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i'm addicted (a little)

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falling in love is like living a thousand lifetimes in one, mina’s mother would say. love isn’t something to be shackled and chained to one person for eternity, it’s tender and growing—a fire that needs to be stoked and fed to provide eternal warmth. 

 

she pulled from this piece of advice whenever her relationships cracked and splintered under the weight of the world and there was not enough scotch tape in her desk to fix it. a forever fire doesn’t burn with only one log. 

 

but nothing could have prepared her for minatozaki sana. 

 

not even her mother. 

 

crawling out of the foundation she built with sana was like pulling her heart apart by a single thread, picking and picking at a frayed string until it unwound and then stopped existing at all. she tried telling herself time and time again—it was beautiful when it burned. it was, she knows, and now the flame is snuffed out and she’s stuck breathing in the smog polluting her rib cage. 

 

sana was different. sana is different. 

 

the end of their relationship wasn’t loud and violent. it wasn’t a cracking beam that crumbled under the weight of one insult too far. 

 

it was soft. soft and pliant and melded against the jagged edges of their hearts like molten iron melds around the tools of a blacksmith—so eager to please, eager to make something strong out of what was breaking. sana kissed mina’s tears and then her lips and she told her goodnight and that was it. 

 

“hey.” 

 

mina lifts her head at the sound and her heart convulses violently when she sees jeongyeon’s timid smile plastered on her face like she’s not sure if it should be there. 

 

“hey,” she breathes back. her fingers clutch tighter to the paper cup in her hands the way she couldn’t clutch tighter to sana and she—

 

“sorry i’m late, meeting went over,” jeongyeon explains like she needs to and mina wishes she didn’t. 

 

“it’s okay, i haven’t been waiting long,” she promises, chisels a smile against her features and hopes it looks as soft as she imagines it to. 

 

jeongyeon reaches out, pries each of her fingers off the cup and wraps them in her own. mina thinks her friend has always known what she needs before she knows to ask for it. 

 

“how’re you feeling?” she asks, casually—non-committal because she knows mina recoils violently at any sign of interrogation. 

 

“tired,” she mumbles, rubs her eye with her free hand because jeongyeon’s hand over hers is the only thing tethering her to her seat, to this coffee shop—to earth, maybe. 

 

“didn’t sleep well?” not why or are you okay or does her laugh still echo through the halls of your apartment like the ghost of someone that loved you? 

 

“didn’t sleep at all.”

 

there’s an answer to all the hidden questions somewhere between the lines. 

 

[...]

 

the past three weeks have been filled with a sense of dread when she’s confronted by the looming glass doors that mark the entrance of her apartment building. it’s like a sick game, any day she can enter and sana can be exiting. thinking about it makes her heart beat her ribcage black and blue. 

 

if sana saw her, would she say hi? 

 

would she walk past her like they were just neighbours? like a stranger that she’s seen bare and vulnerable, knows all the twisted insides and bladed edges of. 

 

no, because sana isn’t cruel. sana is light and warmth and even if she’s hurting she would wrap mina up in all she has to offer with just a simple wave. and maybe that’s the worst part of all. 

 

mina holds her breath when she walks in today, holds her breath and hopes that if she sees sana she’ll die of suffocation instead of having to deal with it, maybe.

 

distantly, she promises herself to never fall in love with someone that lives in the same building as her. 

 

distantly, she knows she may never fall in love again. 

 

her phone pings in a frantic series of texts from chaeyoung about whatever underground concert she attended tonight and she barely has time to read the first holy shit before something hard and solid collides with her shoulder. 

 

“shit,” a voice hisses, apologetic and familiar and mina thinks this would be a good time to stop breathing. “i’m so sorry, i wasn’t looking and—mina?” she breathes out.  

 

“hey, momo,” mina sighs, takes her outstretched hand and lets herself be hoisted to her feet. 

 

“you’re coming home late,” the older girl notes, stuffs her hands in her pockets and rocks on her heels a little bit and mina knows she feels nervous. 

 

“yeah,” she nods slowly, head like a lead weight, “i was out with jihyo. are you going home?” she asks because it’s polite, maybe, because she’s curious, definitely. momo smiles something strained and mina hurts. 

 

“no, no,” she waves off, “i was just going to grab some wine.” she doesn’t say for me and sana, because mina already knows. because until three weeks ago, it would’ve been for me and sana and mina and now there’s some type of uncomfortable distance between her and this girl that she opened space for in her heart. 

 

she makes a noise of acknowledgment and presses the pathetic pieces of her stability together like a snowball and hopes it doesn’t fall apart. 

 

“well, goodnight,” she says, waves and watches momo’s eyes fill with something like sadness. 

 

“wait,” momo murmurs, grabs her hand before she can walk away. “i’d like to hang out sometime, if you want.” there’s a hopeful smile and something warm burning against her wrist and mina nods. 

 

“okay,” she chokes out, not sure if the sound even makes its way past her lips but momo perks up and momo hugs her and momo slips out into the night. 

 

mina breathes of a sigh of relief and allows herself to ignore her stomach twisting itself into knots. 

 

[...]

 

mina’s always been fond of sleep. she’s always loved the way dreams weave in and out of reality, give a touch of another world that could maybe exist in another universe. she loves the haziness of forgetting what’s real and welcomes what’s never going to happen and—

 

“wake up.”

 

she’s always hated mornings. 

 

she grumbles, rolls onto her stomach to block the light piercing her eyelids. “no,” she whines. 

 

“yes,” she hears tzuyu huff, trying to sound stern but there’s amusement giggling behind the mask. 

 

“it’s saturday,” she complains. tzuyu pulls the blanket from her shoulders. 

 

“we’re going out,” tzuyu says plainly, sits next to her on the bed and strokes her hair with a type of gentleness that only tzuyu is capable of. when mina finally looks up at her, sees heartbreaking care etched into her features, she melts into a pile of nothing. 

 

“we’re going out,” she echoes. 

 

tzuyu has always been the missing piece of mina’s puzzle in ways that she’s never quite been able to explain with words. 

 

they show it in other ways, though. when tzuyu braids her hair on days she can’t stop her hands from shaking long enough to run a brush through it, when mina made tzuyu a key for her apartment because sometimes tzuyu doesn’t sleep and sometimes the darkness is suffocating. 

 

now, tzuyu buys her favourite ice cream and they sit on the steps of the public library despite it being freezing outside. tzuyu’s cheeks are tinged pink from the sting of the cold and mina winces with each bite and it’s exactly what she needs. 

 

“you know,” tzuyu mumbles, wipes the ice cream that drips on her chin and ignores mina’s smug smile saying she should’ve gotten a cup. “neptune takes over sixty-thousand days to orbit the sun.” 

 

mina hums and scrapes the bottom of her cup, takes another bite to postpone answering. “really?” no time in the world could’ve let her come up with a more coherent response. 

 

“what i mean is,” tzuyu huffs, sighs and turns so she’s forced to look at mina—this has always been hard for her. “time isn’t concrete.” she tries anyway. “it doesn’t matter. what matters is that you feel okay again one day.”

 

mina looks into her eyes and feels something singing in her chest. she lets her head rest on tzuyu’s shoulder that’s always been the perfect height. 

 

the air smells crisp and clean and the fire tries to spark itself to life again. 

 

“which takes the least time?” she asks. feels like a child when tzuyu presses their palms together and tries not to think about how sad she must look to all the strangers going about their day. all the strong people that don’t let love break them. 

 

“mercury,” tzuyu sighs into her hair. “eighty-eight days.”

 

“then let’s hope i’m mercury.”

 

[...]

 

having a coffee shop in her apartment building has always been a curse in a blessing’s outfit. 

 

before sana—because it feels like life can only be split into that now; pre-sana, post-sana—she spent an unruly amount of money on drinks, if only because making her own coffee was a hassle she could avoid. 

 

but then she met sana. beautiful, intelligent sana who would scold her with a smile on her face every time she caught her in line for her fix. sana, who would lace their fingers together and pull mina back up to her apartment and make her sit on the counter while she brewed a mug just for her. 

 

it’s embarrassing really, that every step she takes in her own home is doused in the colours of her ex. 

 

but the coffee—she thinks—the coffee makes something crumple in her chest. 

 

she stands against the counter now, waits for the girl to slide her drink to her like she has every day before, waits to drop a too-big tip in the jar. waits for the ache in her chest to dull down to a throb and then nothing at all. 

 

the coffee shop doors chime and mina doesn’t look up from her phone. 

 

maybe she should’ve. maybe if she did, she wouldn’t be forced to—

 

“mina?” 

 

there’s a tap on her shoulder and suddenly her senses are overwhelmed by a bed of flowers in full bloom and her eyes close instinctually, breathe in the scent that has weaved itself into every corner of her memory. 

 

“hi,” she manages to squeak out. 

 

she turns and blinks—once, twice, and sana is still there, beautiful as ever. 

 

“what are you—"

 

“order for mina!”

 

mina winces and sana’s tired eyes fill with life so quickly she needs to squint. 

 

“back to this?” sana asks, playful and light and mina’s throat constricts around nothing. 

 

she shrugs. “you know what they say about old habits.”

 

sana hums and nods and doesn’t make a move to stand in line. 

 

“what’re you up to?” she asks instead. mina feels like she’s just pulled the rug from under her feet. 

 

“grocery shopping,” she mumbles, hopes sana maybe won’t hear. 

 

sana always does. 

 

her shoulders lift impossibly high and her lips twitch into the smile that mina loved to kiss and—

 

“can i join you?”

 

because sana knows everything about her. sana knows what makes her tick and cry and laugh until her sides split and sana knows she loves moon and she hates shopping alone. 

 

“okay.” 

 

because mina knows sana only asks for what she needs. 

 

sana laughs, breathless, maybe surprised, but she links their arms together like nothing has changed and she pulls her down the familiar path to the grocery store. 

 

“i thought you wanted coffee,” mina manages to say over the waves crashing heavily in her throat.  

 

“i wanted something to do,” sana corrects, admits—has always been too honest, too transparent. 

 

mina can only stay afloat for so long.

 

she feels dizzy as they walk through the aisles and sana holds her list and sana dances between shelves and sana puts things in her cart and sana is real and tangible and—

 

“did you forget to put eggs on here?”

 

she feels dizzy. 

 

“yes.”

 

sana hums and mina’s breath catches in her throat. 

 

“you always did,” sana whispers under her breath. mina pretends she didn’t hear. 

 

it’s quiet then as mina follows sana to the dairy section like she’d follow her to the end of the earth. sana plays with her fingers the way she used to play with mina’s. 

 

her heart cracks piece by piece until the scotch tape isn’t enough and it shatters completely. 

 

“do we really have to do the whole pretending thing?” sana asks suddenly, stands in front of mina and her arms reach out like she’s trying to explain something she can’t contain in her own body. “have to pretend like we haven’t been best friends for over two years?” 

 

she’s standing in front of cartons of eggs with something frantic and desperate in her voice. some people stare as they walk past, various states of shock and curiosity but sana has never been one to mind judgemental eyes. nothing else matters much, anyway, because mina thinks the sterile white light illuminating her back makes her look like she’s from another world. 

 

“i miss you,” sana says then, kicks her foot against the floor holding the weight of their conversation—the weight of the world. 

 

mina takes a step forward, a step around the shopping cart separating them and hopes the earth doesn’t crack and swallow her whole. 

 

“i miss you too,” she confesses, barely louder than the hum of lightbulbs keeping them out of the dark. the fire sparks and flames and right now mina would let it burn right through her. 

 

“you... really?” sana asks, and mina smiles, feels bolder now that sana’s blinding light of determination has simmered down to something manageable. 

 

“yes,” she laughs breathlessly, tries to make it sound happy and not achingly tired. “i haven’t had anyone to talk to about ariana grande in over a month.” sana laughs now, and mina thinks she sees unshed tears welling in her eyes. 

 

her heart still aches but sana’s hand wrapped in hers feels like a remedy. 

 

[...]

 

when mina wordlessly agreed to be friends with sana again, she didn’t quite realize what that entailed. 

 

because, yes, she sees her friends on a weekly basis, but none of them live one floor above her and none of them knock on her door at four in the morning and none of them ask to sleep on her couch because they watched a horror movie and are too scared to be alone. 

 

none of them are sana. 

 

“i don’t need your bed, mina,” sana huffs from the doorway. she watches mina throw a pillow and a blanket over the couch with her arms crossed and brows furrowed and mina tries to ignore the fact that she’s wearing the pyjamas mina bought for her birthday last year. 

 

“it’s okay,” mina shrugs. “sleeping on the couch sometimes is good for my back, or something.”

 

“i don’t think that’s true,” sana grumbles under her breath. it’s quiet for a few beats but sana doesn’t move to the bed and mina doesn’t lay on the couch. “sorry,” sana whispers. “for waking you up. i shouldn’t have been watching scary movies this late.”

 

mina’s lips quirk up into a smile despite herself. 

 

something wistful lingers in the air like sana’s flowerbed perfume and mina takes a deep breath to commit this moment to memory. her head throbs at the familiarity of every word whispered between them, every gentle smile and brush of hands that has always been reserved for each other. 

 

“you shouldn’t have,” she says instead of any of the crazy ideas kicking at her skull. she takes a seat and ignores her silly heart beating out her of chest when sana joins her. “but i don’t mind.” for some reason, the words that’s what friends are for cannot seem to leave her lips, get stuck in her mouth like taffy in her teeth and she chews and chews and swallows them back down. 

 

“oh yeah,” sana laughs, “i’m sure you love being woken in the middle of the night to me crying at your door because i’m scared of the boogeyman.”

 

mina nods once. “definitely, adds something to my monotonous routine.” sana shoves her and she tips sideways and they laugh until their sides hurt. 

 

then, “want to finish it with me?”

 

and there is no possible way, no possible world where mina doesn’t say yes. 

 

[...]

 

jihyo’s eyes shine when mina tells her about sana and grocery shopping and scary movies and it feels too much like years ago. like telling jihyo about the cute girl from one floor above her that just moved in and tried to unlock mina’s apartment thinking it was hers. 

 

the realization hits like a freight train and she stops mid-sentence. 

 

“we’ve decided to be friends,” she explains, excuses, tries to backpedal from the lovesick wave she’d been riding. jihyo’s eyes still shine and mina feels like her friend knows a secret that she doesn’t. 

 

“i’m happy to hear that.” she says it in her mom voice and there’s something mischievous behind the words. mina rolls her eyes. 

 

“i’m serious,” she says more firmly and jihyo’s grin grows like she’s helpless to contain it. “just friends.”

 

“i know!” jihyo promises, holds her hands out like a surrender. “and i’m serious too. you seem happy.”

 

“i am,” mina breathes. 

 

“then i’m happy, too.”

 

and mina believes her. 

 

[...]

 

one thing mina has learned from a decade of friendship; tzuyu is tzuyu and tzuyu is hesitant by nature. 

 

“you don’t think it’s too soon?” tzuyu asks. it’s gentle and curious. not accusatory—never accusatory. 

 

“i don’t know.” and mina is honest. “maybe.” always honest. “i was stuck in a loop before,” she continues, “just sad and tired and now i don’t feel like that.” it’s quiet and tzuyu looks at her like if she looks away mina will break in half. “so maybe it’s too soon, but isn’t that better than being too late?”

 

[...]

 

sana invites her to her birthday. 

 

she invites her and jihyo and jeongyeon and tzuyu and chaeyoung like she would’ve if things were normal and mina feels queasy. 

 

she wonders if sana’s told all her friends. if everybody knows they’ve broken up and everybody knows sana is available and if sana has her eyes on anyone new. 

 

she almost doesn’t go. 

 

but her heart pulls her to the familiar door and tzuyu’s hand is pressed into her back like a comforting weight and nayeon welcomes them like a force of nature. 

 

“long time no see,” she grins, alcohol bleeding into her words warning mina that they’re in for a long night. 

 

nayeon pulls them all in for their own hugs and leads them deeper into the apartment that mina knows like the back of her hand. it feels a little bit like stepping back in time and a lot like coming home—she doesn’t know which is worse. 

 

sana is held in an animated conversation with someone in the kitchen but her eyes drift behind them and the way she catches mina’s gaze through the crowd sparks something in her stomach. she excuses herself quickly, makes her way past everyone there just for her and wraps mina in a tight hug. 

 

“you came,” she laughs into her ear and she smells like liquor and flowers and mina thinks she’s perfect.  

 

“i came,” she says back. 

 

and the party is fun, she tells herself. though anything may be fun after four of chaeyoung’s concoctions and the room is hazy and everyone looks friendly. it’s fun when she convinces herself that she’s forgotten she was the one to pick that couch, or that there’s a mug in sana’s cupboard that matches one in her own, that the withered plant in the corner used to be full and lively because mina was the one that remembered to water it and—

 

it’s fun. that’s all. 

 

nayeon and momo and dahyun stick to jihyo, tzuyu, jeongyeon and chaeyoung like glue and mina feels a pang of guilt at the fact that hers and sana’s breakup drew a crack in a friend group that melted into one over the years. feels like she ruined something bigger than herself all those days, weeks, months ago—when sana put her keys on the shoe rack and left her apartment with diamonds dripping from her eyes. when she never came back. 

 

the party is fun. 

 

sana disappeared somewhere between mina’s fourth and fifth drink and she wonders distantly if she’s having fun, too. 

 

“hey, mina,” someone calls, a gentle hand on her shoulder turning her around. she comes face to face with one of sana’s friend’s from college—sooyoung?—tight grimace on her face. “uh, sana’s puking in her bathroom and i figured she’d rather have you there than me.”

 

the implication doesn’t go over mina’s head and she feels something too strong to be butterflies fluttering against her rib cage. 

 

she looks to where nayeon and momo and dahyun are busy listening to chaeyoung’s latest illegal escapade with rapt attention and figures it would be rude to interrupt. 

 

she makes a list in her head: her and sana are friends, despite sooyoung’s mistake—she can do this. she’s separated their seven other friends for months, they deserve this night—she can do this. sana needs her, and the worry outweighs the dread of impending doom settling in her gut. 

 

she can do this. 

 

sooyoung closes the bedroom door with an apologetic smile as she returns to the party and mina suddenly feels like she might be sick, too. 

 

“nayeonie?” sana calls from the bathroom, drunk and strained and mina’s feet carry her to the sound like she’s helpless. 

 

“hi,” she murmurs, leans down and pulls sana’s hair out of her face. 

 

“hi,” sana breathes like she’s not surprised that it’s mina at all. “i’m sor—“ she’s cut off by the convulsing of her throat and then she’s heaving into the toilet and mina’s never quite been able to see sana hurting. “i’m sorry,” she groans into the toilet. “i’m such a mess.”

 

“maybe,” mina hums, rubs circles on sana’s back absentmindedly. “it’s your birthday, you can do what you want.”

 

“even get drunk and puke my heart out?” 

 

“is that what you want?”

 

“maybe it’s what i need,” sana whispers. 

 

mina holds her until the nausea seizes and she helps her out of her dress and into pyjamas, brings her water and snacks and painkillers and it feels so achingly familiar that mina almost gives her a kiss, too. 

 

“stay?” sana asks when mina moves to the door, sounds childish and nervous, so mina stays. they play some cartoon on tv and share popcorn and sana picks at the bedsheets. “this isn’t about you,” she says suddenly, looks into mina’s eyes with something playful and hopeful—maybe a little bit shy. 

 

“absolutely not,” mina plays along, feels her heart thudding against her chest when she realizes what the game is. 

 

“you looked pretty tonight,” sana continues. 

 

“and that’s definitely not why you drank yourself sick.”

 

“definitely. i’m much stronger than that,” sana nods and pouts and mina wants to cry, a little bit. 

 

“super strong,” she whispers instead, sees tears well in sana’s eyes. something cracks and shifts between them and mina wonders if friends are supposed to feel this hauntingly sad about spending time together. if the hollow parts of their insides are supposed to ache for the other to fill and if acid tears are supposed to sting their skin at the distance between them. 

 

she wonders if her and sana have ever been friends. 

 

“sorry i made you watch me puke,” sana mumbles. 

 

“sorry i was too lazy to walk downstairs and get you emergen-c,” she offers back just as quiet. sana laughs and it hurts and then she pulls mina’s hands to her lap and plays with her fingers like she’s allowed. 

 

something cracks and shifts and falls into place. 

 

[...]

 

“are you going to eat that?” sana asks through a bite too big for her mouth. mina watches with her brows up in amusement as she takes the piece of meat without waiting for an answer—she knew mina was done, anyway. 

 

“you’ll choke,” mina laughs, slides water closer to her. 

 

“that’s what you think,” sana shrugs after she swallows the bite down. “i know better.”

 

“oh, yeah?” mina challenges. 

 

“are you really trying to prove that i’ll choke? you want me to choke, mitang?” sana asks, whines through a pout and mina can’t help but throw a napkin at her. 

 

“you’re dumb.”

 

“you’re pretty.”

 

“well now i look like the bad guy,” mina complains with an eye roll. 

 

sana hums. “you do. now, make it up to me?” she asks, bats her eyelashes and bares her teeth in a smile that is so bright it hurts. 

 

“i paid for your food, what else do you want?”

 

“well if you’re asking...”

 

“i’m not.” mina huffs and frowns and it chips away into a smile within seconds. 

 

across the table from them, nayeon and jihyo share a knowing look and a smile and nostalgia fills a fifth seat in their booth. 

 

“so, when’s the wedding,” jihyo jests as they walk back to her apartment. when it’s just her and mina and the lampposts guiding them home. mina chokes around nothing.

 

“what?” she coughs out. 

 

“you and sana were looking pretty couple-y back there.”

 

“that’s just how sana is,” mina huffs, pulls her coat tighter around her body. she ignores jihyo’s gaze burning into the side of her head. 

 

“are you trying to convince me or yourself?” jihyo asks because jihyo knows. because jihyo always knows. 

 

she looks down at her feet, up at the stars—anywhere but the eyes trying to meet her own. 

 

“who knows, anymore.”

 

jihyo knows—jihyo always knows. 

 

[...]

 

momo and jeongyeon are late, terribly so. 

 

they’re so late that sana pouted and whined and convinced mina to open the first bottle of wine while they wait. 

 

mina pouted and whined until sana opened the second. 

 

“if stars could talk, what do you think they would say?”

 

they lay on the floor of sana’s living room and mina is deeply invested in counting the bumps on her ceiling. 

 

“how do you know they don’t talk?”

 

sana huffs. “i just do.”

 

“maybe they stopped because they got tired of screaming to be heard.”

 

“uh oh,” sana sings, rolls onto her stomach and pokes mina’s cheek gently. her eyes are glazed and unfocused and even when they’re drunk, mina knows it would be a bad idea to kiss her. “someone’s feeling philosophical.”

 

mina swats her hand away and goes back to counting the bumps. “i don’t know what they’d say,” she admits then. “but i’d ask how they survive alone.”

 

“you think they’re lonely?” sana asks, scoots until her hair tangles with mina’s and looks at the ceiling like she’s trying to see the world through her eyes. 

 

“maybe,” mina shrugs. “arent we all?”

 

she dares to turn her head to the side and her breath stutters to a stop when she sees sana’s eyes already on her. 

 

“maybe.”

 

[...]

 

hot

 

it’s so hot that mina feels like her clothes have begun to turn to ash against her skin, so hot that she thinks her body is melting into sana’s where they press against each other desperately. 

 

the arm of the couch digs into her back at an awkward angle but she can’t focus on anything besides the muted noises falling from sana’s lips and into her mouth as she presses for more and more and—

 

“is this okay?” sana breathes heavily, pushes forward again when mina nods because her throat is thick with want and it’s all she can manage. 

 

her hands fist against the fabric of sana’s shirt and pulls her impossibly closer and sana gasps into her mouth at the pressure—sharp and heated and mina aches for more. 

 

sana is licking into her mouth with a familiarity that sends a pang to her chest, and then elsewhere, and then everywhere and mina can’t contain the moan that rips from her throat when sana starts nipping at it. 

 

“sana,” she gasps out, touching everything and nothing and feels like she’s being consumed by the fire between them. 

 

“what do you need, baby?” sana murmurs, low and heated, her fingers already blazing a trail down, down, down and—

 

please.” mina is a forest up in flames. 

 

it’s rushed and messy and exhilarating when sana shoves a hand down her pants and kisses her like she loves her. 

 

“i’ve missed this so much,” sana whispers into her ear, lips curling into a smile when mina whimpers and her hips roll upward like she can’t control it. “it’s still mine, hm? even after all this time?” 

 

and that’s mina’s undoing—toes curling and head thrown back as pleasure and something worse ripple through every muscle in her body. maybe later, when the lights are off and her thoughts are chaos, she’ll be embarrassed about how loud she is. but right now all she can think about is how good sana’s lips feel pressing soft kisses against her face and bringing her back to earth. 

 

they’re both gasping desperately for air when sana pulls back, pupils blown wide with arousal and mina’s legs still trembling. 

 

“i’m so sorry,” sana rushes out suddenly and mina is still too delirious to do anything but laugh. she lets her head tip back, listens as the giggles escape her like bubbles popping in the air. 

 

“you’re apologizing after that?” mina laughs, eyes squinting with joy and sana’s own lips lift into a smile, too. 

 

it takes a few minutes for them to calm down, for the laughter to subside and the desperation to thin from the air and sana still plays with mina’s fingers. 

 

“i just don’t know what this means—for us,” sana continues softly, like the weight of her words might make mina crumble before her eyes. 

 

“what do you want it to mean?” mina asks, excitement pulling at her heartstrings and making her brave. 

 

“that maybe the breakup was premature.”

 

the something that cracked and shifted and fell into place quivers between mina’s ribcage and they can’t take it back now. the words have been said and there’s no more dancing around the truth. 

 

“i think so too,” mina confesses, heart constricting violently at the hope on sana’s face. 

 

“yeah?”

 

“yeah,” she breathes. “maybe we can—"

 

“wait!” sana shouts, jumps up and dashes for the door before mina has time to frown. she waits a beat, and then two, and then sana is still gone and she feels silly sitting alone on her couch, sticky with sweat and something vulnerable. 

 

then she hears it—gentle fumbling with her doorknob that grows in volume until it’s near banging on her door and she can’t stop the grin on her face if she tried. 

 

she skips to the door, swings it open and feels deja vu wash over her in waves. 

 

“what are you doing in my apartment?” sana asks, fighting the smile on her face like it’s her job. 

 

“this is my apartment,” mina follows the script written by the universe, smile so wide it aches in her cheeks. 

 

“but i live in 6f,” sana pouts and crosses her arms and gives the performance of a lifetime. 

 

“then it’s a good thing this is 5f.”

 

sana finally lets her facade crack, eyes watery and kind and she holds her hand out with a goofy grin. 

 

“this is embarrassing,” she stage whispers, not looking embarrassed at all. “i’m sana.”

 

“mina.” she takes sana’s hand and feels sparks shoot through her veins and a fire roar in her chest. 

 

“would you like to get coffee with me, mina? i know a great place one floor up.”

 

[...]

 

“you’re back with sana.” it’s not a question. 

 

“how did you know?” mina asks, laughs because she feels caught and her face is red and tzuyu looks kind. 

 

“you’re wearing the earrings she bought you again.”

 

“ah,” mina feels stupid, “i forgot.”

 

“i’m happy for you, you know,” tzuyu promises, wraps up everything she needs to say in a simple sentence. 

 

“i love you,” mina breathes out because tzuyu’s face is still gentle and the sun is shining with a vengeance. 

 

“i love you too.”

 

[...]

 

at least four different conversations weave around each other in a dance that makes mina dizzy and she wonders how she has yet to get a noise complaint from a neighbour. not that it matters much, anyway, because eight girls are huddled on her living room floor passing around a bottle of wine and she can count on one hand the number of times she’s felt this type of joy kissing her heart. 

 

“hi,” sana mumbles, takes a few wobbly steps before curling into mina’s lap with a smile dipped in alcohol. 

 

“hi,” mina whispers back. her heart is beating faster than the staccato melody of whatever song chaeyoung has playing and sana’s bright eyes say she can feel it. 

 

“i missed you,” she says instead of teasing. 

 

“you were in the bathroom for three minutes.”

 

“no,” she argues, presses a kiss to mina’s nose and then to her forehead. “i’ve missed you.”

 

oh

 

mina heart pulses in her throat. 

 

“if you two are going to be sickeningly sweet again, i might say i preferred you broken up,” jeongyeon’s voice cracks through the moment like a bullet through glass but her eyes shine with affection. “seriously,” she adds—not serious at all. 

 

sana is loud and obnoxious and whines like she’s supposed to. she throws a pillow at jeongyeon, and then one at nayeon just to be fair. but when the cacophonous conversations start up again, she turns to mina and brushes her thumb against her cheek with the gentleness of a feather and kisses the trail she mapped like it’s enough to convey months—maybe years—of words she couldn’t speak. 

 

mina sighs and it’s enough. 

 

[...]

 

moonlight presses into the dark contours of their bodies and pours from sana’s lips as she hums a tune to the quiet waves tickling the shore. she holds mina’s fingers between hers, makes them do a little dance in the sand and giggles for nobody when they trip over themselves. 

 

“you’re so stiff,” she mumbles. 

 

“sorry,” mina whispers through a smile, then tightens her fingers until sana can’t move them at all and sana pouts and pouts and—

 

“you’re mean.”

 

“sorry,” mina whispers again, breathes it against sana’s hair and lays a kiss in its wake like she really means it. it scares her—how much she means it. 

 

“how did you know you wanted to try again?” sana asks then, props herself up so her elbow digs into the cold sand and grains of it drip from her hair like gold in the moonlight. mina wonders if they’ll shower together when they go home and her breath catches sharply.

 

“how am i supposed to find words for that?”

 

“just try,” sana pleads, almost. so mina tries. 

 

“it’s like...” her tongue trips over itself like her fingers in the sand and she sits up just to be closer. “i learned that neptune takes more than sixty-thousand days to orbit the sun and my first thought was that i’d like to spend the whole year with you.”

 

sana kisses her breathless and sand slips into her shirt and for the first time in her life, mina thinks her mother may have been wrong. 

 

“will you hate me when i’m selfish?” sana asks then. mina thinks the moon glows brighter with the question and she feels sana’s fingers in her hair. 

 

“why?” because it’s all she can bear to say. 

 

sana presses her thumb against mina’s temple, drags it down to her lips in time with a wave dragging down the sand. 

 

“because there’s so much of you i want to take.”

 

her heart stutters to a stop. sana’s pulse beats into her own and mina’s thinks her heartbeat could be enough for both of them. 

 

“then take it all,” she whispers, kisses sana’s thumb like a promise. 

 

so sana takes her home. 

 

and then she takes it all.