Chaeyoung remembers when she first encountered Myoui Mina.
The staggeringly attractive senior who sat behind her in music theory. Smart, stoic, calm, and relatively void of words, Mina was the epitome of every high schooler’s dream fantasy.
She had first seen Mina when the girl transferred into their band class last year- Mina had been talking to Momo, another girl Mina’s age, and she had a gleaming alto saxophone hanging around her neck. Chaeyoung couldn’t help but stare a little- she was only a little freshman at the time, and she hadn’t much experience with the art of subtlety. Mina had spared her nothing more than a passing glance and a small nod, but that was pretty much all it took. Chaeyoung was blushing like a loser for the rest of the class.
Mina is tall, cool, mysterious, and absolutely gorgeous.
Too bad Chaeyoung is short, jumpy, and way too nerdy to ever be anyone’s dream fantasy.
The little oboe player sighs, clutching her backpack straps just a little tighter in her small hands. She tries to hurry to her next class; the school year’s just started, she doesn’t want to be late to AP chemistry already.
She arrives just in the nick of time and quickly makes her way to the unoccupied front row of the chem class. AP chem is full of nerds as it is, but those nerds are all in the other class- Chaeyoung was unfortunate enough to be stuck in the class where there were actually normal kids who were subject to the school’s hierarchy system just like everyone else, and to her luck, most of them were older than her as well.
It’s the third week of school now and Chaeyoung has more or less become acclimated to doing all her lab work alone. She was only taking this class because she was smart and her guidance counselor placed her in; she really didn’t know anyone else here. Everyone already had lab partners, and no one wanted to pay attention to the small, quiet sophomore with dorky glasses who sat alone at the front corner of the class. The teacher was very hands-off and pretty much didn’t even watch the class when it was lab period. Thus, Chaeyoung was on her own.
She sits down and takes out her notebooks and pens, hunched over and ready to be the studious student she is. She doesn’t notice Mina walking into the class a beat after she does, going up and talking to the teacher before taking a seat at the back with some of her friends.
The teacher stands up to get everyone’s attention and the room falls silent. “Alright guys, we’ll be continuing our unit on pH and acidity. I want you all to pay attention, there’ll be a lab assignment tomorrow using titration and I expect nothing less than perfect on that lab.” A collective groan from the class. The teacher ignores them and continues,
“Myoui, if you need catching up, ask someone near you.”
Chaeyoung nearly chokes at the mention of the name and it takes everything within her small body to not turn around and look. She wonders since when Myoui Mina’s been in this class, and she groans silently to herself- great, even more opportunities to make a fool of herself in front of one of the most desired girls in the entire school.
It’s a long class for Chaeyoung.
Sana is humming cheerfully to herself as she makes her way to an empty practice room, skipping history for the eighth time since the school year has started. She closes the door behind her and flips the sign to ‘occupied’ before sitting down and ruffling through some sheet music. Band this year was no joke- the standards had been raised and everyone thought Minatozaki Sana, the ditzy first-chair flutist (no one actually knows how she ended up in that chair- she can barely hold her flute up for a single rehearsal) would inevitably miss the standard. No one actually thought she would be able to play the music, especially as first-flute- except for Momo, who was the most innocently naive of them all.
Sana had to prove them wrong though. She had never been so determined in her life.
Because of the flute-clarinet duet she would have in the last piece with Tzuyu.
Sana sets her music out in front of her and begins to assemble her flute. It is imperative that she at least is able to play the duet part by the time of the concert (which is all the way in December, but Sana has never really set high standards for herself) because her success in establishing contact with Tzuyu depends on it.
Tzuyu may be on the floor of the hierarchy system, but she’s the prettiest girl Sana thinks she’s ever seen ever.
That’s probably an exaggerated statement though; Tzuyu is only in the social position she's in because she's new and her Korean isn't very good, she's a little intimidating and her looks certainly pose some threat to the other meaner popular kids around. But Sana doesn't care. She's someone who believes strongly in following her heart, and her heart is currently calling for Tzuyu.
Sana changes crushes faster than Nayeon changes clothes though- just last week she was crushing on some cute junior named Eunha who had big eyes and an innocent vibe. The week after was a junior named Jackson, whose broad shoulders and coiffed hair had her swooning for days. And then Tzuyu came around, with her dark eyes and stoic face and clarinet in tow. Sana is intrigued by this younger girl who doesn’t seem the least bit interested in talking to her, the outgoing popular flute player, and instead chooses to befriend Son Chaeyoung, the nerdy oboe player crushing on Mina instead. Sana doesn’t know how the world works sometimes.
Well, Chaeyoung is kind of cute, she supposes.
Anyway, in the end Sana is Sana and Sana is determined, and Sana always- always- gets what she wants.
Or, who in this case.
She raises her flute to her lips and gets to work.
It’s lunch time, and it doesn’t get more chaotic than this.
Jihyo is placidly listening to something Nayeon is telling her, nodding so often every here and there pretending like she’s listening. Jeongyeon chooses that precise moment to plop down next to Nayeon, and a fight immediately breaks out.
Momo joins them soon after. Momo is relatively new to the school, and she still doesn’t have many friends. She and Jeongyeon are seatmates in a couple classes though, so naturally she gets to known Jeongyeon’s friend group first. Jihyo and Nayeon are more than welcoming to the Japanese girl though, so Momo sits with them. Mina is also with them most of the time, although sometimes she hangs out with her other friends on the ‘cooler’ side of the cafeteria. Mina has never been one for labels though- she’ll do anything and talk to anyone, as long as it suits her fancy. It’s part of her charm, the way she has really no bias and thought of the social hierarchy that inevitably plagues every high school setting. Maybe that’s why she has so many fangirls.
Across the room, Dahyun is dancing on a table and Sana is clapping and cheering beneath her, along with the rest of the mob who support her extra and excessive actions. The two mingle sometimes, but it’s mostly just Dahyun and her nutty friends looking for trouble and Sana going with the flow of all the other popular kids she’s friends with. They’re both known to be friendly though, although Sana is a complete moron sometimes and Dahyun can be a little too boisterous.
In the corner by the window, Tzuyu and Chaeyoung occupy a lone table. They don’t even sit with the nerds- even they have turned their noses up at Chaeyoung, who is easily the nerdiest of them all. With her oversized round glasses, short stature, and inexplicably shy nature (don’t forget her oboe) she is at the floor of the metaphorical pyramid. Tzuyu isn’t much better off, but she's new and she is taller- and her looks are hard to ignore (Chaeng hides hers behind those glasses). Chaeyoung was the first friend Tzuyu had made upon transfer though- they bonded instantly over their respective dorky instruments and mutual love for Bach. To her credit, Tzuyu stuck around and Chaeyoung at least now knows one person who is willing to talk to her during lunch.
“There she goes again.” Tzuyu says, watching Dahyun get dragged off the table by a couple of frazzled teachers.
Chaeyoung picks at her salad. “You’d think she’d have learned her lesson by now.” She remarks, chewing another cherry tomato.
Tzuyu shrugs and takes a sip from her water bottle. “Well where’s the fun in that?” She asks. Her face conveys no emotion but her eyes carry a small sparkle, and Chaeyoung just laughs to herself.
“Hopefully they’ll let her go in time for band class today. The trumpet section actually kinda without her.”
Tzuyu nods. “Hate to admit it, but yeah. It’s a lot less dynamic without her. I guess she’s first chair for a reason.”
Nayeon, Jihyo, Jeongyeon, Mina, and Momo stop their incessant bickering to watch Dahyun get dragged away. Jihyo sighs and turns back to the group.
“You’d think she’d have learned her lesson by now.”
Nayeon snickers at her junior’s unfortunate predicament. “At least she’s entertaining. And cute, in that nine-year-old-son-I-never-wanted kind of way.”
“Aren’t you talking about yourself?” Jeongyeon doesn’t miss a beat and they’re back at it again, with the vigor of a pair of energetic 90 year olds.
Jihyo shakes her head at the duo and turns to Mina and Momo instead. “I hope they let her out in time for band though. The trumpet section sounds duller without her.”
Mina winces and shakes her head. “No way. I hope they keep her for as long as possible- you don’t know what it’s like to have the blast of her obnoxious trumpet aiming at your head for a solid hour.”
She had a point. Mina and the rest of the saxophone section were unfortunate enough to always sit directly in front of the trumpet section- the section that plays the loudest and that always had their bells aimed at the back of the sax players’ heads. It was no secret that for all Dahyun’s skill and all Mina’s chill, the older girl not-so-discreetly hated the trumpet section at times, especially Dahyun- she was the best and she played the most.
Momo shrugs. “I stand behind them. I don’t understand your struggle.”
“Of course you don’t.” Mina rolls her eyes at her fellow senior.
Jeongyeon nods, breaking away from her argument long enough to offer her two cents. “We’ll find out soon enough I guess. Do any of you losers know how to do my chem homework?” She pushes a sheet of balancing equations in front of her friends. “It’s extra credit for my bio class; we’re learning protein synthesis next, and I’m gonna need these five bonus points on that test.”
Jihyo scrutinizes it carefully. Nayeon and Momo don’t even bother looking. Jihyo looks up apologetically after a few moments. “Sorry Jeong, I don’t remember.”
Nayeon looks over at Mina curiously. “Hey, aren’t you taking chem this year? I heard you switched into Yuju and Sowon’s class the other day.”
Mina chuckles. “I need catching up myself. And we didn’t cover element synthesis and stuff yet.”
Momo looks up from her enormous meal. “Is there anyone smart in your class who can help you and Jeong?”
“I mean, Yuju and Sowon aren’t exactly helpful in that aspect.” Jihyo pipes up. “They’re… lackluster at best, I suppose.” The group collective winces.
Mina shrugs and looks off at her surroundings. She spots Minatozaki Sana flirting with some poor unsuspecting girl, Jackson Wang getting beat up next to her by his mates, Kang Seulgi and her popular friends sitting at the center of the cafeteria talking and laughing, and there’s a table in the corner with just two occupants, a redhead and a brunette sitting across from each other, talking softly.
“I guess I’ll ask around.” Mina thinks to herself. She turns back to Nayeon, who has just asked her who the prettiest among them is, and allows the chaos to wash over her senses.
Chem can’t be that hard, right?