There’s no getting used to this, Jongin thinks sullenly, posture slumping before he remembers there are a total of 5 cameras in the room dedicated in catching all of his movements. Jongin decides to look out of the window, forcing the feeling back into his hands by clenching them into fists in a two second interval.
From the second floor of the café, Jongin can spot the 60 feet wide LED billboard that is occupied by his face. He would have cringed at the sight of his "10,000 megawatt smile" coupled with the splatter of pastel hearts around the border, but he’s again reminded of the cameras. Work on your internal frown, Kim Jongin.
KAI, it reads in heavy bolded font, Dancing Machine, God Amongst Men, South Korea’s Dancing Idol! Will he give love a chance this time around? Keep watching Love Chance ♡ to find out! Catch it Tuesdays and Fridays on SBS at 7PM!
He tears his eyes away from it, and briefly wonders if his hearts on Tsum Tsum are finally refilled.
Jongin’s life has revolved in dancing for so long. He can remember how he’s been scouted, and then trained, gaining enough traction to launch himself as the first dance idol in South Korea. He’s carved a name for himself now, and yet, due to a back injury a year ago, his manager decided to throw him this career curveball. The world of reality show dating.
He clearly doesn’t need this for his career to survive but when Chanyeol, his manager, finds him in his apartment with a two week old facial hair, thumbs working over game controls in a race to finish Monster Rancher, he announces that Jongin needs to get back into the swing of things.
(“It’s time to be a fucking adult, Jongin.” Chanyeol had said. Jongin rolled his eyes. He’d been trying to be an adult the moment he landed that toothpaste commercial when he was 4 and this was also the Park Chanyeol who would squeeze his girlfriend’s breasts from behind while making honking sounds.)
“Just play it like the last time,” Chanyeol tells him on the first floor of the café, thirty minutes ago as a staff hooked a microphone inside the back pocket of his jeans. Jongin swears he felt a light squeeze there, but he can’t complain too much when his ass is pretty much numb from the tightness of his jeans. “Everyone loved your chemistry and by loved I meant that it peaked higher than when Lee Taemin smoothly said DiGorno instead of bonjour in his Travel and Living show.” Chanyeol looked like he’d chugged two liters of coffee in a span of 8 hours when he’s excited. Jongin shook his head and politely greeted everyone as he tried not to comment too much about the cuteness of the set.
The “last time” meant last episode. Meaning bumping hands with his date, pushing a strand of hair away from the forehead, fixing a collar, sticking his tongue out at a lame joke when his date isn't looking. It’s a formula for cute couples, only, maybe, Jongin isn't “playing” it anymore.
Kim Joonmyun walks into the set with the same blinding smile he had on the first day of concept pitching, and Jongin steels his stomach from the onslaught of FUCKING CUTEs that are bubbling in his chest, tempting to spill from his mouth. All of a sudden, his throat is dry and the insides of his mouth feel like dry cotton.
Maybe he’s thirsty, who knows? No one will know. No one should know. Yes, okay, but when Kim Joonmyun, Seoul’s Sweetheart and South Korea’s top actor smiles at you like that, it’s getting more and more difficult to stave off that niggling little quips of ‘you know you wanna date him, you know you wanna kiss him’ from the pits of his stomach.
Jongin remembers the first time he met Joonmyun. Asian Movie Awards, Singapore. Joonmyun was reading through his cue cards, his palm rubbing against his expensively clothed knee. Joonmyun’s a veteran. Jongin’s a rookie. Chanyeol told him to stand there and look pretty that’s why he isn’t memorizing anything but the determination in Joonmyun’s eyebrows had Jongin swooning – in a very professional manner. Joonmyun then had asked Jongin if he should announce the winner’s name enthusiastically or congratulatory. Jongin, not expected to be acknowledged at all, smartly blurted out “both!”
Joonmyun makes it to the table and Jongin stands up, extending a hand – a handshake is okay, right? But Joonmyun tugs him into a one armed hug, playfully tugging at his ear with his lopsided grin. Jongin notes how he didn’t ask the make-up team to cover the scar between the corner of his eye and nose. Jongin means to say ‘hey, how are you?’ but at some point, he takes in Joonmyun’s rolled up sleeves, the static between his cable knit sweater and Jongin’s own, and his brain says ‘you look very fine’. So Jongin’s greeting comes out as “Hey, how fine?” and Joonmyun laughs again, much to Jongin’s mortification.
“Thank you, so are you.” Joonmyun finds his elbow, squeezes it, and Jongin anchors himself to the reassuring touch. Reality dating shows will be the death of him.