longing for her best friend only intensifies when she sees the expression shifts in Jeongyeon’s eyes.  It’s the same expression when Jeongyeon is undergoing a major problem in her life.    But it looks heavier.   Jeongyeon looks pained.

 

Jeongyeon did not move.   And for a moment, the two girls just quietly stand there- longingly staring at each other in the hallway with a few metres apart.

 

After a few minutes of just silently staring at each other’s eyes from a distance, Mina finally takes a step forward and starts walking towards Jeongyeon.   She walks with a firm determination to hug her best friend-   because she knows Jeongyeon badly needs one right now.

 

 

With only a few feet away from her best friend, Mina pauses on her steps when someone calls out to her,

“Mina-ssi!”

She turns around and sees Jihyo waving and walking towards her direction.   And when Mina shifts her gaze back again to Jeongyeon’s spot, her best friend is already gone.

 

“Sana tells me to fetch you.  Let’s go now?”   Jihyo tells her.

 

Mina is still looking at the almost empty hallway, without a single trace of Jeongyeon now.    She lets out a loud exhale of frustration before she quietly replies,

“Yeah, let’s go.”

   

*****

 

 

 

Early Spring of 2018, College Senior Year, 1st semester

 

Jeongyeon and Mina have not seen each for almost two months now and it frustrates Mina so much.  

It frustrates her because she doesn’t have any idea why Jeongyeon is acting like that.

 

Her best friend just sent her a single “Happy Birthday”  text message during her birthday two weeks ago.

 

It was the first time since their tradition started that Jeongyeon and Mina did not take a photo with a Moonflower.     It saddens Mina so much since it’s one of the few things she’s mostly looking forward to every year for her birthday.

 

The heaviness in her heart grows more unbearable each day so Mina finally decided this needs to stop.  

Or else, she might not survive her demanding senior year because she’s always distracted and worrying about her best friend every day and every night.

 

 

Mina needs answers.

And she must get it this semester.

 

*****

 

 

 

“Where are my clothes?”    Jeongyeon asks Dahyun rather loudly one Saturday morning.

“Oh.  I gave it to charity, unnie.”   Dahyun smiles widely.

“What??!!”

“You should be proud, unnie.   It’s a philanthropic way for spring cleaning.”   Dahyun smugs proudly as she pats Jeongyeon’s shoulders.

 

“Are you kidding me?   I don’t have any more clothes on in here.”   Jeongyeon whines while rummaging through her shared closet with Dahyun.

 

“Unnie, we gave away some of our clothes too, don’t worry.”    Chaeyoung comments smiling.

“But I don’t have any more clothes left!”

 

“You still have some of your clothes from Mina-unnie’s apartment, right?”  Dahyun asks Jeongyeon.

Jeongyeon quickly looks at Dahyun’s direction with a surprised expression.

 

“Why don’t you go get some in there later?”   Dahyun smiles before she adds,   

“Don’t worry unnie,  Sana told me they’ll be having their batch dinner later tonight.  Mina-unnie will attend too so you can sneak in and get some of your clothes later.”

Dahyun pats Jeongyeon’s shoulders and raises her eyebrows after giving her brilliant suggestion to the older girl.

 

Jeongyeon contemplates on Dahyun’s idea and finally comes with a decision,

“What time is their dinner?”

 

*****

 

 

 

Around 8PM later that day, Jeongyeon sneaks into Mina’s apartment to retrieve some of her clothes.   

 

Mina should not be at home during this time as Dahyun has instructed her.   But Jeongyeon still tries to quietly enter the unit and to check for good measure if Mina’s pair of home slippers is at the entrance.  

Jeongyeon sees it’s still there, neatly arranged by their doorstep.    Just the sight of her best friend’s cute penguin slippers at the floor already makes her miss Mina more.   She thinks it’s crazy how every little thing that reminds her of Mina only elevates her longing for her best friend much more intensely.

She sighs away the slight pang in her heart and then finally relaxes and walks to her room.   She quickly gathers all of her clothes and packs them in her sports bag.

 

 

As Jeongyeon walks out of her room and into the living room with her bag full of clothing, she’s startled to hear a very familiar voice suddenly calling out her name.   She freezes on the spot immediately.

“Jeong..”   

 

Jeongyeon slowly turns her head to see Mina now standing from the couch and walking towards her. 

A sudden rush of panic courses through her body as she feels conflicting emotions at the mere sight of her best friend’s face.   It’s been almost two months of not having even just a glimpse of Mina, and she misses her best friend every single damn day. 

 

Her heart wants to run towards her best friend and to meet her with a tight embrace, but her mind is telling her to escape quickly to the door and walk away.

“Jeong..”   Mina calls out to her again once she gets closer, now with only less than a metre away between them.

“Can we talk?”   Mina is looking at her with worried eyes,  “Please?”  

 

“She already belongs to someone else.”   Jeongyeon firmly reminds herself as she replies,

“Sorry, Mina.  I really need to go right now.  Let’s talk some other time.”   

Jeongyeon shifts her eyes away from her best friend’s concerned face.

 

She turns around again and walks to the door in a rush but she suddenly feels a tight grip on her wrist, making her unable to step away further.

“Jeong, please.   I’m just worried about you.”  Mina asks her again with a begging tone in her voice now,

“Let’s talk, please.   It will be just quick if you really need to leave, I promise.”  

 

Jeongyeon silently turns around and she sees Mina, who’s now staring at her with a pleading face.    Her best friend looks desperate.   Jeongyeon’s defences slightly break because she doesn’t like to see Mina in that state. 

 

She sighs, already thinking of an alibi,  “Okay.  But just ten minutes.”

Mina’s hand slides down from her wrist unto her palm.   She gently squeezes Jeongyeon’s hand while she replies with a small smile,  “Thank you.”

 

*****

 

 

 

They are now sitting quietly on the couch beside each other, with just a small space between them.   Jeongyeon carefully moves away further on the opposite end because being in this close proximity with Mina is not doing any good to her fragile broken heart.

Mina furrows her brows when she notices Jeongyeon subtly moving away, so she also slides gently to Jeongyeon’s direction to lessen the distance between them.

But when Jeongyeon notices that Mina is moving closer, she panics so she immediately rushes into the other end of the couch.  

 

Mina’s a bit surprised by her best friend’s odd behaviour.   But she just lets out a frustrated sigh before finally commenting,  

“Well I guess you don’t want to be near me anymore, huh.”

 

Jeongyeon immediately looks at her best friend upon hearing that,

“You’re wrong.  I always want to be with you.  I just don’t trust myself being near you right now.”

She wants to reply to Mina, but she just kept quiet.

 

They just continue to sit quietly in the couch for a few minutes.  Both of them silently gauging who will start the conversation first before Mina finally gives in and carefully asks,

“Did I do something wrong?”    

Mina stares at Jeongyeon, patiently waiting for her best friend’s reply.   But Jeongyeon remains silent so she just continues,

“You stopped talking to me ever since you cancelled our dinner celebration that night.   And then you start hiding from me.   It was the first time you did this, Jeong.   We always talk about our problems to each other.    So can you imagine how worried I am?”

Mina explains to her with concerned voice and a tinge of sadness in her eyes,

“So Jeong, tell me please-  did I do something wrong?”   Mina pauses and then carefully adds,  “or.. did  something happen to you that day?”

 

 

Jeongyeon has already thought of a perfect alibi few minutes ago even before she sits on this couch.   But now looking at Mina’s sad yet beautiful face,  scenes from that day with Jihyo kissing her best friend starts flashing in front of her again and it pains her.

The prickling feeling in her chest comes back and it’s getting stronger, so painful that Jeongyeon finds herself slipping even before realizing it’s already too late,

 

“I saw you that day..”    Jeongyeon pauses and continues quietly,   “…in the restaurant.   with Jihyo.”

Mina’s eyes suddenly become alarmed but then she quickly shifted to her worried gaze again before Jeongyeon catches on it.     But Jeongyeon still noticed it anyways.

 

“What did you see?”

“I saw..”   Jeongyeon gulps,  “I saw Jihyo kissing you that day.”

“And?”

“and what Mina?”

“Y- You saw Jihyo kissed me, and then what?  What did you do after?”   Mina stutters a bit.

“I don’t know.. I just kinda walked away after that.”

“Why?”

“What do you mean why?”   

Jeongyeon asks rather irritatingly.  She feels frustrated now with how this conversation is going.  She really doesn’t want to revisit again the pain that she felt during that day. 

 

 

“Why did you walk away, Jeong?”    Mina asks her again more softly this time,    “Did it bother you seeing me kiss someone else?”

Her best friend questions her again but with a gentle yet careful voice now.  It is only then when Jeongyeon realizes that Mina has already moved closer to her.

 

“I-..  Jihyo told me she’ll ask you to be her girlfriend that day.”   

Jeongyeon looks away when she answers, completely ignoring Mina’s question.    She doesn’t want her best friend to see the pain in her eyes.

 

Mina sighs in frustration,  “Yes, she did ask me to be her girlfriend that day.”

Jeongyeon’s heart constricts in pain as she continues to stare at Mina’s bare feet against their cold wooden floor.

 

 

 

“But I said no.”

Jeongyeon blinks once.   She doesn’t know if she heard it correctly so she immediately looks up to meet Mina’s gaze- who’s now staring at her with that same expression that has been haunting Jeongyeon for the past months.

 

 

“I didn’t accept her heart.”

“Why?”    Jeongyeon finally finds her voice again.

“I couldn’t.”    Mina moves closer to her, her eyes remain focus on Jeongyeon.

“Why?”

“Because my heart already belongs to someone else.”

 

Mina suddenly reaches out for Jeongyeon’s hand and places it on top of her chest.  She is still holding Jeongyeon’s gaze when she asks shakily,

 

“Do you feel it, Jeong?”   

And Jeongyeon can feel it- she can feel Mina’s heart throbbing so frantically.   It feels so intense and so loud under Jeongyeon’s hand as if it desperately wants to burst out from her best friend’s chest. 

 

“You’re doing this to me.”    

Mina is still holding Jeongyeon’s gaze but her eyes are now laced with raw vulnerability and longing as she finally confesses her heart out to her best friend,

“You’ve been doing this to me for six years now.”   

 

Jeongyeon breathes nervously.   She can’t believe what she’s hearing right now and her own heart beats are already mirroring the ones that she can feel in her hands -    

Just as intense,  just as loud,  just as desperate.

 

 

“You love me.”     Jeongyeon whispers as she moves closer and holds Mina’s other hand to place it on top of her own heart,

“You want to kiss me.”

Mina blinks twice and her grip on Jeongyeon’s hand tightens.   Her breath hitches and she gulps when her gaze travels down to Jeongyeon’s lips.

 

 

Jeongyeon can’t hold it any longer,

 

“Cause I love you Mina.  I love you so bad, I don’t wanna be just your friend anymore.”

She pulls Mina even closer to her, their faces are only inches apart now as she whispers in a breathy voice,  

“I wanna do this- ”

 

And that’s when Jeongyeon finally leans in and captures Mina’s lips in a searing kiss as she cups both of best friend’s cheeks.   It doesn’t take two seconds for Mina to kiss her back.

 

They kiss soft and slow at first- savouring the feeling of each other’s newly freed restraint love and affection as they gently move their lips along and hold each other close.

 

Jeongyeon inhales the moment, her senses slowly drowning with the feeling of Mina’s lips, Mina’s warmth, Mina’s body pressed so closely against her.   She kisses Mina so gentle hoping that the other girl is feeling all the love she has to offer.

 

 

But it was only gentle and innocent at first, until it isn’t.  

 

Not until Mina starts to snake her arms around Jeongyeon’s neck and her kiss deepens.  Jeongyeon wraps her other arm around Mina’s waist to pull her best friend even closer as she kisses her back just as desperately.    

She licks on Mina’s lower lip and silently asks for access.  When Mina opens her mouth and lets her in, Jeongyeon’s head starts to spin.  

 

Her head is spinning so wildly as she finally drinks in Mina’s taste- a taste so heavenly and sweet in Jeongyeon’s tongue, she couldn’t get enough.   And Mina’s tasting and drinking her in just as hungrily.

Mina’s kiss is so electrifying- the current in Jeongyeon’s blood is running at rapid speed and she feels her skin burning.   She knows she needs to stop now or else she won’t be able to control herself anymore.

 

Jeongyeon breaks away from the kiss.   Their foreheads are now pressed close against each other as they’re both panting so hard and feeling each other’s hot breath.

“Mina..”    Jeongyeon whispers breathlessly,   “Please tell me to stop...   I don’t want to rush you.”

Jeongyeon lifts her gaze and looks at her best friend lovingly,

“I love you so much, Mina.   I want you so bad,  I  won’t be able to stop myself if we continue like this.”

She carefully holds Mina’s flushed cheeks and looks at her best friend’s eyes as she begs again,

“Please tell me to stop.”

 

 

Mina is looking at her intensely- eyes laced with vulnerable gaze but are liquid with so much longing and desire,

“No, I don’t want you to stop.” 

 

And there is not enough touch, not enough skin, not enough yearning for the lost times that their lips have been trying to find each other, because when Mina pulls her in this time-

they kiss again.

 

 

They kiss hungrier and greedier than before, as Mina carefully moves and straddles over Jeongyeon’s lap.  The electric current in Jeongyeon’s veins surges to high now.    And when Jeongyeon slides her hand inside Mina’s sweater, her best friend lets out a sharp breathy moan and Jeongyeon inhales it all in.

 

Jeongyeon starts to run her lips and tongue along Mina’s exposed clavicle, up to her smooth neck and along her jawline.

Mina shivers and moans at the sensation as she breathlessly calls out her name, “Jeongyeon…”    

Jeongyeon continues to plant wet kisses on Mina’s neck and sucks on them gently.  Her other hand is busy feeling Mina’s stomach and is now carefully making its way upwards when Mina’s fingers start to tangle her hair with a sense of urgency as she hisses and demands breathlessly to Jeongyeon,

“Bed.  Now.”

 

Jeongyeon smiles into Mina’s neck- she’s not the one to be told twice.    She then captures her best friend’s lips again for another passionate kiss as she carefully lifts Mina up and stands from the couch.   Mina wraps her legs around her waist and they continue to drink each other in while Jeongyeon leads them inside to Mina’s room.

 

 

 

They nearly stumble on Mina’s bed, but Jeongyeon cradles her in just in time to guide and lay Mina gently on the mattress below her.    

Jeongyeon is now looking down at her best friend-  eyes dazed, cheeks so flushed and warm, her hair beautifully dishevelled against the white sheets, and Jeongyeon’s heart swells with overwhelming love and affection.

 

Even with still her oversized sweaters on, Mina already looks so radiant and beautiful against the soft pale moonlight illuminating the room.

“Jeongyeon-ah..”  

“Mina-ya..”

 

 

Mina carefully reaches out to her and gently cradles her cheek, Jeongyeon leans into the touch.

“I love you.”    

She finally whispers, still staring into Jeongyeon’s eyes so lovingly.

 

And Jeongyeon feels like she could cry in that moment.    Her heart is filled with an overwhelming amount of joy and adoration for the only girl she truly loves right now.

“I love you too, Mina.   I love you so damn much-“

Jeongyeon replies back as she immediately leans down and kisses Mina again with a newfound fervour- fueled by Mina’s sweet heartfelt confession that’s still playing repeatedly in Jeongyeon’s ears.

 

 

 

It’s the beginning of a cold spring, but their bodies are burning- now stripped of any trace of clothing.    As Jeongyeon continues to softly trace Mina’s smooth skin- with her lips, with her fingers, with her tongue.    Their bare heated bodies pressed closely together as if they’re opposite charge of magnets long been deprived of each other.

 

 

 

It’s the beginning of a cold spring, and Jeongyeon allows her senses to be invaded by everything that is Mina-

 

her warm and flushed skin,

her beautiful rosy cheeks,

her soft and needy moans,

her tight embrace and urgent kisses,

her intoxicating scent,

the sweetness of her tongue.

 

 

 

It’s the beginning of a cold spring, and Jeongyeon holds and kisses her gently as Mina comes undone so beautifully into Jeongyeon’s arms for the first time. 

 

 

 

It’s the beginning of a cold spring, and Jeongyeon feels like a great weight has been lifted off her shoulders as she whispers her promises of love and unwavering affection to Mina;  while they continue to taste and drink each other’s love for the rest of the night.

 

*****

 

 

 

 

 

Feels like

 I'm lost in a deep cloud of heavenly scent,

Touching,

Discovering you.

 

 

 

 

 

*****

 

 

 

 

In the morning, Mina wakes up first.     She finds herself being enveloped by Jeongyeon’s arms while her best friend is still sleeping and snoring lightly.     

Jeongyeon’s body still feels so warm and comfortable against her.    It feels like a perfect haven during cold spring days, and Mina suddenly wants to go back to sleep again.    But then her stomach starts to growl loudly-  she feels ravenous after what they did last night.

So Mina tries to carefully get out of Jeongyeon’s embrace, as much as she doesn’t want to yet- it’s already time for breakfast.

 

As Mina sits on the bed and stares down at Jeongyeon’s sleeping face, a small tender smile curves up on her lips while she marvels at the beautiful sight in front her.    With the early morning sunlight slightly peeking through the curtains,  Jeongyeon looks so ethereal in her peaceful sleeping state.

Mina reaches out and gently caresses her best friend’s hair.   She leans down and kisses Jeongyeon’s forehead.    Jeongyeon then stirs, and opens her eyes slowly.     

 

“Good morning.  Sorry if I woke you up.”    Mina greets her in a low morning voice while she looks down and smiles at her best friend.

Jeongyeon stares at her for a few seconds before a faint blush appears onto her cheeks and she suddenly hides her face in the blankets.

 

Mina’s brows furrows at her best friend’s weird reaction so she slowly pulls the blanket down.   When Jeongyeon’s flustered face reappears again, Mina softly asks,

“What’s wrong,  Jeong?”

Jeongyeon is still looking at her shyly and suddenly Mina gets worried and asks hesitantly,

“Do you- do you regret it?”  

“No!”  Jeongyeon is quick to protest and then lets out a loud sigh afterwards, 

“No, of course not.   I didn’t regret one thing that ever happened last night, Mina-ya.    I meant every word that I said.   I meant every kiss.  I meant everything..    It’s just..  just..” 

 

Jeongyeon reaches out for Mina’s hand and holds it closer to her face.    Mina is quick to gently cup it in Jeongyeon’s cheek.   

 

“I was just..”    Jeongyeon is still hesitating so Mina gently brushes Jeongyeon’s cheek with her thumb, silently encouraging her best friend to continue.   Jeongyeon leans into it and draws courage from Mina’s soothing touch.

 

“I’m just a bit insecure ok?  …or shy.   I don’t know.  Something like that.”  Jeongyeon finally says while her eyes shifted nervously.

“Why?”

“Because I feel like.. like- I didn’t do well last night.”   Jeongyeon hides half of her face in Mina’s hands.

 

Mina chuckles and then laughs so fondly, her heart swells with how adorable Jeongyeon looks right now.

Jeongyeon thinks Mina’s laugh is the most wonderful sound in the morning.

 

“Shouldn’t I be the one who’s supposed to feel that since it was my first time?”  

“Exactly.  I just want your first time to be perfect.  You deserve nothing than that, Mina-ya.”

A tender smile forms into Mina’s lips as she gently moves and lays herself on top of Jeongyeon. 

 

Mina softly caresses Jeongyeon’s hair slowly, while her other hand is still cupping Jeongyeon’s cheek. 

She looks at her best friend lovingly as she whispers slowly in her low morning voice,   

“Last night was perfect, Jeong.   I wouldn’t have it any other way.”

 

Jeongyeon smiles upon hearing Mina’s reassuring words and she captures her best friend’s lips again and kisses her softly.   Mina kisses her back just as gentle.

“I love you so much, Mina.”   Jeongyeon murmurs in between their morning kisses.

Mina smiles in Jeongyeon’s lips as she replies,   “I love you too, Jeong.  I always have.”   

 

“You don’t know how happy I feel right now that I can finally tell you that out loud.”   Mina adds smiling before she moves to sit up again.

But Jeongyeon pulls her back again on top of her, “woah, where do you think you’re going?”

“I need to cook breakfast for us.  I’m starving, Jeong.  Aren’t you?”

“Well... I  kinda am.   But breakfast can wait.”    Jeongyeon smirks at her, and Mina rolls her eyes knowing exactly what her best friend has in mind.

 

“I need to cook, Jeong.”   Mina tries to weakly break from Jeongyeon’s embrace but her best friend just holds her more tightly.

“We can do deliveries.”   Jeongyeon is still smirking at her when she slowly leans her face closer to Mina’s ear, gently blows it there, and plants a soft kiss at the side of Mina’s neck before she teasingly whispers,

“I have a different breakfast in mind right now.”

 

Mina shivers at the touch and lightly lets out a quiet moan upon feeling Jeongyeon’s hot breath and wet kiss onto her neck.    She looks at her best friend again and replies weakly in breathy voice,

“You’re so unfair.”

 

“No.”   Jeongyeon cups Mina’s cheeks and replies smiling,    “I’m so in love with you.”

 

 

And then they kiss again.

And Mina never gets to cook breakfast that morning.

 

*****

 

 

 

Later that day, Jeongyeon quickly visits Dahyun’s place again to get some of her things since Mina demanded that she should get back to their apartment already.

 

“Finally, unnie!   Hallelujah!”    Dahyun shouts excitedly while raising both of her hands.  

She apparently spilled what happened to her and Mina when Dahyun forced her to explain why she didn’t come home the previous night.   

 

“So Mina-unnie is your girlfriend now?   We’re so happy for you both, unnie.”   Chaeyoung exclaims.

Jeongyeon slightly pauses before answering Chaeyoung’s question, “uhh.. I guess so?”

 

“What do you mean you guess so?   You’re not sure?”   Dahyun questions with a surprised face.

“Well, we did kiss and..”

“Unnie, did you even officially ask Mina-unnie to be your girlfriend already?” Dahyun adds.

“Do we still need that?   We already said we love each other.  Isn’t that a given already?”   Jeongyeon is confused.

 

“Welll..  you did at least talk about your final status now, right?”   Dahyun raises her brows.

When Jeongyeon doesn’t answer again, she presses on,  “Like what are you and Mina-unnie now?   Just best friends?   Or best friends and girlfriends?   Or what?”   

 

“well.. best friends don’t kiss and make out right?  What do you think?”   Jeongyeon replies.

“Why are you asking me that?!”   Dahyun is perplexed and then she holds Jeongyeon’s shoulders,  

“Unnie.. why are you acting like it’s your first time to have a girlfriend?  You’re the more experienced one between the two.   You should know that it’s important that it’s clear and you both know where you stand right now.”

 

Jeongyeon sighs.  She knows Dahyun is right,

“Will you help me, Dub?  I have a plan.”    

 

Dahyun replies smugly,  “Of course you need our help.   If we didn’t help you, you wouldn’t even get to kiss Mina-unnie in the first place.”

 

And a small bean bag came flying in Dahyun’s face after that.

 

*****

 

 

 

 

Early Summer of 2018, College Senior Year, 1st semester

 

Jeongyeon and Mina often go on dates now.    One Friday night, Jeongyeon invited Mina on a romantic dinner date in an Asian restaurant since she noticed that Mina needs a breather from their stressful week of exams and deadlines.

They are sitting across each other on a table for two when Mina suddenly asks her,

“Why are you smiling at me like that?”

“Like what?”   Jeongyeon teases.

“Like- you know..  I know that smile, Jeong.   That smile is reserved for private spaces.”   Mina’s holding off her smile before she leans closer to Jeongyeon across the table and whispers, “Behave..  Later.”

 

Jeongyeon chuckles as she lifts up a kimchi, raises one of her eyebrows and teases Mina again,

“I just remembered something you said before...  You know, something about putting kimchi on you.”

and then Jeongyeon bites the kimchi seductively while looking at Mina.

 

A flush of red immediately creeps into Mina’s face and neck after hearing that.  Mina whispers again and says firmly this time,

“Oh my god, Jeong we’re in a public restaurant.  Stop please. ”

Jeongyeon laughs loudly upon seeing Mina’s reaction.  She reaches out for Mina’s hand across the table and kisses her knuckles,   “You’re so cute when you’re flustered.” 

 

Mina rolls her eyes, but she still smiles when she comments,  “For the record, I wouldn’t allow you to put kimchi on me.   That’s so gross.”

“Sure?”    Jeongyeon is still wearing her teasing smirk.

 

“Yes, I’m sure.”   Then Mina subtly looks around the restaurant before she leans closer towards Jeongyeon again and whispers shyly,   “But I’m ok with ice cream.   Vanilla.  so we don’t ruin the sheets.”

 

Jeongyeon smirks at Mina’s reply.   She winks and kisses Mina’s hand again, as she whispers across the table,    “Perfect for summer.”

Mina raises her eyebrows before she finally responds to Jeongyeon with a shy smile.

 

 

 

While they are finishing up their meals, a pretty girl suddenly walks up to their table,

“Mina-ssi?  Is that you?”

 

Both girls immediately look up to the pretty lady now standing near their table.  Mina immediately stands and bows upon realizing who it is,

“Sunbae.  Good to see you here.”  Mina smiles at the pretty lady.

“Good to see you here too.  What are you doing here?”  

“I’m having dinner.   Oh by the way,  Jeongyeon-  this is Irene, my senior and our org President.”   Mina smiles as she introduces Irene to Jeongyeon.   Irene is already a graduate student in their university.

 

“Sunbae, this is Jeongyeon, my gir-“    Mina pauses and then looks at Jeongyeon.  She seems to be asking for Jeongyeon’s help to fill in the blanks.  

But Jeongyeon is panicking internally and just looks at Mina quietly.  

So Mina just smiles nervously before she continues,  “Jeongyeon is my bes-“

 

 

Irene is still waiting for Mina to finish her introductions and Jeongyeon can’t stand seeing Mina lose her composure anymore in front of her senior so she stands and introduces herself,

“My name’s Yoo Jeongyeon.  Mina’s best friend.  Please to meet you.”    Jeongyeon says as she offers a handshake to Irene.  She can’t ruin her plans yet.

 

“I’m glad.  I thought you’re Mina’s girlfriend.   Please to meet you, Jeongyeon-ssi.”   

 

*****

 

 

 

 

Their drive on the way home is a bit tense because of what happened earlier.    Both girls remain quiet during the first half of the drive.   After a while, when the traffic light turns red, Mina begins to speak and looks at Jeongyeon,

 

“Jeong, you know Sunbae confessed to me before during Sophomore year right?”

“Yeah, I remembered you telling me that story.”    Jeongyeon meekly replies.

“I already rejected her before but she’s kind of making her moves on me again lately..”   Mina quietly comments after.

 

Jeongyeon’s grip on the steering wheel tightens.    Mina reaches out to hold Jeongyeon’s shoulder gently,   “Jeong, you know I love you right.”   

Jeongyeon looks at Mina’s side and she sees that her best friend’s eyes are asking that silent question which Jeongyeon has been preparing to officially ask to her for weeks now.   Jeongyeon then reaches out to hold Mina’s hands,

“Mina-ya,  I know.  I love you too.   It’s just- ”

But then a loud honk interrupted them when the traffic light turns to green already.    And Mina sighs in frustration when they continue to drive home quietly again after that.

 

After a while, Mina asks Jeongyeon to stop by to a convenience store for a few minutes as she needs to buy something.

 

*****

 

 

 

When they reach their apartment, Mina goes to the kitchen and calls out to Jeongyeon softly but with a firm voice,

“Jeong, we need to talk.”

Jeongyeon recognizes that tone of her best friend and so she carefully walks to the kitchen and asks Mina,

“Ok, Minari.  What’s up?”

 

Mina walks closer to Jeongyeon and holds out her best friend’s hands before she gently asks,

“What are we, Jeong?”

Jeongyeon looks at Mina’s eyes and she really wants to ask her already but she has plans-

 

“I know about your plans.”     Mina comments afterwards when Jeongyeon remains quiet.

Jeongyeon is surprised and her eyes are widened after hearing that.

“Dahyun slipped the other day and spilled about your plans.  I’m sorry.”   Mina apologetically explained to her.

 

Then Mina tightens her hold on Jeongyeon’s hands and looks at her best friend’s eyes tenderly,

“But Jeong, I don’t want to wait anymore.    I have already waited 6 painful years just to kiss you and to confess to you.  I’ve had enough.”   Mina squeezes her hands before she continues, 

“I can’t wait another 3 months just for you to officially ask me.  I want to be your girlfriend now.”

 

Mina gets closer to Jeongyeon and she gently cups her best friend’s cheeks as she finally asks,

“So Yoo Jeongyeon, the girl who I’ve been in love with since high school, will you please be my girlfriend?”

 

 

This is really not how Jeongyeon imagined it would turn out to be.    And it’s really not what she has in mind since she is supposed to be the one to officially ask Mina out.   

 

But she supposes life doesn’t always turn out the way you plan it to be.    Sometimes life surprises you- and you just have to embrace them.

 

And it turns out- some detours and surprises might actually be better than your own well-structured plans.  

 

Because right now, while Mina is looking at her with those loving eyes again, as she patiently waits for Jeongyeon’s answer, her heart starts to beat so incredibly fast.   She feels nervous and excited at the same time.  She doesn’t know what to say yet she wants to say everything all at once.    Mina always has that effect on her.

 

And apparently like her best friend, she can’t wait anymore.  And so she wraps her arms around Mina’s waist when she finally answers,

 

“Myoui Mina, I love you always, every day and every night.   Of course, I’d love to be your girlfriend.”

 

Mina smiles widely, leans closer to her and whispers on Jeongyeon’s lips, “Good.”

 

And Jeongyeon finally closes the negligible distance between them to capture her girlfriend’s lips in another passionate kiss.

 

 

After their heated kiss, Jeongyeon murmurs on Mina’s lips to tease her now girlfriend,

“I thought you’d never ask.”

Mina laughs so loudly at that, gummy smiles and all.   

 

“You know, I’m glad you said yes.”   Mina replies while she gently breaks away from Jeongyeon’s embrace and reaches out for the convenience store plastic bag in the kitchen countertop,

 

“Because otherwise, you wouldn’t get to eat this on me tonight.”

Mina smiles at her seductively while she raises the tub of vanilla ice cream in her hand.  

 

A sudden new rush of energy immediately invades Jeongyeon’s body and so she kisses Mina again, lifts her girlfriend up to their bedroom and they enjoy the remaining precious hours of the night away.

 

 

 

Jeongyeon’s plan is now officially ruined.  But hey, at least she gets to eat vanilla ice cream that summer night- with Mina, on Mina’s lips, and everywhere in between.

 

Jeongyeon’s plan is now officially ruined.   But it doesn’t matter now.   Because Mina is finally and officially her girlfriend.

 

And Jeongyeon thought that life can give her all the detours and surprises it has to offer, and she’ll embrace them all fully- as long as Mina is with her.

 

 

*****

 

 

 

 

 

Those days

Of warm rains come rushing back to me

Miles of windless

Summer night air

 

 

 

 

 

*****

 

 

 

With Jeongyeon and Mina being officially girlfriends now, nothing much has changed in their dynamics honestly -

 

They still do their movie nights in the couch together.  Except sometimes, they never get to finish the movie.  Because you know, the movie can always wait but their burning love for each other apparently cannot.

 

Jeongyeon doesn’t sleep in the couch alone anymore.   She doesn’t need to pretend to be sleeping anymore just to get Mina’s kisses.   The goodnight kisses are upgraded now too- she gets it now in her lips, in her cheeks, and in every part of her body where Mina would like to kiss her.   She gets it every night, and every morning too.

 

Mina still personally prepares Jeongyeon’s smoothie for the rest of their games this season.   Except sometimes, Mina gets to taste it now in Jeongyeon’s lips.   And Jeongyeon says she loves that version of her smoothie more.

 

Sometimes they have petty fights and quarrel too- especially when they couldn’t agree whether they’d order Hawaiian pizza or Korean fried chicken for dinner.     Most of the time, they just ended up ordering both.   But Jeongyeon and Mina still make up and always end up kissing and cuddling each other by the end of the day- with a lot of leftovers in the following morning. 

 

 

By the end of their college senior year, Jeongyeon’s team won the championship again, and Mina graduated as the top of their batch.

 

When Jeongyeon receives her finals MVP award, she proudly announces in her speech that she’s already taken and Mina, her girlfriend, is the one who inspires her the most. Mina blushes so hard during Jeongyeon’s speech and she hides behind Sana in the crowd.    And after that day, Mina gained a number of admirers and haters alike from Jeongyeon’s fangirls.

 

Jeongyeon also cries during their university graduation when Mina looks at her while delivering a part of her valedictory speech- something about “leap of faith” and “courage” and “true happiness”.   And Jeongyeon’s heart is filled with overwhelming pride and admiration for her girlfriend.

 

 

 

They kiss during the fireworks finale of their senior year’s summer fair.

 

They go on food trip dates and leisure walks in the middle of autumn.

 

They snuggle and hide in each other’s arms for the rest of the winter. 

 

And in the beginning of spring, a week after their graduation,  Jeongyeon prepares another surprise for her girlfriend.

 

*****

 

 

 

 

Early Spring of 2019, Haneol University

 

A night before Mina’s birthday, Jeongyeon leads her girlfriend into their university’s huge greenhouse garden.   The entire garden is beautifully adorned and brightly illuminated by white and yellow string lights.   Mina gasps at the sight as soon as she steps inside.

 

Jeongyeon leads her in an area near the middle section of the garden where a small rustic fountain is located, and beside the fountain stands a rustic metallic double bench swing.

 

“Do we always have a swing here in our university garden?”   Mina curiously asks her girlfriend.

Jeongyeon smiles,   “No, I arranged for it.   I figured there’s something we need to celebrate together tonight so...”,   she brings out the ice cream packs from her bag and raises it to Mina,   

“My love, will you give me the honour of eating ice cream with you here in the swing?  Just like the old times?”

 

Mina laughs endearingly at Jeongyeon’s antics, but a rosy pink hue still appears on her cheeks while she answers,

“You’re so cheesy!”

“But you still love me right?”   Jeongyeon raises her eyebrows and smirks at Mina.

“Of course.”

 

 

And just like the old times, they sit together in the swing while eating ice cream and laughing at each other’s stories.   Jeongyeon is swaying the swing with her feet because she’s taller and Mina’s feet do not touch the ground.    

Mina leans into Jeongyeon’s shoulder after a while and Jeongyeon looks at her watch then she whispers softly into her girlfriend’s hair,  “I have another surpise for you.”

 

Mina then looks up to Jeongyeon’s face, and when their eyes meet and Jeongyeon smiles at her, most of the string lights suddenly get switched off and Mina’s hold on Jeongyeon tightens while her eyes adjust to the dark.

 

“I’m just here, Mina-ya.   Two minutes.”  

And Mina already knows what she’s waiting for.   

 

 

 

But what she’s not expecting is when hundreds of Moonflowers start to bloom simultaneously across the entire area of the garden where they are sitting-

 

There are Moonflowers encircling the fountain.  

There are Moonflowers beside their swing.

There are Moonflowers blooming at her feet.

There are Moonflowers everywhere, and Mina’s heart is blooming too.

 

It is such a marvellous and spectacular sight and it’s taking all of Mina’s breath away.

The garden seems to be fully illuminated now by the hundreds of fully bloomed Moonflowers as their huge white petals stand out beautifully amidst the darkness.

 

Mina’s heart swells with overwhelming love and happiness and immediately looks at her girlfriend with amazement in her eyes,

“Jeong.. I-…   This is perfect.“

 

Jeongyeon is just looking at her lovingly and wearing her lopsided smile which Mina adores very much, as she softly greets her girlfriend,

“Happy Birthday.”

 

 

Mina’s happiness is immeasurable at that very moment.  

 

And that precious day is added to the few special reasons why Mina loves the start of every spring.

 

 

*****

FIN.

*****

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

*****

-Epilogue-

*****

 

 

 

Jeongyeon and Mina continue their tradition that night and take lots of selcas afterwards, with hundreds of shining Moonflower in the background.    Jeongyeon says it’s to make up for their missed Moonflower selca last year.

 

They do a lot of different poses.  They pose hugging each other.  They pose with Mina kissing Jeongyeon’s cheek,  and they pose with Jeongyeon kissing Mina’s moles.

 

And in the middle of them kissing and posing for selcas, Jeongyeon whispers to her girlfriend:

“Even though I’m not your first kiss, I want to be your last kiss, Mina-ya.”

 

Mina smiles gummily at that and murmurs in her girlfriend’s lips,

“You’re still my first kiss, Jeong.  Don’t worry.”

 

Jeongyeon’s brows furrows,  “What do you mean I’m still your first kiss?”

 

Mina just smirks at Jeongyeon as she sneakily breaks out from her girlfriend’s embrace and run across the garden.  

Jeongyeon tries to run and chase her.  When she finally catches Mina, she wraps her arms around Mina’s waist so tightly and breathlessly asks her girlfriend again,

“What do you mean I’m your first kiss?”

 

 

“It means…”  Mina smiles and gently cups her girlfriend’s cheeks,  “I love you, always, and forever.”

And Mina leans in to capture Jeongyeon’s lips again for a more passionate and searing kiss this time.

 

 

Jeongyeon immediately forgets about her question the moment she feels Mina’s lips on her own.

 

 

Maybe someday, she’ll finally get to know the real answer.

 

*****

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I love you always forever

Near and far, closer together

Everywhere I will be with you

Everything I will do for you

*****