It’s just two clubs in one hand...You have to throw a lot higher because they have to spin once…leave more horizontal space between the clubs, then they won’t collide…ok now in the left hand…1,2,3 shit…again…practice makes perfect…
The thoughts in Sehun’s head both mocked him and encouraged him to continue. Once he could successfully catch two clubs 20 times per hand, he decided it was time to try them together. Synchronous pattern first, but it only lasted nine catches. It seemed as if the clubs had a tendency to be near each other because they always collided in the middle. Sehun wanted to yell, “DAMMIT, I KNOW YOU GUYS ARE FRIENDS AND ALL BUT STAY AWAY FROM EACH OTHER FOR A MOMENT, I NEED COOPERATION HERE!” but he refrained. He had already received bewildered looks from this morning, he didn’t need any more.
He took a short break and watched Baekhyun and Chanyeol try out their new trick under the Director’s scrutiny. Chanyeol did a kick flip to get on the unicycle first then after he went in a circle once, Baekhyun stepped on his feet as they continued moving. Slowly Baekhyun leaned further and further away from Chanyeol, arching his back, feet still on top of Chanyeol’s. The catch was that once he leaned back in, Chanyeol lifted him up and Baekhyun had to spin up and sit on his shoulder. That’s where they kept messing up. More than once Baekhyun fell to the ground, or kneed Chanyeol in the face, but they were both robust and continued until they got it right.
Motivated to try again, Sehun placed two clubs in each of his hands and looked up. Both in sync he watched the clubs spin above his head, 12, 13, 14, 15…he got to 45. He nearly smashed them to the floor he was so excited and turned as he heard a squeal of glee from behind him. He saw Baekhyun clapping his hands, proudly sitting on Chanyeol’s shoulder. The Director gave them some comments on how to improve and made his way over to Sehun, sketchbook in hand.
“Hey Sehun, I sketched a bit of your costume during lunch. I wanted to see how you like it so far.” He held up the page for him for him to see. The figure on the page was dressed in what looked like a sports jacket and tight slacks, but they were covered in what looked like fish scales. And his face…were those crazy eyebrows? Maybe eyelashes?
“I was thinking mirrors,” Suho added.
“Yea all the scale like things, in effect those will look like mirrors. Think of a disco ball.”
“Ok….are those my eyebrows?” He asked, pointing at the strange puffs around his eyes.
“No silly that’s your face paint. I was thinking red flares around the eyes and maybe streaks down your jaw line…I’m still not sure about that.”
“Oh,” he breathed a sigh of relief. “It looks great!”
“Fantastic, I’ll make sure it goes to production right away,” the Director smiled and glided from the room.
Sehun practiced until he could do 50 catches reliably then went to find Luhan for dinner. He wandered through the confusing arrangement of rooms until he found the main stage under the Big Top. There, Luhan and D.O were singing the song for the tightrope act as Lay and Chen ran back and forth on the rope, seemingly effortless. Sehun picked a back row seat in the audience and listened. After a few minutes of watching the tantalizing effects of the graceful tightrope walkers’ feet he tried to listen to the words of the song. Surprisingly, he could not understand a word.
Meh, it’s probably in a different language.
Once the rehearsal finished he saw Luhan coming toward him, warm smile as always.
“Hey what’d you think?”
“It was really cool, but I couldn’t understand what you were saying…Were you singing in a different language?” he asked as they sauntered to the cafeteria.
“Oh no, don’t you know? We don’t sing in any particular language, it’s gibberish!” he grinned.
“What? Nooo you’re pulling my leg.”
“No, if I wanted to pull your leg I would trip you first.” He laughed, “And if you want to be official, it’s called Cirquish. It’s a made up language created from bits and pieces from almost all languages be it English, Italian, Cantonese you name it!”
“And speaking of Cirquish, we need to figure out a song that goes with your act. Hey D.O!” he flagged his roommate down. “Come sit with us!” The boy made his way over with his trademark surprised look.
“Hey guys what’s up?”
“We need to create a song for Sehun’s act.”
“Cool, alright. Hmm,” he eyed Sehun from across the table. “Something that emits confidence…That’s probably what I’d go with.”
“Yea, yea something strong, but not too in your face.” They were both staring at him now as if there was an octopus on his face.
“What are you guys talking about?” Sehun asked miserably, “You’re giving me strange looks.”
“Oh sorry, we’re throwing words around that we think might describe you.” Luhan informed helpfully.
“Right, usually a song is based off the person’s attitude and the style of their act.” D.O added. “Since juggling is sort of rapid, I’m thinking the song would be fast.”
“And you always seem pretty confident in your skills, which is why I suggested something strong but not obnoxious.” Luhan smiled.
“Oh. Like electric violins!” Sehun gasped. “With lots of bass!”
The two paused for a moment before erupting in, “YEA THAT’S EXACTLY WHAT I WAS THINKING! THIS IS GOING TO BE AWESOME!” including high fives all around.
After a quick meal the three returned to Luhan and D.O’s room to figure out the mechanics on D.O’s laptop.
“It shouldn’t be too hard, for seem reason I have a lot of Epica on my computer.” D.O smiled.
“Alright. What sort of languages should we put in?” Luhan thought aloud.
“Spanish! You get to roll your R’s,” Sehun stuck out his tongue cheekily. “And Korean, you know background and all.”
“And Russian! Why not!” Luhan nodded excitedly. “Cool ok, now to write a poem.”
“A poem?” Sehun asked.
“Yea, usually I write a poem about the artist and the act. It can really be about anything, then D.O uses his computer magic to translate it word by word into the languages we suggested to make it incomprehensible by anyone!”
Luhan took out a pen and paper and sat on his bed, eyeing Sehun from across the room.
“Am I just supposed to stand here then? I feel useless.”
“Don’t worry. The song we are about to create is all about you, without you, there is no song. So really you’re doing all the work,” D.O rationalized.
Sehun crossed his arms and moved until he could look out the window. The sun was setting, coating the room in glorious shades of orange. He watched the sun fall deeper and deeper into the town until the sky went dark and the first stars sprinkled the sky.
“Finished!” Luhan called sweetly.
“Cool just hand it over and-”
“Wait!” Sehun interrupted. “I want to read it.”
“No! The whole point is that you don’t know what we’re saying.” Luhan replied.
“But you could have written that I’m a monster with weird eyebrows or something! I have to know!” He tried to close in on Luhan who was still lying on his bed. “Show meeee,” he reached out his hand, but tripped on an unseen cause and ended up falling on top of Luhan. They were at a strange angle and actually rolled off the bed, tumbling into a mess on the floor.
“Woah, are you guys ok?” D.O asked, peering around the edge of his bed.
Sehun’s eyes widened as he noticed Luhan’s face was only an inch away. The world seemed to stop. Sehun’s heart beat fast as he slowly peeled himself from Luhan’s body.
“Sorry,” he mumbled.
“It’s ok. I’m fine. Are you ok?”
“Phew alright let me see that poem then,” D.O reached out his hand. Luhan handed him the poem, sticking his tongue out at Sehun.
While D.O worked his computer magic, Luhan and Sehun decided to draw conjoined doodles where they folded a paper in half and each drew half of the doodle without looking at the other half. By the time D.O had finished mixing the translated words with the violin/drum line, Sehun and Luhan had created a chibi cat girl with pogo sticks as legs, an angry looking hamster with a mermaid tail, a little boy eating a popsicle with tyrannosaurus rex feet, and an astronaut centaur. They giggled like small children as they littered their drawings all over D.O’s laptop. He gave them a pseudo annoyed face and showed them the final edit of the song.
It was exactly what they had hoped for. Bright opening with the electric violins and fast drum beat, perfectly mixed with the soothing voices; it was intense, but not tense. After listening to it a few more times Sehun bid them a cheerful goodnight and headed back to his room next door. Sehun’s hands didn’t even look that bruised when he showered that night and he fell asleep with a smile on his face, dreams filled with pretty ponies and talking waffles.
He awoke to the sunlight streaming in through his window yet again. He really had to start remembering to close the curtains at night. Quickly dressing in his borrowed clothes he headed down to breakfast. Skipping the line for normal food Sehun headed to the end of the line and grabbed three bananas, juggling them in preparation for the clubs he would practice with later on.
He turned just in time to see the incoming banana and Luhan’s bright smile. He expertly changed into a four club pattern and added the extra banana with ease.
“Your practicing going well?”
“Yea,” he caught the bananas in his arms, “I just really need to put in the hours before the big rehearsal.”
“Alright, but you probably want to eat something better than those bananas for breakfast.” Luhan smiled.
“I’ll be fine.”
“Yup.” Luhan casually walked away.
Sehun grinned as he noticed Luhan left a muffin on the table for him anyway. He wolfed down the blueberry goodness in two bites and rushed to the practice tent, anxious to practice with the clubs. An impressive four hours later, he had tamed the five club beast and incorporated some tricks into his three and four club patterns. On his way to lunch he accidently bumped into the Director while walking behind him.
“Oh, Director! I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to-”
“It’s alright Sehun. I was actually looking for you anyway.” The Director smiled.
After serving themselves decent portions of polenta and savory chicken, the Director led him to a corner table near a window.
“Sehun I want to ask you how long you estimate your act to be right now,” he stated.
“Um probably six or seven minutes?”
“Ok, well can you try and aim for ten? That’s how long the previous time slot allowed.”
“And it should include the variety of specialties, balls, clubs, rings…”
“Ok. Just making sure you get the picture. This is going to be great.” Suho rose and patted him on the shoulder affectionately.
Sehun stared into the remains of the polenta on his plate. I have a week to become an expert on clubs and rings…I really do have a bad sense of judging time.
He spent the rest of the day in the practice tent, first with the basics of seven rings then to five clubs. When the clubs felt heavy he switched to learning different tricks with five rings. He was in the midst of learning the pancakes trick when he heard someone come in. He turned his head and missed the catch. The ring rolled away from him and stopped at the feet of the intruder.
“You know it’s already past eight o’ clock right?” Luhan stooped to pick up the lost ring, spinning it his hands.
“Oh. Really? I could have sworn it was only five.” Sehun returned his gaze. “I’ll only be a moment; I really have to nail this trick!”
“Ok then, I’ll be in my room if you need anything,” he mumbled and left the tent quietly.
Sehun thought it would only take him an hour, maximal two hours. No, it was midnight when he finally mastered the trick. Although it looked extremely cool, it didn’t look that great in the dark, especially when no one was there to see it. He groggily made his way back to his room when he realized he hadn’t eaten dinner. Remembering Luhan’s offer he gently knocked on door 7C.
“Hey, are you hungry or something?” Luhan smiled as his face appeared from behind the door.
“Yea just about.”
As he entered he noticed most of the room was dark where the only light on was above the limited kitchen space. There was a pot on the stove and a copy of The Da Vinci Code lying open beside it, cover side up.
“Were you waiting for me?” Sehun turned, eyebrows raised.
“What? No.” The boy looked away.
He snickered as he made his way to the pot on the stove. “What’s this?”
“D.O made a large quantity of some sort of soup. We have quite a lot left.”
“I see.” Sehun cocked his head to the side and stuck out his tongue. “So you were waiting for me.”
“Shut up. D.O’s trying to sleep.” Luhan slapped his arm gently.
They heated up the rest of the soup and eventually found themselves sitting on the floor of the main stage under the Big Top. The vast rows of seats in the audience seemed never ending and the tent ceiling stretched perpetually towards the dark night sky. It made Sehun feel very small.
“Do you ever get nervous performing on stage?”
The older boy shook his head.
“Yea. It actually has a lot to do with the audience. You might think that they are the ones to fear, that they are the ones who are going to laugh when you make a mistake. But they’re not. They are the ones that fuel your excitement. The show we perform, it’s all for them.”
Sehun stared out into the rows of seats before them, sipping his soup softly.
“I mean, think of it from a clown’s perspective,” he added, “They have to have an audience in order for their act to work. They directly interact with them at all times. A clown doesn’t have a purpose if there is no one to entertain…Why? Do you get nervous?” He turned his face to Sehun expectantly.
“No.” Sehun flashed a devilish smile. “I just wanted to hear what you had to say.”
“Why you little-” Luhan reached out to tweak Sehun’s ear, but the boy leaned out of reach.
In order to avoid the awkward mess from before they settled for lying on their backs, staring at the ceiling of the tent. The night crept on and they lay in silence.
Words were unnecessary.
The following days past in a blur. With the big rehearsal marking the end of the week, everyone’s scheduled practice hours raised considerably. The practice tent was almost always filled while the Director worked tirelessly under the stage lights, making final adjustments for each act. Sehun barely saw Luhan during the day, only during evening meal times. Despite their limited time to talk, they continued their friendly gestures: Luhan would leave bubble milk tea for Sehun in the afternoon and he would return the favor by leaving half of a doodle on Luhan’s dressing mirror for him to complete. Practicing 12 hours a day, Sehun rapidly improved in all areas of clubs, balls, and rings. He was able to juggle seven rings with decent confidence and improved his weak seven club routine. By the end of the week he noticed his biceps had noticeably toned and his club routines could last longer without any pain.
There was a knocking at the door.
“Sehun! We have 20 minutes ‘till the rehearsal starts, are you ready?”
“Almost! And it’s open!”
The handle clicked and Luhan walked into the room. He hesitated before sitting on the end of the lone bed, carefully pulling his cape to the side to avoid damage. He raised his head as Sehun walked out of the bathroom in his shorts, hair still wet from the shower.
“Hey.” He stopped and did a double take. “You get to wear a cape!” Sehun’s jaw dropped. “Gosh and I thought my costume was cool.”
Luhan let out a laugh, “I haven’t even seen your costume yet, so I can’t make any decisions.”
Sehun turned to rummage through his closet; his sparkly shirt should be in there somewhere. Suddenly he froze as he felt a delicate touch on his back.
“Are you ok?” Luhan asked quietly, fingers running down the pink scars on his back.
“I’m fine,” Sehun turned quickly, pulling the shirt from the closet. “Those are really old. I wouldn’t worry about them if I were you.”
Luhan met his gaze and held it, face creased with worry. “But how?”
Sehun stared him straight in the face, “I used to live in an orphanage…That’s how they punished us when we did something wrong.”
“I’m so sorry…I didn’t know.”
“It’s ok, you didn’t do anything wrong.” Sehun pulled on the reflective dress shirt, closing the buttons quickly.
“Well, you don’t know that…” Luhan said softly.
“Whether or not I have done anything wrong…” He sat down on the edge of the bed and pulled up his corduroy pant leg. Sehun did a sharp intake as the pant leg revealed a thick scar just above Luhan’s left knee. He lent forward and gently ran his fingers over the mangled dark skin.
“Did you have stitches?” He asked, eyes wide.
“I fell during a show.”
“What? Did you fall over the railing, what kind of song could you have been singing to-”
Luhan twisted his mouth into a smile, “I wasn’t always a singer Sehun….I used to be a tightrope walker.”
Sehun sat next to him, never breaking eye contact.
“I grew up at the circus. Once upon a time, everyone in my family was a tightrope walker. My parents taught me at a very young age on probably the same low rope we have the in the practice tent today. We had a group act, my parents, my older brother and I. One day my foot was in the wrong place and I overbalanced. I fell in front of over a thousand people, the rope cut my leg badly and there was blood everywhere. I was ten.”
“Wait there weren’t safety nets or anything to catch you?”
“No. The heavy poles holding the rope don’t allow enough space for a net. We always walk unguarded.”
“What happened next?”
“Well obviously I went to the hospital right after and they cancelled the show. It was a miracle the rope didn’t slice my leg clean through. Our tightropes have around 6,500 lbs of tension on them so it barely moves under our feet. Well to say the least I haven’t been on a tightrope ever since. My family moved to a different show to continue their act as three while Suho’s father found me a place in this show, EXO.”
“Wow…you don’t even limp.”
“Lots of physical therapy and enough stitches,” He flashed a smile.
They heard a thump and cries of glee from outside.
“Oh, Baekhyun is probably going down the stairs on his unicycle again.”
“We better get going. The clowns are always fashionably on time.”
They hurried their way to the Big Top and sat beside Baekhyun and Chanyeol, who were touching up their face paint while the Director gave a speech. Sehun observed the rest of the cast. Each artist was wearing a part of their full costume for the dress rehearsal. For example, Luhan and D.O were both wearing their golden capes. Lay and Chen both wore their special boots for tight rope walking while Baekhyun and Chanyeol fixed their face paint. Kai and Xiumin wore what looked like body suits under some normal clothes and Kris and Tao wore the bottom halves of their respective costumes.
“This is the last big rehearsal before our first show here. You know how it goes; introduce yourself and your act, then get into character and perform.” Suho finished, “Make it count!” He nodded at the singers to take their place on stage. Luhan gave Sehun’s hand a tight squeeze before making his way up the spiral staircase to the stage’s upper level.
Tao was the first one up. After making a brief introduction, he attached the lowered safety cord to his belt and made his way to the single hand block raised high in the air on a pole. Kris silently stepped onto the stage and bent one knee in a steady position near the block. He made a quick hand gesture and Tao propelled himself off the ground using Kris’s leg as a step. Sehun’s eyes widened as he saw Tao expertly balance on his hand gripping the block, legs high above his head. Kris exited the stage as Tao’s act began. He shifted his legs all the way to the right and held the pose, then did the splits as he brought his left leg to the other side. His act continued for nearly 5 minutes, as he supported all of his weight on one hand. As the final pose, he bent his elbow in a perfect 90 degree angle as if doing a one handed pushup. His body lines were impeccable, each movement exact and controlled by pure muscle. Tao dismounted and took a single bow for the crowd. Sehun continued clapping and until he saw him take a seat next to Kris on the far side of the stage.
The tight rope walkers were next. Lay cordially introduced the members and the act while Chen began climbing the rope ladder to the high wire. Luhan and D.O began singing to the fast beat while Lay and Chen ran back and forth across the wire. He saw Chanyeol shake his head beside him as they jumped rope in the center of the stage. They looked like small children from this height, it was ridiculous. To finish the act, Chen stood in the center of the rope while Lay leapfrogged over him and landed on the wire. The entire cast held their breath until they were back on the ground smiling at the crowd.
Baekhyun and Chanyeol immediately bounded on stage and grinned.
“Heeeey, guys! We finally figured out a better name for our act!” Baekhyun smiled.
“You all remember how we used to call it the ‘BAEKHYUN AND CHANYEOL UNICYCLE DUO WITH CLOWN INTERACTIONS ACT’ right?” The cast laughed in agreement.
“Well now we shortened it to…drum roll please.”
“B.U.C.C.A!!!!” The yelled together. “It’s Baekhyun and Chanyeol’s Unicycle and Clowning Act with the beginning letters rearranged.” They grinned childishly. The crowd applauded in agreement so they continued with their act. The unicycle portion was flawless. They performed their duo tricks perfectly and they even added a few dance moves here and there. Chanyeol’s clowning act was engaging, but provoked unenthusiastic reactions because the cast had seen it so many times. After sensing their lack of excitement Chanyeol called for a volunteer for the next part of the act.
“IT COULD BE ANY ONE OF YOU!” Baekhyun warned, waving his hand around to pick a victim. He ended up choosing the Director out of all people.
“Welllll Director, how about that? Come on down so the magic can begin!” Chanyeol grinned.
Suho just smiled as he walked down towards the stage, dressed in one of his many shiny blazers, tight slacks and fancy shoes. Luhan and D.O sang a few curious chords while Chanyeol and Baekhyun sat the Director in a chair and covered him in a blanket.
“And now, prepare to be amazed as our very own head honcho DISAPPEARS!” Chanyeol announced in a deep voice.
They all clapped when they pulled off the blanket and the Director was in fact, gone.
Baekhyun started to tell an embarrassing joke when they heard someone clear their throat. They all turned to see the Director standing at the very back of the auditorium.
“And there he is!” Chanyeol finished. They all applauded and someone even threw a weed onto the stage. Baekhyun beamed and bowed multiple times with the weed in hand.
The flying trapeze lowered onto the stage, signaling the next act. Kris gave them all a daredevil smile as he jumped onto the trapeze. He swung back and forth, gaining speed as the trapeze raised to a great height. Once securing his safety wire he jumped backwards off the bar and caught himself again with his feet. On the next full swing he did a four full body spins and ended in a sitting position on the trapeze. The crowd forgot to breathe again. He continued with more advanced flips and spins until he was sure they were absolutely terrified. They all applauded wildly while he bowed twice and returned to his seat.
There was a short five minute break for a fake intermission while Sehun gathered his props from the practice tent. He placed them delicately on the stage before beginning his act.
“Hey. I’m Sehun. I’ve met all of you at least once so you should all know I’m a juggler. But most of you aren’t familiar with the contents of my act, so here I go.” He heard the electric violin intro and casually tossed 5 stage balls into the air. He did the usual shower, mills mess, and box pattern with ease. He heard the crowd’s excitement and decided to jump right into the alternating behind the back catches.
5, 6, 7, 8…. He heard the thud on the ground and the emptiness in his left hand. The crowd fell silent as the stage ball rolled away. Sehun felt a chill run through his body. He quickly caught the remaining balls and turned to pick up the runaway. He heard Luhan’s voice falter, but D.O continued to sing just as they had practiced before. Sehun took a deep breath and narrowed his eyes.
Shit’s going down.
He kicked up two additional balls and began juggling all seven. He tossed them all extremely high and did not only one spin, but two full rotations before catching them all in a cascade pattern once again. The cast cheered loudly and a smirk appeared on his face. The rings and the clubs came easily given all the extra practice the past week. Each grip, though different, felt natural and he finished the act without any more mistakes. He grinned and bowed once before taking his seat.
Luhan and D.O did a short singing break where they sang a beautiful duet where they questioned the feeling of love. Sehun thought it sounded like it was in Chinese.
The beautiful notes ended and Kai and Xiumin leaped on stage. The center stage tiles moved away, revealing two long intersecting stretches of trampoline beneath them. They test jumped on the trampoline a few times before backing up to the beginning of the each track. Completely in sync, they did continuous back handsprings almost meeting in the middle of the x, and performed the same set of flips and twists at the end. The music lined up perfectly with each strong beat, while they somersaulted through the air. They made it look so easy. For the finale they lined up behind one another on one track and jumped into back handsprings less than a foot from each other. At the end of the track, Kai jumped high into the air while Xiumin did nearly six body twists beneath him and landed on the mat. The music ended and they posed together. The cast erupted in cheers and applauded not only for them, but for everyone who performed given that they were the last act.
After a few kind words from Suho everyone dispersed into the other tents, finally able to grab dinner before heading off to an early rest. Sehun stayed behind at the Director’s request.
“Oh, Sehun. Haha, hey isn’t that your full name?” The Director commented as he made his way down from the stage.
“I just wanted to congratulate you on your drop back there. Everyone messes up at least once, and it’s better if it happens during a rehearsal.”
“I’m also glad you kept going. D.O and Luhan should know to always continue singing if something goes wrong. And, I’m impressed. A seven up, 720?”
“Yea it was a little crazy, but hey it worked,” he grinned.
“Do you think you could actually incorporate it in your act?”
“Most likely. Luhan was right, the crowd actually helps power your act more than I thought.”
Suho nodded as they slowly walked towards the cafeteria. “I’m glad you think so…Anyway I should rush off. I have to make a phone call.”
Sehun waved as the Director peeled away to the left and went up the stairs to the apartments. His stomach growled as he arrived in the cafeteria and he had no regrets while he served himself a heaping bowl of ramen. He cast his eyes around the room in search of Luhan. He smiled as he found him arguing with D.O about the latest doodle Sehun had started for him.
“Sehun, I’m so glad you’re here. Now what have you done to my face!” D.O started.
“I don’t know… I didn’t have any ideas for what to draw, so I drew you!”
“I think it’s hilarious.” Luhan added. “Check it out, I gave him the bottom half of a T-rex.” They high fived and watched D.O throw a small fit while they sipped their ramen sympathetically. A half hour later, everyone was already turning in for an early sleep. The trio followed in suit and everyone was asleep before midnight.
Sunlight poured through his open window promptly at seven am, but Sehun was already awake. He didn’t need anything to tell him that it was a show day. His first show day. He got dressed and jogged to the practice tent, grabbing a banana on the way.
251, 252, 253, 254, he was doing well. All seven clubs were spinning above his head without fail; each catch was firm and unwavering. He didn’t even blink when it was past lunch time.
The fish was delicious and Luhan watched as it disappeared bite by bite into the Sehun’s mouth.
“Are you ever full?” He asked.
“Not if I can help it,” Sehun smiled with his eyes closed.
Luhan shook his head, “Hey it’s almost time to put on our costumes and you haven’t even practiced putting on your face paint!”
They took three left turns and a right, but not in that order. It didn’t matter anymore. Sehun had grown accustomed to the strange layout of the rooms in each tent and he knew his way around. The majority of the cast was already dressing and applying their face paint when they arrived in the dressing room. Each artist had a well lit area in front of the mirror, but Sehun’s was on the end while Luhan’s was somewhere further down the line. He noticed that each artist had a wrapped yellow rose on their table. Sehun checked the note inside: “You are wonderful. Have a great show!” signed Suho. He laughed to himself and put on his sparkly costume that was hanging on the rack behind him.
Sehun had almost perfected the red streak down his jaw line when two identical golden figures appeared in the mirror. His hand jerked to the left and the streak was ruined.
“Do you need help?” One of them spoke.
“HUH? Luhan! Is that you? I couldn’t even recognize you!” Sehun spun around in his chair. Luhan was dressed in all golden colors from cape to boots. There was a thick horizontal line of black face paint stretching from the tip of each ear. It completely covered his eyes, making it hard to distinguish who it was.
“Haha, pretty awesome right?” The other figure said.
“D.O! Wow. Those are pretty awesome.”
“I know.” He grinned and continued on his way.
“Here, let me fix that for you.” Luhan grabbed a wet cloth from the table and dabbed the stray red marks on Sehun’s face. Then taking the paint in his hand easily drew two thick lines down his jaw line, including small flourishes on both sides. In less than three minutes he had already finished the flares around his eyes.
Sehun glared at him in the mirror.
“Hey, it takes practice,” Luhan beamed. “You should take a look at everyone else’s costumes. They’re pretty cool.”
He stood up from his chair and peered down the row of chairs. It was like night and day. Everyone had thick streaks of paint across their faces and entirely different costumes than he would have imagined. Kai and Xiumin were wearing sand yellow body suits, with the equivalent of a short tank top and shorts made out of thick sea green rope. Sehun wanted to say they looked like creatures of the sea. Their faces were powdered white with blue shadow around the eyebrows and they both wore reflective silver head bands. He shook his head and wondered how in the world could Suho come up with such designs.
Baekhyun looked like someone from the medieval age with his puffy white shirt and simple black leggings. His lips were colored white and there was a huge star painted on his face in alternating blue/green colors. The point came down from his forehead to his nose, the two sides came across his cheeks, and the bottom tips finished around his lips and chin. Chanyeol looked very similar except the star on his face alternated in orange/yellow colors. His pants dawned vertical red stripes instead of a lone solid color.
Tao was shirtless and wore rich green leggings, cut off at the knee. Across his face there were three interlacing X’s each in a dark, prominent color. He sat on his table facing away from the mirror, legs dangling off the side while Kris painted intricate designs on his chest. Sehun turned to Luhan with a strange look on his face.
“It’s part of his costume. Tao’s supposed to have great tattoos on his back and chest because he’s shirtless, but he can’t paint them himself. So he gets Kris to do it.”
Sehun laughed, “And how does he do that?”
“Oh, he has his ways.”
Sehun looked back at the scene. This time he noticed Kris’s costume. It looked as if he was wearing navy blue under armor. The suit covered his arms and legs and was very plain except for the array of silver rings dangling around his right shoulder. His face was plain except for some heavy eyeliner.
Suddenly there was a color change as two figures passed by. They were wearing all white. He assumed they were Lay and Chen given that he hadn’t seen them yet. The two had head pieces with a few red accents and disturbing red streaks trailing from their eyes. The streaks were symmetrical on both sides of their noses, but it made them look like they were crying. Their lips were painted silver.
Before he could take in any more he saw a flash of black rush down the hall, footsteps echoing off the walls.
“What, in a cat suit?”
Luhan nudged him, “No! He’s wearing a tuxedo genius!”
“Oh. I could only see from the back.” He grinned sheepishly. “Oh, speaking of back, I’ll be right back. I need to get my props from the practice tent.”
Sehun jogged through the rooms until he reached the tent. The lights were off and it was deathly quiet. He turned on the front light and made his way to the props cart. Piling seven of each item into his hands he staggered to carry them all in his arms when a huge thud filled the room.
He peered to the side, he had dropped a club. Sehun carefully knelt down to pick up the fallen prop, but apparently not carefully enough. There was a deafening crash as the load spilled from his arms and strewed all over the floor.
Sehun froze. Although the noise had ceased, the thud rang through his ears again and again. He thought back to the rehearsal where he dropped the stage ball. It had the same thud. And before when he would drop apples in the common room. The noises were all the same.
What if I drop during the show? What will the crowd do then?
A cold shiver ran down his spine. He tried to collect the fallen props, but his hands began to shake.
What’s going on?
He heard Luhan’s voice carry through the tent.
“Sehun, are you alright?”
“My hands are shaking.”
“You’re probably nervous. Are you hurt? What happened to your props?”
“I dropped them. I was carrying too much...But Luhan, I don’t get nervous.”
“It’s ok, it’s your first show. It’s natural. Here, I’ll help you gather everything. The show is about to begin.”
“Luhan.” Sehun’s voice cracked a little. “What if I drop during the show?”
He stopped gathering the fallen props and looked the boy straight in the eyes.
“You practiced a lot this week didn’t you?”
“And you can juggle seven of every prop here reliably right?”
“Then you have nothing to worry about.”
“But-” Sehun felt something soft press against his lips. His eyes widened as he realized they were Luhan’s lips. The kiss was gentle and sweet, just like Luhan.
The older boy pulled away, “I’m sorry. You were freaking out and I really had to get you to stop talking and-”
This time is was Sehun that pulled him close. He pressed their lips together and this time he kissed back with a little more confidence.
Meanwhile the stage lights flared under the Big Top. Suho walked into the center of the stage, a general murmur still passing through the crowd.
Sehun pulled away and looked Luhan in the eyes.
The Director smiled at the crowd and raised the microphone to his mouth.
“Everything is going to be ok, right?” The younger boy asked.
“Yes, of course it will.”
A voice boomed: “Ladies and Gentlemen; now introducing our latest touring show, EXO!” The crowd applauded and cheered loudly.
And he was right…It was.