The rain thrashed down on the both of you. Your mind, it seemed, didn’t want to think about what you were doing. All you knew was that your heart was hammering, and that if you stayed out here much longer you’d get frostbite. You hurried through the downpour to the car door, which he pushed open. It was then that you hesitated, looking over the top of the car at the waving trees. Was this a smart thing to do? Get in Park Jimin’s car for the whole forty minute journey back to Amour? However you could already feel the warm air blasting from the heaters. Thunder growled overhead and you quickly made a decision.
You slid into the black leather seat, shutting the door with a very audible clunk. The rain was muffled. The two of you were alone together. This had been a bad idea. Why hadn’t he just ignored you as usual? He cleared his throat and began pulling out of the bus stop. Was he realizing it as well? Was he thinking he should have just driven on?
You glanced at him. His hands were a little tight on the steering wheel, eyes concentrated on the road. He was dressed in jeans and a black turtleneck sweater.
“Thank you.” You said quietly.
“It’s no inconvenience.” His voice was smooth, but his eyes stayed the same, focusing only at the road ahead.
You resigned yourself to a long, silent car journey back. You shivered and folded your arms close to your chest, trying to conserve some of the heat your wet clothes were stealing from you. Your teeth chattered, and you ground them together, trying to focus on the shops the two of you were shooting past.
Jimin seemed to have his walls up. If you put your up too then maybe you could get through this.
You shivered again, gritting your teeth harder.
He was honorable, he wouldn’t leave you standing out in the rain, but that was all. It was just like in the dining hall. He didn’t want anything to do with you. What he did, he did because he had no choice.
You tried to make your breathing quieter, but it shook with cold as you tried to breathe in.
Jimin stopped at a set of traffic lights. You heard a seatbelt unclip. He was pulling off his sweater, revealing a fitted black t-shirt underneath. He held the sweater out to you.
You stared at it. “I’m fine.”
He raised his eyebrows, finally looking at you. “You’re frozen, (Name).”
You tentatively took the sweater. It was already warm. You gulped hard and peeled off Dawon’s sodden jacket. Your skin was goosebumped all over. Quickly, you pulled his sweater on and Jimin’s scent surrounded you.
“Thank you.” You said, not able to resist huddling into it. Your hands hid within the long sleeves, revelling in the warmth.
Jimin glanced at you. His eyes flashed in surprise, and he quickly looked away again. “You should take better care of yourself.” He murmured, speeding up as you the traffic lights turned green.
Holding on to what little defiance you seemed to have left, you replied. “I do.”
He glanced at you. A concerned, and sceptical, look. “If I hadn’t picked you up then you would’ve stood out there in the freezing cold until the bus came?”
“Of course.” You said indignantly. “I don’t have a hundred thousand Won for a Porsche at my disposal.”
“And if I hadn’t found out about Minjee, you would’ve kept silent about it?”
“I had it under control.”
“And you would have kept dancing with a concussion if I hadn’t worked it out?”
“I – ”
“And if I hadn’t seen the pain on your face, you would have kept dancing with – ”
You suddenly snapped. “I would’ve kept thinking that pas de deux was the worst, not the most beautiful part of ballet!” You locked you lips together. Shit. You were a stupid, stupid girl.
Jimin was quiet, emotions playing on his face which you couldn’t understand. Pain, irritation, weariness, but they all faded quickly, and his face turned smooth and passive. He’d shut himself off again. Only his eyes gave away that he was thinking something. But they did not tell you what.
All there was to be heard was the gentle hum of the heaters and the muffled rain on the windscreen. It was unbearable. There was so much you wanted to talk about, but Jimin wanted silence.
Silence was easier.
A ringtone began playing and Jimin pulled the newest iPhone out of his pocket. “Hello?” His voice was smooth, as if he wasn’t sitting in the most tensioned car in the world. “Yeah, where? Right, see you in ten, bye.” He slid the phone back in his pocket and kept driving. “Taeyeon’s stuck in Jung-gu.” He said, staring uninterestedly at the road. “We’re going to have to pick her up.”
You stared out the window. Taeyeon. Any chance of talking to Jimin was now entirely crushed, although you should’ve known that they were crushed long before you even got in the car.
Soon you were entering Jung-gu and Jimin pulled up outside a cafe. It was much flashier than the one you’d been in. The Dance Emporium was across the road. It’s warm lighting and flaking paint was looking very appealing right now.
Inside the car, he’d taken his phone out again, and was glaring at the screen. “Taeyeon’s decided she wants me to have coffee with her.” He sighed and looked at you tiredly,
“You can come if you want.” Then he got out, slamming the door.
The car now was truly silent. Oh for the love of God. You took your seatbelt off and opened the door. The rain was falling heavily. You couldn’t stay in here, you had to try and repair the damage you’d just done.
You got out, hurrying under the awning of the cafe and into the cafe. Jimin stood at the counter. You stood beside him, careful not to brush him. He didn’t look exactly happy.
“Caramel macchiato, please.” You said to the waitress. You grabbed your wallet out of your pocket, but Jimin was already handing her a shiny silver credit card. “I can pay myself.” You muttered to him as the waitress pressed some buttons on the till.
Treat. Yeah right…
“Jiminnie!” Taeyeon’s call came from a table by the window. She was dressed in jeans, high heeled boots and a gold tight-fitting top, with sleeves which wound down to her knuckles. Her hair was done up in a bun, as usual. She seemed like the height of elegance, but then you saw who sat opposite her.
The name everyone knew.
She had straight, silvery blonde hair which was plaited into a high, regal bun. She wore a silver off-the-shoulder top which hung from her arms with just a few delicate threads at her elbows and wrists. But it wasn’t her clothes. It was her posture. It was like she was born to play Aurora and she knew it. She presided over the entire coffee shop, her shoulders pushed back, her chin high, and her thin, impossibly long legs crossed over.
Taeyeon had finally noticed you and she gave a death glare. “What the hell is she doing here?” She demanded as Jimin and you reached them.
“Taeyeon.” Chastised Shinn Taeil. She stood up, gracefully rising, and offered you a slender, delicate hand. “Forgive my sister. I’m Shinn Taeil.”
“(Surname) (Name).” You said, shaking it.
“Hmm, yes I’ve heard about you.” She gave you a glossy smile at bemusement, then turned to Jimin.
“Ah, Jimin!” Though she was tall, she only came up to his chin. She went up on her tiptoes and kissed him on each cheek. “It’s been too long!”
Jimin gave her a slight smile, then sat down next to Taeyeon, leaving you to sit next to the future principal dancer of the US Ballet. In your current state, you didn’t count yourself to make the best impression.
“I thought your car broke down?” Jimin asked Taeyeon.
She shrugged, giving him a smile which didn’t quite equate to her sister’s. “Taeil gave me a lift here, but she’s got a flight from Incheon and so I needed a lift back.” Jimin didn’t look happy, and so Taeyeon changed her battle plan. “Anyway! Taeil’s got some very exciting news for us. I thought you’d want to hear it from her, Chim.”
Taeil gave a high, tinkling laugh. “It is rather exciting, I must admit. Do you remember Alexei Lebedev?”
She nodded. “He had to move back to Russia on short notice.” She giggled, holding manicured fingers to her lips. “Something about getting his old girlfriend pregnant. Anyway, the US Ballet needs two danseurs in the Nutcracker, and I might just have suggested to Frank that he should choose you two. He wants to audition you.”
“When?” Asked Jimin. His voice was cool, but you saw the slight excitement. He exchanged a glance with Taeyeon, who smiled dazzlingly at him.
“Tomorrow.” Taeil answered. “In Los Angeles.”
He frowned. “That’s a ten hour flight.”
If Taeyeon’s smile was dazzling, Taeil’s was like a solar flare. “Don’t worry, I’ve booked you guys a flight 3.30 p.m from Incheon today. You’ll get to L.A. 9.30 a.m. That gives you time to freshen up and maybe rehearse once or twice before you see him at 3.00 pm next day.”
A waiter delivered you your coffees, but your mind was spinning too fast to register.
Oh no, that could only mean one thing.
“We’ll miss the review.” He said it more like an observation than a problem.
Taeil shrugged. “I remember Amour reviews. The two I went to before I got into the USB. They’re not that great.”
“Yeah.” Taeyeon nodded. “There’s some pretty crap dancing in there.” Her eyes suddenly flicked to you. Mocking, teasing. Something nudged at the side of your thoughts.
“We’re up against Jinho and Hyejin, Taeyeon.” Jimin spoke up, stirring his coffee. “You’ve been going on about it for months.”
Taeyeon rolled her eyes. “I haven’t, besides, we know that everyone wants to see Jin and Dawon do it. It would have way more comic value.”
Taeil gave a high, tinkling laugh. “Father versus son would be more interesting.”
You looked at Jimin, trying to hide your expression behind your coffee cup. He still looked uncertain, maybe there was hope. “Isn’t there another day we could do this on?”
Taeil shook her head. “It was the only time Frank had available, besides, Jimin, school life is so slow in comparison to a real dance company. We don’t have time to gradually ease you guys in. If you get it – and you will – you’ll be into rehearsals straight away. We go on tour in two weeks. We can’t afford to waste any time.”
“Don’t they have anyone in the Corps who could move up?”
Taeyeon patted his arm. “Jimin, you know that you’re better than any of them.”
He shook his head. “That’s not the question, Taeyeon; why isn’t Frank Rebrevae putting up someone from the Corps? Someone who’s already in the company.”
She tried to appeal again. “Jimin – ”
“This is the one hundredth anniversary of the Nutcracker.” Taeil butted in. “People want to see stars like the Shinn sisters and Park Jimin. They don’t want to see some unpolished corps members so damned excited about their promotion that they wet their tights before going on.”
Jimin looked away distastefully at her words. “I suppose I get your point. I don’t like it, though.”
Taeyeon grabbed his hand. “Jimin this is a chance to get in early. If we do this, we’ll skip the open auditions and we’ll skip the years of being in the corps. We’ll go straight to soloists!” She grabbed his other hand as well, looking earnestly at him. “Do you seriously want to be in the corps? To do exactly what everyone else does? To be restricted, there’s no room to add your own flair in a corps. You won’t be able to dance like you do here.”
Taeil nodded along. “True fact, Jimin. I’ve been through it. It’s no fun.”
For a moment, you stepped out of the conversation. You looked at the bigger picture. You saw two girls coaxing Jimin into doing something, using all his weaknesses. Gently turning him in the direction they wanted him to go in, but why? Why were they so desperate? Maybe it was just for Taeyeon, but you sensed it was something else.
“And what about the review?” Jimin was back to his – and yours – key concern, though for different reasons. “We’re in two of the dances, Taeyeon; maybe we can let Dawon and Jin use one of their old pas de deuxs, but we can’t just leave our class. We’ll screw up all the choreography.”
You were distracted for second, almost snorting into your coffee.
“They’ll live, Jimin.” Taeil spoke up. “It’s a school review – it’s not like they’re auditioning for one of the world’s top ballet companies, is it?”
He raised his eyebrow. “This just shows me as an unreliable jerk, Taeil. Not a reputation I want to have.” He took another sip of his coffee.
Taeyeon glanced anxiously at Taeil, who replied with a meaningful widening of the eyes.
Taeyeon stood up. “Sorry, gotta go to the ladies. I’ll be back in a sec.”
As soon as she left, Taeil sighed and reached into the silver Gucci handbag at her feet. She brought out a thick envelope and slid it across the table to him. “That’s the plane tickets, the location details and the letter from Frank.” She leaned in lowering her tone. It was as if you didn’t exist.
“Jimin, please, do this for my sister. You’ve been with her since she came to Amour. This has been your goal and hers since you found each other. I know she’s not as.” She looked down at her hands. “As capable as me and Tiffany, but she’s still good, and you know it. Take this chance – you don’t know if it’ll come again for a very long time. I get that you’re all for equal opportunity, but this is something you deserve. God knows you guys work your asses off.” She shook her head. “Just do this – for my sister and for yourself.”
Jimin stared at her, narrowing his eyes slightly. Maybe he saw that something wasn’t quite right. That they were too desperate, but then he slowly nodded. “Fine, Taeil, but it won’t be for you. It will be for Taeyeon’s prospects alone. I know you only care about your family’s reputation – don’t spring that sisterly love crap on me.”
She gave him a curt nod in return and they both leaned back.
Taeyeon returned shortly afterward.
“Jimin’s agreed.” Taeil told her, giving a smile which reminded you too much of the Cheshire cat in Alice in Wonderland.
“We better get going.” Jimin suddenly said, while standing up. “It was good to see you, Taeil.”
Taeil smiled again. “You too.” Taeyeon got her bag and we began to head for the door. “Oh, and Jimin!"The two of you turned back around. "Don’t worry about the review.” She glanced at you for a split second. “You won’t be missing anything.”
Jimin returned it with a raised eyebrow, and pushed the door open.
What was she up to?
It was as you walked out into the rain that your memory was violently yanked back to two nights ago. The studio. Rehearsing with Madame Choi. Taeyeon. Taeyeon’s face at the door, coming in. Madame Choi telling her. Telling her about your solo…
Jimin was helping her into the front seat. You quickly got into the back, strapping on your seatbelt. So that was why the artistic director, Frank Rebrevae, could only do it tomorrow. That was why Taeil was posing it as a ‘once in a lifetime opportunity’.
Taeyeon didn’t want Jimin to see you dance.
It was as if, she knew. Or at least, she thought, like you, that Jimin had some connection to you. It was as if Jimin saw you, he might leave her.
'Jimin broke all his rules when he danced with you. You can imagine how Taeyeon might’ve been a little concerned.’
Dawon’s words. Well apparently Taeyeon was concerned and she was going to drag Jimin away.
“Do you think we should wear the same costumes?” She was saying right now in the front. “I was thinking something less glitzy, seeing as it’s not a performance.”
Oh no, they couldn’t do this…It wasn’t fair…
Perhaps because Taeyeon seemed to believe it as well, your resolve about Jimin was stronger than ever. That he had felt that connection, and your dance which you’d worked so hard on could really show him, but that didn’t help if he wasn’t going to be there.
You had to tell him, but if you told him then he would guess how you felt and if you were wrong about how he felt. Then you would be the world’s biggest idiot. You’d be a laughing stock and realistically, you probably were wrong, but if you didn’t tell him then you had no chance…
Your mind kept going round in circles the entire drive back. Taeyeon chattered easily in the front. Jimin said only a little, he just nodded from time to time, though not necessarily when Taeyeon had actually asked him something. His thoughts were elsewhere. You looked at his expression in the rear-view mirror. It was dark. Brooding. Dangerous.
When you finally drove through the gates – they opened automatically for him – You were on tenterhooks. Your thoughts had gotten you some where. You had to tell him. Tell him that the review was important to Dawon and the others. That they’d be disappointed. Oh, but it was so damned obvious, he would see right through it.
“Just drop us here, Chim.” Taeyeon said as you pulled up at the front door. “I don’t want to get my clothes wet.”
“Sure.” He murmured, putting it into idle.
Taeyeon got out, hurriedly grabbing her handbag and slamming the door.
You didn’t budge.
“Don’t you want to get out?” Jimin muttered, staring straight ahead.
“No.” You told him. “I need a walk.” Oh, you were going to make an idiot out of youself.
Jimin drove back down the driveway, but then took a concealed right just before the gates. It was a small cobbled road which led through the trees to the car park. Jiwoo had pointed it out to you on our tour.
“Thanks for the coffee.” You said as Jimin manoeuvred into a spot.
“You’re welcome.” He switched off the engine.
You quickly got out, hugging your bag to your chest, as if it would protect you.
By the time you’d shut the door, you realized Jimin was already walking away, back down the drive.
“Jimin!” You called out. Your nerves made you giddy. You ran to catch up with him, though he kept walking, his hands in his pockets. You got on level with him, two of your strides matching his.
“What, (Name)?” He said harshly, not looking at you.
You stopped midstep. The words that were meant to come out – the ones about his friends, about the review – didn’t. Instead, you found other words pouring from your mouth. “Why can’t you talk to my nicely for once? Why have we never had a decent conversation? Why can’t we talk to each other without storming out? Why don’t you ever look at me and Eungkwan in class? And in the dining hall?”
You hardly noticed you were shouting. “What the hell have I done to repulse you so much? Was I that bad a dancer? Why can’t you just talk to me? Without chastising me or telling me I’m inexperienced? I’m your freaking age! You have no right to treat me like I know nothing! I’ve seen just as much of life as you! It’s not all freaking pirouettes and auditions! Even if I can’t dance like you, I’m still just as intelligent! Why can’t we just.” You suddenly felt very tired. Sick of all of it. “Just talk.”
Jimin stared at you calmly. Too calmly, he just watched you as your breathing levelled out, and your balled fists loosened a little. He looked at you and you knew it was over. “This is about what you said earlier, isn’t it? About me dancing with you in class the other week?”
Your heart turned to stone. You nodded, feeling more of a child than ever before.
He took a deep breath, clasping his hands behind him. “I can see why it’s upset you like this. I know you know I don’t demonstrate, and I can see why that would give you reason for thinking something out of the ordinary, but it wasn’t. I knew you had lost any confidence in pas de deux after what Kihyun did. I’m your teacher, (Name), it’s my job to make sure you have confidence and skill in partnering. I was only repairing the damage that Kihyun had done. I had to show you what it could be like, and, judging by your words earlier, it worked. A little too well.”
The wind swirled your hair around your face. Every pain you had felt in your life was nothing compared to what you felt now. Nothing. Because now every single thought that you had had since that dance had to be remade. Because Jimin hadn’t felt anything. Because now you saw clearly; he was just your teacher. Everything he had done – reprimanding Minjee, helping you trust Kihyun, even now, rescuing you from the rain – it had all been because he was your teacher.
“Why did you stop coming to classes?” You asked him quietly.
His face was blank. “Several reasons. One I already told you the other day when you had your concussion – I danced with you as I would have with Taeyeon, simply because you seemed as mature and I was used to partnering like that. It reminded me why I didn’t demonstrate – I’ve never been quick to lower standards, and dancing with people with little experience is frustrating, but at the same time, I know that teachers have to demonstrate in some way. Mistress Hyejin was always picking on some unlucky boy to demonstrate with her.” He said with a slight smile. “I’m not cut out for teaching, (Name) – not really.” You swallowed, trying keep in control of your raging, despairing, weeping emotions.
He continued. “Then there was also all those people who suggested. Other things about the two of us.” Your mind flashed back to the next morning, when those girls had asked you if Jimin and you were an item. “I’m in the eye of a lot of dance companies at the moment, (Name) – the US Ballet’s not my only option. It’s not that great to have rumours flying around about this sort of thing. I figured that staying away was the best course of action.”
You looked away, down at the stones and wet leaves. “But it wasn’t.” You whispered.
“No, it wasn’t, and I will always regret what happened to Jiwoo and to you, (Name).” You ignored his words, the pain in was just too much. A few minutes ago, they would have given you an outrageous thrill. They didn’t now.
“It was stupid of me to stay away, but I didn’t like what had happened.” He shook his head as if to clear it. “It doesn’t matter, (Name) You just need to know, before I go away to Los Angeles tomorrow, that the dance meant nothing.”
He began walking again.
You didn’t follow.
You stood in the wind and the rain, all your strings broken.
You didn’t need some stupid solo. You didn’t need him to be here tomorrow. It didn’t matter…
Donggu, Joonyoung and Yu PD have been filmed attending the “2017 Tire-Bank KBO League” baseball game today in Incheon.
Considering it was just the three of them and they were enjoying some fried chicken, I reckon our maknae line won this as a treat ^^
The commentators were saying things like “they’re filming some kind of mission for 1N2D. Next to them is the main PD of the show. So many fans are taking pictures. Bla bla bla…”
Also one of them made a mistake pronouncing Joonyoung’s name and called him “Joonhyung” instead haha