Seeing the quiet, scary, and cold Kim Chaewon smiling like a fool on lunch was actually quite a common occurrence now. A common occurrence that Kang Hyewon only knew about it now, as the result of finally been freed of the endless torture everyone called monthly project.
Hyewon nudged the woman beside her, being Choi Yena—the quiet, scary, and cold Kim Chaewon’s seatmate. Not quite seatmate per se, as the college desk was long and there were actually more than four if Hyewon ever bothered counting—not important; what she meant was that Yena always sat next to Chaewon for whatever reason she couldn’t fathom.
Don’t get her wrong, Chaewon wasn’t a bad company. Nor scary because she reeked of death or something along the line. She was just decent but—simply unapproachable. Like she was oozing a certain menacing aura.
It was actually quite strange as the girl was nothing but polite to everyone, but Hyewon had to admit—her side-glance was scarier than the pitch-black ghost with red eyes living in her previous dorm. Furthermore, Chaewon was quiet compared to the savages in their class and stayed out from any shenanigans most of the time if Yena didn’t directly involve her, so she was dubbed as the “Quiet, Scary, and Cold” one of the class.
Back then, Hyewon had to collect her 100 seconds of bravery to approach Chaewon, and she always thought that it was a mere lucky chance Chaewon responded positively and even was willing to share her food. Hyewon thought she had achieved the greatest milestone ever until she discovered that Chaewon did that to everyone who dared to even approach her.
Really, behind the unapproachable scary exterior lived a kitten with a soft heart.
But never told anyone Hyewon thought Chaewon like that or suffer the consequences.
But enough of that! Hyewon nudged Yena again, who seemingly is still drowning in a sea of Jo Yuri’s hypnotizing chocolate eyes. Hyewon couldn’t blame her for simping. Yuri is pretty and a great woman to boot. Yena is lucky.
“Ya, Choi Yena. Stop simping.”
Yena, snapping out from her trance with another sharp nudge of her ribs, quickly whipped her head in the direction of the poker-faced woman. She pursed her lips, her eyebrows knitting together to make a frown. “I wasn’t simping.”
Hyewon made a face. “So you weren't," she drawled, raising an eyebrow up.
“I wasn’t, am not.”
“She wasn’t,” Lee Chaeyeon, another member of their group, confirmed. She put her hand on top of her chest theatrically, exaggerating a sob as if she had just witnessed a beautiful romantic drama unfolding before her very eyes. “Truly, Hyewon-unnie. Yena unnie was having a conversation with Yuri until you interrupted them. Dare I say, the conversation was romantic. It's not simping if it's a mutual understanding. I think.”
Yuri nodded, beaming her a smile. “Thank you for having our back.”
Chaeyeon shoved her open palm to Yuri. “It’s not free.”
Hyewon snorted, dutifully ignoring how Yuri placed real money to Chaeyeon’s palm and not at all looked that she minded being robbed. “You guys weren’t even spitting words from your mouth.”
“Us staring into each other’s eyes is enough,” Yena sagely answered, smiling so widely and foolishly it took Hyewon all of herself to Not punch her in the face. “Isn’t that right baby?”
“Suddenly I miss the times where both of you hate each other’s gut.” Hyewon shook her head. “Not the point. Yena, fill me up on what’s happening with Chaewon.”
“Bro, she’s right in front of you. Ask her yourself.”
Chaewon looked up, sparing Hyewon a glance before going back to her phone. And continued to smile like a fool.
It was kind of creepy.
“She’s lost in her own world,” Hyewon said with a roll of her eyes. “Have you ever seen Chaewon looking like that when I texted her or you texted her? Never.”
Quite surprisingly, that invited Chaewon’s attention almost immediately.
Chaewon arched an eyebrow up, giving Hyewon her signature ‘are you kidding me’ gesture before opening . “It’s because you’re not there to see me respond. What’s the point of texting if we’re right in front of each other?”
Chaewon put her phone up—Hyewon could briefly see large emojis on the chat screen before the screen turned black—and swayed from side to side. “This particular electrical device, this sophisticated technology, this expensive gadget I bought with my own money—is created for the sole purpose of engaging in a long-distance conversation.” She stared icily at Hyewon, or rather the distance between her and Hyewon. “And unless you think less than 1 meter is considered as long distance...”
Hyewon immediately threw her hands up.
Chaewon smirked victoriously.
It’s a girl, was what Hyewon discovered accidentally after she did the greatest mistake of calling this mysterious person a boy.
Chaewon had the look of utmost disgust, her fist was already half-way flying down to hit her cheek before she pulled it back down and rubbed her chest tenderly with the same, furious fist. She took a great heave of breath before she calmed down—and regarded Hyewon with an unmistakable look that wanted to kill.
Perhaps Chaewon thought that hitting Hyewon and risking herself getting jailed wasn’t worth it. She couldn’t message her mysterious person in jail, could she? Sure she could pull some strings since she is rich rich—but is it worth it? Hyewon for sure Chaewon thought NOT.
“It’s a she,” Chaewon spoke up in a strangely, eerily, entirely traumatizing calm voice. “I’ve been texting a girl. She’s a girl. Last time I’ve checked, she has long brown hair, insanely amazing chocolate brown eyes, and her body is just flowing with femininity.”
Chaeyeon whistled. “Is that another word for great s?”
“Flowing with femininity,” Chaewon harshly intoned, her eyebrows twitching and it all what it takes for Chaeyeon to mime on knitting her lips together and just stopped talking.
“I asked if it’s a boy or a girl,” Hyewon raised an eyebrow, inching away unconsciously. “I never asked for a short essay about how gorgeous your girl is.”
Chaewon was quick to reel back, looking as if she was surprised at the accusation rather than the sassy remark leaving Hyewon’s lips. “Oh she’s not my girl,” she said haltingly, deliberately rolling her tongue so slowly as she spoke, as if she was unwilling to admit that particular fact.
The reaction was imminent. Hyewon choked out a confused “What?”, her eyes were wide in surprise and it felt like her world had crumbled down just because of that one (1) shocking confession.
Hyewon watched, stupefied, when Chaewon placed her phone on top of the table, its screen facing up to show a picture of a cute girl posing together with the most gorgeous girl Hyewon had ever seen.
She dumbly looked up, tilting her head to the side as she observed Chaewon’s reaction.
“She’s not my girl,” Chaewon repeated, her voice sounding strangely emotionless and distant.
The Look on Chaewon’s face when Yena started to pester her with questions about this girl was a bit wrenching for Hyewon. But it wasn’t like Chaewon going to hide that information forever. Not quite. Chaewon would tell Yena everything sooner or later without needing any trigger or rather, just by simple questions. Meanwhile, Hyewon liked to gamble with her own life and push Chaewon’s buttons until Chaewon blew a fuse and told her everything.
Chaeyeon? She discovered things herself.
So yes, to have Chaewon hiding things from Yena was hurtful for the duck. But at least Chaewon would willingly tell her from A to Z after a particularly annoying kicked puppy (duck?) face.
Favoritism. The world was never fair and only now Hyewon had to begrudgingly accept that.
“You’ve been texting a taken girl this whole time?” Yena pointed out accusingly after Chaewon relented and basically told her everything, except the girl’s true identity for reason understandable. But no matter, they had Chaeyeon. “Chaewon-ah, I raised you better than this.”
Chaewon’s eye twitched. “You didn’t raise me.”
“Eunbi unnie raised you.”
“Exactly. Not you.”
“It was a joint effort,” Yena said matter-of-factly. “Our Kwangbae too. Chaeyeon too! We helped you grow to become a slightly approachable person since the start of the semester.”
“That,” Chaewon frowned. “I can’t deny.”
Hyewon raised an imaginary scoreboard. “Point for Choi Yena.”
“What’s the current score?” Chaewon asked dryly.
“Over a hundred for you, and seventeen for Yena,” Chaeyeon answered randomly. “Going back to the topic, you know you’re chatting so passionately with a taken girl is highly concerning.”
“Heartbreak is imminent,” Yena quipped, nodding sagely before Chaewon could stop her. “Or if everything goes well to you, you won’t and can’t escape that regret of being one of the reasons she might break up with her current love to be with you.”
“I don’t chat passionately with her,” Chaewon choked out, cocking an eyebrow up in disbelief at the baseless accusation. “And I only said she’s not my girl. That doesn’t mean I’m romantically interested in her in any way possible and is about to snatch her away from her girlfriend.”
“You acted like Bobo the Fool every time this girl chatted you.”
“It happens that I like the way she types and how she has an endless stock of memes.” Chaewon shrugged her shoulders, swatting Yena’s pointing hand off her face. “She’s witty with her replies. I can’t compare the fun I get from reading her long replies with your short, full of typos, replies.”
Yena’s eyes grew wide. She coiled back, clenching her chest. “This is a hate speech against my cream bun fingers!”
Chaeyeon blinked innocently at her. “She never said anything about your cream bun fingers.”
“It was implied,” Yena insisted, glaring heatedly toward Chaeyeon, then pointed her finger accusingly to Chaewon. “Besides, you typed like you don’t care either! It’s only fair if I return that to you!”
“It’s impossible for me to not care for her,” Chaewon smirked. “If you’re in my place, I can guarantee that you’ll simp for her.”
“So you admitted that you’re a simp for her!”
“I certainly did not!”
Hyewon put her chin on her hand, sighing as she tuned out the two’s endless bickering. She silently stared at the black screen of Chaewon’s phone. She held a flinch as the image of that gorgeous girl flashed in her mind.
Chaewon was right. If Hyewon was Chaewon, she would definitely simp.
She would still definitely simp even when Chaewon’s Mysterious Girl was not the gorgeous girl in the picture.
It turned out the Mysterious Girl was the cute one. Rosy plump cheeks and cute bunny teeth—and overall adorable face that made Hyewon felt a flutter in her stomach whenever she saw her.
Her name was Hitomi. She was Chaewon’s junior from her high school days.
They happened to meet her by chance, when they were brainstorming ideas on a foodcourt the group loved to visit. It was cute how the usually quiet and resting faced Chaewon immediately turned to become the most smiley human Hyewon had ever met when this adorable sunshine approached their table.
Yena tried her best to hold her snicker, she really did, but you really couldn’t blame her for losing control every once and then with how out of character Chaewon was being around Hitomi. If it bothered the younger girl, Hitomi certainly didn’t show it—rather, she felt like the blonde-haired Japanese was a bit encouraged by the interested look they were giving her and thus—acted extra cute around Chaewon.
It was as if Chaewon had implanted some kind of an image in Hitomi and she was determined to keep it that way even though her hands were already thirsty for Hyewon’s, Chaeyeon’s, and most definitely Yena’s blood.
They were genuinely impressed.
Is this the power of love? Hyewon had wondered.
They were even more impressed that once Hitomi walked away, the only thing Chaewon did to express her annoyance to her friends was a severe glare, followed by a loud, resounding smack that managed to land on Yena’s shoulder.
Yena thought this was unfair. But really, she was the one who couldn’t hold herself from laughing.
“I thought she’s just an internet friend,” said Hyewon suddenly to tune out Yena’s protests.
“I never knew you actually knew her in real life.”
“You never really ask.”
Hyewon shrugged. “We know you won’t answer.”
“Because really, you should direct that certain enthusiasm to your studies, not my private and non-existent love affair,” Chaewon rolled her eyes. “She and I are just friends.”
“Yuri and Yena basically told everyone that they were enemies and look what happen now? They’re basically married now.”
“Y-Yah, I’m haven’t had the courage—“
“Gather up that courage,” Chaeyeon suggested kindly, patting Yena’s slumped back with her usual brand of encouraging pats. “Of course, after you’re done with college and are financially stable.”
Just when Chaewon thought the topic about her is over, Chaeyeon steered back the conversation with a beam of a smile. “Basically, we’re having doubts over your statement.”
Chaewon snorted, crossing her arms on top of her chest as she haughtily rolled her eyes around. “I don’t care. I’m the one who is talking with her. You guys know nothing.”
“I’m still convinced that you like her more than just friends.”
“If according to your understanding how I’m keeping touch with her is all based because I am romantically interested in her, then you, Kang Hyewon, are on the wrong side here.” Chaewon’s hands flew over to her temples, massaging the throbs in circles. Her shrill voice immediately dropped into a calmer tone, yet it was as severe as her previous sentence. “What part of just friends you don’t understand? Our relationship is—platonic.”
Silent. Neither of them said anything. Hyewon tried to say something, but she knew better than to yap and could risk herself dying with Chaewon snapping her neck or something along that lines.
Okay, those thin wrists couldn’t do but what if Chaewon summoned a Hulk-like strength so suddenly? Hyewon surely wouldn’t flirt with death.
“There is nothing going between us,” Chaewon heaved a long sigh at their silence, as if she was determined to ingrain that fact on her friends’ mind. “Don’t put ideas in my head. Hitomi and I are strictly friends and nothing more.”
They chose to keep their silence even after a goofy, love-sick, simping smile graced her feature as she opened her chat with Hitomi.
The three collectively snorted.
Of course, it was all platonic. Of course.
“Where are you going?”
“This is outside,” Yena gestured. “Specifically, where are you going?”
“Oo~” Hyewon grinned. “Hitomi?”
The heated glare was the only confirmation they needed.
Chaewon tapped her foot impatiently to the wooden floor, every second passing by the clock felt like an eternity. She glanced toward her wristwatch, biting her lips whenever the blasted thing showed that no, Kim Chaewon, it’s not yet time. Hitomi usually arrived 30 minutes before their appointment time, and it was still 40 minutes before the said time.
But Hitomi never disappoints, Chaewon thought. Because the bell on top of the door chimed merrily as a familiar figure entered this cafe—to which Chaewon immediately recognize as Honda Hitomi, her companion for today.
“Hitomi,” Chaewon smiled. “You’re early as always.”
“And it’s so unlike you to be here before appointment time?” Hitomi grinned good-naturedly, welcoming Chaewon’s embrace with open arms, laughing when Chaewon lightly hit her shoulder. She looked up to marvel at Chaewon’s long dark hair, arching an eyebrow up curiously. “I thought you’re going to stay short-haired...?”
The older female her extensions fondly, cooing as her fingers thread along the silky black hair. “I wanted to, but Michelle is charming in its own way.” Chaewon held herself from laughing out loud at Hitomi’s disgusted expression. “How are you? I noticed you’re not putting Minjoo’s picture anymore. Did you break up with her?” Chaewon widened her eyes. “, that was insensitive. Hitoma, I’m so—“
Chaewon expected an annoyed hiss following Hitomi’s disbelieving mutter of what, but instead, what followed the question was a rather confused, “...Breaking up?”
All gears on Chaewon’s brain suddenly stopped working. “Uh... yes?”
“Unnie,” Hitomi began cautiously. She had her fingers crossed on top of the table, her inquisitive eyes gazing straight to Chaewon’s confused eyes. “Where did you get this idea of me dating her?” She asked curiously. She didn’t even try to hide her surprise and slight amusement in her question.
Hitomi giggled a little when Chaewon sputtered, hastily turning her face away with a reddening face. She waited patiently until Chaewon relented, sighing when she told her. “Matching profile picture and you said that you went on a date with her.”
“Oh.” Hitomi blinked. “I did say that,” She hurriedly added, her hand quickly reaching forward to grasp Chaewon’s knuckles. Her soft, childlike voice suddenly dropped into a much softer tone, something akin to an angel with how soft it sounded on Chaewon’s ears. “But unnie, there’s nothing romantic going on with me and her.”
Chaewon wondered why there was this huge amount of relief washing over her. Perhaps it was the assurance on Hitomi’s voice, or it was the warmth surging through her from the gentle grasp around her knuckle.
Chaewon didn’t know. She just felt relieved and that’s that.
“So you’re still single?”
Honestly, Chaewon didn’t know where did it come from.
But it made Hitomi smile, so it was a win?
“I am,” the younger girl smiled, slowly retracting her hand from Chaewon’s own. She didn’t realize the soft disappointed sigh escaping Chaewon’s lips at the loss of contact.
“I mean,” Hitomi cleared , chuckling. “I couldn’t be taken if you’re single yourself, could I?”
Holy , Chaewon echoed in her mind.
What did she mean by that?!
“You look happy?”
Chaeyeon didn’t mean to hazard her statement like that, but alas. She had an inkling Chaewon would take offense either way.
“Am I not allowed to?”
Chaeyeon jumped back, her hands were up in the air at a moment's notice. She momentarily forgot that a smiling, happy, skipping Kim Chaewon is still as dangerous as resting face Kim Chaewon.
Blame the sparkles and rainbows around Chaewon. One might falsely think Chaewon is as harmless as Yena when Chaewon, according to rumors, can even kill with her stares.
“I never said that,” Chaeyeon defended herself immediately, jumping ahead until she fell back into pace with Chaewon’s skipping. “But you’re going to trip yourself if you skip like that.”
Chaewon immediately stopped her skipping, changing it to her usual normal walk (while still bouncing on her steps). The smile and happy aura around her didn’t dissipate, though. Chaeyeon didn’t know if it’s for the better or the worse.
“I don’t skip on my steps,” Chaewon denied, though Chaeyeon knew Chaewon was lying through her teeth with how the tip of her ears reddening as she spoke. “You’re hallucinating.”
Chaeyeon knew better than to argue. Chaewon usually acted like she was a docile cub whenever she talked to Chaeyeon, but there were times when Chaewon would be an aggressive tiger ready to maul on her.
Chaeyeon didn’t want that to happen, no sir.
“Yes, I’m hallucinating.” Chaeyeon smiled, relenting, but it felt like it was Chaewon who actually felt defeated. “But you look so happy it made me curious. Something happened on the date?”
“Nothing really happened,” Chaewon snapped, slamming her belongings down to the desk and spared another glare to the older female, unaware her words were the cause of Chaeyeon’s growing grin.
Good, Chaewon isn’t denying that it’s a date!
“Beg to differ,” Chaeyeon told her as she slid down to sit next to Chaewon, claiming Yena’s usual spot. “Come on, you can tell me! I promise I won’t tell anyone!”
“Fine,” Chaewon relented, sighing. She didn’t see Chaeyeon’s little victory pose. “I honestly don’t know why am I feeling this way. Someone’s told me s-they’re actually single and not dating anyone and I’m somehow—“
“—Relieved,” Chaeyeon finished it for her, grinning broadly. “Am I right or am I right?”
Chaewon groaned, exasperated. “You’re right.”
“Marvelous!” The older Chae clapped, genuinely happy. “You like h-them!”
“N-No!” Chaewon halted. “T-That’s impo—well, not entirely impossible but I highly doubt that!”
“Think about it this way,” Chaeyeon tried again, her grin thinning off to form a knowing smirk. “You’re happy whenever you see their message. You have this goofy little smile whenever you typed in your answer. And you’re bouncing on your steps when you know they’re single! What else it is other than you like her back?”
“Y—You know who I was talking about, don’t you?!” Chaewon pointed accusingly at the older female, her eyes immediately narrowing to slits so menacing Chaeyeon had to back away until she was at a safe distance.
“Never said I don’t,” Chaeyeon said with a burst of nervous laughter. “But try this out. Does Hitomi make you lay awake at night?”
Chaewon didn’t really know what made her had trouble falling asleep even after the clock struck 12 AM. She was someone who could sleep anywhere and everywhere easily, so why was it so hard for her to sleep now?
She reached to her phone, surprised as her phone flashed, showing an incoming call from Hitomi. It was rare for the younger female to be awake after midnight, even after being a college student herself.
Chaewon didn’t waste any time answering that call.
“Unnie,” she heard Hitomi’s groggy voice. “You’re not asleep?”
“I’m answering your call, aren’t I?”
She heard Hitomi made a snorting sound before she giggled. She giggled too, imagining Hitomi rolling her eyes as she snorts while rousing herself to sit, leaning on the headboard with that soft smile on her face.
She imagined that because she was doing it. Also because she had seen her doing that on sleepovers plenty of times, years ago.
“You could have been sleeptalking for all we know,” Hitomi remarked. “It’s not the first time.”
“I’ll pretend that I don’t know what you are talking about,” Chaewon replied silkily, grinning ear to ear. “But Hitoma, why aren’t you asleep? This is your bedtime already.”
“I wanted to call you all of the sudden,” Hitomi blurted out, unaware her honest thought made Chaewon’s heart leap, surprising the older female greatly. “I think it’s because I can sleep better after I hear your voice.”
“Yah,” Chaewon chuckled nervously, suddenly feeling shy at Hitomi’s words. “You really need to stop eating so many corndogs. You’re really accumulating grease!”
“How dare you,” Hitomi said strongly, but was cut off by her own yawn. “Oh my God, that was such a perfect timing. See, I’m already getting so calmed down after hearing your voice, unnie.”
“Are you sure it’s not because I’m boring?”
“You really aren’t!” Hitomi gasped, and Chaewon laughed at the image of the blonde girl putting her palm over her heart, feigning hurt. “Unnie, I love you! Of course I don’t find you boring!”
“What was that?” Chaewon joked, trying to hide her nervousness she suddenly felt with an awkward set of chuckles. Did she hear that right? Honda Hitomi saying I love you? “I can’t hear you.”
Hitomi groaned before she sighed in defeat. “Forget my words or I'm disowning you.”
“What's the spell for memory erasure again? Oh, Alohomora!"
"It's' Obliviate, idiot."
“I think you should go to sleep now, Hitoma.”
"Are you saying that you want me to go—" The girl on the other line yawned. “Nevermind. Yeah, I think I should. Sorry to cut this conversation short, unnie.”
“It’s alright,” Chaewon smiled, despite knowing the other girl couldn’t see her. “You’ll need sleep more than you need me.”
“That’s—uh, I’m not sure if it’s true or not.”
“But the moon is beautiful tonight!” Hitomi suddenly said, huffing. “I want to spend tonight with you but alas, we are separated by quite a distance.”
“Are you saying you want me there?”
There was a long pause. Chaewon quickly grew nervous, as it was rare of her to be greasy in Hitomi’s presence. Greasy was not Chaewon and Chaewon was not greasy. At all. Even it was joking, Chaewon never tried to be greasy. It was just not in her blood to do so.
All in all, she was afraid that Hitomi would think less of her.
But then, for some curious reason, Hitomi laughed.
With an equally teasing voice, she returned the question.
Their phone call wasn’t that long compared to how girls usually had phone calls, but it was quite long considering it was still over an hour. She wondered if the phone call wasn’t made at night, at the time where they were supposed to sleep.
Does Hitomi make you lay awake at night?
She did, for an entirely different reason. Hitomi called her and that would require her to be awake, right?
Chaewon inhaled deeply.
“Lee Chaeyeon you .”
Lee Chaeyeon was never a night owl—because she is tired and awake 24/7—but tonight she was especially energized and there was something in the air that made her forget her tiredness after being awake for nearly 48 hours straight.
Okay, she did sleep, only for 8 minutes. Not consecutively, but she could still see things fine! Everything was still blurry as ever without her glasses but really, she could still see.
She was curious for the whole night until her phone violently vibrated on her desk.
From: MY FRIENDS ARE IDIOTS, IDIOTS!
To: needs new glasses
I hate you
The Lee Household shook with a burst of uproarious laughter coming from the room their eldest daughter resided in.
Chaeyeon wiped the tear on her eyes as she rode out her from the wave of euphoria.
From: needs new glasses
To: MY FRIENDS ARE IDIOTS, IDIOTS!
You’re welcome <3
Ah, it was simply love in the air.