There was no better feeling than being home.
Family and friends. Home-cooked meals. Alone time in her own bedroom. (Not that she minded Nayeon, Sana, and Jihyo's company - they were amazing housemates - but having those three under the same roof with her, did become overbearing at times.) Mina missed it all.
Mina smiled as she folded the dress in her hands, thinking about how she'd spend the next few months of her summer vacation in Japan, and placed the garment inside the luggage in front of her. Next term would be the start of her final year as a college student, where there was no room for mistakes. She'd barely have any free time on her hands, so she ought to make the best out of this summer break.
Ah. Of course, there was Ray. The ol' dachshund that stole Mina's heart away years ago. And not to mention, that made the poor elementary girl's nose bleed from pure happiness. It was love at first sight.
"C'mere, boy," Mina cooed, patting her two hands on her lap. Ray trotted over to the girl, making himself comfortable in the tiny space between Mina's crossed legs as she was seated on the floor. Mina petted under the dachshund's chin and chuckled when the dog curled up and lied across her leg. "You really won't let me finish packing, will you?"
She rubbed the space in between the dog's ears. Mina could tell that Ray had probably already sensed that he'd be left alone while she and her parents left for a short trip to Okinawa. Though the dog wouldn't be totally alone - the obachan that lived next-door would always watch over the dachshund wholeheartedly whenever the Myoui's were away, but even Ray, who dearly loved affection, found the old lady way too touchy-feely for his own good.
Mina stopped petting the dog. "Will you let me finish now?" she said, looking down at him. When Ray shifted in between her legs, Mina was surprised to find that he was actually listening, then laughed when the dog only turned his body around and bared his stomach. She shook her head and smiled, rubbing Ray's belly. She didn't expect anything less.
"You remind me of someone, you know that? Someone just as sweet, cute, and stubborn," Mina said, dragging out the 'and'. "I bet you two would get along pretty well."
The doorbell sounded its two notes, and Ray's ears perked. He quickly jumped out of Mina's lap and bolted out the bedroom. Who could that be? Mina wondered.
She heard her mother shout from a room nearby. "Mina, do you mind getting that? I'm in the middle of something!"
Mina picked herself up from the ground and dusted off her pants before walking out her bedroom. She had just rounded the first couple of steps of the stairs when the doorbell rang again. "Chotto matte!" she tried to yell over Ray's loud barking. The sound came again, and Mina opted to run down the rest of the steps, scurrying hurriedly to the front door. Gently brushing Ray aside with her leg, she looked through the peephole. All she saw was black. Their visitor had obviously covered the hole. How childish. Sighing, she opened the door.
Her eyes widened in disbelief. "Chaeyoung?!"
She couldn't believe her eyes. Her girlfriend, a bouquet of flowers in-hand and bag slung onto her shoulder, was standing right outside her door. Of her home. In Japan. When she should be in South Korea.
"Yup! Did I surprise you?" Chaeyoung lover.
Mina took Chaeyoung by the wrist and pulled her inside. "What the hell are you doing here?!"
Ray joined in, barking at the unfamiliar girl in their house.
"Oh, you must be Ray!" The girl bent down and greeted the dog. "Hey there-"
Ray growled threateningly, causing the her to retract her hand and stand up straight in an instant. "Okay, maybe later, then," she coughed nervously.
With a single wave of Mina's hand, Ray stopped barking but stayed by her side. Then she looked back at her girlfriend. "Chaeyoung," Mina called out to her, seriously. "What are you doing here?"
"I wanted to visit you," the younger girl answered innocently.
Mina placed a hand on her hip. "You should have at least told me beforehand."
"Then it wouldn't have been a surprise, babe," Chaeyoung chuckled. She grinned so widely her dimples showed.
The latter chuckled herself. "You're really something..." She had to admit, her heart did flutter from the girl's spontaneity. Chaeyoung never failed to make her smile. Taking a step forward, Mina would have given her a sweet kiss on the lips...if she hadn't remembered how late in the day it already was.
Switching gears in a blink of an eye, Mina pinched the girl's arm as hard as she could. "Do you even see how late it is! What if something happened to you?! I'd have no idea!"
Chaeyoung squirmed and winced in pain, grabbing Mina's hand. "Okay, okay, ah! Mina, quit it!"
Heaving a sigh, the Mina stepped back and the corner of her lips out of habit. "How do you even know where I live? I don't recall ever telling you?" she asked, brow raised.
"I asked Sana-unnie."
Mina pulled her hand out of Chaeyoung’s grasp and rubbed her temples. "Of course you did."
Her eyes fell to Ray, whose sight never left her girlfriend. "I was right. You guys really are alike," she mumbled.
"Aren't you happy to see me?" the girl pouted.
Mina returned Chaeyoung's gaze. "Of course I am, Chaeyoungie," she replied apologetically, taking her girlfriend’s hand. "It's just that you can't be reckless like that..."
Chaeyoung rubbed her thumb against the backside of Mina's hand. "I know, and I'm sorry, but I really just wanted to surprise you."
The Japanese nodded in defeat. Her girlfriend was lucky she was cute.
Chaeyoung opened her arms to the taller girl. "Can I get a hug now?" she beamed and waited for an embrace. Mina hugged her back tightly with a soft smile. It had only been a week since she got back to Japan, which also meant one week away from Chaeyoung, but Mina had already missed being in the girl's comforting and warm hold.
As Chaeyoung brought her closer by the shoulder, Mina felt something poking her in the hair. The flowers, she remembered. Mina pulled back from the hug, missing her warmth right away. She smiled brazenly at Chaeyoung. "Are these for me?" she asked in regards to the bouquet of lavenders the other was holding.
The girl looked down to the flowers. "Oh, these?" She scratched her nape and laughed cheekily. "Nope."
Mina frowned. "What?"
"I got them for your parents as a gift," she said, looking around the house, "Are they home?"
Ouch. That definitely struck her ego. And the grin on Chaeyoung's face told her that she was also aware of that.
She ignored her question and scoffed. "And what do I get?" Mina said sarcastically, as she crossed her arms.
"Me!" Chaeyoung leaned up and kissed Mina on the lips. Mina looked completely flustered, and Chaeyoung just knew that she had caught her off guard. Still, Mina responded and returned the kiss. Yeah, she missed this, alright.
Then they were interrupted by a low bark, which caused the two to part, Mina releasing her hold on Chaeyoung's face and the couple looking down at Ray.
"Someone's jealous." Mina gathered the little dog, who had stepped between them, in her arms. Ray gave some to her face while she and Chaeyoung laughed. "Meet your new mommy, Ray." Mina smiled as she patted the dachshund's head, bringing him closer to Chaeyoung. The girl, thinking that the dog was tame in his owner's arms, stretched out a hand to pet him.
But Ray was not having it. He bared his teeth, and gave a growl that came from deep in his throat.
"Ah!" Chaeyoung slightly jumped away, bumping into the door behind her. She bit the inside of her cheek "...I don't think he’s fond with the idea," she said.
Mina pouted. "Don't say that," she kissed the top of Ray's head, "you two just need to warm up to each other. Isn't that right, boy?" She babied the dog, petting him all over and showered him with affection, as if her girlfriend wasn't there. "Who's a good boy? You are!"
With a comical expression, Chaeyoung watched the two. It wasn't new to her that Mina was smitten with the dog, she'd heard the stories from the girl herself, but seeing it with her very eyes? Chaeyoung wouldn't be surprised if the Japanese girl's nose started bleeding right now.
Giggling, she put Ray back on the ground and took Chaeyoung's free hand. "Come on, let's put those flowers in some water," Mina said, as she led the girl further into her home.
Chaeyoung absorbed every inch of the house that she was able to lay her eyes on. Everything was placed and decorated attractively, and looked absolutely expensive. Presumably, luxurious and elegant taste ran in the whole Myoui family.
She made herself at ease, on a couch that she assumed costed more than her plane ticket going to the country, and heaved a relaxing sigh. Mina left the living room to their kitchen, shortly returning with the lavenders inside a water-filled vase and placed it onto the table.
"Oh, Chaeyoung! What a pleasant surprise!" Mrs. Myoui entered the room with a motherly smile.
The visitor quickly stood up and bowed lightly. "Good evening, Mrs. Myoui. My apologies for arriving so late." She shyly gestured to the flower vase on the table. "I- uh, brought some flowers."
Mrs. Myoui softly touched the flowers. "Thank you, Chaeyoung, that's very sweet of you!" she grinned. Then, facing her daughter she said, "Mitang, why didn't you say that Chaeyoung was coming with us? We could've picked her up ourselves."
"Umm, I didn't even know she'd be coming here, Mama," Mina explained herself.
Chaeyoung looked confused. "Coming with you guys, where?"
"She doesn't know?" Mrs. Myoui asked in their native tongue, to which her daughter answered no.
"She only came to surprise me, I had no idea!"
Her mother briefly glanced at Chaeyoung and chuckled. "You have a very sweet girlfriend, honey," she teased.
"Mama!" The girl's cheeks reddened. On the other hand, Chaeyoung didn't know too much Japanese. Gladly. The younger girl could only watch the mother and daughter as they conversed in the foreign language, oblivious to anything they were saying.
"Okay...well, we could postpone our trip?"
Mina shook her head, "That would be too costly, and we can't buy another ticket for Chaeyoung either, since the plane's already fully-booked." She sighed. "Chaeng, how long are you staying?"
"Err, about 2 weeks?"
Mina looked at her mother who nodded in understanding. "Don't worry. I'll take care of it, Mama."
"I'll leave you two while I make something for you girls to eat, okay?" Mrs. Myoui said.
The girls thanked the woman before she left, as Mina sat beside her girlfriend.
"So...you guys had plans," Chaeyoung confirmed. Mina nodded slowly. "Oh."
Mina held her hand softly. "Sorry, Chaeyoungie," she murmured.
"Don't be sorry," Chaeyoung said, "I was the one who came without notice, anyway. So where are you guys headed?"
"Okinawa, three days. We're leaving in two," she answered. If only Chaeyoung had told her that she’d been scheming to follow her here in Japan earlier, Mina could've made amends for her to tag along with her and the family. But Mina knew how impulsive her lover could be. She really did appreciate the effort Chaeyoung made just to see her in her homeland. The timing just wasn't exactly the best. Now she'd have to leave her alone in her house for five days while they were away.
"That's great!" Chaeyoung beamed. "You love the beach!"
After all this time, Mina deserved a break, from all of the stress university gave her. Everyone could count on the girl to give her all in everything she did and thus showed tremendous results of her hard work. Chaeyoung, being by her side, always cheered her on and supported her all throughout - ups and downs. She was happy Mina was now finally getting respite, and with her family.
"I'll be more than happy to keep the place warm while you're away, don't worry about me," Chaeyoung said, smiling.
Hands still joined, Mina moved closer to Chaeyoung and laid her head on the girl’s shoulder. Drawing in the comfort the latter had given her, she closed her eyes and exhaled. "Thanks, Chaeyoungie. A lot. For being here." She snuggled even closer, legs across Chaeyoung's lap - almost sitting atop the girl, arms circled around her waist, and head below her chin.
"Minari," Chaeyoung called after a minute or two.
The Japanese pulled her head away a bit to look at her girlfriend. "Hm?" Chaeyoung looked around to see if Mrs. Myoui was anywhere around. Then, she tilted to one side and puckered her lips in her direction. Mina leaned in to give her a chaste peck. Dissatisfied, the younger's lips formed into a pout. "What?" Mina laughed.
"More," the girl whined, prolonging the syllable.
Chaeyoung nodded, waiting.
Mina put her hand behind the latter's head and pressed their lips together. Again, no more than a light peck.
"Now you're just teasing me!"
"I gave what you asked for, didn't I?" Mina said, puckering her lips to mock the way Chaeyoung had did.
Mina laughed and held Chaeyoung's face in her hands. "What is it that you want, then?" she teased again.
"A kiss, not a peck," and Chaeyoung eagerly demonstrated the difference. Mina smiled before giving into Chaeyoung's kiss, now straddling her.
They shifted, until both were lying on the sofa. Despite the position they had gotten themselves in, the way their lips brushed against each was not fiery nor demanding, but slow and sweet. No sparks, no fireworks. But something even better. Waves of warmth that filled them up.
Then, Chaeyoung's arms encircled her waist as she gathered the girl above her, closer. She caught Mina's lip between her teeth and nipped it gently. The Japanese moaned softly from the sensation, granting the younger entry when she felt her tongue flit teasingly.
Chaeyoung didn't expect for their simple kiss too get this far, especially when she felt her sleeve being tugged, exposing an ample amount of her neck and shoulder.
Wasn't Mrs. Myoui just in the room beside them?
Panicked that they might get caught, she wiggled her arm to get Mina to stop. But Mina's hands stayed put at each side of her face-
Chaeyoung's eyes snapped open. If Mina had been cupping her face all this time, then...
There was a loud tearing sound, and Chaeyoung's arm suddenly felt cold. Startled by the sound, Mina hovered as she slightly pulled away. They both looked to their side simultaneously, coming face-to-face with the culprit.
Ray was sitting down, and in his mouth, was what had been part of Chaeyoung's sleeve. The dog's tail wagged vigorously, as if he had done something worth praising for.
"Ray!" Just as Mina was going to reach for the dachshund, he scampered out of the living room and left the torn fabric on the floor. Chaeyoung sat up, picking up the sleeve Ray had pulled off.
"You're dog really hates me, Mina," she scoffed as she rubbed the part of her arm that was left bare.
Mina concernedly replaced Chaeyoung's hand with her own and examined the girl's arm. "Are you hurt?"
"Let me get you something to change in.”
Tossing a sweater to the girl for her to wear shortly after, Mina sat back on the couch and breathed out. "I don't know what's the matter with Ray. He usually doesn't have any problems getting used to our visitors."
"It's because I'm your girlfriend, Mina," Chaeyoung snorted.
"What do you mean?"
"Dogs are like that sometimes. Ray probably sees me as a threat between the bond you two have, so he's acting out of jealousy, that's all," she told her.
"And are you saying this from experience?" Mina asked curiously.
Without too much thought, Chaeyoung nodded and answered, "Yeah, remember my dog way back at home? Nereri? One day, I brought my ex-girlfriend to our place and Nereri just started..." Chaeyoung glanced at Mina and noticed the glare she was giving her. Her enthusiasm faded and trailed off with her words. "...Nevermind. You get the point."
Mina stayed quiet for a moment. "Wait, that's it! I remembered that it’ll be just the two of you together for three days! You'll surely warm up to each other by then!"
Chaeyoung's expression sank in realization. Three days alone with that little demon? She looked down at the torn sleeve on the table. If Ray could do such things while Mina was around, what more if it was only the two of them? She grimaced at the thought. "Can't you guys bring pets with-"
"This is great! Now we don't have to leave Ray with obachan anymore!" Mina said cheerfully. She turned to Chaeyoung, and saw wariness in the her eyes. She could already tell what her lover was thinking. "At least try to get along with him, hm? Please, Chaeng? For me?" Mina wrapped her arms around the girl and pouted cutely.
Chaeyoung lowered her eyes to Mina, sighing. "I'll try, it's not like I have a choice anyway...and stop doing that."
Mina replaced her pout with a big smile, pecking her girlfriend on the jaw. "You're the best, Chaeyoungie!"
"Don't mention it," Chaeyoung grumbled.
Mina chuckled, caressing her cheek with one hand. "My big baby," and she pulled Chaeyoung in for a kiss. A real kiss.
Two days. Chaeyoung had two days before Mina and her parents left for Okinawa, so she tried to make the best out of it. But with Ray around, it was nearly impossible.
Like that one time where the couple was supposed to take a walk around the Myouis' neighborhood - alone.
Chaeyoung shooed away the dachshund from gnawing on her now wet laces for any longer, as she tied her shoes and stood up, ready to go. She made a face towards the dog, and Ray barked back. Mina then approached the girl, holding her hand. "Ready to go?" Chaeyoung nodded.
Mina opened the door as they stepped foot out of the house, but before they could make it out completely, Mrs. Myoui called for them. "Mina, Chaeyoung! Do you girls mind taking Ray for a walk with you two? It's been a while since he's been out and about."
Mina's eyes darted to her girlfriend. "Chaeng?"
Chaeyoung felt how both Mina and her mother looked at her expectantly, and inwardly sighed. As much as she wanted to decline, she didn't want to disappoint Mrs. Myoui and leave a bad impression, especially since she was only visiting. And she definitely didn't want to disappoint her girlfriend, who she'd promised to make an effort to get along with Ray. Even Ray, who seemed to have gotten excited from hearing his name, was looking at her.
She managed a smile, hoping that they wouldn't notice how against towards the notion she was. "Of course, we'll take Ray!"
In the end, Chaeyoung had spent the next two hours on her toes running after a cream dachshund, occasionally getting tangled up in a leash - Mina laughing from a distance. (It had been a first. She’d never seen Ray act out this way. He was always well-behaved.)
Or that time later in the day when Chaeyoung wanted nothing but Mina's cuddles.
"I brought blankets!" Mina said, sitting beside the younger on the couch as they watched a random romance film that played on the television. Mr. and Mrs. Myoui had both retired for the night, leaving the two girls to themselves. However, seemingly so, Chaeyoung had forgotten that there was one more resident in the house.
At one point during the movie, Chaeyoung moved towards Mina under the blankets, until their arms touched. Without looking away from the screen, Mina brought her arm around Chaeyoung's waist and beckoned her closer. The younger girl clinged onto her, smiling contentedly.
After the first movie, Mina stood up. "I'll get some food," she said, before heading to the kitchen.
"Hurry! It's starting!" Chaeyoung later shouted.
Mina hastily went back to the living room, carrying a bowl of popcorn in her hands. Pulling the tattered blankets, Chaeyoung patted the spot next to her. As she laid the bowl on the table, Mina climbed onto the couch and fed a piece of popcorn to her girlfriend, to which the latter munched on happily.
Chaeyoung arranged the sheets once more, automatically returning to their previous position.
But not before Ray jumped onto the sofa, forcing a gap between the couple. Mina giggled and pet the dog, while the latter was fuming inside. How could he just ruin our cuddling time like that?! she said to herself. She let out a quiet sigh and turned to the screen, arms crossed. When Mina started to feed the dog, Chaeyoung rolled her eyes. "That should be me," she mumbled.
"What was that?"
Chaeyoung got a handful of popcorn and steadily shook them into . "Hm? Oh, I said this tastes really good," she chewed loudly with a hint of frustration, "Really, really good."
But Chaeyoung knew that no matter how much she may despise the dog, Ray would always be Mina's little baby, her first love.
Leaning against the kitchen counter, Chaeyoung admired the sight of her girlfriend cooking, who had volunteered to make dinner for everyone the night before they'd leave. She stood behind the girl and hugged her waist under her apron, peeking above her shoulder. "Are you sure you don't want my help?" she asked, taking in a whiff of Mina's cooking.
Mina lowered the heat of the stove and set her ladle aside, then turned around to hug her girl and sway their bodies together. Minutes after, she pulled back, kissing her forehead. "You just did," Mina smiled, exposing her gum line. "I got this, don't worry."
Like an obedient puppy, Chaeyoung returned to her initial spot, simply watching her lover in adoration as she got back to work. Her head turned at the sound of tiny footsteps, and saw Ray. Sitting down a few feet away from her, the dachshund also watched his owner, quietly. She took her phone out of her pocket and focused the camera on Ray and Mina. "Minari, look. You've got an audience," Chaeyoung chuckled. When Mina peered down to the small dog, whose tailed wagged, with a tender look, Chaeyoung snapped a shot. A small smile crept on her lips. If she and Ray had one thing in common, it would be their love for Mina, that's for sure.
That night, after a delightful dinner with the Myoui’s, Chaeyoung could tell Mina was drained. She didn't even have the energy to argue with Chaeyoung when she offered to do the dishes by herself, and went to the living room to wait instead.
She turned off the faucet and wiped her hands on her jeans. Everything was quiet but the television that Mina had . Grabbing her phone on the counter, Chaeyoung spoke as she walked into the living room. "Mina, you still have a flight tomorrow morning. Let's call it a night-"
When she looked up from her phone, Chaeyoung stopped. Mina was sound asleep on the couch. And in her arms, was Ray, who was in dreamland as well. Smiling to herself, she shut off the TV, then sat at a chair across just to take a picture of them.
Staring at the photo, Chaeyoung thought back to the past two days. She couldn't believe that this dog, who looked so peaceful at the moment, had put her through so much trouble.
She sauntered to the couch and gave a few pats to Ray's head to wake him up. Contrary to the rash reaction Chaeyoung expected from the dog, Ray slipped out of Mina's arms and jumped off the furniture, trotting away. Taking a deep breath, she stooped and carried Mina in her arms. It wasn't an easy task, but Chaeyoung had managed to bring her up the stairs and into her bedroom without awakening her.
When they arrived, Ray was already lying by the foot of the bed. She tucked Mina in bed and laughed softly. She couldn't deny, Mina and Ray's incomparable bond was something that Chaeyoung too, found endearing. One way or another, the dachshund would have to accept her as Mina's girlfriend, and not an intruder - and Chaeyoung was going to make sure of that.
Crouching beside the bed, Mina lightly caressed Chaeyoung's upper arms, then tapped her cheek. "Chaeng, wake up," she said.
Chaeyoung's eyes blinked open. It was still dark out. "Leaving already?"
The girl helped her sit up, and Chaeyoung noticed that the she was all dressed up and ready to go. "Yeah," she whispered.
"I should at least say goodbye to your parents," Chaeyoung uttered, getting out of the bed. Mina sat on the bed, pushed her back, then shook her head.
"It's okay. Just stay in bed for me."
Chaeyoung gave in easily as she sank into the soft mattress. ”Call me when you get there?" she said sleepily, rubbing the latter's cheek with her thumb.
Mina smiled sweetly, and placed her hand over the girl's. "The moment we land." Her father's voice then called her name from downstairs, suggesting they should leave. "Guess I gotta go now," she sighed. The idea of leaving her girlfriend still made her a bit sad.
Chaeyoung nodded. She pulled Mina's face close, and covered it in kisses as the Japanese laughed. Kissing her lips last, she pulled back and looked at the girl under sleepy lids. "Have fun without me, Minari. But not too much," she joked.
"I'll try not to," Mina chuckled, standing up and pushing Chaeyoung to lie down. She bent down and kissed the corner of her lips. "Sweet dreams, Chaeyoungie."
Later in the morning, Chaeyoung woke up to her phone ringing. Rolling to one side, she grabbed it and put the phone to her ear. "Mina?" she said in a croaky voice.
"Oh sorry, I must've waken you up!"
"Don't worry, I would've overslept if you hadn't called." Chaeyoung yawned, "Have you guys arrived yet?"
"We're on the way to our hotel right now, actually, " Mina replied.
Chaeyoung sat up, brushing a hand through her messy hair. "I should get up."
"Yeah, you do that. I just wanted to let you know we got here. I'll call you later, okay?"
"Yes Ma'am!" Chaeyoung enthused, throwing the sheets off her body and climbing out of bed.
After saying goodbye to the girl, Chaeyoung made her way downstairs, stretching her arms above her head in the process. As she set foot into the kitchen, her phone sounded with a message from Mina. Don't forget about Ray! Have fun!
Oh right, Chaeyoung thought. Whether her girlfriend was trying to be encouraging or being sarcastic with that text, she had no clue. But it surely reminded her of what to look forward to for the next three days. Chaeyoung slowly lowered the phone, and saw the dachshund sitting in front of her.
"Trust me, I almost forgot too."
Standing on her tiptoes, Chaeyoung reached for the top shelf of the pantry. She reached for a small box of cereal. Curse her height. Why did it have to all the way up there? She walked to the refrigerator to get milk, noticing how loaded with food it was. Dozens of possible recipes ran into her mind, but still grabbed the carton of milk. A bowl of cereal would suffice for now, she could always whip something out later.
Pouring the cereal and milk into her bowl, Chaeyoung put a spoonful into . Her eyebrows raised, as she hummed approvingly. She looked at the box, then remembered that she could barely understand hiragana, or any Japanese for that matter. Whatever it was, she had to bring some back home to Korea.
As Chaeyoung continued eating, she felt someone staring at her. The girl turned her head. Ray was sitting on the chair next to her, gaze fixed on her breakfast. The dog barked so lowly, it came out as a whimper. Chaeyoung laughed. "What? Jealous?" She ignored the dog, putting another spoonful in .
Don't forget about Ray, Mina's voice echoed in her brain.
The girl's jaw stopped, mid-bite. She put down her spoon and looked at Ray once again. "Right, I'm supposed to feed you," she said, standing up and rushing into the kitchen.
She opened a few pantries and frowned. She couldn't find anything that seemed like Ray's food. A small paw nudged her calf, followed by a bark. Chaeyoung exhaled through her nose. "I know you're hungry! But I can't understand anything!" she said, gesturing to the variety of boxes written in a foreign language. She scratched her head and shrugged. "Shouldn't there be at least pictures of dogs?"
Ray tugged the bottom of the girl's sweatpants impatiently, with his teeth. Chaeyoung stumbled, attempting to keep herself from falling down, failing. She yelped, the hard floor coming in contact with her behind.
"I'm trying here!" she groaned. The dog approached the girl, his food bowl tucked between his teeth. Chaeyoung squinted, as she noticed a sticky note stuck on its groove and took it.
Hey Chaeng! Ray's food should be inside a small, blue cereal box. I put it on the top shelf so you wouldn't mistaken it for cereal, love you! xoxo
"Oh, okay," she said, jumping back on her feet. Tiptoeing, she opened the cabinet again and peeked inside. "Small, blue box...small, blue box...small, blue-"
She paused, then her feet dropped flat onto the floor. Mouth agape, she slowly turned around. Her eyes traveled across the table to her bowl of “cereal” and the box, later dropping to Ray. Finally, she came to an unpleasant realization.
"!" Chaeyoung screamed, dashing to the kitchen sink.
Ray and Chaeyoung sat in the same chairs they had been sitting on earlier, but this time, it was the girl that watched as the dog happily ate. She had lost her appetite anyway.
Chaeyoung sagged her seat and leaned her head on the table, facing the dachshund. "It tastes pretty decent, doesn't it? I'm sure other people would have made the same mistake right?" She tried to reason with herself, but it was no help. Even her own actions, though purely accidental, weirded her out. "How could I eat dog food?!" she groaned, closing her eyes.
Her eyes snapped open shortly after, when she felt the box tip over, some pieces of kibble falling out near her face. Chaeyoung scowled at the dog, "What, now you're teasing me?"
Ray leaped off his seat and walked away nimbly, leaving Chaeyoung alone to clean up. The girl sighed.
They were barely into the first of three days together. What a great start.
As soon as she finished tidying up, Chaeyoung returned to her room, deciding to take a shower. She zipped open her duffel, and pulled out some clothes. Leaving her bag open, she walked into the bathroom, stripped, and stepped under the hot running water.
'What if I took him out for another walk?' Chaeyoung thought as she rinsed the suds in her hair. Bring him to a park, let him run around for a bit, Then afterwards, buy some snacks for them to eat as they rest. That always did the trick with Nereri. Maybe by then, Ray would warm up to her. Chaeyoung grinned. She could already imagine the happiness on Mina's face.
Fully-dressed and hair wrapped in a towel, Chaeyoung walked out of the bathroom. As she did so, she felt that she had stepped on something soft. The girl pointed her gaze downwards. She had stepped on one of her t-shirts. Stooping down to get the clothing, she thought for a moment. She didn't remember pulling out extra clothes?
But when Chaeyoung walked further into the room, she froze. Her clothes were scattered all over the place!
She quickly looked over to her duffel bag, and suddenly regretted she had left it ped. She leaves for just a few moments, and this is what she gets? Removing the towel on her head, her fingers raked through her wet hair. "You've got to be kidding me."
One article after another, Chaeyoung picked up her clothes from the bedroom's floor. She looked at the clothes she had piled on the bed. They were way too little to be all she packed for two weeks. She glanced at the doorway, where even more of her clothing led out. Chaeyoung took a deep breath that puffed out her cheeks. This dog was really beginning to get on her nerves. She snatched her duffel bag, and with heavy steps, stormed out of the room.
From the hallways, the stairs, to the living room, Chaeyoung continuously picked up after Ray's doings. She ducked under one of the sofas, and reached for a pair of socks.
Ray's bark had startled her, causing her to flinch, hitting her head along the bottom of the couch before sitting on the ground, "Ow!" Hand on the back of her head, she turned around. "You better not," Chaeyoung threatened, when Ray, who was on the other side of the room, made tiny paces towards her bag. Ray stopped momentarily, almost teasingly, then bolted - doing the exact opposite. "No, no, no!" Chaeyoung lunged for the bag, hoping to beat Ray to it. Sadly, she was a tad too slow.
The brown dachshund ran away with another mouthful of clothes, Chaeyoung left dumbfounded.
After a second round of getting her belongings back, it was already lunchtime. She cheered up a bit, looking forward to cook something at last. For the past three days, it had been the Myoui’s that made all of her meals without any of her help, insisting that Chaeyoung was their “guest”. Now that the family was on the other side of the sea, she finally had the kitchen to herself.
Chaeyoung looked inside the refrigerator. She was satisfied to see the amount of food inside, taking out specific ingredients. Mina had once taught her how to cook yakimeshi, and absolutely loved it. The Japanese fried rice was a particularly easy dish to make, so Chaeyoung was sure she'd get it right.
Leaving the ingredients she gathered onto the counter, the girl set some rice to cook. As she prepared the shallots, meat, and beaten eggs, Chaeyoung smiled to herself. She and Mina would get playful most of the time they'd cook together.
"Chaeyoungie, whisk please," Mina instructed, redoing the back strings of her apron.
The younger girl passed her a clean whisk. "Thank you," she said, then peeked over to the girl’s side, "How's the frosting going?"
It was Momo's birthday that time, and Jihyo had assigned everyone food to bring for the Japanese girl's surprise party. Mina and Chaeyoung had won the favor of making their peachy friend some cupcakes.
Chaeyoung filled up a pastry bag with chocolate frosting. She tied the end of the plastic bag and laid it next to several other pastry bags that she had filled: one pink, one blue, and a white one. "All done," she said.
"That was fast," Mina remarked as she whisked the batter in the bowl in front of her. Chaeyoung was already finished with the frosting while she was only in the midst of her third batch of cupcakes. "Ah, could you pass the flour?" she asked. "And don't even think about starting a flour fight."
Chaeyoung laughed. "I wasn't going to!" she defended, pouring flour into the bowl for her girlfriend as Mina continued mixing.
"I know you, Chaeng." Mina rolled her eyes. Chaeyoung was a cheeky one, teasing her almost every chance she got.
"Is that so?" The girl booped her nose with a finger covered in the soft powder and winked. "Point taken," she said, pecking the swan's lips and walking away.
The Japanese wiped the tip of her nose with a faint smile. “Stupid."
Mina finished the last batch of batter, spread each evenly into muffin tins, then put the trays into the stove. After 15 minutes of letting them bake, she called Chaeyoung to assist her in adding the finishing touches to the cupcakes.
Chaeyoung rolled up her sleeves and took a piping bag in her hands. "At your service, M' Lady!" The latter giggled before taking one for herself and started frosting a tray.
Three trays of cupcakes frosted and ready, the couple set down their pastry bags. Mina undid her apron, tossing it to an empty counter. She washed her hands and checked the clock. "Oh, we're right on time!" Facing Chaeyoung, she continued, "We should go now—“
The taller girl touched the part of her cheek Chaeyoung had just run her fingertip over and felt something creamy. Chaeyoung looked at Mina smugly, holding back a laugh. "You didn't say anything about a frosting fight," she taunted as she took a step away from Mina.
Mina her lips. "I see how it is," she chuckled, slowly advancing towards Chaeyoung, who simultaneously backed away. "Come here, you!"
A piping bag in each of their hands, they chased after one another like children inside the kitchen. Eventually, smears of pink and blue frosting were all over the room, and their faces. Mina would definitely get a hearing from Jihyo because of this the next day. But that could be worried about some other time. Right now, she had a fight to win.
In the end, Chaeyoung had no choice but to surrender, pinned against the kitchen counter, trapped between her girlfriend's arms. She should have known better than to pick a fight with Mina, who never really liked losing.
Deftly, the girl wrapped her arms around Mina's neck. They were so close that she could smell the vanilla from the sweet cream on her lover's face. Chaeyoung leaned in, and couldn't resist a tiny, kittenish at her chin. She hummed, the frosting on her lips. "You taste especially sweet, Minari," she said coyly.
Shifting her weight, Mina pressed closer to the younger girl. Her hands fell from the kitchen top to Chaeyoung's waist. "Do I?" Mina panted, from running around the kitchen.
Leaning forward, Chaeyoung kissed her fully on the lips. Mina opened in return, with the small pressure that came from Chaeyoung's lips, tasting the vanilla and the heat of their mouths. Sweeter than any cupcake.
Mina was the first to pull back. "I win."
Chaeyoung tried to go in for another kiss, but was stopped by a hand held up to her cream-covered face. "Nuh-uh. We'll end up being late if you keep this up, tiger."
Chaeyoung spun themselves around smoothly, so that Mina was the one pressed against the counter. The latter gasped - but didn't push away. Eyes went down to Mina's glazed lips, gradually inching closer. "We won't," she said, before kissing her again.
Mina knew for a fact that they'd be late that night. But the sugar rush was worth it.
The rice cooker beeped, breaking Chaeyoung out of her trance.
She was already missing Mina.
Chaeyoung scooped a generous amount of rice into a bowl, mixing some mayonnaise, before throwing it into a seasoned pan. Later adding the eggs, meat, and green onions, she stir-fried until everything was set. She shook the dish into a bowl, and finally sat down at the table.
In the middle of her meal, she heard a whimper. Ray lay close to her, looking at her with puppy eyes. Chaeyoung had to admit that the dog looked cute then, but she wasn't falling for it. "Sorry, pal. After everything you put me through?" She shook her head, "You're sticking with your dog food."
The girl dropped to her bed, worn out. Knowing not to make the same mistake thrice, she had placed her bag, closed and zipped, on top of a dresser Ray surely wouldn't reach.
Forget about taking him out for a walk to the park, she told herself.
With a jolt, Chaeyoung woke up - she hadn't realized that had fallen asleep, and in an awkward position, at that. She figured it was because of her phone ringing again.
"Chaeyoungie~!" Mina greeted, zest evident in her tone.
"Hey babe, what's up?" Chaeyoung replied back more monotonously.
Concern replacing her enthusiasm, Mina asked, "Is something wrong?"
"Uh, well- Ray's...been a handful," the girl admitted. She shared the day's events, excluding her extraordinary breakfast, of course, as Mina listened. When she finished, the Japanese sighed through the phone.
"I guess it's far worse than I thought it would be. I'm really sorry for forcing you to take care of Ray. I'll just call obachan and let her know--"
"No, don't!" Chaeyoung cut her off. Ray was a pain in the , there's no denying that, but she wasn't going to give up that easily and let their neighbor take care of him. She had promised Mina to do it herself, and aside from that, Chaeyoung wanted to sincerely get along with Ray. "Let me take care of him, okay?"
"Are you sure, Chaengie?"
"Of course!" she answered, then decided to change the topic. "Let's not talk about that for now...How was your first day over there?"
After a tiring, first day apart from each other, catching up was indeed the best way to spend the rest of the evening.
Things were far more at peace inside the Myoui residence the next day.
Despite jitters of a traumatizing first-day, breakfast went well. Chaeyoung made zero slipups, and Ray caused zero trouble. It was progress, at the least.
Chaeyoung examined the shelves in the living room later that day, needing something to pass the time. Going out wasn't an option for her, since she could only do so much with her limited Japanese.
Different trophies and awards that belonged to the family nearly occupied an entire bookshelf. She looked at each one in awe. There were trophies of medical recognition awarded to both of her parents; academic excellence awards for Mina; and trophies from Mina's past dancing competitions.
On another shelf, photographs were neatly lined up. Several were family pictures, group photos of the nine best friends, baby Mina, and one of her and Mina hugging each other. It was a photograph of a date they had during the holidays last year. Mina had shoulder-length hair back then, while hers was a long, jet black - quite the difference to the shorter, two-tone look she had now.
Next to the frames, Chaeyoung saw a couple of stacked photo albums. She grabbed a random book and plopped onto the couch, dusting the cover.
Lucky for her, the album she had taken was full of Mina's baby pictures for the Korean to gush over. Each page proudly displayed photographs of Mina growing up, captions describing the events surrounding them. Birthdays, school activities, dance contests, and even Mina during ordinary days.
Chaeyoung was looking through photos of Mina's first ballet performance, when the couch dipped beside her. She flinched by instinct, bracing herself to be barked at or worse, bitten, but nothing happened. Ray simply lied by her side, also finding interest in Mina's pictures.
"You miss her, don't you?" Chaeyoung gazed down to the dog. Ray made a small whine in answer. The girl chuckled. "Me too."
She flipped through more pages, Mina growing older and older. And as she did, Ray's tail wagged every time she made a comment on how cute the Japanese was. For the very first time, Chaeyoung had appreciated the dog's company.
"Hey look, it's you!" she said, pointing to a picture of a young Mina holding a puppy to her chest with a huge smile. Mina’s eye smile had always been heart melting.
Ray barked blithely, as the next few pages included him as well. Chaeyoung laughed at the dog who was visibly happy. Then, to test out the waters, she carefully reached out her hand towards him. When Ray showed no intent of agressing, she laid her hand atop his head and let out a breath she didn't know she'd been holding. Smiling, she gently rubbed the dachshund's silky fur as the dog rested its head on her leg, leaning into the touch.
"You're not so bad, after all."
Next afternoon, as Chaeyoung switched through the TV channels, she pet the small dog on her lap - who quietly accompanied her. They had looked over more photo albums the previous day, and things had gotten better between them ever since. Not only could they withstand being less than a meter apart, but Ray also liked having Chaeyoung pet him, and the girl was more than happy to do so.
Chaeyoung's phone lit up on the table. Hand leaving the remote, she grabbed and opened it up to see the message.
Chaeyoung smiled. Mina had sent her a picture of herself, lying prone on a surfboard and a text that read: Spending our last day at the beach! Hope you and Ray are doing well~ Can't wait to see you tomorrow!
She put the phone back down after sending back a message and looked at Ray. "We're doing just fine, aren't we?" The dog sniffed her hand and gave it a of approval. Chaeyoung caressed his head and smiled. "Good boy."
Despite updating each other regularly through text messages and phone calls, not once did Chaeyoung mention to her girlfriend about being on good terms with her dog - only telling her that they were 'okay'. She thought she would surprise Mina instead and let her see it firsthand.
"Minari's out there surfing. We should do something fun, too," the girl yawned. She continued to look out the window. The weather was good, perfect for a walk.
Chaeyoung stood up and placed a hand on Ray's head, who also sat up. "Why don't we give that walk one more try?"
The dog went into a near frenzy when Chaeyoung attached a leash to his collar and realized that they were going out for a walk. His tail wagged so hard in excitement his whole body shook, barking several times. With Chaeyoung holding her end of the leash, the two headed out of the door. The first few minutes were of Chaeyoung taking cautious steps, nervous that Ray would storm off all of a sudden. Images of her being dragged around the neighborhood a few days back flashed in her mind. She drew in a shaky breath. Hopefully, that wouldn't be the case today.
They walked down the street, Ray trotting alongside Chaeyoung. She hadn't had the time to notice the last time they went out for a walk, since Ray had kept her more than busy, but she admired the lovely neighborhood. Ray was mindless of the slow pace Chaeyoung had absentmindedly took, glad to be outside at all - Mina was rarely home, and Mr. and Mrs. Myoui could get very busy sometimes.
Large, beautiful trees encompassed the park, casting a relaxing shade for passersby, a cool breeze seeping through the green leaves just right. Families picnicked, couples strolled, children played, and dogs ran about. Chaeyoung wasn't the only one that thought of how nice the weather was, apparently.
Chaeyoung walked Ray closer to the area where other dogs were playing, and crouched. "I'm going to let you free for a while, alright, buddy? Go and play around for a bit." At the sound of his leash detaching, the dachshund ran off to the other dogs. She watched him sprint around the grass and grinned.
Playing on her phone as she waited for Ray, a ball rolled up to her feet. She took the ball and immediately noticed Ray in front of the bench she was sitting on. "Where'd you get this?" Chaeyoung asked, tossing the ball in her hand. Ray barked, then slightly tugged on her pants, as if trying to get her to stand up. "Okay, okay, wait!" she told him. She returned her phone inside her pocket and walked to the open field, Ray following her.
Chaeyoung weighed the ball in her hand. "Ready?" Ray spun in a circle and barked, waiting for the girl to throw the ball. Chaeyoung pulled her arm back and finally hurled the ball at a safe distance, to a tree not too far away. The dog fetched the ball effortlessly, dropping it next to the girl’s foot. "It's better than playing with my clothes, right?" she laughed and picked the ball up. On her following tries, she threw the ball a bit harder each time; while Ray easily got it regardless of where it went.
Again and again, she threw the ball for the leisure of the small dachshund, until both of her arms hurt. Chaeyoung scrunched her nose. "Sorry Ray, I'm beat!"
She went down on one knee, wiggled the leash in her hand, and waved him back to her. Ray obediently sat by her side, as the girl put on the leash. "Good boy," she praised, scratching under his chin. Chaeyoung stood up and tugged the cord lightly. "Let's grab something to eat."
Cup in hand, she and Ray sat on a bench away from too much commotion and munched on roasted sweet potatoes Chaeyoung had bought from a vendor. The girl poked a small piece with a toothpick and fed it to the dog. He swallowed it so quickly, that Chaeyoung wasn't sure if he had chewed at all. She giggled and gave him another. As they got up to throw away the cup, a woman around her sixties approached them.
"Why, hello there, Ray-chan!" the lady addressed the dachshund.
When Ray realized who it was, he cowered and hid behind Chaeyoung's leg. The girl squeezed her eyebrows together, looking down. "What's the matter?" she laughed.
The woman eyed the young girl head to toe. "You must be the girl Sachiko was talking about! I was surprised when they told me that someone else would be taking care of Ray!"
'This must be their neighbor,' Chaeyoung thought. No wonder the dog had hid himself - she knew that Ray wasn’t all that too fond of the woman. Mina had also warned her of this 'obachan', but she never understood why. The old woman seemed to be kind, so what was the deal?
In her best Japanese, she answered, "I'm Chaeyoung...Mina's friend from Korea. Nice to meet you."
The old lady said nothing for an instant, just looking at her. Then suddenly-
"Kawaii!" the woman squealed, startling the Korean girl. Chaeyoung's eyes widened when the woman suddenly squished her cheeks together and cooed to the girl, going on about how “adorable” she was. The words dreadfully rang in her ears, and inevitably, in Ray's as well. The dog barked, seeing Chaeyoung in the same situation he was in whenever the Myoui’s left him with the old woman. Chaeyoung struggled to free herself from the obachan's overwhelming display of affection, but the latter refused to release the young girl.
The old lady reached in to kiss her on the cheeks. Chaeyoung screamed in her head, dodging the kiss and ducking under the woman's arms. She bowed to the old neighbor swiftly, almost tripping on her own feet. "I- I have to go! Have a good evening!" she shrieked edgily, urgently pulling Ray with her as they rushed as far as they could.
Mina had warned her, and now she knew why. In arguably the worst way.
Being cute was a blessing…and a curse.
Mina exited the cab and politely bowed to the driver, “Thank you.” She closed the door shut and went down the walkway of her home, hauling her luggage behind. Wind greeted her, hair and clothes shifting around slightly. The cool gusts were a nice change from the blazing heat of Okinawa.
Reaching into her purse, she took out her keys and opened the front door. Slowly, she pushed the door into a small crack - waiting for someone. Mina waited, but no one came. Not even a single bark. Mina opened the door completely. Still, not a soul.
“That’s strange,” Mina said. Ray would usually jump up to excitedly greet her at the door whenever she came home. Where was her welcome now?
Mina whistled lightly, thinking the small dog was just asleep, but a minute passed and Ray still wasn’t there.
Heading upstairs, she peeked inside of her bedroom. No Ray. He wasn’t in her parents’ room, either.
That left her with the one last bedroom: the guest room - where Chaeyoung stayed at. Mina’s head tilted in confusion. Why would Ray end up in there? As far as she was concerned, those two hated each other’s guts. Nevertheless, she walked to the door, and carefully opened it - as to not make a sound.
“Chaeyoungie? Ray?” she whispered, stepping inside.
There they are.
Chaeyoung held Ray tight in her arms as she slept, the dachshund’s head tucked securely on her shoulder. A soft smile played on her lips as she looked at the two, standing perfectly still. Since when did they become friends? Mina giggled.
She closed the door behind her, the click awakening Ray. His tail wagged immediately at the sight of his owner. He nuzzled Chaeyoung’s sleeping face, waking the girl up, before running out of the bed and into Mina’s arms. Mina picked him up right away and pet his head lovingly. “Now that’s the warm welcome I was waiting for,” Mina said as Ray her face.
Chaeyoung stumbled off the bed, sleep in her eyes. “Minari? I didn’t expect you until later in the day?”
“If that’s your way of saying ‘Welcome home’ and ‘I missed you,’ I’ll take it,” Mina joked.
Laughing, the girl approached her girlfriend, cupped her cheeks, and kissed her. “Welcome home, Minari. I missed you very much.”
“I missed you too,” Mina smiled.
Ray, who was still in Mina’s arms, also Chaeyoung’s face, making both girls laugh.
“Care to explain what I saw earlier?” Mina said, referring to how the girl and dog were sleeping together. She rubbed behind one of Ray’s ear. “You guys seem like good friends now.”
“We are,” Chaeyoung grinned, playfully ‘stealing’ away the dachshund from her girlfriend and hugging him close.
Chaeyoung thought about the past three days with Ray. How they went from hating each other’s guts to taking a liking for one another. All because of a dear woman they both loved.
“‘Good friends’ isn’t enough, don’t you think, Ray?” Mina looked up from the dog to her lover with a happy glint in her eyes. “How about Mommy Chaeyoung?”
"So I see that you've met the lady next-door," Mina giggled, running her fingertips on Chaeyoung's arms. Since, it was still so early in the morning, the couple decided that they'd sleep again; but they had ended up facing each other and talk instead, and fill the other in with details of their days apart.
Chaeyoung shuddered, traumatized by her experience with the old woman. "Yeah, I completely understand how Ray feels."
Mina squeezed Chaeyoung's cheeks together, the same way the girl had described what the old woman had done to her. "Like this?" she laughed, and the latter nodded, her fleshy cheeks rubbing against her palms. Mina's smile grew wider, showing her pink gums. How could she blame obachan? Her Chaeyoungie was too cute for her own good!
"And she tried to kiss you too?"
The girl's lips puckered involuntarily because of her girlfriend's hands. "I was terrified," Chaeyoung mumbled.
Mina bursted into laughter and offered another eye smile to the poor girl. She pulled Chaeyoung to her and put a sweet kiss on her lips.
Chaeyoung sighed contentedly when Mina pulled away. "A hundred times better."
Mina let go of her face, intertwining their hands. "Next time, we'll go to Okinawa together. You and I."
"Sounds like a plan," the Korean nodded. "Oh yeah, by the way, did you get me something ? I deserve a reward for the whole 'Ray' thing, you know."
The older hovered partially over Chaeyoung and smirked. She leaned down slowly before saying, "Me."
Mina pressed her lips to Chaeyoung's, different from the quick buss earlier. Chaeyoung slid her hands in Mina's brown hair and leaned in further, deepened the kiss, exploring until Mina hovered her completely on the bed. Her leg hooked around Mina's waist and pulled the older girl onto her. They continued complimenting each other with tender kisses, finally drawing back when they were out of breath.
Mina's face was flushed as she panted her next words. "I- uh, I got you a shirt, actually. And a bag. Those ones that say 'I love Okinawa'. I- I was only kidding," she stuttered, suddenly shy of what she had pulled off.
"A classic," Chaeyoung chuckled. She held the girl’s chin and made her face her way. "Thanks, but I think I'd like 'you' more."
The Japanese giggled and hit her shoulder. "Hey, Mama picked those out for you!"
", I almost forgot," Chaeyoung said, sitting up, but held onto Mina's waist so she wouldn't fall over. The last time they fooled around with them around, Chaeyoung ended up with a ripped sleeve. "Where are your parents?"
"There was an emergency at the hospital, so I took the cab alone. I'm not sure when they'll be back," Mina answered.
Chaeyoung's eyebrows raised. "Oh. It's just us?" her tone changing into a playful one.
The girl stood up, walked to the bedroom door and locked it. When she turned back to Mina, an impish smile was on her face. "What are you doing, Chaeyoungie?" Mina dared to ask.
Chaeyoung lifted her sweater above her head, tousling her short hair. Mina bit her lip. The thin undershirt did a lot of justice for her toned stomach and shapely arms.
The younger crawled onto the bed and yanked Mina's leg, pulling the girl under her.
"Claiming my reward..."
Chaeyoung put her hands on her hips. She smiled proudly at a sulky Mina sitting on the edge of the bed. "Thanks for the reward! I look great in this shirt, Minari!" Ray barked in agreement. "See, he thinks so too!”
Mina threw a pillow to her face and glared. This dumb kid just left her hanging like that. And for what? A shirt and a bag?
"Such a tease."