“You've got to be kidding me...”
With an angry sigh, you silently shift your eyes towards your Uncle in the driver’s seat. For some reason, he doesn't seem surprised by the unexpected guest waiting for you at your dance studio. Did he help plan this? You watch as he winces slightly at your annoyed expression before pulling the truck over to drop you off. “Now don’t be mad, honey,” he begins, turning towards you more fully. “He just wanted a chance to try to convince you in person.”
You roll your eyes at this, unimpressed. “I already said no.”
The twinkle in your Uncle's eyes as he chuckles and nods at this pisses you off slightly. He definitely planned this. “I know. You were loud and clear about that. Just hear him out, okay?”
Just resisting the urge to roll your eyes again, you scoff noncommittally. Grabbing your purse, you shoot your Uncle a grudging goodbye before hopping out. This was so unlike him. He usually always takes your side in everything, even if he doesn’t necessarily agree. Your Uncle is the one person who has always had your back and you respect him more than anyone because of that.
That’s why you had been beyond excited when he had offered you the chance to consult on his latest job as a professional choreographer. It was your dream to be more than just a dance instructor and you had fought for many hard years to be taken seriously in your field. But that flighty feeling quickly bottomed out when your Uncle told you he wanted you to help with a special showcase performance for one of JYP's biggest male kpop groups.
The maelstrom of emotions and memories that had surged through you upon hearing this had quickly manifested into a righteous anger. When you shut down the offer last week, you had thought that would be the end of it. It should have been the end of it. Tonight was a first. What was so special about this group that they could convince your Uncle to take their side over yours? There's no way you can see eye to eye on this one.
Smoothing down the yellow sundress you had worn to dinner, you feel that anger simmering to life again as you step closer to your studio apprehensively. You can't help but glance curiously over the man waiting for you. JB. The leader of GOT7. Your Uncle had told you a bit about the group when he was trying to persuade you to work with them, but you were honestly a fan of their songs already. It wasn't that hard for you to recognize JB despite the dim light.
Dressed stylishly in a checkered blazer and black jeans, JB exudes a quiet air of confidence. The soft wave of his bangs obscures his eyes slightly from your view, but you can feel his piercing gaze linger on you as he patiently waits for you to acknowledge him. A surprising amount of studs follow the curve of his ear, catching the last of the sunlight as you draw closer.
You can't help but notice the quirk of a smile at the corner of JB’s mouth as he watches you move to unlock the door without a word. The image of a cat twitching its tail in anticipation pops into your mind, but his polite nod of thanks as you silently usher him inside throws you off slightly. He wasn’t arrogant like you had expected and he actually seemed to be very mature. Your eyes follow him, inexplicably intrigued.
As you flick on the lights of your dance studio, you watch JB take in the gleam of the steel poles positioned throughout the room. There is a contained energy to his lithe moments as he walks over to inspect one while you hang up your jacket . You can tell he desperately wants to try swinging around the pole by the child-like fascination on his face. You want to chuckle at the crack in his serious attitude.
As cute as his reaction is, it brings back the irritation you felt earlier. This wasn’t a game. Suddenly, you feel impatient to get this over with. “Listen, I don't know what my Uncle was thinking letting you come here.” JB turns away from the pole at the sound of your voice. He seems happy that you’re ready to speak to him, but the tense grip of his hand on the metal hints at an underlying nervousness.
Before he can reply, you hold up a hand to stop him. “If I won't listen to him, I sure as hell won't listen to you.” You mentally smile in satisfaction as you watch a muscle twitch in JB’s jaw at your tone. You had gauged him to be around your age, but even then you knew you were being rude. Maybe if you make him angry enough, he'll just give up and leave? You really didn’t want to spend the night fighting about this issue with him.
JB seems to have other plans though. Shaking off your words, he strides towards you, serious once more. You can see he is determined to argue his case, but you cut him off. “Look, I'm tired and I still have some work to do. And I'm just not interested.” Walking passed him with a negligent wave, you call back, “Shut the door on your way out.”
Unbothered by the tense silence that stretches behind you, you walk towards the storeroom at the back, intent on finally completing that inventory check you've been putting off. The pressure of a firm, warm hand around your elbow is your only warning before JB quickly turns you back around to face him again.
“What the hell is your problem?”
You feel the cool brick of the wall against your exposed skin as you back up for more space, ready for a confrontation. Your breathing picks up as you stare up into livid narrow eyes that hold you in place. JB's chin juts out dangerously, riling you up as you cross your arms and hiss back, “I just don't want to work with you! I didn't become a choreographer so you can play around on poles to boost your sex appeal. So you can take your offer and shove it!”
The arm that shoots out by your head to stop your retreat gives you enough pause to take in JB's confused expression. He steps closer to you, running his fingers through his dark bangs as his eyes shift over your face curiously. You feel heat rush to your cheeks as you watch his pupils dilate, but refuse to look away even as he towers over you.
Caught up in your anger, you’re taken off guard by his next question. “What makes you think that's why we want to work with you?” Deflating slightly at the gentle tone of his voice, you shiver as JB continues to watch you. With a sigh, you admit bitterly, “That's what they always want. You’re not the first kpop group to ask me for a consult. That's…” You swallow down the lump in your throat as old hurts resurface. Now’s not the time for that. “That's not what pole dancing is about. At least not to me.”
Another soft nod, a quiet step closer… You can feel the heat radiating from JB's body as he closes the last of the distance between you with a whisper of, “I never thought it was.” You feel strangely flushed. An unspoken chemistry seems to jump between the both of you as your silence stretches. His understanding expression makes you want to believe in him, but you need to get to the truth of the matter. “Why do you guys wanna work with me then? What did my Uncle say to convince you?”
The sudden dusting of red on JB's cheeks at this question is unexpectedly adorable. He ducks his head in embarrassment, breaking eye contact as he explains, “It was my idea actually. I overheard your Uncle bragging to Yugyeom about how well you had placed in your competition last month." You frown here as he continues enthusiastically, "I was blown away by the practice video he showed us of your routine.”
Just as you start to think that you really need to tune up your Uncle for sharing private things with these guys, JB distracts you from your wrath with an excited smile. “I’d never seen anything like it before. Your choreography was so complex and full of emotion. It really spoke to me.” JB rubs the back of his head shyly at this, his eyes finding yours once more.
Warmth spreads through you at his praise, trickling all the way down to your toes. Finally, someone who can see your dancing clearly. You can't help the blissfully happy smile that transforms your face at the thought. JB seems pleased by your smile, gaining confidence as he finishes explaining, “I couldn't stop thinking about it. I knew we had to ask for your help with this performance. It took a lot of convincing, but I finally got the others and the label to give it a try. That's why I came here tonight to try to convince you." A full grin splits his face as he adds, "I really want to work with you.”
You feel yourself caving even as a playful smirk lights up JB’s face further. “And anyway, we don't need help being sexy.” You can’t help the laugh that escapes you after such a cocky declaration. JB seems to be a bit put out as you reply with a chuckle, “Yeah, I guess you guys are pretty cute.”
A comfortable silence floats between you as you smile at JB's barely perceivable pout. There was an energy to JB that pulled at you and made you want to trust him. Maybe this could work after all? His hopeful expression only makes you feel more guilty when you think of your rudeness earlier with a wince. “I guess…” You clear your throat awkwardly, feeling like a bit of a fool. “I guess we can give this a shot. I’m sorry about earlier,” you say, bowing your head in an earnest apology.
JB nods in understanding, stepping back bashfully when he realizes that he still has you trapped in place. You smile at his innocent expression. Just when you think you have a read on him, he shows a new side to himself that draws you in a little bit more. Rescuing you both from the quiet intimacy evolving in your prolonged silence, you admit, “I'll need the details about the showcase again though, I didn't keep any of the information my Uncle gave me last week.”
You’re surprised when JB grins again and pulls out some folded papers from his jacket pocket. You raise an eyebrow as you accept the papers with a playful, “Confident, huh?”. His returning smirk is all the answer you need as you chuckle and skim the details more closely than you did before.
You knew that the performance was in a couple months and that it was for a special showcase on MNet that would be produced in partnership with JYP Entertainment. Their most popular groups had been asked to perform two routines for the showcase, the songs from their first and latest comeback wins on M! Countdown. It had already been marketed as a kind of ‘Look How Far They’ve Come’ night on social media. The audience passes for the recording had sold out in 15 minutes. The fans were obviously beyond excited to celebrate with their favourite idols.
Most groups probably wouldn't be changing their choreography for the showcase, but your Uncle had proudly told you that GOT7 always liked to push the envelope. They were looking for a new way to make their old song fresh and that’s where you would come in. As you leaf through the pages of your contract, you feel eager to get started. There are so many moves you would love to teach them. However, as you read through you begin to notice more details than you did last time. You read some of the stipulations out loud unconsciously, exasperated by the constraints they were putting on your creative input.
"1) Any changes in the choreography have to be incorporated within the original length of the song to fit within the broadcasting schedule. Hmmm, so no dance breaks basically.”
"2) While groups are encouraged to be creative, the performance should be reminiscent of the original intention of the song. We want audiences to be reminded of the past. Okay...”
"3) Members cannot be put at risk during this new training. Practices will take place once a week for two hours with appropriate breaks. Any new choreography will have to be incorporated within these scheduled practices or it will not be included in the performance. That'll totally work…”
"4) Moves which may result in serious injuries are to be avoided. Members are prohibited from moves that increase the risk of head injury. Guess you guys aren’t hanging upside down then!”
Your brows crinkle as you try to absorb all this new information. “It sure sounds like your managers weren't really on board with this idea.” The sound of JB chuckling in amusement irks you, making your voice raise slightly in pitch as you demand, “Well, how am I supposed to incorporate new choreography for ‘Fly’ in such a short amount of time if there are all these dumb rules?”
JB leans forward, bringing his face closer to yours again as his smile teases you. “What, don't think you can do it?”
You laugh, finding yourself exhilarated by the playful challenge. “Fine, but don't think I'll go easy on you!”
Grinning, JB checks his beeping phone as you snag a pen from your purse and sign the contract. No go backs now. “I better head out," JB says, pointing to the time. "My free time's up.” He snags your papers and waves as he heads for the door, calling back, “Don’t worry about me. I'll be ready for whatever you throw at me. See you next week!”
You bite your lip and shake your head as the door swings shut behind him. He really is kinda cute. This might actually be fun.