There are days when she has no idea why she's even here, why she was scouted to begin with, how anyone could think she was anything but a backup dancer. And sometimes, between the four of them, between Jia with her vibrant smile and Suzy's grace onstage, and Min, Min, Min, Fei still feels like the backup.
"Well, look at you," Min says, breathless and panting from the workout that is a full performance at Music Bank. She leans over and slumps against Fei's shoulder, her own still heaving. Fei reaches up and touches her hair automatically, pushing it back out of her sweat-streaked face. Their costumes are even more ridiculous tonight than Thursday. Min's top has a bright pink zipper and Fei's has two inexplicable yellow patches right over her boobs. She's not even sure she's technically wearing pants right now.
Oh, and then there's the part where they both have tails sewn into the back of their leotards.
She wonders, not for the first time, why she has to be so serious all the time when she does things like this for a living.
"What about me?" she says, leaning into the warm shape of Min next to her.
Min looks up into her face and says, "I see you, having fun out there," and grins when Fei ducks her head. "See, look, you're smiling right now."
Fei starts, "I always smile when I--" but can't finish.
Her standard line is, 'I always smile when I dance.' And it's not really a line, it's always been the truth.
Except tonight, she wants to say, "I always smile when I'm out there with you." Min is heavy and solid against her, all muscle and strength, and Fei wants to run her hand over the smooth exposed skin of her stomach (because the costume gods have decided that Min's midriff is one of her best assets and should be bared at all costs, and right now Fei can't really blame them). She wants to see the planes of Min's abdomen are soft or firm or both. She wants to see if Min would be ticklish if she touched her right there.
She wants to feel where the dancer ends and the girl begins.
When she dares to meet Min's eyes again, Min is just watching her like she knows all these things. Like she knows exactly how much Fei doubts herself sometimes; how she can still hear her grandmother snapping that a real woman needs to be in school learning important things, and not dancing and flaunting herself and putting herself out there for men to gawk at. How she can't watch herself on camera, how she always has to look at Min instead. How when she sees herself, she sees her own pout, her own smile disappearing off her face too quickly, like she's afraid she might get caught being happy, might be punished for enjoying herself too much. She always wants to tell Min to please just smile for both of them. She wants to tell Min that her happiness is a huge, world-devouring thing; it can gobble them both up and still not be full, it can still want the whole world.
When she watches Min dance, when she watches her smile take over the stage, Fei always thinks, this is all I need. Just to be able to dance, and for Min to be able to smile.
"Hey, girl," Min says, softly. "Fei." Her name is almost a rumble in Min's throat, and Fei wonders if she should be afraid of the adrenalin rush she can feel kicking in.
She smiles, a true, unfaked-for-the-cameras grin. "You know, I've changed my mind," she says. "I think these costumes are good for something."
Then she tugs on Min's tail.
Min plays shocked, and Fei's pretty sure she hears a handler scolding them from somewhere behind the stage, because god forbid they do anything as unprofessional as roughhouse for ten seconds; god forbid they act just like the boys do. Min laughs and bats Fei's hand away, and shifts a little, and Fei thinks it's maybe to shield them both from view so Fei won't get hassled.
But a moment later, she's whipped around and stepped in close, and she's got Fei pressed up against the wall.
It should be rough, all that scratchy cement against her back, but Fei can't feel anything except exhilaration.
"Hi," she says.
Min runs her hand up Fei's side, and Fei thinks that it's unfair, because she wanted to be the one doing the touching, before Min's fingers reach the nape of her neck and start stroking and Fei loses the ability to think at all.
"You know," Min says, her body flush against Fei's, her chest just below level with Fei's own. "I used to think you were kind of a tightass."
From anybody else this would probably be appalling; Fei'd probably have to hide in her room for a day so she could be properly mortified.
Min's just looking at her, though, eyes wide and watchful, fingers curling up past her neck to brush Fei's cheek. It's the least mortifying thing Fei's ever felt. She wants to lean into the touch, so she does.
"But?" she says.
Min's eyes spark, darkening as Fei watches. Even out of breath and disheveled, with all her lipstick melted away and kohl smearing at the edge of her eyes, she is the most breathtaking thing Fei's ever seen.
"But then I saw you dance," she says.
"And after that?" Fei's hands are at her sides because she wants to put them on Min so badly. She clenches them into fists. They're starting to tremble a little.
Min brushes Fei's hair out of her eyes. "After that I just wanted to dance next to you," she says.
Fei isn't sure what she was expecting, but the buzz of anticipation in her veins gives way for a moment to wonder. "Me? But I was just one of the dancers." Min is one of the world's best, and Fei... Fei still feels, most of the time, like a little girl who got lucky, who just wandered into all of this one day and is still waiting for someone in charge to order her offstage, tell her she's not even supposed to be back here with all the real performers.
"Shh," Min says. "You were never just one of the dancers. Not when anyone could see how much you love it." She's already impossibly close, so she tilts her head forward just enough so that a strand of her sweat-damp hair falls against Fei's chin. "You did it, right? You've been all over Asia, you've done everything there is to do. You've made it. So why're you always acting scared?"
Onstage 2pm is performing and there are backup dancers starting to gather around the wings. A few of the other girls are smirking at them--Fei can feel the stares. But all she can focus on is Min--her sharp, dark eyes, hooded and knowing even without the help of all the eyeliner; the line of her mouth when she smiles, the fullness of her lips, her jawline, the dip of her breasts, the curve of her body against Fei's.
"Maybe I'm just afraid of you," says Fei. She doesn't add, afraid of the things I want to do to you, because she has a feeling Min knows that too.
Min leans up, and Fei's chest seizes with want--but Min stops just short of closing their mouths together, her breath coming warm and fast against Fei's lips. "Maybe you should be," she says, and it's a challenge, a promise--everything.
Fei bends her head and kisses Min, the faint taste of cherry lip gloss and sweat on her lips. Min reaches up and curls a hand into her hair, and it's exactly how Fei thought it would be, just exactly how she's wanted it. Min's mouth, her mouth, narrow and soft and perfect, and Min kisses her back like she's made up her mind. Fei gasps against her lips and slides her tongue over the shape of Min's pout. Min grins into the kiss. Smiling back is instant, as easy as dancing.
She finally, finally, slips her hands around Min's waist. Her skin there is smooth like water, and so, so soft.
Min pulls away long enough to murmur, "Looks like I'll have to work harder to keep you afraid of me," and then curls back around her, tugging Fei's hands lower down her waist.
"Looks like I'll have to make sure you get lots of practice," Fei says, and she keeps her hands where they are and kisses Min, deep and unhurried, until the lights go dark onstage and the cheering kicks in all around.