“That wasn’t what I meant…” said Taeyeon, her voice small, tensing even more when Noeul put her hand on hers.
“Can we be more than friends?”
“Uh…Noeul…I…I’m not—” Taeyeon was cut off abruptly when Noeul began laughing hard. “Wha…t?”
Noeul laughed so hard that tears were forming in her eyes. “Just kidding, Taeyeon,” she said, still laughing, “You should’ve seen your face. Oh…so priceless.”
Taeyeon blinked, thinking fast. She wasn’t entirely convinced by Noeul but there wasn’t anything she wanted to change. Noeul was probably looking for a way out and she wasn’t about to wreck it. Playing along was the best option. So, she laughed too.
“You got me.”
“Never thought you’d pull something like that on me.”
“Once in a blue moon.”
Taeyeon laughed. This was awkward.
“Anyway, I can’t do dinner with you actually. Mom’s expecting me for dinner today. Sorry.”
Taeyeon was relieved. “Oh, that’s okay.”
“So I’ll see you at 2027.”
Taeyeon decided not to tell anyone about Noeul’s pseudo-confession. She thought it was for the best and Noeul didn’t need to be embarrassed any more than she already was. She hoped it wouldn’t be too awkward with Noeul. Awkward was awkward. She was bad at awkward.
Thursday zipped by, mostly spent on the essay for 2027 and before she knew it, it was Thursday night. That’s when she began to feel nervous. Not only did she have to give Tiffany an answer, she also had to worry about seeing Noeul again. She wasn’t sure about anything and it made her worried.
However, there were things in this world that could flush it all away and make her feel better.
Goodnight! rest well (:
Just like that.
But how should she reply to Tiffany’s message? She decided to keep it simple.
She hoped the heart wasn’t over the top. Was it? She squeezed her eyes shut and sent it. There. It was done. It was time to sleep.
Taeyeon peeped from behind the door of the lecture theatre. Was Noeul in there? If she was, she’d act like everything was normal and sit beside her. That was the plan. But she wasn’t in there. In fact, she hadn’t come at all. And with the double stress of wondering where Noeul was and how she was going to tell Tiffany about how she felt, she felt drained by the end of the lecture. Strung out too.
Tiffany was her usual self, doing what she had to do for the prof, clicking on the slides to facilitate his lecture. She hardly ever glanced up, but one time, their eyes met and Taeyeon was nothing short of electrocuted. Intense, focused eyes, perhaps due to the concentration she put in while on the job, stunned her. That single look shook her to her core and robbed her of every coherent thought in her mind.
By the end of the lecture, she was a fumbling mess, unsure of how things were going to progress from here. She remained in the theatre until it was empty. Then, it occurred to her that it was a little awkward for her to remain in it when no one else was, so she decided to wait outside for Tiffany, like she previously did to apologize. Once she stepped outside, she took deep breaths to calm herself.
This must be what crazy feels like. Omaaagaarrddd.
She leaned against the wall facing the theatre’s door and tried to regulate her breathing.
Calm down, Taengoo. You can do it. You can say it. Say you like her. Say you wanna date her.
A familiar voice brought her out of her self-encouragement mode and she jumped in her skin when she realized who it was.
“It’s a good thing I got here in time,” she gasped, trying to catch her breath.
“Noeul, what’s going on?”
The breathless girl before her took a deep breath and straightened her back before staring straight at her with steely eyes.
“Taengoo, I want to take back what I said on Wednesday.”
Taeyeon stiffened at once.
“It wasn’t a joke. I really do like you and I want you to know.”
Taeyeon couldn’t do more than twitch. Her brain had gone into a kind of state of malfunction, incapable of processing the information that Noeul was giving her.
“But it’s okay if you don’t like me the same way. I want us to remain friends and not be awkward around each other because that would kill me.”
Wait. Hold up. This sounded positive. Perhaps there was some hope in this.
Her friend stood still, listening, awaiting her reply. It was time to be honest.
“I love you as a friend. I’ve known you for a long time and I want us to be friends for even longer.”
“Nothing more than that?”
Taeyeon knew that it was going to be painful but it was absolutely necessary.
“Friends,” she said, keeping her voice firm and steady.
“It’s Tiffany, isn’t it. You like her.”
Taeyeon bit her lip. It seemed a little cruel to confess her feelings for Tiffany to Noeul right at this moment but Noeul deserved an honest answer too.
“I feel something special for Tiffany but our friendship is just as precious to me.”
At her words, Noeul stepped forward and flung her arms around her.
“You’re a really good friend, Taengoo.”
Taeyeon closed her eyes and hugged her back, feeling glad that things were working out after all. Perhaps this was the good that followed the shit. She finally smiled and opened her eyes but froze when she did. Tiffany was standing right there with a strange look in her eyes. Their eyes made contact and locked gazes. Taeyeon couldn’t look away, even after Noeul stopped hugging her.
“What are you looking at?” asked Noeul, turning around to see. “Oh. Hi, Tiffany.” She turned back to Taeyeon and smiled. “I’ll still see you tomorrow to do our essay, right?”
Taeyeon smiled and nodded. “Essay then dinner?”
Nodding like an excited kid, Noeul’s smile was bright and happy. “Okay. Bye bye, see you tomorrow.”
Noeul smiled at Tiffany as she left and Taeyeon tensed as Tiffany drew closer to her.
“Take a walk with me?” Tiffany asked in a soft voice.
“Okay,” croaked Taeyeon.
They walked across the grass in the open space in front of the building they were in. Students were milling around, some waiting for friends, some waiting for the shuttle bus. There was a booth where students were handing out free bottles of a new drink they were promoting and a long line of students snaked from it. They walked right past all that and headed for a quieter area in campus.
All the way, Taeyeon wondered what Tiffany saw and heard back outside the theatre. Tiffany didn’t appear to be unhappy or angry, which was a relief, but she couldn’t figure out why Tiffany had that strange look in her eyes. What did that look mean?
“Just so you know, I heard what you said at the end,” said Tiffany, breaking the silence between them.
Taeyeon’s heart beat doubled right then and she stopped walking. Tiffany realized she wasn’t walking anymore after a couple of steps and turned back to face her. There was a smile on Tiffany’s face that, for some reason, made her heart thump even faster.
“So you finally came out and said it. I’m very happy. And I think you said the right thing to Noeul too.”
“You are? I did?”
Tiffany nodded. “Rejecting a good friend is the hardest thing to do but you handled it well.”
Tiffany smiled and gave Taeyeon a hug. It was a comforting hug and Taeyeon felt better after that but Tiffany didn’t let up on the intensity of the moment.
“Can we stop playing games then?” she asked, her eyes unwavering.
Taeyeon blinked. Games? She hadn’t been playing any games.
“I’m not playing games…”
“Maybe it’s just me then. It’s been grey, between us and I don’t like feeling unsure about feelings. But after hearing what you said to Noeul, I know how you feel too, so we can stop playing games.”
“I guess, you’re right. I don’t like playing games either.”
Tiffany smiled, her face lighting up bright. “Let’s go out on a date then. A proper one. Not like the dinner that you owe me for spitting your drink on me. Not like the lunches that I had to corner you into having with me.”
“You didn’t corner me. I was happy to have lunch with you. I looked forward to it.”
“But I want a real date, Taeyeon. Would you go on a date with me?”
Taeyeon took a deep breath and tried not to flip. “Yes.”
Yes. Holy shit, yes!