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In Sync

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The squeak of about fifty pair of sneakers echoed throughout the whole room, dozens of teenagers staring at their reflections in the mirror as they monitored each move and expression. From fierceness to elegance etched in their face, arm to leg movements that swiftly carried them throughout the room, the entire space was filled with harsh breathing, pants, and the fluttering of clothing.

The door to the large dance room creaked open, some of the trainees halting in their tracks as they stared at the door through the reflection of the mirror, while others turned around in nervousness. Your movements slowed down as you came to a stop, your eyes fixated on the door from the mirror. You stood up straight, arms crossed with sweat riding down your forehead. As you took labored breaths, your legs cried out, begging to sit down but you firmly stood in place.

“Good morning, everyone.”

“Good morning!” The class roared in unison, bowing in a straight 90-degree angle before snapping their heads up.

Following the director, stood a man in black hair, his piercing eyes scanning each student, some flinching back in fear. As his intense eyes met yours, you held your gaze, your eyes staring straight back at him. As the man kept his gaze on you, he continued to walk to the middle of the room, before giving you a smirk and breaking eye contact.

“Everyone, line up.” The director’s stern voice caused a quiet shuffling as you lined up behind your own team members. “Today, we have a special guest who will be teaching all of you for a week.”

Some of the trainees squealed in excitement, instantly recognizing him as you stared curiously at the young gentleman, who was probably not older than 25. His black cap sat on top of his head, sunglasses joined at the front of it with his hair tucked underneath his hat.

“Some of you may recognize him.” The director acknowledged, before instructing his hands at the guest. “Please introduce yourself.”

“Hello, everyone. My name is Jung Hoseok. It’s a pleasure to meet you all.” His sweet voice echoed off the walls and carried a hidden tone underneath, almost threatening and viperous as his eyes seemed to meet each trainee. “I can’t wait to see all of your abilities. Please do your best and intrigue me.” You watched as his wet and pink tongue slipped from out his mouth, swiping and licking his lips before hiding back in.

“Today’s objective and the round will be ‘Outside the Box.’”

The director stepped forward, his hands folded together as he quickly explained the rules. “You will be trying out a different style of dancing, all assisted by Mr. Jung here. In the end, you will be versing someone from another team. However, each member is evaluated individually, no group performances, and not the same choreography for an entire group. The only thing is that the group must have the same dancing style. Half of you will be eliminated by Mr. Jung.”

A large gasp erupted from the trainees as murmurs quickly filled up, overpowering the director’s voice. Shuffling of sneakers and disbelief coming from the mouths of the trainees overwhelmed the director as he tried to bring their attention back.

A loud whistle sliced through the room as all the trainees hushed, bringing their attention back to the center of the room. Hoseok stood there smiling, his slender fingers coming down from his mouth as he clapped his hands together.

“Now, are you all going to pay attention or not?”

His booming voice stood over everyone as a warning, as most students cowered in fear, lowering their heads down to avoid his dangerously sharp eyes. “Now that’s better.” Hoseok smiled again, his voice seeming to mock all the students.

He took a step toward the several lines, looking at the leaders of each, his eyes once again meeting the determined look that you held. “Five minutes. Decide what each one of you will be learning in five minutes. I’ll give you a quick lesson for each.”

All the rookies huddled together, whispering as they worriedly looked at each other.

Five minutes?! Is he crazy?! Does he think this is a joke? How can we decide in just five minutes?

You ignored the complaints coming from the other groups as you quickly sat your group down, everyone sitting in a circle as the tension began to build up. “So what are we doing?” A girl squealed from your group, looking at you for guidance.

“Hip Hop?” You questioned, not sure yourself. What was outside the box for you? “We can try something new, I guess? What does everyone think?” You inquired, trying to suppress the worry that was growing in your body, anxiousness building up as you tried to put up a facade of confidence.

“Yea, we can do that!”

“I agree!”

Your group came to a general consensus, with only some members muttering that it didn’t fit the objective well. As your members stood up, Hoseok’s eyes perked up at the first group with an idea. He took slow strides, his chin up in an intimidating banner as his arms folded across his chest.

“Well, what will your group be learning today?”

“Hip hop.” You collectively spoke, looking up at him, trying to stay strong despite his suffocating aura. His eyes dulled out for a second, a sort of unhappiness lacing his expression as he nodded and directed you to the mirrors. It was an instinct that shot through your body as Hoseok brought you to the mirrors. He was disappointed, but why? Was he expecting something more? Was hip hop too-

“You.” He called out, your eyes meeting in the mirror.

Was he talking to you?

His face seemed to suggest that as his voice, laced with seriousness spoke out for almost all to hear. “Are you zoning out? You better focus.”

You flushed in embarrassment, muttering a small apology as you lower your head in shame. The other girls in your group gave a worried stare, feeling sympathy as you hung your head, ashamed. Even though everyone was in a dancing position, Hoseok relaxed, standing up normally even those the other girls had their knees bent on his instructions.

“Where are your manners? Look me in the eyes and apologize.”

“I-I’m sorry…” You whimpered, barely holding your gaze. He turned back to the mirror as you listened to hushed laughs and scoffs behind you as you dejectedly followed his directions. You couldn’t believe he just embarrassed you with the cameras on, your cheeks flushing red as you suppressed the tears pricking at your eyes.

As he dismissed your group, you furrowed your eyebrows, trying to forget the embarrassing accident.

Was that it? It didn’t seem very difficult. The few moves he taught, certain techniques for body rolls and ways to position your feet for better posture, weren’t as complex as you thought they would be.

“Pff…” A laugh erupted from behind you as you turned around, only to roll your eyes. “You should be ashamed, y/n, really.”

“Ugh, shut up, SuAh, before I clock you.” You glared at the smaller girl, turning away from her.

“Try it.” She challenged, huffing. “I’d love to see you kicked out, you piece of-” Her team member grabbed onto her as she tried to lunge herself at you, throwing a tantrum right in the other girl’s arms.

Your relationship with the annoying kid, fitting for a 14-year-old, and your 4-year difference made you frustrated and annoyed with her antics. Not only was she one of the youngest trainees in the program, but she was the opposite of the word, humble. She boasted about her age, bleeding everyone’s ears as she paraded around in the hallways of the dorms. She was a brat, to sum it up, making unnecessarily rude comments and making fun of other peoples’ misfortunes or mistakes.

What made you absolutely erupt in anger was when SuAh decided to mock the trainees who were unable to pass the next round, getting kicked from the program. As she sat in the lounging area, sucking on a lollipop in the most annoying way possible, her legs obstructing other people’s way, you couldn’t stand more than five minutes of her yapping.

And she knew.

She noticed the way you shot her a nasty glare from across the room when she had some unnecessary comments about other trainees or the way she objectified male trainees, from their looks and skills, believing she was never in the wrong.

“Can’t you ever just shut up?” You had spat, forced to be in the same lounging room as her.

“What are you jealous that I’m more popular based on fan voting? Ha, I knew you would be.”

You took a deep breath, refusing to lift up the book you were reading and launch it right in her face. SuAh scoffed, knowing she was right, which infuriated you even more because she wasn’t. At all. You wanted to crush this girl into pieces, teach her a few things, but you knew the consequences if you did. You trained hard to become an idol, yet SuAh’s existence made you sometimes question how hard you should work.

Just tolerate the stupid 14-year-old, y/n. Be the mature one.

“What’s going on?” Hoseok interrupted, coming between the two groups. He shot an intense glare at SuAh as she immediately calmed down, her member releasing her as she hid behind her back. SuAh had the nerve to point at you, her arm shaking as if to shift the blame on you. Your mouth widened as you took offense to her short and stupid finger.

“Are you serious?” You deadpanned, shaking your head in disappointment. Hoseok took a look at the two females, tapping his chin. You wouldn’t be surprised if he was planning a death game between the two of you, from his curled up lips and the elation in his eyes. “Oh boy…” You sighed, giving yourself a mental reminder to forget SuAh’s existence the next time you come into practice.

“I’ll be deciding who you face off against,” Hoseok stated as a matter of factly, earning the attention of all the trainees in the room. “And the first showdown with be the two young ladies here.”

You expected a worse punishment, but upon hearing his words, you sighed in relief. The eased looked in your face struck a nerve in Hoseok’s body as irritation began to take over. He licked his lips ready to call you out, but turned the other way, walking from the commotion. You thought it was going to be easy? He had a surprise for you.

For the next couple of days, you ate and slept in the practice room, only getting kicked out when you were forced back to the dorm. Every second of your life involved dancing, not only to go to the next round but to also wipe that disgusting smirk off SuAh’s face.

As you stood in front of the mirrors, the practice room filled up at the busiest part of the day, Hoseok stood next to you, giving you a few pointers before he had to move onto the next student.

“Keep your back straight!” He shouted over the other voices in the room, his arms coming up to your back, pushing it forward. “Stick out your chest. You need to be more confident.” He demonstrated as an example, his arms coming up to display his perfectly straight back and chest.

You breathed heavily, sweat running from your forehead, drenching the back of your shirt, and rolling down your neck. With a loud thud, your feet collapsed onto the floor as you took a thirty-second break, Hoseok hovering above you.

“Your stamina is weak.” He stated bluntly. “You’re going to have to put more effort if you want to impress me.”

You sent him a glare from the ground, to which he chuckled, feeling no intimidation in your dirty look. Thirty seconds on the dot, you stood back on your two feet, practicing over your choreography as Hoseok watched every movement like a hawk. He smiled as each arm movement and facial expressions was executed perfectly, a satisfying feeling building up in his stomach, watching in greed to train you on his own.

“Good. Good.” He nodded, following along. He gave you two claps before moving onto the next student.

Every day was carried the same, Hoseok watching over you for a few minutes, before moving on. Even though you didn’t notice at the time, he spent more time with you than any other student. He would try to hide his disinterest with the other trainees, wanting to focus more time into sharpening your skills. You were too enamored in your practice to notice his preference in you, assuming he spent the same amount of time with all the trainees.

The week flew by as the day for the showdown approached. Every snarky comment that came out of SuAh’s mouth was filtered immediately, to the point where she was growing frustrated. There was only one thing she hated the most: being ignored. If she couldn’t get herself into other trainee’s minds, there was a disadvantage for her. So as you stood in front of the studio mirror, stretching your body and cracking your neck and back, she felt on edge.

You walked toward the center of the room, eyes closed and arms at your side, waiting for the upcoming introduction of your chosen song.

Pumping your chest and arms to the heavy beat and bass that vibrated throughout the studio. Hoseok sat at the table, pen in hand ready to mark the paper that sat in front of him, his eyes analyzing every facial expression, foot placement, and body movement. The amazed gasps from the trainees did not faze you as you continued to synchronize your body to the rhythm. There was a slight bounce of Hoseok’s head to the beat as you challengingly met his gaze.

The rush of adrenaline riled you up as you worked through the intricate footwork and the snap and pop of your muscles.

Your body ached as you had to survive the last minute of your complex routine, large shifts of altitude, from down to the floor to springing yourself up, you struggled to control your breathing. But when the satisfying last note echoed in a bang, you pumped up your fist in triumph, knowing you killed the performance.

A round of applause met you as you looked back up, a wide smile on your face as you waved to the several cameras in the room. When you looked back at Hoseok, he was buried deep into his sheet, marking and evaluating your performance. You bowed, walking over to your team, giving several satisfying high-fives, and sitting down to watch the next performance.

It was SuAh’s performance. She chose ballet, definitely something the trainees have never practiced for. You didn’t know the criteria for ballet, so you watched in confusion, unsure how she was being graded. But, you could see Hoseok’s eyes examine every move she made. In your opinion, you could tell it was not the most graceful thing you’ve ever seen, but her pointed feet were impressive.

It was obvious she had done before.

When her performance came to an end, she also earned a round of applause as you walked to the center of the room to join her. The two of you stood in front of Hoseok, your hands folded as you patiently waited for his remarks. SuAh took a glance at your face, slightly irritated at how calmly you stood, how your straight back exuded a subtle confidence that she despised.

Hoseok looked at both of you, his pen repeatedly tapping his chin as a camera smile graced his lips. Something about how fake he was on camera made you sigh internally.

“So, for our first round. I was disappointed and surprised at both of your performances.”

Both of you nodded, ready for his critique. Hoseok continued on. “For y/n, I was disappointed in the concept you picked but was surprised how precisely executed it was. So well done.”

You let out a soft “thank you”, a small smile gracing your lips.

“For SuAh, I was disappointed by the lack of moves, but I understand that technique in ballet is difficult. I also was surprised you were daring to even pick that concept, so well done.”

She gave her fake camera smile even though you could tell she was not happy with his evaluation. Any critique towards her dancing always seemed as worthless criticism. If it wasn’t completely positive, SuAh was never happy. Her fists were clenched as she held in her anger, aware of the cameras recording her.

“So,” Hoseok began, placing both papers on top of each other. “My evaluation is that-”

“Y/n, you will not be advancing to the next round.”

Time stopped as your wide eyes stared at him, a hidden smirk that seemed to be masked under his face as he showed a smile to the camera. His statement seemed to mock your breathlessness as the room burst into cheers and groans, seemingly to split in half.

SuAh jumped up in joy, a wide smile on her face as she sprinted into the arms of her team members.

“I did it! I won! I won!”

You slowly straightened your legs out as you brought both hands to your chest, trying to stop the crushing pain that constricted tightly. You desperately sought out your team members as they too, stood frozen, just staring at you with pity. You were out and you not only lost the showdown, but also a moral battle between the most despicable trainee in the entire show.

Walking with your head down, not sure whether it was embarrassment or shame, your group accepted you back in, one of the girls bringing their hand up your face. As her hands caressed your cheek, only then did you realize you were crying. Realizing how devastating the defeat only made your throat constrict harder as more tears streamed down your face. The girl frantically tried to wipe all the tears, rubbing your back soothingly.

“You did your best. Just know that.”

You zoned out for the rest of the program, unable to watch and cheer for your own members, completely engulfed in sadness. Many of the members who failed just like you did cried out in frustration, joining you by the back of the room. You swore you could feel SuAh smugly looking at you from the other side of the room.

I guess she’s the better dancer then.

As the cameras slowly came to a close, staff bowing and waving their goodbyes for the day, your body sagged against the wall, the other trainees who had also lost, slowly rising to their feet. Yet, you sat there, staring off into the distance at nothing in particular. It was until a blob of black colors appeared in your vision that you looked up, only to be met with the eyes you had grown to hate.

“Are you disappointed that you lost to SuAh?”

You had expected his voice to mock your defeat, but instead, he stood in front of you like a respectable teacher, trying to guide a student.

“I’m surprised I lost.”

Hoseok hummed, shoving his hands into his pocket as his gaze shifted to a demeaning look. “Overconfidence?” He questioned, almost as if he was explaining the exact reason why you lost.

“No. I danced better than her. I know I can dance better than her. I am the better dancer. I worked so much harder!”

“But you lost.”

“Oh, I wonder why.” You rolled your eyes, huffing in your spot on the floor.

Hoseok erupted in laughter, turning the other way to suppress his smile. “You didn’t even follow the objective of the match, and you’re mad?”

Before you could argue your point that what you did followed the task, Hoseok cut you off. “You lost when you chose hip hop. This round was meant to challenge you as a dancer, to do something you’ve never tried before. Also don’t lie to my face saying, ‘oh but I really never danced in the hip hop style.’ because we both know that’s so not true.”

Hoseok continued. “Whatever the other person’s name was, she wasn’t as good in technique, but that wasn’t the point. The concept had to be an interesting factor.” Hoseok continued, your confidence dropping lower and lower.

“But…Y-you…” You looked away ashamed. “You approved it and told me I was doing well!”

“Oh, you thought I’d let u win because I’ve been showing an interest in you? Cute of you.” Hoseok taunted, causing you to rise up from the floor.

“That’s not…!”

Hoseok rose his palm in the air, silencing you and continuing. “As much as the industry cares about influence and power, often biasing a certain individual, which I guess you had the right mentality going in, my decision is final.”

You were in a loss for words as Hoseok’s hand came up to your chin, tapping it playfully, his face shooting you a confidence smirk before letting you go. He turned on his heel, leaving you alone in the dancing studio, giving a nonchalant goodbye wave. You had expected to be defeated again, but instead, rage burned through your body at the man who continued to insult you in every sentence he put out.

As Hoseok stepped outside, he grinned to himself as he pulled out his phone. After waiting a few seconds for the other line to pick up, he chuckled.

“I have a proposal for you.”

≿————- ❈ ————-≾

“BigHit?”

“Yes! We will send up a follow-up email to you about the details. But we would love to give you a tour around the company’s facility and hopefully get you signed as a trainee! Have a nice day!” The bright sound of the women’s voice died out, as the phone clicked off.

After the recent airing of the showdown episode, you had expected to receive a few calls from companies, scouting you to become a trainee under them. However, the only and last company to contact you was BigHit. It was demoralizing for you to only receive one company. Yet their eagerness to sign you as a trainee made you feel a bit better. The image of an amazing trainee was slowly diminishing within each passing day.

So as you walked over to the building, the fall weather coming out, chilly winds passing by as steam escaped from your lips, you noticed a difference. Maybe it was the nice weather, or maybe it was the warm welcome from the staff, but you really liked the resources given you to.

From artistic freedom to a range of teachers to be taught under, you had quickly signed to be one of their trainees that day.

You met a few dance teachers, each explaining their specialty, with BigHit encouraging you to pick the teacher that best suited your style. You appreciated their concerns and all the dancer teachers seemed skilled. However, as your guide entered the next room, you were with the familiar black blob of hair.

“Hello-”

You gawked, staring at the one-week dance instructor, who had not only humiliated you on television but also made the decision for your loss. Hoseok stood in front of the set of mirrors, stretching. As you both made eye contact, Hoseok slowly smirked, recognizing you immediately. It was a devious look that sent a bad feeling through your mind.

“Wait outside,” Hoseok commanded at the person standing next to you, the guide hesitating and flinching as he spoke to him. But when Hoseok shot him an intimidating glare, the guide scrambled out of the door.

Hoseok waltzed over to you, a baggy white tank top revealing his biceps and slender arms. From his oversized grey sweatpants to his red and white Nike Air Jordans, you hated to admit that he looked handsome. You could even tell that he was working out prior to his damp hair that fell in front of his forehead.

“Well, well, well, I can’t believe I have the honor of meeting you here.” He smiled.

“You’re crazy if you think I’m going to train under you.” You spoke irritably.

“I didn’t even say anything, angel.” He grumbled.

“Don’t call me that…” You muttered, rolling your eyes.

“What if I said it’s because you dance like an angel?” Hoseok smirked, anticipating your reaction. You tried to suppress the way you wanted to gag, but Hoseok only found it endearing.

“Just…stop…” You sighed, squeezing your eyes in cringe.

However, as you opened your eyes, Hoseok’s forehead connected with yours. His piercing eyes stared deep into your soul, his arms coming up to firmly plant you into the floor.

“I want you to train under me.” He growled as if it was an order.

“What?!” You almost shrieked, trying to push him off. “You’re the one that failed me and you want me to be your student?!”

Hoseok grunted, maintaining his tight grip on your shoulders.

“I failed you so you would come to BigHit. I failed you so I, me, Jung Hoseok, could train you.”

“You, what?!”

“Your talents should be enriched under me!” He raised his voice, a sort of desperation underlying his words. “I wanted you to myself. I wanted to use your talents and determination. Your work ethic is what I want from my students.”

Hoseok sighed, almost in pleasure. “When I look at you, I see so much potential. So much potential to force this disgusting industry to accept you. You want that too, right? I know you do when I see that look that burns in your eyes.”

“Second-rate trainees looking for the short way out will never make it. I’ve seen them and I’ve even trained some. They’re all pathetic. But when I look at you, there’s so much the future holds for you.” His hand caressed your cheek. “I’ll make sure it does.”

You stood speechless as Hoseok stood in front of you, not as a dance instructor, not as the man who humiliated you, but as a person who had seen first-hand and experienced this dreadful industry. His words were real and honest. He cared enough about you to tell you the truth, his heartfelt words revealing his truth and genuine intentions.

“If you accept to be trained under me, you will undergo so much pain. Your body will be scorched like you’ve never felt before, but you will reach the top, I promise you that.”

“W-why me?” You whispered, your fingers bundling the cotton of your shirt as you stared fearfully at Hoseok. “There must be other people like me, who are determined just the same, right? But why…” Your voice slowly trailed off as Hoseok looked like he was about to laugh at you.

“Is it wrong to want someone to succeed? Someone who reminds me of myself back then?” He gave you a tender smile, his lips curling up at the top of his teeth peaked through his lips. “I can see your passion. It’s not for fame and fortune but it’s because you like to sing and dance.”

“There is also a part of me that wants to succeed with you. I lost my chance back then to debut. People would say I’m too old now. Nowadays, kids debut in their teens.” His voice trailed off, a calming atmosphere coming over the two of you.

His arms released you, his feet slowly backing away from you as both of your eyes locked with each other.

“So, will you be trained under me or not, angel?”

Chapter Text

All the same. We are all the same.

We have this person in the figment of our imagination, someone who is everything we could ever want in a person. Some people prefer having someone with a great personality, while some joke around with specific heights or style. Yet, these same people go against what they say. They always seem to settle with someone who doesn’t fit what they’ve always wanted. Are they happy like that?

Is it wrong that I’ll never be happy unless I have someone be exactly how I imagined them? Why is it that we cannot have a straight replica of our imagination? Why is it that when an art teacher tries to aid another person to draw, even if the outcome is completely different from the original, why are they happy with that?

 

If I was in that position, I would want the drawing to be exactly like the original. Why must I settle for close enough? If they aren’t the same as what I wanted, why would I want them? These people fantasize about their future lovers in life just like I do, but when I tell them I haven’t found the right one, they look at me like I’m asking for too much, that I’m greedy.

I, too, want to be happy. I want to spend the rest of my life with someone who’s just as devoted as I am. Is it so wrong to want to live out my fantasies? I always go back to these fragments of my dreams with my partner. We should be absolute perfection. We would be completely in sync.

≿————- ❈ ————-≾

“Pah, pah-”

Left, right foot, jump, both arms together, half turn-

“Faster, y/n!”

You grunted, spinning around quicker than normal as you stared at both of your reflections through the mirror. His piercing eyes watched every movement you put out, joining you in synchronized motions as he scrutinized over each detail. As the music died down, you collapsed onto the floor, your hair sprawled everywhere as you desperately panted while looking at the palm of your hands.

“Is that all you got in you? Do you think the industry will accept such mediocrity? Stand up. From the top."

Not even fifteen seconds of rest, you dragged yourself back up as you sat straight, rubbing each leg as you slowly stood back up. With your half-lidded eyes, your dance teacher sent a threatening stare, crossing the room to restart the title track.

This time, however, he watched from the sidelines as you danced in front of the mirror. You body screamed out in pain at each extension of your arm or when you had to squat down close to the floor. Despite the agony, you kept going until the music finally died down again. What was it? The 40th time today? Hoseok seemed more lenient today than normal.

“Angel,” Hoseok murmured, staring at your sprawled out body as you finished on the ground. “How do you think you did?”

Hoseok took a seat beside you, his legs crossed as he brushed your wet hair away from your forehead.

“N-not good… enough.” You choked, short of breath.

Hoseok smiled, happy with your answer as his fingers cascaded through your hair. “That’s right. It’s not good enough. Not to mention we haven’t even touched singing together today.”

You shuffled to the side, grumbling in annoyance. Hoseok found it endearing and cute, watching as you huddled your legs closer to your chest. “How much longer until I debut?” You whispered.

Hoseok sighed, knowing the sadness in that question. How long has it been since you trained under him? Two years? Almost three? Even though you couldn’t see his expression, he shook his head, not knowing himself. “Are you getting tired of dancing, y/n?”

“Sometimes.” You mumbled honestly, your back facing him.

"Even if there are days where you want to quit, you’ll look back to see how everything was worth it,” Hoseok spoke, a chill running down your spine.

“It better.”

≿————- ❈ ————-≾

“Ms. Y/n, do you know why you’re here today?”

“No, sir.” You responded respectfully, bowing your head a little.

The man sat in front of you, his large desk spanning out in front of him. In the soft cushion of the seat, you shifted uncomfortably under his gaze, not exactly sure why you were called in by the CEO himself.

“A few trainees have come forward saying that Hos-, I mean, Mr. Jung has been keeping you much longer after practice. They’ve been suggesting extreme allegations against him. Has he ever made you uncomfortable?”

≿————- ❈ ————-≾

“I only want to debut a successful female artist. Our reputation towards female trainees is already bad, so I have to push her harder.”

“You do understand that even if you expose me, the news will spread and all the funds we spent into her training and solo career will be all for nothing, right?”

“That’s what I thought.”

“Don’t ever even try to cross me.”

≿————- ❈ ————-≾

Was it the 74th repeat? Maybe the 78th?

You sighed, not remembering the exact number as you lay on the floor. Hoseok clapped his hands as he entered the dance studio, your body shooting up.

“Sorry about that. I’m back now. Let’s start from the top, okay?”

You nodded, positioning your body from muscle memory. Every step and motion was burned into your body and soul, to where it was at the back of your mind. Your thoughts drifted to relaxation. From the softness of your bed to the wooden floors, you were dying to lay on anything and not have to stand up on your two feet. Nailing every move, you panted at the end, the music slowly dying out as looked up at your teacher.

You brought your arms back down to your side as you turned around to face him, your back towards the mirrors. Hoseok calmly tapped his foot on the wooden floors, tilting his head to the side as he took a few steps towards you.

“That was terrible.”

Your head shot up as Hoseok grabbed your chin, your back harshly slamming into the mirrors. Wincing in pain, Hoseok tightly held you with little to no resistance.

“You weren’t even thinking about the dance, were you?” Hoseok seethed. “Do you want to debut or not?”

“I do!” You grit out.

“Then act like it!” Hoseok countered, letting you go as you sagged onto the floor, smearing the polished glass. “That was pathetic! Terrible! If you don’t put everything into practice, then during the real thing, you’re hopeless.”

Saying nothing in response, Hoseok squatted to the floor, staring at your dull eyes. He squinted at you, bringing your arm up to his fingers as he wrapped them around your wrist. He hummed but frowned, looking curiously at your body.

A silence overcame him as he stared at your arms and legs before continuing. “Do it over once more and that’s it for tonight.” Hoseok softly instructed, walking back over to the computer as you tiredly stood up. Your eyes widened a bit at Hoseok’s declaration.

He’d let you go? Already? It wasn’t even 1 am yet.

“Ready?” Hoseok called. “3, 2, 1!”

You jumped, this time dedicating yourself completely to the routine as Hoseok watched with his arms crossed.

Half turn-

Hoseok watched with no emotion in his face as he followed your reflection off the mirror. You picked up the speed on the turn and increased the pace in the second part of the chorus. Hoseok’s eyes widened as he slowly took an interest, subconsciously licking his lips as he watched your body stretch almost effortlessly.

Had you done that before? Definitely not.

Unable to suppress the delight in his face, his eyes twinkled as he watched your body flow like water, almost like a ritual right before his eyes. The bridge of the song, which contained more of the difficult moves, took a toll on your body as you predicted the slip up this time, quickly avoiding it and bending your knees together.

With the final note of the song, reminiscent of the time you were eliminated from Under 19, you pumped your arm in the air, satisfied. You stood up, snapping your head to see your teacher’s reaction. His expression was indescribable, from his widened eyes and parted lips, completely dumbfounded. When you registered him coming closer to you, you couldn’t even mutter a whisper, couldn’t even ask him what he thought. His face was too much of a shock. You had never seen him satisfied with your performance before.

Hoseok clapped loudly as the vibrations filled the studio, him softly whispering to you.

“That was beautiful, angel. It- I loved it.”

For the first time after becoming a BigHit trainee, you heard several compliments stream out of Hoseok’s mouth, flowing out like butter from his tongue. There was no snarkiness or hidden intention, but pure happiness that flooded from his face. His smile was wide and his cheeks, as if he was crying. Often, he would half-ass his compliments which were along the lines of ‘it was fine but-’ or ‘eh, better, I guess.’ But to hear him be proud of you when it seemed like nobody was, the feeling was unlike anything you could fathom.

“See? I knew you could do it, angel.”

As Hoseok stroked the top of your head, you still looked up at him as if he was a stranger. There’s no way this was the same man who lectured and forced you into the extremities of dance. It had been years, repeating the same routine over and over, only to hear every demoralizing remark thrown at you. It was his remarks that only increased your want for success. You had expected the day he would finally praise you would be when you retire, or maybe if you never debuted. Your body quivered under his soft touch as you couldn’t tear your eyes away from him. Had his eyes always been that bright?

You arms trembled up to your mouth as you felt a warmth pool up in your face. Finally hearing the validation of your teacher broke you down to tears as you cried on your knees.

He truly did want for you to become a successful idol, to help you achieve your dreams. His harshness was extreme, but it was coming from good.

He’s the only one who sees potential in you.

He’s the only one who wants the best for you.

He’s the only one who’s rooting for you.

The feeling was better than winning the lottery, tears streaming from your eyes as you grabbed Hoseok in an embrace. He yelped as you pulled him down, wetting his shoulder from your cries. Hoseok let out a giggle as you let out a stream of words filled with gratitude, unable to decipher what you were actually saying.

“Why are you crying?” Hoseok whispered gently. The softness of his voice only made your cries worse as he actually laughed in the scenario. “Shh, don’t cry, y/n. A performance like that doesn’t deserve these tears.”

“Y-you think I’m a good dancer?” You whispered, teary-eyed as your voice quivered.

Hoseok’s stomach dropped upon hearing your broken words. Did you really think he thought you were never going to add up to anything? His hand came up to your back as he awkwardly stroked your back. Even with sweat riding down your skin, Hoseok held you until you calmed down, staring at both of your reflections from the now dirty mirror.

“C’mon,” Hoseok nudged, lifting you up to your feet. “Practice is over today.”

You nodded, walking over to collect your belongings with Hoseok waiting at the door. You passed through as Hoseok turned off the lights and locked the door. Before you could leave the building, Hoseok grabbed onto your hand as you visibly flinched, flustered at his sudden intrusion.

“Wha-” You started as you were harshly pulled out of the building and into the night sky.

“Follow me,” Hoseok instructed as you nervously, but obediently followed behind him.

“Where…where are we going?” You questioned worriedly, walking in the lit up city, cars passing by in the opposite direction on the busy streets.

“We’re going to eat,” Hoseok replied bluntly as you crossed the street with him.

“U-uh, I can eat by myself…?”

Hoseok scoffed, pushing through the door of the convenience store, heading straight for the prepared foods section. “No, your ‘eating’ is only making your body weaker. You’ve lost almost 7 kilos.”

Your stomach dropped as you visibly paled, snapping your head in the other direction to avoid his suffocating words. In a small whisper, you fidgeted with your fingers and the cuffs of your jacket.

“How’d you…?”

“Why are you surprised? You know I can tell the littlest mistakes when you dance. You think I can’t notice how your body is getting thinner?”

You gulped, your face burning from embarrassment at how easily your teacher put your struggles into words. Hoseok continued, his voice annoyed as he forcefully snatched a basket nearby. “How can I expect you to dance when you barely eat enough for it?” Hoseok huffed, placing several food containers into his basket.

“…Sorry.” You muttered, wrapping your arms around your stomach as if it could conceal your self-consciousness.

“I’m not blaming you,” Hoseok stated, his eyes fixed solely on inspecting the nutrition information of the containers of food. “I just don’t want you to get sick…” He said more softly, before turning to finally meet you in the eyes.

“Pick whatever you want to eat.”

Your eyes widened as you looked at him in shock. “R-really? Can I? Isn’t that against-”

Two heavy hands pushed down on your shoulders as you looked up to only meet Hoseok’s dark brown eyes. You shuddered, his intimidating stare almost causing your legs to fall.

“Forget the diet and don’t worry about paying for it either.”

“Thank you, Hoseok.” You muttered as he released you, turning your attention to the array of foods lined up in their plastic compartments. Hoseok tilted his head back, giving you a grin as he watched you eye all the food hungrily, your face trying to suppress your smile.

As the two of you exited the store, you walked toward a secluded park that overlooked the Han River, sharing a bench together. You ate silently with the wind as the only sound that filled the non-existent conversation. With the only lights coming from the convenience store, city, and park lamps, you could barely make out Hoseok’s expression.

He finished first, closing his container and placing it back in his plastic bag. Shifting his attention to you, the two of you awkwardly stared at each other, even though you were chewing on your food.

“…What?” You muttered, finding his stare unsettling.

“Are you scared of me?” He asked, tilting his head for a better look at your expression. You laughed, covering your mouth as Hoseok only gave you a more confused look.

“Completely terrified!” You mocked, laughing to yourself. “Are you being serious right now? I was the only one to meet your stares and you think I’m? Me? Scared? Good one.” You spat, shoving more food into your mouth as you chomped in annoyance.

“Wow.”

“Almost three years and you have the nerve to ask-” You hissed before going into a coughing fit as you choked on your own saliva. Hoseok looked at you with bewilderment before scratching the back of his head and awkwardly chuckling.

“I get it. I get it. Also,” Hoseok added, eyeing you from the side. “We better go. It’s getting late.”

After calming down from your coughing fit, you hummed in agreement, finishing the last container as you placed it with all the other empty ones. The two of you walked in silence as Hoseok led you back to the dorm. He gave you a nonchalant wave as you stepped in the building, turning the other way and down the street.

“Good night, y/n~”

≿————- ❈ ————-≾

Loud footsteps echoed down the hallway as a door was slammed open, revealing Hoseok in his white tee, a black cap on his head, and baggy grey sweatpants. The early morning sun was barely up in the sky when Hoseok stormed into the office of the notorious dietitian.

“M-mr. Jung!” The man who sat in his desk stuttered, hurryingly standing up and bowing. “Is there something I can help with you today?”

Hoseok rolled his tongue against the inside of his mouth, tilting his head to the side as he cracked his neck to get rid of his agitation. He glared daggers at the timid man, who only further cowered in fear.

“What the heck do you think you’re doing?” Hoseok snapped, a hand coming up to his hip. “I looked over y/n’s diet,” He fluttered the couple of papers that he gripped in his hand, his thumb creating a nasty wrinkle. “There are barely enough calories for a human to fucking survive. And to top it off - and I mean you really ticked me off when I saw this - no fats. Anywhere, in this diet.”

Hoseok threw the papers at the dietitian who nervously grabbed at the discarded sheets and looked over them. Hoseok continued his torrent of complaints, shaking his head. “I’m not saying you’re an idiot, but that’s exactly what I’m saying. My trainee who’s going to debut soon needs unsaturated fats in her body.” He grit out, slamming his hand on the desk. The dietitian met Hoseok’s challenging gaze, firmly holding his belief.

“What’s important is that she’s not going to be overweight, Mr. Jung.”

Hoseok scoffed, rolling his eyes. “Don’t fucking give me that shit. There’s no way adding necessary nutrients in her body is going to make her overweight. How do you expect her to even dance if she’s about to pass out at any second?!”

“Mr. Jung, I understand your concerns but-”

Hoseok grabbed the collar of the dietitian’s shirt, pulling him to meet face to face. “You clearly don’t. I’m already set on forcing this industry to accept her regardless of how “overweight” you think she is. I’m going to make them rethink everything. What will be more important to them then, beauty or talent?”

“Now change that piece of garbage diet.” He growled, throwing the dietitian back into his seat.

The dietitian didn’t budge, refusing to change the documents he had given you. Hoseok scoffed, turning the other way before snatching the papers back.

“Fine, be that way. I didn’t want to do your job for you, but alas.” Hoseok chuckled, slamming the door shut as he stomped down to the CEO’s office, leaving the dietitian speechless. His conversation was short and brief, little words actually exchanged, just knowing looks and nods. He was satisfied. It was finally time. Hoseok then walked fervently through the halls, stopping as he watched you slip into the dance room early in the morning, almost too early.

Hoseok leaned against the wall, closing his eyes and listening as you shuffled in the studio, muttering under your breath as the sound of the computer mouse clicks reached his ears. He stayed outside the door for a few minutes, listening to the shuffle and squeak of your sneakers against the polished floors as you went through your title track choreography, singing out a few lines of the chorus. Once he heard the bridge of the song, his eyes slowly opened, his mind visualizing the way your body moved from the squeak of your feet alone, until a loud crash echoed in the studio. Even when the music continued to play, Hoseok grew worried as he no longer heard your footsteps.

Grabbing the doorknob, he threw the door open only to find you on the floor, your back on the ground and face in pain as you held onto your leg. His stomach dropped as he quickly ran over, kneeling down and supporting your leg with you.

“Y/n? Are you alright? Is it bad?” Hoseok spit out several questions as he worriedly looked down at your injury, noticing the red bump on your knee.

“H-hoseok,” You muttered as he impatiently nodded. “I-I can still practice today right?” You looked at him with pleading eyes as Hoseok bit his lip, not wanting his own desires to get in the way of your health.

“I’m not sure.” He whispered. “Let me see it.”

His slender fingers trailed your burning skin as he looked it over, pressing harshly in some areas as you winced in pain. He stood up, walking across the room as he put a frozen pack on the definitely soon-to-be swollen skin, the gauze wrap secured tightly. He let out a deep sigh, shaking his head back and forth. There was a wave of relief when he realized nothing was broken or dislocated, but you were still hurt.

“I think it would be best to not practice for a few days, see how fast it heals…” He trailed off, watching as your expression fell, looking down at your injury in resentment. “How’d you fall…?” He questioned, observing your expression carefully.

Your face reddened as your mouth sputtered, looking away from his eyes. Yet, the awkward silence was unbearable as you quickly confessed. “I didn’t stretch and um…I’m sorry…”

Hoseok let out an exasperated sigh, shooting down his anger at your carelessness. “There’s nothing I can do about it now. Just focus on recovery. We’ll have to start backup dancer training earlier then.” You looked down guilty, as Hoseok agitatedly ruffled his hair, shuffling around the room in a restless manner.

You eyes stared straight at the floor, hoping the chilling coldness from the ice pack to numb the feelings of shame.

Hoseok took a glance at you from the corner of his eye as you dejectedly slid yourself to the corner of the room, never lifting your head up. You could feel your face heat up as tears pricked from the corner of your eyes.

Why do you always cry? Stop crying. Stop stop stop. Don’t you dare cry in front of-

Two warm hands met your cheeks as you shot your head up, meeting Hoseok’s eyes. You trembled in his embrace, your hands clutched to your chest.

“I’m not mad at you.” He whispered gently, wiping the tears that threatened to spill out from your eyes.

“B-but…Aren’t you disappointed?”

“No, I’m not.”

“Why not?” You choked out. Your debut. You waited years for this. A setback like this would only push your schedule further back. How could he not be disappointed in you? Why did he have to look at you like it was everyone else’s fault?

“You ask too many questions, angel.” He chuckled, helping you up to your feet. “After all the improvements you’ve made, I’m not disappointed. How can I when you only wanted to practice more?” He flashed you a bright smile, the ones that were still unusual to you. You wanted to see it more, from the way his eyes crinkled to how his cheeks stuck out, the sight was enthralling…and it made you feel good inside. A warmth that enraptured you towards him.

He pulled out a chair near the computer as you sat down, securing yourself. Hoseok lifted up a finger as if to instruct you with important orders.

“Now, since you can’t dance for a while, you’re going to manage the music when the back-up dancers come in, alright?”

You nodded obediently, spinning your chair around to face the bright screen. Hoseok stood behind you, leaning over as he pointed at the screen and you followed along. The scent of his musky cologne was faint with a sharp sting of citrus. As his chest leaned closer to you, you felt your heart pick up as you shuffled in your chair, earning Hoseok’s sharp gaze.

“Is something hurting?” He whispered, a chill shooting through your body as you quietly shook your head in protest. His hand came up to your shoulder, gently rubbing your sore muscles back and forth. “I’m glad then.”

“Shall we get to business, angel?”

≿————- ❈ ————-≾

“No, no, no! Stop!”

Hoseok shouted as you quickly toggled the music off from your seat, watching the tired faces of the new trainees as they struggled to stand straight up.

“If y/n’s putting 1000% into her performance, you better put 2000% into your job."

You awkwardly shifted in your seat, feeling guilty for not dancing with them, for not being in the same pain they were going through. While Hoseok was yelling at every one of them, harshly critiquing their performance, you sat at your seat like a pretty doll.

"You think just because you don’t have to sing you don’t have to try as hard?”

The trainees muttered a mutual ‘no’, shifting their legs, the urge to sit down killing them. Hoseok huffed, having about enough of four hours and barely any improvement at all. “If I don’t see improvement by tomorrow, I’m making everyone stay overtime while I watch. I’m leaving. C’mon, y/n.”

You worriedly looked back at the new trainees, empathy reflecting back at them from the way your eyebrows furrowed and eyes creased. Your legs hesitantly walked away from them, your hand coming up to reach Hoseok’s outstretched arm as he dragged you through the hallway. When the door softly shut, the trainees grumbled, falling down on the floor for a break, only to quickly face the mirror a few minutes later.

“Hoseok… My leg…” You whimpered as he tugged you along. He came to a halt, looking at you before a mischievous smirk graced his lips. He bent down, bringing his arm up to the back of both your knees before picking you up. “What the- What are you doing?!” You shrieked, your face growing red. “Oh my god! Hoseok, put me down! Put me down this instant! Now!”

Hoseok just bolstered a laugh, carrying you with no difficulties through the hallways. “Nobody will see. I mean… Even if they did-”

“I don’t care! Put me down!” You wiggled pathetically in his grasp before huffing at how his grip stayed tight and secure. It was when Hoseok stopped in the hallway, that you finally looked at him. Staring up at you, his eyes no longer held the warmth that you longed for. His voice and expression was serious, deadly, almost threatening, telling you the time had come.

“Your debut is on February 17, three weeks from now.”

Chapter Text

The sound of glass pierced through the quiet night as the unfortunate bottle rolled away from the destroyed bottom, pieces as sharp as a dagger falling off. The lid of another cap popped as the sweet nectar, the liquid of happiness and life, flowed out of the bottle in big gulps. The bottle was finished in very few minutes, cast aside and forgotten, a mocking parallel to him.

Even if he was well-known in the industry, even if he was in a room filled to the brim with people, he was numb to the feeling, to the presence of others. It was every day he walked back home by himself, with nothing to look forward to besides his elixir of euphoria, the only reason how he got through those days of cold, terrible, loneliness.

Yet, one single person warmed his fingertips, gave him feeling to caress, to grip, to manipulate. And he would do anything to keep these overflowing feelings of warmth that hooked him, waiting to crash and burn like he rightfully deserved.

He cried out in his apartment, throwing another bottle of the ground as the glass shattered, slicing his cheek. With his wet fringe that clouded his eyes, he leaned further back on the ground until his back hit the front of his sofa. His legs spread out completely straight in front of him as his body sagged onto the wooden floors, his eyes softly closing, hoping the shuttering of his body would stop.

Blood dripped onto the floor.

Nobody would know that outside, the sun was shining brightly, the birds were singing, and the wind blew a pleasant breeze as trees rustled. The shades, completely sealed, secured him off from the outside. He wouldn’t welcome it, for it gave him nothing. He could never find happiness in such a small, minute detail like others did.

Every persona or mask he put on, he did it hoping to connect with someone. Those were desperate times, times where he disregarded himself, labeled himself as worthless. He didn’t care who took him, and even when he was on his lowest, on his knees, nobody wanted him.

Dancing was his life, yet as he laid in his living room, it only brought him to tears. Everything that was supposed to make him happy, only crumbled and burned, laughing at how it would never matter. Nobody had the same passion. He had searched enough and always came back to his home empty. After all, why wouldn’t he slowly begin to believe what people spoke about him in hushed whispers?

Nobody wanted him. He was strange.

Not a single person would ever understand him. There seemed to be nobody that would fulfill that craving to be loved by someone, by anyone. Why did he continue to check his phone for messages when he knew nobody would ever call him in the first place? Why did everyone think he was perfectly fine when in reality he was crying on the inside, begging for someone to hold him once, to finally be able to lean on someone.

He couldn’t stand the hard exterior he always put on every day. Even he had his own limits.

He just wanted someone to care. Couldn’t someone just care about him for once? If someone just asked him if he was okay, he would-

“…seok?”

“Hoseok?”

He shuffled, awakened from his sleep, groaning as his eyes fluttered open to harsh studio lights that blinded him. When his eyes adjusted to the brightness and white colors everywhere, he looked up to see you already having your makeup and hair done, with the stylists touching up your clothes as you waited for the photo set to finish.

“Did I wake up to see a literal angel?” He joked dryly, stretching his arms up as he yawned out his fatigue. Why couldn’t these sets have better chairs for staff? He swore the scoliosis demons were out to get him.

“I’ll take that as a compliment.” You replied back monotonously.

Hoseok propped his chin on his elbow, his eyes flickering up your body as he hummed to nothing in particular, trying to hide his disappointment and disdain. The same eye makeup, actually scratch that, the same look as almost every female idol in the industry was also on your face. Isn’t it tiring to do the same thing over and over again? His eyes drooped as he internally sighed.

Bland.

However, he gave you a sheepish grin as your expression changed, your eyes frowning at him, clearly catching his stares as he eyed the outfit you wore up and down. You huffed, turning away from him as your jewelry rattled, your long earrings and necklaces rustling over your navy wool and double breated silk collar vest. Hoseok chuckled from the side as you were guided in front of several cameras.

Dior. Of course, it’s Dior.

Hoseok frowned, remembering just how much he hated photo shoots even if he wasn’t the one in front of the dozen expensive cameras. There were times he swore people didn’t even buy albums for the music but the fact the artist was selling his or her looks to the public. Hoseok’s tongue rolled inside his mouth, disgust shooting through him, his want to storm out of the room and cause a commotion extremely high. The fact you had to go through this process, your face the same, understanding that this was normal, that this had to be done. Scream scream. He wanted to let it out. You understand this feeling too. You had to.

You wouldn’t possibly be mad at him then, right? Even if he secretly pocketed the camera SD card, resulting in a panic in the studio as he slowly slipped out of the door, the pictures erased from the world. After all, you still had two other concepts that were captured, ones that were less showy, less sexual. Things couldn’t possibly be so bad if he only took one.

“How does it feel to be dripping in diamonds and Givenchy?” He had jokingly asked, watching as you had just come out from the changing rooms again.

“It could be less itchy I suppose.” You had replied.

He found you charming, from the way you held yourself and the air that surrounded you. It was inviting yet sharp. The humbleness and subtle humor never failed to amuse him, the slight hum of approval escaping from his lips.

So when he entered his dance studio later that day, he completely immersed himself in the music, losing track of time as he went on for hours. His mind drifted off as he imagined dancing along with you, the squeak of the floor matching and loud jumps that connected to the ground in sync. Sweat graced and glistened on his body as he danced to a whole range of genres, his body controlled by his powerful emotions.

He held his frown even as you slipped into the studio after hours of changing up the album photos into three sets. Hoseok danced unaware of your presence, his eyes closed as he gracefully slid from each corner of the room.

How your beautiful dancing would fit right into his arms and the coordination of your outfit with his would stun audiences. How he longed to have a performance with you on stage one day, but he bitterly scoffed at himself. He was nothing more than a teacher.

It wasn’t until the music died out that he fluttered his eyes open, adjusting the bright studio lights once again as he saw you by the door, a bag to your chest. He took several deep breaths, sweat running down his neck as he turned towards you.

“I missed you.”

Those three words melted your heart, an uncontrollable feeling rising in your body. Even though you had been here for years, with polite staff greeting you every day, when had someone wished for your presence?

You took a step towards him.

When had someone cared about you like another human being?

And another.

When had someone missed you like you missed them?

And you reached for him.

Soft skin and the taste of sweet vanilla infused with honey met his own as he stood there in pure shock for seconds. It wasn’t until he realized what just happened that he gently pulled you into his chest before releasing his grip.

His hands hovered over your hips, as he felt your fingers slide through his dark strands of hair, coming up behind his ears. The two of you mindlessly kissed, drowning in the explosion of sealed emotions, the sensations surprisingly soft and delicate. With the two of your eyes closed, Hoseok focused on pleasure, the touch and caress of your lips until he realized tears were slowly streaming down his face.

Deprived of love and connection, his eyes released his sorrows, indescribable happiness and adrenaline pumping through his bloodstream.

As he opened his eyes, he met yours as you eyed him, filled with worry. He was quick to bring his hands up to his face to wipe away any wet stragglers.

“H-hoseok, oh my g- I’m so, so, sorry. I didn’t-” He heard you apologize, panic rising through him as he felt your body trying to shuffle away from him. Were you going to leave him like the rest?

Don’t leave me.

“Wait!” Hoseok shouted, pulling you back. “No, no, don’t be sorry, please. I don’t know why I’m-” His throat constricted, securing you in a tight hug as he propped his chin on your shoulder. You were always so warm. “Please.” He whimpered, his arms melting and strength dissipating.

“Aren’t you grossed out? Disgusted? I just- I just…” He heard you sob, your skin itching and your mind scolding you for doing something wrong. Mortifying.

Hoseok stayed silent for a couple of seconds, picking out his next words carefully. His eyes looked back at you, taking in your vulnerable emotional state, certain if he messed up, you would be drowning in tears.

“T-that’s not…” he whispered, taking your hands into his as he met your forehead. “Is it wrong I liked it too?”

He heard you loudly gulp in the empty practice room, your eyes wavering and darting away from his face. The thumping of his chest beat loudly, like the beating of a tom.

“Hoseok… No…We- I can’t…”

His mouth hung open, his lips slightly parted as his eyes widened, his grip slowly faltering as you tore yourself away from him, rushing over to the door.

“Wait! Y/n!” Hoseok hysterically shouted, his hair bouncing up and down as he tried to latch onto your arm, swiftly pulling you back in. “Don’t go.” He grit more forcefully before shifting to a softer voice. “Don’t let me go. Ever. Please.”

“Hoseok,” You spoke in harsh whispers, tugging at your arm. “Hoseok, we can’t do this. It’s not right.”

“Why? Why isn’t this right?” He snarled, hearing the clang of the door as your back collided with the solid wood. “You can’t do this to me.” His voice wavered, slowly unwinding as it only increased in instability. “I gave you everything!”

His heart felt heavy as you looked up at him with a terrified expression on your face, your body trembling even in his favorite sweater he loved seeing you wear. Those delicate expressions that he watched through the mirror so many times were now working against him, to push him away from you.

“I’ll treat you right.” He promised, grabbing ahold of you as he pushed you further into the door. “Do I not even deserve you then?”

“Hoseok, stop. I’m sorry for initiating everything. I really am. I’m terrible for leading you on and I’m sorry…But that was nothing…it…It was a mistake.” You spoke coldly and on top of that, you violently shoved his chest as he was forced back a few steps, allowing you time to slip through the door and into the hallway that was filled with people. Hoseok froze, his hand unable to turn the knob, only for his legs to give out as he fell to the floor. With anger that seemed to leave burns over his body, he seethed, his expression dark.

“You’ll soon learn to come back to me, angel. You need me.”

≿————- ❈ ————-≾

Anxiousness. The feeling of anxiousness was evident in your body as you awkwardly stared at your reflection in the mirror, the backup dancers slowly shuffling out after a successful day of practice. With only one day left for debut and yesterday’s fiasco, needless to say, you did not want to be the same room with Hoseok, and alone.

All throughout joined practice, you could see the dark expression on his face, the intimidating and suffocating aura he held when you accidentally made eye contact with him. Even the trainees seemed to notice his bad mood, making fewer mistakes in hopes to prevent a scolding from an already pissed off teacher.

“Angel.”

A chill shot up your body as you were clueless where to look. Turn around to face him? Be dumb enough to ignore him? Acknowledge him but continue to look at the mirror? Do you even keep eye contac-

“Angel. I’m talking to you.” He spoke more forcefully, standing up from his chair as it slid several inches away from him as he pushed it away. “Look at me, yeah?”

He pried at your arms as you realized you instinctively brought them up, aware of his dominating presence. You had expected to be pushed or shoved again, but instead, you found his slender fingers and soft skin meeting your cheeks.

“Am I unlovable?” He whispered, his voice cracking and your stomach dropping. “Tell me the truth, please.”

“H-hoseok, um,“ you stuttered. "I’m sorry if-”

“Tell me!” He screamed, his nails digging into your skin as you winced and began to squirm in his grasp. “Just. Answer my question. Answer it now!” He breathed roughly, his breath fanning your skin.

“You are! You are!” You pleaded, his nails only digging in with more intensity as each second passed. “Ahh! Hurts, stop, stop!”

“Then why? Why?! You’re the first person I’ve cared about this much! And yet…” His head dropped as he released his harsh grip, his voice trailing out as shiny tears pricked at his eyes. “I finally… I thought I finally…”

A sad smile graced his features as he looked at you once again. “I thought I found someone who finally understood me.”

“You were the only one who kept up with my intense practices. You were the only one who met me face to face, eager to learn. You just… You just love to dance. You were just like me… You love to dance as much as I do, right? We’re the same. Can’t you see that, y/n?”

“W-we’re the same?” You whispered, bringing your hands to your chest as Hoseok’s expression softened.

“Yes, we’re the same.” His hands bringing and joining your hands together. “I’ve always had your best intentions, y/n. Trust me.”

“B-but not in Under 19.” You retorted back, your voice small. “You eliminated me…”

Hoseok’s grip tightened, a wince coming from your body. “That’s because they wouldn’t treat you right. Do you really think they could manage their groups as well as accommodating you? You have a better chance at being a successful idol here, under me. I made sure I would have you all to myself because I cared when nobody else did."

Shock was evident in your face as your head snapped up. “Wait… How- Is that why no other company contacted me? How’d-” Your eyes darted back and forth, unaware of Hoseok’s growing smile.

“I have my ways, angel. But does it even matter? You’re here now. You’re debuting tomorrow. You’re about to attain everything you’ve dreamed of.” When you caught the smirk on his face, you ripped yourself away from him.

“It does matter! I can’t believe you’d do that! What the hell is wrong with you?!”

You took several steps back as Hoseok stood silent, his fringe covering his eyes as his head fell down.

“Why?…” He whispered, his fists clenching and sneakers digging into the floor.

“Why does everyone say something’s wrong with me? Why am I the unusual one?! Why can’t you understand me?!”

"You have no one besides me!” He laughed as if to convince himself. “You’ll have no future without me. The moment you accepted me was the day you gained everything, angel. Don’t you see how bright your future is now? You’ll see you will never be able to leave me."

Speechless and eyes wide open, Hoseok met your motionless lips, the only sound from the ticking of the clock that told you that this moment was certainly real. You weren’t in a dream… Were you in a nightmare?

And yet, despite the feelings of shame and guilt from yesterday, even the anger, you couldn’t help but accept it. You pulled him harder into you, your eyes stinging. Hoseok halted at first, shocked as you reciprocated his feelings before completely melting into your mouth.

The two of you moved together as your nose scrunched up, eyes watery with tears slowly pouring out of your eyes. There was a feeling in your stomach, disappointed that you gave into him, yet it understood, turning the other way.

Because you too, were broken like him. Craved the touch and passion like an obsessed and starved animal.

Who even were you anymore?

When your lips parted, you stared up at him with red eyes, cheeks wet.

“This. Never again.” You whispered, wiping the tears down your cheeks. “My contract forbids this. You know that.”

Hoseok’s heart clenched as you walked past him, brushing his shoulder and leaving him all alone, in the empty studio. He let you go, knowing that you’d one day walk towards him instead.

“I’ll have my way, y/n.” He called, knowing well that you had heard him. “I’ll have my way…”

≿————- ❈ ————-≾

You smacked your lips, tongue rolling inside your cheek as you irritably stood in the dressing room, minutes away from your debut stage. Hoseok hovered near you, his presence slowly irritating you as each second passed. Wherever you seemed to go, he always followed.

It was a temporary distraction to the nervousness of your debut. But his touches were demanding for attention, from the caress of your shoulder to the tap of your back.

“Hoseok…” you warned, shifting away from him as he tried for your attention again.

“Angel…You’re so nervous, you’re in desperate need of help.” He whispered, amused at the tension in your body. His hand successfully met the skin of your arm as he ran soothing circles, happy you gave in this time. “Just trust in your training. Years of work is engraved in your mind. Don’t doubt what you’re doing, yeah?”

“Yeah.”

“Good luck,” He whispered, his mouth close to your ear. “I’ll be watching from the back. Show them what a true idol is, angel.”

A small smirk graced your lips as the corner of your eye drifted, locking with Hoseok’s gaze.

“No need to state the obvious.”

Chapter Text

With heavy muscles and sore legs, you wanted to let out a harsh sigh, but instead, your eyes zoned out, aware of the ear-deafening screeches and cameras that were probably going to be used to expose you for the 100th time this week.

The harsh lights from the stage and the loud echo of the microphone overloaded your senses, your soul hoping to let the show be over, to finally sit down in a chair for once, and close your eyes to drift asleep. Hoseok was waiting for you back there. What did he think of your performance? It would be nice if he enjoyed it, if he was proud of you again.

“Congratulations!” The loud MC of the show announced, the sharp and thunderous burst of confetti sprinkled in the air, fluttering down as pastel colors softly landed on top of your head. You were awakened out of your daydream as a mic was shoved into your vision, your face almost forming into a frown until you caught yourself. You instinctively smiled instead, unaware what was actually going on, but smiles always dispersed any suspicion.

“Y/n, please tell us how you feel about your win.” The male MC spoke, folding his cue cards away as he gave a bright smile to the camera.

Wait, what did he just say? First win?

“Wai- What?” You spoke into the mic, your eyes growing wide as they nervously darted back and forth. “I- Me? Win?”

“Yes, please tell us your thoughts.” The male MC bowed, the heavy award being dropped into your hands.

“Oh, umm…” You blinked rapidly, staring at the glimmering and hefty trophy, giving a big smile to the camera. “This was very unexpected, but I’d like to thank all my fans who voted for me. When I came on stage, this was the farthest thing I was thinking about. I’d also like to thank you to my agency and my dance instructor.”

You bowed, the backing track of your song playing in the background as idols shuffled out off stage. Most of the people in the audience stayed for your encore stage, singing along as you swayed back and forth. Your cheeks hurt from smiling too much, the award that you worked tirelessly for years in your hand. It was too good to be true, the shiny metal reflecting hundreds of lights back onto the ground. As the last few seconds of your song died out, you were brought back to reality, your fans cheering at you.

“Thank you, everyone, for this.” The longer you stared at the award, the more the memories began to resurface, almost to praise your hard work. You didn’t work for nothing. You were just lucky. That’s it. If it wasn’t for the strings that were pulled, you would be a nobody like everyone else.

You gave a final wave to the crowd, jogging backstage. As soon as you were in the protection of the curtains, your smile turned into a frown, your eyebrows knit as a heavy feeling dropped your stomach.

This was real. This award. It had to be just luck, right? With shaking hands, you brought the award to eye level, your bottom lip jutting out.

“Why are you crying?”

Your head snapped up, hard, too fast, as you stumbled back, the voice was recognizable, a second nature. Strong arms caught you, steadying you and planting you back onto the floor.

“Slow down, angel.”

He was too close, his presence was suffocating. His grip was toxic and you were positive he was only going to get touchier if you let him. Just like you predicted, his hand came up to your hair, brushing back a strand behind your ear. Your breath halted as you quickly ripped yourself away from him, award clutched to your chest, unaware of Hoseok’s dark glare.

“I have to head back. Change out of this…clothing” You speedily ran off, turning the corner as you disappeared from Hoseok’s line of vision.

That was the line you gave him after every music award show for the past year, only winning Inkigayo for the first time. It was unusual to not be in the studio for the entire day, but instead sleeping on the makeup chair, stylists in their own world. You realized that Hoseok stopped coming and although you expected to have a sense of relief, his absence left a hollow feeling.

You didn’t like being alone.

Filled with staff who you still didn’t know, makeup artists who don’t know you well, a manager who was busy discussing with shows, you missed him.

And it grossed you out. You were a joke. Did you forget your kiss-

Your eyes snapped open, the rattle of the van shaking your body. Practice. It was finally time to dance in the studio after a long day of shows and interviews.

You could see Hoseok again. You wanted his praise, his sweet words that weren’t laced with bitter sentiments. And that rare smile that he barely showed. Could you earn that today too?

Hopping out of the vehicle, you stepped inside the BigHit building, the elevator carrying you up, your legs running down the halls and turning the studio door open.

Hoseok stood in front of the mirror, music blaring as he made several loud steps, arms in unison. Immediately, his eyes met yours, your breathless state noted, as well as your puffy winter coat and pink cheeks.

“You’re back already?” He shouted over the music, his body still dancing as you shrugged off your coat, placing it on the rolly chair.

“Yeah.” You called, shifting the weight of your feet as you brought both hands over your head, stretching and extending your body. With the final pump of your legs, you stood straight up, waltzing over the mirrors and studying your teacher’s motions.

He moved effortlessly, like water, his body flowing and swaying with ease. You took several seconds, your pouting face unable to comprehend his motions. When you extended your hand out to mimic him, he laughed, coming to a halt and quickly pausing the music.

“Not like that.” He instructed, his hands coming up to your arm as he lifted it in the air, attaining a similar posture as before. You nodded, going over each precise step, wondering if you’d be able to move like him one day.

“People say the goal isn’t to attain the perfect posture, to not mimic the teacher, but to stretch and reach for yourself. To make it your own. But-” His arm came up, hitting the back of your elbow as you instinctively straightened it out, eyeing him cautiously. “I think that’s a lot of bullshit.”

“As a dance teacher, it is my job to explain the basics, the foundations, continuously building on each various style. If the foundations are not perfect, how can I expect my students to continue improving, to build on top of the base if it’s ready to topple at any second?”

“Chin up.” He commanded, walking in a circle around you, looking from each direction. “Now, that is perfect posture.” He smiled. “Well done.”

When you brought your arms down, an immense relief flooded your body. The weight of having them raised in the air for what felt like hours was unexpectedly tiring.

“I want to be your dance instructor forever.”

You whipped your head, eyes meeting Hoseok as you almost stumbled backward by his intense stare. His words should’ve been unsettling, but yet, you found something endearing about it. Separation was always tough, an emotion you hated. In a way, you knew this moment would someday be over, the days of being a student gone.

It was similar to those idols who yelled ‘I want to be your singer forever’. It was these sentimental and vulnerable moments where nobody wanted to separate. It was like the last day of graduation, inevitable as each individual split to follow their own path, no longer together, the insides broken but never able to plead the other to stay.

Maybe Hoseok was right. He understood you. Maybe, you should meet him halfway, and try to understand him too for once. Maybe you too, feel the same way. So, you smiled, nodding your head.

“That does sound nice.”

≿————- ❈ ————-≾

The clank of glass on the coffee table was one of the only sounds in the spacious living room, high above the city of Seoul. The streets were littered in lights, the sun long gone, having fallen asleep several hours ago. Its sister woke up, the soft grey of the moon giving its greetings to the quiet admirer who stared out of the large windows. The hum of the air purifier and tick of the clock added to the ambiance of the calm nighttime.

The large sounding rattle of the doorknob broke through the silence, the jiggle of keys accompanying it. The sound of shoes on the tile was the next noises as the door softly closed, the light of the doorway alive as the button of the wall was pressed. Even the fumbling of plastic bags and the now discarded shoes reached your ears.

“You’re late.” You mumbled into your hand, still looking out the window, about sixty floors up.

“Are you mad about that?”

“No, I guess I’m not.”

Warm arms found their way on your stomach, a chin propped on your shoulder. “Angel, did you eat yet, today?”

You grunted, shaking your head. “No, haven’t been hungry.”

A sigh escaped from behind you, the arms releasing you. “We’re going to have to see the doctors soon then. You’re showing too many symptoms of an eating dis-” Hoseok paused, clearing his throat.

“I hate that this always happens to trainees in the end…” He mumbled. “I’ll be back.” He called from the hallway, walking off.

You gave him a slight hum of approval, still spacing out, your eyes gazing at the beauty of the city streets.

When you finally tore your vision away, you were greeted with the multiple shelves that lined your living room. A golden award sat on the display shelf, proof of the accomplishments of your career.

It all happened during the third year after your debut. You sat in the comfortable lounge chairs of Dongdaemun Design Plaza, a blanket across your lap as you were surviving the end of the year award shows. Spaced out for most of the show, it wasn’t until the intense cheers grew that you realized this wasn’t the time to lose focus.

You looked around, your eyes catching the monitor showing the candidates for the records of the year. From best music video to the best group, you forced yourself to pay attention. The ear-deafening screams gave you a mild headache, which further added to your irritable mood. It wasn’t until you saw your face as one of the candidates for Best Dance of the Year, that your heart started racing, but your thoughts still clouded.

You had forgotten you were a candidate.

You tried to hide your excitement to win the award, knowing the disappointment would only hit harder. Crossing your fingers and biting your lip, you looked down at the floor, the MC taking his sweet time in announcing the winner.

It was that day, you gave it all.

As you stood on the stage, the shimmering award in your hand, blinded by the thousands of lights, you smiled. You gave your thanks to the people who deserved it, pure happiness in your face.

At that moment, you forgot all about Hoseok. Not once in your speech did you mention him. It’s like you knew nothing of his existence. To this day, you still don’t know what exactly was going through your mind, but maybe it was your mood or maybe it was fatigue, or maybe it was loss of steam and finally wanting to settle down.

But that day, you ended it.

“I want to announce something.” You had said into the mic, trying your hardest not to squint. Your throat constricted as you breathed out harshly away from the microphone. “I’m retiring this year.”

You remembered the smirk that was on your face, no sadness laced in your voice as you said those liberating words. At that moment, you swore you felt free. The insane amount of pressure throughout the years had continuously piled on top of each other. From the obsessive sasaengs and the internet hate, combined with internal pressures from BigHit to have a successful comeback, the schedule crushed, you couldn’t breathe for a second.

The pressure to look a certain way, to reflect the unrealistic beauty standards, to maintain a strict diet and keep a certain weight, to present yourself perfectly even though, in the end, you were someone with flaws, was it unreasonable for you to not want this life anymore?

Even though the arena was filled with harsh gasps and absolute shock, you calmly walked off the stage, award in hand. The look on your manager’s face was also priceless, appalled by your speech. You simply handed the award to him to send back to the agency and walked off.

Little did you know, at the time, Hoseok was going crazy. Watching from backstage, his belongings fell from his hands and onto the floor as your words registered in his ears, his face twitching. He had convinced himself this was just a terrible joke. That if it were real, he would surely bring you back.

He sprinted out of the dressing room, panting as he scoured each crevice for you. He asked around, yelling in the hallways as he looked for any hint to where you had gone off to. What made matters worse was that you missed your interview for the award, which only made it more difficult for Hoseok.

“Y/n? Y/n?! Where are you?!” He called, running down another hallway. He came to a halt as he saw your figure by the staircases near the lobby, your head leaning against the wall with your legs sprawled out messily.

“Y/n? What was your speech abou-” Hoseok paused, kneeling and turning your head towards him, only to find tears streaming down your cheeks. “Oh my god,” He gasped, swiping your tears away. “What’s wrong?”

You didn’t answer, prompting him as he shook your shoulder, the sound of hiccuping escaping your lips.

“Y/n!” Hoseok pleaded. “Please… Please talk to me. I don’t know what’s wrong unless you tell me.”

“H-hoseok…” You hiccuped, gripping harshly onto his neatly ironed striped dress shirt. “I don’t enjoy this anymore, Hoseok.” You cried. “I want to quit. I am quitting.”

“Dancing doesn’t make me happy anymore. I-I…I feel so hopeless, that I’ll never be able to feel good again. It’s like all the happiness is sucked out of me…”

You breathed out heavily, your body relaxing and letting the tears flow freely rather than forcing them in. “I get berated every day online and I don’t even know what for. I can’t even go online anymore without seeing myself. I can’t ever sleep, I can’t ever eat… because I…I- I don’t know! I know I shouldn’t care about what they think, and I really try, I do, I do! But then… I always find myself standing on top of the scale, weighing myself for who knows how many times that day..”

Hoseok ran his hand on your back, only listening as you desperately scraped all your courage together.

“It’s like no matter how long I sleep, I’m always tired.” You whispered. “Or sometimes, I wake up in the middle of the night, unable to go back to sleep, terrified of something.”

“Hoseok…” You sobbed, wetting his shirt, your voice cracking and failing. “Hoseok, I really want to d-”

A hand on your shoulder made you jump back to reality as you looked up, back in your living room, sixty-floors up, only to find Hoseok with wet hair and a towel on top of his head, draping down to his shoulder. Hoseok clearly noticed how he caught you off guard, your wide-eyed expression a rarity these days.

“Sorry, did I scare you?”

“Ah, no-kind of, yeah.” You muttered.

Hoseok leaned down, placing a soft peck on your lips, before leaving a full kiss. He smelled like soap, citrus escaping from his washed hair. Soft and slow, the kiss further relaxed you, your back leaning further into the cushions of the sofa. When your lips separated, his forehead met yours.

“Do you know what today is?” He whispered, his fingertips trailing down your cheek as you looked indifferently.

“I debuted on the 17th…” You muttered. “Today’s the 18th… You have the wrong date, Hoseok.”

Unexpectedly, Hoseok let out a laugh, bending over to clutch his stomach. “Wow, you were so confident too.” He grinned, moving close to you again, your lips almost touching.

“But, actually,” Hoseok continued. “Today’s my birthday.”

“Oh.”

“Surprising right?” He giggled almost cynically. “You should be embarrassed.”

“I’m not really…” You whispered, Hoseok leaning in for another caress of your lips, his hands coming up to cup your face. A whimper escaped your lips as he nibbled your bottom lip, eager for access into your mouth. You denied him, separating lips for a brief moment.

“So what are you?” You spat embarrassed, cheeks flushed. “Old?”

Hoseok smirked, a tongue running through his bottom lip. “Someone’s a bit rude today, don’t you think? Thirty-three.” He emphasized, poking your forehead. “Don’t tell me you forgot how old you are.”

“Excuse you.” You shoved his chest playfully. “Unlike you, I don’t have short-term memory.” The two of you laughed quietly together, your voices almost harmonizing as your hearts beat together. You moved up, meeting Hoseok’s lips with a smile to which he gladly reciprocated.

“Were you busy today?” You had whispered when your lips parted, breathing increased like the thumping of your chest.

“Yeah,” He hummed, bringing your lips back together, the dim lights in the living room barely illuminating his face. “Did you miss me, angel?”

“I seem to always miss you.”

“Me too.” Hoseok hummed. “But I feel better knowing you’re here. Knowing-” His hand brushed loose strands back and behind your ear. “Knowing you’re mine.”

Your cheeks stuck out as you gave him a small yet warm smile, very fitting for your reserved personality. “I feel better knowing someone cares about me.” You whispered, the glint in your eyes obvious despite the darkness that surrounded the two of you. “That someone won’t let me go.”

Hoseok took a seat next to you, wrapping his arms around you, pulling your back into his chest. “Y/n,” He cooed, taking a whiff of your faded smell of vanilla. “Are you coming in tomorrow?”

“Do you want me to?”

“You know I love it when you join me for dance practice…” He spoke gently, running his fingers over the palm of your hand, effectively relaxing you. “The trainees are such a hassle… It’s like every time you’re there with me, I get softer on them, but in a good way.” He added sheepishly, a smile probably on his face from the tone he spoke.

“Then maybe I shouldn’t go if you get soft.” You laughed, a pout slowly forming on Hoseok’s face. “I might… I’m just tired a lot. I don’t feel like doing anything most of the time.”

“I understand, angel.” He planted a kiss on the side of your temple, giving you a bright smile. “Don’t force yourself, yeah? I just like seeing you dance again.”

Your cheeks flushed, clearly fazed by his compliments and understanding. “Ahh,” You whined to yourself. “I’ll go then… I just… The paparazzi…”

An audible sigh escaped your lips, Hoseok tightening his hold on you, something about the action was cute as he tried to comfort you.

“They’ve been nosy, right?” Hoseok’s mouth near your ear as you nodded.

“I don’t blame them.” You admitted. “I would be intrigued too if I were in their position.” You licked your lips, continuing. “But it’s been years. Can’t they just give up? Can they just… stop trying to find an explanation for everything?”

“Right?” Hoseok agreed, burying his face into the crook of your neck. “The initial shock should be over. Just leave us alone.” He chuckled.

“Might I add, leave us alone forever.” You joked. “Knowing them, they’ll be back the next week.”

“We could prank or taunt them.” Hoseok proposed.

“That’s a terrible idea. It’ll spike their interest even more. They might never let it down.”

“Watch them write books.” Hoseok sneered. “An analysis on-!”

You chuckled, melting further into Hoseok’s hold. “Mmm, love you.”

Hoseok’s small dimples appeared on his cheeks, a slight hum as he planted another kiss on the side of your temple, bringing you even closer if there was even any difference from before.

“I love you too.” Hoseok murmured, his heart pounding in his chest, still thrilled whenever you said that word. Those words to him were his life, another source of his happiness. “Even if the world were to end tomorrow, it wouldn’t matter if you were alive next to me, breathing with me, heart beating with me-

“If you were completely in sync with me.”