Jihyo's desire to interact with someone other than her TV was well below zero and this was underlined by the noise made by her slippers rubbing against the floor. Still, she didn't like making people wait outside the door of her cozy little apartment, so she hurried to open it.
Her heart did countless somersaults, accompanied by stunts she didn't even know the names, as she saw the invader of all her thoughts.
Nayeon had bought her pizza, intending to have lunch with her and sort out all the loose ends "may I come in?"
"Is there any ex of yours in tow? Because in that case I'd rather not eat at all" she had spoken in a detached tone of voice, even sounding almost sarcastic.
"Jih, please" the way she looked at her conveyed a deep sadness "can we at least talk about it? If you don't feel like having lunch with me I'll only steal a few minutes from you"
"Fine, but I have nothing to drink except water" she stepped aside to let her in, following her into the kitchen after closing the front door.
The silence that had taken hold of them was weighing on both their chests, but neither felt she had enough courage to start the conversation that could have ended their friendship.
They had almost finished eating when Nayeon decided to let out the voice "how are you?"
"Are you telling the truth or is this just a way to shut me up?"
Jihyo managed to muster all of her courage to look into her eyes "what would you like to hear?"
"Nothing in particular, I just want to know that you're okay and talk about what happened that night" she leaned forward to take her hand, resigning herself to having to just squeeze the air "to begin with I wanted to apologize in Sally's place, I made an incredible outburst at her and I hope she understood the seriousness of her actions"
"You don't have to apologize if others are misbehaving, especially if we're talking about your ex"
"The fact is that it comes naturally to me, that's also why I let myself get angry and I told her everything I thought"
The brunette had stopped eating, leaving a couple of slices of pizza abandoned on her plate "you still act like you're her girlfriend, but at this point I guess you haven't noticed"
Nayeon's gaze conveyed a genuine astonishment "Are you serious? Yet I have worked hard to maintain the necessary detachment"
"You never told her to stop talking about you two, supporting her in her stories and even allowing her to hold your hand. Plus, even if this is not to blame, you felt the urge to apologize to me for the things that she did" she got up from the chair to stretch her legs, which at that moment seemed heavy as boulders "I really appreciate your attempt to make me feel better, but in doing so you are only slamming the truth in my face"
"If you think I'm still in love with Sally you're very wrong and I have no problem repeating it over and over" she too stood up, still keeping a safe distance from the other girl "and if you think I want to go back to her to resume the habits that I had to eliminate I have to tell you again that you are wrong"
"So tell me what's stopping you and I'll immediately stop thinking about these things"
A battle of looks had begun between both: one wanted answers, the other didn't know what to say. Confusion reigned due to the jumble of feelings that were exchanging through their eyes, yet Jihyo couldn't find what she was looking for.
"I shouldn't have hoped and put an extra weight on your shoulders, I'm sorry" she stopped looking at the person she fell in love with, lowering her head forward so as not to show the tears she was shedding "thank you for coming here to apologize, now everything is solved"
Nayeon had finally decided to take her hands "Jih, you know that I really care about you and that I don't want to lose you. If you can't even look me in the face how are we going to keep being friends?"
"You can rest easy because our friendship is still intact, I'm just tired and prone to crying" she had smiled despite her heart having sunk into a black hole, continuing to do so until she was left alone.
She had thrown herself on her knees, her forehead pressed to the floor and her hands on her face to hold back more tears "why can't you understand?"
That morning Dahyun had woken up in a good mood and, according to her, she had been kissed by luck during the night: her parents had had breakfast with her, she hadn't had to wait for the bus as it had arrived right on time and, the icing on the cake, she had found an old acquaintance.
The thing that made her smile was, in addition to the surprise of being able to talk to a friend she cared about very much during elementary school, that this girl was keeping her company during the excursion, not letting her feel the absence of Sana and Jihyo.
"Why did you come back to Korea? I remember your parents jumping through hoops for you to move to Texas"
Haeun, never losing her perfect smile, had told her how the lack of feeling at home had overwhelmed those who had given birth to her "it was sudden and even a little scary, but I got used to living here again and now I'm even hiking with a dear friend"
They had spent a good half hour chatting and getting to know each other again, talking about this and that and enjoying each other's company. They even exchanged phone numbers, eager to start over.
"I remember you had a huge crush on an American actress as a kid, is that still the case?"
Dahyun blushed remembering the ridiculous way she used to talk about a woman whose name she couldn't even remember "I completely forgot about it, but I have to admit that I haven't lost the habit of desiring unattainable people"
The other girl was running her fingers through her hair to undo some knots that had formed during the morning, carefully observing the person in front of her "they broke your heart, didn't they?"
"Is it that obvious?" she took a huge bite out of her sandwich intending to waste time chewing.
"It's not, but if you talk with a sad look and a nostalgic smile it's easy to understand"
"I can say that it was also my fault, even if I was a little tipsy I have no excuses for what I did" she no longer wanted to eat, but the thought of Sana's scolding had encouraged her at least to finish what she had in the hands "and you? Are you in a relationship?"
"I'm free as air, I like to have fun responsibly" her gaze had changed, there was malice added to kindness "in case you need to relax for a few hours, just ask, I've always had a soft spot for you"
Those words made a purple Dahyun choke on the bite, causing Haeun to approach her and lightly pat her on the back.
They didn't talk about that topic anymore, limiting themselves to small talk that could entertain them properly during the journey they were doing.
"Dahyun, come and see these beautiful flowers!" she had ducked carefully to avoid falling into what looked like a painful mass of rocks and branches "I want to try and get one"
"It's better not, the ground may not hold. Let's go back to the middle of the road"
"It will take a moment, I can't let a flower as rare as it is beautiful escape" Haeun was holding on to a branch with one hand, while with the other she leaned forward to be able to reach the object of her desires.
She made it, cheering as her fingers closed on the stem and reeling from her excitement. The ground under her shoes had begun to give way and it only took half a second before she lost her balance.
Dahyun had rushed to grab her, holding her steady with the strength of desperation, but their difference in height was giving her weak arms a hard time "try to get back, climb. I don't know how long I'll be able to resist"
They called for help in weak voices, too panicked to be able to scream, until even Dahyun's legs gave up. The fall was rapid for the two girls, as had been the total darkness that had enveloped them. Luck had chosen to look elsewhere, letting the rescue take care of them.
Tzuyu was lying on her stomach on her bed, busy with her evening Switch gaming session. She hadn't done much that day, other than her countless attempts to tidy up her room, and she was feeling a little down.
She was about to throw the console after losing yet another game, finding herself almost crushed by the weight of another body "little monster, I bought you that thing and I'd be very sorry to see it on the floor in a thousand pieces"
"You're right, since I'm not working I don't realize the value of money" she decided to place the object, with great caution, on the bedside table "what do you want instead? It's rare to see you in affectionate attitudes"
Sally had even kissed her head "even the meanest hearts need love once in a while"
"So you realize you've been acting like an immature ?" she loved that side of her sister, so much that she closed her eyes to enjoy every single moment.
"Let's say yes, even if I expect some other reproach that can give me the coup de grace" she was hugging her, being careful not to weigh too much on her back "Tzu.. Do you care about me?"
The younger girl had turned in the embrace to lie down on her stomach and to look at her sister. She could have made some jokes or answered her meanly, yet she hadn't felt at all like being the cause of more sadness.
She decided to gently caress her face, looking into her eyes to reveal all her sincerity "I care a lot about you, you're my sister"
"Even though I neglected you and destroyed our family?"
"Nayeon's absence makes me suffer and I won't say otherwise, but as long as you're here my family is all here. You have your flaws, everyone has, but I could never hate a person who rolled up their sleeves instead of our parents to make me grow up in the best way"
The love Sally felt for her sister was pouring on the younger one with the same intensity of a waterfall "I'm so glad you're not like me and those two s, it's a relief" her eyes were shining and her hands were shaking "you are my exception, you are the only person I would die for because I know it would be worth it"
"Don't be tragic, I'd rather put up with you alive"
"It was an example"
"Next time keep it to yourself" she had stuck out her tongue, before cuddling up to her as she used to do when she was a little girl "do you sleep with me? I miss being hugged"
The blonde was trying very hard not to start sobbing "promise you won't kick me out of bed when you wake up"
"I promise you" she was crying silently, thrilled that she could feel the affection she so missed receiving.
That night every negative thing that dominated their lives disappeared and there was nothing else besides their unusual and special bond. They both needed to feel safe, to feel loved unconditionally and regardless of anything else.
And so they did, they slept in each other's arms until a phone call had awakened them from that deep sleep without nightmares. Tzuyu would not have kept her lucidity if it hadn't been for the comfort of Sally, who had hurried to get the car keys to accompany her sister and Sharon to the hospital.