Title: One Step, Two Steps
Genre(s): fluff, humor
Warning(s): all the high school cliches and tropes
Word Count: 8,669
Summary: From the moment Arin first laid eyes on Hyojung, she was besotted. The only problem is that Hyojung is a senior and Arin is a freshman. And a girl. (Alternately, Hyojung oozes perfection, Arin is persistent, and Seunghee is so done with it all. This is what she gets for hanging out with freshmen.)
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“How do they expect us to not get lost?” Binnie had fretted when they'd stepped into the high school for freshman orientation a week before school was set to start.
Indeed, the school was pretty huge, four stories high if you included the basement level, which housed some classrooms. But Arin wasn't worried. She had come prepared with a map of the school she'd printed off the school's website complete with the room numbers to each classroom. The path they'd need to take from the front entrance to the auditorium was drawn onto the map in pink highlighter, and Arin had three more colors of highlighters in her bag to mark her locker and classrooms on the map when she received her class schedule.
Unlike Binnie, Arin wasn't fretting over finding her classes or getting on the bad side of the upper classmen. She was ready for a bigger arena- tired of the tiny building they'd gone to middle school in and the lazy teaching of the teachers who had gotten stuck working in middle school instead of high school or elementary.
Arin couldn't wait to start high school, and she felt like with her good study habits, fresh school supplies, and a plan of action, she was fully prepared.
But there were some things that she couldn't have possibly foreseen- some things that were impossible to plan for.
How was Arin supposed to have known that the senior mentor who was in charge of her section would be the most perfect girl she'd ever laid eyes on?
Watching with rapt attention as Hyojung, senior mentor, student council vice president, member of the school choir, and owner of the most dazzling smile Arin had ever seen, told them about how long passing periods were, Arin had to admit that she hadn't planned for this
But that was okay. Even the greatest laid plans had faults. And Arin wasn't afraid of a challenge.
She vowed, then and there, that she would go on at least one date with Hyojung before the year was over.
Locker combinations seemed awfully dull after all of that.
“She’s just so perfect
,” Arin gushed, sitting on the floor and leaning against the row of lockers fifteen minutes left before the first bell. “She knew absolutely everything about the school and all the clubs and extracurriculars. She’s in four
AP classes this year, and
she still has time for school choir, student council, being a senior mentor, and participating in an outreach choir outside of school!”
“How is she not dead?” Jiho wanted to know, leaning around Binnie to look at Arin- long, straight hair making a curtain that almost touched the linoleum floor.
“Because she’s hard-working and driven and smart,” Arin informed them. It seemed a safe assumption to make based on what she knew of Hyojung from spending an hour and a half with her as she’d led the group of twenty freshmen she was in charge of around the school.
your type,” Binnie allowed, short pigtails bobbing as she nodded.
“She’s also a senior
,” Seunghee pointed out, slamming her locker closed and looking down at the three freshman.
Seunghee’s family was friends with Binnie’s family, so the girls had known each other for years, and Jiho and Arin had gotten to know her too. Having a sophomore friend as a freshman was pretty nice, in case they had any questions, but Arin was saving hers so she would have an excuse to seek Hyojung out during their first week when the senior mentors were scattered throughout the halls during passing period to help the new freshman. There were only two days left in the week, and Arin was determined to make them count.
“Arin is going after the older women,” Jiho teased, shimmying her shoulders and giggling.
“It’s a waste of time drooling over upperclassmen, especially as a freshman,” Seunghee went on. “The only one in my year who dated a senior when we were freshman was this one girl who dated a guy from the football team. And it was decidedly creepy.”
“Hyojung is an upstanding member of society, though,” Arin defended. “It’s not like she’d be taking advantage.”
“Oh! That reminds me!” Jiho cut in, leaning forward again. “I had a dream about the senior mentor who led my group! Chansik! He was a prince and I was a princess, and we were waltzing in this pretty blue room...and then I was wandering the halls and there were all these doors and I went in one room and it was filled with cotton candy! But then I was in a blanket fort...and there was a magician and all these butterflies...but the butterflies turned into caterpillars and fell on me. And then I woke up and my cat was walking on my chest.”
“Wow, all I dreamt about was that I forgot to do my math homework,” Binnie said, seeming mostly at a loss for how to respond.
“I think that’s my cue to leave!” Seunghee announced, hefting her backpack onto her shoulders. “Falling caterpillars and cotton candy rooms is where I draw the line.”
They were quiet as the older girl walked away until Jiho made a distressed sound as she tipped over to land sprawled on the floor.
If it had been anyone else, Arin might have been concerned that their appendix had ruptured or something, but it was Jiho, so she just looked over and waited for an explanation.
forgot to do my math homework!” she wailed, and Binnie snorted.
Arin wondered if Hyojung was any good at math. Probably.
This was it. This was her window.
It was Friday- the last day the senior mentors would be making themselves available for questions between classes- and Arin had to pass by the place Hyojung usually stood to get from her honors literature class to her honors biology class.
This was her last chance.
She’d have done it earlier, but Arin honestly hadn’t been able to think of anything to ask her. Thanks to her trusty map and highlighters, she hadn’t been getting lost. Her classes had all been going fine. And she didn’t think she really needed life advice about anything. Though advice about how to ask a senior out as a freshman would have been helpful. Not that she was going to ask Hyojung that.
What could she possibly ask that was relevant and not idiotic? She should have just asked directions on the first day even though she knew where she was going. At least that would have been easy and no one would have questioned her motives.
Arin had planned to ask where the nurse’s office was (even though she knew), but as she approached Hyojung, wearing a senior mentor shirt and smiling at the students who passed, Arin decided that was a stupid idea. She didn’t want Hyojung to think she was sick. Plus, Hyojung had pointed out the nurse’s office on the tour she’d given during orientation. Arin didn’t want her to think that she hadn’t been paying attention.
Even though she had no plan, Arin forced herself to walk right up to where Hyojung was standing.
Despite being three years her junior, Arin was noticeably taller than her and had to tilt her head down slightly to make eye contact.
It really wasn’t fair that Hyojung was cute, too.
“Hi,” Hyojung greeted her brightly, smile just as friendly and infectious as Arin remembered. “Arin, right?”
If she hadn’t already been grinning, she would have been then. Hyojung remembered her by name!
“Yeah,” Arin told her, nodding enthusiastically and making her ponytail swing. “You have a good memory.”
Hyojung chuckled and Arin felt her heart flutter.
“So, what can I help you with?”
Right. A question. She was supposed to be asking a question.
“Um,” she started, mind racing and trying to think of something, anything
, to ask that wasn’t will you please date me
? “Is it true that you dissect pig fetuses in bio AP?” she blurted out and wanted to smack herself. That was not a question worthy of seeking out a senior mentor between classes on the first week of school.
Hyojung laughed, and Arin was distracted from feeling like an idiot by the way Hyojung’s eyes were curved up in perfect crescents.
“I’m on my way to bio, honors
,” she hastily explained, liking the way Hyojung was looking at her attentively as she spoke. Like what she was saying was actually important and not just random babbling. “So, I was just thinking about it. I guess it’s not really a dire issue.”
Smiling warmly, Hyojung shook her head. “Maybe not, but I can still answer your question.”
Arin tried not to visibly swoon.
“Yes, the biology AP classes do
dissect pig fetuses,” she confirmed with a nod before adding conspiratorially , “which is why I’m taking chem AP.”
That startled a laugh out of Arin, and Hyojung grinned, seemingly pleased.
“Good to know,” Arin said, heart soaring. She might have asked a random question, but she was feeling good. However, a glance at her watch let her know that she only had one minute to get to class or else she would be late. She was never
late. “Sorry! I have to go!”
“No worries,” Hyojung told her, still smiling at her and making Arin want to be late, just this once.
“Thanks for the help!” she said, starting to back up in the direction she needed to go.
“Anytime!” Hyojung called after her as she waved and took off at a clipped pace.Anytime
. Arin hoped she meant it.
"Any Hyojung sightings recently?" Binnie obligingly asked when Arin had settled on her right near Seunghee's locker- their usual morning haunt.
It was already the beginning of October and while Arin was grateful that things were going well as far as school was concerned, the fact that she rarely saw Hyojung at all was a constant downer.
With no shared classes or extracurriculars, Arin had to rely solely on chance sightings to feed her enduring crush.
"I saw her leaving the school with that one girl with the big eyes from the dance team yesterday," Arin said with a sigh. When she did
see Hyojung, she was often with one of her friends, so it wasn't like she could go up to her and say hi. She didn't want to interrupt.
"I saw in her choir yesterday," Seunghee needlessly pointed out. "And the day before. And the day before."
"You don't need to brag," Arin grumbled.
"I told you I'd introduce you."
"But she already knows
me," Arin reminded her.
"Can't you have people over or something and invite her and invite us?"
"I don't really see her outside of choir," Seunghee told Arin, not for the first time. "It'd be weird if I invited her to my house. I'm just a sophomore, after all."
Arin made a face, knowing that last part had been meant as a reminder that Arin was even less likely to befriend a senior.
They were quiet for a minute- Seunghee on her phone, Jiho filling out some worksheet, and Binnie possibly dozing off with her head on Jiho's shoulder. Arin, however, was thinking about the last handful of times she'd seen Hyojung.
"Do you think she's dating that girl?" she wondered, referring to the girl from dance team that she'd seen with Hyojung the day before.
"No," Seunghee replied without looking up from her phone screen.
"Do you even know who I'm talking about?" Arin challenged.
"No, but it doesn't matter," Seunghee said. "I've told
you. Hyojung dated a guy from choir who graduated last year. She's straight."
"Just because she's dated a guy doesn't mean she's straight!" Arin passionately pointed out, rousing Binnie from her near snooze. "According to Kinsey, the majority of people are attracted to men and women, at least to some extent. So just because she had a boyfriend doesn't mean she'd be opposed to dating a girl!"
"I'm just reporting the facts," Seunghee said with a shrug. "I've never seen anything that would make me think she was interested in girls, so I assume she's straight."
"You shouldn't assume," Arin huffed, perturbed.
They were all quiet again until Seunghee got up and left, her first class all the way across the school.
"Most people are
attracted to men and women," Arin defended a moment later.
"We know. You've told us," Binnie said, patting Arin's knee consolingly.
"It's true," Arin insisted, worried she was being placated.
"I believe you!" Binnie assured her, holding eye contact until Arin was satisfied.
"I'll tell you when I get my first crush on a girl," Jiho told her, and Arin laughed, grateful that her friends tolerated her rants about Kinsey. Those tended to happen more often than one would think.
"You know, you always talk about how most people like boys and girls, and yet you don't," Binnie teased, poking Arin in the side.
"It's not my fault that I'm a six on the Kinsey scale," she defended.
"Of course our Arin isn't in the majority," Binnie went on playfully. "Such a special snowflake."
Arin stuck her tongue out, dodging the poke to the cheek that Binnie attempted.
But even as she giggled with her friends, Arin was remembering how close Hyojung and that girl had been walking the day before. Could they be...?
"New plan!" Arin announced, marching up to Binnie and Jiho where they were already eating their lunch at the end of one of the long tables in the cafeteria.
"Wha?" Jiho asked around a mouthful of pizza.
"I'm going to get to know Hyojung's friends," Arin told them, plopping down in her usual seat.
"What's that gonna do?" Binnie asked, confused.
"Well, maybe if I can get an in with her friends, I can get an in with Hyojung. Maybe someone will invite me somewhere or something," she explained, unzipping her lunch box and pulling out a tupperware container filled with pasta salad and a plastic fork.
"Do you think they'll invite a freshman?" Jiho asked, not in the same derisive way Seunghee would have asked if she was there, so that was something at least.
Arin shrugged, "Maybe not, but I can at least make myself known."
"Seems reasonable," Binnie said, pulling a bag of crackers out of her lunch bag. "I think."
"And at the very least, I can find out if she's dating any of them," Arin finished.
"I see," Binnie nodded, lips pulling up in a knowing smirk. "So that's what this is about."
"There are multiple reasons!" Arin defended, stabbing a piece of penne aggressively.
"I'm not saying she wouldn't date a girl," Jiho prefaced, holding her hands up to show she wasn't looking for a fight that would end in more Kinsey related statistics, "but wouldn't we know if she was? Wouldn't that be, like, news
"Not if they didn't make it public," Arin said.
"So...then why would they tell you about it?" Binnie asked.
"I'm not trying to bust a hole in your plan," Binnie told her on a laugh. "I'm just wondering."
"Hopefully I'll be able to tell from how they talk about her," Arin reasoned, gathering herself and taking a dainty bite of her pasta salad.
"As long as they don't talk about her like you talk about her," Binnie teased, but Arin didn't take the bait.
If she was aiming to have a senior girlfriend, then she had to behave more maturely.
So with a prim nod, Arin dabbed at her lips with a napkin.
The plan would commence that afternoon.
Arin's eyes locked in on her target.
She was in the school library, ten minutes after the last bell had rung.
The other week, she'd seen Hyojung studying with a friend in the library after school. When Arin had walked by the library in hopes of catching sight of Hyojung again the next day, she'd just seen the other girl Hyojung was with. And that day, Arin knew that Hyojung wouldn't be showing up because she had an extra choir practice.
She only knew that because of Seunghee.
But the point was that Hyojung's friend was there, Arin wast here, and Hyojung was not. Perfect.
"Excuse me?" Arin said quietly, coming up behind the girl in one of the aisles.
The girl turned, looking somewhat surprised to have been addressed. Half of her hair had been pulled back and the rest shone auburn where it fell on her shoulders. Her full lips turned up as she waited for Arin to continue. She really was pretty. All of Hyojung's friends were pretty.
Arin felt a touch competitive.
"Sorry," Arin apologized, sheepish for having interrupted. "I've just seen you in here before. I was wondering if it costs money to print? I remember hearing something about that but..."
She did have an essay to print, though she could have printed it at home. But doing so here allowed for the perfect opportunity to find out more about Hyojung's friend.
"It depends what you're printing," the girl told her with a friendly smile.
"It's just an essay," Arin explained, readjusting the straps on her backpack on her shoulders.
History, math, and biology homework. That was a lot of books that she needed to take home and her back was feeling it.
"If you're using the non color printer and printing under ten pages, it's free," the girl said, still genial despite having been interrupted. "Do you know which printer is which?"
"I can show you," she offered, gesturing for Arin to follow her. "I'd just tell you, but I can never remember what each of them is called off the top of my head. I have to be looking at the printer options."
Arin followed her as she led the way to one of the open computers, allowing Arin to sit and pulling up a chair next to her.
"I'm Jine, by the way," the girl added as Arin inserted her thumb drive and pulled her essay up.
"Nice to meet you. I'm Arin," she replied, pausing to shake Jine's hand before it had both of giggling at the formality.
"Here you go," Jine said, leaning over to choose the correct printer from the drop down menu and pressing print. "Then you close your document and we go over to the desk to pick it up."
Arin did as she was told, thanking Jine and following her to the front desk where they had to wait behind a few students who were checking out books.
"I think I've seen you here with my senior mentor before," Arin ventured as they stood in line, hoping the observation seemed spontaneous and not like she'd been waiting to say it the whole time.
"Oh, Hyojung?" Jine asked, and Arin nodded, trying not to look too eager. "Yeah, we have a few classes together, so we end up doing homework and studying together a lot."
She smiled as she spoke and seemed happy to be talking about Hyojung, but Arin didn't detect the kind of gleam in her eye that she'd expect from someone who was lucky enough to date her.
"She has choir practice today," Jine went on, "or else she'd be here so we could study for our gov AP test tomorrow."
"Yeah, I know," Arin replied before she could think.
Jine gave her a funny look.
"My friend is in choir," she explained, "so she was complaining about the extra practice this morning."
Jine laughed, no longer looking suspicious.
"Yeah, I don't know how Hyojung manages it all. She's in so many AP classes and does so many extracurriculars," Jine said, echoing the same thing Arin had thought when Hyojung had told them all about everything she was involved in. Though Arin hoped she'd be able to do as much when she was an upperclassman. "I get stressed out if I have a test the day after we have a yearbook meeting," Jine joked and Arin laughed, hoping she didn't look too starry eyed at Hyojung's accomplishments.
Arin finally got her essay from one of the librarians and she thanked Jine profusely for helping her out before she left the library and let Jine get back to her studying.
Jine was really nice. She could see why Hyojung was friends with her. Though it didn't seem as though there was anything beyond friendship between them.
That was a relief.
Though now Arin had to figure out how to engage the other girls she'd seen Hyojung with. Jine had been the easiest since she'd known she could probably find her in the library.
The next two were going to be a bit harder.
But of course, Arin didn't mind a challenge.
Pretending to text someone, Arin watched her next target as she made her way down the hall toward her.
Over-sized denim jacket, striped t-shirt, long, blonde hair, and shorts that looked too short for the school's dress code, though apparently she'd worn them all day without getting in trouble. She was hard to miss.
Maybe because of that, Arin felt like she saw her in the hall all the time. The problem was that she never seemed to be anywhere consistently. It was just luck that Arin had seen her when she'd been getting ready to head toward the front doors to go home. Not knowing when she'd have the opportunity again, Arin knew she had to act fast.
Right when the girl reached her, Arin stepped out and let the girl bump into her.
"Sorry!" the girl exclaimed, stepping back and tucking her hair behind an ear as she surveyed Arin for damage. "I run into more people, I swear to god."
"It's fine," Arin assured her. "It was my fault." It was
. "I was looking at my phone and not paying attention."
"Well, sorry anyway," the girl said, laughing. "I'm Mimi."
That was easy.
"Arin," Arin replied, letting Mimi grab her hand and pump it in a very enthusiastic handshake. "I think I've seen you around before."
"I'm around," Mimi agreed, grinning so her gums showed.
"I think..." Arin paused as though she was thinking, "I've seen you with Hyojung? She was my senior mentor at orientation."
"Oh! Yeah!" Mimi clapped her hands as though they'd just cracked a code. "She was your senior mentor? That's awesome. Hyojung is great."
Arin nodded, wondering if she should be concerned by Mimi's excitement over the topic of Hyojung. Could they be dating? Did Mimi like her?
"When I was a freshman, my senior mentor was some idiot jock who had no idea what was going on. I don't think he answered even half the questions that people asked him," she shook her head, laughing at the memory. "I imagine Hyojung would be a lot more useful."
"She was very useful," Arin confirmed, amused.
"Yeah, she and I met during the fall musical last year," Mimi went on, starting to walk, so Arin followed. "I do a lot of the behind the scenes stuff like costumes and set design and lighting and stuff. I was in the spring comedy last year, too, but anyway. Hyojung had one of the lead roles in the musical, obviously, so we were both basically living in the auditorium in the weeks leading up to the performances. A lot of the singers and actors ignore the people who work behind the scenes, but she was really cool and talked to everyone. We got along really well, so we've stayed friends. And we have a class together this semester, so that's been fun."
"That's awesome," Arin said, imagining Hyojung befriending everyone working on the musical and being the liaison between the performers and the crew. She hoped that she wasn't too obviously swooning.
"Yeah!" Mimi agreed. "Oh shoot. I forgot I have to borrow a book from a friend. Gotta go. See you around!"
With a quick salute and a smile, Mimi was hastening back in the direction that they'd come from, backpack hanging precariously from one shoulder.
Chuckling, Arin continued on her way, ready to leave for the day.
She had barely even had to try and Mimi had been an information spout. But though Mimi seemed understandably fond of Hyojung, Arin didn't think that there was was hidden love connection between the two. If there was, she suspected Mimi would have readily shared that with her without prompting.
So far, talking to Hyojung's friends had only strengthened her crush on the older girl. Each new thing she learned about her just made her like her even more. If this didn't lead to opportunities to spend time with Hyojung, Arin would have to think of something else because she really
wanted to be near the other girl.
In the meantime, she had one more friend to talk to. And this one was the one she saw Hyojung with the most.
Undoubtedly, this was going to be the most telling interaction yet.
"Good job, girls," the dance team coach called. "That's it for today."
Arin tried not to be too conspicuous as she watched the team disperse to the edges of the gym, grabbing water bottles and bags and heading for the exit. She wasn't sure if she was going to have an opening to talk to Hyojung's friend, but she was going to try. If she left with someone else, she'd just have to try another day.
But somehow, the lesbian gods were on her side, and Hyojung's friend stopped to answer a text, so she was the last one to leave.
“Hi, um,” Arin started, immediately garnering the attention of the girl in question.
Her bangs were sticking to her temples with sweat and her eyes were wide, even wider than they'd been before, when she looked up at the sound of Arin’s voice.
“Sorry I was just watching the last bit of your practice and it looked really fun. I was thinking of joining?”
Arin liked dancing. She'd even taken a few dance classes as a kid. But she probably wasn't going to join dance team. It was a big commitment for something she wasn't completely passionate about. She really had
enjoyed watching, though. Also, she hadn't been able to think of a better excuse to talk to Hyojung’s friend, so there she was.
The girl smiled, lips no longer parted in confusion.
Of course all of Hyojung’s friends were nice. Of course
“Well, we actually already had try outs back in September, but we’ll have try outs again in January, so you won't have to wait until next year.”
“Oh okay, that's great,” Arin said returning the smile, though unsure of how to proceed.
“Have you been to a football game yet?”
Arin shook her head.
“We’re part of the halftime show, so that's a good opportunity to see us perform if you want,” she said, sticking her phone in the bag she had over her shoulder and using her now free hands to tighten her ponytail. “You can always leave after halftime if football isn't your thing. I wish we could.”
Arin laughed, watching the girl's eyes crinkle at her own observation.
“What's your name?” the girl asked then, and that was good. She wasn't just going to hurry away. Arin had time to figure out how to steer the conversation in the direction of Hyojung.
“Arin,” she said. “Sorry for not introducing myself earlier.”
“No problem!” the girl assured her, voice light and airy. “I'm Yooa. Are you a freshman?”
There! That was her opening! She was a freshman! Her senior mentor had been Hyojung! Hadn't she seen the two of them together?
Arin opened her mouth to answer and steer the conversation in the direction she'd intended, but before she could, there was Hyojung. Not there in spirit. Not there as a theoretical third party based on the mention of her. Actually
there. Standing next to Yooa and greeting her. Standing next to Yooa and looking at Arin quizzically.
“Arin?” she asked, and though her lips were curved up in the smile that came so easily to her, her eyes were discerning.
And that was when Arin truly realized the flaw in her plan.
She'd failed to consider the fact that Jine or Mimi or probably both
of them would mention to Hyojung that they'd met some freshman who said they knew her. And since both of them knew her name, there would be no possibility that the freshman that they each had spoken to hadn’t been the same person. They were both Arin and now she was being caught red handed talking to Yooa.
Hyojung must have thought she was some insane stalker.
Maybe talking to someone's friends about them fell into the socially unacceptable category.
Arin froze, knowing that her face must have shown the sheer panic she was feeling inside. She was never caught doing something wrong because she was never doing anything wrong
This had just been the plan that she hadn't thought through. Hyojung's perfection had clouded her judgment. And now Arin had ruined her chances with the girl of her dreams.
“Yeah, sorry,” she said, voice too high pitched and unnatural. “I didn't mean to be in the way. I should go anyway. Sorry.”
Yooa had looked perplexed by Arin's sudden departure, and Arin had been too afraid to even see what Hyojung's reaction was.
Maybe if she'd played it cool, she could have pretended everything was just a crazy coincidence. She'd just needed help in the library that time. Yooa just happened to be the last girl to leave practice that day. Mimi, apparently, bumped into lots of people. Maybe she could have played it off. The way she'd acted had surely been an admittance of guilt.
But she had panicked! Besides, Mimi couldn't be that
clumsy. Even if she'd pretended that she hadn't been up to anything, Hyojung would surely know that she had.
Arin speed walked all the way home, wondering if her face was as red as she suspected it was. Hopefully she could pass it off as a result of the exertion from her clipped pace.
From here on out, she had no plan. She didn't like to give up, but she knew when to cut her losses and get out.
She'd totally blown it with Hyojung.
Back to Plan A, which involved lots of studying, some hanging out with her friends, and no romantic interest for her freshman year.
Hopefully she hadn't gone too far off track.
“Well, what did you think
was going to happen?” Seunghee demanded, looking like she was suffering from second hand embarrassment.
Arin glowered. “Not this, obviously.”
Upon arrival at their usual before school meeting place, Arin hadn’t been able to hold back from lamenting about the disaster that had happened the day before. If she told her friends, then she could wash her hands of her failure and move on.
A little sympathy would have been nice, too.
At least Jiho had looked horrified on her behalf, and Binnie had patted her on the shoulder consolingly.
“She must think you’re some psycho who’s gonna make her skin into a coat,” Seunghee marveled.
“Well, I’m not,” Arin snapped, legs pulled to her chest and head pillowed on her forearms where they rested on her knees.
“At least you'll be memorable,” Jiho tried after a minute during which no one spoke.
Arin made a displeased noise in her throat and then they were silent again.
“What up, home slice.”
Arin looked up from the spot she'd been focusing on on the floor to see Mimi walking by, smiling at her and giving her a salute.
Her hair was in two pigtails with elastic bands running the length of them, the hair between each puffing up so it looked like hair baubles. It should have looked ridiculous, and it kind of did, but somehow Mimi made it work.
Arin gave Mimi a small smile and a wave as she passed by.
At least she didn't look appalled by Arin. It seemed that when Mimi had, presumably, told Hyojung about talking to Arin, Hyojung's immediate reaction hadn't been what a creep
. So that was something?
“Who was that?” Binnie wanted to know.
“Mimi,” Arin told her. “One of Hyojung’s friends.”
“At least you're friendly with upperclassmen now,” Jiho pointed out. “That's pretty cool.”
It was, so Arin nodded. Though the price she paid wasn't worth it in the end. Because the upperclassman who mattered the most thought she was a stalker.
Plan A, she reminded herself. Plan A didn't care whether or not Hyojung thought she was a weirdo. According to Plan A, she was doing just fine.
So she held that reassurance close as she trudged to her first class, much less pep in her step than usual.
Her name in that voice had dread pooling in her stomach before she even turned around, tucking her biology textbook in her backpack and closing her locker.
This wasn’t part of Plan A. She was just supposed to go home and study and pretend that Hyojung didn’t exist. Hyojung wasn’t supposed to seek her out
Arin turned, finding Hyojung standing behind her with a light jacket on and her satchel across her body.
She wasn’t smiling, brows pinched a little and lips pulled to the side, but she didn’t look angry. Or disgusted. Maybe this wouldn’t go as horribly as Arin feared it would.
“Hi,” Arin said, fingers clutching tight to her backpack straps as though they were a lifeline. They were, at the very least, something to occupy her hands. Already, she had no idea where to look, what to do. Should she apologize? Play dumb? Pretend nothing had happened?
Arin stayed quiet, waiting for Hyojung to say something first.
“You’ve been...talking to my friends about me?” Hyojung finally said, looking uncomfortable.
Shifting on her feet, Arin looked down, feeling her stomach twist in shame. It really did
But as much as she wanted to hide or declare her innocence, Arin knew she had to own up to what had happened. Hopefully, if she just explained and apologized, Hyojung would understand. Arin certainly didn’t expect her to be happy about it, but maybe she could at least see that Arin wasn’t some psychotic stalker and they could both move on.
Looking back up to meet Hyojung’s eyes, Arin nodded.
Hyojung seemed somewhat relieved that Arin was acknowledging it, but also confused still. “I don't- why?”
Arin swallowed and took a deep breath. She had to just tell her the truth. She'd messed up and these were the consequences.
Not how she'd ever imagined confessing, but it was what it was.
“I wanted to get closer to you,” Arin told her, making sure to keep her voice steady. She didn't like to think of herself as a coward. “So I talked to your friends. It was...probably stupid.”
Hyojung’s brows furrowed, like she wanted to tell Arin it hasn't been stupid, but she couldn't figure out how. Probably because they both knew it was
Arin continued before Hyojung could say anything.
“I wanted to get closer to you because I have a crush on you,” Arin told her, stomach swooping but resolve steady. “And since you're a senior and I'm a freshman, I just didn't know how to get to know you. But I shouldn't have been creeping around talking to your friends. That was weird. I'm sorry.”
Hyojung’s eyes were wide when Arin finished, mouth slightly gaping and apparently speechless.
Fighting against the urge to start rambling, Arin quietly waited for Hyojung to say something.
“You have a crush on me?” she finally asked, still looking surprised.
Arin nodded, feeling embarrassment creep up on her at the same time she was hit with one last push of determination. She'd never been known to give up easily.
“I told myself I'd get you to go on one date with me this year,” Arin confessed, sure that her cheeks must have been flushed, but plowing on regardless. “And I know you must not have the greatest opinion of me right now, but just one date. I'd really...I'd really appreciate the chance.”
If it was possible, Hyojung looked even more gobsmacked than she had initially.
Hyojung blinked up at her and Arin tried not to squirm.
After what felt like an eon, Hyojung finally spoke.
Arin nodded, holding her breath as the silence resumed.
Then, it was Arin’s turn to be shocked.
“Wait, really?” she asked, trying to stay composed, but probably not succeeding.
Hyojung shrugged, laughing like she kind of couldn’t fathom what was going on either. “Yeah. Why not?”
She smiled then, that sparkling smile that lit up her entire face, and Arin felt her heart skip.
“Let’s exchange numbers,” Hyojung suggested, reaching into her bag and retrieving her phone, “and you can text me your address. Is Friday okay? I can pick you up.”
Arin’s head was spinning as she handed her phone over and put her number in Hyojung’s contacts.
In fact, none of it sunk in until she was walking home, three blocks away from the school.
She had a date. With Hyojung. She
had a date
The excited wiggle she did when that thought registered might have been witnessed by an elderly woman who was gardening in her front yard, but that was okay.
Everything was okay.
Somehow, everything had worked out just how Arin had planned.
Despite her excitement, Arin walked sedately to Seunghee’s locker and sat down next to Binnie.
Though she'd been tempted about every thirty seconds the night before to text her friends about what had transpired after school with Hyojung, she had resisted simply because she wanted to see their faces when she told them.
“So,” she said conversationally when Jiho had finished recounting her dream about being the sole audience member for some bar performance of some guys in fringed jackets, “guess who has a date on Friday.”
Her friends looked at her in varying states of confusion.
“Since you don't seen distraught, I'm guessing it's not Hyojung,” Seunghee said, popping a piece of mint gum in her mouth before offering the pack to Arin.
“Actually, Hyojung does have a date, but she wasn't the one I was expecting you to guess,” Arin informed her, shaking her head in response to the offer of gum.
“Who does she have a date with?” Binnie asked as Jiho leaned forward so far that her hair actually brushed against the floor.
Arin took a moment to look at all of her friends’ expectant faces before she smiled primly and told them, “me.”
Seunghee's eyes seemed to nearly pop out of her head as Binnie gaped, Jiho squealing and clapping her hands together in excitement.
?” Binnie wanted to know, and Arin might have been offended by her disbelief and confusion if she didn't share those same feelings.
“Honestly, I have no idea,” she laughed. “She came up to me after school to ask.about why I'd been talking to her friends, and I just told her everything. And she agreed to go on a date with me.”
“That's insane,” Binnie marvelled, mouth hanging open almost comically. “Great! But insane.”
Arin giggled. “I agree.”
“Dang, kid,” Seunghee said, chuckling in disbelief. “I should have given you more credit. You pulled it off.”
“Of course she did!” Jiho cut in, leaning around Binnie and grinning. “Arin always does what she sets out to do.”
Beaming proudly, Arin fielded questions about what her plan was for the actual date.
But even though making a plan and sticking to it had served her well in the past, Arin wanted to see what would happen if she just went with the flow. Besides, she didn't think she was equipped to make a plan for going on a date with Hyojung. That was above her skillset. So she'd just have to cross her fingers and hope for the best.
Worst case scenario, she'd still have gone on a date with her dream girl, and that was pretty good worst case scenario.
“Are you hungry?” Hyojung asked when Arin climbed into the passenger seat of her car.
Arin had worn her chambray shirt with her black corduroy high waisted mini skirt to school that day so she could easily refresh her look for the date by putting on her menswear inspired black brimmed hat, balanced and pinned so it sat back on her head and didn't cover her face.
It appeared that Hyojung had changed her shirt and put on lipstick, which pleased Arin immensely. Not because she was highly invested in what lip products Hyojung wore and when, but because it meant that she'd put extra thought in for their date. It was likely that it would be a one time thing, but at least they were both invested enough to want to look nice.
“Yes!” Arin confirmed, buckling her seat belt and looking over at Hyojung with a grin. “How about you?”
She smiled. “Definitely. What are you in the mood for?”
“Burgers?” she said. “But don't just agree if you don't want burgers! As women, we are taught that we need to put the needs of others before our own, but we can find something we both want, I'm sure.”
Hyojung’s brows were quirked at Arin’s spontaneous feminist rant.
“I was actually about to say that I had a burger for lunch,” Hyojung told her, eyes laughing.
“No problem!” Arin said, clapping her hands. “Did you have anything in mind?”
“There's a new Japanese place that just got put in where that golf shop used to be,” Hyojung suggested.
“Oh! Do they have ramen?”
“So I hear,” Hyojung said, putting the car in reverse and starting to back down the driveway.
“Then that sounds great!” Arin declared.
“Now don't just say that to appease me,” Hyojung teased, glancing over at Arin as she pulled out onto the street to shoot her a playful smile.
Arin laughed, gently pushing at Hyojung's shoulder before settling into her seat.
And so the date commenced.
“I kind of can't believe you agreed,” Arin admitted when they were seated at a small table near the front of the restaurant and they had put in their orders. “Though I think my friends are even more
“Why is that?” Hyojung asked, reaching out to take a sip of her water- the ring on her middle finger clinking against the glass.
Arin couldn't help but snort. What wasn't
there to be shocked about?
“Aside from the fact that I'm just a lowly freshman?” Arin joked. “Well, my friends kept telling me I was wasting my time because you had a boyfriend last year.”
As soon as the words had left her mouth, Arin clamped her lips shut. She probably shouldn't have been bringing up Hyojung's ex, especially knowing nothing about how things had ended between them. For all she knew, it had ended horrifically and Hyojung was still heartbroken over the whole ordeal.
Not to mention, she still had no proof that Hyojung was even interested in girls. Her agreement to go on this date could have very well just been a gesture to show Arin there were no hard feelings. Maybe it was pity. Maybe she was humoring her. And if any of that was true, Arin had probably gone and ruined the whole date.
But when Arin was ready for Hyojung's smile to fall, the older girl simply laughed.
“Just having had a boyfriend doesn't prove anything except maybe that I, at least, like guys,” she chuckled. “And even that isn't true in some instances, though I am
interested in guys.”
“How about girls?” Arin asked, almost holding her breath as she waited for Hyojung to answer.
Hyojung raised her brows. “I'm on a date with you, aren't I?”
“I thought maybe you were just being nice,” Arin sheepishly confessed.
“You must really
think I'm nice,” Hyojung laughed, the sound like tinkling bells.
Arin smiled, adrenaline curling through her chest to know that Hyojung could at least theoretically
be interested in her. This could be a real
Once she'd managed to swallow the giddy laugh that was threatening to spill out from between her lips, Arin looked back at Hyojung.
“I kept telling
my friends that most people are interested in men and women,” she said. “I mean, Kinsey found that-”
“I know all about Kinsey,” Hyojung told her with a chuckle and Arin felt her eyes widen before she beamed.
“Marry me!” she blurted out, more as an exaltation of excitement than an actual proposal, but she still fell back in her chair when she realized what she’d said- hand over her mouth in embarrassment before she burst out laughing. “I probably shouldn’t say things like that on a first date.”
Fortunately, Hyojung didn’t look terrified and was laughing as well. “Probably not,” she agreed.
Arin fanned herself, trying to stop the giggles and able to feel Hyojung looking at her fondly.
“So, I was thinking laser tag after dinner?” Hyojung suggested, casual as anything even though Arin hadn’t even thought to dream of anything beyond dinner. “If you want to, of course.”
“Yes! Definitely!” Arin exclaimed, nodding hard enough that her hat nearly came off. “I’ve never been to laser tag before, though.”
“I haven’t been in years,” Hyojung assured her. “I doubt I’ll have much of an advantage.”
“I can’t believe you won two out of three games,” Arin complained again as they pulled onto her street after a rousing three rounds of laser tag. “I don’t even know how you got me that last time. I swear I shot first.”
It was dark out by then and the street lights filtered into the car, illuminating the apples of Hyojung’s cheeks as she smiled.
“It was a close round,” she agreed, slowing down as she neared Arin’s driveway.
“You clearly had an advantage,” Arin insisted, pouting a little more than was necessary, “since you’ve played before.”
Hyojung sighed, good natured, as she pulled into Arin’s driveway and cut the engine.
She turned to Arin, smiling like she was fed up, but amusement shone in her eyes. “It was definitely my unfair advantage that led me to win,” she teasingly placated, and Arin huffed loudly, giving up on pretending to be put out after a second and giggling instead.
Hyojung was still looking at her, smiling with a softness in her eyes that had Arin’s heart leaping into her throat.
She knew it was a bad idea but-
Surging forward and only just managing to hold onto her hat so it didn’t get knocked off when it hit the roof of the car, Arin swiftly pressed her lips to Hyojung’s in a chaste but determinedly firm kiss.
Her stomach felt like it dropped out through her feet, her head was spinning from the rush of adrenaline, and her lips were tingling when she pulled back- not from the impact, but just from the knowledge
that she’d kissed her dream girl.
But just because she had, and just because Hyojung had started to reciprocate right before Arin had ripped herself away, didn’t mean that she should have.
“Sorry,” she breathed, breathless even though the kiss had lasted only a second and a half. “I probably shouldn’t have- I just didn’t know if I’d ever get the opportunity again.”
Hyojung was looking at her in surprise, and Arin wondered whether she’d managed to ruin a perfectly wonderful evening by being too ambitious.
“Well…” Hyojung finally said. “I was going to suggest going out again-”
“I’m sorry,” Arin apologized again, panicking that she’d ruined her chances. “I really shouldn’t have-”
“So, you’ll have another opportunity,” Hyojung finished, eyes smiling and lips catching up when Arin gaped at her in disbelief.
“Oh,” she managed, and Hyojung chuckled, reaching out to squeeze her hand.
“Tonight was fun.”
“It was,” Arin agreed, beaming.
“See you Monday?”
Arin nodded, accepting the peck on the cheek with stuttering breath and practically floating out of the car and up to her front door.
Hyojung waved happily at her as she drove off, and Arin wondered if she’d ever stop smiling.
“So?” Jiho demanded as Arin sauntered up to her friends on Monday morning, still riding the high of her successful date on Friday night. “How was it?”
“I texted you about it on Saturday,” Arin laughed, leaning against the lockers since she felt too energized and giddy to sit down.
“But it’s different to hear
you tell us!” Jiho insisted, looking up at Arin expectantly.
Arin laughed, torn between wanting to exclaim over every single detail- from the remnants of Hyojung’s lipstick on her drinking glass to the way she’d bounced along to the song playing over the loudspeaker at the arcade while they waited to get their gear for laser tag- and keeping everything close to her chest, just for herself.
Eventually she settled for, “It was so great.”
Seunghee quirked a brow at her.
“Is that all we get? After hearing Hyojung updates for two months?”
,” Binnie hissed theatrically, leaning around Arin’s legs to make eye contact with Seunghee where she stood at her locker. “They kissed
Seunghee gaped and Arin couldn’t help but feel a little smug.
“Color me impressed,” Seunghee said after a moment of appraising Arin, patting her on the back like a proud parent after a good score on a test.
Jiho leaned forward and flapped her arm around while pretending to grip a pen as though literally coloring Seunghee through the air.
Seunghee sighed. “Really?”
“Hey, Arin,” chimed from over her shoulder, and Arin whipped around at the musical sound of Hyojung’s voice saying her name.
“Hi,” she greeted, smile immediate and heart fluttering like it had been given an official cue. Though Hyojung’s voice was certainly enough of one.
Seunghee gave a casual wave since she and Hyojung knew each other from choir while Jiho and Binnie looked up at them from their spots on the floor in wonder. Belatedly, Arin realized she should probably introduce them.
“Hyojung, this is Jiho and Binnie,” she said, feeling a little silly, but knowing it would have been even weirder to just say nothing.
“Nice to meet you,” Hyojung politely greeted them, and the two girls responded in kind, though they kept looking back and forth between Hyojung and Arin like they were going to kiss in the middle of the hall. Which they weren’t. “You said your first class was by the library?”
Arin nodded, trying not to focus on the fact that there were three sets of eyes on her, not including Hyojung’s.
“I’m headed that way too,” Hyojung told her. “Want to walk together?”
“Of course,” Arin told her with a grin, ignoring Seunghee’s muttering of bros before hoes
. They were going to have to part ways in two minutes to go to class, anyway. And she knew Seunghee was just giving her a hard time.
Waving goodbye to her friends, and hoping that Hyojung didn’t see Binnie’s and Jiho’s enthusiastic gesturing, Arin followed Hyojung down the hall and toward their separate classes.
“Did Seunghee just call me a ho?” Hyojung asked when they rounded the corner.
“Don’t worry,” Hyojung said, eyes twinkling in amusement. “I’ll get her back in choir later.”
Arin laughed, already eagerly anticipating hearing about whatever that meant the next day at the lockers.
Now that she’d completed Plan B, going on a date with Hyojung, Arin figured she needed a new plan.
It would basically be Plan A, plus more dates with Hyojung. Hopefully more kisses, too.
Yes, she could happily live in Plan C for a good long while.
And maybe by the time she completed Plan C, whatever that meant, she wouldn’t even need a new plan. Maybe she’d just go with the flow.
Maybe.- My first Oh My Girl fic! Now that I've broken the seal, I have more ideas coming to me, so let me know if anyone else is enjoying this other than me XD
- Title is the English translation of their song 한 발짝 두 발짝.
- Thank you to Jen for looking over this for me! <3