Kibum meets the love of his life for the first time at the age of twelve. Taemin is two years younger, and in the same extracurricular dance class. He’s also a much better dancer than Kibum is, better than anyone in the class, really, all crisp technique and focused passion, incredible to see in an otherwise awkward skinny little kid with mushroomy hair.
Kibum is a little intimidated by Taemin at first, because Taemin is great at dancing, and the teacher’s favorite, and never talks to anyone. But then they’re assigned a duet together, and Kibum learns that Taemin isn’t stuck-up, just awkward and shy and unsure of how to socialize with kids older than him, yet not as good at dancing.
He’s also something of an absent-minded mess, always forgetting his water bottle, accidentally putting his clothes on backwards or inside out, losing his after-school snack, zoning out and losing the thread of conversations. Kibum thinks this is cute, and promptly takes charge of him. He watches over Taemin, fixes his clothes, shares his own water and snacks, makes sure that Taemin packs up all his stuff at the end of practice and doesn’t lose anything.
It isn’t long before they’re fast friends and start hanging out outside of dance practice hours. Their parents smile at them with fond eyes as Kibum fixes his little friend clumsily-made sandwiches, hugs him, and imparts very serious life lessons with all the wisdom of a twelve-year-old. Taemin listens intently to everything Kibum says and follows him around like an awestruck duckling, perfectly happy to let Kibum lecture him and scold him and fuss over him and cuddle him and generally act like an overprotective mother hen.