Music: Epica - Presto
Title: Under the Big Top
Pairing: Sehun/Luhan, maybe some Tao/Kris and Baekhyun/Chanyeol. Oh and a really bittersweet cameo made by Suju's Leeteuk
Word Count: 12,500+
Summary: Sehun runs away to join the latest touring circus show, EXO.
Important Things to Note: Pertinent Juggling Vocabulary…(these are all juggling tricks I mention)
Flash – Okay I lied. A flash is sort of a sample of juggling. It’s used when you are learning to juggle a certain number. For example, if you are trying to juggling five balls a flash is catching exactly five throws. Before trying to flash five balls, you would want to make sure you can flash four. (Throw four balls in a five ball pattern and catch them all again.) It’s not really a trick xD
Box- A trick where you throw the balls in a pattern that WOW look like a box (this kid will show you an example http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qEmM_TzLY
Shower – A trick where you throw the balls in a pattern that AWKWARD looks like a shower. HA, some people think this is how you are supposed to juggle, but it is actually a trick. (this time a little boy with GLOWING BALLS will show you http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mG15Qra2h
Mills Mess – Another trick where it looks really complicated (not actually) but it’s cool. (ANOTHER REFERENCE http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oE2qI5uTb
A 5 up 360 – This is just an example. It doesn’t have to be five objects, but the idea is you throw everything you are juggling high in the air while you spin (pirouette) underneath them and continue juggling when they fall down. If you are juggling 5 things, a four up 360 is the same thing except that you keep one item in your hand (it’s easier than doing all five in pattern).
High Lows – this might not be a trick, but it’s alternating heights of each throw. One high, one low. I guess it looks cool :P
Pancakes – This is a trick you do with rings only. Instead of rings normally you throw them so they flip in the air. It apparently looks like you’re flipping pancakes (it’s a really cool trick so I got the best juggler in the world, Anthony Gatto to show you what it should look like http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5m_Oggrkr
Important Circus Vocab…
The Big Top – The highest/biggest tent where the circus show takes place…people also call it the Grand Chateau
Power Track – I tried to explain it in the fic, but just in case I didn’t do a good job THIS is one of the coolest circus acts there is (in my opinion) so see it from the best. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eP6AJXprO
Wheel of Death – the coolest circus act ever. Extremely dangerous, but I saw it live and it was incredible. It’s in the Cirque du Soleil show Kooza J http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pKFAly6G5
“531, 532, 533, 534-” A loud bell interrupted his concentration and the seven orbs previously in the air crashed to the ground with multiple displeasing thuds.
“534 catches…That’s got to be a new personal record.” Sehun muttered to himself as he made his way down the long corridor towards the dining room. Hordes of children poured out of the adjoining rooms and tumbled over each other in an effort to race to dinner. Sehun walked briskly down the hall, always a few heads taller than most of the other children in the orphanage. He could see that the headmistress was not scowling yet.
Plop. Murky sludge slightly resembling stew now covered the bottom of his bowl. Sehun sat down at the end of the long dining table and was immediately accosted by one of his younger bunk mates.
“Hey do you think we have a chance of seeing the circus this week?” The little boy asked, eyes wide.
“I don’t know Haku. Those signs have been driving me mad too.” Sehun replied wearily. They could all see the brightly colored signs advertising that the circus was in town. And it wasn’t just any circus; it was Cirque Du Soleil’s most famous touring show EXO. They were all dying to see it.
“I’ll ask the Head Mistress again.”
After he had rinsed and dried his empty bowl, Sehun approached the stern faced Head Mistress. The younger boys craned their heads, anxious to see the confrontation.
“Head Mistress, is there any chance we will be able to see the circus this week? You may know that this is the Cirque’s final week in our town.” he asked politely.
The Head Mistress fixed her cold gaze on his face and replied, “No. We don’t have any time to visit such things.”
“But Madame, some of the boys have never seen a circus before and it is their dream to-”
“My answer is final,” she snapped and averted her eyes back to an old newspaper headline that read: The Time to Act is now as the Human Lifespan Decreases to 62!
Sehun exhaled loudly as he returned to his place at the end of the table. “Sorry guys, she said no and you all know what happens when we beg so I would leave this one alone,” he grimaced.
“Awww man! What if they never come again! You know they never visit our town often!” the boys cried out in despair.
“I know.” Sehun whispered and looked away. Soon enough he found himself back in his dark room, staring at the inviting signs miles away. After finishing his basic schooling he wondered if there was any chance of him receiving any further education at all. What if there was no way out? No family ever wanted to claim an eighteen year old boy. The oldest he’d ever seen adopted successfully was age eight and he was certainly past that. Sehun frowned and stared out the window a whiles longer.
Night had fallen long ago and around three in the morning Sehun still lay awake. Images of the circus danced before his eyes for hours. He was lucky enough to have seen a circus show when he was seven, back when the economic times were a little better. He remembered the clowns, the unicycle act, and the juggler. Ever since he saw that show he had been inspired to juggle. Sehun learned the hard way that certain objects served as better props than others, when a ceramic figurine smashed into a thousand pieces when he missed a catch. His hand slowly traced the welts along his back. He had received a few too many belt slaps when he was younger.
Since those days Sehun picked up juggling with relative ease, starting with three objects and quickly moving to four then five. A smile emerged on his face as he remembered that apples were indeed the best juggling prop he had come across. A snicker escaped his lips as he recalled the time when he kept those apples in his socks for so long that they rotted into the fabric. Another belt slap for that one.
Suddenly, Sehun sat up with such force he hit his head on the base of the bed above him. Rubbing the spot with his hand, he dressed in his finest clothes (a t shirt with talking waffles on it and dark jeans with minimal stains) and looked out the window again. This time he was going to do it. He was going to leave.
Sehun stuffed his pack with as many apples and oranges he could find in the kitchen along with his minimal possessions. His pack was lumpy and awkward, but still closed easily enough. He undid the screws holding the screen in place and gently pushed the window open. It was quite a ways down, (his room happened to be on the upper floor) but it was manageable. He was about to jump when he heard the soft tread of footsteps coming his way. Sehun dropped to the floor and held his breath.
He saw bare feet standing just a few feet away, but he could recognize those toes anywhere. Shifting his weight onto his legs, Sehun pounced on the unsuspecting victim and caught him before he hit the ground.
“Wah!” Haku let out a muffled cry. “Sehun!” He smiled, “What are you doing?”
“I’m leaving,” Sehun laughed as Haku struggled in his tight grip.
“No! Take me with you!” The little boy pleaded.
“Not while you still have a chance to be adopted. You’re still young, who knows, maybe you’ll be adopted tomorrow.” Sehun whispered encouragingly.
“Humph. Yea right, like any family wants someone who’s allergic to all dairy and wheat,” he sniffled.
“Don’t lose hope. That’s only allowed when you’re my age.” Sehun said firmly. He put a finger to his lips as he cautiously made his way to the open window. “You won’t forget me will you?”
“Of course not!” Haku smiled.
“Take care.” And with that he leaped into the air, a cold breeze slapping him in the face sending shivers down his spine. Sehun landed in a pile of leaves outside and with a final wave to the window above he turned to walk towards the distant lights of the circus tent ahead.
The first rays of sunlight began to emerge just as Sehun arrived at the famous yellow and blue striped tent. Eyes barely open, he fumbled around until he found his way through a back entrance and into the back stage area.
“So far so good,” he whispered to himself, examining the decor. There were protective mats, harnesses, huge metal clips, and equipment everywhere. As long as I don’t trip, I’ll be fine he thought to himself as he carefully made his way to another door. He placed his numb fingers on the handle and pulled. It didn’t budge. Sehun twitched at the sight of a challenge and raised his foot in order to smash the door when-
“HEY!” a voice screamed. Sehun felt his body make hard contact with the floor as another body rolled with him across the floor. A boy with jet black hair and an extremely strong grip quickly had him pinned to the ground.
“What do you think you’re doing?” The boy said, cold gaze fixed on Sehun’s shocked face.
“Uhhh I’m investigating!” He stammered, frantically peering about. His eyes caught sight of a whiteboard with a list of each act of the show, but one of them was crossed out. The wheel of death?
“I’m here for the wheel of death! I’m your new replacement!” Sehun stated, gaining his confidence.
“Huh, very funny. That act was removed because it was too dangerous genius. Try again!” The cold gaze hardened.
“Tao, what are you doing?” Another voice called. Sehun raised his head to find an extremely tall man striding towards them.
“I caught this kid sneaking around. He was about to break a door down…” The tall guy crouched down next to them, brows furrowed in a vexing “v”.
“Kid. What were you thinking?” he inquired, “You don’t belong here.”
“But I do!” Sehun raised his voice, “I completely belong here! I need to join the circus! I-” but the tall guy placed his hand over his mouth.
“What should we do, Kris?” The dark haired boy asked. “If you don’t suggest something I’m going to punch this guy in the face for trespassing.”
“Relax. We should probably take him to the director. I don’t know how he’ll react this early in the morning, but it’s worth a shot.” Kris shrugged. Together they picked up the struggling Sehun and made their way out of the tent. A few minutes later, and a couple more turns than Sehun could remember they arrived at the door of an apartment.
Kris removed his hand from Sehun’s face and knocked on the door. Almost immediately they heard a bolt unlatch and a new face opened the door.
“Good morning Director. Sorry to bother you before eight, but we found this guy sneaking around backstage. We were going to throw him out before he said that he wanted to join the circus. We thought it would be better for you to decide.” Kris explained.
The Director turned his head from Kris to Tao and finally to Sehun. “Alright, bring him in.” he gestured, opening the door wide. They dropped Sehun into a chair, but otherwise remained standing. The Director took the seat adjacent to him and dismissed the others.
“So kid, what’s your name?” The director asked kindly.
“Sehun. Oh Sehun if you must.”
“And Sehun why do you want to join the circus?”
“Because I’m a really good juggler and I have nowhere else to go.”
“No parents? Friends?” he asked with his eyebrows raised.
“Nope. Parents gave me away almost immediately after I was born because they were too busy to take care of me.” He paused. “And, I guess my only friends remain at the orphanage….”
“I see. And Sehun, what is your extraordinary skill that you feel will add to our cirque.”
“I’m a juggler. I really good juggler,” he stated adamantly.
“Well I guess I can’t see you perform right now, you look awful.”
Sehun stopped himself before he could respond. Do I really look that bad? He thought. Crap, that’s awkward….
The door suddenly opened and a boy with dainty features took a few steps in, but he stopped short.
“Oh, Director I’m sorry. I knocked, but I guess no one heard.” He waved the papers in his hand
“Uh, anyway I was just going to leave these sheets with you, I wanted to make a few changes to the song from the balancing act…ok. I’m sorry, I’ll leave now-”
“Luhan,” the Director called, “Hold on a moment.” The boy looked surprised, but waited quietly by the door.
“Tell you what.” The Director said, turning back to Sehun, “You can rest here for a while and when you wake up you can perform for me. If I see you have what I’m looking for, you’re in.”
Sehun nodded, “Thank you.”
“Luhan!” The Director called again.
“Yes?” His voice was sweet.
“Please take Sehun back to Leeteuk’s old room. It should be empty by now.”
“Sure.” He nodded.
The walk was relaxed and quiet. They soon arrived at a seemingly arbitrary door, 8C.
“Here you are,” Luhan grinned, “8C. If you need anything I’m right next door in 7C.”
“Thanks,” Sehun smiled. He opened the door and without another thought, fell asleep on top of the neatly made bed.”
Exactly 9.3 hours later, Sehun awoke to the sound of music playing. It was distant but the thump of the bass was clearly audible. He stood up, washed his face and slowly made his way out the door. After walking down the hall for a minute or so, Sehun realized he was following someone. That someone was decently tall, slender, and had dyed golden hair. Wait, is that the guy who showed me to my room earlier…what was his name again? He thought for a moment when it came to him.
“Luhan!” He called.
The boy in front of him turned, “Hey, Sehun! You’re finally awake. Hope you slept well. Anyway, the Director said that he’ll meet you in the practice tent for an audition. You probably don’t know where that is….” He trailed off. “It’s alright, I’ll take you there!”
They weaved in and out of many similar rooms full of scattered faces.
“Hey, um Luhan?” Sehun asked randomly.
“I was just wondering….How old is the Director? He looks really young.”
“Oh,” he laughed softly, “He’s only 21! A year younger than me, but never underestimate his judgment. His grandfather was the founder of the Cirque Du Soleil and his father is the director of some of our other well known touring shows like Super Junior and SHINee. His name is Suho, but everyone calls him the Director out of respect.” Sehun nodded attentively.
“He’s pretty much a genius at everything and has a strong background in every circus discipline.” Luhan stated seriously. “But don’t worry,” he smiled, “I’m sure you’ll do great! Suho told me you’re a juggler. That’s fantastic! We haven’t had a brilliant juggler for quite a few years now….Well good luck!”
Sehun hadn’t even noticed they had arrived. The practice tent was much smaller than the Big Top, but that was to be expected. This tent had rows of various props along the sides and machines and a low tightrope in the corner. The rest was empty space with a very high ceiling, perfect for juggling.
He turned just in time to see Luhan waving as he walked away. Sehun smiled and returned his attention to the rest of the tent. He was just about to begin exploring when a tap on the shoulder stopped him in his tracks.
“Great, you’re here!” the Director grinned. “Now show me what you’ve got.”
Sehun almost blurted out, “Oh shit I forgot my apples back in the room,” but ended up giving the Director a blank stare.
“We have juggling props over on the far side,” the Director prompted, pointing with his left hand.
Sehun made his way over to a promising cart which had sleek rings hanging on a rack and sparkling clubs in the pockets. He looked in the largest pocket and found a whole pile of brightly colored stage balls. His eyes widened as his fingers ran across the smooth vinyl surface. Glancing back at the Director, Sehun started to juggle three balls in one hand, quickly adding two more. His head arched back, concentrating on the five orbs cascading through the air.
“I’ll give you minute to warm up,” the Director announced as he wandered over to help another artist who had appeared at the entrance.
Sehun didn’t even notice; he was completely entranced by this new juggling experience. The stage balls, designed for professional jugglers, had a sticky grip and were the perfect size for his hands. It had been almost four minutes and he hadn’t dropped a single one, even when he switched to seven.
A minute went by…probably two and Sehun was still laughing to himself, performing various tricks from a seven ball shower to throwing alternate catches behind his back. It was too easy. No lumpy shapes, no stems to avoid, nothing like the apples he had used all these years. He heard the Director clear his throat and Sehun dropped the orbs back into his arms.
He smiled, “Show me your skills.”
“Of course,” Sehun smirked. He gauged the distance between him and the cart with the props before he started, already having an ending in mind. Starting out with five balls, Sehun did a variety of tricks starting with a shower, then a four up 360 and he even threw in a complicated mills mess. The Director nodded in approval when Sehun kicked up the stage balls lying at his feet right into the ongoing five ball cascade. Now juggling seven balls, he put a smirk on his face as he pulled off some difficult tricks like a seven up 360, some high lows, and a series of throws from behind the back. Casting a quick glance to the cart, he ended by throwing all the stage balls back into the cart behind him one by one. Once his hands were empty, Sehun grinned and did a quick bow.
The Director laughed and clapped his hands. “Wonderful! That was quite a routine. Well Sehun, I won’t keep you in suspense. Congratulations, you’ve made it into Cirque Du Soleil!”
A huge smile appeared on Sehun’s face as he did a small victory dance. “Thank you, Director.”
“No thank you for putting in the effort to become this skilled at your discipline. Can you also juggle clubs or rings?”
“No, I couldn’t really find anything similar enough to practice with back at…home.”
“That’s alright, but I suggest you learn quickly. Stage balls are entertaining for a while, but the crowd always loves shiny objects they can see from far away. Clubs are real eye catchers,” he pointed out.
“I’ll get right on it. And thanks again.”
The Director smiled and gracefully showed himself out. Now alone, Sehun turned to the stack of rings hanging from the cart. He threw a few into the air and watched how some flew straight up while others spun diagonally and fell out reach. It wasn’t long before he could juggle three and then five; the only difference was the hand position he had to use to catch them. Although his eyes could only catch the slivers of each ring as they fell back into his hands, he knew from the sides the audience could see the large flat parts of the ring he could not. 'Hmm, I guess that’s what the Director was talking about' Sehun thought to himself.
Once he was able to flash seven rings without fail, Sehun decided it was time to switch to clubs. Starting out with just one, he tossed the club back and forth between his hands, making sure it rotated once each pass. It was easy enough, but when he added another he cringed every time they collided in the air and tumbled to the ground. Not one to give up, Sehun narrowed his eyes and kept at it.
A few artists came and left the practice tent, but Sehun’s eyes never left the spinning clubs above his head. He had just caught five in a row when a voice interrupted him.
“Hey that was better.”
Sehun turned to find Luhan leaning on a wall nearby.
“How long have you been standing there?” he asked, almost embarrassed.
“Oh not long. Maybe three or four minutes, but I’ve seen you progress. You’ve been in here for hours, let’s get something to eat.”
Sehun nodded and quickly put away the clubs that lay scattered across the floor. He hadn’t realized how hungry he was until his second bowl of food sat empty on the table.
Luhan’s eyes widened, “Guess you were hungry after all.”
Sehun smiled sheepishly, “I guess so.”
“Hey well if you’re still here, you must have passed the audition. How’d it go?”
“Good.” He replied, “Great actually. The professional equipment really helps. I’ve never done so many tricks without dropping at least once. It felt great.”
“Nice! I knew you would do well,” he smiled pleasantly. “But, you’ve really never used professional equipment before? How did you practice?”
“Oh, I used apples actually.”
Luhan laughed, “Didn’t have any juggling stores nearby? Well, I guess they aren’t very common.”
“Mhm… Yea there weren’t any stores in my town so I used apples all these years.”
“Effective. Oh, I guess the cafeteria is closing,” he observed as people filed out of the room. “We should leave.”
Together they slowly made their way back to the apartment rooms.
“Well if you need anything, I’m right next door. Oh, and if you get hungry again you’re in luck! My fantastic roommate can cook up a storm so just knock.” Luhan offered.
“Thank you, I might just take you up on the offer sometime,” he smiled.
“Wonderful. Well, good night!”
“Good night.” Sehun finished, glancing back as Luhan went inside room 7C. Opening the door to his own room, he decided to take a shower given that he wasn’t yet sleepy. The warm water gushed over his face, pushing his hair into his eyes. Sehun was shocked to find bruises on the joints in his fingers and on his forearms. He sighed into the soothing shower and stared at his hands.
“Probably from the clubs,” he mused.
Wrapping a towel around his waist, he went over to the small window in the room and sat on the sill. Gazing out at the lights beneath, Sehun admired the beauty of the twinkling shop signs and the buildings around him.
“Finally, I get a good view from my window,” he smiled gently. As night crept over the town and the streetlights left as the sole protectors of the streets, Sehun made his way over to his bed and snuggled into the soft sheets; asleep in an instant.
He awoke to a quiet knocking at the door.
“Sehun,” a voice called. “It’s Luhan.”
Sunlight streaming through the window, Sehun jumped up to unbolt the door.
“Hey what is it,” he answered.
Luhan’s mouth stood ajar as he realized Sehun was shirtless. “Uh,” quickly pressing his lips together, “The Director wanted you to see him. He says he needs to get you fitted for a costume.”
“Sure, where is he?”
“Probably down stairs in the props room…It’s another room down from the practice tent.”
“Ok, thanks for letting me know.” Sehun was about to leave when he realized he was only wearing a pair of boxers. “Uh Luhan?”
“Yea?” he turned around.
“Could I borrow something to wear for a bit? My set of clothes is dirty.”
“Um sure!” Luhan nodded.
Following him back into room 7C, Sehun noticed that Luhan’s room was very neat and organized.
“Hey D.O!” Luhan called, “Come meet Sehun!”
They heard a clamoring of noises escape the bathroom as quite a few things fell of the counter. A door slide open and a boy with a very confused look stepped out the bathroom in a robe.
“Oh hi!” He extended his hand smiling.
“Hey, I’m Sehun.”
“I’m D.O, I’m one of the singers here at EXO,” he grinned.
“And I’m the other,” Luhan reminded him from across the room.
“Cool. I’m a juggler. Just made it into the cirque yesterday.”
“Very nice! I’m excited to see you perform,” he nodded. “Well, catch you later.” He called, rushing back to the bath which had just started to overflow.
“Here you go.”
Sehun turned to see Luhan holding out a pair of clothes to him.
“Hopefully they’ll fit you,” he added. “And you better run. You shouldn’t make the Director wait for you.”
“Right. Thanks again!” Sehun yelled racing out of the room, pile of clothes still in hand. He ran down the stairs turned left at the cafeteria and raced through the backstage of the Big Top. He received many bewildered looks as he ran and noticed that he was still wearing only a pair of boxers. Wonderful first impression he thought, pushing his legs to go even faster.
Screeching to halt at the props room, he opened the door completely breathless.
“Great, thank you for making it on time.” The Director turned to face him. “And you’ve even stripped down, very prepared.”
Sehun gave him a strange look.
“I’m measuring your body…It has to be exact so your costume can fit well. So I would have asked you to take your clothes off anyway.” The Director laughed, ruffling Sehun’s hair.
He pulled out a measuring tape and in a very professional manner, recorded every dimension of Sehun’s body on a chart. After a few minutes he looked at his clipboard, satisfied look on his face.
“Thank you. You’re free to go.”
Sehun nodded and returned to the main floor of the practice tent. Before embarrassing himself yet again, he remembered to put on the clothes Luhan let him borrow earlier. Pulling on a pair of athletic shorts and a sleeveless shirt he returned to the area with the juggling props which was, of course, completely vacant.
With bare feet Sehun had to be careful not to drop any clubs too close to his body, no one wanted to have their toes smashed by such nice looking clubs. Eyes narrowed in determination, he spent the next 3 hours nailing three club patterns. When he felt his stomach growl Sehun reluctantly put the clubs away and quickly returned to the cafeteria.
After serving himself two bowls piled high with noodles he scanned the room in search of Luhan. He felt a hand on his shoulder and nearly dropped his tray when Luhan appeared behind him balancing his tray in one hand.
“Hey. Where do you want to sit?” His smile was genuine and it gave Sehun a shiver.
“Um,” turning his head wildly, “There!” He pointed with his left hand as he felt one of his bowls of noodles fall off his tray. In a flash Sehun grabbed the bowl still upright and placed it back on his tray.
“Wow. Fast reflexes.” Luhan admired.
Sehun shrugged. “Probably from all the juggling. I don’t like letting things fall.”
They made their way over to a corner table and sat down across from each other. Chopsticks never seeming to leave his face, Sehun finished his first bowl before Luhan had even made a dent in his own.
“Sooo,” Luhan started. “Adjusting well to the circus life yet?”
“Yea. It hasn’t been long, but I’m definitely enjoying my time here if that’s what you’re asking.”
“Great. Just wait until you start traveling with us, then you’ll love it! Nothing to tie you down, everywhere to go, and doing what you love to do every day.”
“Sounds like you can get pretty close to the people around you…”
“When you’ve been here as long as I have, you really start to act like a family; I’ve known most of these artists for years. Being this close for so long I know that we would all go to extremes to protect our family.”
“Hm, I guess I see how that would work,” he replied, eyeing the one named Tao as he exited the room.
“Hey, you haven’t met most of the cast yet! Here, I’ll introduce you as we take a walk.” Luhan said, rising from his chair.
“Oh we can start here,” he said smiling as they approached a nearby table. “Hey guys have you met Sehun yet?”
“Nope, hey I’m Kai,” the boy grinned, casually waving a hand in the air.
“Hi I’m Xiumin,” another with chubby cheeks added.
“And I’m Lay,” the third added, extending his hand, “Pleased to meet you.”
“Cool. Yea I’m Sehun. I’m a juggler…What acts are you guys in?”
“Xiumin and I do power track.” Kai offered. Sehun gave him a questioning look.
“It’s basically a long stretch of trampoline that you gain speed along then do tricks at the end. You have to see it live.” Xiumin stated.
“And I’m a tightrope walker.” Lay smiled.
“Pshhh, the odd one out,” Kai whispered.
Xiumin snickered and gave Lay a pat on the shoulder. Lay tried to retort, as Luhan and Sehun silently slipped away.
Continuing their quest to formally meet everyone, Luhan led Sehun to the practice tent to see if anyone had an early lunch. They found a boy walking back and forth on the low tightrope in the corner. Luhan snuck around to the side and was about to blurt out something, but they boy beat him to it.
“Hi Luhan!” He smiled.
“Hey, how’d you know it was me?” He said crestfallen.
“Haha, I heard you come in! And someone else too,” he said, glancing up from his feet. The boy giggled childishly to himself, “Oh. You’re the one I saw running around this morning.”
“You saw that? Huh, well I’m wearing clothes now…” Sehun stated awkwardly.
After walking along the rope backwards a few times, the boy lightly hopped down and extended a hand.
“Hi, I’m Chen.”
“Cool and you’re a…”
“Juggler,” he finished. “And I can see you’re a tightrope walker.”
“Yup,” he giggled again. “Well it’s nice to meet you. Hey and if you guys see Lay, can you tell him he takes too long to eat. I’ve been here for half an hour already.”
“Sure thing,” Luhan replied as they left him to practice in peace.
With the cafeteria now empty, they wandered through the backstage area to find two more artists.
Sehun stopped completely stunned as he watched the tall guy from earlier flip twice off a swinging trapeze and catch the bar safely. He dangled from his legs daringly until he realized their presence.
“Oh, hi there,” he said still hanging from a foot. “Ha, give me a moment…” Once sitting upright on the trapeze, he signaled for the boy on the ground to lower the swing to the floor. Safely on the ground the two figures approached them.
“Hey, I’m Kris. I would shake your hand, but I’m a little sweaty,” he grinned and wiped his face with a towel. He nudged the dour boy beside him to introduce himself.
“Sorry. Hi, I’m Tao,” the boy extended his arm.
“Hey I’m Sehun….I remember we met earlier.”
Kris laughed, “Yes. I can see that you’re still here which means your audition went well. I’ll be looking forward to seeing your act.”
“Me too. I mean your act. It looked really cool from what I just saw.”
Kris shrugged, “Thanks.”
“Hey now that you’re officially one of us, I’m sorry for what I did earlier.” Tao deadpanned.
“It’s fine. Luhan told me about the protective family thing. You did what you had to do,” he nodded.
A smile crept onto Tao’s face, “I’m glad you understand.”
“We should probably leave. You guys have practicing to do.” Luhan smiled sweetly.
“That’s right; the last big rehearsal is just a week away!” Kris stated.
They turned to exit when Sehun called out, “Tao, I almost forgot! What’s your discipline?”
“Hand balancing. You’ll see it in the big rehearsal,” he smirked.
Once out of earshot Sehun turned to Luhan, “Hand balancing, is it weird? Why wouldn’t he show me?”
“He’s probably just messing with you,” he smiled. “It’s also relatively new for him. Tao recently switched disciplines. He used to be a wushu specialist before he joined EXO.”
“Why did he switch?”
“Well it was a bit of a reckless art that didn’t necessarily have a place in the show. He injured himself enough times that Suho told him to switch. He already had the muscle build it required, so hand balancing wasn’t too difficult for him to learn.”
“I see,” Sehun absorbed.
“Hmm, I think the only ones that you haven’t met are Chanyeol and Baek-”
“LOOK OUT BELOWWWWW!”
They looked up in shock to see a boy at the top of the stairs bouncing down on a unicycle.
“WHEEEEEEE!” he giggled on each step. “C’MOM CHANYEOL!” Not far behind, another boy with a clown nose slid down the banister to meet him at the base.
“That was fun!” the shorter one laughed. “Hey!” he turned as he noticed the others. “Did you guys see that?”
Luhan and Sehun both nodded their heads.
“It was so cool! You guys should try it!” He exclaimed, pushing the unicycle towards them.
Sehun was speechless, but Luhan managed a, “Not this time,” and politely shook his head.
The taller one with the nose appeared behind Sehun and put his clown nose on him. “Have you at least figured out who we are yet?” His smile was huge.
Sehun opened his mouth to reply when the two stood side by side and yelled, “WE’RE THE BAEKHYUN AND CHANYEOL UNICYCLE DUO WITH CLOWN INTERACTIONS ACT!”
“That’s what I was going to say,” Sehun pulled off smoothly, running a hand through his hair.
“You’re smart boy without clothes,” the unicycle boy laughed.
“He’s wearing clothes Baekhyun,” the clown commented.
“Not this morning he wasn’t! I saw him run through the cafeteria in his underwear!” Baekhyun beamed.
Suddenly recognizing their presence once again they took a few steps closer and introduced themselves.
“Hi! I don’t actually know your real name, but I’m Baekhyun!”
“I’m Sehun, I’m a juggler.”
“Cooool, Hey I’m Chanyeol,” his voice was surprisingly deep. “You can keep the clown nose by the way. It suits you!”
“Don’t you need it?”
“Are you kidding, I have so many there must be a few falling out of my ears by now.” He ruffled his shoulder length hair and sure enough a folded red material fell to the ground. He stooped to pick it up, “Yup. I really don’t need anymore,” he grinned.
“Well we should probably be heading off now. The Director wanted us to try a new trick in the practice tent.”
“But there’s only one way we can leave you now...and that is”
“IN STYLE,” they said in unison. At this prompt, Baekhyun leaped on top of Chanyeol’s broad shoulders as they mounted the unicycle.
“See you later alligator!” Chanyeol teased.
After their boisterous encounter the room seemed awfully quiet without them.
“Well that’s everyone given that you’ve met the Director, me and my roommate. Oh wow.” Luhan glanced at his watch. “It’s already two p.m, I have singing rehearsal with the tightrope walkers. I’ll see you later.” He playfully squeezed the clown nose on Sehun’s face then quickly departed to the Big Top.
“See you!” Sehun called after him. The clown nose, now deflated, tickled his face so he folded it up and put it in his pocket. The rest of the day was free for juggling so he headed to the practice tent to nail the four club pattern.