Rating: no porn sorry ):
Length: approx. 4000 words
Summary: Circus!AU of sorts. Yixing chases a dream that nobody seems to understand.
Yixing was five when he watched his first aerial acrobatics show. The travelling circus was in town and his grandparents had taken him to see a show for his birthday. There were tigers and magic shows and fire jugglers and they all looked so impressive and magical from where he sat in the audience. But what he would remember for years to come was the flying trapeze performance. Little Yixing sat, breath held and hands clasped, as his eyes followed the two performers swinging across the air, doing flips and turns. How magnificent, how exhilarating! And from that moment, Yixing had found his dream.
Whenever he was asked, “what do you want to be when you grow up?” as adults were prone to asking, Yixing would beam and reply “a circus acrobat!”
As he grew older though, he noticed that his response was met with increasing incredulity and disappointment. He learned that his dream job wasn’t considered stable enough or respectable enough or practical enough.
By the time he entered middle school, Yixing had learned to bite his tongue whenever someone asked him the dreaded question.
Acrobat, acrobat, acrobat. “Ah, I don’t know yet.”
Yixing met Wu Yifan in high school. Yifan was a transfer student from Canada. Although he was a year older, Yifan was placed in Yixing’s grade in order to catch up with his credits.
He was a good looking guy, which all of Yixing’s female friends were quick to remind him. Everyday. Sometimes several times during the hour.
“Yifan is wearing white today,” Krystal announced during one lunch to the excited agreement of the other girls at the table.
“So?” Yixing failed to see how that comment warranted the reaction it did. Frankly, he found it more exciting that the lunch ladies were serving stinky tofu that week. Yum.
“So,” Krystal said with exaggerated patience, “he looks fucking attractive in white, that’s what. Like Hugh Jackman-attractive, except well-shaven.”
“He’s not that good looking,” Yixing protested, more than a little unsettled by the chorus of dreamy sighs. He might have considered Wu Yifan’s looks passable if he didn’t accessorize every outfit with a disdainful scowl and a perpetual look of boredom. “Well, maybe if you were into inhumanly tall guys with like, really really big hands.”
“And a hot athlete’s bod and great hair?” Krystal gave him a pointed look.
“But- well- he has really scary eyebrows,” Yixing trailed off lamely.
“Whatever, Zhang Yixing. He is gorgeous and you know it.”
Whatever. Still didn’t make up for his shit personality. Yixing stabbed his stinky tofu imagining it to be Wu Yifan’s face before taking a vicious bite.
One day Yixing found Yifan with his nose in a book.
“That! It’s- circus. Circus!” Yixing spluttered, pointing excitedly at the cover, which featured an impressive acrobatic act.
“Ah,” Yifan glanced between his classmate and his book. “Cirque du Soleil. They’re a Canadian company, they do circus performances and stuff. They’re quite famous where I lived actually.” Yifan scratched his jaw uncomfortably when Yixing continued to stare. “Umm, do you, I mean, do you wanna see?’
Yifan chuckled at Yixing’s excited nod. “Here,” he said, holding out the book.
Yixing gaped at the way the smile changed Yifan’s face. He no longer looked mean and unapproachable, but rather – dare he say it? – attractive. Really, really, the-Greeks-could-have-made-masterpiece-s
“I love circus acts,” Yixing announced instead, plopping down beside him.
Yifan laughed again. “You do sound very excited about it.”
His comment made Yixing reconsider his next words. He’d been teased too often in the past about his interest in pursuing a career relating to the circus. And if Yixing were honest with himself, he really didn’t want his newly formed impression of Nice Yifan to be shattered just yet. So instead of telling Yifan that yeah, some days I skive off cram school to go to acrobatics and gymnastics class so that I can someday land my dream job, he said, “Don’t you?”
Yifan blinked. “Don’t I what?”
“Love the circus,” Yixing gestured animatedly. “The incredible performances, the drama, the popcorn—the cotton candy! It’s all brilliant, don’t you think?”
“Yeah, I actually worked at one this past summer. My great uncle’s the owner so I—”
“Really? That’s awesome! What did you do? Did you have to wear a flashy costume? Did it have sequins?”
“Ahh, I actually just did shifts at the concession stand,” Yifan rubbed the back of his neck, embarrassed. “I started off in face painting but my uncle demoted me after I made a kid cry. I was supposed to draw him a crocodile but the damn kid claimed that it looked like a deranged turtle.”
Yixing laughed delightedly. “No!”
“Well it might have a little.” Yifan grinned sheepishly. “But yeah, my summer was pretty great. Being there reminded me a lot of my childhood actually.”
Yixing grinned back. “Yeah, sounds like you had a good summer.”
“Ah, I’m Yi-“
“Wu Yifan, I know. My friends are part of your—how do I put it—your fanclub I guess it can be called,” Yixing rolled his eyes good naturedly. “So you’d better believe I know your name. And the fact that you look oh so dashing in white. And black and grey. And blue.”
Yifan looked amused, which Yixing realized belatedly was much of a relief. He often dug himself into holes because of his honesty. Overkill, Krystal called it but then she just liked to say mean things.
“And how do you think I look in white or black or blue, Zhang Yixing?”
“Huh?” Yixing froze, having been caught off guard. Yifan’s eyes were so very deep as they stared into Yixing’s. His lips were highly distracting as well, twitching as though they wanted to break into another five hundred watt smile. “Umm,” Yixing managed to get out, distracted once again when Yifan’s tongue peeked out to lick his lips. Yixing shook his head to clear his thoughts. Wait, what was the question again?
“What, you don’t think I look good in those colours?” Yifan teased.
Oh right. Yixing grinned impishly. “Oh, I don’t know. Wouldn’t want to inflate your ego too much.”
Yixing decided that he was having what was shaping up to be a pretty great day. He’d made friends with the hot transfer student and gained a potential supporter of his goal to attain his dream job. Yep, a Good Day indeed.
“Congratulations, graduating class. Whether you will be continuing onto postsecondary studies or diving straight into the workforce, I hope that you will all embark on very rewarding career paths.”
The words were met with excited applause and hundreds of airborne graduation caps. They were finally free.
After the ceremony, a breathless Yixing wound his way through the crowd, looking for the person he most wanted to share his Very Good News with. “Yifan,” Yixing exclaimed when he finally found his friend sitting on the abandoned stage in the auditorium. Like the first time they met, Yifan was immersed in his reading. “Guess what!”
Yifan looked up. “Well,” he drawled, “judging from your expression of barely suppressed glee, I take it congratulations are in order? You made the final cut for EXOplanet then?”
“Yifan, you jerk.” Yixing punched him on the shoulder half-heartedly. “You always ruin all my fun.”
“Ahh, I’m sorry, don’t pout.” Yifan stood to envelope his friend in a bear hug. “That’s really great, congratulations. When do you start?” Don’t blush, don’t blush, don’t blush, Yixing told himself. But Yifan smelled so damn good and the casual clothes he’d changed into were so soft. Oh fuck it, he thought and buried deeper into Yifan’s hug.
“Well, it’s a conditional offer given that I complete their one-year training program. So, I mean, it’s not like I really even have the job yet…”
“Technicalities! We need to celebrate. Are you free tomorrow? Oh, but first.” Yifan held out the book he’d been reading. “For you.”
Yixing reached out to take the light tome. It was well-worn around the edges but the pages were still crisp, obviously well-read but also well cared for. Yixing’s heart swelled when he recognized the cover. Just maybe he meant as much to Yifan as Yifan meant to Yixing.
“Your limited edition tiny prince novel? But you love this book! And you’ve had it since you’ve been born. I can’t take this, Yifan.”
“Sure you can. Instead of me holding onto it, it’ll be in your care. Think of it as, I’m lending it to you, permanently. Accept it, I think you’ll really enjoy it.”
“Yifan, thank you. But- well, this makes my gift look completely thoughtless,” Yixing commented wryly. “For getting into that fancy business school your Dad wanted you to go to, here.”
Yixing had worked at his aunt’s convenience store after acrobatics practice for a month to save up for the sleek leather business card holder. And at the last minute, he’d decided to splurge on getting Yifan’s name embossed on the back in calligraphic type. Yixing thought that it had looked pretty spiffy, but then again, he didn’t have Yifan’s eye for style. And then Yifan had to go and give him such a meaningful gift, the stupid jerk.
“I mean, it’s no miniature prince, but it’s the thought that counts, right?”
For a moment, Yifan’s face contorted as though he on the verge of correcting him. It’s The Little Prince, Yifan had exasperated on more than one occasion, it’s a classic. Not that you would know, you- you- plebeian. Yixing bit back a grin at the thought. Oh how he loved to draw reactions out of the normally expressionless Yifan.
“You don’t like it?”
“No.” Yifan said firmly. “No, I love it, thank you.”
“Oh,” Yixing dimpled. “I’m glad.”
The one-year formal training period, Yixing found out, was just a fancy phrase for good old-fashioned practice. Three hours in the morning and five in the afternoon until early evening. There were muscle conditioning sessions and gymnastics exercises and actual lessons on acrobatics. The latter were his favourite, what he had dreamed of doing for most of his young life.
Some days, the trainees were instructed to just watch the current performers as they practiced. Yixing loved these days just as much. His seniors were all very talented. Graceful lines that moved, bended, and flew across the dome. Yixing’s favourite performers by far were the flying trapeze brothers.
“The Kim twins are the highlight of the weekend shows,” Jongin had told him. “They call Junho the backbone and Junsu the art. Look at how well they complement each other. I mean, it seems obvious given that they’re twins, but just look at them.”
And Yixing had looked, scrutinized, studied. Because when the twins retired in a little more than a year, he and Jongin were to replace them.
“Come on, Yixing,” Jongin panted as he pulled his partner up. “Let’s go over it again. Our timing’s still off.”
“Yeah,” Yixing said as he wiped under his jaw with the collar of his shirt. “I’ll try starting half a beat later and we’ll see how it goes, sound good?”
Sometimes, practices would run late because Yixing or Jongin had wanted to perfect that one move or to work off that bag of chips Yixing had eaten earlier. Those days, Yixing would collapse on the bed after a quick shower and either call Yifan or reread Le petit prince for the fortieth time.
Yixing had found that Yifan had been right; the book had been a great comfort to him in between rigorous training sessions. But nothing beat talking to Yifan about his day after practice.
“I finally got that move I was telling you about down! Junsu saw it and he told me I had exceptional grace in the air. Did you hear that, Yifan? Kim Junsu praised me!”
“Yifannn, the trainer yelled at me again today because I eat too much junk food. I can’t help it that healthy foods are gross and crappy foods taste like little pieces of heaven.”
“Today, I got Baekhyun to promise me free cotton candy and popcorn for a month for introducing him to Tiffany. You know, the smiley acrobatics performer I told you about. Although, I don’t know if he actually has a chance… I think she might actually be going out with guy down in marketing.”
He also loved to listen to Yifan talk about the people he’d met, his classes, and unreasonable professors. He heard about the brutal four-hour exams, Chen the little shit of a roommate who thinks it’s funny to put shaving cream in my tube of toothpaste, and other anecdotes Yifan thought that he’d enjoy.
“There’s this guy, Zitao in my Communications class, who won a bunch of provincial wushu championships when he was younger. The girls are all over him because he looks so dark and brooding but he’s an angel inside,” Yifan chuckled fondly. “He’s a really great guy, we’ve gotten pretty close actually. I think you’d like him a lot.”
Yixing’s laugh sounded forced even to himself. His knuckles turned white as he tightened his grip on his phone. “Oh, really? He sounds… lovely.”
“Yeah, we’re going out to lunch at that new sushi restaurant tomorrow. Wanna join us? We haven’t hung out in a while.”
So you want me to share you with Perfect Zitao the first time we meet in more than a week? Yixing sulked. Well better than not seeing Yifan at all, I guess. And it’s not like we’re going out.
“Tomorrow you said? What time?” He reached across his bed for his calendar. “Wait, is tomorrow the twentieth? Shit, I can’t make it. Junsu and Junho promised to coach Jongin and me from ten to three tomorrow.” Yixing deflated at the turn of events. “Well this sucks.”
“Yeah, you definitely shouldn’t skip out on that.”
Yixing brightened at the fact that Yifan sounded just as bummed out as he felt. “Are you free Friday after six? We could go catch that new action flick, Jongin said it was pretty good.”
“Ah, sorry Yixing. I have weekend exams every week for the next month or so. Tomorrow’s going to be the last day I’m free for quite a while.”
“I’m sorry Yixing, we’ll hang out when this busy period blows over.”
Yixing sighed. And when was that going to be? He wanted to ask. But, not wanting to sound like a petulant child, he says, “Don’t be sorry. It’s not your fault our schedules don’t match up.”
“Okay, I, ah, I gotta finish this case for tomorrow before I head to bed. I’ll talk to you soon okay?”
“Yeah, good luck.”
Yixing punched his pillow. Well this was just great. Yifan was going on a date-like thing with stupid dark and brooding Zitao. And Yixing will be too knocked out after extra practice tomorrow to call Yifan to try and convince him from falling for Zitao. Fuck everything.
It became progressively harder for Yixing to keep in touch with Yifan. As finals approached for Yifan, so did his opening performance date for Yixing. They’d go days with only an I know you’re busy but don’t forget to eat well and thx mom ur son will remember your words. btw u too.
Then came their last phone call.
“Tell me about your week, Yixing.”
“Yifan, are you okay?”
“This damn school is out to kill me. Please- just- I can’t think about business or exams or recruiting anymore.”
“Umm, we had this hilarious substitute trainer this week. He’s best friends with the ringmaster I think. Jongin thought he was a woman at first because he likes to wear pink shirts with flowers on them. Heechul gave Jongin the biggest tongue lashing when he called him ‘noona’.”
Yixing was gratified to hear Yifan chuckle over the line.
“Oh and last week we got an understudy for the magician, Luhan. He looks a lot like the little prince. I couldn’t stop staring when I first met him! I think I might have freaked him out actually...”
“Yeah, it was surreal. And when I told him, he asked me who’s the little prince? Can you imagine?”
“Well you didn’t know about it until I introduced you to it either, Zhang Yixing.”
“Oh shush. Anyway, he seemed really interested so I let him borrow my copy.” He probably just wanted to see a story version of himself, Yixing thought. The narcissistic bastard.
There was a pause. “You did?”
“Yeah but it was a—”
“Ah sorry, Yixing, I gotta go. I just remembered that I have a paper due. I’ll… talk to you soon.”
“But it was another copy I’d bought for myself,” Yixing said but Yifan had already hung up. “Bye, Yifan.”
That had been a month ago.
Jongin found Yixing on the roof after training.
“Have you been here the whole time? Why didn’t you answer your phone?”
Yixing barely spared Jongin a glance as he plopped down beside him. “Sorry, I must not have heard it.”
Jongin looked thoughtfully at Yixing staring into the distance. “You okay? You’re staring awfully hard at the sunset.”
Yixing paused. “Don’t you ever wanna watch the sunset when you’re upset? I feel like I could watch it thirty times over today.”
“Using a time machine?”
“Maybe.” Yixing grinned. “Or I could drag my ass across the world and each time, catch it just as it sets over the horizon.”
The two sat there in companionable silence until the last sliver of light disappeared behind the buildings on the other side of the city. It was nice. Far above the bustle of the city, Yixing felt detached from real life. Up on the roof, his worries didn’t exist. And if he were being honest, most importantly, here he could pretend his failing friendship with Yifan was just a silly notion of his.
“So about our opening performance,” Jongin said. “They’re really happy with our progress. And after Junsu gave us glowing reports, they think we’re ready.”
This caught Yixing’s attention. “So our opening performance next month…”
Jongin grinned more brightly than Yixing had ever seen. “Nope, they want to introduce us next Friday. We’re finally debuting, Yixing!”
“What,” Yixing was at a loss of words. “Next Friday? But that’s only a week away!”
“Nine days, my friend.” Jongin hopped up, pulling Yixing up with him.
“That’s- that’s brilliant!” Yixing pulled his friend into a hug. “We finally made it, Jongin!”
“Yep. But first we celebrate! Come out to have a drink with me tonight.”
Yixing was happy that all his years of hard work were finally going to pay off, ecstatic even, he really was. But his heart grew heavier with each step that they took down the stairs to the real world. He really didn’t feel like celebrating when all he could think about was how distant Yifan had seemed for the past month or so. “Sorry man, don’t really feel like celebrating tonight.”
“Ah. Well no worries, I will be celebrating and you can be drowning your sorrows. We can still go drink together, right?”
Jongin’s persistence made him smile. “Yeah. I guess we can.”
Yixing stumbled home at two in the morning. He’d been trying to order his seventh beer when Jongin had stopped him and sent him home in a taxi. Yixing didn’t know why Jongin was being such a worrywart. Honestly, he was fine. Not drunk at all.
Woah, Yixing was startled when he suddenly tripped over what was apparently a great mass of nothing. Well, maybe he was just the tiniest bit drunk. Not too drunk to call Yifan though. Never too drunk to call Yifan, Yixing smiled dopily.
The answering machine picked up on the fourth ring.
“Hiiii Yifan, it’s me. I wanted you to be the first one to hear my super, duper great news. Well, I guess Jongin knows because he’s the one who told me and then I might have told the bartender but I don’t really remember. But other than that, you are the very first person to hear.”
Yixing pouted when there was no answer. “Yifan? Are you listening? Yifan- Oh wait, you’re an answering machine.” Yixing broke into a peal of giggles. “Okay so I’d really like you to be there, okay?”
There was a beep as the answering machine was cut off. “Fucking message limit,” he groused as he redialled Yifan’s number.
“Stupid machine cut me off. I’m having my first performance next Friday. So not this Friday, but the next one. It’s going to be awesome, I promise. So please come okay? Okay, Wu Yifan? Okay.”
There. Yixing had successfully recorded a mostly intelligible phone message, proof that he was not that drunk. Ha, Jongin! Yixing thought. In your face.
“Yifan,” Yixing said to his wall. “Yifan, I really miss you. You stupid jerk, ignoring my calls and pretending to be busy. I’m not stupid you know. I may be half in love with your stupid face, but I’m not stupid, you stupid- you stupid man.”
He collapsed on his back in a huff. Stupid Yifan, always making a fool out of him. Well whatever. He was going to call Jongin and tell him about his successful phone message – which proved he wasn’t drunk! – and hopefully convince him to bring over some more alcohol.
Yixing sobered instantly when he saw his phone screen. He’d forgotten to end his call. “Fuck. Shit. Fuck fuck fuck. I didn’t mean—shit.” He hastily pressed the red button. There was no way to recover from the situation now. Yixing suddenly felt sick. Like he was actually going to throw up.
Yixing ran to the bathroom just in time for him to heave a day’s worth of food and alcohol into the porcelain throne.
“Nervous?” Jongin whispered.
“Terrified,” Yixing whispered back.
‘Next Friday’ had quickly become ‘this Friday’ and even that had quickly become ‘today’. After the drunken message he’d left on Yifan’s answering machine, Yixing had ignored all of Yifan’s calls. He’d also been too scared to read any of Yifan’s numerous text messages. None of the possible scenarios Yixing had come up with in his head had made him not want to cry. So instead of letting it threaten his concentration in the last week leading up to the most important day in his life so far, Yixing had given his phone to Jongin and told him to let him know if anyone other than Yifan called or messaged.
“And without further ado,” Yunho’s booming voice broke through his thoughts. “Ladies and gentlemen, please put your hands together for the newest stars of EXOplanet, The Dancers.”
“That’s us.” Yixing said, squeezing Jongin’s hand. “Break a leg.”
Jongin squeezed back. “You too.”
Yixing watched as Jongin glided across the dome on his trapeze to the warm welcome of the audience. Don’t think about Yifan, Yixing told himself sternly. Today is all about you. He readied himself as Jongin caught himself in a flip with his knees. This was it; that was his cue.
The thrill he felt when he finally swung into the performance was nothing like Yixing had ever experienced. For a moment, time was suspended. Yixing was flying and there were hundreds of people below, amazed at their every move. He heard the audience gasp in unison as he performed a flip in the air before Jongin caught him.
Yixing’s heart swelled so much he thought he could cry. This is what he’d dreamed of since the day he say his first circus performance. This is what he’d been working for all his life so far.
Ah, how much better would it have been if Yifan had been watching, Yixing thought wistfully, before he remembered to squash the thought.
Little did he know that after the show, there would a familiar man nervously pacing the dressing room, holding a bouquet of thornless roses.
Si quelqu'un veut un mouton,
c'est la preuve qu'il en existe un.
A/N: Thornless roses mean “love at first sight.” And check out the cameo les grandes personnes made at the beginning lol.