Jimin ended up offering Aeri her own bottle of beer since she had been deprived of her own buzz the whole night. It felt nice. Sharing laughter and just talking with Aeri like old times. Of course now, with the addition of being old enough to drink alcohol together, it felt even better.
“So tell me about you. What’s been going on with your life?” Aeri asks, taking a swig of her beer.
Jimin shrugs, “um… not much I can think of. I became one of the youngest cardiothoracic surgical attending’s in the country.”
Aeri scoffs, “what a humble brag.” She says sarcastically. “I guess you didn’t give yourself any time to relax, huh?”
Chuckling, Jimin shakes her head. “Just a lot of hard work. I had something to prove.” Her teeth clench as her mind drifts to all those feelings of resentment she had for herself the moment she left home to start college. Then, Jimin had just ruined the best thing that’s ever happened to her, and hurt the love of her life. Jimin promised herself that she would make something of herself to be good enough for Minjeong.
Jimin worked her off for this.
“Well, I’m proud of you.” Aeri gives her a smile, tilting her bottle towards Jimin for a quick clink.
“Wow,” Jimin looks down at her bottle, a subtle smile on her lips, “I haven’t heard that in a while.”
Aeri frowns, looking at her friend sadly.
“I’m proud of you, Yu Jimin.” Aeri repeats, earning a smile of gratitude from Jimin.
“I’ll tell you more often.”
Aeri clinks their beer bottles again, both of them sharing quiet smiles.
“Okay, your turn.” Jimin says, trying to get past the sentimental moment.
The older woman nods, “now you tell me something to keep me in the loop.” Jimin leans forward to place her bottle on the coffee table in the center of the living room, “what’s happened the last ten years?”
“Well,” Aeri tilts her head, a smirk coming to her lips. “Yizhuo and I have been dating for half of those ten years.”
Jimin’s eyes widened, and she almost leaped from her seat on the couch, but instead, her palms hit the couch cushions to straighten her posture. “You’re kidding?” She slaps her hand on when she realizes her voice is too loud. “No ing way.” Jimin’s next words were hushed in a whisper.
Aeri nods her head, downing her last sip of beer. She reaches into her pocket and takes out a ring, holding it up to Jimin.
“Say sike right now.” Jimin’s eyes grow another size bigger when she sees the ring.
“Been carrying this around for the past few months.”
When the shock finally passes, Jimin takes the ring from Aeri and examines it. “Holy , Aeri.” She flips the ring and her eyes hit every speck of diamond on it. “Life is crazy.”
“Isn’t it?” Aeri chuckles.
“Well, to start, I didn’t even know you were gay.”
“For one person.” Aeri corrects. “I’ve never seen other women that way. It’s just her.”
“I didn’t even know Yizhuo liked women.”
Aeri snorts, “she’s been out as biual for the past eight years.”
Jimin hands the ring back to its rightful owner. was still agape in shock, as she plops her back against the couch cushions.
“Life is crazy.”
Aeri smiles, chin on her palm. “You missed a lot.”
“Tell me more.”
“What do you want to know?”
Jimin blinks at her. She had a bunch of questions swirling through her head. All were about Minjeong, of course, but she couldn’t grasp onto just one. Was it appropriate to ask? Would Aeri even answer them?
“It’s fine, Jimin. You can ask me.” Aeri reads her conflicted expression very clearly.
Biting her lip anxiously, Jimin takes a breath in. “How bad was it? You know… after I left.”
Aeri heaves a sigh. “Bad. It was painful to witness.”
It’s like Jimin’s heart broke continuously. Every piece of her heart that’s already been shattered these past ten years, shattering again into smaller, sharp pieces.
“After you left the restaurant, I went to go get her like you asked.” Aeri’s eyes grew distant as she remembered the night of, “I’ve never seen her cry so much. She couldn’t even say anything, but your name. She couldn’t even breathe, just clutched onto her heart like she had just lost it.”
Jimin closed her eyes shut when she felt the familiar sting.
“I took her to the hospital that night because I was scared that her heart would give up on her.” Aeri shakes her head at the memory, “they kept her in there for a month after evaluation. She was experiencing cardiac arrhythmias, and they kept her in for monitoring in fear that she would have a heart attack and die.”
Maybe Jimin shouldn’t have asked. She felt like the walls were closing in on her, like her world was crumbling beneath her feet. Hearing everything was overwhelming and truly too painful to hear, but she knew she needed to know nonetheless.
“I was mad at you for a long time too, Jimin. It took a lot of pondering for me to try and break through the anger, and try to think reasonably as your friend.” Aeri looks at Jimin with pity. “You never properly gave us an explanation… but I know you. I know there’s a reason for all of this. I know that your intentions weren’t malicious, and that you’ve made all your sacrifices for Minjeong. I know that much, Jimin. It must’ve been hard to make that decision.”
Jimin was about to open to explain herself, but Aeri shakes her head. “I don’t want you to tell me before you tell Minjeong. She should know first.”
Sighing, Jimin nods.
“I’m sorry, Aeri.”
“I know, Jimin.” Aeri smiles, “you can make it up to me by winning Minjeong back.”
“I’m sorry.” Minjeong apologizes, running a hand over her face.
Jimin frowns, dropping her pen and looking up from her notebook. She gives Minjeong her full attention, tilting her head in response.
“For being such a mood killer.”
The older woman’s frown only grows, “baby, what—?” Jimin shakes her head, standing up from her chair to sit next to the one Minjeong was sitting in. “Why would you say that?”
Shrugging, Minjeong sighs. “I just feel like I’ve been too… in my head lately, and that’s not fun to be around, and I’m sorry.”
Jimin takes her hands and holds them on her lap. She gives Minjeong a knowing look, waiting until the younger woman finally looks up to meet her gaze. When their eyes meet, a soft smile falls subtly on Jimin’s lips.
“Do you know what my favorite part of the day is?” Jimin asks suddenly.
Minjeong blinks, “night time. You love your sleep.”
Chuckling, Jimin shakes her head. “I do love my sleep, but no, that’s not it.”
“Baby,” Jimin clicks her tongue, “I’m trying to be romantic, my love.”
That seems to make Minjeong laugh, and the sound of happiness from Minjeong always makes Jimin smile.
“My favorite part of my days are when I see you for the first time.” Jimin scrunches her nose, smiling. “I get so excited and my day automatically gets ten times better the moment I see you, and I know you feel the same way every time you see me. Because we’re two fools in love.”
Minjeong bites her bottom lip, “okay, that is romantic.”
Jimin grins, nodding, eyebrows bouncing. “I know it’s romantic, and it’s also the truth.” Her hand raises to pinch Minjeong’s cheek, “don’t ever say or assume that me being with you at any point of the day, in any mood, feeling, or circumstance can be a buzzkill.”
Minjeong pouts, “I said mood kill.”
“That’s not allowed either.” Jimin pinches her cheek harder, but not too hard to be painful. “Understood, my love?”
Minjeong groans, but nods, tapping on Jimin’s hand in annoyance. “Okay, okay. I’m sorry.”
Releasing Minjeong’s cheek, Jimin wears a frown, but caresses her girlfriend’s cheek soothingly. “Don’t apologize. You felt strongly about it, so you vocalized it. And I’m thankful that you did. Was that something you’ve been sitting on this whole time? That you think you’re ruining the mood?”
“Okay,” Jimin acknowledges, “let’s talk about it, baby. What have you been thinking of in that pretty, intelligent mind of yours?”
Minjeong frowns as her mind consumes her again. “My dad introduced me to one of his colleagues’ son’s at yesterday’s dinner.” She was back to twiddling with her restless hands on her lap again.
Jimin mirrors her frown, “okay… like… as a business relation?”
“No, Jimin. Doctors don’t do that. It felt weird. My dad seemed to want us to get along, like he was setting me up.” Minjeong shakes her head, peering up at Jimin to see her reaction.
Instead of being upset, Jimin let out a snort, surprising Minjeong. “Y-You’re not upset?”
Jimin shrugs, “why would I be upset about that? Your parents hate me. I was
already well aware. I’ve come to terms with it. At first I was upset, sometimes I was angry because they hate me for all the wrong reasons, but…” she throws Minjeong a small smile, “I’m not going to dwell and be upset about something