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There Might Be Something Real Between Us Two

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14

Jimin is a diehard romantic - her favorite movies are romcoms and no one could ever change her mind about whether or not true love really existed. Love was a given; it had to exist in order for her life to proceed. She expected to be in love and married to the same person for her entire life. What she didn't expect was for her own life to be filled with secrecy and a pinch of heartbreak.

When Jimin started her freshman year in high school, she didn't expect to find someone she'd call her best friend for the rest of her adult life so easily. As soon as she walked into the school for orientation, she bumped into a girl who had a friendly aura radiating off of her. "Sorry about that!" the girl said, giving Jimin a sweet and sheepish smile.

"No worries, I think it was my fault anyways," Jimin quickly explained, feeling awkward about her lanky limbs. The girl laughed and stuck her hand out for Jimin to shake. "I'm Aeri! I hope we can be friends." Jimin took the hand with no hesitation, smiling wide enough for her dimple to show. "I'm Jimin."


---

Aeri Kim was an amazing friend. She broke Jimin out of her shell, always helping introduce her to new friends she'd make along the way. Freshman year would not have been anywhere near as tolerable without Aeri by her side.

"There's a party this weekend to celebrate the school year ending!" Aeri told her excitedly. She was jumping in place, making sure to nudge Jimin with her shoulder. "You're definitely coming, right?" She wiggled her eyebrows, hoping that was enough to entice her friend to join.

Jimin laughed, giving Aeri a light shove. "Yeah yeah, I'll come," she said, feigning a bit of reluctance even though she secretly wanted to go anyways. While her first year of high school had been full of fun, she had no chance at finding love. Did she think she was still too young for love? Sure, but some people met their high school sweethearts and stayed with them for life. She thought she had a chance at that life, but she had no such luck.

Aeri was much more interested in making friends than dating, so Jimin didn't have anyone to complain about her love life to. She hoped that the awkwardness that surrounded her being a young teenager would fade and she'd eventually gain the confidence she needed to find herself someone to love.


While no one could deny Jimin was pretty, her lanky figure in her school uniform didn't exactly scream attractiveness. Now that she was dressed up in a short skirt and a tank top, her figure was no longer hidden under a bulky blazer and her long legs were accentuated with the length of the skirt being hiked up. Added with Aeri's insistence on doing her makeup, she looked incredible for the night.

Aeri let out a low whistle. "Damn, you look hot, Yu!" she proclaimed, grinning from ear to ear. "All thanks to me, of course," she teased, elbowing Jimin right in the ribs. The taller girl winced but thanked her friend. She was too excited at the prospect of meeting someone at the party to bother fighting against Aeri's cockiness.


---

Jimin had never felt buzzed before, but she decided it was a feeling she wouldn't complain about. She hadn't drank much to get to that point - perks of it being her first time ever drinking - so she was nursing the same cup she had from the moment she entered. She was conversing with a few girls she knew from her classes before Aeri sauntered over with a scowl on her face.

"Why aren't you coming over to dance?" her friend whined, grabbing at her free hand. Jimin rolled her eyes playfully before excusing herself from the other girls and following Aeri into the room everyone was dancing in. She was buzzed enough to start swaying to the music with no fear of what she looked like to other people. Aeri smiled brightly at her as they came up with a goofy dance routine to the song that had been playing.

She eventually felt a tap on her shoulder, and turned to find an upperclassman boy smiling down at her. He swayed along to the song and put a hand on her shoulder, encouraging her to move with him. Jimin glanced over her shoulder and saw Aeri was already dancing with a group of her other friends who had joined them, so she turned back to face the boy and dance with him.

He was good looking and seemed charming. Maybe this was finally her fated encounter.

"What's your name, cutie?" he asked as he leaned down to speak into her ear. He reached for her arms and laced them around his shoulders. "I can hear you better this way," he added with a wink. Jimin felt a blush creep up her cheeks and she leaned up, standing on her toes to speak into his ear. "I'm Jimin."

"I'm Mingyu," he said with a smile.


---

By the middle of the summer, word had spread that Jimin had hooked up with Mingyu at that party. Several people had seen them dancing together and leaving the party together. Mingyu was a popular boy and leaving for college in the fall - the assumption was that he could collect underclassmen girls as easily as counting to 3.

The problem with this assumption was that Jimin was in fact not one of the girls he could count as a notch on his belt. He had been awfully sweet that night, and drove her home without asking for anything in return. The only thing he had offered her was a kiss on the cheek, and a dazzling smile to follow.

It was almost as if he could sense the nerves radiating off of Jimin's body, so she could only remain thankful that he didn't pressure her into doing anything she wasn't comfortable with. She had texted Aeri that night to let her friend know she got home safe, and the girl never asked for any kind of elaboration.

The rumor had already spread like wildfire, and Jimin could only assume that Aeri believed what was being said. She wasn't sure if it would be more embarrassing to deny anything happened, or if it would be worse to let the rumor fly, but she was young, dumb, and soft-spoken, so she said nothing in her own defense.

It didn't help that Mingyu said nothing to clear up the rumors before he left for college, but by the end of the summer plenty of other rumors had started to spread about other girls, so Jimin thought that had been the end of it.

15

Jimin texted Aeri to ask what her new locker number was for their sophomore year, and promptly got a reply.

247! come thru :)

She raised a fist in the air and smiled. Her assigned locker number was 238, which meant they would be near each other. She immediately made her way to the second floor to meet with her best friend.

She had known Aeri had a little sister because it had come up in conversation before, but she had always assumed the girl was much younger because she had never seen her before. Usually the girls hung out at school or at Jimin's house since it was closer to school, so her first time seeing the short girl with blonde hair took her breath away.

Holy moly, this girl is beautiful, Jimin thought to herself, before shaking her head clear of those thoughts and strolling up behind Aeri. "Hey!" she said, wrapping an arm around Aeri to give her a side hug as the other girl was putting things in her locker.

Aeri turned to return the hug and smile at her. "We were waiting for you! This is my sister, Minjeong. I figured we could show her around before the bell rings," Aeri suggested.

Jimin smiled down at Minjeong, and tried to ignore the warmth she felt in her ears when the girl smiled back up at her. To say she was smitten was an understatement. Is this what love at first sight meant? She tried to rid her mind of such shallow thoughts - she hadn't even spoken a word to this girl yet.

"It's nice to finally meet you, I've heard a lot about you," the girl said quietly. Even her voice is pretty, Jimin internally groaned to herself. She was doomed for sure.

What Jimin had hoped would just be a childish crush on Minjeong seemed to inflate into something much larger.

Now that both the Kims were attending the same school, Jimin had plenty of opportunities to spend time with the younger girl. She even befriended Minjeong's best friend, Yizhuo, in an effort to have more encounters with the girl.

They spent many lunches and free periods together, even on the days Aeri branched out to spend time with her other friends. "Jimin, don't you get bored hanging out with us freshmen?" Yizhuo asked one day, to which Minjeong scoffed. "Just because we're younger doesn't make us any less fun," the girl complained.

Jimin beamed at that response. "Minjeong's right," she answered with a chuckle. "I like spending time with you guys. You've been so easy to get along with ever since we met," she admitted shyly, pointedly avoiding looking in Minjeong's direction.


---

Aeri roped Jimin into trying out for the girls lacrosse team in the spring. Jimin was more athletic now that she was growing into her body, but she still wouldn't have willingly joined if not for Aeri's incessant pestering.

A few weeks of conditioning had her worn out, but Aeri had insisted they needed to get in shape before the tryouts took place. Running laps around the track was her worst nightmare, but Aeri's words of encouragement kept her going.

There were a lot of girls who were planning on trying out for the team, and Jimin managed to befriend a decent amount of them thanks to Aeri's extroverted nature.

"Hi, I'm Yuqi," a shorter girl said as she reached her hand out for Jimin to shake. Despite her height, Jimin learned the girl was a junior and an exchange student. She was only going to be at their school until the end of the year, since the exchange program only lasted as long. Yuqi told Jimin she wanted to make lots of fun memories before her departure.

Somehow the girls eased through tryouts with no worries, and Jimin found her name plastered right between Aeri and Yuqi's on the list of girls who made the team. She almost sighed in defeat at the thought of having to play a sport for the remainder of the school year, but she held it in when she felt a hand on her shoulder.

"Congrats! You guys are gonna look so cool in those uniforms," Minjeong squealed, grinning up at her. Jimin decided she would have to thank Aeri later.


---

Despite trying to spend as much time as possible with Minjeong, her responsibilities got in the way. Now that she was on a sports team, much of her time after school was devoted to practices and games. Thankfully Minjeong and Yizhuo came to cheer them on most of the time, which gave Jimin the motivation to continue.

The games ended up going fairly well, and their team finished off the season with a 5-4-1 record. It wasn't good enough to get them to the state championships or anything, but Jimin felt like she had accomplished something. Catching Minjeong's bright smile each time they won was enough to keep her happy for the next few days.

In the time she spent on the lacrosse team, she had also managed to become close with Yuqi. The girl followed Jimin around every chance she got, and Jimin found it quite adorable. By the end of the year, Yuqi had pulled Jimin aside to have a serious conversation.

Aeri watched from her locker as Yuqi held onto Jimin's hand with an unreadable expression on her face.

"Jimin, I'm going to be honest with you. I wish I had the courage to say this earlier, but now that my exchange program is ending, I don't want to leave with any regrets," the girl admitted with a sad smile.

Jimin raised her brows questioningly, but gave Yuqi's hand a soft squeeze to encourage the girl to continue.

Yuqi took a deep breath, settling her gaze on Jimin's shoes. "The truth is, I like you, Jimin. I have for a while now," she said quietly.

"Obviously I don't expect an answer from you, since I'm leaving soon and all, but I had to get that off my chest. Thank you for being so kind to me and letting me befriend you despite the time limit on our friendship."

Jimin was shocked to hear those words. How had she not noticed the girl's feelings this whole time?

"I- Yuqi, uh, thank you for telling me your feelings," she stammered, blush tinting her cheeks. She was broken out of her stupor when Yuqi's giggle ran through her ears. She felt a soft pair of lips on her cheek and she took a step back, eyes widening in surprise.

"Thanks for hearing me out," the shorter girl said with a wide smile, before giving Jimin's hand one last squeeze and turning to leave in the other direction. Jimin caught Aeri's amused gaze and tried to hide the crimson color of her face behind her hands.


---

"So, you and Yuqi, huh?" Minjeong asked monotonously, without looking up from her phone screen. She and Jimin were waiting outside Aeri's classroom while Aeri was inside trying to negotiate with the teacher to return her confiscated cell phone.

"It's not- I don't know what you heard but nothing happened between us. She just told me she liked me," Jimin said quickly, trying to inspect Minjeong's face for any kind of reaction. She didn't think that even that small encounter with Yuqi would've turned into yet another rumor about her. Let alone one that Minjeong would hear.

She had to hold in her sigh of relief when she saw Minjeong glance up with a small smile on her face. The moment was interrupted by a gleeful Aeri bursting out of the door. "And we're back in business, baby!" she exclaimed, raising her phone in the air as if it were made of gold.

The other two girls laughed as Aeri linked arms with both of them and led them down the corridor. The excitement of the summer beginning was finally starting to sink in.

16

Jimin started off her junior year with a scowl on her face. She was dragged into yet another sport for the fall season thanks to Aeri's nagging. "Come on! Volleyball girls always date the soccer boys, maybe we can finally get boyfriends!" Aeri mused, slapping a hand onto Jimin's back excitedly. Jimin winced at the pain but shrugged her shoulders. "Or girlfriends," she added carefully, to which Aeri only laughed before agreeing.

Jimin was surprised to see she had yet again made the team with Aeri. She was even starting to wonder if her friend had been rigging the results.

She had to admit she enjoyed volleyball a bit more than lacrosse, and it was an added bonus that Minjeong blushed whenever she was caught staring at Jimin in her uniform. The short shorts were showing off just how toned her legs had gotten through her growth-spurt.

Speaking of uniforms, Jimin herself couldn't stop from drooling at Minjeong's cheerleading uniform. The shorter girl had tried out for the team alongside Yizhuo, and both girls easily made their way onto the junior varsity cheer squad. Jimin had to keep reminding herself not to stare for too long.


---

Just as Aeri had predicted, the volleyball girls did indeed grow close to the boys soccer team. In particular, Jimin had befriended a sweet senior named Lucas. They would always run into each other after practices and they also happened to share a few classes together. He was kind and easy to talk to, so Jimin felt no hesitation in getting close to him.

It wasn't long before the rumors started. She wasn't sure if she could even be surprised by that point, but she held a tight lipped smile in place every time someone asked her if she and Lucas were dating.

She would have been quick to deny it in any other case, but Lucas had caught her by the arm one day with a distressed look on his face.

"Have you heard the rumors about us?" he asked in a rushed whisper. She only nodded in response, waiting to see what he wanted.

"I don't know if I have the right to ask this of you, but could you do me the biggest favor ever?" His eyes were pleading and she had never seen him look so stressed. It was a major contrast from his usual happy-go-lucky nature. It compelled her to say yes without even knowing what the favor was yet.

He sighed in relief before explaining. "The truth is, I'm dating Mark. But he's not ready to be out yet... not that he thinks anyone would say anything to us or anything," Lucas clarified. "I think he just wants to keep this lowkey until we're ready to be more open about it," he said quietly.

A few students were lingering in the hallways, catching the exchange between the two, but not any of the words that were uttered quietly. Jimin chewed on the inside of her cheek as she waited for Lucas to ask her for the favor, trying her best to ignore the stares she knew were pointed in their direction.

"Would you be okay with like, not denying the rumors about us? I know it's crazy, but please consider it Jimin. It would really mean a lot to me and Mark." Who was Jimin to say no to a request like that? She would do anything to make her friend happy.


---

Jimin found herself alone with Minjeong at the library during their free period. Yizhuo and Aeri had been with them earlier, but they had both left momentarily to get snacks from the school's cafe.

Jimin felt Minjeong's eyes glaring daggers into the side of her face. She slowly turned her face to meet the younger girl's gaze, smiling sheepishly at her. "Something wrong?" she whispered, leaning her face on her palm.

Minjeong only sighed before looking away. It looked like the girl was fighting some kind of internal battle before she finally looked into Jimin's eyes again. "Why didn't you tell any of us about you and Lucas?"

Jimin bit her lip, contemplating, before leaning closer to Minjeong and lowering her voice even more. "If I tell you, you have to keep this a secret from everyone. Including your sister and Yizhuo," Jimin said.

Minjeong nodded, curiously awaiting what Jimin would say next. Jimin explained everything Lucas had told her, making sure to emphasize that she was in no way actually dating the boy. She caught Minjeong's sigh of relief but didn't know what to make of the gesture.

When Aeri and Yizhuo returned, Aeri was pointing a cheshire grin towards Jimin. When Jimin raised her eyebrows questioningly, Aeri tilted her head towards the doors of the library. "Your boyfriend wants to talk to you," she teased. Jimin shared a bashful look with Minjeong before packing up her things and making her way towards Lucas who was waiting by the doors.


---

Jimin and Aeri found themselves sitting in the cold chill of the evening, cheering loudly for the homecoming football game. Despite the cold air surrounding them, Jimin's cheeks felt warm as she watched Minjeong performing her cheer routine on the sideline.

When she caught Minjeong's eyes, the younger girl shot her a cheeky wink before turning to focus on her routine. Jimin bit her lip to hide her smile.

They were announcing the homecoming king and queen nominees during halftime, and Aeri nudged Jimin excitedly. Obviously Jimin couldn't go with anyone other than her "boyfriend," and with Lucas's level of popularity there was no doubt he would be nominated. Despite Jimin only being a junior, she was nominated for homecoming queen simply due to her association with Lucas.


---

The night of homecoming, Aeri had made sure to doll Jimin up as much as possible. They were getting ready at Jimin's house, and her parents had insisted they all take pictures together. Aeri, Yizhuo, and Minjeong had decided to go as each others dates, so Lucas was the only boy that showed up that evening.

While Jimin's parents made her stand next to Lucas and put her arm around him, she tried her best not to let the awkwardness show through her smile. Despite trying her best, she could sense someone was giggling at her silently. She made eye contact with Minjeong, who was trying her best to hold back her laughter since she knew the truth about Jimin's situation, and seeing the younger girl's joy at the situation brought a genuine smile to Jimin's face.

Her parents cooed, noting that the last few pictures came out much better thanks to her smile. Jimin tried not to blush at the realization that only Minjeong could bring out her real smile in such a moment.

The group made their way to homecoming and enjoyed their time at the school dance. They all danced in a circle, with Mark joining their group but never standing too close to Lucas. Jimin tried her best not to stare too long at Minjeong swaying across from her, but every time they made eye contact both girls would blush and look away.

When it came time to make the announcement for the king and queen, Jimin's group of friends cheered extremely loud when she and Lucas got called up onto the stage to receive their crowns and sashes. She could hear the comments throughout the crowd, all along the lines of "They're such a cute couple!"

Later on that night, Lucas pulled her aside with his puppy dog eyes, and Jimin knew he was going to ask for another favor. "So I was hoping to sneak out back with Mark for a bit..." he started off, and Jimin could only wonder where this request was headed.

"If the two of us disappear and you stay behind, it might stir up some rumors. Is there any chance you can wait outside with us? 30 minutes tops!" he begged. Jimin sighed, but relented. She had already committed to this, so she figured she may as well help the boy out some more. Lucas gave her a dazzling smile and a high five before pulling her back to their circle of friends.

He gave Mark a subtle nod, before holding Jimin's hand and walking her towards the exit. Several eyes followed their departure from the dance floor. They made their way towards the end of the hallway, and eventually to the back of the school building. "I seriously owe you one, J! You're the best," Lucas swooned, giving her hand a tight squeeze. They waited about five minutes before they heard the doors open and Mark sheepishly made his way out.

"We're just gonna, uh, head over to the back of the bleachers for a bit," Lucas said shyly, before dragging Mark away with him. Jimin was at least thankful she didn't have to stay in the vicinity of their makeout session, so she leaned her back against the cold brick wall, feeling the bass booming from how loud the music was playing inside the school.

The door suddenly opened beside her, nearly causing her heart to jump out of her chest. She began to panic, trying to come up with an excuse as to why she was outside alone instead of with Lucas, but her breath finally caught up with her when she realized it was Minjeong who had come outside.

"I was wondering where you disappeared to," the younger girl said with a soft chuckle. "Had to help the boys out with another favor," Jimin said, and Minjeong laughed harder. "Oh trust me, I figured that out when I saw Mark walking out like a headless chicken five minutes on the dot since you had left."

Jimin's eyes gleamed mischievously at that. "Oh so you were keeping track of how long I was gone?"

"Of course, I missed you," came Minjeong's reply, and Jimin could only widen her eyes in response to the honest answer.

Since the loud music could still be heard even from the outside of the building, Jimin felt a sudden surge of confidence overcome her. While she couldn't quite make out the words, she could tell the DJ had put on a slower song for people to slow dance to. "Do you want to dance?" she asked.

Minjeong blushed and nodded, slowly putting her arms around Jimin's neck. Jimin gingerly placed her hands on Minjeong's waist, marveling at how perfectly they fit together in that position.

"Did I tell you that you look absolutely beautiful tonight? I'm so glad your parents convinced you to wear that dress," Jimin breathed into Minjeong's ear, smiling when she noticed the shorter girl shiver.

Minjeong pulled back slightly to look Jimin in the eye. "Are you kidding? I haven't been able to take my eyes off you all night, Ms. Homecoming Queen," she admitted. Both girls were blushing heavily as they swayed to the music. Jimin almost hoped that Lucas and Mark would take longer than they had promised.

It only took a few days for the news of Jimin and Lucas's short disappearance to spread at school.

"They totally hooked up at homecoming," someone whispered, after passing by Jimin who was seated next to Lucas. An unsettling prickly feeling welled up in her chest at the thought of more rumors spreading about her.


Since volleyball season was in the fall, and Jimin refused to join lacrosse again in the spring, she had a lot more free time after school each day. Aeri stuck to her commitments and once again joined the lacrosse team, making sure to let Jimin know how disappointed she was in her departure from the team every chance she got.

This also meant that Aeri would be busy whenever Jimin and Minjeong were free. Yizhuo had decided to try out for tennis, and she had no such luck convincing Minjeong to join her. With the two girls being the only ones in their group not on any team, they had plenty of time to spend together.

A part of Jimin felt guilty, knowing that any wrong move could jeopardize her deal with Lucas. But she couldn't help herself - she just liked Minjeong too much to not want to spend as much time with her as possible.

They were studying in the library together after school one day, waiting for Yizhuo and Aeri's practices to end, when Jimin decided that enough was enough. She knew she needed to finally be brave before she missed her chance altogether.

"Minjeong, do you mind if we talk somewhere more private?" she croaked out, hoping the nerves weren't making her voice too wobbly. Minjeong glanced up from her textbook, looking a little surprised, but nodded and packed up her things.

Jimin didn't want their conversation to be heard by the surrounding students considered the library was already too quiet to begin with. Once both girls gathered all their things, Jimin had Minjeong follow her into an empty classroom, making sure no one had caught them walking inside together.

"Sorry, I don't want things to be weird between us or anything," she started off. She nervously started twiddling her fingers together in front of her, before finally looking into Minjeong's eyes. The girl smiled at her softly, eyes shining with patience and adoration.

"I like you. Like really, really like you. I have for a while now. And I think maybe you might feel the same way, but I didn't want to jump to conclusions and be wrong and ruin our-"

She stopped talking when she felt a soft hand grab onto hers. "You're rambling," Minjeong said with a giggle. Jimin let out a breath, feeling her face heat up in embarrassment.

"You're right, though. I do feel the same way."

Jimin's jaw dropped. Despite the signs already showing her that her intuition was correct, hearing the words from the younger girl herself still had her feeling surprised. "Do you maybe want to try dating?" she asked, feeling hopeful.

Minjeong smiled up at her, giving her hand a squeeze. "Looks like we have our own secret to keep until you 'end things' with Lucas, huh?"

Jimin couldn't control how wide she smiled at that.


---

Since Jimin couldn't exactly be caught going on dates with someone other than her "boyfriend," a lot of her time with Minjeong still mostly consisted of studying together, besides the occasional movie or spontaneous trip to a cafe. Her parents only gave her so much allowance, but she still wanted to court Minjeong properly.

They had to limit their hand holding and hugs in public to make sure no rumors were spread, so Jimin was a bit bummed out, but still extremely happy to know her feelings were reciprocated.

By the time the last week of school rolled around, Lucas finally pulled her aside to give her the news she had been waiting for. "Now that I'm off to college in the fall, we can 'break up' so you don't have to keep hiding away because of me," he explained. Jimin punched him lightly on the shoulder. "You do the breaking up so people don't spread more rumors about me," she mumbled. They both laughed before coming up with the story they'd be telling everyone.

It was easy for the change to be noticeable among their schoolmates. All they had to do was stop holding hands and eating lunch together. They were still allowed to be cordial and friendly with each other because they had told everyone it was an amicable break up. With Lucas going away to college, they didn't want to let distance cause a rift in their dynamics. Everyone bought it easily.

While Minjeong was sitting in Jimin's room that day after school, waiting for Aeri to pick her up after practice, Jimin nudged her shoulder shyly. "Looks like I'm finally 'single' now," she mumbled. Minjeong's laugh made her heart beat faster in her chest, or maybe it was the fact that the girl was leaning towards her. They both clamped their eyes shut, letting their lips meet softly. It was brief and chaste, but both girls pulled away with red faces.

"Does this officially make us girlfriends now?" Minjeong asked shyly.

"Nothing would make me happier," Jimin declared.

---

Aeri dragged Jimin and Yizhuo through the crowd at the party they had all been attending. Aeri was absolutely fuming at the sight of an upperclassman clearly trying to hit on Minjeong, who appeared so small cowering next to the boy that was considerably taller than her.

He was leaning on the wall using one arm, trapping her from getting away too easily as he nursed his drink with his other hand. Aeri's hand landed squarely on his shoulder and she used enough force to pry him off the wall. He caught himself from stumbling, grinning cheekily at the interaction.

"Whoa there, slow down cowgirl," he teased, smile never leaving his face. "There's enough of me to go around." Jimin grimaced in anticipation of Aeri's fury.

"Get away from my sister. She's too young to be dating, and she definitely shouldn't be messing around with someone like you anyways," she growled, jutting her chin up in defiance as she stared up at him.

He raised his hands up in surrender, laughing at the ordeal. "Someone like me?" he asked, even though he already knew the answer.

"Yeah, Minho, someone like you. A flirty player that goes from girl to girl like his life depends on it," Aeri spat, hands bunching up in fists. "Besides, you've already been in college for a year. What are you doing at a high school party?" When Jimin noticed Minjeong's eyes widen in fear of her sister's reaction, Jimin decided it was time to step in. She placed a hand softly on Aeri's shoulder and quietly said, "Hey, I think he gets the message. Let's just get Minjeong out of here."

Aeri clenched her jaw but decided to listen and back down. She shoved past his shoulder to grab Minjeong roughly by the arm, dragging her away without acknowledging Minho again. Yizhuo looked between the group exasperatedly before quickly following behind the two.

Jimin was unfortunately held back by a hand on her wrist, and she held back an eye roll as she turned to face Minho. "I heard you're single now, maybe you can try things with me instead," he whispered, slipping a piece of paper into her hand.

"Oh and by the way, please tell your friend to stop calling me my real name. It's Lee Know to the ladies," he said with a wink, finally leaving Jimin standing there dumbfounded. She thought she felt someone staring at her, and turned her head to see Aeri quickly turn and walk away. She crumpled the paper in her hands in annoyance.


---

"I heard she hooked up with Lee Know even though she and Lucas just broke up. So shady, right?"

Jimin grit her teeth, trying her best to ignore the whispers from the girls sitting at the table next to her. She was at a cafe for breakfast with only Minjeong and Yizhuo since Aeri didn't like waking up before noon on summer days.

Yizhuo gave Jimin a sad smile, reaching out to pat her hand that was resting on the table. "Don't let it get to you, Jimin. It's just a dumb rumor," the girl said, trying her best to look encouraging. Jimin gave her a tight lipped smile before excusing herself to the restroom. "I'll come with you!" Minjeong exclaimed.

When they got to the bathroom, all the stalls were empty, so Jimin took the time to confide in Minjeong. "I don't think we can tell Aeri about us," she whispered, just in case anyone came in.

Minjeong raised an eyebrow at her. "Why do you say that?" she asked.

"Don't you remember what she said? She doesn't want you dating, and especially not someone like me, since I probably remind her a lot of Lee Know," she grumbled.

Minjeong scoffed. "First of all, she doesn't get to decide whether or not I can date. And second... she's your best friend Jimin. Why weren't you just honest with her from the start? Then she never would've believed any of those rumors."

Jimin sighed. "Yeah, it's easy to say that now. But why would she ever trust me to date you if she finds out I've kind of been living a lie this whole time?"

Minjeong tapped on her chin while she contemplated what they could do. "Hmm okay, we can keep it a secret from Aeri. But we'll have to tell her eventually," she stated. Jimin nodded nervously.

17

She somehow managed to survive her entire senior year without Aeri ever suspecting her relationship with Minjeong.

It didn't help that people still spread rumors about Jimin as if it were a common pastime. It was almost as if any time she spoke to someone for too long, a rumor would pop up. And considering how pretty she had grown up to be, the people in question weren't exactly ready to deny the rumors.

To make things easier to hide her relationship from Aeri, she also made no active effort to deny the rumors. She would occasionally wave them away, but Aeri also never brought them up to question her in the first place. She could only assume her friend was silently judging her.

One evening she found herself sitting on Minjeong's bed, with the girl straddling her lap. They had been kissing for the past few minutes before Minjeong finally decided to pull away for air.

"Jimin... I've been thinking. Maybe it's time we tell Aeri," she suggested. Jimin was quick to flinch and blink at her in surprise. "What? No- I- we can't tell her," she stammered.

Minjeong frowned at her, and it made her hate herself for being the reason for that frown. "I can't keep hiding this from her, Jimin. I seriously think it's about time we tell her, before we dig ourselves too deep and end up making her even more upset for keeping this from her," she said sternly.

When Jimin didn't respond, she sighed and got off her lap. "At least think about it, okay?" she said sadly. Jimin gulped but promised her she would.

---

Graduation was approaching, but Jimin was more stressed about Minjeong's request to tell Aeri about their relationship. The girl hadn't brought it up again, but Jimin could tell she was thinking about it every time she gave Jimin a sad look.

Even with all the courage she could muster, she just couldn't bring herself to tell Aeri. She felt like she had kept up a lie for far too long to ever be forgiven. And the thought of Aeri not approving of her as Minjeong's girlfriend stung more than she could imagine.

She never wanted to hurt her best friend. But she was afraid that no matter what she did, Aeri would end up being upset with her.

Graduation came and went in the blink of an eye, with only pictures and a degree sitting in her parents' office to remind Jimin that it even happened. The next thing she knew, summer was almost over and she was packing for college with Aeri.

While the two got into the same university, they decided to branch out and choose random roommates. That way they could live in the same building but still make tons of new friends. And if things didn't work out with the randoms, they could always apply to room together afterwards.

Jimin was hunched over one of her suitcases when she heard a knock on her doorframe. She looked up to see Minjeong and smiled up at her, patting the ground next to her so the girl would join her.

Minjeong sat beside her and gave her a quick peck on the lips before eyeing her carefully. Jimin knew that the conversation she had been dreading was finally going to be brought up again.

"So have you thought about what I said?" Minjeong asked. She looked at Jimin expectantly, but her calm demeanor faltered when she noticed Jimin's hesitation.

"I'm sorry, Minjeong. I just don't think it's a good idea to tell her," she said, but before she could clarify Minjeong abruptly stood up. "Then I don't think this is going to work out," the shorter girl said bitterly.

"Besides, you're going off to college anyways. Maybe you can find someone you don't need to hide." Jimin opened her mouth to respond, but Minjeong had already left as quickly as possible. Jimin got up and tried to run after her, but by the time she got to the stairs, she could only catch a glimpse of Minjeong shutting the front door behind her.

She felt like a rock replaced the organ that was meant to be her heart, and felt it weigh down into her chest. She didn't even realize she was crying until she felt the wetness pooling onto her shirt.

18

Jimin and Minjeong didn't speak after that day. The only time they would even remotely come close to a conversation with each other was when they replied to the group chat they shared with Aeri and Yizhuo. Jimin couldn't handle the cycle of feeling hopeful and defeated every time Minjeong's name popped up on her phone, only to see that it was just in response to something their friends had said. She had to mute the group chat for the sake of her own sanity.

Move in day at college was a lot more hectic than she imagined, so the relief that took over her when she was finally unpacked was unmatched. She fell face-first onto her bed, breathing out a deep sigh.

She had to admit, choosing not to room with Aeri was probably one of her smarter decisions. Had she been broken up with by Minjeong, just to see her sister for the majority of her day, she wasn't sure she'd be able to keep her feelings a secret much longer. It would've only been a matter of time before Aeri figured out what she was crying over every night.

"You must be Jimin!" a voice rang out from the doorway. She quickly sat up to turn and face the direction the voice came from. "Yes, hi!"

"I'm Yeji," the girl said, eyes disappearing behind her smile. She had a kind face and Jimin could only hope that would mean she'd make a great friend out of this girl.

---

Yeji was an amazing dancer, so when she realized Jimin could also dance, she dragged the girl to dance team tryouts. Needing any distraction possible to keep herself from thinking about Minjeong, she readily agreed.

She still made time to get lunch or dinner with Aeri at least a few times a week, but she was happy she found new faces to mingle with. It gave her heart a chance to busy itself with feelings other than heartbreak.

She attended a lot of parties with her roommate and dance team members, and it gave her the opportunity to find even more distractions. She had kissed a few girls here and there, but nothing serious ever went down. She'd always pull back when she didn't feel the sparks that ignited in her lungs every time she had kissed Minjeong.

Yeji excitedly pulled her aside at one such party, grinning widely. "Guess who just got herself a girlfriend," she whisper-yelled into Jimin's ear. Jimin squealed in excitement for her friend, high-fiving her repeatedly. "Please tell me this means you finally asked Ryujin out," Jimin teased, and Yeji laughed and lightly shoved her. While Jimin was happy for the girl, the word girlfriend left a sour impression in her brain. She tried not to let it show on her face.

---

After realizing she might never find someone that could make her feel the way Minjeong did, she gave up on giving anyone attention in the romantic sense. Numerous students from her university tried their luck, but not a single number was saved into her phone.

It gave her an "ice queen" reputation, which only made people try even harder to pine after her. She could only sigh in frustration every time. It seemed rumors would follow her no matter where she went.

She was at lunch with Aeri one day when a tall boy raced by their table, leaving a hand-written note with his phone number at the bottom. She didn't even get to catch a glimpse of his face because he had left in such a hurry. Aeri couldn't control her laughter.

"Damn, Jimin. Always the ever-so-popular one, aren't you?" Jimin scowled at her, rolling her eyes.

There was only one phone number she wanted to reach out to. Even though almost a year had passed, she couldn't stop her heart from longing for one specific girl. Her eyes started to tear up but she blinked them away before Aeri could notice.

19

She had managed to land an internship at a lab on campus, which meant she didn't have to spend the summer at home trying not to profess her undying love to Minjeong. Yeji had been a great roommate, and since Ryujin also wanted to continue living with her friend, Chaeryeong, it worked out that Yeji and Jimin roomed together again for their sophomore year.

Ryujin and Chaeryeong technically should have been starting the year as freshmen, but they had graduated a year early since their high school had some special science program. Yeji had been pining after the girl since her early high school days, and Jimin had heard plenty about it to know they were a good match. She couldn't help but feel still feel that twinge of jealousy, though.

After moving into their new apartment, Jimin decided she deserved a quick nap. As soon as she laid on her bed, her phone started blaring next to her. Groaning, she reached out her hand blindly to grab it and lower the volume before checking who was calling her.

It was Aeri. She answered to hear the girl already excitedly talking her ear off. "I can't believe we managed to get spots in the same row of apartments! Thank god we didn't have to move back into those dingy dorm rooms," Aeri exclaimed. Jimin laughed along to her friend's antics.

"Oh by the way, Yizhuo and Minjeong should be finished moving in by dinner time. Do you wanna come with us to the dining hall?"

Jimin sat up straight. "What?"

"What, what?" Aeri asked, confusion evident in her voice.

"What do you mean Yizhuo and Minjeong are moving in?"

"Uhhhh.... they go here now? They've been talking about coming to college with us for months now. Have you not read anything in the group chat?"

Jimin dragged her palm down her face. "No, sorry, I uh- I've just been so busy that I haven't kept up with any of my group chats," she lied. Aeri chuckled before asking, "Don't you talk to them outside of our group chats?"

The truth was that she did occasionally text Yizhuo, but she always kept the conversations as surface-level as possible in case the girl tried to share any information about Minjeong. It was only natural to talk about her best friend, especially if she had no idea that Jimin and Minjeong were no longer on speaking terms. So Jimin did her best to avoid that topic of conversation altogether.

"I guess somehow college never came up," she admitted sheepishly. "Well then come to dinner, you can finally catch up with them since your lame ass stayed behind for the summer," Aeri demanded. Jimin couldn't think of any excuses on the spot, and her hesitation only egged Aeri on further. "I'll swing by to grab you in a few hours!" Jimin sighed in defeat after hanging up.

---

Jimin found herself sitting stiffly in a booth, right next to none other than Minjeong. Luck would have it that Yizhuo wanted to sit next to Aeri so they could chat away without any interruptions.

How desperate would she seem if she continued to sneak glances at her ex girlfriend? She couldn't help herself - after not seeing the girl for over a year, she could only conclude that Minjeong had become even more beautiful.

"You look good," she heard the girl say quietly beside her. She turned to face her, shocked that she was even being spoken to. "I- thanks, um, you do too," she stuttered, almost knocking over her water glass in the process of trying to push her own hair behind her ear. Minjeong chuckled at her clumsiness, which made Jimin's chest hurt. Oh how she missed that laugh.

Out of the corner of her eye she noticed Yeji and Ryujin walking hand in hand, and felt another pang when she was reminded of how that could've been her and Minjeong. She shook away those thoughts and waved the two girls over.

"This is my roommate, Yeji, and her girlfriend, Ryujin," Jimin said, wanting to introduce them to the freshmen. "Yeji's the co-captain of the dance team we're on," she added. Yeji waved her off shyly, trying to act humble.

"Minjeong, we should definitely try out for the team! We already have experience from cheer," Yizhuo said excitedly. Yeji and Ryujin encouraged them to tryout, while Minjeong only agreed to appease Yizhuo.

"You guys have fun with that lame stuff, I'm gonna find some other team to join," Aeri said, making everyone laugh.

---

Aeri begged them to come along to a frat party she was invited to. Yizhuo had already told them she'd have to go home for the weekend since it was her mom's birthday, which left Jimin even more surprised that Aeri had somehow convinced Minjeong to tag along.

They did their best to avoid each other as much as possible, but only so much could be done inside such a cramped frat house. Jimin found herself pushed up against a wall, with a girl whispering sloppily into her ear, reeking of alcohol. She tried not to cringe externally.

A hand whisked the girl away, and Jimin was stunned to see Minjeong glaring up at her. The drunk girl looked between the two of them with confusion before shrugging it off to go find another drink.

"I see you've been keeping up with your reputation in college," Minjeong sneered. Jimin felt her blood start to boil at that. Minjeong was the one that broke up with her, giving her no chance to explain herself, and now she was throwing accusations at Jimin?

"And what right do you have to say that to me? Do you even have the right to act jealous?" Jimin hissed, narrowing her eyes. Minjeong's jaw tensed, and she huffed before turning to stalk off in the other direction.

Jimin wasn't sure how much time had passed, but she couldn't stop the anger from flowing through her. As if her high school reputation had even been real - and Minjeong was the only one who knew the truth anyways. She bit her tongue until she tasted blood.

When she felt her phone chime, she looked down to see she had received a text from the one number she had been hoping for ever since their breakup.

We need to talk. Come over

If Jimin was in the right state of mind, she would've told Minjeong it was a better idea to wait until they had both cooled off. But the alcohol in her veins had her legs acting of their own accord. The next thing she knew, she was halfway sober from the cold walk over, standing in front of Minjeong's door and knocking.

When the door opened, she stormed past Minjeong and turned to face the younger girl. "How dare you?" she asked.

Minjeong looked at her with hardened eyes. "What?" she bit back.

"No. How dare you try to accuse me of keeping up some stupid reputation, when a single day hasn't gone by where I haven't thought about you?!" Jimin yelled.

Minjeong had the audacity to look shocked. She quickly stepped closer to Jimin, waving her arms to encourage the girl to speak quieter. She didn't want anyone to give her a noise complaint in the middle of their heated conversation.

"I- I'm sorry Jimin. You're right, I don't have any right to be jealous. But I haven't stopped thinking about you either," she admitted, blinking back her tears.

Jimin wasn't sure why people called them butterflies, because her stomach felt like it had been taken over by a swarm of raging wasps. She sucked in a sharp breath at the confession, and surged forward to kiss Minjeong.

The girl eagerly returned the kiss, and the next thing they knew, about half an hour had passed and they both had swollen lips and empty lungs.

"Just sleep here tonight, we can talk about this some other time," Minjeong mumbled, too exhausted to do anything else.

Waking up with her arms around Minjeong made Jimin wish she had never let the younger girl have the chance to get away. She tried to wash away the taste of regret by giving the girl a light kiss on her temple.

---

They never discussed what their relationship was after that. Jimin knew there was no point, considering she was still scared to tell Aeri about them. But that didn't stop her from indulging every time Minjeong asked if she could come over to her apartment.

Yeji spent most of her time at Ryujin's, so Jimin usually had the place to herself. Minjeong fit on her bed like a glove, and Jimin loved the sight of it.

What started off as innocent touches, kisses, and cuddles, turned into heated moments between the two in a short amount of time. Before they knew it, they were regularly sleeping together, and Jimin couldn't tell if she was dreaming or not.

Were they just friends with benefits now? She shuddered at the thought of possibly turning into the person people already assumed she was.

As the holidays and finals were approaching, Jimin found herself inviting Minjeong over more often. The stress was getting to both of them, and while the sex was great, they also just enjoyed being in each others company. It was a calming force of nature for the both of them.

Aeri had invited them all to another frat party to celebrate the end of the semester and finals being over, but Minjeong and Yizhuo had already made plans to attend an event with other freshmen. That left Jimin to get dragged along on her own.

She was having a decent enough time, sending Minjeong the occasional sneaky text about coming over later that night, before she felt a presence beside her.

"Hey there, ice queen," the girl said. Jimin looked up from her phone to see Soyeon, an upperclassman from her program, staring up at her. Jimin smiled politely, greeting her back.

Soyeon leaned closer, invading Jimin's space, and it took all her effort not to shrink away or push the girl out of her personal space.

"What can I do for you, Soyeon?" she mumbled, and the girl answered with a grin. "I think you know exactly what I want, sweetheart," the girl whispered seductively.

Jimin's eyes widened and she felt herself start to blush. Even though she was used to getting hit on, she could never get used to people who were extremely bold and suggestive. Jimin had only slept with one person in her 19 years of existence - innocence was her middle name.

She glanced over to see Aeri eyeing her, and she could only smile awkwardly at being caught in such a state.

---

Jimin pushed Minjeong onto the bed, kissing her aggressively. She was so focused on her task that she didn't feel herself getting flipped over onto her back. She let out a quiet yelp as she felt Minjeong bite down on her neck.

"Ow! What was that for?" she complained.

"For taking so long to come back from the party," Minjeong retorted, using her tongue to smooth over the bite mark. "Sorry," she mumbled into the sensitive skin on Jimin's neck.

---

They went home for the holidays together, all packed into Aeri's car with Yizhuo.

Jimin had made sure to wear turtle necks for the first few days of their break, but Aeri happened to catch her by surprise one day. She showed up to Jimin's house with Minjeong and Yizhuo in tow, and Jimin didn't have enough time to grab concealer or cover her neck.

She bit her lip as she sat in her living room silently, listening to Aeri cackle at her hickey. "Oh man, Jimin, I knew Soyeon was fiesty, but I didn't think she'd mark her territory like that," Aeri quipped. Yizhuo giggled along, while Minjeong glared at her from the other side of the couch.

"Who's Soyeon?" Minjeong asked.

"This hot girl that was all over Jimin at that party," Aeri said with a wink.

After the conversation died down, the girls had put on a movie, but Jimin couldn't help but feel an awkward tension radiating between her and Minjeong. Not being able to stand it anymore, she silently gestured for Minjeong to follow her out onto the back patio.

"Is everything okay?"

Minjeong scoffed in response. "Why do you always have to indulge people when they flirt with you? Is it because we're not officially dating?"

She crossed her arms over her chest, raising her eyebrow challengingly.

Jimin scrambled to reach her arms out towards the girl. "Minjeong, I swear, you're the only one I love," she said quickly.

Minjeong blinked at her, before smiling. "You still love me too?"

Before Jimin could speak, the patio door opened beside her.

"Hey I'm sorry, I didn't mean to make you guys fight again. I just thought I'd give you the push you needed to finally tell me you were dating," Aeri said quietly, looking at the distance between the two girls.

Minjeong started stuttering, and Jimin felt her entire face turn as red as a tomato. "We- we're not dating," she said. "Well, not anymore..." she admitted.

"But you just said you love me!" Minjeong added, and Jimin wanted to strangle her (lovingly, of course).

Aeri burst into laughter again.

"How did you know?" Jimin asked, after the other girl had finally calmed down from laughing.

"Seriously Jimin? I'm your best friend. You think I didn't notice you two making googly eyes at each other since the moment you met?" she asked, rolling her eyes.

"But the rumors-"

"I didn't believe a single word of those rumors. Especially since you never brought them up, I just assumed you knew I thought they were all made up. Not to mention I caught you two making out in our living room once when you thought no one was home," she added, faking a gag.

Both Jimin and Minjeong tried to hide their blushing faces now.

"I had a feeling you two broke up when we graduated, seeing how depressed you both were," Aeri continued. "And I was hoping I could push you back together somehow."

Jimin swooned, pulling her best friend into a bone crushing hug. Minjeong looked over at them with tears in her eyes, and joined in on the hug. Once they finally let go, they noticed Yizhuo standing at the patio door with an amused expression, and Aeri yanked her into another group hug.

"I love you, Minjeong." Jimin said, once they had all settled back on the sofa inside.

"And I love you, Jimin."

It only took a few years and a lot of pining, but Jimin finally got her romcom style romance.