“There she goes.”
“Hm?” Chaeyoung hums absently to her friend Lisa as she ruffles through the contents of her backpack.
“Your not-so-secret secret admirer.”
Chaeyoung spares her lanky friend a tired eye roll before calmly shutting her locker. She knows exactly who Lisa is talking about. Jennie Kim, queen of their high school, apple of the student body’s eye. A peculiar case of high school popularity. Fierce gaze, catlike features, sharp wit, and impeccable style- she’s got the entirety of their student body wrapped around her finger, point lock and shoot.
Everyone but Chaeyoung, that is.
“Yes Lisa, I know.”
Lisa lets out an indignant huff as she jogs to catch up with her friend’s hurried strides. “You didn’t even look!”
Chaeyoung counts to five, calming herself before she replies. “That’s because your statement is flawed.”
“What does that even mean?!”
They reach Chaeyoung’s mid-morning biology class and Chaeyoung is apologetic, but the bell is going ring soon and she really has to sit down. “Can we talk about this later- actually no, better yet, can we talk about this never?”
It’s Lisa’s turn to roll her eyes. “In your dreams. You know I never stop talking, so we’re going to have this conversation eventually.”
“A one-sided conversation that’ll be.” Chaeyoung mutters saltily under her breath.
“I didn’t say anything.” Chaeyoung retorts smartly, spinning on her heel and taking off into her classroom. She shoots her best friend a triumphant smirk as she takes her seat, next to her good friend Mina.
“Manoban! Get yourself to class!” A passing teacher barks at her. Lisa doesn’t miss Chaeyoung laughing behind her hand.
She glares. “This isn’t over, Roseanne Park!”
“Goodbye, Lisa. Don’t be late.”
If she were telling the truth, she’d have to admit that Jennie is super, duper cute.
But Jennie is probably the most desired girl in the entire freaking school, and Chaeyoung hasn’t even spoken to her once. Jennie is that girl; smart, beautiful, popular, charismatic. Jennie’s got it all.
Plus, Chaeyoung is busy. She’s got a lot going on- keeping up her grades, tutoring English on the weekends, playing on the volleyball team, all while maintaining her social life to an acceptable degree.
So when everyone keeps bringing it up, she finds the easiest thing to do is to just deny it.
“She’s totally going for Chaeyoung.”
“Yeah, she really is.”
Jisoo is lounging comfortably on Chaeyoung’s couch like she’s always belonged there. Somehow she and Lisa had become acquainted during the span of two gym classes together, and now it’s like Jisoo has always been an extended part of Chaeyoung’s life that she’s just never noticed.
Lisa claps her hands because she’s finally gotten someone who isn’t herself to make the proclamation in front of Chaeyoung. “See! I keep trying to tell her- she won’t listen.”
Jisoo tilts her head, interested. “Really? Why not?” She looks genuinely curious.
“I don’t know, ask her.”
They both turn to Chaeyoung, who’s currently hunched over trying to teach her goldfish a new trick. Lisa blinks.
“Yes, Lisa?” The girl doesn’t even spare her a glance this time, keeping her eyes trained on the large orange fish swimming back and forth in his excessively large tank.
“Did you hear that?”
Lisa turns to Jisoo with the most frustrated look. “See!”
Jisoo clicks her tongue. “I think she’s in denial, Lisa.”
“She is.” Lisa declares firmly, standing her ground where she towers over Chaeyoung’s crouching figure. “Chaeyoung, listen- Jennie is in love with you.”
“She’s going to confess to you someday, just you wait.”
“Uh huh. Are you done yet?”
Lisa frowns. “She totally has a crush on you.”
“Yeah.” Jisoo casts Chaeyoung a sympathetic side glance. “She kind of does.”
“YOU SAID WHAT?!?!?”
Jisoo rolls her eyes at the extremely frightened look on her best friend’s face. “I said that you kind of do.”
“Because you do.”
Jennie looks like she’s about to faint. “JISOO!”
“I can’t believe you- right in front of not just her best friend but her too- is- is this some kind of joke to you???”
Jisoo just looks at her, not quite sure what all the fuss is. “Jennie. Calm down.”
“It’s not like this is some big secret that nobody knows about.”
“WHAT DO YOU MEAN IT ISN’T. OF COURSE IT IS??”
“Jennie, everyone knows- well, everyone except Chaeyoung, that is- the point is, your big fat secret crush isn’t so much of a secret anymore.”
Jennie looks outraged. “Thanks to you it isn’t!”
“Even Lisa knew!”
Jennie finally slouches over, out of wind and utterly defeated. “How did it come to this??”
Jisoo just pats her on the shoulder sympathetically as she takes the liberty of finishing off the rest of Jennie’s blueberry scone. “It wouldn’t have if you’d just woman up and talk her.”
Jennie sighs. “It’s not that simple, Jichu.”
The other girl just looks at her with veiled knowledge, shrugging her shoulders as she dusts her hands off. “Maybe it is.”
Normally when there’s any kind of note on her desk, Chaeyoung knows to chalk it up to Lisa being an idiot again.
However, she’s never seen a note from Lisa look anything like this.
“Hey there! I know this is kind of weird, but I’ve had the biggest crush on you since the school year began and I’d love to get to know you more. Text me sometime ;) 4xx-xxx-xxxx
~ Jennie Kim”
With the note, there’s a mechanical pencil with a little plastic puppy at the end that certainly doesn’t belong to Chaeyoung. There’s also a small, slightly hazardous drawing of a little rose and a- is that a hamster? A dumpling? Chaeyoung can’t really tell. The note is signed and even dated (she never knew Jennie Kim would be that kind of precise person). The number looks legitimate enough, as does the handwriting (although, it does look somewhat shaky, especially the signature. Chaeyoung doesn’t read too into it though).
She reads it again to make sure she’s not imagining things, and then hastily stuffs it away in her pocket. The tips of her ears flush a little, despite herself.
She doesn’t have time to get all in her head over it right now though- she’s got to go grocery shopping for her family, and then she’s got two essays and a calc study guide to finish before the weekend hits to prepare for her exams next week. She doesn’t have time to be flustered over some note with some phone number that Jennie Kim apparently left on her desk.
It’s just a silly note.
“YOU DID WHAT?!?!”
Jisoo winces lightly at the banshee scream that hits her ears. “I said, I left a note on Chaeyoung’s desk with your phone number on it.”
“I left a note on Chaeyoung’s desk with your phone number on it. Don’t worry- your name’s on it too, so she’ll know who she’s talking to.”
“Because you like her.”
Jennie looks like she’s torn between punching her best friend in the face and applying for a visa to some foreign country so she can immigrate away and start a new life. “YOU- YOU’RE KIDDING ME, RIGHT? THIS IS JUST SOME KIND OF JOKE, RIGHT??”
Jisoo places a delicate hand over her head, looking at Jennie with an affronted expression. “Wh- I would never take your feelings as a joke! I am so offended you would think that.”
“You-“ Jennie is bright red, wide-eyed, and stuttering her way through words in a mix of shock, fear, rage, and self-induced humiliation. “You forged a note- signed it from me- left it on her desk- and you expect me to-“
“Stop being so dramatic. Okay, maybe I forged a note in your name, but it’s nothing different from the drafts you’ve been writing up yourself-“
“I saw you hide them in your pencil case. Oh, and I may have accidentally left your favorite pencil on her desk too-“
“Sorry sorry. Just saying. I may have forged and I may have stole, but the words are still technically yours.”
“If it makes you feel better, you can say that I committed forgery and plagiarism-“
“THAT DOESN’T MAKE ME FEEL BETTER.”
“Have it your way then.”
Jennie is pacing furiously back and forth across Jisoo’s living room. Jisoo just watches her, flicking a nonexistent piece of dust from her sweater.
“You know, I could always ask Lisa to introduce you guys-“
“Yikes.” Jisoo winces. “Okay, okay. I get it- just wait it out then. I won’t do anything else, I promise. The tension will probably kill you before that happens anyway.”
Jennie goes digging for her passport later that night. Unfortunately for her, Jisoo’s gotten to it first- and also left her a little annoying note in its stead.
I knew you would try to flee the country, so I took your passport for safety’s sake. You can’t just abandon your house, Jen- what would you mother say???
It’s just a stupid note.
Chaeyoung thinks it to herself for the millionth time that weekend. It’s Sunday night; she’s just finished up her second essay and stapled together the finalized version of her study guide. Everything is set and in place for her to have a productive day at school tomorrow morning. Even her alarms are set and her pre-prepped lunch is sitting in the fridge so she can grab it and go the next morning.
Everything is going as it should- so why does she feel so… bored?
Her eyes flit over to the baby blue post-it and foreign mechanical pencil that she’d tossed on her desk Friday evening. The numbers stick out on the note, right above the sender’s signature.
She’s never really talked to Jennie Kim. They’re in the same school, but Jennie’s a senior and Chaeyoung’s a transfer in the year below. Jennie seems nice and all, but she’s always surrounded: by her friends, by the football team, by the basketball team, by the cheerleaders. She’s popular, and for good reason. Chaeyoung isn’t blind- the girl’s pretty, and she’s got the kind of cool, collected, chic air about her that Chaeyoung thought only existed in the movies.
That's why she’s so surprised that Jennie left a note for her, of all people (how did Jennie even know what class she was in??). She’s not sure what’s more surprising: the fact that Jennie’s single, or the fact that Jennie’s expressed an interest in her. It’s kind of strange. Too strange. Chaeyoung’s really not sure at this point.
It’s just a stupid note.
It’s just a stupid note.
Jennie does not get a single wink of sleep throughout the entire, damn weekend.
Freaking Jisoo. Why? Why would she do something like this?? Jennie knows that her friend has a bit of a 4D personality, but she didn’t think Jisoo would ever be able to dream up something like this. When did Jisoo even see those post-it note drafts that Jennie had hidden away so carefully in her pencil case?!? Freaking Jisoo. She went through Jennie’s stuff, lost her favorite mechanical pencil, and she’s even got Jennie’s passport- now fleeing isn’t even an option!
But in any case, what’s done is done- and while Jennie knows there’s no use stressing so excessively over it, there’s still that part of her that can’t help it. She drags through her weekend getting absolutely nothing done (partly because of her sleep deprivation, partly because of her Chaeyoung-is-going-to-think-I’m-a-creep wallowing, and partly because of her sporadic I’m-going-to-kill-Jisoo-bring-me-my-passport-NOW outbursts). She deeply considers calling out sick on Monday (and for the rest of the school year, if possible) but she knows that Jisoo would never let her get away with it.
It’s just a stupid note. But at the same time, it’s not.
Jennie does end up going to school on Monday. So does Chaeyoung.
Jennie kind of manages to pull herself together Sunday evening, even though she literally still can’t sleep into the new week. She has a somewhat-decent outfit on (hoodies never hurt anyone and no amount of LV, Chanel, Gucci, or her bougie- mother’s influence would ever change her mind). She’s washed up, somewhat hydrated, and now also caffeinated courtesy of the free coffee from the boys on the football team.
Chaeyoung looks the same as she always does. Pretty, composed, collected- the perfectly attentive student she strives to be.
Jennie actually sees the junior in the hallway right after first period. Chaeyoung is walking out of her class with another junior Jennie vaguely recognizes (the one her good friend Nayeon likes so much; Myoui Mana or Myoui Mio, or something like that. Jennie’s too tired to function properly). Chaeyoung’s got a small smile on her face as she listens to whatever Myoui Mimi’s saying (although, Myoui Mika is seriously pretty. Jennie makes a mental note to clear her name with Nayeon later).
Jennie herself is standing outside her next classroom, sipping her free coffee and listlessly nodding along to whatever animated story a basketball player is telling her at the moment, when she sees Chaeyoung staring straight at her. Chaeyoung gazes at her with a neutral expression, but before Jennie can react, her gaze snaps away and she’s back to her normal, cheery self with her friend.
Jennie closes her eyes shut tight and exhales deeply. Her head’s starting to spin from the lack of sleep, and her self-induced social stress isn’t helping with anything.
“I should probably just take a nap.”
“You sure you’re not hungry?” Jisoo frowns at her when lunchtime rolls around.
Jennie waves her off blearily. “I’m sure. You guys go on ahead.”
Some of the football players are standing behind Jisoo, looking over at Jennie’s defeated form concernedly. Jennie pays them no mind though; they’re just worried, she knows.
“I can bring you something if you want?”
Jennie sighs. “No need. I really just need to nap right now- there’s no way I’ll make it through afternoon history if I don’t.”
Jisoo shrugs. “Alright then, if you’re sure. Text me if you change your mind though.” She pats Jennie’s head before sauntering away with the boys. They swivel out of the classroom and disappear into the lunching mass of high schoolers who part like the Red Sea upon seeing Jisoo.
Jennie drops her head down on her arms. Finally. Some peace and quiet.
The voice has Jennie exhaling through her teeth in frustration. She lifts her head up, about to give the interrupter-of-good-sleep a piece of her mind and then-
Park Chaeyoung is sitting across from her holding a familiar mechanical pencil and a baby blue post-it note. Jennie is suddenly wide awake.
“Sorry to bother you- is this a bad time?” Chaeyoung never forgets her formalities, with an even tone and a polite smile.
Jennie desperately wishes Jisoo would come back and save her (even though Jisoo’s the cause of this mess to being with). She scrambles to sit upright and to make her hair presentable. “N-No! What’s up?”
Chaeyoung clears gently. “I- I think I have something that belongs to you.”
She slides the pencil across the desk towards Jennie. The senior feels her ears heat up.
“Ah, I’ve been looking for that. Thank you for returning it.”
Chaeyoung tilts her head and gives Jennie a long, careful look. “So it wasn’t you.”
It’s a statement, not a question. “Wh- what?”
Chaeyoung just smiles gently as she reveals the post-it in her hand. “Someone left this on my desk the other day.”
It’s the note. The goddamn note. Jennie changes her mind; she wishes Jisoo were here right now so she could slug the weirdo in the face.
But Jisoo isn’t here right now so Jennie’s left with no choice but to fend for herself. “Um- I-“
“It’s alright. I know it’s not really from you.” Chaeyoung laughs easily. She casts Jennie the most amused glance.
Jennie blinks, gaze snapping up to meet Chaeyoung’s. “Wh- how do you know??”
Chaeyoung hums quietly as she absently traces the crinkled letters on the paper. “Well for one, the signature looks a little funny.”
Jennie finally takes a good look at the signature and she firmly decides right there and then that Jisoo is an idiot. It’s the most chaotic forgery she’s ever seen; she even spelled Jennie’s name wrong! (‘Kim Jehnee’ is not the same as ‘Jennie Kim’. At least she got the surname right though).
“Oh my gosh.”
Chaeyoung just smiles. “Yeah.” She leans back, letting Jennie fully relish in the aftermath of Hurricane Jisoo-is-an-idiot.
Jennie blushes as she buries her face in her hands. “I’m so sorry about this.”
Chaeyoung, bless her soul, just shrugs and brushes it off. “Don’t be.”
It’d be a really great time for the ground to open up and swallow her right here and now, but honestly? Jennie can’t bring herself to fully wish for death just yet; as uncalled-for and poorly-executed as Jisoo’s plan (and Lisa’s, no doubt) was, Jennie has to admit that it’s not the worst thing. Chaeyoung’s sitting here in her class talking to her right now, and that would probably never happen if Jisoo hadn’t pulled the stupid stunt she did. And even better, Chaeyoung doesn’t seem too mad (or disgusted or freaked out) by the whole situation at all. It really could be worse.
She’s alerted back to reality by the slight cough Chaeyoung makes before her. “Um, I guess I’ll be going now. I hope this clears things up-“
“Wait!” Jennie blurts out, reaching out to grab Chaeyoung’s thin wrist. The junior halts in her tracks to stare at her. Jennie doesn’t know what she’s doing.
“I- I meant it though.”
Chaeyoung blinks. “What?”
She’s sure her face looks like a complete furnace right now, but she forges on anyway. “I- I mean, I didn’t leave the note for you, but everything it says- it’s all true.”
Chaeyoung looks like she doesn’t know if she should try to breathe first or respirate or respond in a more dignified manner. “What???”
Jennie can’t meet her eyes. “She knows I like you and- and I guess that was her way of trying to help me to admit it. And I do like you. I like you a lot.”
Chaeyoung is quiet. Jennie can’t stand it, so she keeps talking. “I know it’s stupid and I know we’ve never really talked before. I’m sorry if it’s weird-“
She’s cut off ungracefully by the bell that signals the end of lunch period. Both of their heads snap up to look at the clock.
Chaeyoung scrambles to her feet. “. My class is on the other side of school.”
Jennie lets go of her hand. “I- I’m sorry. For everything.”
Chaeyoung casts her one last glance as she’s leaving the senior class amidst all the upperclassmen trickling back in and then she’s gone without another word.
Jennie stays miserably awake the rest of the day, even without her nap.
The rest of the week comes and goes and she doesn’t see Chaeyoung for any of it.
Jisoo’s kind of stopped bugging her about the note thing- Jennie thinks that Jisoo’s probably forgotten. It’s totally possible with the girl. Chaeyoung is probably busy this week too, if the complaints that Jennie’s junior friends are all spouting about their upcoming exams and essays that they stay up late to finish.
She doesn’t see Chaeyoung at all after their (first) conversation.
Until she walks back to her desk after her afternoon gym class, to find a fresh baby blue post-it note on her desk.
“Hey Jennie. I know I have your number, but I think it was from a sketchy source so I’m not so sure I trust it. But, I’d love to get to know you more because I’ve also been having some sort of crush on you since I transferred in.
Here’s my number instead. Hit me up so I can finally get to know you.
~ Park Chaeyoung”
The usually cool, chic, I’m-superior-to-you-in-every-way senior has to clap a hand over to stop herself from screaming.
Jisoo casts her a weird look. “What the hell is wrong with you? Did that basketball from gym really knock you out?”
Jennie stands still for a moment as the words sink into her, and then she bounces over to her with the biggest smile on her face. “No, I’m fine. I just-“
Jisoo looks wary. “Just…?”
Jennie slings her arms around Jisoo as her smile grows wider and wider and wider. “I just love you a lot, you know??”
Jisoo looks scared. “I don’t know what you’re on Jennie Kim, but I’m telling you right now that I have your mother on speed dial-“
“I actually gotta get home as soon as I can today, so I’m going to go now!” Jennie sings as she packs up her things much faster than the others, who are mingling around in their respective social circles talking about their weeks. “I’ll text you later, okay? Say hi to Dalgom for me!”
Jisoo blinks. “What the fu-“
Jennie couldn’t care less though as she practically floats her way home.
Jisoo’s stupid antics actually having their uses. Who knew??
(She hesitantly texts Chaeyoung later that night and somehow, someway, manages to score herself a date. She's also still passport-less, but that's okay. Maybe she won’t have to flee the country after all.)