The hallways are almost deserted, except for a couple of latecomers who have probably overslept, the same way Jeongyeon has.
She shuffles towards her locker, and presses down the buttons to open it up; a small yellow paper slips out and falls to the floor. Sighing, Jeongyeon kneels down to pick it up, running her fingers through her blonde locks as she assets the unfamiliar object. The piece of paper turns out to be an envelope, and the first thing Jeongyeon notices is the tiny flower doodle in one of the corners. She smiles.
She tucks it in the pocket of her black hoodie, assuming it’s some invitation to the school’s upcoming drama -although these usually look fancier with the extra effort the drama club kids put into them-, or a VIP invitation to some kind of nerds-only party that she would totally join.
Coming back to her senses, she grabs her literary theories book and rushes to class, praying to the Gods of University and Suffering that her professor is as late as her.
She makes a beeline to the back of the classroom where her friends are slacking with an empty spot, saved just for her.
The professor walks in the second she takes a seat.
“Missed your alarm?” one of her two classmates asks.
“Mornings would’ve been for me if they started at two in the afternoon and didn’t have eight a.m classes.” the blonde groans, earning a snort from the other girl.
“Miss Yoo, miss Minatozaki!” their professor warns, shooting them a glare.
“If glares could kill,” Jeongyeon whispers, before they apologize in an attempt to avoid the wrath of their teacher.
Sana nudges Jeongyeon in the side, trying to stifle a giggle. She looks over to see their other friend, the third edge of their triangle, sprawled all over her papers, sound asleep.
“If Ji sees her, she’s as good as dead.” Jeongyeon comments.
“Waking her up is even riskier. You know her,” they both sigh, paying their attention back to whatever their teacher is scribbling on the whiteboard.
The class is over, and they struggle to wake their friend up, who grins sleepily at them as she stretches out a yawn.
“Had a nice nap, miss Hirai?” professor Park’s voice fills the almost empty room, and the three girls freeze in place.
“Next time try not to snore.” she adds, as Momo makes a strangled noise, straining out an apology.
“At least no one else was here to witness that.” Sana jokes once the professor leaves the class.
“Yeah, that way no one would’ve known how we died or who killed us.” Jeongyeon mocks, stuffing Momo’s books in her bag.
“Why do you even bother putting out your stuff, miss Hirai?” she complains, mocking their teacher as she does.
“I need to look like I’m trying.” Momo replies, smiling sheepishly.
“But,” Sana interrupts, “doesn’t she look so hot when she’s pissed off?”
“Minatozaki!” both of her friends groan at the same time.
“Stop romanticizing Ji’s desire to kill us.”
“Control your gay hormones. It’s punishment enough that I have to deal with Momo’s mess on a daily basis.” Jeongyeon teases as she stares at the girl in question, who is now looking at her with an innocent pout and puppy eyes, like a kid on the verge of breaking into tears.
Jeongyeon gives in, guilt eating her inside out. Damn how weak Momo’s pouts make her.
Sana ruffles Momo’s hair, throwing a glare Jeongyeon’s way - look what you’ve done now -.
“Hungry?” the blonde asks, and Momo almost jumps out of her place. “Yes! I want a hamburgerwith-extrafriestwoslicesofpizzaand..” she trails off as if to think, “ice cream,” she adds with a shit-eating grin, looking much more awake at the mention of food.
“Here she goes again.” Jeongyeon sighs, throwing her hands in the air, “I didn’t have enough sleep to deal with this shit.”
They run to their next class, ‘cause Momo insisted on getting a snack, and Sana was too busy eyeing one of her crushes to notice the time.
It’s not until the third lecture that Jeongyeon remembers the yellow envelope from the morning. She grabs it gently and pulls out the sky blue paper carefully tucked inside.
i’m drunk on your scent,
and your laugh is my favorite song..
Jeongyeon turns the paper, looking for anything, any sign, on who might’ve put that in her locker. Nothing but the little doodle.
“Hirai!” she scoffs, getting Momo’s attention. “Too early for April fool’s.”
Jeongyeon rolls her eyes at Momo’s nonchalant demeanor, and waves the little blue paper.
“I know you did this.”
“No I didn’t.”
“Whatever.” Momo shrugs, and Jeongyeon starts to believe that, okay, maybe it’s not her best friend who’s pulling a prank on her.
Sana comes back from the restroom minutes later, and Jeongyeon asks her if she was the one who slipped the love letter -she cringes at her choice of words- in her locker. Sana denies it too.
“You have a secret admirer, miss Yoo.” they tease her for the rest of the day -the rest of the month.
The letters keep showing up in her locker at random times -she has tried to make a pattern but failed. Sometimes it’s on wednesday mornings, sometimes Friday evenings, sometimes not even once for the whole week. And she doesn’t tell her best friends that not finding any, kind of makes her, a little bit, maybe, sad.
Jeongyeon greets the girl behind the counter as she makes her way to get a cup of noodles and a bag of crackers. She looks around for a while, lost, until the same girl offers to help her. She asks where she could find pet food, and the part-timer takes her time not only to guide her to the aisle, but also to point out the best brands. She feels bad for the small girl working the graveyard shift, and a queer sense of wanting to wrap her in a blanket and hug her presents itself in her chest. She sighs inwardly when she sees the pile of notes and books in front of her, and mentally thanks her parents for providing enough for her not to need a part-time job as she gets through with college.
There’s a can of some energy drink, and an unfinished cup of coffee -which looks cold and abandoned- next to the book the girl was reading before Jeongyeon walked in.
“Rough night?” She asks, putting the goods she has picked on the counter for the girl to scan.
“It’s lazy around this time, so I wouldn’t really call it a rough-” the worker starts, but when she notices the customer staring at the bundle of notes, she gives a tight lipped smile and adds, “well, exams are around the corner and I can’t afford to fail any classes.”
Jeongyeon solemnly nods.
“You go to my school, don’t you? I’ve seen you around a couple of times, hm, hanging out with a girl who’s taller than you and looks foreign.”
She’s too busy trying to figure out the subject the smaller girl is studying to notice the bashful blush that tinges her cheeks.
“I do. I’ve seen you around too.” the girl, whose name is Chaeyoung, -Jeongyeon finally notices the name tag-, replies.
Her smile is soft, albeit tired, and there’s a hint of a dimple in her right cheek; Jeongyeon feels a sudden urge to poke it.
“Well then, Chaengie -if I can call you that!” Jeongyeon internally curses herself for acting weird all of a sudden, “next time let’s greet each other when we meet.”
The blush is back to Chaeyoung’s cheeks, and it spreads down to her neck, upon hearing the nickname, and this time around, Jeongyeon sees it.
“I’ll look forward to that,” she hands the girl the plastic bag, “come again,” and smiles.
“your smile is my favorite smile,
and i just know, your lips are my favorite to kiss..”
Jeongyeon looks them up, the confessions she’s received that sound like some non matching pieces of the same puzzle, but fails to find the bigger picture. She finds no song with such lyrics, no poems, no movie quotes.
“your arms are where i belong, and your heartbeats break down my walls..”
She lays back in her chair, staring at the three envelopes illuminated by the light of her desk lamp. In addition to the sun doodle, there’s a flower doodle on the violet envelope, and what she assumes in a moon drawn on the night blue one. She feels like they look awfully familiar, or maybe her mind is playing games on her, because she’s been staring at them for a little too long.
They don't meet again until Jeongyeon walks into the store one night. Chaeyoung’s face lights up with a smile that soon falters once she takes note of the girl attached to the blonde’s hip.
She recognizes her as one of the seniors she usually sees around with Jeongyeon, -who is currently flashing her a grin.
She smiles back, and pretends not to watch as the two older girls disappear behind one of the many shelves of the store.
“Hey!” the blonde greets, putting down the massive amount of snacks they grabbed.
“Hey,” Chaeyoung answers shyly, her mind wondering if the two seniors are having some kind of a movie date, and she hates the sadness that weighs down on her chest.
“How’s your night going?” Jeongyeon asks, her eyes trailing the cursive handwriting filling the colorful notes stacked next to what looks like a literature textbook.
“Slow, as usual.”
“Your doodles are cute,” Jeongyeon comments; both girls -Momo and Chaeyoung- look up at her with big round eyes, and- “like you.”
A shy giggle breaks the silence following her statement, and chaeyoung chokes out a ‘thank you’ as her slightly shaking hands keep scanning the products.
She watches them leave, and lets out a sigh she didn’t know she was holding. She eyes her notes, not feeling like studying all of sudden, and sighs again as her temple comes in contact with the counter with a thump sound.
“The damn doodles.” she hisses.
Finals week comes like a crashing plane. Students rush through the hallways, from a classroom to another, to the library to study, to their dorms to catch some sleep.
Chaeyoung bumps into Jeongyeon once or twice, quite literally. They greet each other hastily, each hurrying off to deal her own mess.
Tzuyu shuffles from one leg to another nervously, she grips the yellow envelope in her hand, as she looks around to make sure she has no witnesses.
“God, maybe I shouldn’t do this!” She whispers to herself, tapping her foot against the tiled hallway floor.
She inhales, exhales.
“To the fuck with it!” She hisses, taking one last look around, before she slips the envelope into the crack of Jeongyeon’s locker.
Her boss had suggested the week off, but Chaeyoung politely declined, briefly mentioning that it helps her study when she’s stuck in the store all night. That’s how the freshman finds herself cracking open her second energy drink for the night, as she slumps down the plastic chair behind the counter.
It’s unhealthy, having eaten almost nothing except for a couple of rice cakes that her “tall friend” forced her to down into her empty stomach. Chaeyoung’s body refuses anything other than her soft drinks and her chocolate bars, and coffee, -of course-, during exams.
She still has two finals, both scheduled for the following day, and Chaeyoung throws a glance at the pile of colored notes to her left and sighs deeply. She sets her drink down and grabs a handful of notes.
She exhales, ready to go through each and every note she has scribbled down, when the chimes of the bell dangled right above the door break the silence. She looks up with an employee-of-the-month practiced smile that turns genuine the second she sees who her late night customer is.
She’s alone this time, her hair pulled back in a small -and very adorable- ponytail, the dark circles under her eyes perfectly matching Chaeyoung’s. Jeongyeon subconsciously adds make Chaeyoung smile so wide that her dimple is deeper than the ocean to her bucket list.
“Chaengie,” Jeongyeon greets cheerfully, a friendly smile tugging at the corners of her lips.
“Oh god, just call me Jeongyeon,” the older girl dismisses with a giggle, and Chaeyoung just laughs along, finding Jeongyeon’s laughter very contagious.
“I see you’re no longer our loyal customer,” she jokes, eyes trailing down to the plastic bags the blonde is holding, but it turns into a guilt ridden giggle when she notices the older girl rubbing the back of her neck shyly. She tries to tell her that she’s just messing with her, but Jeongyeon looks too cute all of a sudden, and Chaeyoung chokes on her words.
“I was thinking, you know, maybe we could have dinner-I mean, late dinner, together. Since you’re working all night and you probably didn’t even have time to go home, and finals kinda suck the life out of us, so I brought these,” she pauses to pose the bags on the countertop, “and we can share.”
Chaeyoung is tiptoeing, but she doesn't seem to reach the top lockers. She ruffles her hair in frustration and blows hot air from her nose.
Tzuyu snickers, watching fondly as her short best friend struggles to accomplish her self-assigned mission.
“Why are you laughing?” Chaeyoung scoffs, trying her best glare on the taller girl -but she looks much more of a lost puppy.
“Would you let me help you now? We're running late to class.” the taller girl suggests and before Chaeyoung could refuse, Tzuyu takes the yellow envelope from her hand and steps closer to Jeongyeon’s locker.
She feels nervous -despite being nothing but a mere accomplice.
Later that night, when she's watching her roommate leave for her part-time job, she realizes her nervousness was, and still is, out of fear that Chaeyoung would get her heart broken.