Chapter 1: High School
Taemin is still two years younger than Key but because he studied at home he was able to skip grades and goes to the same grade as him… thus explains why they are in the same class.
Title: Growing Up Special (part 1/?)
Pair: solo!taemin for the most part with little pairings in this part and the next (taemin/amber, Taemin/jonghyun? )
Taemin had been told he was different his whole life. Every time he went out with his mother he was told he was special and that’s why she wouldn’t let go of his hand. Taemin got taught by his own tutor because he was so special. It was the reason he didn’t have to go to normal school.
Taemin was tired of being special.
Taemin convinced his parents at the age of ten to let him go to a regular school. What resulted was him being sent to his cousins’ school. He loved Jinki to death, but he wanted to go on his own somewhere. But nobody could deny how eager Jinki was to show him around the first day. The school in question took grades from kindergarten until high school. As a result he was passed off from Jinki to Key because Jinki was three years older than him and in a different part of the school.
Key was interesting to say the least. He was only twelve but he acted like he was much older. He was especially protective of him as they walked to their first class together. As they headed towards the class Key got tenser by the second.
When they arrived Key gave him a speech about paying attention and friends but Taemin only heard half of it. He was too busy trying to look in the class.
Taemin has finally figured out why he was called special his entire life.
And it makes him livid.
By the time he reaches the lunch period where Key can tell he is upset and there is no hope. He’s not different at all. He is defective. He is disabled.
There are so many things that could be used to describe what he is.
Special isn’t one of them.
Taemin refuses to get out of bed the next day. There is no lock on his door, so Jinki walks right in. Taemin had fought with his mother and father on this. He didn’t think they would call his cousin. Said cousin pulled him right out of the bed and onto the floor.
It then seemed like he was yelling. Taemin could feel the anger of his cousin. The last thing his cousin said to him before he marched away was,
‘Now you use not hearing as an excuse to stay at home? When you were younger not being able to hear didn’t stop you from anything.’
Taemin decided that the hardest part was having people think that just because he couldn’t hear meant he was mentally ill. He had skipped two grades higher than normal and that was from home schooling. He understood how to read, which means he didn’t need everyone’s help in finding every single classroom. A fact Key took in stride when they walked to class now. Taemin observed that
Key was in fact a social butterfly. He was the complete opposite of Jinki, who couldn’t keep a conversation too long without putting his foot in his mouth.
Taemin learns that the worst part is when his classmates learn he can read lips. He had always been just alright at it. It was the main reason he still liked when Jinki and Key used their hands to talk and not their lips. His days were now filled with multiple people asking if he knew what the teacher was saying or write what I just said. He was like a monkey performing tricks to them.
The year started to move faster once Taemin found his niche. Pretty soon he had his friends, a kid younger than him named Kai. Then there was Minho who was Key’s age but seemed to like keeping quiet and blending with the wall.
And just like that the years passed.
When he entered high school things changed. He was only twelve and Key was fourteen. They still spent plenty of time together and he knew he could trust Key to drop anything for him, but things were still different.
Key hit puberty and somehow managed to gain more confidence than he had when he was twelve. Jinki grew balls, finally, and asked him out. Taemin realized how immature he was next to his friends.
Even Minho had found himself a girlfriend, Krystal, who he spent most of his time with. His younger friend Kai had changed to a full on dance school.
That left Taemin with no one really; which is why he ended up wandering the downtown area by himself. Key had texted saying everyone wanted to hang out. They had gone to the karaoke bar, him watching his four other friends cuddle and make faces at each other, before they parted ways. They had just wanted to visit a shop and Onew wanted to check out a new chicken place. They were going to be right back.
That was an hour ago.
He knew he wasn’t supposed to go certain places by himself. Especially since he can’t hear when someone is calling his name or warning him about something. But he decided that it was a Saturday afternoon and his friends had abandoned him. He didn’t care anymore.
He wanders into the music shop because he can feel the music. It’s very loud and being played on the streets. He had gotten lost but since he can’t speak he was too nervous to stop someone and type out a message on his phone. He decided he would wait it out in some shop until he got over his grudge at his friends and texted one of them. The feeling of whatever sound it was pounding against him on the street had brought him in.
What he saw was a guy with what looked like a Mohawk head banging behind the counter of the place. Taemin smiled where he stood and it hurt a little. That he couldn’t take in the enjoyment of the sound as well. He couldn’t talk but Taemin knew how to make noise. He cleared his throat and snapped his fingers. The guy froze where he stood. Taemin gave a silent laugh again. His eyes had kind of bugged out at finally noticing the new customer he had.
His name is Jonghyun and Taemin just might be in love.
They had talked for about an hour; by talking it meant they got a piece of paper out and scribbled on it, before Key texted frantically about his whereabouts. Taemin had stalled a little longer and ended up with Jonghyun’s phone number. Here’s what he knew about him so far:
He was fifteen, he went to an arts high school, and he works at the shop because his uncle owns it.
Taemin has never wanted to be older more than in that moment when he knew Jonghyun was viewing him as a child. Not a prospect for affection but a younger person who wasn’t on the same maturity level as him.
Taemin couldn’t wait to be fifteen, so he rushed things a bit.
He convinces a girl, Amber, who he’s known for years because they were in the same blind and deaf classes when he was younger. He figures its good practice seeing as she doesn’t know any of his friends and he doesn’t know any of hers. He explains exactly what he’s going to do so she won’t be startled. He leans forward gently and places his lips on hers. They are in his room and his parents had gone to dinner. They have all the time in the world.
She reciprocates as best she can, considering it’s completely new territory for her. Then there is the fact that they are both two very inexperienced pre-teens. It actually goes pretty well up until Jinki walks in on them. And of course Jinki hearing that his cousins’ parents had gone out for the night decided it would be best to bring Key along with Minho and his new girlfriend, Boa. Krystal and he had a falling out.
The worst part is the fact that neither Amber nor him stop because they just can’t hear that there are four people staring at them. It takes Taemin pulling away with a satisfied smile for him to notice the mixture of mortified, surprised, and proud expressions.
He gets a speech from Jinki about being young and not growing up too fast.
Taemin really takes it into consideration, he does. That’s why he waits a month before trying to put his hands up Amber’s shirt. He and Amber continue to kiss and meet up. Taemin falls a little in love and he thinks she does too. However Jinki mentions it to another cousin, who mentions it to their parents, who call Taemin’s parents. They are not excited about the idea to say the least.
They don’t make him stop but they give him the sex talk, which he already knows about, and he continues with life.
Taemin and Amber date until Taemin turns fourteen and she is fifteen. The break up is mutual, the main reason being that they consider each other friends more than lovers. They did make a pact before they broke up though; both of them had to find a person that would love the deaf side of them.
Onew has left for college and Key visits him constantly, while Taemin and Minho start thinking about where the hell they are going to go. It is while touring a college, the fall of their junior year in high school, that Taemin sees him again. The first person, besides Amber, who he ever fell in love with.
this with a second part very soon. Comments are welcome!
Chapter 2: Heartbreak
Taemin is dead set on going to that college. Minho and Key don’t know why he is because he refuses to tell them. Minho applies to mostly schools that have a good sports teams and Key is going to a fashion school in America. Taemin thinks it’s too far away but Key just doesn’t want to talk about it. Jinki doesn’t approve.
The school Taemin is applying to is an arts school. He would have to do a major that involves theatre, art, dance or music. The only thing he had ever done was, well nothing. He had no idea how he was going to get into this school.
Taemin had Minho call the school countless times with the questions he needed answered. He did not know what he could do within the arts. He thought things were hopeless. Then after the third call and the female secretary flirting with who she thought was Taemin; he had a breakthrough. He would do writing as a major. He could totally see himself writing plays and musicals.
He might even write a play based on his life one day. He could do it for all the other deaf people out there. At the age of fourteen it was then that Taemin realized he had a dream and a goal. He was going to become the best writer in the world and sweep Jonghyun off his feet in the process. If he actually gets into the school though.
Taemin joined the writing club and the school newspaper. He also decided to get a writing tutor after school. The school paper would not let him write at first and all he did was edit. But every month when the school paper was coming up with article ideas he would always give his in. He was so consistent that the editor in chief gave him a shot by assigning him an article about the cafeteria food.
He knew it was a job that was meant to be boring but he made it interesting by writing about the food and how amazing it was; in a very sarcastic way. It was funny and the students who read it loved it. Pretty soon Taemin had an article every month about different topics.
In the writing club it was a different story. Taemin was required to submit something to their literary magazine in the form of a poem, fictional short story, or non-fiction story. He had a hard time being serious in his writing so he always chose the fictional short story. He could be a person who hears through his writing. And that’s what he did.
Junior year came and went and it also brought along a new love interest for Taemin. Now he still thought about Jonghyun but he wasn’t stupid. He was fifteen and a senior in high school who has only ever been with one girl. He was very hormonal and had no one to share this pent up passion with. So when Jungmo, a senior as well but he was actually eighteen, asks him on a date he says yes.
Things with Jungmo were very different then with Amber. It was much more passionate and soon he found himself bearing all for Jungmo and going to a place he had never gone before.
“You did what?!” Key shrieked in the boys bathroom. Taemin and Minho shushed him quickly. The three were in the boys room and had crowded into the big handicap stall to talk.
“How was it?” Minho asks. He never thought Taemin would get this far, so quickly, but he just wanted to be there for him. Taemin shrugged at his question. He thought it was painful but Jungmo said it got better and that they could switch roles. In the middle of his story Key started to cry. Minho and Taemin were shocked. Key worried and whined but he never, ever, cried.
“What’s wrong?” Minho asks.
“T-taemin is growing up so fast,” Key explains between tears. Taemin can’t really read his lips because he’s crying and hiccupping so all he does is hug him. Taemin and Key stand there for a little bit before Minho joins in the hug.
“It’s okay, we’re all growing up a bit,” Minho says.
Taemin and Jungmo’s relationship continued all through his senior year. Jungmo meets Taemin’s parents and likewise. Things are going pretty well until it gets to the college acceptance letters. Taemin had become quite the writer and is the youngest person to head both the writing club and the school newspaper. He was quite accomplished and had started competing in writing contests. Jungmo was a completely different story.
Jungmo loved music and wanted to go places with his band. He was going to auditions at agencies that would accept him. Taemin had seen him sing and other people had told him how great he sounded. He couldn’t vouch for his boyfriend for obvious reasons. However he always thought Jungmo should follow his dreams. He never expected Jungmo to take him along. The unexpected question was asked
“Taemin, I know you’re going to be in school but,” Jungmo hesitated with the question. “Will you move in with me? I just want you to be with me while I’m going through this. And we can live as close to your school as possible-”
Jungmo stopped talking when Taemin shook his head. He wasn’t ready for that. He was only going to be sixteen when he started college. He wasn’t ready for that responsibility and also they would both be very busy. Jungmo had been accepted into a company and would start his trainee days. Taemin didn’t want him holding back and he didn’t wanna be held back either.
It was a mutual, but sad, break up.
Taemin had gotten into the school of his dreams and learned what love really felt like. He entered college with a broken heart but with his dreams soaring sky high.
Taemin was moving around his room and unpacking. He kept looking over his shoulder at the door to see who his roommate was. He got impatient and stopped checking though. He sat down to read a book and wait. He was told his roommate knew perfect sign language and would help him out a lot. Taemin got so engrossed in his book he didn’t notice that the door had opened. He nearly jumped off the bed when someone tapped him on the shoulder.
And then he almost had a heart attack to find Jonghyun staring down at him.
Chapter 3: College
Taemin was amazed that Jonghyun was actually his roommate. It turns out Jonghyun remembered him from that day in the shop.
“You were the reason I took up sign language,” Jonghyun explained. “When the disabilities said there was a new student who was deaf I jumped at the chance to help. I didn’t realize til a week ago it was you.”
All Taemin could do was stare in adoration. His fantasy was coming true. And Amber had told him he was crazy. Jonghyun and him continued to talk and unpack. He gave him a map of the campus and promised a tour. Taemin was so wrapped up in himself he didn’t take in the fact the photos Jonghyun was putting out.
There was a knock on the door and Jonghyun answered it to the girl in the photos.
“Taemin, this is my girlfriend. Jessica,” Jonghyun said with the biggest smile. Jessica smiled and held out her hand. It seemed as if her blonde hair shimmered. Taemin couldn’t deny she was beautiful.
However, Jessica was not apart of Taemin’s fantasy.
Taemin was soon introduced to Jonghyun’s other friends. He only had two male friends really. Yonghwa and Jongshin. The rest were a lot of girls. His favorite was Sulli and Seohyun so far. Then there was Luna, who reminded him of a female Onew.
Pretty soon he had them as his own friends too and he settled in on campus.
It was a couple months into the semester when he gets a call from Amber. She wants to visit him. He decided he needed to see one of his oldest friends. He also needed to deal with the frustration of watching Jonghyun and Jessica be a couple. All. The. Time.
Amber and him had been hooking up after they broke up, until he went out with Jungmo. It was going to be one of those occasions this time as well. They never had sex but neither were virgins. They didn’t want to cross that line. However they did many, many, other things.
All that was on Taemin’s mind was Amber at the moment. And getting her clothes off. They were intertwined on his bed when he felt like he was being watched. He pulled away even though she tried to pull him back to look around. Jonghyun was hurrying to grab his stuff and rush out the room.
Taemin made a noise and Amber jumped when she realized they had company.
Jonghyun apologized but it was really Taemin’s fault for not telling him he was going to have a her over. They sat awkwardly in the room after Amber left.
“That’s odd though,” Jonghyun told him. Taemin cocked his head to the side and asked him why.
“I don’t want this to offend you but, I thought you were gay,” Jonghyun said cautiously. That’s when Taemin smiled and clapped. It was his way of laughing and Jonghyun relaxed at that.
Taemin admitted that he liked both sexes. He had never really questioned himself and his parents had always told him they loved him. He got lucky with that. Jonghyun was accepting of this as well and it made them closer.
“But, you and her aren’t going out right?” Jonghyun asked. “I mean you never mention her and you have no photos up of her alone.” Taemin shook his head at the question. “That’s good because you know Krystal? She wants to go on a date with you.”
Krystal, Jessica’s little sister, wanted to go on a date with Taemin? He thought that was odd but agreed.
Their first date was a double date with Jessica and Jonghyun. Taemin was himself and polite. She was kinda bitchy but Taemin could handle it after dealing with Key for years. That’s what she liked about him. Everyone else usually got upset with her attitude but Taemin just smiled and shrugged. Plus he couldn’t hear her voice so it didn’t matter.
Taemin walked her back to her dorm that night. Jessica and Jonghyun wanted to use his room so he had agreed to go sleep in Yonghwa’s room. But then Krystal and him started talking, and she had a single.
Next thing Taemin knew he was laying next to her cuddling on the bed. They made out a little but he didn’t try anything past that. He didn’t even remember falling asleep.
Taemin’s first college relationship began. He was feeling great about it. He talked to her all the time and showered her with the attention she wanted and needed. Taemin and Jonghyun got along great as well. Things seemed to be near perfect.
He had joined the sign language club, which Jonghyun was president of, and also the newspaper club. He was excelling in both and wanted to arrange an event for the hearing impaired. His idea was a dance where it was only for those with hearing impairment. Of course aids and people who can actually hear were allowed to come; as chaperones.
Taemin took Krystal to the dance and she was happy she got to test out her sign language skills. He danced all night and everything was great. He thought everything was great.
Things with Krystal turned for the worst when she started demanding more things. He couldn’t afford all the things she wanted. It was putting a strain on the relationship. Pretty soon they were arguing and he went to Jonghyun for advice.
“Let me get this straight, you don’t want to break up but you don’t want to be with her?” Jonghyun asked. Taemin nodded sullenly.
“So, just make her break up with you then,” Jonghyun said simply. Taemin was confused at this.
“Try being horrible to her or ignoring her. But that is too childish though,” Jonghyun admitted. “Look, why don’t you just tell her how you feel? What’s the worst she could do? She had to see it coming the way things are going right?”
She didn’t see it coming. Taemin also found out the worst she could do. The reason Krystal had a single was because she was an RA. Which means she could enter Taemin’s room while he was in class. This also meant she could trash his room and scribble lipstick all over his stuff.
Taemin was livid. He was already upset because he cared about her and she treated him this way. It was the first time he cried in front of Jonghyun. His roommate suggested he needed a boys night out.
Midterms were over and Taemin was wasted. He had never been so gone in his life. He was stumbling and walls kept running into him. It didn’t matter though because he was so happy. He was giggly happy. Only his giggle was more of a wheeze and he’d never heard himself do it but it scared Jonghyun when he did.
He was carried back to the dorm by Jonghyun who was saying something about how he shouldn’t accept drinks from others like that. He was ‘so skinny’ apparently.
Taemin woke up with a pounding headache and a blank memory the next morning. He rolled over, or at least tried to, but the other human in his bed was stopping him. He turned around to find that him and Jonghyun had been spooning. It wouldn’t be so bad if they weren’t both in just boxers.
That’s when the door bursts open to reveal Krystal and Jessica.
It was odd but in that moment Taemin found their expressions frozen in beauty and tragically sad at the same time.