sehun trash (exollent) wrote in runandgun,
sehun trash
exollent
runandgun

zorbing, for underthepines

Title: Zorbing
For: underthepines
Pairing: Kai/Lay, slight Baekhyun/Lay
Rating: PG
Length: 5.5k
Summary: For Yixing, rainy days were days of nostalgia - days of lazy afternoons spent in that messy attic, of long hours toiling away to the same songs on loop in the practice room, and of every waking moment thinking of Jongin.


It wasn’t that he hated Seoul. Or at least that was what he told himself as he trudged through the usual morning crowd, navigating through the sidewalks that were beginning to resemble a network of shallow streams and soak through his sneakers due to the morning downpour. He had lived so long in the city that the busy buzz was just another part of life and the weather was usually agreeable so it wasn’t the rain nor the grey clouds above that bothered him. If anything, those were the reasons for the small smile sliding his lips up at the corners despite the dampness of his hair against his forehead, the tug of nostalgia too strong to resist. It was at times like this that he could, at least for a moment, forget Zhang Yixing the mediocre cook at his parents’ little known Chinese restaurant and return somewhere across the globe and a number of calendar pages back to Zhang Yixing the dance student.

It was the moment he stepped out of the rain, into the warmth of the kitchen that never seemed to lessen no matter what time of day it was, and slipped on his stained apron, stowing away memories of polished floorboards and ceiling high mirrors, that he hated.

-

“Hey, my name is Yixing Zhang.” His mouth circled the words awkwardly, the language still embarrassingly foreign on his tongue despite all those long hours of studying. Internally, he wished he had even a smidge of his older cousin’s gift of languages. He tried not to scowl at the thought of it, seeing the smug grin of Yifan in the back of his mind already – where would he even need four languages if he was going to become a bookkeeper? He swore his cousin practically talked in numbers anyway.

The boy in front of him extended his hand – a little sweaty from the first half of class but he really wasn’t one to talk – for Yixing to shake and smiled politely.

“I’m Jongin Kim. Nice to meet you.”

“Oh? You’re Korean? Thank god.” Yixing smiled, reverting to the language with a little sigh of relief. He was going to get an aneurysm or something if he had to keep speaking English for much longer. He knew he would have to get used to it sooner or later (because, unfortunately, going to a dance school in London kind of required it) but it was the end of his first day and he was tired from his classes so later it was. He tried to not think about how Yifan would be laughing right now if he knew.

Jongin seemed just as, or more, surprised and pleased. “You speak Korean?”

“Yeah. My parents moved to Seoul when I was a kid so I feel like I’m more Korean than Chinese sometimes.” He laughed.

“Cool. I’m from Seoul too.” They turned to the front of the room when they heard the girlish trill of their instructor reminding them that class was resuming, both of them groaning in annoyance at the sound of her voice. They exchanged glances and snickered. “Talk to you later then?”

Yixing nodded eagerly; any reminder of home was more than welcome. “Yeah. Sure.”

It was difficult to keep the smile off his face.

-

“-Yixing?”

His head jerked up at the call of his name and, after three blinks, he turned around to see his mother’s rounded face (a side effect of age and being a restaurant owner, his father had once said before getting a pinch to the thigh) peering at him through the open door.

“Yes, Ma?”

“Are you okay? I’ve been calling you for the past five minutes.”

“I’m okay. Did you need anything?”

The worried look on his mother’s face didn’t dissipate despite Yixing’s reassuring smile. “I came by to say that you can have lunch now. Xiumin can take over in the kitchen for a while since the lunch rush quieted down.”

Yixing nodded, passing the ladle to Minseok (aka Xiumin because his mother felt that someone who was working at an authentic Changsha cuisine restaurant should at least be called a Chinese name. Thankfully, Minseok took to the name immediately.) after scooping some Huagu Wu Danhuang into a clean bowl. He made his way to the small table at the corner of the kitchen and plopped down next to Jongdae (aka Chen) who was in the middle of reading the newspaper with a piece of duck dangling off his neglected chopsticks.

“Aren’t you supposed to be washing the dishes?”

Jongdae only looked up briefly to the tower of dirty dishes next to the sink before returning to his newspaper. “’Dishes’? What are those?” He asked in accented Mandarin, a cheeky smile plastered on his face.

Yixing rolled his eyes and blew on his soup. He really regretted teaching Jongdae Mandarin during their breaks.

“Relax, I’m nearly done.” He stuffed the duck in his mouth pointedly and turned the page of the paper on his lap. They ate in relative silence, with only Minseok humming an old JJ Lin song (Yixing introduced him to the wonders of Mandopop around the same time he was teaching Jongdae Mandarin. Needless to say, Minseok was Yixing’s preferred pupil any day.) filling the kitchen.

Breaking the silence with a whistle, Jongdae remarked, looking impressed, “Wow, this guy’s really something.”

Curious, Yixing nudged Jongdae’s leg with his shoe. “What?”

“Stop touching me.” Jongdae snapped in Mandarin, trying to inch his chair away but Yixing’s foot only followed after him. Yixing grinned behind his spoon when the other finally gave up with a pout. “I was talking about this Kai guy. Apparently he landed a role in this huge musical and bought some land at Jeju with the money from it. It must be nice to be so rich.” He let out a wistful sigh, idly poking at his rice with his chopsticks.

When Jondgdae started listing off the ways he would spend his days if he was to become rich, to which Minseok would occasionally stop his humming and giggle at the absurdity of his plans, Yixing had already stopped listening and had begun staring at his food blankly instead.

“Kai?”

“Yeah… He’s pretty popular recently. Some actor – I think he’s an actor. I don’t think he’s an idol, at least. All I really know about him is that he went to study dance abroad somewhere.” Jongdae said, waving offhandedly. “Haven’t you heard of him before?”

Yixing shook his head. “I haven’t really been keeping up with that stuff. Too busy at the restaurant.”

Jongdae shrugged, looking back to the newspaper. “Hold on, let me check. Nope, there’s no photo of him on this but – woah – he broke up with Krystal? Seriously? Why would anyone in their right mind do that? She’s like – hey, you’re done already?”

Yixing nodded, cleaning up his half-eaten meal as he stood from his seat, the legs of his chair screeching noisily against the tiles. “No appetite, I guess. Don’t forget to clean all of those.”

-

“What the hell? It was sunny this morning; why is it raining now?”

He hurriedly pulled up the hood of his sweater but he could do nothing for the cone of ice cream in his hand. It was already starting to run down his hand, slipping between the gaps between his fingers and leaving a sticky trail in its wake, as the rain continued to fall around them. He looked beside him and saw that Jongin was suffering the same fate.

“We can go to my place until it lets up.”

Yixing nodded, tossing both their treats out before sprinting after his friend down the streets. Ahead of him, he could hear Jongin laughing above the pitter-patter of the sudden shower as he dodged people who were scurrying for cover. Predictably, Jongin won their impromptu race but Yixing made sure to get even by smearing his ice cream-covered hand on his sleeve.

“Damn it, Yixing. I have to clean that out and it isn’t my laundry day yet.”

“Judging from the smell of it, you missed laundry day weeks ago. You should be
thanking me.” He evaded the jab sent his way with ease; Jongin always did have poor stamina.

Unwilling to put any more effort into getting revenge for his sweater, Jongin led him to a modest house and hushed him as they entered, keeping his voice barely above a whisper the moment he stepped inside.

“I rent the room upstairs – more like an attic than anything, actually – from this little old English lady. I can never tell when she’s home but she does yoga or something – I don’t really know – so I try to keep quiet when I’m home just in case, you know?”

Yixing clamped his mouth shut and nodded before following his fellow dancer up the rickety stairs.

He hadn’t really been expecting anything when he reached Jongin’s room, mostly because half a term with the boy already revealed so much (he honestly didn’t want to know) about his hygienic practices that there really was nothing to expect except the mess that already lay before him, but the bashful expression on Jongin’s face was definitely not it. The thought that Jongin – the Jongin who gave off such confident charisma on the dance floor and boyish mischief offstage – could experience something as subdued as shyness was a surprise, but not an altogether unpleasant one. It was endearing. Yixing brushed the thought away immediately after it was conceived.

“Sorry for the mess… I don’t really bring people over…”

“I really hope you don’t with this mess.” He kicked a discarded, and hopefully unused, pair of boxers on the ground and snickered when Jongin glared at him. It was fine. Even if he was actually mad, Jongin never stayed mad for long; it probably used too much of his stamina. Besides, the mere fact that he was letting Yixing stay was more telling than the weak punch to the arm Jongin gave. It made him feel special and that was something he hadn’t felt in a long time.

-

He almost dropped his ladle into a new batch of soup when Jongdae came up behind him, no doubt to cause more mischief, and poked him in the rib.

“Stop that! You know I’m ticklish!” He yelped in a jumble of Korean and Mandarin as he always did when he was surprised, swatting at a sniggering Jongdae with his free hand. He blamed the fact that his parents normally switched to Mandarin for the same reasons.

“I don’t know what ‘ticklish’ means.” His co-worker chimed with a smug grin that Yixing dearly wanted to wipe off his face with the ladle but he still needed it for the soup he was making (because Jongdae still didn’t wash the stupid dishes – that asshole) and that would have been a violation of the health code, unfortunately. Jongdae just laughed at the face he made at him. “Sorry, you just make it so easy. You’ve been spacey all day. The soup would have been ruined if I didn’t snap you out of it.”

“Couldn’t you have chosen a more normal way, at least?” Jongdae shrugged with an unrepentant grin. Yixing sighed. “Ah, whatever. At least the soup’s okay. Thanks.”

“Any time. You know I enjoy making your day.” Yixing rolled his eyes as Jongdae clapped him on the shoulder. “But really. Are you sure you’re okay?”

Yixing blinked, a little taken aback. It wasn’t that he found Jongdae annoying or unlikeable; if anything, he considered him one of his closest friends despite all the complaints he had about the younger man. It was just that Jongdae was rarely ever serious like he was being at that moment and Yixing wasn’t really sure if his behaviour was so off today that it caused this change in Jongdae as well.

“Yeah… I’m fine. It’s probably just the rain.”

-

“Hey, you’re pretty good.”

Yixing jolted up from where he was lying a little haphazardly on Jongin’s bed, the last note of the song he was singing to himself dying an early death in his throat just as pink rose to his cheeks.

“Don’t scare me like that.”

Jongin grinned at him and tossed him one of the bottles of Coke in his hands before dropping into the chair at his desk.

“This is my place so I can do what I want.” He let out a laugh, deep and sultry without even trying, when Yixing made a face at him. “No, but, honestly, you could have enrolled in music instead of dance with your singing.”

Yixing rubbed the back of his neck and looked away to hide his embarrassment. “Nah, I’m okay. There are way better singers out there. You should have heard this guy in my high school. He – his name’s Baekhyun, by the way – could reach all those high notes no problem. I think he might actually be a trainee in some entertainment company now.”

Jongin nodded, taking a gulp of his drink. They sat quietly as the rain continued to tap against the window rhythmically. They had taken to staying at Jongin’s place on rainy days when they had no classes to attend. It was probably just because Yixing’s dorm was too much a reminder of the mountain of work they were supposed to be doing, with its proximity to campus, but even without this, in Yixing’s mind, rainy days had already become associated to lying on Jongin’s eternally unmade bed and staring at the slopes of the ceiling after running through the rain in south-eastern London. Part of him wished that sunny days, cloudy days and any other type of day could be spent in exactly the same way.

“Did you like him?”

“Yeah. He was a nice person. He was always fun to be around.”

There was a beat of silence on both sides. Yixing turned away from the window, where he had been watching two droplets race each other down the glass and the one he was rooting for was quickly losing ground, and locked gazes with Jongin. It was probably because of the lack of sunlight pouring through the window but Jongin’s eyes were a little difficult to see. Yixing wasn’t sure whether to attribute the chill in his spine to the weather, the look in Jongin’s eyes or the implication of his words and what they would inevitably lead him to reveal.

“He was my first boyfriend.”

They didn’t really say much after that and Yixing couldn’t really recall what they did in the gap between then and Yixing’s departure. All Yixing could remember when he buried his head under his pillow that night was that Baekhyun, with his amazing voice and pretty eye-smiles, never managed to make his heart clench the way Jongin’s gentle whispers and slow smiles did.

-

Minseok nearly barrelled into him as he was pulling on his coat, almost toppling used plates on him if he hadn’t reacted reflexively and caught them in time.

“Nice catch.”

Yixing gave a little smile as he passed the plates back to him. “Yeah… well, I have pretty good reflexes.”

Minseok nodded before dumping the plates onto Jongdae’s seemingly unending stack of unwashed dishes and earning a squawk of protest plus a splash of dirty water in his direction. After sending a well-aimed kick to Jongdae’s shin, Minseok took a quick glance at Yixing and raised an eyebrow. “Leaving early today?”

“I have to pick something up at the post office.” He waved at the two as he stepped out the backdoor, preparing to face a shower of raindrops but only seeing bright blue above him. “Oh. The rain stopped.” He bade his co-workers a final farewell before heading off.

It was still early enough in the day that the streets weren’t flooded with people heading home from another tiring day of work and the pavement hadn’t yet completely dried from the morning’s downpour so he decided to take the long route, pacing himself to the beat of the latest most popular pop song filtering out of the stores he passed on the way. As he turned the corner, the vibrant colours popping out from the rows of televisions sitting at the window of an electronics store caught his eye. Upon closer inspection, it turned out to be some variety show featuring the main cast of some production that was going to show soon. He squinted at the screen when the camera panned out to show all the members of the cast and one of the actors turned to the camera at that instant, a deep laugh managing to seep through the melange of pop songs from neighbouring shops and into Yixing’s ears.

He felt his lungs malfunction for a second because that laugh was too distinctive to forget, even after all these years and no matter how much he tried.

‘What am I doing?’ He laughed to himself with a shake of his head. ‘You’re acting like an infatuated teenage girl, Yixing. Get a hold of yourself!’ His eyes wavered on the man on the screen despite all his admonishments.

“Lay?”

He spun around, almost losing his balance, and he hardly had time to think about how embarrassing that was for a former dancer when standing before him was a picture of tanned skin and hunched shoulders, hands tucked into jeans pockets as always, that was familiar even when half his face was covered in large aviator sunglasses and the usual ratty sweater and faded jeans were replaced with a pressed collared shirt and designer denim. Then again, he supposed that he shouldn’t have been so surprised by the lack of change. He was never the type to change anyway; other people changed because of him. Just like Yixing had.

The corner of Yixing’s lips turned up almost unwillingly.

“Hey, Kai. It’s been a while.”

-

He watched Jongin spin on the spot before tilting backwards to a low dip that looked too precarious to be safe but everything about Jongin was so put together and controlled that the thought of Jongin falling never crossed his mind. His eyes followed the curve of Jongin’s spine until it seemed that his leg would give way and cause him to come crashing down but what would have been a painful fall seamlessly transitioned to a flip, his feet hardly making a sound on the wooden floors. The music playing from the portable speakers at the corner of the room faded away and any lack of sound was quickly filled with Yixing’s applause.

“You’re amazing.”

Jongin stared at him as if he hadn’t understood what he had just said. Yixing had to hold back a smile when Jongin looked away half a beat later, a faint but visible sprinkle of red across his cheekbones.

“Don’t say something so embarrassing.”

“You’re terrible!” Jongin shoved him away on his way to grab a bottle of water from his bag. Yixing rolled away from him, completely uncaring of the fact that the floors were probably coated with grime and sweat, laughing.

“Hey,” Jongin voiced out, lying on the floor beside him close enough that Yixing could hear his breath evening out from his routine. “Have you ever thought about what happens after?” Though his tone was nonchalant, his voice wavered at the end and that was all Yixing really needed to sit up and turn to his friend, catching the flash of insecurity in Jongin’s eyes he’d never thought he would possibly see or ever see again, for that matter.

“After?”

“After all this? After we leave this place and we have to find work then realize that this world has no place for a dancer? After we go out there and realize that no matter how hard we try here, no matter how good we get, there will always be someone better out there?”

Yixing maintained his silence, mulling over the words that he’d so often thought himself. Here, he had the freedom to dance nearly whenever and whatever he wanted; he had the support of so many other aspiring dancers that the possibility that, maybe, this kind of life wasn’t in his future was but a speck of dust in the back of his mind that only bothered him in the darkest hours of the night; he had Jongin by his side…

But Jongin was brilliant. He shouldn’t have same the gnawing insecurity a person with such mediocre ability as Yixing did.

“Of course I do.” Yixing replied simply, slumping back onto the floor and fixing his gaze to the ceiling. “Ten years from now, you’re going to be the most famous dancer and choreographer in the world! You’d probably have some cheesy stage name like – what was the character in that manga you keep reading? Oh yeah! Kai!” Jongin made an indignant face at him that Yixing chose to ignore by talking over what would have definitely been a cry of protest. “And you’d be so famous that you’ll have idol companies begging you to work for them and producers for musicals at your beck and call! Meanwhile, the rest of us sad, unemployed dance graduates will just look on with envy at your success, dreaming that we could be you if only just for a day.” He let out a dramatic sigh, blinking his eyes up at Jongin meaningfully before breaking out into a cheesy smile. Jongin couldn’t help the accompanying smile on his face.

“Don’t worry. I won’t forget the little people who helped bring me to that point in my life.” He promised solemnly, getting an eye-roll from Yixing. They both chuckled and Jongin lied back down on the floor, arms tucked behind his head. “If only that could come true.”

“It will. I just know it.”

“And you’ll be right by my side when it happens. With an equally cheesy stage name like Lay or something!” Jongin laughed but the sincerity in his eyes was as genuine as the swell of affection in Yixing’s heart.

Yixing grinned at him. “Of course. Where else would I be?”

He willed the simple-minded happiness of a future with Jongin, one that Jongin himself apparently desired (even if it wasn’t quite in the way Yixing did), to fill his mind. But that was difficult when thoughts of tearful phone calls and plane tickets tucked away in the deepest corner of his closet in a vain attempt to erase them from reality chipped at the flimsy fantasy he had created for himself and loomed over him like a dark cloud on a clear day. Except this time, he was dreading the rain.

-

He couldn’t entirely believe that he was sitting in the back of some café, nursing a cup of untouched tea, with Jongin sitting across from him with a strong cup of coffee in his own mug. Perhaps if it wasn’t for the improved appearance (courtesy of his stylists, no doubt) and the teenagers whispering in the other booth with phone cameras aimed at them, he would have thought that he had travelled back in time to another afternoon after class, trying to ease away the pangs of dance-induced hunger by scrounging small change for a meagre meal. They always ended up hungry for more but he had never minded because Jongin’s company was more than worth it.

At that moment, however, with Jongin’s gaze heavy upon him and silence suffocating him like thick smog, he wasn’t so sure.

“You were right…”

Yixing looked at Jongin questioningly, not entirely certain if he had said something before that he missed due to his musings. Jongin answered with the slightest upturn at the corner of his lips.

“Baekhyun’s pretty good at singing.” He chuckled a little when Yixing’s mouth fell open in shock and mild confusion. “I met him at a talk show a couple of months ago, I think. He matches the idol image well, I must say, but I didn’t really expect him to be your type.”

Yixing flushed, though not entirely from Jongin’s comment. He had met his ex again by chance a year back and, after a short-lived fling that ended amiably due to Baekhyun’s debut, they had been keeping contact since though the singer had conveniently failed to inform him of his meeting with the person currently bearing a thinly veiled grin across from him. He had half the mind to expose embarrassing high school stories about Baekhyun to netizens as soon as he escaped from Jongin.

“I didn’t think you’d remember something like that.”

“Of course I’d remember.” Jongin said with a deliberate smile that Yixing wasn’t used to seeing on his face. While Jongin had always been one to keep his emotions in check, the hidden emotion in his eyes told of more than the usual teenage self-consciousness and innocent coyness. “We don’t have a lot of memories together to remember, after all.”

Yixing recoiled at that, the underlying bite to his words stinging more than hot oil.

“Jongin...”

“No warning, no explanation other than a fucking post-it that says ‘sorry’?” He laughed and Yixing could see the seams he’d held together so tightly all this time begin to fray. “You’d think that I would at least deserve that much after we spent a year together. After everything we’ve been through.”

“Jongin, please...” Yixing looked around nervously. The girls were beginning to whisper amongst themselves more urgently now and while Yixing didn’t really care what they said about him, he didn’t want all Jongin’s hard work to come crumbling down because of him. Again.

But Jongin didn’t stop. After a shuddering breath that caused the coffee, already lukewarm, to spill over the brim when the white-knuckled hand surrounding it shook, he whispered, “After you kissed me...?”

Yixing froze, throat suddenly dry.

“Yeah, I was awake.” He continued nonchalantly, answering Yixing’s silent question without being asked, though his eyes grew darker with every passing minute. “That night you slept over... I woke up because you were being restless. So, yeah, I was awake when you kissed me. I was awake when you left the room for what I assumed was just a moment to clear your thoughts but I stayed up the whole night waiting for you and you never came back.”

The shame and regret he felt that night came rushing back at full force. But instead of a lonely trek to a kitchen that was always a little too hot for his taste on the other side of the world, far removed from dance studios and the lively roads that mapped London’s south-eastern quarter – from everything and everyone he had come to hold dear – he was facing the broken remains of their friendship face-to-face. Though he’d long come to terms with the fact that his future as a dancer was now a far off dream, he would never be courageous enough to face Jongin. Because while dreams could fade and be replaced, pieces of his heart lost to Jongin’s smiles between each drop of rain couldn’t be recovered. (And he didn’t want to recover them anyway. Some part of him still believed that Jongin owned those pieces more than he did.)

“The first thing in the morning after that, I went straight to your dorm room and can you imagine my surprise upon finding it empty? And that, when asking around, every fucking body knew that you decided to drop out because your family was having financial issues? Everyone except me! What the hell, Yixing?!”

Yixing winced when the other man spat out his name, voice cracking at the end at the sudden rise of his voice. The girls at the other table gasped aloud and Jongin turned on them with a malicious glare that sent them running. When they vanished out the door, Jongin slumped back into his chair, as if all the energy that had fuelled him for the past seven years had left him in one breath so that all that was left was bitterness in his mouth.

“I know that we were just kids and telling me probably wouldn’t have changed anything but I thought I was your friend – maybe even... You could have at least called me after you moved. But I got nothing. For seven years, I got nothing.”

They didn’t speak for a moment, both gathering their own thoughts and reigning in turbulent emotions. When Yixing finally did speak, their drinks were cold and forgotten.

“I wanted to call you. Many, many times, actually.” He admitted, watching Jongin raise his head to eye him warily. “But when I dial your number, I chicken out at the last digit. I guess I was scared... that you’d hate me because I broke our promise. And I was scared of wanting what I couldn’t have - scared that my resolve to help my parents in Korea would break the moment I heard your voice on the other line.” He paused, stopping whatever other dangerous words that could have fallen out with a small smile. “But look at how far you’ve come all on your own! See, I told you you’d become a great dancer!”

“It’s because you said I would be, so I tried my best to make it come true.” Yixing was left speechless as he watched Jongin smile to himself. “It was my own naiveté telling me that maybe you’d remember and try to find me.”

“I never forgot anything.”

Jongin smiled at him tentatively. He licked his lip, like he was about to say something, but the buzz of his phone in his pocket stopped his words at his throat. He peeked at his phone briefly and, with a sigh, stood from his seat and dumped a handful of bills, far more that either of their neglected drinks were worth but neither were really paying attention, onto the table.

“I have to go… I have an appointment…”

Yixing nodded, shuffling to his feet after him. “I’ll go out with you. I have something to attend to as well.”

They moved outside the café, where people were already starting on their way home, and turned to each other with awkward smiles and toes on edge.

“It was really nice seeing you again. We should… meet again, maybe?”

“If you still have the same email, I’ll send you my number.”

Yixing nodded and turned to leave with a timid wave when the gentle call of his name, just as he remembered in his memories, stopped him in his tracks. He turned back to see Jongin rubbing at his neck, the same awkward kid peeking through the polished exterior.

“That night… that… did that mean anything…?”

Yixing regarded the man before him wordlessly, watching him drop his gaze to his feet the moment their eyes met but even that brief instant was enough for both to see the glimmer of hope in each of their eyes. He took a step forward and the spark of static when he brushed their fingers together to enclose around the tips of Jongin’s, and the gentle pressure those same fingers returned, were enough of an answer for both of them.

-

“Yixing, is that you? What are you doing here?”

Yixing smiled sheepishly as Baekhyun approached, decked out in a stud-covered stage outfit and perfectly coiffed hair. While it was a little strange to see him dressed that way, he couldn’t help but be in awe at how well Baekhyun suited it, like it was a second skin, while he felt too small in his own prepared outfit.

“I got a job as a back dancer today.” He could practically feel the flush creep up on his face when Baekhyun’s expression shifted to that of surprise. “It’s a one-time thing as a favour to someon-”

“I’m glad for you!” Somehow Yixing found himself folded into Baekhyun’s arms. When they pulled apart, he could see the pride and sincerity in Baekhyun’s eyes and felt himself flush further. “I’m really glad you didn’t give up on your dream entirely. You’re too good to let that talent go to waste.”

“Thanks.”

“So what are you dancing for?”

“The special stage to promote that new musical.”

Baekhyun’s eyes twinkled knowingly under carefully drawn eyeliner. “Ah. Kai’s musical.”

Yixing nodded, failing to hide to unconscious curl of his lips upward.

“He’s nice.” Baekyun said with a deliberate smile. “Different from that playboy image he seems to have. I never thought that was your type though.” Yixing laughed. “But, if I’m not mistaken, he hasn’t gotten together with another girl since Krystal. That’s got to be a record.”

Before Yixing could react to his words, a staff member came around the corner and gestured at Baekhyun hurriedly. With a laugh and an encouraging pat to the shoulder, Baekhyun rushed away, leaving Yixing alone in the hallway. He checked his own watch and started down in the opposite direction after a deep breath.

Each step seemed to transform the plain white walls of the broadcast studio’s hallways into walls covered in aged wallpaper and photographs of a petite English woman he still had never met. At the end of the hallway, he could practically see the familiar attic door and he smiled to himself.

Finally, the storm had broken.
Tags: postings, summer 2013
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