There is very little that Taehyung hates more than 8 am classes. But wow. Look at that. He’s found something.
8 am ballet.
Ballet at any time of the day probably would have been enough to make him drop out of college. The only reason he’s still in it is probably because it’s so early that Taehyung literally isn’t awake enough to properly register how terrible everything is.
The professor is a terrifying man with a Russian name that no one in the class can pronounce, and trying to translate all of the French ballet words at 8 o'clock is just asking for disaster. He doesn’t let them talk to each other, and when someone does something incorrectly, he makes them stand there and has the rest of the class look at them and tell him what’s wrong. Taehyung thinks it might have happened to him once, but it was a traumatic experience and he’s forcibly forgotten it.
Not only that, but the class is a basic ballet class full of music theater majors, like Taehyung himself, who have never had a ballet class in their life and are only there for the major requirement, so it’s really a fun time for everyone involved.
At least it has the benefit of bringing them all together. They will hold hands, face the Ballet Gods, and walk backwards into Hell. No man left behind.
Taehyung is sitting on the floor trying to touch his toes when the other benefit of the class walks in.
Taehyung doesn’t actually know what his name is. Maybe as payback for the fact that no one can pronounce his name, the professor has a terrible habit of making up names for the people in his class, and with the ban on talking it’s not like Taehyung can just ask. The teacher calls him James, but Taehyung is almost 100% sure that is not his name.
So he’s at a loss on the name front. However, he knows that James looks very, very good in tights.
Korean James is surprisingly small, with short black hair that he never styles and cheeks that Taehyung wants to pinch. Either set. And god, his thighs. His ass. It took several weeks of class before Taehyung even realized what a gift Korean James’ ass was. Then one day, Taehyung’s eyes suddenly snapped into focus and zeroed in. It was several minutes before he remembered two very important facts. One, that the teacher was explaining the combination that Taehyung was now going to have to fake his way through (he sucked so he could suck a little more and no one would notice) and two, the dance studio is full of mirrors and Korean James could probably see himself being ogled.
Luckily, James is a much better student than Taehyung and was actually paying attention to the professor.
Besides being a very attractive set piece to an otherwise terrible course, Korean James is also very, very good at what he does. Which appears to be a cross between ballet and making everyone love him. He’s TAing the class, so of course he’s going to be good, but the first time the professor rattles off a string of French terms and James translates the words into dance steps, Taehyung swears there are hearts in almost everyone’s eyes.
He’s just good.
And also very flexible, which Taehyung really appreciates but is beside the point.
He almost makes Taehyung wish the class was harder, just so he would do some crazy dance shit and Taehyung could watch and clap like a child.
Almost. Taehyung can’t do anything harder than counting to 8. He’s not wishing that on himself.
Not only is James wonderful at dancing, but whenever the teacher isn’t looking, he’ll try to help the people around him. Taehyung likes it when he does this, purposefully making an exaggerated mistake and fixing it on himself so that the others can also make the correction. The other day, he made extreme eye contact with Taehyung and pointedly placed his feet in fifth position when Taehyung had completely blanked on the start of the combination they were supposed to be doing. The smile he received after he fixed it made him see stars.
Taehyung is staring resolutely at the nasty studio floor (that hair has been there for two weeks, do they ever sweep) and only casually glancing in the mirror to catch the TA with his leg on the bar (barre? Is that French, too?), foot perfectly pointed and his butt very nicely showcased in the warm ups he has thrown over when Taehyung knows are very flattering tights. Probably black, maybe gray. Taehyung sees the hem of the white t-shirt James is wearing under his jacket. One big difference between dance majors and everyone else is how many layers they wear. Like, three outfits worth of clothes on one body all at once.
It’s very frustrating when Taehyung would rather James was wearing nothing.
Not in class, of course, because wow.
But if James’ whole body is as built as his quads, then Taehyung has no idea why he would bother wearing clothes at all.
And his face.
“You’re drooling,” says the girl next to him.
“Do you blame me?” he whispers dreamily.
Literally no one blames him.
“I can’t believe you don’t even know his name.”
“Jungkookie,” Taehyung whines, picking his head up a little and then slamming it back down on Jungkook’s thigh. “Be more helpful.”
Jungkook doesn’t even flinch. He’s used to Taehyung’s abuse. He does grimace a little at the thought of helping Taehyung with his crush, though. As someone who can barely look girls in the eye, he’s not the best candidate for a wingman. “How about...you ask him for his name after class?”
Taehyung just groans. “No can do, buckeroo.”
“What the hell--”
Jungkook is ignored. “He throws his clothes on and runs out of the hallway in record time. By the time I walk out of the studio he’s practically already gone. The only time I’ve seen someone get dressed so quickly is after we walked in on Namjoon-hyung and Seokjin-hyung having sex.”
Jungkook slaps a hand over his eyes. “I thought you promised never to talk about that.”
“Why would I promise that when it’s clearly gold?” Taehyung asks, looking up at him innocently. “Besides, it’s so far into the school year, I can’t ask his name now. How embarrassing would that be?”
The two of them are sitting in the quad on Jungkook’s Iron Man blanket during their break. Taehyung would feel a little guilty for disrupting Jungkook’s study time if it weren’t for the fact that Jungkook makes his life a living hell almost everyday. Like when he blue shelled him in Mario Kart the other day, for example.
Taehyung waits for Jungkook to offer more advice, but as time wears on it becomes clear that his young friend is even more useless than previously thought. He sits up and stares at him. “Is that seriously your only idea?”
“Well!” Jungkook closes his book, exasperated. “What did you expect? The only time I’ve ever dated someone is when my sister’s friend asked me out and I was so surprised I forgot to say no. Clearly I am a terrible choice for this. Why don’t you go ask Hobi-hyung what his name is? He probably knows him.”
“What the--Taehyung!” Jungkook scowls at him. “You don’t want to ask him for his name and you don’t want to ask anyone else for his name. How are you going to figure it out? Osmosis?”
Taehyung’s face goes pink.
Jungkook slaps him on the head with his book. “Stop thinking about touching his ass.”
“Now you said it out loud! How am I supposed to not think about it?”
“Oh my god.” Jungkook rubs his nose. “Do you want to fuck him or be his friend?”
“Be his friend,” Taehyung says earnestly, without hesitation. “And maybe also touch his ass. But Jungkook-ah you have to see this guys’ ass, it’s unreal.” He smiles. “And his face is so cute. Like, his eyes are so cute and his lips are just.” Taehyung sighs. “And his arms--”
“Yes, Taehyung, I get it.” Jungkook pauses, thinking. “You said this was your 8 am ballet class, right? With Prof Arkady?”
“Is that how you say his name?” Taehyung files that away for later. Maybe if he says the poor man’s name right he’ll smile a little and stop calling him “Taylor.” “Yeah, probably. I don’t know why I have to take it. It’s not like we’re ever going to do the Nutcracker in theater.”
“He’s short, black hair, cute eye smile, black Adidas bag?”
“Yeah…” Taehyung frowns.
“Is that him?” Jungkook nods behind them, and Taehyung twists his neck around so quickly he thinks his head might fall off but it would be so, so worth it because there is Korean James, in all his glory.
“Hell yeah, it is.” James is wearing a gray hoodie with SUPREME written across it in letters so big that Taehyung can read them halfway across the quad. And a snapback. Taehyung can see his forehead. And jeans. And his thighs in those jeans. “How’d you know?”
Jungkook just laughs. “Are you sure you don’t want someone to tell you his name?”
“Wait.” Taehyung points an accusing finger. “You know him? You know Korean James?”
Jungkook just laughs. “I might.”
Taehyung squints at him. “Prove it.”
Jungkook raises an eyebrow and shout “Hyung!” at the top of his lungs.
“Shitshitshit what are you doing?” Taehyung is wearing a t-shirt and a cardigan, he is not dressed to properly seduce his TA.
“Proof!” says Jungkook proudly, ignoring the way his friend is clawing desperately at his arm and waving at James, who waves back enthusiastically with both arms and shouts “Jungkookie!” across the quad.
Taehyung waves too, eventually, and James waves back, but he makes no move to walk towards them. Despite not being properly seductive, Taehyung finds himself a little disappointed. “He didn’t come over.”
“Nope.” Jungkook shrugs. “Probably because you were here.”
Taehyung frowns. “Does he not like me?”
“I don’t know, he hasn’t said anything.” Jungkook pats him absently on the back, opening his book up again. “I doubt it. He’s pretty chill with everyone unless they like, kick puppies or something. He just is a little hesitant with new people.”
He was willing to wave like a maniac for the whole campus to see, but he didn’t want to come talk to Taehyung? He wonders if James might have seen him staring in class and vows to try harder to stop. “Do people on this campus actually kick puppies?”
Jungkook snorts. “Not that I know of. But I do know for a fact that Jimin-hyung threw nuts at some students who were harassing the cat that’s always around the science building.”
Taehyung looks at Jungkook. “Jimin-hyung?”
Jungkook looks at Taehyung.
Taehyung doesn’t blink.
Seokjin would like to say he’s surprised to come home to see Taehyung sitting firmly on top of Jungkook chest and feeding him popcorn to make up for the fact that’s preventing Jungkook from using his arms, but he’s really, really not.
Neither Jungkook nor Taehyung were ever given a key to his apartment, but Seokjin is still not surprised.
“What’s up?” Taehyung says in greeting, not moving his eyes from his laptop and shoving another handful of popcorn into Jungkook’s mouth.
“Nothing. Work was rough. Namjoon is picking up take-out. Should I tell him to get more?”
“Where’s he stopping?”
“That barbecue place down the street.”
“Sure,” says Taehyung.
“I don’t have cash with me,” Jungkook says through popcorn.
Taehyung does mental math. “I’ll cover you.” He has enough, he thinks.
Seokjin pulls his phone out of his pocket and shoots off a text, slinging his bag on the table by the door and entering the living room, barely flinching as he steps on popcorn kernels with his sock feet. “What are you guys up to?”
“We’re Facebook stalking,” offers Jungkook.
“Correction: Taehyung is Facebook stalking while punishing Jungkook for telling him Park Jimin’s name.”
Jungkook rolls his eyes. “First off, it was an accident. And secondly, you wouldn’t be Facebook stalking if I hadn’t told you. So, actually, you’re welcome.”
“Park Jimin?” Seokjin takes a step closer to the computer. Taehyung twists a little on top of Jungkook to show him the screen. “Why are you Facebook stalking Jimin?”
Taehyung long since graduated from profile pictures and is now traveling through the much more interesting realm of Pictures of Jimin. All of his profile pictures are of him with large groups of people, or something that isn’t him at all, like a dog (Taehyung approves and would like to meet said dog). However, despite apparently not liking pictures of himself, many other people like taking pictures of Jimin. There are countless pictures of Park Jimin doing random feats of the ballet variety, wearing ridiculous costumes and, luckily, more tights. And stage makeup. God. Park Jimin in eye-liner. And his stupid smile. Taehyung is very interested to learn that Jimin does not, in fact, only do ballet, and has done several things that involve him wearing revealing costumes (wow hello) and looking very different than the slightly sleepy Jimin who appears in Taehyung’s 8 am ballet class. Taehyung honestly feels a little attacked.
There are a lot of pictures with him and a cute girl, Jung Wheein, who appears to be his dance partner. She shows up outside of dance pictures, too. One of Jimin’s friends, one Min Yoongi, must carry his camera around with him all the time and delight in taking photographs of his very small, very cute Park Jimin. Most of the photos taken either in the dance studio or off campus are from him. Some of them are taken in what appears to be a professional photography studio, just Jimin and a blank background doing things that would break Taehyung’s back if he ever attempted them. There is a very cute candid one that Taehyung has taken a liking to, where Jimin is sleeping, curled up on a couch somewhere with his head in someone’s lap. Out of all of the pictures of Jimin in makeup and revealing costumes and professional lighting, this one is his favorite. It’s soft. Taehyung approves.
Currently pulled up is a shot of Jimin smiling at the camera fondly, or maybe the person behind the camera, and Taehyung kind of wishes it was himself.
“Awww,” Seokjin coos. “How do you know Jimin?”
Taehyung looks up slowly at Seokjin, eyes leaving Jimin’s face for the first time in like, 20 minutes. “How do you know Jimin?”
Seokjin frowns. “He’s friends with Yoongi.” He looks pointedly at Taehyung, like this is supposed to mean something. “Min Yoongi? Suga? He raps with Namjoonie. Jimin comes with him sometimes.”
“Suga-hyung?” Taehyung’s eyes widen. “Suga-hyung has friends?”
Seokjin slaps him on the arm. “Really, Taehyung.”
“Jimin-hyung is the one who screams really loudly whenever Yoongi-hyung makes an innuendo,” offers Jungkook, sitting up and pushing Taehyung off of his chest.
“Why the hell have I not met him before?” Taehyung demands, not batting an eye while Jungkook manhandles him into a more comfortable position.
“You have!” says Jungkook, reaching for the popcorn. “You’ve had ballet with him all semester.”
“Wait.” Seokjin’s eyes widen. “Jimin is James?”
“Yes,” Taehyung tells him. “And good news: we are meant to be.” Taehyung turns him computer back around and starts scrolling again. “Park Jimin likes Big Bang and said if he had a super power, he’d want to be able to talk to dogs.”
“Wow,” says Seokjin flatly.
“Jimin is also a very hard worker and exercises regularly, so I’m not sure about this ‘meant to be.’” Jungkook has the nerve to use air quotes.
“I appreciate men who exercise!”
“When that football player asked you out, you cited ‘being able to do thirty pushups in a row’ as a reason you would never work,” Seokjin reminds, raising an eyebrow.
“Okay! Okay, firstly, that was one reason of many,” clarifies Taehyung indignantly. “The main reason was because he was an ass. And secondly.” Taehyung hasn’t thought of a secondly.
Unfortunately, neither Jungkook nor Seokjin got that memo. “Secondly?” Jungkook prompts.
Taehyung clenches and unclenches his fists, trying to snatch the words out of the air, but he gives up with a heavy sigh. “Jimin just seems really nice.”
It’s quiet for a few seconds. “He is really nice,” says Seokjin with a smile. “You guys would probably be good friends.”
Groaning, Taehyung dives head first into the couch cushions. “But we can’t be friends if I can’t talk to him! I’m doomed to stare at him until December and then never see him again.”
“Dude.” Jungkook pats his back. “You just found out that like, all of your friends know him.”
“And haven’t introduced him to me in the past year. Clearly they don’t want me to be happy.”
“He’s hungry,” whispers Jungkook to Seokjin, still rubbing Taehyung’s back.
Seokjin nods. “I’ll see how far away Namjoon is. Try to keep him together until then.”
Despite knowing that they have enough mutual friends that it wouldn’t be strange to just go up and introduce himself, Taehyung continues to fail miserably. Jimin continues to change lightning fast in the hallway before Taehyung can stop him. He also gets to class just before the professor, for whatever reason. And never once has Taehyung seen him outside of class before that time with Jungkook.
But Jimin continues being precious. The only day that he didn’t zoom out of class was the day that the teacher berated a poor girl to the point of tears. Taehyung had admired her, honestly. She was absolutely terrible and she knew it. But even when she was crying in an otherwise quiet room she refused to leave.
When the class ended, Jimin was the one who grabbed her things and ushered her out of the room. Jimin was the one who sat her down and held out tissues for her and gave her a granola bar because that was all he had. It was probably the first time Taehyung actually heard him talk, softly comforting her while she calmed down and asking her about the rest of her classes and her friends and her major.
Taehyung was the one who left first, that day.
At this point, Taehyung has just accepted that Jimin is a gift put into his life by the gods to be appreciated from afar. He’s a little bitter about it. But Jimin hasn’t made a move to be friends with any of the people in his class, despite still being very friendly. So there is nothing he can do but accept it.
Taehyung has also made a conscious effort to stop staring at him unless he’s looking for help. It’s helped both his ballet and his sanity, even if he misses seeing the little faces Jimin makes.
So he slops along through his daily schedule, through voice lessons and theater rehearsals and this really awful chem class. And then one night, the gods take pity on him, because when he walks into his usual study room in the library, greasy campus food in hand, there is Park Jimin, asleep on the table.
For a moment he considers leaving Jimin in peace. He looks very cute, with his cheek squished up against his textbook and his food going cold on the table beside him. But if Taehyung fell asleep in the library, he’d definitely want someone to wake him up, so he carefully shakes Jimin’s shoulder.
Jimin groans. “No.” He tries to shake off Taehyung’s hand.
“Park Jimin, if you are so tired, you should go to sleep.”
“I am asleep,” he mumbles into his own hand.
Taehyung pats his cheek (it’s very soft). “Wake up.”
Jimin slowly opens his eyes, face a little puffy, and blinks blearily in the harsh light of the study room. He squints at Taehyung, clearly not fully aware. He sits back in his chair, rubbing the heels of his hands into his eyes sleepily. His hair is ruffled and the cheek that has been on the table is bright red.
Taehyung can’t help smiling. “Good morning.”
“Mmm.” Jimin waves a little, ruffling his own hair and messing it up even more. “Whu time’s it?”
Taehyung laughs, deeper than he meant to, and that seems to be what brings Jimin fully into focus. “It’s a little after 8. I’m afraid your food is probably cold.”
“Ahh.” Jimin hangs his head back, showing off all of his neck, and Taehyung takes a very long sip of his drink. “I should probably go.”
“I don’t mind sharing,” Taehyung offers. He slides into the seat next to Jimin and places his food down on the table. “We’ve had class together for several months now. At the very least we can be study acquaintances.”
Jimin looks at him, and then smiles at him slowly, so slowly that Taehyung’s mind creates a play-by-play of the way it blooms across his beautiful, sleepy face. “That’s fair.” He’s wearing a black long-sleeved shirt under his thin gray hoodie, and he pulls the sleeves down even further so that they cover his hands. “Although I’m sorry, I don’t know your name.”
“You mean it isn’t Taylor?” Taehyung loves the blush on Jimin’s face, the way he tries to hide it behind his hand. “I’m Taehyung, it’s nice to officially meet you!” He reaches his hand out.
Jimin shakes it seriously, businesslike. “Park Jimin, but, uh, you knew that.” He’s smiling again.
“If it makes you feel any better, I only know your name because of Jungkookie.” Taehyung scratches his name sheepishly. “I was embarrassed to ask you, since it’s so far into the semester, but Jungkook knew you, so he just told me.”
“I was wondering if that was you in the quad with him that one time.” Jimin flips idly through the textbook he has out. It looks like some sort of math course. “It would have been okay to ask me. Or call me James, I’d probably answer to that. This is my third semester working with Arkady and I don’t bother correcting him anymore.”
Taehyung watches Jimin’s small, small hands smooth over the pages. Taehyung’s hands are big and clumsy, and everything about Jimin is fluid and graceful and precise. “He’s definitely. Wow. He’s so...”
“Russian?” Jimin grins. “He’s not a bad guy, outside of class. He’s actually really nice. He just grew up learning from people who yell, so that’s how he teaches.” His fingers tap out rhythms on his thigh and he smiles. “Ask him about his daughter sometime. He lights up, it’s really cute.”
There’s a moment where Taehyung tries to imagine their strict ballet teacher being cute in any capacity and it doesn’t quite...click.
His face must be hilarious, because Jimin laughs at him. Or giggles. It’s small and high pitched and adorable, and he throws his whole body into it.
Taehyung wants him to giggle forever. “Next time he gets on me about turnout or something, I’ll try that and see what happens.”
“If he yells at you, it’s going to be because you don’t straighten your legs.”
Taehyung wants to pretend like he’s offended, but he isn’t, because it’s true. “Harsh,” he teases anyway, delighted. “I’m like, twice as long as you. And I can’t get my leg up if it’s straight.”
“It’s more important to get your leg straight than it is for it to be high,” says Jimin simply. “Especially at this level. Flexibility comes with training. But you probably won’t be doing arabesques in your musicals, so it’s okay if it’s lower than 90.”
“How long have you been training, then?” asks Taehyung, remembering he has food and reaching into the bag. “To get so flexible.” He takes a huge, unattractive bite of his sandwich.
Jimin doesn’t seem to mind. “I’ve been in ballet since I was four.”
Taehyung stares at him blankly, mouth still full. “What.”
Jimin just slaps him on the arm and ignores him. “I’m naturally more flexible though. I’m kind of made to dance, you know? It’s all I’ve ever really been good at, even if I have to work really hard for it.”
Jimin is made to be looked at and appreciated, so yeah, Taehyung guesses that dance fits in with that pretty well. “Do you just do ballet, then?” he asks, even though he knows the answer. Taehyung mentally pats himself on the back. Way to keep the ball rolling.
“No.” Jimin looks like he’s struggling between being excited to talk about dance and being shy talking about himself. “I’ve been trained in a little bit of everything. That’s one reason why I came here instead of some other school. They give you a really well-rounded education in a bunch of different styles and genres. I do a lot of modern dance, but I’ve been doing a lot of hip hop recently, too…Ballet is my first love, of course.” He laughs awkwardly.
“Multi-faceted,” says Taehyung, taking a deep breath and grinning.
“Like a diamond.” Jimin frames his face cutely with his hands and then immediately regrets it. “Sorry.” Before Taehyung can tell him not to apologize, Jimin changes the subject. “What about you, though? I’m assuming you are also a music theater major?”
“Ah, yes.” He nods. “I promise I’m better at it than ballet.”
He’s giggling again. That’s twice now. Taehyung is keeping count. “Do you sing, then?”
“All the time!” He might be a bit more enthusiastic that necessary, but all Jimin’s seen him do is butcher adagio for three months. “I almost majored in vocal performance, but I like acting too much to give it up.”
“Is that how you know Jungkookie?” Jungkook is a vocal performance major.
“We actually met through another friend, Namjoon-hyung.”
Jimin’s eyes widen. “You know Namjoon-hyung, too?”
God damn. “Yeah. And apparently Seokjin-hyung and Hobi-hyung and Su--excuse me, Yoongi-hyung, too.” Taehyung tries to gesture with his hands before remembering he’s been holding his sandwich for the past five minutes.
“Wow.” Jimin sits back in his seat. “How have we not met before?”
“The higher powers were determined to have you watch me struggle in our 8 am. There is no other possibility.”
Three giggles in one conversation. Taehyung is on a roll. “You know, if you really feel like you’re struggling that much, I can probably help you out.”
The world stops. “What?”
“Like…” Jimin turns a little pink at the sudden intensity. “It’s my job? I get paid to help out the students in that class. I can schedule studio time and we can meet up for like, half and hour and go over stuff.”
Is Taehyung blinking? He thinks he might not be. “Just the two of us?”
“If that’s okay with you!” Jimin says hurriedly. “I meet with a couple of students and we all work on stuff together sometimes, or I can ask Hoseok-hyung to come, too.”
“No, no, I’m fine with one-on-one.” Taehyung swallows a little and takes another drink. “Actually, that’s probably better. I’m, um, I’m really bad.”
Jimin pats him on the arm. “I promise, you’re not. Ballet always feels a lot worse than it looks.” His voice is comforting.
“Even for you?”
“I’m, uh, I forget to be nice to myself, sometimes, so yeah.” He runs a hand through his hair. “Anyway, what are your Monday’s like?”
“Uh…” he goes through his schedule in his head. “I’m free after maybe 6?”
Jimin frowns. “Could you do something around maybe 8 for a half hour? Is that too late?”
“No, 8 is good! Is it too late for you?”
“Trust me, I’ll be fine.” He laughs. It’s a little different than his giggle, but it’s still just as cute. “I’ll plan for that, then.” He looks at his phone. “I really should go, actually. I told Yoongi-hyung I’d help him out with a project tonight.” Jimin scoots his chair back and stands up, and Taehyung also stands up, because he’s an idiot who thinks he a man from Jane Austen or something, but Jimin doesn’t seem to notice. He just starts gathering his things up, and Taehyung starts collecting papers for him so it looks like he stood up a reason other than being extremely caught up in Jimin. “It was nice talking to you. I propose we be friends,” he says seriously.
“A promotion from Study Acquaintances already?” Taehyung manages, impressed that it comes out even.
“I’ve been very impressed with the quality of conversation.” Jimin holds out his hand for another handshake.
“Proposal accepted.” Taehyung can’t keep a straight face. “Pleasure doing business with you.”
“Likewise.” Jimin’s grinning, even as he steps out the door. “Enjoy your sandwich!”
And then he’s gone.
Taehyung’s gone, too.
They’ve been meeting on Monday’s for the past few weeks, now. Each session is less and less productive, because Taehyung is much more interested in Jimin as a person than Jimin as a TA, but he tries to learn, anyway.
Jimin is sitting on the floor, his back against the mirror, slumped over a little. Taehyung doesn’t know what Jimin was doing before he got there, but it’s made him sweaty, and Taehyung is both frustrated and appreciative. He’s wearing tight shorts that have ridden up, and Taehyung can see at least half of his thighs, which is pretty cruel considering he’s given up ogling.
They’ve just gone over the different positions of the feet, the different port de bras, the different arabesque positions. Jimin has the study guide for the final beside him, but he hasn’t looked at it once. “Do you know the eight positions of the body?”
Taehyung blanks. Shit. Shitshitshit. “What? Did we go over that?”
Jimin picks up the packet to look through it before hitting himself in the face with it. “Sorry. Sorry, sorry, that’s a different class.”
“How many classes do you TA?” asks Taehyung, still frantically trying to remember if he’s heard the teacher say anything similar to 8 positions of the body.
Jimin’s looking at Taehyung over the edge of the packet with tired eyes. “Just the one, but I help out people from most of the basic ballet and modern classes. The 8 body positions are Cecchetti, so you don’t have to worry about them, I just got confused.”
“So it’s not even ballet?”
“Wha--” Jimin laughs. “It’s ballet. It’s a different kind of ballet. You’re learning Vaganova. That’s what Arkady is trained in. If you ever take another ballet class with a different teacher, some of the stuff might be just a little different, mostly the arms. And frappe changes around a lot...It’s just a different style, but it’s all ballet.”
More words that don’t make any sense. “How many styles are there?”
“Uh…” Jimin looks up at the ceiling, thinking. “Vaganova, Cecchetti, Balanchine...ABT, the French school, the Italian school, the Danish school…”
“What are you trained in?”
Jimin squints at him, trying to figure out if he really cares. “Balanchine.” He fans himself with the packet. “We’ve gone over everything for the practical final. You just need to know how to spell everything for the written one.”
“Why are we even having a written final?” Taehyung whines, watching himself in the mirror. He’s gotten a lot better since Jimin has started helping him. His legs are straight, and his hands don’t look as clunky. He still can’t do adagio but he doesn’t even know what adagio is, so who can blame him.
“People ask that every year, and I still don’t know.” Jimin sighs. “Easier than any other written final I have, though.”
“True.” Taehyung takes a deep breath before plopping down on the floor in front of Jimin. “You know how we have to go watch a ballet and write about it for this class? Do you have to do that, too?”
Jimin runs his hand through his hair. Taehyung is beginning to recognize this as a habit of his, and he both loves and hates it. “I don’t have to for this class, since I’m just the TA, but I have to see a performance for some of my other classes.”
“Good.” Taehyung wrings his hands together a little nervously, but otherwise he does his best to appear calm. “The town over is doing some ballet next weekend, and I was wondering if you wanted to go together? We could carpool? It’s way more efficient. You know. Gas prices are so high and shit.”
“Coppelia next weekend?”
“Coppelia! That’s it. I couldn’t remember the name.”
Jimin’s face falls, and so does Taehyung’s stomach. “I’m sorry, I can’t.”
“Are you sure? There are other days.”
“I…” Jimin bites his lip. “I’m sorry, I’ll be really busy for the next couple of weeks. I won’t even be in town in the evenings. I meant to tell you I wouldn’t be able to make our sessions for the next two weeks, anyway. I’m really sorry.”
“It’s okay.” Taehyung knows when to cut his loses. But… “Here. Let me give you my number in case you change your mind.”
“I…” There’s a second where is looks like Jimin is going to take the final step to crushing Taehyung’s hopes and dreams, but eventually he smiles. “Okay.” He stands up and heads over to the sound system to get his phone and hand it to Taehyung.
“Sorry about the ballet,” he says while Taehyung types in his information. “But we can go get dinner together, if you want?”
Taehyung noticeably perks up. “Where?”
Jimin raises his eyebrow. “The cafeteria?”
Ah. Definitely not a date then. Whoops. “I’d love to.” Taehyung smiles, and the Jimin smiles, and Taehyung makes Jimin giggle another four times during their very late dinner, and that’s really all that he can ask for.
Jimin doesn’t change his mind.
Taehyung goes to the ballet anyway.
He has to go to something, and he already bought a ticket for himself, so it’s a waste of money if he doesn’t go. He knows that Hoseok has to see something too, so the two of them plan to dress up a little and hop into Hoseok’s car and drive to the next town over and Taehyung prepares to be bored for two hours. There’s a live orchestra, though. And a lot of people who will be dressed up much nicer than either of the two college students.
It’s nice, though. He doesn’t hang out with Hoseok enough. When Hoseok pulls out a bouquet of flowers upon getting out of the car though, Taehyung is confused. “Are we on a date?”
Hoseok visibly flinches. “No? What the hell?”
“Who are the flowers for?”
“What do you mean ‘who are the flowers for’? Who do you think?” And with that, he rolls his eyes. “Come on. We should get good seats.”
Taehyung believes in going with the flow, so he shrugs it off and goes inside.
From the program, Taehyung reads that this is about a doctor who makes a doll that’s really pretty and some idiot Franz falls in love with it, but then the lights go out and Taehyung figures it’s better that he doesn’t know.
He probably should have looked at the program a little harder, because the lights come up on stage, and they’re barely into the story (the weird inventor has made the weird doll and is dancing around with it, which is weird) when Hoseok’s bouquet makes 100% more sense. No wonder Jimin couldn’t come. He’s in it.
He’s idiot Franz.
He grips Hoseok’s arm, and Hoseok just looks at him, judging. “You didn’t know?”
“Shh.” Taehyung can’t tear his eyes away. Jimin is on stage with a girl, not one Taehyung has seen in his Facebook stalking, and he’s picking her up? So easily? She’s basically flying?
And then they’re gone, and other people come on stage, and they’re probably really good but Taehyung literally doesn’t care because why did no one tell him Jimin was in this?
“He’s been practicing for this for months,” whispers Hoseok in his ear. “He didn’t say?”
“I actually asked him to go with me to this, and he still didn’t say anything. Just said he was busy.” Taehyung isn’t sure what that means. “So...Jimin is really good, right?”
Hoseok nods. “This company is paying him to be Franz. They hired him specifically. Jiminie is very good.”
And then Jimin/Franz is on again, spinning his lady friend across the stage. Taehyung watches as Jimin pretends to fall in love with the pretty doll in the window, severely pissing off the girl he’s dancing with. Watches as Jimin pretends to fight the inventor (everything is in pantomime so everything is funny) and pretends to be drunk? Drugged.
Honestly, everything is a blur of jiminjiminjimin at that point, and Taehyung is only following the ballet closely enough to take random notes for his stupid paper. He may have doodled hearts all over his notebook but no one will ever know.
And then suddenly it’s over (not before Jimin gets married and oh, look at that, tights, hello) and Taehyung hasn’t blinked in so long his eyes are bone dry.
“You okay there, buddy?” asks Hoseok flatly, patting Taehyung leg sarcastically, if that’s even a thing.
“Why did no one tell me?” Taehyung says to no one, eyes wide, still staring at the stage even as the lights in the house come up and everyone leaves.
“Tell you what?”
“That I literally have no chance?” he gestures wildly towards the closed curtains. “Did you see him?”
“Mmhmm,” placates Hoseok, physically lifting Taehyung from his seat and ushering him out.
“What kind of creature has descended from the heavens and come to us in the form of Park Jimin?”
“Please control yourself.”
Taehyung frowns at him before breaking out into a smile and twitching Hoseok’s nose. “Yoongi-hyung is rubbing off on you.”
Hoseok is not impressed. “Do you want to see Jimin or not?”
“Do they all come out?” Taehyung looks around the lobby.
“They have to change first, but yeah, they all come out.”
Hoseok sees him first. “Jiminie!” he shrieks, and if Jimin is embarrassed when everyone turns to look at them, he doesn’t let on.
“Hoseok-hyung!” he shouts instead, deep, from his chest, like a battle cry, and he’s ridiculous, and oh.
Taehyung might really, really like him.
Jimin has already hugged Hoseok and thanked him for the flowers when he sees Taehyung. “Oh.” Hoseok steps aside, and Jimin is wearing all black, his hair is styled back from his forehead and the makeup is melting off of his face a little, and he looks good, but more than his outfit, he’s glowing. Taehyung knows that post-performance happiness, and it looks really good on Jimin. “Taehyung, hello.”
Taehyung grins at him. “Why didn’t you tell me?” He takes a couple of steps forward and throws his arms around Jimin. It might be the first time they’ve ever hugged. Jimin might lean into a little. It might be wishful thinking. “I’ve been wanting to watch you dance for forever! You’re so good! You must have worked so hard.” He takes a step back and looks sadly at his empty hands. “I’m sorry, I don’t have anything to give you.”
“It’s okay,” Jimin says, mildly surprised. “I wasn’t expecting anything.”
“Seriously.” Taehyung punches Jimin very firmly in the shoulder and Jimin has the nerve to look offended. “Why didn’t you say so, when I asked you?”
“I’m sorry, geez.” He transfers Hoseok’s flowers to the other arm so he can rub his shoulder. “I just...I know you were just humoring me, with all the ballet stuff. I didn’t want to make you feel like you needed to come.”
Taehyung takes a second to process this before physically removing Jimin’s hand from his shoulder and punching him again. “Of course I wasn’t humoring you!” he huffs. “You’re my friend, right? I accepted your proposal. If you like something, I’m going to support you, regardless.” He crosses his arms. “Besides, the pantomiming was super weird, but you did so good I couldn’t even look away. So. Good job.”
“You should have seen him when you first came on stage,” Hoseok jumps in. Jimin jumps a little, like he’d forgotten. “His eyes were huge. I probably have a bruise on my arm from how tightly he grabbed me.”
“Hyung,” Taehyung whines.
Taehyung is happy.
Later in the car on the way home, Hoseok says, “You made him really happy, tonight. You guys don’t hang out very much, but he likes you a lot.”
Taehyung nods, looking pointedly out of the window. “I like him a lot, too.”
“Next time, try a little harder so I’m not the third-wheel, okay?”
Taehyung laughs, and he’s warm. Okay.”
Jimin doesn’t come to the ballet final.
Taehyung remembers everything he taught him, anyway. Manages not to make a complete idiot of himself. He thinks Jimin would be proud of him.
The ballet final is his last one. When he hands Professor Arkady his written test, he makes sure to thank him and say his name correctly. Arkady smiles and wishes him a good break.
Later, when he’s on his way home, he gets a text from an unknown number.
I wasn’t about to get up to go to a final at 7:40 if I didn’t have to
But how did it go????
Did prof yell at you?
Were your legs straight???
Taehyung smiles all the way home.
By the time they come back in January, Jimin has usurped Jungkook as the top conversation on his phone for the past three weeks.
In this amount of time, Taehyung has established what he really knew all along. They are meant to be.
Jimin takes pictures every time he sees a dog on the street, always making sure to include the dog’s name for some reason, which Taehyung just finds endearing.
Jimin calls him at three in the morning on his birthday just to annoy him. Sings for him, beautifully. The Birthday Song has never sounded so beautiful, even when Jimin gets shy halfway through and purposefully makes his voice crack just to be ridiculous.
Jimin keeps taking selfies with his mom, whom Taehyung already loves, because they smile just the same.
Jimin puts up with him when it’s late and he can’t sleep and he needs to talk about something, anything. Not only does Jimin put up with him, he provides.
Earlier in the year, when Jungkook asked him what he wanted from Jimin, he just said he wanted to be his friend. Which isn’t really true, and might never have been true in the first place. He wants to be friends that hold hands and kiss and introduce each other to their parents and maybe get married and have three kids.
Taehyung isn’t sure where Jimin stands on this, but he’d like to think the feeling is mutual.
It might not be, though.
So Taehyung waits.
The Monday night ballet struggle sessions become Monday night dinners, and Monday night dinners become dinners every night they can (which is three nights, not that Taehyung is counting) and sometimes hanging out before, or after, and sometimes even during the day.
Taehyung’s roommate even kicks them out of their room, but it’s okay, because they just move to Seokjin’s apartment, which is even better, because there is food there. Jimin continues to work his strange magic and make everyone love him, and Seokjin is literally helpless whenever Jimin smiles at him. Taehyung is starting to figure out how Jimin got Yoongi to put up with him.
Even when Taehyung’s rehearsal schedule starts going crazy for the musical and Jimin gets swamped with dance stuff, they still make time to see each other. Taehyung got up an hour earlier to go to the gym with Jimin before classes. Taehyung. At the gym. He runs sometimes, to stay in shape, but working out with Jimin is a whole new monster. Watching Jimin exercise is kind of like watching Bay Watch but better? Because it’s Jimin.
It’s nice, though. Mornings are quiet. They go get breakfast, afterwards. Taehyung walks into his first class smiling.
Taehyung is pretty secure in his relationship with Jimin, by now. He’d like for it to be a different relationship, but he really loves where they are now anyway. They’re together. That’s really all Taehyung wants.
He’s glad he stopped ogling Jimin. He’s glad he found Jimin asleep in the library that day. He’s glad their ballet class is over and they still want to be around each other.
He’s really, really happy.
This semester is his first time with a lead role, and Jimin has been the one to talk Taehyung down from almost every cliff. The cliffs have grown increasingly more frequent now that the show is opening, and Jimin still puts up with him for every one.
So when Jimin texts him a friendly I’m coming tonight!!! I’ll love you even if you suck~ Taehyung knows exactly what he’s going to do.
The opening show is neither the cast’s best run nor the worst, but he’s a little proud of himself because he only messed up once and his voice didn’t crack at all, even though he’s nervous. He’ll always be nervous. But Jimin is here and he did a good job for Jimin. He’ll never be as beautiful as Jimin is when he dances, but this is a good start.
“Good job, man,” Kibum says in the dressing room, dabbing at his sweaty hairline with a tissue and wincing at the thick foundation that smears off. “Not bad for an opening night.”
“Thanks.” Taehyung looks at himself in the mirror and he’s glowing. This is why he’s in theater. The high you ride after a performance. His eyeliner is smeared. He can’t stop smiling. He hangs up the costumes he’s thrown around haphazardly in the past two hours and grabs the flowers that are waiting for him on the dressing room table.
“Someone gave you flowers?” Kibum asks as Taehyung cradles them in his arms and they walk up the stairs and out into the hallway to greet everyone who came.
“No,” he says, smiling, and leaves it at that.
The bright white of the lobby hallway is a huge contrast to the dark browns of the dressing rooms and the darkness of backstage, but the noise level is just as high. When Taehyung and the rest of the actors come out, everyone starts clapping again, and Taehyung just keeps bowing and smiling so big he thinks his face might split in half.
“My son!” someone shouts, and Taehyung knows it’s Seokjin, so closes his eyes and opens his arms and let’s his hyung nearly tackle him to the ground. “Oh my god, you’re so sweaty.”
“Stage lights are hot,” Taehyung says. He can’t even pretend to pout, he’s so happy. He wiggles a little so Seokjin gets the full, sweaty effect. “Can’t be worse than Namjoon-hyung after a show.”
“This is true,” says Namjoon, smiling. “You did extremely well, as always.”
“Thanks, Dad.” Taehyung releases Seokjin with one arm and pulls Namjoon in as well. “I’m a star now.”
“For another two weeks at least. Then you're a loser, just like the rest of us.” Yoongi looks small and dark in the brightly lit hallway, but he’s here, and Taehyung wants to hug him, so he does. When he steps away, he thinks Yoongi might be a little pink with embarrassment. “Here.” Yoongi hands him a water bottle, on the cold side of room temperature, and Taehyung is so grateful.
“Thank you, I’m dying.” Taehyung opens it and drinks immediately. He’s been talking so much his throat feels like sandpaper. His eyes dart around. “Where is Jiminie?”
“Here!” Small hands separate Seokjin and Namjoon. “I’m small, move out of the way.” He is small, Taehyung wants to just put him in his pocket and keep him forever. Jimin holds his arms out. “Hug me.”
“Hugging.” Taehyung surges forward and gathers Jimin up in his arms. “I’m sweaty.”
“I like it,” says Jimin, laughing. Taehyung can feel him smiling against his chest. “Who brought you flowers?”
“No one!” he sings. “I got them for you!”
Jimin can barely react when Taehyung shoves the bouquet into his arms. “What.”
“Because I didn’t get you any the last time.”
The smaller boy laughs, unsure. “But I didn’t bring you anything this time?” His hands are jittery at his sides.
“Then next time, I’ll come watch you dance, and you can give me flowers then.” Taehyung
“That’s not how it’s supposed to work, I don’t think.”
“Well.” Taehyung shrugs. “I’m also thankful that you came. So there’s that.” He didn’t get anyone else flowers. Namjoon snickers into his fist and Seokjin slaps him lightly. Taehyung can feel the three of them staring into the side of his face but it’s fine.
Jimin’s eye smile. Wow. “I don’t think I deserve flowers for showing up and supporting my friend.”
Taehyung stops laughing. His smile softens. “You deserve flowers all the time.”
Jimin looks like he’s holding his breath. One second. Two seconds. He wants to say something.
Taehyung waits. He’s been waiting. He can be patient.
He only has to wait a couple more seconds and then…“Do you want to go on a date?”
Honestly, Jimin looks a little shocked by Taehyung’s quick response, and Taehyung just laughs at him. Jimin releases the breath he’s been holding. “Good.” He sighs in relief.
“Gross,” says Yoongi, but he takes a picture with his phone anyway.
The first date is a disaster but it fits. They start off trying to be official and going to a movie and dinner. But the movie sucks so they just laugh about it the whole time, and instead of dinner they just go buy instant ramen and eat it outside on a bench. And then the rain starts, but neither of them ever stops smiling.
They don’t even bother trying to find cover. Jimin just runs into the empty street and starts yelling and dancing, his clothes soaked through and heavy and his hair in his eyes. And he’s beautiful.
Taehyung is really glad he waited.
“I don’t kiss on the first date, you know.”
The rain hasn’t stopped, and Jimin is laying with his head on Taehyung’s lap under a tree, his hair stuck to his forehead and goosebumps on his arms as the rain dries on his skin. He looks up. “What do you mean?”
Taehyung shrugs. “I’m just saying, I’m a very traditional guy. I’m afraid we’ll have to wait until at least the fifth date for kisses.” He’s grinning.
Jimin snorts when he says “traditional.” He turns a little and sits up. “Are we talking, like, mouth kisses?”
“Hmm…” Taehyung taps his chin, pretending to think. “Well, I’d say first date constitutes a forehead kiss, you know?”
“And then second date, a kiss on the right cheek.”
“Right, and the third date, left cheek.”
He nods. “Naturally.” He grins. “And then fourth date, I will require a nose kiss.”
“A nose kiss?” Jimin looks at him flatly.
“Don’t judge, it’s cute.” Taehyung can’t even keep character anymore. “And then, only then, will I allow the mouth kiss.”
His date just looks at him for a second before laughing. “Well,” Jimin grins. “We have a lot to catch up on, don’t we?”
They’re really close, for all of this talk about not kissing. “We do?”
Jimin smiles beatifically. “Well, that one day, in the library.”
He's so close to Taehyung face, Taehyung would agree to anything he said. “Date one, okay.”
Jimin grabs Taehyung’s neck and brings his lips to his forehead, softly. Taehyung closes his eyes.
“All of those times we got coffee after the gym, I think those should count,” Jimin whispers. Taehyung can feel his lips moving on his forehead.
“Yeah, I agree.” Taehyung swallows, eyes still closed. His mouth is really dry.
“All of those dinners.”
They were on campus, so they wouldn’t usually count, but there really were a lot of them.
Jimin’s lips hover over his nose. “Oh no,” he says innocently. “This is only our fourth date.”
“Oh, shut up.”
Taehyung throws his arms around Jimin’s neck and kisses him properly.
They’re both cold and wet, and it’s late, but Jimin’s hands are threading tightly through Taehyung’s hair, and his lips are moving very well against his, and Jimin is falling into his chest and he just fits. Everything fits.
Jimin pulls away, softly, smiling smugly.
“I demand a nose kiss,” says Taehyung.
Jimin just giggles, and Taehyung has lost count of how many times it’s happened, but it’s still beautiful.