The next morning Momo was the first to wake up and look around to check the situation, but none of the girls had opened their eyes yet and she wasn't happy at all because she hated being alone.
In the bed next to hers were Chaeyoung and Jihyo, huddled together as if their very existence depended on that embrace, completely uncovered, so the blue-haired girl had decided to cover them with her own jacket as it was still warm.
After that act of kindness she decided to complete her work by preparing breakfast for everyone, or rather, placing the few supplies they had on the table.
"You seem particularly focused" Jeongyeon was standing behind her with her arms folded and her lips curled slightly upwards "you are kinder than I thought"
"We're in this mess because of me and the least I can do is make myself useful"
"Why do you think it's your fault?" she had almost thrown herself into a chair, still too sleepy to be able to stand for more than two minutes.
Momo did the same, squeezing her legs tightly and resting her chin on her knees "if I hadn't screamed the zombies wouldn't have discovered us and now we'd still have a house to stay in. Nayeon also has a bruise on her forehead and I know it was made to try to reach me"
The older stood still for a few seconds, slapping her on the back of the head without thinking twice "stop saying this bull and focus on your survival. Blaming yourself for something that could have happened to anyone doesn't make sense"
"You hurt me"
"Stupid people deserve these gestures and you are part of that circle" her bored look changed completely, but only for a brief second, when her friend had joined them "good morning princess"
Nayeon leaned down to kiss the cheeks of both girls sitting at the table "good morning to you, did you sleep well?"
"Not at all, those mattresses are the most uncomfortable I've ever tried in twenty years of life" Momo started massaging her shoulders, getting nervous at the futility of that gesture.
They began a conversation about the various mattresses on the market, a conversation that involved all three to entertaining them for several minutes while waiting for their companions to wake up.
Tzuyu was already feeling better and was able to walk on her own, limping occasionally because of the pain. She looked healthy and they were all relieved "why are you staring at me?" she was ready to bite into a chocolate snack.
"We are just happy to see you again like this, until yesterday you had the vitality of a dry plant" Mina was drinking the canned coffee she had found in the hospital café, sharing it with the elders of the group.
"Was that a veiled insult?"
Sana nodded immediately, rolling her eyes "ignore her, even if she's behaving way too well considering her bad temper"
"You love my personality, don't pretend to be annoyed by it" the blonde was perfectly aware of the effect that her smile could have on her girlfriend and she was definitely abusing it "you're pretty when you blush because of me"
"She's making me feel like throwing up" Momo made the gesture of putting two fingers down "go flirt somewhere else, I'm still eating"
At the far end of the table was Chaeyoung, who gave a tender and mischievous look at the one she was sitting opposite "I too want to flirt freely with you, accept my love"
Jihyo struggled not to smile "I have to think about it"
"I take it as a yes! We need to start thinking about furnishing our house and then, an important question: how many children would you like? Anything is fine with me, even an entire football team, in the end five children are not that many"
Dahyun had lost her immutable expression, giving way to one of pure despair "a football team has eleven players, you are confused with basketball"
"It doesn't matter, the important thing is that my beautiful girlfriend understands my intentions"
Breakfast went on like that, amid small talk that had been able to remove from their minds the thought of being in the midst of a zombie apocalypse.
Mina had positioned some blackboards previously used by doctors to practice with the bow, noting with joy that she hadn't lost her aim "I'm relieved, I can make myself useful" she had managed to hit perfectly every point she had gazed upon.
"Haven't you figured it out yet? You didn't miss a beat last night even though it was dark and I think it's enough to make you realize that you're one of the strongest in the group" Chaeyoung was lying on the floor smoking a cigarette.
"You too are part of it, firearms aren't easy to use" she had gone to collect all the arrows she had hit, intending not to waste even one "not to mention the courage it takes to shoot, I don't think to be able to do it"
The younger one was observing her curiously "do you think I'm strong just because I can pull a trigger? The truly noteworthy person among us is Dahyun, she risks her life every time. It's true that shooting isn't easy, but I can do it from afar and this halves the danger I'm in, while those who act physically are not sure they can do it"
"You're right, I hadn't thought of that" she sat next to her to rest a bit before shipping "can I ask you a question?"
"You just made one, but keep going"
Mina dropped her mask of harshness and sarcasm, showing herself vulnerable "if something were to happen to me.."
"I don't want to hear these speeches, shut up or I'll kick your "
"Let me finish without interrupting" she closed her lips with her fingers, looking straight into her eyes "could you protect Sana and Momo? I love them more than anything else in the world and their life absolutely must not end here, they must go home and grow up until they get old"
Chaeyoung wanted to make a tasteless joke about threesomes, but seeing the blonde's watery eyes stopped her from doing it "it's fine, as long as you do the same for Jihyo"
The relief Mina felt at that moment was immense "I'd say we have an agreement"
The minor took a knife from her pocket to make a small cut on her finger "give me your hand, I want to make a blood pact"
"You are completely out of your mind!" the closeness between them was canceled in a second.
"I was joking, I just wanted to see your reaction" she put her finger in , giggling heartily "you're hilarious"
"And you're a psychopath"
"I've been told worse, if you want to offend me I suggest you bet on something heavier"
Dahyun had entered the room without being heard with the aim of lightly hitting the head of the youngest of the group with the hilt of her sword "stop bothering her and get up, it's time to go"
The green-haired girl, perfectly aware of the gap between their abilities, immediately got up from the ground "I only listen to you because you scare me, just know it" she went off hopping to join the others.
"She praised you just now, I think you're the person she respects most of all" Mina was arranging her backpack so that she could insert the arrows.
"That's good, we can't let her do whatever comes to her mind. Shall we go too?"
"Of course" after also taking the bow the two girls joined the rest of the group at the entrance.
Their group expedition had led to excellent results: entering the abandoned houses had been a brilliant idea as they had managed to stock up on food and water, but besides that they had the opportunity to wear clean clothes.
They had also gotten some blankets that just looking at them transmitted warmth and perhaps they were happier for them than for all the rest.
"Purple looks great on you, it could become my favorite color" Chaeyoung was staring at her object of desire with admiration "beautiful, wonderful"
"You look really good in that sweater too, you almost look like an adult" they were holding hands, taking advantage of the fact that there weren't any zombies around to enjoy the walk.
A little further on there was another couple intent on exchanging fleeting glances, while last were Dahyun and Tzuyu, who were immersed in a whispered conversation.
"They are all so cute, I feel a little envious" Jeongyeon was walking with her hands in her pockets and the tip of her nose was red from the cold "I too would like to be with someone, especially in a critical moment like this"
Momo, on the other hand, seemed disgusted "too many fuss around here, I feel my teeth are bad"
"Admit you're jealous of Chaeyoung and you'll feel lighter" continued the gray-haired girl "don't look at me like that, it's clear to all of us who the person of your interest is"
"It's true that I like Jihyo, but if their match works, that's fine with me" her smile was weak, but the sincerity with which she spoke would have been obvious to anyone.
Nayeon stopped suddenly "did you hear?"
Silence fell on the group and the noise of interference reached the ears of each of them, followed by a male voice that filled the streets through the loudspeakers "Citizens, I hope you can hear me. We in the army are reaching out with you to inform you on the progress of things" he coughed before resuming speaking "the situation is critical and the zombies are out of control, therefore we are preparing to bomb the entire peninsula to permanently eliminate this menace. If you can hear this message go to one of the schools I am about to mention"
They all listened very attentively, completely still and wide-eyed with fear. Nayeon felt her heart quicken when he mentioned the school she had studied in a few years ago "I know where we can go"
"An army vehicle will come to pick you up at the points mentioned tomorrow at noon, until then, be careful when you leave your shelters: we have planted mines to start thinning out the zombies. Hold on"
The connection broke after another short interference and the girls looked at each other with a mix of hope and emotion, but that joy was swept away in a single second by Chaeyoung, who looked terribly tense.
"I had a doubt and that's why I stopped before the announcement, but hearing the words of the army chief I'm sure I'm stepping on a mine"
"I don't think it's the time to start joking" Mina wanted to slap her, but the fear in the younger girl's gaze prevented her from doing so "you're not lying"
Chaeyoung's hands were shaking uncontrollably "get away as far as possible, we don't know how much explosive is in these mines. It's not safe to stay close to me because if I move my foot, even a little, this thing will explode"
"Let's look for something to put in your place" Jeongyeon was already looking around, intending to resolve the situation as soon as possible.
"It is something that cannot be done, it would be a group suicide" Dahyun seemed to be the only one who understood the seriousness of the situation and even she had lost her impassiveness.
"At least it was fun living with you, I hope you won't forget me" the green-haired girl was smiling sincerely even though her cheeks were streaked with tears "I've never felt at home in my life, but these days spent together with You guys made me realize what it's like to have a family. All I ask is that you give me a hug before you leave so I can take your warmth with me"
Despite the desire to scream and break everything, they fulfilled her desire, embracing her one at a time with such an intensity that they broke each of their hearts. The only one who hadn't approached was Jihyo, who couldn't do anything else but look at the one who would soon blow herself up.
"You don't greet me?" Chaeyoung was really trying to look happy "I promise not to touch your , even if it's so beautiful it has a language of its own"
"Look, what an imbecile" Sana was hidden behind Mina so as not to show how much she was crying, even though Tzuyu could see her very well and was letting herself go as much as she was.
Another completely destroyed was Nayeon: she felt terribly guilty even though she didn't have any faults. Inwardly she kept turning against herself, telling she was a failure. At that moment, however, she was pretending not to be in total conflict with herself, devoting all of her attention to the scene before her.
Jihyo had finally decided to approach the youngest, but instead of hugging her she was giving her a kiss on her lips, just what Chaeyoung had asked since their first meeting.
"Now I can leave without any regrets, thank you for everything" during the embrace who had given her, Chaeyoung's gaze sought Mina's to remind her of their promise, but it wasn't her who pushed Jihyo away from her.
Momo had her arms around the brunette's waist "we have to go, zombies are coming too" her tone of voice was very low, but she was crying too "don't make things even harder for Chae, you owe her"
"I want to stay with her, you go away!" she didn't want to let go and at that point the other two Japanese had to intervene to drag her away.
Nayeon was the last to walk away, having done so after kissing Chaeyoung's forehead "I'm so proud of you, my baby" she knew about that little girl's past and was willing to lighten that bad moment as much as possible.
The younger one smiled again, feeling like a little girl and having the image of the one who had given birth to her instead of the one of the adult who was caressing her cheeks "thank you mum, I always wanted to hear you say that"
Once far enough away to barely see them she screamed like she had never screamed in her life, continuing to do so until the zombies had surrounded her "it's time to make some noise"
With that she took her foot off the mine, causing an explosion that was heard several blocks away.